Ancient Egyptian discoveries often make the news because people are intrigued by the fantastical and mysterious lives of the pharaohs, rulers who were treated as gods among men. In 2017, archaeologists were stunned by the discovery of an Egyptian statue unearthed in Cairo in the Matareya area. What makes the find so significant is that it's believed to be a statue of the powerful pharaoh Ramses II, and that its size also marks it as a colossus - a colossus is a statue that is significantly larger than life-size.
The team of researchers were working at the site of Ramses's temple when they uncovered the figure. Sections of the temple were also unearthed, including its entrance hall and a hall featuring several columns. Antiquities Minister Khaled al-Anany noted that extracting the ruins would be a delicate process. Obviously, the ruins themselves needed to be protected, but also the area in which they were found is surrounded by a large population of people, making the process exponentially more difficult. Regardless of how they proceed, this discovery is nothing short of amazing.
The Statue Is Huge And Of Very High Quality
The huge find was unveiled in spring 2017. The team of Egyptian and German archaeologists discovered the impressive 24-foot-tall statue in the mud near one of the city's slums. According to the Minister of Antiquities, Khaled Al-Anani, the statue is most likely of Ramses II.The figure is made out of quartzite, a metamorphic rock that started out as sandstone. Mahmoud Afify, head of the Egyptian Antiquities Sector, pointed out that the statue has excellent features and is very detailed, decorated with intricate patterns and engravings.
Archaeologists Didn't Expect To Make Such An Important Discovery At The Site
According to Dietrich Raue of the University of Leipzig, leader of the German team of archaeologists, no one expected to stumble upon such an incredible find. Previously, the team dug out basalt bases, but nothing else of much significance. Raue explained:
"It was in an area that was almost completely investigated. We thought [the pit] would be empty without any features... so that was a great surprise."
The Statue Is In Pieces
It's nearly impossible to find a statue of this age and size still intact. When researchers initially uncovered the colossus, archaeologists found the statue's bust, the lower part of the head, the crown, the right ear, and a fragment of the right eye. They hope to reconstruct the statue and display it in the Grand Egyptian Museum, which is scheduled to open in 2018.
The Colossus Was Discovered In What Used To Be An Ancient City
The historically significant statue was buried in the ground near the ruins of Ramses II's temple, which was located in the ancient city of Heliopolis. There is not much left of this ancient city, and up until this point the only monument in existence was Sesostris I, the world's oldest obelisk. During the Greco-Roman period, the temple was essentially obliterated and any remaining antiquities were stolen or taken elsewhere, while building materials were reused for other purposes.