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Grand Egyptian Museum Recreates Sacred Solar Alignment of Abu Simbel

Inspired by the Abu Simbel solar alignment, a team of Egyptian engineers at the Grand Egyptian Museum spent a year replicating the effect with the statue of Ramses the Great in their entrance hall.

Every year, Abu Simbel bears witness to a pair of astronomical events, events that have been put into motion thousands of years ago by ancient architects and have blessed the statues of this Aswan temple continuously since 1264 BC. On February 22nd and October 22nd - the anniversary of Ramses the Great's ascension to the throne and of his birth, respectively - Abu Simbel Temple experiences a majestic solar alignment, illuminating a specific corridor so that the sun's light would reach its holiest room, where four statues await. The first three statues, representing Ramses the Great, Ra the Sun God, and Amun, King of the Gods, are bathed in sunlight, while the fourth - belonging to Ptah - remains in shadow, due to his association with the dark. A deliberate exclusion, an exact calculation.


It's an astonishing phenomenon, the result of careful astrological deliberations, a design based on the cosmos that would last for as long as the sun shines and the temple stands. And this ancient, everlasting spectacle has just been recreated at the Grand Egyptian Museum.


Inspired by the solar alignment, a team of Egyptian engineers and astronomers at the Grand Egyptian Museum spent a year replicating the effect with the statue of Ramses the Great in their entrance hall. This 3,200-year-old red granite statue - which was first discovered in 1820, and was restored after being moved to Cairo in 1950 - was carefully placed beneath a ceiling that has been precisely punctured with openings to allow the sunlight through, taking into consideration the angle and positioning of the sun. In bringing this sight to Giza - a sight that was otherwise exclusive to Aswan - they hope to open tourists' eyes to the brilliance of Ancient Egyptian engineers and the marvels of Ancient Egypt's temples.