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Parts of Pharaoh Psamtik I colossus statue recovered in Cairo


The Egyptian-German Archaeological Mission uncovered most of the remaining parts of the recently discovered colossus of 26th Dynasty Pharaoh Psamtik I (664-610 BC) while excavating at the temple of Heliopolis in the Souk Al-Khamis area of Matariya district in east Cairo.

Parts of Pharaoh Psamtik I colossus statue recovered in Cairo
Archaeologists working at the temple of Heliopolis in Souq al-Kharnis 
in the Matariya district of Cairo [Credit: Ministry of Antiquities]
Aymen Ashmawy, head of the Ancient Egyptian Antiquities Department and leader of the Egyptian excavation team, told Ahram Online that the joint mission has unearthed around 1,920 separate quartzite blocks comprising the lower part of Pharaoh Psamtik I colossus.

The mission is composed of archaeologists from the Egyptian Ministry of Antiquities, the Georg Steidorff Egyptian Museum at the University of Leipzig and the University for Applied Sciences, Mainz.

Parts of Pharaoh Psamtik I colossus statue recovered in Cairo
Back pillar of the 30th dynasty [Credit: Ministry of Antiquities]
"Early studies carried out on the newly found blocks of the colossus reveal that most comprise parts of the pharaoh's kilt, legs and three toes," Ashmawi pointed out.

The studies also suggest that the buried colossus was constructed in a standing position, not a seated one, he stated.

Parts of Pharaoh Psamtik I colossus statue recovered in Cairo
Back pillar of Pharaoh Psamtek I [Credit: Ministry of Antiquities]
The excavations were focused around the location in which the upper body of Psamtik's colossus had been found back in March 2017, according to Dietrich Raue, the head of the German archaeological team which participated in the mission.

The statue's first part was found just to the north of its more recently uncovered lower part.

Parts of Pharaoh Psamtik I colossus statue recovered in Cairo
Back pillar of Pharaoh Psamtek I [Credit: Ministry of Antiquities]
Evidence suggests the sculpture had been destroyed at an uncertain date and its fragments scattered around a 20-meter diameter area.

The team also uncovered numerous granite blocks that belong to other statues, including one of Pharaoh Ramses II, the god Rahurakhti, and others yet unidentified.

Parts of Pharaoh Psamtik I colossus statue recovered in Cairo
Cartouch on the statue Pharaoh Psamtek I [Credit: Ministry of Antiquities]
Ashmawy noted that the mission will continue to uncover more of the colossus' lower part during the next archaeological season. The coming find could reveal a total of 2,000 fragments and blocks.

Among the most prominent parts of the uncovered section, he said, is the back pillar engraved with the sacred Horus-name of Psamtik I, "a fact that confirm that the discovered colossus is that of Pharaoh Psamtik I, and not Pharaoh Ramses II as some suggested."

Parts of Pharaoh Psamtik I colossus statue recovered in Cairo
Toes from the colossus statue of Pharaoh Psamtek I [Credit: Ministry of Antiquities]
Upon initial discovery, some archaeologists had believed that it may have belonged to Pharaoh Ramses II, but the engravings on its back pillar dispelled that hypothesis.

The mission also found a gigantic fragment of the Eye of Horus which was likely a part of a larger statue of deity Rahurakhti. Ashmawy asserted that studies on the newly discovered eye fragment show that this statue could have been up to six meters tall, making it the tallest statue of the deity known from ancient Egypt.

Parts of Pharaoh Psamtik I colossus statue recovered in Cairo
Leg from one of the colossus statues recovered at the site [Credit: Ministry of Antiquities]
Among the pieces of Pharaoh Psamtek I's statue, Raue explained, the mission found a collection of red granite fragments of a Pharaoh Ramses II statue engraved with his Horus name. Also found in the debris were fragments of a Late Period statue decorated with depictions of gods and demons in the style of the Horus-the-saviour stelae and statues. This kind of statue was commonly used in ancient Egyptian temples and believed to hold healing powers for ill individuals.

At the northern edge of the area, Raue said, a poorly preserved eight-ton fragment was also extracted. Due to its deteriorated state, Egyptologists were not able to determine its exact dating or to whom it belongs.

Parts of Pharaoh Psamtik I colossus statue recovered in Cairo
Raising of a large granite fragment from one of the colossus statues 
[Credit: Ministry of Antiquities]
Eissa Zidan, head of the restoration department at the Grand Egyptian Museum (GEM), told Ahram Online that the newly discovered fragments of Pharaoh Psamtik I's colossus were transported to the museum for cleaning, restoration and archaeological documentation.

Parts of Pharaoh Psamtik I colossus statue recovered in Cairo
Back pillar of the 30th dynasty [Credit: Ministry of Antiquities]
After a full study of the artefacts, Zidan noted, a plan will be devised to reconstruct the parts of the colossus and put it on display at the GEM.

The upper part of the colossus, which includes of the torso and a large part of the head and crown, is currently on display at the museological garden of the Egyptian Museum in Tahrir. Until its discovery last spring, it had sat under the water table in Souk Al-Khamis neighbourhood, an area heavily congested with housing.

Parts of Pharaoh Psamtik I colossus statue recovered in Cairo
Large limestone blocks from the area's ancient temples [Credit: Ministry of Antiquities]
Al-Matariya was once Egypt's capital city, in which most Egyptian Pharaohs erected their monuments within its temples for about 2400 years.

Because of the area's proximity to continued human settlement, the site was heavily destroyed in subsequent millenia, from Late Roman times onward to the Mameluk era and until today.

Blocks of the area's ancient temples were re-used to build various monuments in Old Cairo, such as Bab el-Nasr and others.

Author: Nevine El-Aref | Source: Ahram Online [October 10, 2017]
TANN

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