May 15, 2012

On First Entering the Temple at Abu Simbel, August 1, 1817

On First Entering the Temple at Abu Simbel, August 1, 1817
Giovanni Finati

Abu Simbel
We availed ourselves of such implements and contrivances as seemed adapted to facilitate the labour, and as soon as some appearance of the great architrave of a portal came to light, trunks of the palm-trees were driven down as piles, at the distance of two or three yards from it, which bore the loose mass from behind, and enabled us to scoop out a sort of well in front of them, which we consolidated, from time to time, by the pouring of water.

After three weeks ... a corner of the doorway itself became visible. . . .At that very moment, while the fresh clamours and new disputes were going on with our crew , and the attention of all distracted, I, being one of the slenderest of the party, without a word, crept through into the interior, and was thus the first that entered it, perhaps for a thousand years.

Unlike all the other grottoes in Egypt and Nubia, its atmosphere, instead of presenting a refreshing coolness, was a hot and moist vapour, not unlike that of a Turkish bath, and so penetrating that paper, carried within, soon became as saturated as if it had been dropped in the river. It was, however, a consoling and almost an unexpected circumstance, that the run of sand extended but a little way within the aperture, and the remainder of the chambers were all unencumbered.

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