Skip to comments.Statue of Egypt pharaoh rolls to new home
Posted on 08/25/2006 1:05:25 PM PDT by NormsRevenge
CAIRO (Reuters) - A massive statue of one of Egypt's greatest pharaohs, Ramses II, rolled through the streets of Cairo to a new home near the Pyramids on Friday to escape the corrosive pollution of its former spot in a crowded transit hub.
Tens of thousands of people lined the streets to bid farewell to the 3,200-year-old red granite statue, which weighs 83 tons and was wrapped in plastic and thick padding for the painstakingly slow 35 km (21 mile) journey, which took 10 hours.
Only the face was visible.
"We are going to miss you. Cairo will never be the same again," shouted 23-year-old Ahmed Sami as the statue started moving.
Ramses II was a powerful imperial ruler and prolific temple builder who ruled Egypt from about 1304 to 1237 BC.
Cairo residents waved from their windows and balconies. Some were in tears. Others climbed buses, cars and mosques to get a view of the statue, which had stood in a square outside Cairo's main railway station for over half a century.
Thousands of policemen deployed along the route. The statue was mounted upright atop a purpose-built vehicle and secured inside a gyroscopically-mounted iron cage.
"It was a very successful journey and we did not stop for a second," said Ahmed al-Gharabawi, the main vehicle driver.
"The 10-hour journey was the best time of my life. I have never seen thousands of people singing all night and walking for miles just to say goodbye to a statue," he told Reuters.
Egypt's Supreme Council of Antiquities took the decision to move the statue following a decade of discussions after the statue had deteriorated, mainly due to exposure to exhaust fumes and the vibrations caused by rail and vehicle traffic.
"I'm quite sure that if you look at the statue now, you will see it is smiling," Zahi Hawass, head of the council, said after the statue reached its new home at the site of a planned museum.
The museum, near the ancient pyramids in Giza, will hold some of Egypt's most treasured antiquities, including the mummy of King Tutankhamun.
The pharaoh Ramses II presided over an era of great military expansion in Egypt. He is a popular feature on postcards and his statue is a famous backdrop for scenes in some Egyptian films. Ramses II is also traditionally believed to be the pharaoh mentioned the biblical story of Moses.
Hundreds of people gather at Ramses square to look at the 3,200-year-old statue of Ramses II being moved in the early hours of the morning, in Cairo, August 25, 2006. (Amr Dalsh/Reuters)
Is that a giant router bit that it's resting on?
By golly, he does look like Yul Brynner!
The massive statue of Ramses II is being prepared for transportation from Ramses square in Cairo, 22 August 2006. Tens of thousands of people gathered along the streets of Cairo to bid farewell to one of Cairo's landmarks as the colossal statue of Ramses II began its journey from the polluted city to a spot near the Pyramids and closer to its original site.(AFP/Khaled Desouki)
AFP got a little more carried away..
Giant Ramses statue flees central Cairo pollution
CAIRO (AFP) - Defeated by pollution in Africa's largest metropolis, the colossal statue of Ramses II -- the greatest warrior king in ancient Egypt -- is to be moved from a congested central Cairo square to a spot near the Pyramids and closer to its original site.
After years of controversy and logistical headaches, the 100-ton pink granite statue will be tranferred in one piece during a high-risk overnight operation through the streets of the capital on a 90-foot motorised convoy.
The monumental statue of the most prolific builder in pharaonic history has all but vanished behind a sarcophagus of protective plastic and scaffoldings, as Cairenes trickle to Ramses square to pay their last respects to what had become one of the capital's most recognisable landmarks.
The transfer was practiced last month with a fake statue.
The pharaonic convoy was to begin moving at a snail's pace at 1:00 am Friday (2200 GMT Thursday) on a 35-kilometre (21 miles) journey to its new home at the Grand Egyptian Museum, which is to open soon near the Giza Pyramids.
The transfer will be broadcast live on Egyptian public television but a planned ceremony was cancelled because of the violence in Lebanon, the authorities announced recently.
"Ramses will be happy now," said Zahi Hawass, the head of Egypt's antiquities. "He would have been unhappy in his tomb knowing that the statue was staying in such a mess where nobody can see him anymore."
Some Egyptian archeologists, politicians and intellectuals have opposed the transfer, alleging it was decided under US pressure because Ramses -- believed to be the pharaoh who oppressed the Jews and forced Moses to take his people out of Egypt -- was perceived as an anti-Israeli symbol.
In an interview with AFP, Hawass dismissed that view -- relayed by one of his predecessors in the Egyptian press -- as "totally stupid, cheap demagogy".
Discovered in 1883 near Memphis, the ancient pharaonic capital, the 11-metre (36 feet) statue was moved to Cairo in 1954.
Two years earlier, a group of young officers led by Gamal Abdel Nasser had overthrown British-backed King Farouk and abolished a monarchy which had become too closely associated with foreign powers.
Nasser wanted to use Ramses to symbolise the authentically Egyptian roots of the new republic.
"It was chopped up in eight pieces and reassembled. Not a single archeologist was present. It was the decision of a military dictatorship," Hawass said.
In its early days, the statue and the fountain at its feet were visible from afar, but they were gradually hemmed in by a mass of overpasses and pedestrian bridges that were meant to ease the flow of people and motor traffic around and across the square but which in fact aggravated it.
The square, which lies outside the city's main train station, is reputed the most polluted spot in Egypt.
Ramses II, from the 19th dynasty of pharaohs, reigned over Egypt for 68 years, from 1304 to 1236 BC, and is believed to have lived to the age of 90.
He covered the country with monuments to his exploits and his mummy, on display in the National Museum in Cairo, is one of the country's biggest tourist attractions.
Interesting. Thanks for the post.
Is that hieroglyphic for router tool or what? lol
I will vouch for that being one large statue, I can also vouch for the pollution where it was planted for years.
Moving it out pyramid way is a good move
I see they put a condom on it. Ramses Brand?.......
Ogee, you're right!
Blast from the Past. Just adding to the catalog, not sending a general distribution.
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