International Campaign to Save the Monuments of Nubia

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International Campaign to Save the Monuments of Nubia
International Campaign to Save the Monuments of Nubia.pdf
UNESCO brochure on the anniversary of the campaign
Lake Nasser location.png
The relocated monuments were from Lower Nubia, roughly between Aswan and Wadi Halfa. The area was entirely submerged by the creation of Lake Nasser
Location Aswan Governorate, Egypt
Region Nubia
Official nameNubian Monuments from Abu Simbel to Philae
TypeCultural
Criteriai, iii, vi
Designated1979 (3rd session)
Reference no. 88
Region Arab States

The International Campaign to Save the Monuments of Nubia was the relocation of 22 monuments in Lower Nubia, in southern Egypt and northern Sudan, between 1960 and 1980. The success of the project, in particular the creation of a coalition of 50 countries behind the project, led to the creation of the World Heritage Convention in 1972, and thus to the modern system of World Heritage Sites. [1]

Contents

The project began as a result of the building of the Aswan Dam, at the Nile's first cataract (shallow rapids), a location which defined the traditional boundary of Ancient Egypt and Nubia. The building of the dam was to result in the creation of Lake Nasser, which would submerge the banks of the Nile along its entire 479 km (298 mi) length south of the dam – flooding the entire area of historical Lower Nubia. Vittorino Veronese, director general of UNESCO described it in 1960: "It is not easy to choose between a heritage of the past and the present well-being of a people, living in need in the shadow of one of history’s most splendid legacies, it is not easy to choose between temples and crops." [2]

It was described in the UNESCO Courier as "the greatest archaeological rescue operation of all time". [3]

In April 1979, the monuments were inscribed on the World Heritage List as the Nubian Monuments from Abu Simbel to Philae, as one of the second group of properties added to the list (the first 12 had been added in 1978). [4]

Overview

In 1959, an international donations campaign was launched by Egypt and Sudan to save the monuments of Lower Nubia: the southernmost relics of the Ancient Egyptian civilization were under threat from the impending creation of Lake Nasser, that was about to result from the construction of the Aswan High Dam. [5]

The number of relocated monuments have been stated as 22 [6] or 24 [7] depending on how an individual site is defined. Only one archaeological site in Lower Nubia, Qasr Ibrim, remains in its original location and above water; previously a cliff-top settlement, it was transformed into an island. [8] [9] The relocated sites can be grouped as follows:

The list of relocated monuments is as follows:

