Thursday, February 18, 2010

Philae Temple

Egyptians have a long history of constructing dams along the Nile to help hold back the yearly flooding. The Nileometers helped them predict when floods were coming and they had various, much smaller dams, that helped to hold back waters to certain areas. Well, way back, around 1902, it was decided to build a dam, the Old Aswan Dam, to stop the yearly flooding and allow people to have a more predictable life along the river. Course this meant that the yearly fertile soil that was dropped off on the land quit happening but the people weren’t killed in floods. Anyway….the dam was built…and it flooded the island of Philae.
Now you might ask why that matters. Well…on the island was the Philae Temple, the temple built to the goddess Isis, her consort (and I believe brother) Osiris, and their son Horus. This was a popular spot for tourists to go and, at the time, the temple was in good condition. It didn’t matter, the dam was built and every year, for about 6 months, it was submerged. The rest of the year you could go out and paddle around the area in a boat. (Turns out it actually was pretty good for the temple because being submerged for part of the year protected it from weathering from the sand.)
However, when they planned to build the High Dam, something had to be done. The new dam would leave the temple permanently submerged and so a huge effort was made to move the temple onto a new island. While the colors that once graced the walls is gone, it’s still a beautiful temple with detailed carvings and reliefs. The pilings in the middle of the lake? That's where the original Philae island is located.

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