For the pharaohs, temple building was a way of thanking the gods for military triumphs, demonstrating their greatness to their people, and ensuring their memory would be honored in posterity. Ramses II (19th Dynasty, 1304-1237BC) was a prolific builder, and the great temple at Abu Simbel was amongst his most exceptional works. While the Ramesseum lies half in ruins, it is nevertheless one of the loveliest sites in Egypt. The temple precinct is scattered with shards of ancient pottery and fallen blocks, the most sensational of which is a large sculpture of Ramses II’s muscular torso. His monolith, carved into a single piece of Aswan granite, once stood almost 17 meters high, dominating the local countryside. Even now the Ramesseum, with its wind-gnarled trees full of chirping birds, has an ambiance full of the romance of a great, but fallen, power.