One of Egypt’s ‘most important discoveries’ was just found in a muddy pool
An eight-meter statue believed to be of Pharaoh Rameses the Great has been discovered in a pool of muddy groundwater in an eastern Cairo suburb.
Egypt’s Ministry of Antiquities made the announcement on Thursday, calling the statue: “one of the most important discoveries ever.” A team of Egyptian and German archaeologists came across the statue last week.
“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 said at the site of the statue’s unveiling, according to media reports.
Egypt’s Ministry of Antiquities says it’s unearthed a gigantic statue in Matariya, one of Cairo’s most densely populated neighborhoods. pic.twitter.com/LIoz4D7PkH
— Jahd Khalil (@jahdkhalil) 9 March 2017
Split into several fragments, archaeologists found the statue near the temple of the sun god, located in the modern-day Ain Shams and Matariya districts – where the ancient city of Heliopolis once stood.
“We found two big fragments so far, covering the head and the chest,” Dietrich Raue, head of the German archaeological team, told Live Science.
“As of yet, we do not have the base and the legs as well as the kilt.” he said.
Raue also explained that while it is clear that Ramses II used the statue to represent himself, it remains uncertain whether it was actually originally built to represent the ruler.
“We cannot yet be sure that it wasn’t an older statue he reused,” the archaeologist said.
He also said that the team has not yet finished excavation. “It is possible we will find the missing fragments, and — who knows — maybe other statues.”
— ⚡️ H.H. ⚡️ (@HileyHatfield) 9 March 2017
Ramses II was the most powerful and most celebrated ruler of ancient Egypt. He was the third pharaoh of the civilizations 19th dynasty and ruled a vast empire that stretched from present-day Libya to Iraq in the east, to Turkey in the north and to Sudan in the south.
During his 66 year reign (1279 to 1213 B.C.), Ramses II built more temples and monuments than any other Egyptian pharaoh. He also took many wives and fathered more than 100 children.
Egypt is hopeful that the impressive find, will give a boost to its struggling tourism industry. With recent high-profile visits from celebrities such as American actor Will Smith and Argentinian footballer Lionel Messi, the country’s historic hotspots have already enjoyed a great deal of international media attention thus far this year.
The country’s massive tourism sector has been hit-hard ever since the 2011 uprisings that ousted President Hosni Mubarak. This year however, tourism officials in the country are encouraged by an increasing number of visitors, hoping they may finally return to pre-2011 levels.