Archaeologists have found two pharaonic statues dating back more than 3,000 years in a muddy pit in a Cairo suburb.
The relics were found in Mattarya district, a site of the pharaonic capital of Heliopolis, one of the oldest cities of ancient Egypt. Today the area is a sprawl of working and middle class districts in northeastern Cairo.
The statues, discovered on Thursday on wasteland between crumbling apartment blocks, are thought to represent pharaohs from the 19th dynasty, which ruled from 1314 to 1200 BC.
One statue stands eight metres tall and is carved out of quartzite, a tough stone composed mostly of quartz grains.
It could not be identified from its engravings but it was found at the entrance to the temple of King Ramses II – also known as Ramses the Great – suggesting it represents him.
The other is a limestone statue of 12th century BC ruler King Seti II.
They were discovered by a joint German-Egyptian archaeological mission.
“The discovery of the two statues shows the importance of the city of Heliopolis, which was dedicated to the worship of Ra [the sun god]”, Aymen Ashmawy, the head of the Egyptian team on the dig, said.
Dietrich Raue, the head of the German team, added the archaeologists were working hard to lift the statues so they can be transported to another site for restoration.