Archaeologists from Egypt and Germany have found a massive eight-meter statue submerged in ground water in a Cairo slum that they say probably depicts revered Pharaoh Ramses II, who ruled Egypt more than 3,000 years ago.
The discovery, hailed by the Antiquities Ministry as one of the most important ever, was made near the ruins of Ramses II's temple in the ancient city of Heliopolis, located in the eastern part of modern-day Cairo.
"Last Tuesday they called me to announce the big discovery of a colossus of a king, most probably Ramses II, made out of quartzite," Antiquities Minister Khaled al-Anani told Reuters on Thursday at the site of the statue's unveiling.
The most powerful and celebrated ruler of ancient Egypt, the pharaoh also known as Ramses the Great was the third of the Nineteenth Dynasty of Egypt and ruled from 1279 to 1213 BCE.
He led several military expeditions and expanded the Egyptian Empire to stretch from Syria in the east to Nubia in the south. His successors called him the "Great Ancestor."
"We found the bust of the statue and the lower part of the head and now we removed the head and we found the crown and the right ear and a fragment of the right eye," Anani said.
The joint Egyptian-German expedition also found the upper part of a life-sized limestone statue of Pharaoh Seti II, Ramses II's grandson, that is 80 centimeters long.
Experts will now attempt to extract the remaining pieces of both statues before restoring them. If they are successful and the colossus is proven to depict Ramses II, it will be moved to the entrance of the Grand Egyptian Museum, set to open in 2018.