I started this painting in 2003 after visiting Abu Simbel in Egypt, completed the left half of it back then, and then didn’t pick it back up and finish it until 2021. I'm not sure why I stopped, although it was probably due to a lack of confidence in my painting skills.
Abu Simbel is two temples carved from sandstone in Nubia, Upper Egypt near the border with Sudan. They were constructed from 1264 BC to 1244 BC. The temples are a monument to King Ramesses II and are dedicated to the sun gods Amon-Re and Re-Horakhte. Ramsses' wife Nefertari, his mother Muttuy, and children can be seen as smaller figures at his feet. The other temple (not shown in the painting) was dedicated to Nefertari for the worship of the goddess Hathor.
On February 22nd and October 22nd, the morning rays of sunlight penetrate the temple and illuminate the inner sanctuary.
Because the Aswan dam project and resulting reservoir threatened to submerge the temple, UNESCO and the Egyptian government deconstructed and moved the entire temple to higher ground. 16,000 blocks were moved between 1963 and 1968. You can see an example of this in one of the photos.