A team of archaeologists recently discovered a giant 3,000-year-old statue near Cairo, Egypt. It’s thought to depict Ramses II, and is being called one of the most important archaeological discoveries ever.
The statue stands about 26 feet tall, and features no identifiable inscriptions. But its discovery near the gate of a temple dedicated to Ramses II temple makes him the most likely subject.
The statue was found near the temple complex of ancient Heliopolis, most of which was destroyed in the Greco-Roman period. Back then, its antiquities were plundered and sent to Alexandria or Europe.
According to CNN:
Ramses II, a colossus known as the “Great Ancestor” to his descendants, ruled for 66 years from 1279 to 1213 BC as part of Ancient Egypt’s 19th dynasty. He conquered swathes of Nubia in modern-day Sudan and Syria.
His exploits have echoed down the ages, inspiring British poet Percy Bysshe Shelley to pen sonnet “Ozymandias” three millennia later in 1818:
“Round the decay / Of that colossal Wreck, boundless and bare / The lone and level sands stretch far away,” Shelley wrote, imagining a Ramses II statue in ruins. But rather than endless desert and the Valley of the Kings, this Ozymandias was retrieved from a pit swamped with groundwater.
Archaeologists are still working out how to remove the even larger torso portion of the statue, and the dig is ongoing as experts hope to uncover more of the Ozymandias statue for restoration.
In the meantime, the head and torso will be moved to the Grand Egyptian Museum in Giza, which is due to open in 2018.