HistoricalRelocationCurrent
MonumentImage [10] LocationPeriodDateLed byImageLocation
Abu Simbel (two temples) Illustration by David Roberts, digitally enhanced by rawpixel-com 6.jpg 65m below current location1200s BCE1964–68Coalition Ramsis, Aswan Governorate, Egypt - panoramio.jpg 65m above historical location, in artificial hill
Philae temple complex Illustration by David Roberts, digitally enhanced by rawpixel-com 24.jpg Philae Island 300 BCE – 100 AD1972–79Coalition The-Temple-of-Philae-on-Agilika-Island.jpg Agilkia Island
Temple of Amada Illustration by David Roberts, digitally enhanced by rawpixel-com 59.jpg Amada1400s BCEFrance Tempel Amada 008.jpg New Amada
Temple of Derr Derr ( 125 miles south of Aswan, right bank). Temple dedicated to Pa - Horakhti.jpg Derr1200s BCEEgypt Flickr - archer10 (Dennis) - Egypt-9B-045 - Temple of Derr (Published in Wikipedia).jpg
Tomb of Pennut at Aniba El-Fourdjeh - (architecture hypogeene) - vue exterieure du tombeau - Felix Teynard. LCCN2001695389 (cropped).jpg AnibaEgypt Egypt-9B-068 - Tomb of Pennut (2216653025).jpg
Temple of Kalabsha (except gate, see below) Illustration by David Roberts, digitally enhanced by rawpixel-com 79.jpg Kalabsha30 BCE1962–63Germany Neu-Kalabscha Tempel 03.JPG New Kalabsha
Temple of Gerf Hussein Illustration by David Roberts, digitally enhanced by rawpixel-com 7.jpg Gerf Hussein1200s BCEEgypt The temple of Gerf Hussein by George Snyder.jpg
Kiosk of Qertassi Illustration by David Roberts, digitally enhanced by rawpixel-com 67.jpg Qertassi0 – 100 AD1960Egypt Kiosk of Qertassi by Dennis Jarvis.jpg
Temple of Beit el-Wali John Beasly Greene (American, born France - (Bet-Oualli, Sculptures Historiques de la Paroi de Gauche) - Google Art Project.jpg Beit el-Wali1200s BCEEgypt Beit el-Wali 03.jpg
Temple of Dakka Illustration by David Roberts, digitally enhanced by rawpixel-com 17.jpg Dakka200 BCE – 100 ADEgypt The Temple of Dakka by Dennis Jarvis.jpg New Wadi es-Sebua
Temple of Maharraqa Illustration by David Roberts, digitally enhanced by rawpixel-com 21.jpg Maharraqa0 – 100 ADEgypt Tempel Maharraka 26.jpg
Temples of Wadi es-Sebua Illustration by David Roberts, digitally enhanced by rawpixel-com 41.jpg Wadi es-Sebua1400–1200 BCEEgypt The Wadi es-Sebua Temple by Dennis G. Jarvis.jpg
Horemheb Temple at Abu Oda Abuhoda church.jpg Abu Oda Nubian Museum, Aswan
Temple of Aksha Aksha1200s BCE SNMTempleAksha.jpg National Museum of Sudan
The temples in the fortified town of Buhen Buhen ( 220 miles south of Aswan, left bank ).jpg Buhen1800s BCE The Buhen temple (2) (33690109520).jpg
The temples at Semna East and West fortresses Semna Kumma view from west.jpg Semna1900s BCE Re-erected Semna Temple - Sudan National Museum.jpg
Temple of Debod Illustration by David Roberts, digitally enhanced by rawpixel-com 71.jpg Debod100s BCE1960Spain Templo de Debod in Madrid.jpg Madrid, Spain
Temple of Dendur Illustration by David Roberts, digitally enhanced by rawpixel-com 61.jpg Dendur23 BCEUnited States The Temple of Dendur MET DT563.jpg Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York City, United States
Temple of Taffeh Illustration by David Roberts, digitally enhanced by rawpixel-com 5.jpg Taffeh25 BCE – 14 CE1960Netherlands Temple of Taffeh in Leiden by Paul Garland.jpg Rijksmuseum van Oudheden in Leiden, the Netherlands
Temple of Ellesyia Ellesyia1400s BCEItaly Temple of Ellesija-01.jpg Museo Egizio, Turin, Italy
Kalabsha Gate Illustration by David Roberts, digitally enhanced by rawpixel-com 26.jpg Kalabsha30 BCE1962–63Germany Kalabsha Gate, ca. 30 BCE, Scharf-Gerstenberg Museum, Berlin (2) (40205520311).jpg Egyptian Museum of Berlin, Germany – part of the Temple of Kalabsha

Historical images, monuments in situ

Description and contributions

Abu Simbel

A scale model showing the original and current location of the temple (with respect to the water level) at the Nubian Museum, in Aswan Abu Simbel relocation by Zureks.jpg
A scale model showing the original and current location of the temple (with respect to the water level) at the Nubian Museum, in Aswan

One scheme to save the Abu Simbel temples was based on an idea by William MacQuitty to build a clear freshwater dam around the temples, with the water inside kept at the same height as the Nile. There were to be underwater viewing chambers. In 1962 the idea was made into a proposal by architects Jane Drew and Maxwell Fry and civil engineer Ove Arup. [11] They considered that raising the temples ignored the effect of erosion of the sandstone by desert winds. However, the proposal, though acknowledged to be extremely elegant, was rejected. [12]

The salvage of the Abu Simbel temples began in 1964 by a multinational team of archeologists, engineers and skilled heavy equipment operators working together under the UNESCO banner; it cost some US$40 million at the time (equal to $300 million in 2017 dollars). Between 1964 and 1968, the entire site was carefully cut into large blocks (up to 30 tons, averaging 20 tons), dismantled, lifted and reassembled in a new location 65 metres higher and 200 metres back from the river, in one of the greatest challenges of archaeological engineering in history. [13] Some structures were even saved from under the waters of Lake Nasser. [12]

Philae

Philae flooded by the Aswan Low Dam in 1906. Philae (1906) - TIMEA.jpg
Philae flooded by the Aswan Low Dam in 1906.

