Sunday, July 21, 2013
July 21 - Aswan Dam and Abu Simbel
The Aswan High Dam on the Nile River in southern Egypt was completed on July 21, 1970. Heavily funded and designed by the Soviet Union, the enormous rock and clay dam played a role in Gamal Abdel Nasser’s rise as Egypt’s president and had a great impact on Egyptian life. For the first time in history, the Nile’s annual late-summer floods were controlled by impounding the floodwaters in Lake Nasser, releasing them when needed for irrigation of crops (largely cotton) and also generating electric power. Negative effects have included diversion of fertilizing silt along the length of the Nile and degradation of farmland from increased salinity. The project displaced more than 100,000 people. It also caused relocation of major archaeological sites, including the Abu Simbel temples near Sudan, which had been carved into a mountainside in the reign of Pharaoh Ramses II circa 1244 BCE. From 1964 to 1968, the Nubian temples were cut into large blocks averaging 20 tons, then reassembled above the Nile in a historic feat of archaeological engineering.