Published: October 14th 2011October 5th 2011
Serenade to Philae
This boy appeared out of the Nile on our way to the Philae Temple. He serenaded us for some "baksheesh"- a tip.
From Cairo we set out to Aswan by overnight train. What was supposed to be a twelve hour train ride turned out to be 15 hours.
Aswan marks the country’s ancient southern frontier. In ancient times, it was of strategic importance serving as a garrison town for military campaigns against Nubia, its quarries provided the valuable granite used for so many sculptures and obelisks, and it was a prosperous marketplace at the crossroads of the ancient caravan routes. Here the Nile is wide and stunningly beautiful, flowing gently down from Lake Nasser. Aswan is also the site of the Old Cataract Hotel & Spa. It was in this hotel that Agatha Christie is said to have written part of her novel Death on the Nile and the hotel featured in the movie. Its banks are lined with colourful Nubian villages. The most popular thing to do here is glide down the Nile on a felucca which is what my group did for 3 days and 3 nights stopping at temples along the way. Temperatures here can hover around 45C during the summer months. HOT!
Because of Egypt’s growing population, it was necessary to create more fertile land for agriculture.
The Aswan Dam was completed in 1902 and at that time was the biggest dam in the world. It was made almost entirely of granite from Aswan. It was along what is known as the way to the High Dam that we drove to Abu Simbel.
ASWAN - PHILAE TEMPLE
After the building of the Aswan Dam, Philae was swamped for six months of every year by the high waters, allowing travelers to take rowing boats and glide among the partially submerged columns to peer down through the water at the sanctuaries of the mighty gods below. After the completion of yet another dam, the High Dam, it would have disappeared entirely had UNESCO not intervened. Between 1972 and 1980, the massive temple complex was disassembled stone by stone and reconstructed 20m higher on nearby Agilkia Island.
A second dam was built because the Aswan Dam was not efficient enough, unable to control the unpredictable annual flooding of the Nile. In 1952 plans were drawn up for a new dam. In 1956, the World Bank refused Egypt the loan for the dam. Nasser the leader at the time ordered the nationalization of the Suez Canal, which
started the Suez Crisis. Nasser finally got his way and additional funding and expertise from the Soviet Union. Work started in 1960 and ended in 1971. The amount of material used to construct this second dam contains 18 times more material than the Pyramid of Khufu and created the world’s largest artificial lake, Lake Nasser. The dam has brought great benefits to farmers, increasing cultivatable land by 30% and doubling the country’s power supply; however the dam has stopped the flow of silt which makes the land fertile and has increased the salinity of the agricultural areas. The groundwater has risen and is damaging many monuments close to the Nile.
There are more photos below