In 1902, the Aswan Low Dam was completed on the Nile River by the British. This threatened to submerge many ancient landmarks, including the temple complex of Philae. The height of the dam was raised twice, from 1907 to 1912 and from 1929 to 1934, and the island of Philae was nearly always flooded. In fact, the only times that the complex was not underwater was when the dam's sluices were open from July to October. During this period it was proposed that the temples be relocated, piece by piece, to nearby islands, such as Bigeh or Elephantine. However, the temples' foundations and other architectural supporting structures were strengthened instead. Although the buildings were physically secure, the island's attractive vegetation and the colors of the temples' reliefs were washed away. Also, the bricks of the Philae temples soon became encrusted with silt and other debris carried by the Nile. With each inundation the situation worsened and in the 1960s the island was submerged up to a third of the buildings all year round. [14]

The work began in 1972, and in 1974 a large coffer dam was built, constructed of two rows of steel plates between which a 1 million cubic metres (35 million cubic feet ) of sand was tipped. Any water that seeped through was pumped away. Next the monuments were cleaned and measured, by using photogrammetry, a method that enables the exact reconstruction of the original size of the building blocks that were used by the ancients. Then every building was dismantled into about 40,000 units from 2 to 25 tons, and then transported to the nearby Island of Agilkia, situated on higher ground some 500 metres (1,600 ft) away. Foundations of the Philae monuments were ready on Agilkia by April 1977, and the transfer itself took place between 1977 and 1980. [15]

Individual Egyptian campaigns

In addition to participating directly in the high profile salvage operations of Abu Simbel and Philae, the Egyptian Antiquities Organization carried out the rescue of many smaller temples and monuments alone using their own financial and technical means. [16] As early as 1960 Egypt had started to rescue the temples of Taffa, Debod and Qertassi, followed by Dakka and Maharraqa in 1961 and Dendur in 1962. The temples of Wadi es-Sebua and Beit el Wali and the rock tomb of Pennut at Aniba were moved in 1964 with the support of a US grant, whilst the subsequent re-erection was carried out with Egyptian resources. The Temple of Derr was rescued in 1965, and the temples of Gerf Husein, the chapel of Abu Oda (cut out of rock), the chapels of Qasr Ibrim (the rest of which has remained in situ), and many rock inscriptions and drawings, were also saved. [17]

West German operation at Kalabsha

Early in the campaign, the West German authorities offered to dismantle and re-erect the Temple of Kalabsha, the largest temple in all of Lower Nubia, with costs paid by West Germany. [18] Germany's interest in making a significant contribution stemmed from its Egyptological heritage, including Lepsius' milestone work Denkmäler aus Ägypten und Äthiopien , as more specifically the work of Franz Christian Gau who had documented Kalabsha as early as 1819. [19]

French operation at Amada

In addition to the work of French archaeologists at Abu Simbel, the French government provided significant technical and financial support for the removal of the Temple of Amada. Amada was considered "one of the most distinctive and best preserved examples of the art of the 18th dynasty." [20]

Wider archaeological campaign

Given the impending flooding of a wide area, Egypt and Sudan encouraged archaeological teams from across the world to carry out work as broadly as possible. Approximately 40 teams from across the world came to the region, to explore an area of approximately 500 km in length. [21]

In addition to the relocation operations, many countries participated in excavation and preservation work. Some of this work took place at the CEDAE (Centre d'Étude et de Documentation sur l'Ancienne Égypte, in English the Documentation and Study Centre for the History of the Art and Civilization of Ancient Egypt), founded in Cairo in 1955 to coordinate the academic efforts: [22]

Financial contributions

The table below summarizes the contributions towards the project by the global coalition of nations. The vast majority of these contributions funded the operations at Abu Simbel and Philae. [23]

