My name is Ozymandias, King of Kings;
Look on my Works, ye Mighty, and despair!
Nothing beside remains. Round the decay
Of that colossal Wreck, boundless and bare
The lone and level sands stretch far away.
Ancient Egyptian Pharaoh Ramses II, whom the Greeks referred to as Ozymandias, inspired Percy Bysshe Shelley’s sonnet of the same name. The poem tells of a “traveller from an antique land” who describes a massive wreck of a statue standing alone in the desert. While the statue itself was reduced to ruin in the middle of the desert sands, its creator believed that it would forever tell of his legacy as a great ruler.
Today, Ramses II is regarded as one of the greatest Egyptian pharaohs and a recent discovery in Egypt is proving just how much Ramses’ legacy is still being felt. According to Reuters, a team of German and Egyptian engineers unearthed a massive statue this week believed to depict the ancient pharaoh. The statue stands over 8 meters (26 feet) tall and was carved from quartzite. Researchers have so far recovered the torso bust and several fragments of the statue’s head and crown, but more undiscovered fragments are thought to be in the area.
In a Facebook post, Egypt’s antiquities minister Khaled al-Anani stated that current thinking is that the location of the bust likely suggests it was carved to honor Pharaoh Ramses II:
[Archaeologists] are going now to complete the research and excavation work of the remaining sections of the statue to confirm the identity of its owner. On the discovered portions there is no inscription found that would make it possible to determine which king it is. But its discovery in front of the gate of the temple of Pharaoh Ramses II suggests that it is likely him.
The statue was found by construction crews working in the Souq El-Khamis area in El-Matariya, what is now described as a slum in eastern Cairo. The same area was once the ancient city of Heliopolis, one of the oldest cities in Egypt. The city’s name comes from the fact that the city was once the center of the cult of Atum, the Sun god who preceded Ra and Horus.