The lower part of the colossus of the ancient Egyptian King Psamtik I, who ruled Egypt in 664–610 BC, was recently discovered by the Egyptian German archaeological mission working at the site of the Heliopolis temple at Souq al-Khamees in al-Matariya, east of Cairo. The bigger part of the colossus had been discovered last March; the part unearthed a few days ago comprises a large portion of the missing parts.
The mission has also discovered a gigantic fragment of the Eye of Horus, very possibly a part of a larger statue of god Rahurakhti. The fragment indicates the original statue could have been up to six metres high, making it the tallest statue of the deity ever discovered so far. Other discoveries at the site included numerous granite blocks that belong to other statues, including one of King Ramses II, the god Rahurakhti, and others yet unidentified.
According to Ayman Ashmawi, head of the Ancient Egyptian Antiquities Department and leader of the Egyptian excavation team, the parts discovered of the Psamtik colossus make some 1920 quartzite fragments; he expects some 2000 more to be uncovered in order to retrieve the full statue of the king.
The parts so far discovered indicate that the colossus was originally in a standing not a seated position. The newly found blocks belong to parts of the pharaoh’s kilt, legs, and three toes, and display a degree of precision in sculpture that far exceeds works prior to that era. The back pillar of the colossus was also found, and it bore engravings that carried the Horus name of King Psamtik I, proving beyond doubt that the colossus belongs to him not to any other of the names suspected before.
Dietrich Raue, head of the German archaeological mission, said that, among the pieces of king Psamtik’s colossus, the mission found a collection of red granite fragments of a King Ramses II statue engraved with his Horus name. Also found in the debris were fragments of a Late Period statue decorated with depictions of gods and demons in the style of the Horus-the-Saviour stelae and statues. This kind of statue was commonly used in ancient Egyptian temples and believed to hold healing powers for ill individuals.
The new finds have been moved to the Grand Egyptian Museum for cleaning, restoration, and indexing.
The site of Matariya once hosted the capital of ancient Egypt, with a great many temples and monuments. These were destroyed at some uncertain date, however.
11 October 2017