Moving a Mountain

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The Egyptian government harnessed the power of the Nile by building the Aswan High Dam. This massive structure, nearly 400 feet high, would eventually create a reservoir that stretched for 500 kilometers and provided enough electricity to power half of Egypt. However, the resulting lake would flood the site of over 20 ancient monuments. The largest and most important were those at Abu Simbel.

The colossal temples of Abu Simbel sit on the shores of the River Nile in South Egypt. They were built by the mighty pharaoh Ramses the Second, whose reign lasted 67 years.

Engineers calculated that the flooding of the dam would raise water leves by 60 meters. To guarantee the safety of the monuments, they would have to be raised by at least 65 meters and moved 200 meters inland.

The moving team realized that Abu Simbel was simply too heavy to move in one piece. The only practiceal way to move the temple was also the least appealing — to cut the temple up into small sections, 1,050 small sections, for the big move. The heaviest and most precious bocks to be relocated were the heads of Ramses, weighing 30 tons and carved nearly 20 meters up into the mountain itself.

Video Preview: “Doomed to Oblivion” — How will Egyptian engineers move this wonder of the ancient world before it becomes flooded with water?

Video Preview: “Engineers to the Rescue!” — The Nile is about to engulf one of Egypt’s most valued ancient temples — good thing Engineers have a plan to save it.

Don’t miss Man-Made: Monster Moves Egyptian Temples premiering August 19th at 8P et/pt.