resource of the month iccrom library july 2023 nubian monumentsLast month’s featured resource, a historical photograph of the Temple of Queen Nefertari in Abu Simbel from the ICCROM Archives, generated so much interest from our readers that the ICCROM Library has compiled a number of our in-house resources about the construction of Aswan Dam and the threat it posed to Nubian monuments.

In the 1950s and 1960s, Egypt embarked on an ambitious project to construct the Aswan High Dam, a hydroelectric dam on the Nile River. The dam would provide crucial benefits, such as controlling floods and generating electricity, but it also posed a grave danger to the cultural heritage of the Nubian people. Countless ancient temples, tombs and settlements, including the renowned Abu Simbel temples, would have been submerged under the reservoir. Recognizing the significance of these historical treasures, an international campaign was launched to preserve the Nubian monuments.

UNESCO, in collaboration with ICCROM and various other organizations, spearheaded this effort. Their primary goal was to document, dismantle and relocate the threatened structures to higher ground, ensuring their preservation for future generations.

ICCROM, renowned for its expertise in cultural heritage preservation, played a vital role in the campaign to save the Nubian monuments. We provided technical assistance, training and coordination among the diverse teams of archaeologists, engineers and conservation experts involved in the relocation efforts. For this reason, the ICCROM Library houses an extensive collection of resources related to the campaign and the preservation of Nubian monuments. Researchers and enthusiasts interested in delving deeper into this topic can find valuable references in our catalogue, such as: 

  • Saving Nubia: The archaeological campaigns

This comprehensive book chronicles the step-by-step process of preserving the Nubian monuments, detailing the challenges faced, innovative techniques employed and collective efforts of worldwide experts. It serves as a definitive resource for understanding the magnitude of the campaign and its impact on Nubian heritage.

  • Reports on Nubian monuments relocation

The ICCROM Library collection includes a series of reports documenting the relocation process of various Nubian monuments. These reports provide detailed insights into the technical aspects of dismantling and reassembling ancient structures and the methodologies employed to mitigate potential damage and ensure the authenticity and integrity of the monuments.

Map of Nubian monument Egypt library RoM July 2023

  • Various drawings, technical documents and reports specifically on the Abu Simbel project

Our Library houses reports, drawings and technical documents from the project to relocate the temples of Abu Simbel.

  • Report on the preliminary design of the temples’ protective structures: background of the project, proposed structure, construction problems, cost estimate, drawings, etc.
  • Technical documents on various considerations, such as: design and construction of dam, grouting and drainage, site arrangements, natural conditions like solar illumination, geological reports, hydrography and hydrology, material tests and investigations, foundation investigations, climatic and ecological data, and a study of Nile water flow conditions before and after the dam.

The successful campaign to save the Nubian monuments from the impacts of the Aswan Dam's construction stands as a testament to the power of international collaboration and commitment to preserving cultural heritage. These remarkable structures were relocated and protected through the combined efforts of organizations like UNESCO and ICCROM, ensuring their continued existence and cultural significance.  

Researchers and scholars can explore the wealth of resources in the ICCROM Library collection to gain deeper insights into the campaign and the ongoing preservation efforts in Nubia.