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Archaeologists lift a 3,000-year-old Egyptian Pharaoh statue considered “one of the most important discoveries ever” from a muddy ditch in Cairo ‎

The towering tribute to Ramses the Great, the most powerful ruler of ancient Egypt, was discovered under a muddy pit, sandwiched between two tower blocks.

Sewage water and dirt have been scraped off the huge structure, as it lay sideways in the Matariyyah neighborhood, northeast Cairo.

The discovery, hailed by the Antiquities Ministry as one of the most important, was made near the ruins of Ramses II’s temple in the ancient city of Heliopolis, located in the eastern part of modern-day Cairo.

Antiquities Minister Khaled al-Anani said: “Last Tuesday they called me to announce the big discovery of a colossus of a king, most probably Ramses II, made out of quartzite.”

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.

Ramses, a schoolbook favourite and the inspiration for Shelley’s poem Ozymandias, began to emerge just yards from where street vendors sold foot, the Times reported.

Broken into pieces the quartzite statue is estimated to be around 26-foot tall – and 3,000-years-old.

Excavators were called in to lift the massive figure following the discovery by a German-Egyptian archaeological team.

Initially the chest was found before the jaw and a crown, the size of a small child, were also discovered.

British Egyptologist Nigel Hetherington said: “Everyone is really surprised at the scale of the statue.

“I don’t think anyone realised how dramatic it would look and there may still be more to come.”

Thousands of residents of Matariyyah took the opportunity to take a selfie at the site.

It is believed the statue is of Ramses because of the area in which it was found.

The working class area of Cairo was erected over the ancient city of Heliopolis which was dedicated to the worship of the sun god Re.

Since Ramses, according to historians, built a temple in the area and named it after himself, it is suggested the figure is him.

It was one of the largest temples in Egypt, almost double the size of Luxor’s Karnak, but was destroyed in Greco-Roman times. Many of its obelisks were moved to Alexandria or to Europe and stones from the site were looted and used for building as Cairo developed.

Experts will now attempt to extract the remaining pieces of both statues before restoring them. If they are successful and the colossus is proven to depict Ramses II, it will be moved to the entrance of the Grand Egyptian Museum, set to open in 2018.

Ramses’ significance in Egypt is such that he is often called The Great Ancestor.

That’s what I always tell the people here when they say is there anything important. According to the pharaonic belief, the world was created in Matariyyah.”

Ramses ruled for 66 years from 1279BC, according to legend, and was a master of the military, extending his empire into Sudan and Israel.

Alongside the figure believed to be Ramses is a life size statue of Seti II, Ramses’ grandson.