Archaeologists in Egypt discovered a massive statue in a Cairo slum that may be of pharaoh Ramses II, one of the country’s most famous ancient rulers.
The colossus, whose head was pulled from mud and groundwater by a bulldozer and seen by the Associated Press on Friday, is around 25 feet tall and was discovered by a German-Egyptian team.
Egyptologist Khaled Nabil Osman said the statue was an “impressive find” and the area is probably full of other buried antiquities.
“It was the main cultural place of ancient Egypt, even the Bible mentions it,” he said. “The sad news is that the whole area needs to be cleaned up. The sewers and market should be moved.”
Ramses II, who took the throne in his early 20s as the third pharaoh of the 19th Dynasty, ruled Egypt about 3,300 years ago. He is credited with expanding ancient Egypt’s reach as far as modern Syria to the east and modern Sudan to the south. The expansion earned him the title “Ramses the Great.”
Ramses II ruled Egypt for 60 years — one of the longest stretches in ancient Egypt — and besides his military exploits is known for being a great builder whose image can be seen at a string of sites across the country. Massive statues of the warrior-king can be seen in Luxor, and his most famous monument is found in Abu Simbel, in southern Egypt.
Osman said that the massive head removed from the ground was made in the style that Ramses was depicted and was probably him. The site contained parts of both that statue and another.
Egypt is packed with ancient treasures, many of which still remain buried. The sites open to tourists are often empty these days as the country has suffered from political instability that has scared off foreigners since its Arab Spring uprising in 2011.