Unearthed Statue a Pharaoh, Just Not Ramses II

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March 20, 2017

The very large statue recently dredged from groundwater in Cairo is probably not Ramses II after all, Egypt's antiquities minister said.

Khaled el-Anani announced the discovery of hieroglyphs that point more to the statue's depicting the little-known pharaoh Psamtek I, who ruled from 664 B.C. to 610 B.C.

The quartzite statue was discovered near the ancient site of the sun temple of Ramses II, and that pharaoh was one of Egypt's most famous builders, with statues of himself dotting the landscape far and wide. As well, Ramses II was fond of large statues, and the recently unearthed statue weighs 7 tons and stretches 26 feet into the air.

Still, hieroglyphs found in the back pillar of the statue mention Psamtek's name and Ramses II died in 1213 B.C. It is possible, el-Anani said, that the statue was of Ramses II originally but was repurposed by Psamtek, who had his name added.

Archaeologists will investigate further. The statue, whomever it depicts, will on display at the Grand Egyptian Museum, set to open in 2018 at Giza.

Psamtek I is perhaps less well-known than Ramses II, but Psamtek I did unite Egypt after a period of intense unrest and also free the country from Assyrian control. He also oversaw, during his nearly 60-year reign, a greater prosperity than many of his predecessors on the throne, along with close relations with neighboring Greece.

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