'The Great Rock Temple at Abou Simbel', 1859.
© National Media Museum / Science & Society Picture Library
A stereoscopic photograph of the massive statues carved into the rock at the temple of Rameses II (1279-1213 BC) at Abu Simbel, Egypt, taken in 1859 by Francis Frith (1822-1898). This image is one a series of one hundred stereoscopic photographs taken by Frith for Negretti and Zambra and published in 1862 in a book entitled 'Egypt, Nubia and Ethiopia Illustrated'. Abu Simbel has a pair of temples carved from the rock of sandstone cliffs. The front of the largest temple, dedicated to Rameses II, has giant seated statues of the pharaoh with the gods Ptah, Amun-Re and Re- Horakhty. The temples had to be moved to higher ground in the 1960s because of flooding following the building of the Aswan High Dam. Francis Frith was a pioneer of travel photography. He was also one of photography's greatest entrepreneurs, founding a company that was to become the largest publisher of photographs in the world. Frith saw himself as a romantic adventurer in the mould of Byron. Between 1856 and 1860 h