3200-Year-Old Statues of Pharaohs Unearthed in Cairo


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On March 9, Egypt’s antiquities ministry announced the discovery in a Cairo suburb of two pharaonic statues that date back to the 13th century BCE, The Guardian reports. The artifacts highlight the significance of Heliopolis, a famed ancient city once located here.

Egyptian and German archaeologists found the stone figures in pieces buried in a muddy pit. Today, the district houses working and middle-class residents, but the area was once a bustling religious and intellectual center. Heliopolis contained numerous temples dedicated to worship of the sun god Ra.

"[According to pharaonic belief] the sun god created the world in Heliopolis," the antiquities minister who announced the discovery, Khaled al-Anani, said according to The Guardian. "That means everything had to be built here. Statues, temples, obelisks, everything."

One statue was discovered near the entrance to the temple of Ramses II and is believed to depict him. Also known as Ramses the Great (and Ozymandias in ancient Greek, inspiring Percy Bysshe Shelley's sonnet of the same name), the powerful pharaoh led Egypt from 1279 BCE to 1213 BCE during the 19th dynasty. The figure stands 26 feet tall and was carved from quartzite. The second, smaller statue is made from limestone, and likely represents Ramses II’s grandson Seti II.

The relics are set to be restored once they’re salvaged from the muck. If the archaeologists' instincts are proven correct and the first statue is of Ramses II, it will be displayed at the entrance of the Grand Egyptian Museum in Giza when it opens in 2018.

Check out more images below.

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[h/t The Guardian]

Header/banner images: Hajor via Wikimedia Commons // CC BY-SA 3.0