The joint archaeological mission between Egypt and the United States has brought to light the upper part of a colossal statue of the pharaoh Ramses II. The exploration, led by Dr. Basem Jihad of the Egyptian Supreme Council of Antiquities and Dr. Yovona Trnka of the University of Colorado, has been operating in the region of El-Ashmunein (the ancient Hermopolis Magna located northwest of the modern city of Mallawi and about 30 km north of Amarna), in the Minya governorate.

Dr. Mustafa Waziri, Secretary-General of the Supreme Council of Antiquities, emphasized the importance of this discovery, pointing out that analysis of the piece found indicates it is the continuation of the lower fragment discovered by the German archaeologist G. Roeder in 1930.

Cleaning and conservation work on the statue have already begun in preparation for further study and the eventual reconstruction of the ensemble in its complete form.

Dr. Adel Okasha, head of the Central Administration of Antiquities of Central Egypt, explained that the mission began its excavations last year in an effort to uncover the religious center of the city of Hermopolis Magna from the New Kingdom to the Roman era.

This center would include several temples, including one dedicated to Ramses II, suggesting the relevance of this area for future archaeological research.

Dr. Basem Jihad, leading the Egyptian team, noted that the discovered fragment, carved in limestone, is approximately 3.80 meters tall and depicts Ramses II seated, wearing the double crown and a headdress topped by the royal cobra.

The upper segment of the statue’s rear pylon features hieroglyphic inscriptions praising the king, and it is anticipated that the total height of the sculpture could reach 7 meters once the two parts are joined.

Dr. Yovona Trnka, leading the American team, recalled the successes of the mission in its first season of excavations in the area, including the restoration and reassembly of massive granite columns in the northern part of the Basilica of Hermopolis Magna, which was built on the ruins of a Ptolemaic temple and dedicated to the Virgin Mary in the 6th century.

Ashmunein, known in ancient Egypt as Khmun and later as Hermopolis Magna during the Greco-Roman period, was a center of worship of the god Thoth and served as the capital of the fifteenth nome of Egypt.


Sources

Ministry of Tourism and Antiquities of Egypt


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