$'000$'000$'000
Flag of the United States.svg  USA 18,501
Flag of France.svg  France 1,268Flag of Libya.svg  Libya 26American Committee for the Preservation of Abu Simbel1,251
Flag of Italy.svg  Italy 1,176Flag of Denmark.svg  Denmark 15Miscellaneous private contributions36
Flag of Germany.svg  West Germany 678Flag of Malaysia.svg  Malaysia 14African Emergency Programme21
Flag of the Netherlands.svg  Netherlands 557Flag of Monaco.svg  Monaco 10
Flag of Spain.svg  Spain 525Flag of Indonesia.svg  Indonesia 10
Flag of Sweden.svg  Sweden 500Flag of the Philippines.svg  Philippines 10USSR exhibition proceeds1,602
Flag of Switzerland (Pantone).svg  Switzerland 332Flag of Saudi Arabia.svg  Saudi Arabia 8UK exhibition proceeds1,601
Flag of Yugoslavia (1946-1992).svg  Yugoslavia 226Flag of Uganda.svg  Uganda 6West Germany exhibition proceeds1,208
Flag of the United Kingdom.svg  UK 213Flag of Cyprus.svg  Cyprus 5Japan exhibition proceeds1,089
Flag of Japan.svg  Japan 190Flag of Cambodia.svg  Cambodia 5France exhibition proceeds459
Flag of Cuba.svg  Cuba 160Flag of Morocco.svg  Morocco 4Belgium exhibition proceeds154
Flag of Syria.svg  Syria 152Flag of Turkey.svg  Turkey 3Sweden exhibition proceeds29
Flag of Pakistan.svg  Pakistan 130Flag of Sierra Leone.svg  Sierra Leone 3Norway exhibition proceeds6
Flag of Nigeria.svg  Nigeria 128Flag of Mali.svg  Mali 2Canada exhibition proceeds4
Flag of Algeria.svg  Algeria 105Flag of the Taliban.svg  Afghanistan 2
Flag of Kuwait.svg  Kuwait 105Flag of the People's Republic of China.svg  China 2World Food Programme3,518
Flag of Belgium (civil).svg  Belgium 82Flag of Sudan.svg  Sudan 2Egypt Tourist Tax1,879
Flag of Iraq.svg  Iraq 63Flag of Luxembourg.svg  Luxembourg 2Interest and exchange adjustments1,408
Flag of Qatar.svg  Qatar 60Flag of Nepal.svg    Nepal 1Philatelic revenue and income from Philae Medals113
Flag of Ghana.svg  Ghana 49Flag of Sri Lanka.svg  Sri Lanka 1Sovereign Order of Malta1
Flag of Lebanon.svg  Lebanon 40Flag of Togo.svg  Togo 1
Flag of Austria.svg  Austria 37Flag of Malta.svg  Malta 0.2
Flag of the Vatican City.svg   Holy See 35Flag of India.svg  India (in kind)415
Flag of Greece.svg  Greece 30Flag of Romania.svg  Romania (in kind)5
Subtotal25,34255114,379
Total40,273

Timeline

A timeline of the key dates of the campaign is shown below: [24]

DiplomacyRelocation workAswan Dam
6 April 1959Egypt appeals to UNESCO
24 October 1959Sudan appeals to UNESCO
9 January 1960Work on the Aswan High Dam officially begun
8 March 1960Director-General of Unesco appeals to the international community
Summer 1960Temples of Taffa, Dabod and Kertassi dismantled by the Egyptian Antiquities Service
Nov. Dec. 1962Unesco's General Conference creates Executive Committee for the International Campaign
1962–63Temple of Kalabsha dismantled, transferred and re-erected
Spring 1964Work begins on transfer of Abu Simbel temples
14 May 1964Diversion of Nile to feed the turbines of the High Dam
September 1964Lake Nasser begins to fill
22 September 1968Completion of the Abu Simbel operation
6 November 1968UNESCO launches International Campaign to save the Temples of Philae
1970Construction of Aswan High Dam completed
1972Work begins on Philae rescue operation; monuments to be transferred to nearby island of Agilkia
May 1974Cofferdam around the island of Philae is completed and water is pumped out
April 1977Foundations of the Philae monuments ready on the island of Agilkia and reconstruction work begins
August 1979Completed at Agilkia
10 March 1980Overall project completion

World Heritage Site

In April 1979, the monuments were inscribed on the World Heritage List as the "Nubian Monuments from Abu Simbel to Philae". The inscribed area includes ten sites, five of which were relocated (all south of the city of Aswan), and five of which remain in their original position (near to the city of Aswan): [25]

Relocated sites, south of the Aswan Low Dam [25]

