Statue of Ramses II in central Cairo moves to new home
Aug 25, 2006, 13:26 GMT
The giant granite statue of the ancient Egyptian Pharaoh Ramses II loaded on a truck is moved from the Cairo square where it stood for more than 50 years, Friday 25 August 2006. The 125-tonnes statue will be moved to the Grand Museum of Egypt near the Great Pyramids in a bid to save the megalithic statue from corrosive pollution. EPA/KHALED EL-FIQI
Cairo - The giant statue of Ramses II in central Cairo's Ramses Square was moved early Friday to a spot overlooking the Pyramids plateau where the new Grand Egyptian Museum is due to be built.
The 125-ton statue had been in the central Cairo square since 1955, when it was taken from the temple of Ptah in the ancient Egyptian capital of Memphis.
The move took 10 hours to perform, starting at 1 a.m. and lasting until 11 a.m.
A steel cage was constructed around the statue and connected to steel beams. It was then covered in foam rubber and its sides supported by wooden scaffolding.
Two flatbed trucks carried it through the city overnight to avoid traffic throughout the 10-hour trip.
The Egyptian Arab Contractors (AC) company - in cooperation with German experts - handled the transport process, claiming it had adopted some of the techniques Ancient Egyptians used during the construction of the Giza Pyramids.
'For me success in moving the statue means two things: that we the Egyptians can plan well and that it confirms confidence in Egyptian archeologists,' Supreme Council of Antiques chief Zahi Hawas said.
Hundreds of people gathered to welcome the Ramses II statue to its new home, even though the pharaoh was only partially visible behind a fence. Many children tried to jump over the fence, but police officers refused to let people in.
'I read about the statue and saw its photo. I knew that it faced hard conditions where it was last located,' said Johannes Mannharott, a German tourist who witnessed the event.
Inas Shabana, an Egyptian tour guide, said that it was not worth this fuss. According to her, 'moving the statue in the 21st century is not a miracle. What should we say then about the pharaohs who moved stones to build the pyramids and those huge obelisks thousands of years ago?'
The 3,200-year-old giant red granite statue of the pharaoh was exposed to exhaust fumes from trains and to vehicle and underground train vibrations in its old location downtown. The statue is to be restored at its new location.
The new Grand Egyptian Museum - which is also expected to host King Tutankhamun's mummy and treasures - is due to open in five years.
For more than a decade, officials discussed moving the statue as experts figured out where it should go.
Ramses II was a warrior king who is credited with bringing Egypt unprecedented power and splendour during his 67-year reign. He died in 1213 BC.© 2006 dpa - Deutsche Presse-Agentur