01 January 2017
rolls press / popperfoto / getty images
rolls press / popperfoto / getty images

A statue of the pharaoh ramesses ii, from the Great Temple of Abu Simbel in Egypt, is reassembled around 1967, after being moved to avoid it being submerged due to the construction of the Aswan High Dam.

Building the dam took ten years, beginning in January of 1960, under the government of Egypt’s second president, Gamel Abdel Nasser. Before the dam was constructed, the Nile River would flood to unpredictable levels every summer—sometimes too high and sometimes too low, often ruining the entire year’s crop. The dam brought the ability to control the river’s flood, making the country’s agricultural industry more consistently prosperous. This control was enabled by the creation of a large reservoir, Lake Nasser, which stores up to 169 billion cubic metres of water near the Nile’s source.

Many ancient monuments stood where Lake Nasser is today. UNESCO facilitated the relocation of 22 of these sites, including the Abu Simbel temple complex, which contained the statue of Ramesses II. Today, those temples stand on the western bank of Lake Nasser. Other monuments were relocated to museums abroad, in countries such as Spain, the Netherlands and the United States. Some, however, were not moved, and currently rest at the bottom of the reservoir.