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Colossal statue of 'forgotten' pharaoh reconstructed from 4,500 newly discovered fragments


The Egyptian-German excavation mission at Matariya, Heliopolis, recently uncovered roughly 4,500 fragments of Pharaoh Psamtek I's quartzite colossus, parts of which were first discovered last year at the nearby Souq Al-Khamis archaeological site.

Colossal statue of 'forgotten' pharaoh reconstructed from 4,500 newly discovered fragments
An archaeological team at the ancient city of Heliopolis, in modern-day Cairo,
pieced together more than 6,000 fragments of a statue of Pharaoh Psamtik I
to calculate its original size and shape and create a 3D visualization
[Credit: Egyptian Ministry of Antiquities]
Ayman Ashmawy, Head of the Ancient Egyptian antiquities department at the Egyptian Ministry of Antiquities, said that these fragments, along with the previously discovered 6,400 pieces, allow researchers to calculate the original size and shape of the colossus, which was deliberately destroyed.

Colossal statue of 'forgotten' pharaoh reconstructed from 4,500 newly discovered fragments
This visualization of the back pillar of the quartzite statue shows an
 inscription giving the full title of Pharaoh Psamtik. Christopher Breninek
 worked on the visualizations for the Heliopolis Project
[Credit: Egyptian Ministry of Antiquities]
“The new fragments confirm that the colossus once depicted Pharaoh Psamtek I standing, but it also reveals that his left arm was held in front of the body, an unusual feature. A very carefully carved scene on the back-pillar shows the kneeling Pharaoh Psamtek I in front of the creator-god Atum of Heliopolis,” Ashmawy told Ahram Online. He added that the majority of the fragments were found in south of the colossus' pedestal.

Colossal statue of 'forgotten' pharaoh reconstructed from 4,500 newly discovered fragments
The back pillar also shows an intricately carved scene of Psamtik kneeling in front of the creator-god Atum of Heliopolis
[Credit: Egyptian Ministry of Antiquities]
The temple area was left open, Ashmawy added, probably during the Fatimids Era when the temple walls were dismantled to be reused in several Islamic buildings.

Colossal statue of 'forgotten' pharaoh reconstructed from 4,500 newly discovered fragments
Pharaoh Psamtik I ruled Egypt between 664 and 610 BC, founding the 26th dynasty. He has been
credited with the reunification of Egypt following a long period of internal tensions
[Credit: Egyptian Ministry of Antiquities]
Dietrich Raue, Head of the German mission, explained that excavation work was accompanied by a geomorphological and geophysical survey which revealed many fragments of a quartzite gate belonging to Ramses II and (1279-1213 BCE, 19th Dynasty) and Nektanebo I (379/8–361/0 BCE, 30th Dynasty) near the latter's temple in Matariya.

Colossal statue of 'forgotten' pharaoh reconstructed from 4,500 newly discovered fragments
Other finds at the site include this head, also made from quartzite, dating to around 650 BC. Quartzite is a particularly
durable material, and is therefore difficult to carve. Excavation leader Dietrich Raue says they may have used
quartzite for its color variations - the statue of Psamtik moves from purple to pink to dark brown
[Credit: Egyptian Ministry of Antiquities]
Raue pointed out that the geophysical survey had indicated a number of areas with a large number of fragments of the former temple. Within the four ruined walls of the temple, he said, some exceptional finds were made.

Colossal statue of 'forgotten' pharaoh reconstructed from 4,500 newly discovered fragments
A falcon frieze was found at the ruins of the temple of Nektanebo I, in Heliopolis. Nektanebo I was the first Pharaoh
of the 30th dynasty of Egypt [Credit: Egyptian Ministry of Antiquities]
Among them were a fragmented frieze of falcons, part of a gate of Merenptah (1213-1203 BCE, 19th Dynasty) as well as parts of a colossal Ramesside sphinx carved in red granite.

Colossal statue of 'forgotten' pharaoh reconstructed from 4,500 newly discovered fragments
Dr Dietrich Raue, a researcher at the University of Leipzig who led the mission's German team, said excavations
at the ancient city of Heliopolis had also revealed fragments of a quartzite gate. The gate was found
within the ruins of an old temple [Credit: Egyptian Ministry of Antiquities]
“It seems evident that Nektanebo I added his building to a major temple built at an earlier date,” Raue told Ahram Online.

Colossal statue of 'forgotten' pharaoh reconstructed from 4,500 newly discovered fragments
In 2017, when archaeologists first found fragments the statue, it was submerged in a pit of groundwater
[Credit: Khaled Desouk/AFP/Getty Images]
The archaeologist asserted that excavation work in the area has led to the discovery of new room units from the mid-Ptolemaic era.

Colossal statue of 'forgotten' pharaoh reconstructed from 4,500 newly discovered fragments
The discovery of the statue drew crowds of spectators, who watched as the heavy torso was lifted out of the pit
[Credit: Khaled Desouk/AFP/Getty Images]
Some fragments reveal the known practice of reusing of older pharaonic temple items from previous periods during the 2nd and 1st millennium BCE.

Colossal statue of 'forgotten' pharaoh reconstructed from 4,500 newly discovered fragments
An Egyptian worker stands beside part of the head - now known to have depicted to Psamtik I
[Credit: Khaled Desouk/AFP/Getty Images] 
The work was accompanied by archaeobotanical and archaeozoological studies for the identification of plant and animal remains at the site.

Author: Nevine El-Aref | Source: AhramOnline [April 24, 2018]

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