Egypt places the Colossus of Ramses II at the entrance of the new museum

Colossal statue of Ramses II in Memphis, Egypt. Photo taken by Barrylb in September 1999.

CAIRO (AP) – The Egyptian Ministry of Antiquities says it placed the ancient colossus of the famous Pharaoh Ramses II at the entrance of a museum under construction near the country’s famous pyramids outside the capital Cairo.

The erection of the over 80-ton and around 12-meter-high colossus on Thursday was made to a great din and in the presence of Western and Egyptian officials.

The colossus, roughly 3,300 years old, is on display at the entrance to the Great Egyptian Museum, which will house some of Egypt’s most unique and valuable ancient artifacts, including some that belong to the famous boy King Tutankhamun.

Another 87 artifacts will be displayed at the entrance to the museum, said antiquities minister Khaled al-Anani. The first construction phase of the museum will be inaugurated this year.

The statue of Ramses II was discovered in 1820 by Giovanni Battista Caviglia in the Great Temple of Ptah near Memphis, Egypt. The statue was found broken in six pieces and previous attempts at restoration have failed. In 1955, Egyptian Prime Minister Gamal Abdel Nasser moved the statue to the large Bab Al-Hadid Square in Cairo, which was later renamed Ramses Square. There the statue was fully restored and placed on a three meter high pedestal at the edge of a fountain. It was stabilized by iron bars inside the body.

Over time, Ramses Square proved to be an unsuitable place as the statue continued to experience noise, pollution, and vibration from traffic and subways. The Egyptian government decided to move the statue to a safer and more dignified place.

Moving the statue from Ramses Square to Giza was a technological challenge that had been in the pipeline since 2002. A replica was made and transported several weeks before the planned actual move on the planned route to Giza in order to test the planned move process. The move took place on August 25, 2006. During the 10-hour journey, the statue was wrapped and covered with foam. Two flat trucks carried the weight of the statue and its support structures while it traveled in a vertical position.

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Auction Central News International contributed to this report.

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