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Abu Simbel is a spectacular looking site located in the most Southern part of Egypt and in very close proximity to the Sudan-(Ancient Nubia). Although Abu Simbel was a massive Temple dedicated to Pharaoh Ramses II, the Temple's facade has 4 enormous statues overlooking the Egyptian-Nubian panorama. Having said that, was this Temple also a type of ancient border signalling to the Nubians-(as well as to any visitor(s) from lands South of Nubia) that they were entering Egyptian territory?

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  • No. The ancient Egyptian border with Nubia was almost 200km to the north at the first cataract; when Abu Simbel was under construction during the New Kingdom, Egypt's border had expanded far into its south.
    – Semaphore
    Nov 18, 2017 at 20:12
  • However, situated towards the south of the then Egyptian Kingdom, overlooking the Nile and hence the obvious route through the Sahara into Egypt from the south and the interior of Africa, Abu Simbel was surely intended to impress visitors to the country, so that when they returned home they would spread word of how powerful and impressive Ramses II's Egypt was. There are actually 8 statues of Ramses in total, four seated 20 metre high ones in front of the Great Temple and four more 10 metre high standing statues of Ramses (plus 2 of his Queen) in front of the Small Temple round the corner.
    – Timothy
    Nov 22, 2017 at 19:50
  • Yes, I had forgotten that there were an additional 4 statues at Abu Simbel.
    – user26763
    Nov 22, 2017 at 20:19

1 Answer 1

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It doesn't seem so.

Earlier Egyptian temples in Nubia, for example the temple of Wadi al-Sabua, had been located within what appear to be fortified enclosures.

That does not appear to be the case with the Abu Simbel temples. This, in turn, suggests that by the time these temples were being built, they were considered to be safely within "Egyptian" territory, and did not require fortification.


A useful source here is Richard Wilkinson's The Complete Temples of Ancient Egypt.


This article on Egypt and Nubia describes the relations between the two countries over time, and details Egypt's military expansion into Nubia in the New Kingdom. It shows that Egypt's southern border was far to the south of Abu Simbel when the temples were constructed.

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  • If you need anything more, let me know and I'll try to update/expand the answer later when I get home. Nov 18, 2017 at 20:15

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