A 26-foot statue of what German and Egyptian archaeologists believe is Pharaoh Ramses II has just been discovered buried in the eastern Cairo slum of Matariya, deep beneath muddy groundwater. Ramses II was the ruler of Egypt 3,000 years ago, and this new find has been described by Egypt’s antiquities ministry as one of the most thrilling discoveries ever.
Egypt’s antiquities minister, Khaled al-Anani, described his surprise when he received a call about the discovery of Ramses II.
“Last Tuesday they called me to announce the big discovery of a colossus of a king, most probably Ramses II, made out of quartzite. 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.”
— Nigel J.Hetherington (@Pastpreservers) March 9, 2017
The statue of Pharaoh Ramses II was found in what was once very close to the ruins of the ruler’s temple in Heliopolis, which is now known as Cairo. Ramses the Great had a long reign over Egypt of 66 years, from 1279 BC to 1213 BC.
Also known as Ozymandias, the great Pharaoh Ramses II once had a beautiful and melancholy poem written about him in 1818 by the English poet Percy Bysshe Shelley. This poem was also the title of a suitably dramatic episode of Breaking Bad during Season 5 and was read aloud by actor Bryan Cranston over scenes from the upcoming episode.
“I met a traveler from an antique land who said: Two vast and trunkless legs of stone stand in the desert. Near them, on the sand, half sunk a shattered visage lies, whose frown and wrinkled lip, and sneer of cold command, tell that its sculptor well those passions read. Which yet survive, stamped on these lifeless things, the hand that mocked them, and the heart that fed. And on the pedestal, these words appear: My name is Ozymandias, King of Kings. Look on my Works, ye Mighty, and despair! Nothing beside remains, round the decay of that colossal wreck, boundless and bare, the lone and level sands stretch far away.”
The German and Egyptian archaeological team that discovered this new statue of Ramses II has also just recently discovered part of a statue of Pharaoh Seti II, which was made from limestone, the Guardian reported. Fresh from their previous discovery, the archaeological team stood by on Thursday while a massive forklift worked to dredge the 26-foot statue of Pharaoh Ramses II from the muddy water it was buried in.
One of the reasons that archaeologists are so certain that the newly discovered statue is that of Ramses II is because it was so close to his sun temple, which was one of the biggest temples of any ruler in Egypt. In fact, it was twice the size of the Karnak Temple Complex in Luxor, but ended in ruins during the time period of the Greco-Romans.
Some of Pharaoh Ramses II’s temple relics were preserved, however. The obelisks, for instance, were shipped to both Europe and Alexandria and stones from the temple itself ended up being stolen and then used to help build up the more modern city of Cairo in place of Heliopolis.
Archaeologists are now going to be busy working on trying to remove the statues of Ramses II and also Pharaoh Seti II as carefully as they can. If the most recent discovery is confirmed as being the statue of Pharaoh Ramses II, it will be placed at the entrance to the Grand Egyptian Museum, where visitors can see it when it opens in Giza in 2018.
[Featured Image by Petros Giannakouris/AP Images]