About Nubia And Its Historical Importance -Temple of Gerf Hussein
The land of Nubia extends from the North of Aswan to the South of the Sudanese border with Egypt. Aswan, the southern gate into Egypt, has always been strategically and commercially important for the ancient Egyptians. The pharaohs carried out many military campaigns to take control of this area, rich in ivory and the finest types of wood.
The ancient Egyptians took complete control of Nubia during the reign of the New Kingdom, especially after the successful military campaigns in the middle of the 16th century BC. Ahmose was the founder of the 18th dynasty and the king who could expel the Hyksos from Egypt.
About the Nubian Temples
The Kings and Pharaohs of Egypt, during the period beginning from the era of the New Kingdom to the Roman period, constructed many temples to the South of Aswan, in the lands of Nubia between the First Cataract to the North and the second Cataract to the South.
Many of these temples were rescued because of the efforts of the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) project that relocated many of these structures like Qaser Ibrim, the Temple of Dekka, the Temple of Derr, the Temple Kalabsha, and the magnificent masterpieces of Philae and Abu Simbel.
One of the less fortunate temples damaged by Lake Nasser's water but successfully relocated is the Temple of Gerf Hussein. Although it lost many magnificent sections, some survived until today.
An Overview Of The Temple Of Gert Hussein
The Temple of Gerf Hussein was constructed during the reign of Ramses II, the most famous builder in ancient Egypt, during the 13th century. Historical records show that it was a magnificent structure. The original location of the Temple of Gerf Hussein was 87 kilometers to the South of the First Cataract. The Temple was recorded in many journeys of travelers and historians during the 19th and 20th centuries.
The Temple of Gerf Hussein was said to be a masterpiece of the ancient Egyptian art and crafts of the laborers who used to work in the gold mines that flourished in the period of Seti I and his son, Ramses II.
After the construction of the High Dam in the 1970s, the remains of the Temple of Gerf Hussein were transferred from its original location to Kalabsha Island, along with three other temples: Kalabsha, Beit El Wali, and Dekka.
Construction Of The Temple of Gerf Hussein
The ancient Egyptian name for the Temple of Gerf Hussein was "the House of the Worship of the God Ptah," it was one of the most remarkable constructions ever built in Nubia during the ruling period of Ramses II. Like the Temple of Beit El Wali and the astonishing Temple of Abu Simbel, the Temple of Gerf Hussein was remarkable and noteworthy.
Like many other kings and Pharaohs of the New Kingdom, Ramses II paid particular attention to Nubia, knowing that governing this land area meant controlling the vital trading routes between ancient Egypt and Nubia.
The person who would be credited with the construction of the Temple of Gerf Hussein and many other architectural achievements during the reign of Ramses II is Setau, the Deputy of the King in the lands of Nubia. Unfortunately, many of the successes of Setau were endangered after the High Dam's construction and Lake Nasser's water covering a massive piece of land where many Nubian monuments were located. The Temple of Gerf Hussein was constructed to worship the gods Ptah, Hathor, and some other local gods, like many temples built at the time. Eventually, the Temple was also used to honor Ramses II, who became regarded as divine to his people at the end of his ruling period.
Design Of The Temple Of Gert Hussein
Even though the Temple of Gerf Hussein had a plain design, the Temple is an attractive piece of ancient Egyptian architectural splendor. It is very noteworthy, with many pillars and columns all over the complex and the beautiful statues of Ramses II. Some of the many figures of Ramses II are incredibly huge.
The Temple of Gerf Hussein is situated at the top of a hill, and the only remaining sections of this magnificent Temple today are a hall with some pillars and giant sandstone statues with bears that most likely belonged to Ramses II. Stepping into the main entrance of the Temple of Gerf Hussein that survived until today, guests will see the beautiful colossi of Ramses II, more than 20 feet tall. However, most of these statues are in bad shape compared to other structures constructed in Nubia's lands and relocated after the construction of the High Dam.
Opposite these wonderful giant statues of Ramses II and the lotus-shaped columns, four niches host several statues of Ramses II and the gods Hathor and Ptah, a scene commonly painted on many walls around the complex.
The Temple of Gerf Hussein had an open courtyard with one wall constructed to look like a tower, a common feature of temples in Nubia , like the Temple of Karnak, Luxor, and Philae. After passing through the open courtyard, there is a square-shaped hall with six massive columns and several giant statues of Ramses II positioned between the gods. A small chamber is behind the square-shaped entrance with large pillars in the Temple of Gerf Hussein section cut out of the rock.
This small chamber takes the guest toward three larger rooms. One of them is the wonderfully decorated sanctuary with Ramses II displayed, presenting the offerings to the gods worshiped in the Temple. Although only a few portions of the Temple of Gerf Hussein survive today, many tourists who visit the complex admit that it holds a magic of its own and is still charming like it was during its glorious past. However, they are never sure whether this was because of the former greatness of the complex or because of the beautiful views of the Nile that can be viewed from the top of the hill where the remains of the Temple are located today.
Relocation Of The Temple Of Gerf Hussein
Although some of the Temple of Gerf Hussein sections were successfully relocated to their current location near the Temple of Kalabsha, nothing of the interior parts of the Temple survived the relocation or the ravages of time. The only exception is a giant statue of Ramses II, which is not in the Temple nowadays but was placed in a unique position in the Nubian Museum in Aswan. That museum is among the most exciting places for any fan of Egyptian history or Nubian culture and arts.
Only successfully relocated in 2002, the ruins of the Temple of Gerf Hussein were among the last Nubian temples to be transferred from its original location to the north of Lake Nasser to its current location near the Temple of Kalabsha southwest of the High Dam. Only a few people and historians ever viewed the Temple of Gerf Hussein in its original area near the Nubian village of Gerf Hussein. Dismantling the different sections of the Temple, transferring the other parts, and reconstructing it were considered a miracle.
The ruins that survived the Temple of Gerf Hussein seem rather lonely and isolated in the new position of what was once a great complex and a magnificent ancient Egyptian temple, but they are still remarkable. Many historians and Pharaonic arts fans worldwide were pleased that the UNESCO project was established to relocate many Nubian temples in danger after the construction of the High Dam. However, no scholar can be sure how many monuments were ruined or lost forever by the dam.