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Giant Statue of Ramesses the Great Uncovered in Egypt

Statue Ramesses the Great
The statue depicts Ramesses II wearing the double crown and a head covering with a royal cobra. Credit: Ministry of Tourism & Antiquities

Archaeologists uncovered the upper part of a large statue of Ramesses II during excavations in Egypt’s Minya.

Ramesses II, commonly known as Ramesses the Great, was the third pharaoh of the 19th Dynasty during the New Kingdom period.

He is widely acknowledged as one of the most influential and powerful pharaohs in ancient Egyptian history. He led numerous military campaigns into the Levant, re-establishing Egyptian dominance over Canaan and extending it to Nubia in the south.

Because his family’s home was in the Nile River delta, and to have a convenient base for campaigns in Asia, he built for himself a full-scale residence city called Per Ramessu (“House of Ramesses”; biblical Raamses), which was famous for its beautiful layout, with gardens, orchards, and pleasant waters.

Nine kings of the 20th dynasty (1190–1075 BC) called themselves by his name; even in the period of decline that followed, it was an honor to be able to claim descent from him, and his subjects called him by the affectionate abbreviation Sese.

The statue was found during excavations at the ancient city of Hermopolis, located near the boundary between Lower and Upper Egypt. Known as Khemenu during the Old Kingdom period, the city emerged as the provincial capital second only to Thebes.

The Ancient Greeks called the city Hermopolis, meaning “The City of Hermes”, as the Greeks associated the cult of Thoth worshiped at Hermopolis with Hermes.

The city was further developed by the Romans into a major religious center from the 3rd century, by which time the city was part of the Roman province of Thebais Prima in the administrative diocese of Egypt.

The Statue of Ramesses the Great is 3.8 meters in height

According to Dr. Mustafa Waziri, Secretary-General of the Supreme Council of Archaeology, the limestone statue is the missing upper section to part of a statue discovered by German archaeologist G. Roeder during the 1930’s.

Measuring 3.8 meters in height (7 meters when combined with the part from the 1930s excavation), the statue depicts Ramesses II wearing the double crown and a head covered with a royal cobra. On the upper part of the back column is a series of hieroglyphic inscriptions that describe the glorified titles of the pharaoh.

Dr. Yufona Tranka also explained that the mission has also restored granite columns located on the north side of the Basilica of Ashmonine, a 6th-century church dedicated to the Virgin Mary which was constructed on the ruins of the Temple of Talmi.

Related: How Many Pyramids Were Built in Ancient Egypt?

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