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lunes, 4 de junio de 2012

Nubian Museum A PROUD PAST PRESERVED

A PROUD PAST PRESERVED

In a graceful museum in Aswan, 'the land of gold' lives on
by Yasmine Saleh - Horus vol.24 2006
Step into the Nubia museum in Aswan and you will be transported to a time and place that no longer exist. In 2500 BC, after an era of strife, Nubia began an age of stability and prosperity. The hieroglyphics used to represent 'Nubia' in the language of the ancient Egyptians translate as 'the land of gold'. It was a fitting name ,as the region had several gold mines and abounded in this precious metal.


The golden land was located in the area between Aswan and the Sudan. There is no trace of ancient Nubia on any modern map of Egypt, as it was submerged by water when the high dam was built in 1960s. But within the Nubia Museum, which displays a large collection of monuments and objects, evidence of this once-thriving civilization lives on.
Both foreign and Egyptian tourists flock to this award-winning structure – it won the Aga Khan award for architecture in 2001 – nicknamed "the golden museum ". Built on a ridge with walls of the rose granite found in Aswan, its lines follow the contours of the rock. Its unique, open design offers views of two nearby historical sites, the Fatimid cemetery and the Unfinished Obelisk.

The museum is laid out over an area of 50,000 square meters; 7,000 of this is for the building and the rest forms a tranquil courtyard. The museum's three floors house displays that evoke Nubian culture, as well as a library and information center. The statistics are impressive: The collection includes 503 objects from Pharaonic times, 52 of the Coptic era, 103 of the Islamic age and 360 showing some roman influence.

As you arrive at the museum, you are greeted by a huge statue of Ramses II (1304 – 1237 BC). When you enter, you are enveloped by the aura of an ancient Egyptian city, with all the cultural richness of the Nile Valley and various styles of Nubian heritage. A waterway courses serenely throughout the museum. Among the treasures on display are a statue of Amenras, the spiritual wife of Amun, who was of Nubian origin; the head of a Nubian king fashioned from rose granite head of Tahraqa, a Nubian king noted for the prosperity that characterized his reign (a temple in Aswan bears his name).

The contents of the museum owe their rescue to efforts by the Egyptian government initiated in 1959. Knowing that the completion of the High Dam would mean that irreplaceable treasures would be inundated, they appealed to UNESCO for help to preserve the unique heritage of Aswan and Nubia. With UNESCO's assistance, a ten-year project began to salvage and register priceless items from the land now covered by Lake Nasser.
The idea for the museum itself was born in 1975, when Egypt's Supreme Council of Antiquities sought to create an appropriate showcase for the objects that had been saved. The museum took 11 years to build and was completed in 1997 at a total cost of LE 60 million. Local and international organizations cooperated in its planning and development. Today, the museum ensures that, while the 'land of gold' may be long lost, its treasures are not.

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