CAIRO: The sanctuary of the ancient Egyptian solar God Amun at the Karnak temples in Upper Egypt will witness its yearly sun alignment phenomenon on Sunday, which marks the winter solstice, an official onset of winter for the residents of the Northern Hemisphere, Upper Egypt Antiquities Department head Aly el-Asfar told The Cairo Post Saturday.
“The phenomenon will also be noticed and celebrated in two other archaeological sites: the mortuary temple of Queen Hatshepsut in the west bank of Luxor, and Qasr Qaroun temple in Fayoum, southwest of Cairo,” Asfar added.
Celebrations of the solar alignment come in a bid to attract tourists to counter the decline in tourism since the January 25 Revolution, he added.
The winter solstice occurs in the Northern Hemisphere when the sun is at the greatest distance from the equator. The day marks the shortest day and longest night in the year, archaeologist Ahmed Saleh, the general-director of the Saving the Nubian Monuments Fund, told Youm7 Saturday.
“The date varies from Dec. 20-23 because the Gregorian calendar of 365 days a year, with an extra day every four years, does not accurately correspond to the solar calendar of 365.25 days,” Saleh said.
The 3,500-year-old Karnak temples were designed to receive sunrays into their sanctuary at the dawn of the winter solstice. The sunrays were meant to illuminates statues of Amun—which no longer exist—for about 19 minutes, he continued.
Ancient Egyptians believed the winter solstice was the embodiment of the process of creation and the birth of divine deities such as Horus, Saleh added.