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Archeologists in Egypt discover massive statue of pharaoh Ramses II in Cairo slum

A German-Egyptian archaeological team has unearthed an 8-meter colossus depicting one of ancient Egypt's most powerful pharaohs. The statue was found in the working class Cairo neighborhood of al-Matariya.

Renowned archaeologist Zahi Hawass confirmed Friday that the enormous statue unearthed in Cairo this week depicts the ancient Egyptian pharaoh Ramses II.

"In view of the hugeness of the statue, I confirm it belongs to King Ramses and not to any other ancient king," Hawass, Egypt's former antiquities minister, said.

The 8-meter (26-foot) structure was found submerged in groundwater in the ancient city of Heliopolis where excavators had previously found the ruins of a King Ramses temple.

Ägypten Gefundene Statue in Kairo (picture-alliance/abaca/I. Ramadan)

The structure was found submerged in groundwater

Its enormous head had to be separated from the body using a bulldozer. "We used the bulldozer to lift it out," Khaled Mohamed Abuelela, manager of antiquities at Egypt's Ain Shams University, said. "We took some precautions, although somewhat primitive, but the part that we retrieved was not harmed."

The rest of the body, believed to weight some 7 tons, will be pulled out on Monday according to Hawass, when it will then be transported to a museum on the outskirts of the Egyptian capital for restoration.

A precious archaeological site

The working class neighborhood of al-Matariya is believed to likely be full of other unearthed antiquities.

"It was the main cultural place of ancient Egypt - even the Bible mentions it," Egyptologist Khaled Nabil Osman said. "The sad news is that the whole area needs to be cleaned up; the sewers and market should be moved."

Hawass said the site also contained the remains of temples to Akhenaten and Thutmose III - kings who ruled during the 18th Dynasty. However, dense housing and rainwater seeped in the earth have made it increasingly difficult to excavate the area's many buried treasures.

"There is difficulty in the transfer of the relics from the bottom of groundwater to the highest ground," Hawass said.

dm/se (AP, dpa)

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