Aswan’s Nubian Museum has been widely acclaimed, delighting its sponsors, UNESCO, and posthumously crowning the career of its architect, Mohammed al-Hakim. Opened in 1998, it’s housed in an impressive modern building, loosely based on traditional Nubian architecture and faced in limestone, surrounded by landscaped grounds. It displays some five thousand artifacts, excellently organized and cleared labeled in English, making it a ‘must see’ introduction to the history and culture of the Nubians.
At the entrance to the main hall, a scale model of the Nile valley shows the magnitude of the Nilotic civilization and their architectural achievements. The exhibits lead you from the prehistory through the kingdoms of Kush and Meroe into Christian and Islamic eras, until the drowning of Nubia beneath Lake Nasser and the salvage of its ancient monuments. Among the highlights are a quartzite statue of a Kushite priest of Amun, an eight-meter-high Ramses II, horse-armour from the Ballana tombs and frescoes from the Coptic churches of Nubia. There are also life-size models of traditional Nubian houses and photographs of the mud-brick fortress, churches and cemeteries that were abandoned to the rising waters of Lake Nasser as the temples were moved to higher land.
In the grounds are further monuments and exhibits, including the mausoleum of 77 wali (sheikhs), a traditional Nubian house, and a cave containing prehistoric rock art removed from now inundated area. An artificial watercourse runs through the corner of the grounds nearest the main road attractively spotlight at night. The museum is about 500m uphill beyond the Old Cataract Hotel, about 3o minutes’ walk from the town center.