A giant, eight-meter statue of Ramses II was accidentally found in Cairo, Egypt, in the vicinity of a temple where the ancient Heliopolis once stood. According to the team of Egyptian and German archaeologists, led by professor Ayman al-Ashmawy, who found it a slum, the statue could represent Ramses II, one of the longest-reigning pharaohs. He was Egypt's undisputed leader for 66 years, from 1279 to 1213 BC.
The Minister of Antiquities, Khaled al-Anani, told Reuters that "this is one of the most important discoveries ever. 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".
The enormous head was found severed from the bust, while the rest of the statue, weighing over 7 tons, will be unearthed in the coming days and transported to a large museum, on the outskirts of Cairo, for restoration.
Next to the giant statue, there is one of pharaoh Seti II, about one meter high. Both pharaohs belong to the dynasty XIX.
The statue is made of "quartzite", writes the Egypt Independent website, a type of rock composed almost exclusively of granular quartz.
The temple of Ramses "is one of the largest of ancient Egypt, as it was twice the size of the Karnak temple in Luxor" adds the Egypt Independent.
During a press conference held in the Egyptian capital, the Minister of Antiquities Khaled El Anany retracted the assumption first made when the huge statue was found in the mud. "When we discovered the statue, its location, in front of a Ramses II temple, and its dimensions immediately led us to believe it was Ramses II or a statue reused by Ramses II but belonging to a previous king."
Instead, the statue appears to depict a less ancient pharaoh, maybe Psammetico I, "belonging to the the dynasty XII, like many other examples in Heliopolis".
Two statues were discovered last week; the other one, about one meter high, is supposed to depict Seti II. The Egypt Independent website had called it "one of the most important discoveries in recent times". In fact, the temple of Ramses is "one of the largest of ancient Egypt, as it was twice the size of the Karnak temple in Luxor".
"After the head was lifted, we began to spot some elements that are typical of other periods: the shape of the head, the right eye, the elongated face and some elements of the body" explained minister El Anany in the press conference.