Wednesday, March 05, 2008

TV Review: Monster Moves - Rescuing Ramesses

Channel 5

Yesterday's "Rescuing Ramesses", part of the new Channel 5 "Monster Moves" series in the UK (terrestrial tv) was rather better than I expected. The subject matter was the removal of a number of ancient Egyptian monuments from their original location to higher ground, in order to protect them from the rising waters of Lake Nasser following the construction of the Aswan High Dam.

Original footage, which was of very good quality, was accompanied by computer animations which demonstrated how the monuments were prepared for movement to their new homes, and how then how they were actually moved. This was a good use of computer graphics, and was very helpful in enabling the viewer to understand exactly what was going on.

Interviews with some of the original engineers took place - at least one of whom hadn't visited the site since the original work was completed.

The main focus was, of course, Abu Simbel, but other sites were examined too. Kalabsha was used as the test site for what was to come at Abu Simbel. Amada was moved in one piece, shunted into position by hydraulics on rails. I was fascinated to see that the Roman portico at Philae was dismanted from beneath the waters of the lake by divers.

An experiment to recreate the physical task of cutting the Abu Simbel monument into chunks was carried out with a sandstone replica of one of the heads of Ramesses - Unlike most of these experimental scenarios created for the TV, this one actually served to make a point, and demonstrating what a labour intensive, physically demanding and time consuming task it really was.

Unfortunately I couldn't find a page on the Channel 5 website that mentions the series, never mind this particular episode, so there's no additional information at the moment, and I have no idea whether Channel 5 are planning to re-show the series. Hopefully they will do - keep an eye open for it because it is well worth viewing.

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