| || The archaeological site of Abu Simbel consists of two monumental temples of pink sandstone, built during the reign of Ramesses II (c. 1301–1235 B.C.). The facade of the larger one, facing toward the rising sun, holds four statues of the pharaoh that are 65 feet (20 m) tall and weigh 1,200 tons. The face of one of the giants has lain at his feet ever since an earthquake that occurred more than 3,000 years ago. In 1954 the decision to build the Aswan High Dam on the Nile threatened to bury the site under the waters of the reservoir lake. Upon the initiative of UNESCO, fifty nations—eager to reconcile the demands of development with historical heritage—united behind an arduous project. Four and a half years of hard work beginning in 1963, mobilizing 900 workers and more than $40 million, were required to break down the temples into more than a thousand blocks and then rebuild them identically, 200 (60 m) feet higher on an artificial cliff supported by a concrete vault. Since 1979 Abu Simbel has been on the list of UNESCO world heritage sites.
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