That massive statue recently discovered in Cairo turns out NOT to be that of famous Egyptian Pharaoh Ramses II. However, the statue still depicts another ancient Egyptian ruler, that of Pharaoh Psamtek I. He ruled Egypt from 664 to 610 BCE. This is the same statue that was found last week in an eastern Cairo suburb. According to Khaled el-Anani, Egyptian minister for antiquities, the portions of the torso and head that were found were transported to the famous Egyptian museum in Cairo on Thursday. Experts all over the world have been descending on the site at the Souq al-Khamis district in Cairo to help study the discovered statue. All the statue’s parts would first be assembled at the Egyptian museum where they would be pieced together and restored before being moved to the soon-to-be-opened Grand Egyptian Museum near the Giza Pyramids.
As soon as experts got to see the torso, head, lower parts of the head, crown, right ear, and fragments of the right eye, they knew at once of their error that this statue was not of Ramses II. What made many fall into this conclusion was the fact that after the first part of the massive statue was discovered, the joint Egyptian-German team from the University of Leipzig also found the upper part of a life-sized 80cm limestone statue of Pharaoh Seti II, Ramses II’s grandson. Psamtek I’s statue is made of quartzite, a really hard stone composed mainly of quartz. It stands at 26 feet tall, or 8 meters. Both statues represent pharaohs from the 19th dynasty of the Egyptian empire.
These statues were thought to be part of the city of Heliopolis at its height when its temples were used to worship the sun god, Ra. A large ancient obelisk was also unearthed along with the statues. The ancient capital of Heliopolis means ‘city of the sun’ in ancient Greek and was founded by Ramses II. Ancient Egyptians believed that the city is the place where the sun god lives and so its temples were dedicated to worshiping him. Royalty could go there for worship but were not allowed to set up residence. It was one of the largest temples in Egypt, but was destroyed by the Greeks and Romans as the empire declined.
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All this find could be a boon to Egypt’s failing tourism industry, which has suffered since the uprising that brought down autocrat Hosni Mubarak in 2011. Then, a terrorist bomb that brought down a Russian plane that killed all 224 people on board. From 14.7 million tourists in 2010, the number dropped to 9.8 million in 2011, and dropped down further to 2.2 million in 2015 and to only 1.2 million in 2016. Psamtek I had to beat out 11 other contenders in order to become pharaoh. Originally eyed as a puppet ruler for the Assyrian empire, Psamtek instead freed the country from Assyria within a decade.