Egypt places the Colossus of Ramses II in the atrium of the new museum

Amr Nabil / AP

A drone films a giant statue of Pharaoh Ramses II that will be relocated to the Great Egyptian Museum in Cairo, Egypt on Thursday, January 25, 2018. The museum is slated to open this year.

CAIRO – With a lot of noise, Egypt erected the ancient statue of one of its most famous pharaohs, Ramses II, in the entrance hall of a new museum of antiquities under construction near the Giza pyramids at the gates of Cairo.

The 3,300 year old statue was relocated for the fourth time. It was first discovered near ancient Memphis in 1820 by Giovanni Battista Caviglia, an Italian explorer and Egyptologist who was also a key figure in the excavations of the Sphinx of Giza.

Ramses II, also known as Ramses the Great, ruled Egypt for about 60 years, from 1279 BC.

The erection of the over 80-ton colossus with its approximately 12-meter-high towers took place as part of a ceremony attended by Egyptian officials and foreign diplomats.

The massive statue – which has adorned Ramsis Square, named after the statue, in downtown Cairo for over 50 years – was moved in an iron cage that was suspended like a pendulum on a steel bridge for about 400 meters (yards) from its previous stand was on the museum grounds.

“We are celebrating the arrival of the first artifact at its final location in the atrium of the Great Egyptian Museum,” said the antiquities minister Khaled al-Anani, looking at the colossus.

The relocation of the colossus cost 13.6 million Egyptian pounds, al-Anani said, which is about $ 770,000 today, and included a military corps of engineers and a contractor.

Al-Anani said the museum’s entrance hall will also house 87 other artifacts, including 43 massive statues. He said the first phase of the new museum, including the atrium, will be inaugurated later this year. The grand opening of the new museum is expected to take place in 2022.

Spanning approximately 490,000 square meters (586,120 square yards), the museum will house some of Egypt’s most unique and valuable artifacts, including many that belong to the famous boy King Tutankhamun.

Egypt hopes the inauguration of the new museum, along with a slew of new discoveries, will help fuel a vital tourism industry shaken by the political turmoil in Egypt following the 2011 popular uprising that overthrew longtime autocrat Hosni Mubarak.

Thursday marked the seventh anniversary of the uprising in Egypt.

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