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Abu Simbel

Preserving and presenting the world-famous temples of Abu Simbel.
In 1959 an international campaign was launched to save the temples of Abu Simbel from the rising waters of the River Nile. Incredibly, the entire site was cut from the rock face and moved to the safety of higher ground.

An early form of 3D photography was used to create a record of the temples, and to assist the dramatic rescue operation. This proved vital in planning how to cut the temples into blocks and then reassemble them higher up the cliff face.

Today, a different threat looms over Abu Simbel, but once again 3D technology could be its salvation. The threat from flood waters has passed, but every year thousands of visitors pass through the temples, unwittingly causing damage to the precious interiors.

Using the original 1960’s photography, experiments are underway to model the interior chambers and statues of Abu Simbel in 3D. The results show that a virtual reconstruction of the temples could be possible. Could a “virtual” temple be the answer to measuring levels of damage and managing access to this World Heritage Site for the future?