In 1954 it was decided to build the Aswan High Dam. The huge lake created by the dam would eventually cover the Upper Nile Valley from Aswan in Egypt to the Dal Cataract in Sudan - a historically and archaeologically rich area, known as Nubia.
In 1959 the Egyptian and the Sudanese Governments requested UNESCO to help their countries protect and rescue the historic sites endangered by the lake. UNESCO launched an appeal to the Member States for an International Campaign to Save the Monuments of Nubia. This appeal resulted in the excavation and recording of hundreds of sites, the recovery of thousands of objects, and the salvage and relocation of a number of important temples to higher ground, the most famous of them the temple complexes of Abu Simbel and Philae. The campaign ended on 10 March 1980 as a complete and spectacular success.
“A moving demonstration of the miracles that can be achieved by international cooperation.”The success of the Campaign inspired the development and adoption in 1972 of UNESCO’s World Heritage Convention. The Nubian Monuments from Abu Simbel to Philae were inscribed on the World Heritage List in 1979.
Koïchiro Matsuura, Director-General of UNESCO
Recently, UNESCO, Egypt and Sudan began the commemoration of the 50th anniversary of the Nubia Campaign with a meeting in Egypt.