Ornate Pharaoh: Abu Simbel

The entrance to the sandstone Temple of Rameses II at Abu Simbel. He reigned from 1279–13 BCE. Photo taken from the deck of the small ship cruising Lake Nasser, which was created when the Nile was dammed at Aswan. The entire temple complex was raised piece by piece to rescue it from rising waters. The rescue was part of an international effort to save the tombs and temples in Nubia from the rising lake.

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Avenue of the Sphinxes

Avenue of the Sphinxes, Luxor, Egypt

An avenue of sandstone sphinxes stretches over 1.5 miles from the Temple of Luxor to the Temple of Karnak. At one time, over 1300 statues lined the road, which was used annually for the Opet Festival honoring the ancient Egyptian god Amun, his wife Mut, and their son Khonsu. The the sacred pathway was used as early as the 15th century BCE.  The pharaoh Nectenabo I (380-362 BCE) built the existing avenue and lined it with sphinxes bearing his name. Most of the sphinxes have human heads, but some earlier statues near Karnak have rams heads. In 2004, the Egyptian government began a massive excavation and restoration project to restore the road and its sphinxes, many of which had deteriorated, been buried in the sand, or used for other projects by the Romans and others.  Large sections of the avenue linking the two temples have been completed.

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