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The Rescue of Abu Simbel

Year: 1966, 28 mins
Code: CAT-Sim

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Abu Simbel, the colossal stone monuments to Egyptian pharaoh Ramses II, was carved into the cliffs along the Nile during his own lifetime (about 1250 BC.) The site is hundreds of miles up-river from Cairo on the desolate border with ancient Nubia. It was virtually unknown to the rest of the world until the invasion by Napoleon's troops in the early nineteenth century.
In the mid-twentieth century Egypt determined to build the giant Aswan High Dam to control the annual flooding of the Nile. This would have submerged Abu Simbel. Under the leadership of UNESCO over fifty nations funded a project to carve the gigantic temple into nearly a thousand blocks, raise them sixty meters to the top of the cliffs, and reassemble them. William MacQuitty, a frequent visitor to Abu Simbel over the years, became a leading scholar of the site and one of the chief spokesmen for its rescue. For years he filmed the work, documenting the engineering as well as the human story. Here he shows excerpts from his film, diagrams of various plans to save the monuments, and explains some of the many ancient carvings.

Stephan Chodorov is a writer and producer, known for American Masters (1985), Camera Three (1955) and The Heart of Healing (1993).

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