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Like the Pyramids of Giza, Philae was a popular tourist spot for 18th and 19th century travelers.

When these people visited, they saw brightly painted walls and columns much like they were in ancient times. But Philae was submerged underwater after the Aswan Dam was built, and the brightly painted colors of Philae were gone forever. Luckily, a joint project between UNESCO and the Egyptian government rescued Philae from the Nile’s waters.

The project occurred over a period of ten years, between 1970 and 1980. First, engineers constructed a large dam around the island of Philae. They then used powerful pumps to remove the water. After a painstaking process, Philae temple was separated and labeled into 40,000 individual blocks and pieces. The entire temple was moved, piece by piece, to higher ground on another island and put back together like a jigsaw puzzle. The island where Philae was originally situated is now underwater in the murky depths of Lake Nasser

Even though today’s tourists cannot witness all of the original beauty of Philae, the temple itself is in amazing condition and it is easy to see why it was such an important temple for the ancient Egyptians.

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