Colossal Ancient Egyptian Statue Unearthed In Cairo Slum

Among his many other noble titles, Pharaoh Ramses II could soon add one more honorific: the ultimate slumdog millionaire.

Archaeologists have discovered a massive statue that likely depicts the ancient Egyptian ruler submerged in the groundwater of a Cairo area slum. The sculpture, believed to be some 3,000 years old, lies in Matariya, near the ruins of the ancient city of Heliopolis.

An Egyptian worker stands next to the head of statue at the site of a new discovery by a team of German-Egyptian archeologists in Cairo’s Mattarya district on March 9, 2017.
Statues of the kings and queens of the nineteenth dynasty (1295 – 1185 BC) were unearthed in the vicinity of the Temple of Ramses II in what was the old Pharonic city. / AFP PHOTO / KHALED DESOUKI (Photo credit should read KHALED DESOUKI/AFP/Getty Images)

A team of Egyptian and German researchers began excavating the quartzite sculpture, estimated to stand 26 to 30 feet tall, on Thursday.

he discovery caps an archeological study of the area that had begun in 2012, CNN reports. The dig was just wrapping up having found little else of great import.

The statue “was in an area that was almost completely investigated,” Dietrich Raue from the University of Leipzig, one of the partners in the dig, told CNN. “We thought [the pit] would be empty without any features … so that was a great surprise.”

Ramses II, also known as Ramses the Great, ruled from 1279 to 1213 BCE. In that time, he greatly expanded the reach of the Egyptian empire, to as far east as modern-day Syria and as far south as current-day Sudan, according to National Geographic.

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