A huge granite statue of the ancient Egyptian Pharaoh Ramses II has
arrived at its new home to the Grand Egyptian Museum, which is to open near
the Giza Pyramids outside Cairo. For 50 years, it had stood in a Cairo
square, hemmed in by bridges, an underground railway and a mosque.There were
worries that heavy pollution was damaging the 3,200-year-old statue, which
is 11 metres (36 feet) high and weighs about 83 tonnes.
It took 10 hours for the colossus to travel the 2km to its new home.
The council of antiquities has taken extreme precautions to ensure the move
goes well, even doing a dry-run with a fake statue.Trees and other overhead
obstructions on the route have been moved.
The statue was transported upright through Cairo at a stately pace on two
Tens of thousands of people came out to watch it go by.
The statue was transported in one piece and a steel cage was built around it
to hold it steady.
The head of Ramses, protruding from the protective steel, was wrapped in
plastic and thick padding, but its face was visible to the crowds lining the
The statue will be renovated as its new home is built. The museum, which
also will house King Tutankhamun's mummy and other treasures, is not
expected to open until 2010.
1279-1213 B.C. 19th Dynasty
The son of Seti I and Queen Tuya was the third king of the 19th Dynasty.
Called Ramesses the Great, he lived to be 96 years old, had 200 wives and
concubines, 96 sons and 60 daughters. One son, Prince Khaemwese, was a high
priest of Ptah, governor of Memphis, and was in charge of the restoration of
the Pyramid of Unas. This son was buried in The Serapeum. Ramesses II
outlived the first thirteen of his heirs. Ramesses was named co-ruler with
his father, Seti I, early in his life. He accompanied his father on numerous
campaigns in Libya and Nubia. At the age of 22 Ramesses went on a campaign
in Nubia with two of his own sons. Seti I and Ramesses built a palace in
Avaris where Ramesses I had started a new capital. When Seti I died in 1290
B.C., Ramesses assumed the throne and began a series of wars against the
Syrians. The famous Battle of Kadesh is inscribed on the walls of Ramesses
Ramesses' building accomplishments are two temples at Abu Simbel, the
hypostyle hall at Karnak, a mortuary complex at Abydos, the Colossus of
Ramesses at Memphis, a vast tomb at Thebes, additions at the Luxor Temple,
and the famous Ramesseum. Among Ramesses' wives were Nefertari, Queen
Istnofret, his two daughters, Binthanath and Merytamon, and the Hittite
princess, Maathornefrure. Ramesses was originally buried in his tomb in the
Valley of the Kings. Because of the widespread looting of tombs during the
21st Dynasty the priests removed Ramesses body and took it to a holding area
where the valuable materials such, as gold-leaf and semi-precious inlays,
were removed. The body was then rewrapped and taken to the tomb of an 18th
Dynasty queen, Inhapi. The bodies of Ramesses I and Seti I were done in like
fashion and all ended up at the same place. Amenhotep I's body had been
placed there as well at an earlier time. Seventy-two hours later, all of the
bodies were again moved, this time to the Royal Cache that was inside the
tomb of High Priest Pinudjem II. The priests documented all of this on the
linen that covered the bodies. This “systematic” looting by the priests was
done in the guise of protecting the bodies from the "common" thieves.
Ramesses was followed to the throne by his thirteenth son, with his queen
In August 2006 contractors moved the 3,200-year-old statue of him from
Ramses Square to save it from exhaust fumes that were causing the 83-ton
statue to deteriorate. The statue was originally taken from a temple in
Memphis. The new site will be near the Grand Museum of Egypt.
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