35 years ago today, 10th March 1980, the ‘International Campaign to Save the Monuments of Nubia’ ended and was declared a complete and spectacular success.
In 1954 the decision to build the Aswan High Dam was made, creating a huge artificial lake covering the Upper Nile Valley. Alarmingly however, hundreds of archaeologically priceless sites were now at risk of disappearing beneath the waters of Lake Nasser.
An emergency appeal by UNESCO to member states resulted in the rescue excavation of hundreds of sites, the recovery of thousands of objects and the relocation of important temples to higher ground; the most famous of them, Abu Simbel and Philae.
In 2009, the then Director-General of UNESCO, Koichiro Matsuura, called it “a moving demonstration of the miracles that can be achieved by international cooperation.”
Photo: Tommaso Nervegna