A 26ft high newly discovered Egyptian statue is starting its journey to a museum after it was discovered in a Cairo slum.
The statue of Pharaoh Ramses II, whose head was pulled from mud and groundwater by a bulldozer on Thursday, is around 26ft high and was discovered by a German-Egyptian team.
It is now being transported to the garden of the Cairo Museum where it will be on display to visitors from all over the world.
The discovery, hailed by the Antiquities Ministry as one of the most important ever, was made near the ruins of Ramses II’s temple in the ancient city of Heliopolis, located in the eastern part of modern-day Cairo.
Egyptian Antiquities Minister Khaled Al-Anani said: “Now my colleagues of the conservation department in the ministry will work on it, and the colossus, as well as the head, as well as the statue of limestone of the Seti II, will be in display in a few days in the garden of the Cairo museum, and the Seti II will be inside to be visited by all our guests from all over the world. It’s a big discovery.
“In my opinion, it’s one of the greatest discoveries of the last years.”
The most powerful and celebrated ruler of ancient Egypt, the pharaoh also known as Ramses the Great was the third of the Nineteenth Dynasty of Egypt and ruled from 1279 to 1213 BCE.
He led several military expeditions and expanded the Egyptian Empire to stretch from Syria in the east to Nubia in the south. His successors called him the “Great Ancestor”.
Experts will now attempt to extract the remaining pieces of both statues before restoring them. If they are successful and the colossus is proven to depict Ramses II, it will be moved to the entrance of the Grand Egyptian Museum, set to open in 2018.
“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,” Anani said.
The discovery was made in the working class area of Matariya, among unfinished buildings and mud roads.
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 centimetres long.
Experts will now attempt to extract the remaining pieces of both statues before restoring them.
Dietrich Raue, the head of the German team, said the archaeologists were working hard to lift the statues so they can be transported to another site for restoration.
He added that Ancient Egyptians believed Heliopolis was the place where the sun god lives, meaning it was off-limits for any royal residences.
“The sun god created the world in Heliopolis, in Matariya. That’s what I always tell the people here when they say is there anything important. According to the pharaonic belief, the world was created in Matariya,” Raue said.
“That means everything had to be built here. Statues, temples, obelisks, everything. But … the king never lived in Matariya, because it was the sun god living here.”