Sites in their original location, north of the Aswan Low Dam [25] – although these five sites are grouped within the "Nubian Monuments from Abu Simbel to Philae", they are neither Nubian, nor between Abu Simbel and Philae

Bibliography

UNESCO publications

Other publications

Related Research Articles

References

  1. The World Heritage Convention: "The event that aroused particular international concern was the decision to build the Aswan High Dam in Egypt, which would have flooded the valley containing the Abu Simbel temples, a treasure of ancient Egyptian civilization. In 1959, after an appeal from the governments of Egypt and Sudan, UNESCO launched an international safeguarding campaign. Archaeological research in the areas to be flooded was accelerated. Above all, the Abu Simbel and Philae temples were dismantled, moved to dry ground and reassembled. The campaign cost about US$80 million, half of which was donated by some 50 countries, showing the importance of solidarity and nations' shared responsibility in conserving outstanding cultural sites. Its success led to other safeguarding campaigns, such as saving Venice and its Lagoon (Italy) and the Archaeological Ruins at Moenjodaro (Pakistan), and restoring the Borobodur Temple Compounds (Indonesia). Consequently, UNESCO initiated, with the help of the International Council on Monuments and Sites (ICOMOS), the preparation of a draft convention on the protection of cultural heritage."
  2. A Common trust: the preservation of the ancient monuments of Nubia, 1960, UNESCO CUA.60/D.22/A, page 22
  3. Victory in Nubia: the greatest archaeological rescue operation of all time
  4. Meskell, L. (2018). A Future in Ruins: UNESCO, World Heritage, and the Dream of Peace. Oxford University Press. pp. 71–72. ISBN   978-0-19-064834-3 . Retrieved 4 November 2022.
  5. Säve-Söderbergh 1987, p. 64.
  6. File:International Campaign to Save the Monuments of Nubia.pdf
  7. 1 2 3 4 5 Allais 2012, p. 179.
  8. A.J. Clapham & P.A. Rowley-Conwy (2007). "New Discoveries at Qasr Ibrim". In R.T.J. Cappers (ed.). Fields of Change: Progress in African Archaeobotany. Groningen archaeological studies. David Brown Book Company. p. 157. ISBN   978-90-77922-30-9 . Retrieved 5 November 2022. ... Qasr Ibrim is the only in situ site left in Lower Nubia since the flooding of the Nile valley{{cite book}}: CS1 maint: uses authors parameter (link)
  9. Ruffini, G.R. (2012). Medieval Nubia: A Social and Economic History. Oxford University Press. ISBN   978-0-19-999620-9 . Retrieved 5 November 2022. Qasr Ibrim is critically important in a number of ways. It is the only site in Lower Nubia that remained above water after the completion of the Aswan high dam.
  10. The monuments of Nubia had been documented by early travellers and archaeologists, particularly in the 19th and early 20th centuries. Below are notable illustrations of the monuments published in the 1840s by David Roberts in his The Holy Land, Syria, Idumea, Arabia, Egypt, and Nubia
  11. Fry Drew Knight Creamer, 1978, London, Lund Humphries
  12. 1 2 Säve-Söderbergh 1987, p. 98-126.
  13. Spencer, Terence (1966). The Race to Save Abu Simbel Is Won. Life magazine, 2 December 1966.
  14. Säve-Söderbergh 1987.
  15. Säve-Söderbergh 1987, p. 229-231.
  16. Säve-Söderbergh 1987, p. 135.
  17. Säve-Söderbergh 1987, p. 135-136.
  18. Stock, H.; Siegler, K.G. (1965). Kalabsha: der grösste Tempel Nubiens und das Abenteuer seiner Rettung (in German). F.A. Brockhaus. Retrieved 10 November 2022.
  19. Säve-Söderbergh 1987, p. 128-129.
  20. Säve-Söderbergh 1987, p. 132-133.
  21. Säve-Söderbergh 1987, p. 205.
  22. Säve-Söderbergh 1987, p. Annex I, page 223-226.
  23. Säve-Söderbergh 1987, p. Annex IV, page 232-233.
  24. Säve-Söderbergh 1987, p. 228-231.
  25. 1 2 3 Centre, UNESCO World Heritage. "Nubian Monuments from Abu Simbel to Philae". UNESCO World Heritage Centre. Retrieved 12 October 2022.