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Researchers found the fractured body and head of an ancient statue at an archaeological site in Cairo, Egypt, in March.
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©Ibrahim Ramadan/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images
This ancient wall carving from an Egyptian tomb shows Psamtik I.
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A child poses next to the head of the statue, believed to represent Psamtik I.
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©Amr Nabil/AP Images
Buried Treasure
Experts uncover sections of a gigantic statue of an ancient Egyptian king

Tricia Culligan | for Scholastic Art

A king named Psamtik (SAM-tihk) I, who ruled Egypt more than 2,600 years ago, recently made news. In March, archaeologists discovered parts of a massive statue that they believe depicts the ancient pharaoh.

A Big Find

Archaeologists found the monumental statue buried in a neighborhood in Cairo, Egypt’s capital. This section of Cairo stands on the ruins of Heliopolis, a major city in ancient Egypt. Since 2005, archaeologists have been searching the area where Heliopolis once stood, hoping to find ancient artifacts.

While digging at the site in March, researchers from Egypt and Germany unearthed two fragments of a giant stone statue. With the help of Egyptian authorities, the researchers used a crane and other machinery to raise the statue’s fractured torso and head from a muddy pit. Though they have not yet found the entire statue, archaeologists estimate that the stone pharaoh stood 26 feet tall.

Identifying a King

At first, experts thought the statue depicted Ramses II, one of Egypt’s most famous rulers. After all, archaeologists found the fragments in the ruins of one of his temples. But days later, the researchers noticed an engraving on the statue’s torso that revealed new details. The carving spelled out a name the ancient Egyptians commonly used to refer to Psamtik I, who ruled from 664 to 610 B.C., more than 500 years after Ramses II.

Though archaeologists believe the statue represents Psamtik I, they can’t confirm the identity until they find and study more pieces of the figure. Officials plan to restore the statue and display it at the Grand Egyptian Museum, which is set to open near the Great Pyramid of Giza next year.