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A temple, preserved © George Steinmetz/Getty ImagesJoin Our GIFs Group
The temples at Abu Simbel, commissioned by Egyptian pharaoh Ramesses II around 1264 BCE, would not be around for us to photograph if it weren"t for the efforts of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO). A couple centuries after the Abu Simbel temples were completed, Ramesses" empire had collapsed and the sands of the Nubian region of North Africa began to consume them. European explorers "discovered" Abu Simbel in the early 1800s, leading to massive efforts to excavate and preserve the ruins of the great pharaoh"s monument to himself.