'One of most important discoveries ever': Statue of ancient Egyptian ruler found in slum

Russell Hope, News Reporter

A massive statue found in a Cairo slum is probably of pharaoh Ramses II, who ruled Egypt 3,000 years ago.

Archaeologists came across the eight-metre statue in ground water in the eastern part of modern-day Cairo last week.

The Egyptian Antiquities Ministry is calling the find, made near the ruins of Ramses II's temple in the ancient city of Heliopolis, one of the most important discoveries ever.

Egyptian minister of antiquities Khaled al-Anani posing with the head of a statue found in a Cairo slum

"Last Tuesday they called me to announce the big discovery of a colossus of a king, most probably Ramses II, made out of quartzite," said antiquities minister Khaled al-Anani, who posed for pictures with the find.

The most powerful and celebrated ruler of ancient Egypt, the pharaoh also known as Ramses the Great was the third of the Nineteenth Dynasty of Egypt and ruled from 1279 to 1213 BC.

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Ramses led several military expeditions and expanded the Egyptian empire to stretch from Syria in the east to Nubia in the south.

Pharaoh Ramses II's mummy seen in Paris in 1976

He was famous for his extensive building programmes and many colossal statues of him have been found all over Egypt. His successors called him the Great Ancestor.

The location of the find strengthens the likelihood of it being Ramses, according to Dietrich Raue, from the Egyptian-German archaeological team.

He said: "The sun god created the world in Heliopolis, in Matariya. That means everything had to be built here. Statues, temples, obelisks, everything."

The site of a discovery of a statue thought to be ancient ruler pharaoh Ramses II, in Cairo

The find could be a boon for Egypt's tourism industry, which has suffered since the uprising that toppled autocrat Hosni Mubarak in 2011.

The number of people visiting Egypt has dropped dramatically from nearly 15 million in 2010 to 1.2 million in the first quarter of 2016.