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African Diplomats Watch Ramses II Solar Phenomenon in Egypt

African Diplomats Watch Ramses II Solar Phenomenon in Egypt

Friday, 22 February, 2019 - 11:30
A picture taken on October 22, 2016, shows a ray of light illuminating the statue of Ramses II inside the temple of Abu Simbel in Egypt. AFP
Asharq Al-Awsat
Visitors including African ambassadors watched Friday a rare phenomenon as the sun's dawn rays lit up the statue of Pharaoh Ramses II at southern Egypt's Abu Simbel temples.

Beams of sunlight peeked through the dark chamber of the Great Temple of Ramses II illuminating the pharaoh's statue -- as they do every year on February 22 and October 22. 

Historians believe the 3,000 year-old temple's solar alignment was meant to mark the ancient king's birth and his coronation.

The Abu Simbel temples -- built during the rule of Ramses II in the 19th dynasty -- sit on the western bank of the Nile River in Egypt's south.

The ancient complex, carved out of cliffs overlooking the Nile, was rescued from the river's rising waters about 50 years ago.

Earlier this month, Egyptologists and other experts gathered in the Italian city of Turin to celebrate the successful international campaign that saved the temples during construction of Aswan High Dam.

The campaign was remembered in Turin as an unprecedented engineering achievement and a turning point that made the preservation of cultural treasures a responsibility that cut across borders.

Friday’s visit by Egyptian officials and a raft of ambassadors from around the continent to the temples was part of efforts to boost tourism.

It comes after President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi assumed the chair of the African Union earlier this month.

Egypt is also gearing up to host the showcase Africa Cup of Nations football tournament in the summer.

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