International Campaign to Save the Monuments of Nubia

The International Campaign to Save the Monuments of Nubia was the relocation of 22 monuments in Lower Nubia, in southern Egypt and northern Sudan, between 1960 and 1980. The success of the project, in particular the creation of a coalition of 50 countries behind the project, led to the creation of the World Heritage Convention in 1972, and thus to the modern system of World Heritage Sites.[1]

International Campaign to Save the Monuments of Nubia
UNESCO brochure on the anniversary of the campaign
The relocated monuments were from Lower Nubia, roughly between Aswan and Wadi Halfa. The area was entirely submerged by the creation of Lake Nasser
LocationAswan Governorate, Egypt
RegionNubia
Official nameNubian Monuments from Abu Simbel to Philae
TypeCultural
Criteriai, iii, vi
Designated1979 (3rd session)
Reference no.88
RegionArab States

The project began as a result of the building of the Aswan Dam, at the Nile's first cataract (shallow rapids), a location which defined the traditional boundary of Ancient Egypt and Nubia. The building of the dam was to result in the creation of Lake Nasser, which would submerge the banks of the Nile along its entire 479 km (298 mi) length south of the dam – flooding the entire area of historical Lower Nubia. Vittorino Veronese, director general of UNESCO described it in 1960: "It is not easy to choose between a heritage of the past and the present well-being of a people, living in need in the shadow of one of history’s most splendid legacies, it is not easy to choose between temples and crops."[2]

It was described in the UNESCO Courier as "the greatest archaeological rescue operation of all time".[3]

In April 1979, the monuments were inscribed on the World Heritage List as the Nubian Monuments from Abu Simbel to Philae, as one of the second group of properties added to the list (the first 12 had been added in 1978).[4]


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