UNESCO launched an international campaign in 1960 to save the monuments of Nubia, threatened by the rising waters of the Aswan High Dam. The 20-year campaign concerned primarily the temples on the sites of Abu Simbel and Philae, which were dismantled, transferred and reconstructed on higher ground out of the Nile’s reach, an unprecedented operation in terms of scale and difficulties involved.

The operation began with Abu Simbel, successfully completed in 1968. The dismantling of the five monuments on Philae, comprising almost 50,000 blocks, began in 1976; the reconstruction was finally inaugurated in 1980 on a new site on the island of Agilkia. The ensemble of Nubian monuments was inscribed on UNESCO’s World Heritage List in 1979, and the project remains an outstanding example of successfully mobilizing international support for a safeguarding endeavour. 

Designed by Annick Maignen and engraved by Max Léognany, the medal’s obverse side features the head of the goddess Isis, reproduced from a bas-relief from the temple dedicated to her, the largest of the Philae complex. The reverse shows hieroglyphic frames bearing the name of King Ptolemy II Philadelphus, in whose reign the temples were completed in the third century BC, protected by Nekhbet, the vulture-goddess of Upper Egypt. The medal was minted in 1975.

Available in gold, silver and bronze

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