CAIRO: At 6:24 a.m. Sunday morning, the sun’s rays aligned in a straight line over the Abu Simbel temples’ Holy of Holies shrine in Aswan (Upper Egypt), lasting for 20 minutes.
The shrine, inside one of Abu Simbel’s two temples, includes four seated statues that were carved from stone. The temples date back to the reign of Pharaoh Ramses II (1293-1224 B.C.) and were built and aligned so that the sun’s rays fall perpendicularly to perfectly illuminate Ramses II’s statue twice a year: Oct. 22 and Feb.22, Ramses II‘s birthday and coronation day, respectively. The statues depict Ptah, Amun Ra, Ramses II and Ra-Horakht.
In coordination with the Ministry of Military Production, the Ministry of Antiquities installed a big screen outside the temple to show the sun alignment phenomenon, said Aswan governor Mostafa Youssry, who attended with other state figures and more than 2,000 tourists.
The celebrations of this phenomenon, scheduled for Sunday, were canceled as part of a seven-day mourning in Egypt after 21 Egyptians were confirmed murdered in Libya.
President Abdel Fatah al-Sisi announced the mourning period after the Islamic State (IS) branch in Libya released a video on Feb. 15 showing the execution by beheading of the Egyptian nationals.