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Enormous statue of powerful pharaoh unearthed

The 13 meter-tall statue of Amenhotep III in Luxor, Egypt. (AP)

CAIRO: Archeologists unearthed one of the largest statues to date of a powerful ancient Egyptian pharaoh at his mortuary temple in the southern city of Luxor, the country’s antiquities authority announced Tuesday.

The 13-meter tall statue of Amenhotep III was one of a pair that flanked the northern entrance to the grand funerary temple on the west bank of the Nile that is currently the focus of a major excavation.

The statue consists of seven large quartzite blocks and still lacks a head and was actually first discovered in the 1970s and then re-hidden, according to the press release from the country’s antiquities authority.

Archaeologists expect to find its twin in the next digging season.

Excavation supervisor Abdel-Ghaffar Wagdi said two other statues were also unearthed, one of the god Thoth with a baboon’s head and and a six-foot (1.85 meters) tall one of the lion-headed goddess Sekhmet.

Archaeologists working on the temple over the past few years have issued a flood of announcements about new discoveries of statues. The 3,400-year-old temple is one of the largest on the west bank of the Nile in Luxor, where the powerful pharaohs of Egypt’s New Kingdom built their tombs.

Amenhotep III, who was the grandfather of the famed boy-pharaoh Tutankhamun, ruled in the 14th century B.C. at the height of Egypt’s New Kingdom and presided over a vast empire stretching from Nubia in the south to Syria in the north.

The pharaoh’s temple was largely destroyed, possibly by floods, and little remains of its walls. It was also devastated by an earthquake in 27 B.C.

But archaeologists have been able to unearth a wealth of artifacts and statuary in the buried ruins, including two statues of Amenhotep made of black granite found at the site in March 2009.

 

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