Since 1955 UNESCO has been working with Egypt’s Documentation Center to record Nubian temples. In 1959 Egypt proposed that UNESCO led a campaign to save the monuments of Nubia. Egypt would provide a sum of money but would need much assistance.
A planning conference was held in October 1959 at the Nubian Documentation Center where experts in archaeology, geology, engineering and architecture attended.
At the end of the conference it was announced the first monuments to be addressed would be the Temples of Abu Simbel. Cut into the cliffs near the second cataract these monuments were built to honor Rameses II and his chief wife Nefertari around 1279-1213BCE.
The UNESCO council earmarked $110,000 for research into this project. These temples were the last to be saved because of the immensity of the project which took over two years to complete. The work was done by Swedish firm VBB (AB Vattenbyggnadsbyrån), who in a feat of spectacular engineering, cut and moved the temples, elevating them more than 200 feet above their original position so to be saved from the water.
The Campaign officially began March 8th 1960 when UNESCO Director General Vittorino Veronese launched the appeal from Paris. The Work on the Aswan High Dam began January 9th, already they were racing the rising waters. The United Nations Educational Scientific & Cultural Organization collected funds from over 100 countries, and skilled engineers were sent from more than 50 nations to help, saving for future generations to see and study these monuments of Ancient Nubia.
$65,690.64 was collected through philatelic campaigns whereby about 50 nations issued stamps with Nubian motifs paying part of the revenue (for example first day issues and covers) to the campaign. Though the amount collected was small, it produced a significant promotion.
100% of the monies collected through the sale of first day covers produced by the various governments went directly toward saving these monuments. Stamps were semi-postals, some were overprinted and a “Tourist Tax” instituted by Egypt (US$2.00) went toward saving Abu Simbel. The “TT” is still there, paying for upkeep.