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Giant ancient statue found in Cairo suburban building site

Workers on a building site in suburban Cairo have made a stunning discovery, unearthing part of an ancient statue honouring a 3000-year old Egyptian Pharaoh.

The discovery was first made in the working class Cairo suburb of Matariya last week, before efforts to unearth whatever remained of the statue began.

The statue would have stood eight metres high when constructed, and is thought to depict Pharaoh Ramses II, who ruled Egypt from 1279 to 1213 BCE.

But the discovery wasn’t made as part of an archeological dig or according to dusty half-completed plans laying somewhere in Indiana Jones’ basement. The statue was uncovered as part of a new apartment development – before archaeologists from Germany and Egypt were brought in to examine the statue and excavate it.

The find has been hailed as one of the most important ever and is a boost to Egypt’s struggling tourist industry.

There are more images of the find here, with the ancient structure surrounded by garbage and apartment blocks.

For anyone who has visited the pyramids of Giza, Egypt, this is probably no surprise. While images of the pyramids might conjure visions of sand dunes and windswept deserts, their proximity to the city is the thing that sticks with you upon visiting Cairo.

Once reassembled, the statue is set to greet visitors at the entrance to the Grand Egyptian Museum – scheduled to open in 2018.