Archaeologists in Egypt discovered a massive 26ft (8m) statue submerged in the ground water of a Cairo slum. The joint German-Egyptian research team says it probably depicts revered Pharaoh Ramses II, who ruled Egypt from 1279 to 1213 BCE.
The giant statue made of quartzite was found in the ancient city of Heliopolis, an important religious center and one of the largest cities in Ancient Egypt. Located in the eastern part of modern-day Cairo, Heliopolis was home to the sun gods and, according to the historian Herodotus, it was the oldest center of learning in Egypt.
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There are many temples to Egypt’s sun gods in the ancient city of Heliopolis and among them is the giant sun temple that was founded by Ramses II. The massive statue was recently discovered near the ruins of this temple. The Egyptian government’s Antiquities Ministry suggests it is one of the most important discoveries ever.
“Last Tuesday, they called me to announce the big discovery of a colossus of a king, most probably Ramses II, made out of quartzite,” Antiquities Minister Khaled al-Anani told Reuters at the site of the statue’s unveiling.”
“We found the bust of the statue and the lower part of the head and now we removed the head and we found the crown and the right ear and a fragment of the right eye,” al-Anani added.
Born around 1303 BC in Ancient Egypt, Ramses II, also known as Ramesses the Great, was the third Egyptian pharaoh of the 19th Dynasty (1292-1186 BCE) and the most famous of the Pharaohs.
He was crowned the pharaoh of Egypt when he was about 25 years old and ruled Egypt from 1279 BC to 1213 BC. He lived more than 90 years and had over 200 wives and over 100 children, most of whom he outlived.
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Ramses II ruled longer than the seven other pharaohs of the 19th Dynasty combined and undertook numerous important military campaigns, including the Battle of Kadesh against the Hittites, which was fought at the Orontes River in modern Syria.
He is the most celebrated ruler of Ancient Egypt. Under his reign, numerous monuments, temples, and cities were built. Among his most famous building achievements is a memorial temple complex at Thebes called the Ramesseum and the rock temples of Abu Simbel.
Reuters reports that “the joint Egyptian-German expedition also found the upper part of a life-sized limestone statue of Pharaoh Seti II, Ramses II’s grandson, that is 80 centimeters long.”
If the authenticity of the statues is proven, they will be moved to the entrance of the largest archaeological museum in the world, the Grand Egyptian Museum, which is set to open in 2018.