The discovery - hailed by Egypt's antiquities ministry as one of the most important ever - was made near the ruins of Ramses II's temple in the ancient city of Heliopolis, located in the eastern part of modernday Cairo. "Last Tuesday they called me to announce the big discovery of a colossus of a king, most probably Ramses II, made out of quartzite," the antiquities minister, Khaled alAnani, said at the site of the discovery.
The pharaoh, also known as Ramses the Great or Ozymandias, was the third of the 19th dynasty of Egypt and ruled for 66 years, from 1279BC to 1213BC. He led several military expeditions and expanded the Egyptian empire to stretch from Syria in the east to Nubia (northern Sudan) in the south. His successors called him the Great Ancestor.
Percy Bysshe Shelley's 1818 sonnet Ozymandias--which contained the line "Look on my works, ye Mighty, and despair!" - was written soon after the British Museum acquired a large fragment of a statue of Ramses II from the 13th century BC.
"We found the bust of the statue and the lower part of the head and now we removed the head and we found the crown and the right ear and a fragment of the right eye," Anani said of the new discovery. Archaeologists, officials, local residents and news media looked on as a massive forklift pulled the statue's head out of the water. The joint Egyptian-German expedition also found the upper part of a lifesized limestone statue of Pharaoh Seti II, Ramses II's grandson, measuring 80cm in length.
The sun temple in Heliopolis was founded by Ramses II, lending weight to the likelihood the statue is of him, archaeologists say. It was one of the largest temples in Egypt, almost double the size of Luxor's Karnak, but was destroyed in...