Sunday, March 12, 2017


THE discovery of the colossal statue of PSAMTIK I in Heliopolis/Cairo ... which may have been seen by Antinous in 130 AD ... made headlines around the world this week … but spawned controversy when photos showed archaeologists using a backhoe loader to remove broken pieces of the statue from a muddy hole.

Some critics went as far as to accuse the archaeologists of breaking the statue, and others have accused the mission as well as the Egyptian Ministry of Antiquities of neglect.

But world-renowned archaeologist and former Minister of Antiquities, Dr. Zahi Hawass, has issued a statement defending the whole operation at Souq Al-Khamis in Cairo, saying it was necessary and that the statue was broken by ancient Christians … not by the modern archaeologists.

"Souq Al- Khamis is a very important archaeological site where I personally have done excavation work and at which we found the remains of the temples of King Akhenaten and King Thutmose III and Ramses II.

"The area suffers from ​​a very big problem which is that all the houses and modern buildings are built over the remains of temples and ancient tombs. Additionally, most of the artefacts there, whether statues or temples, are found below the ground water ranging from two to four meters deep.

"It is difficult to transfer the artefacts from below the groundwater to the ground surface. In the past, I had discovered two tombs, one of which was located below the ground water as well.

"I would like to confirm that out of all the artefacts and statues that were found in the area, none has ever been found complete," Hawass added.

"These statuses were destroyed and broken during the Christian Coptic era. This was a time where the Copts considered them as pagan buildings and temples.

"In accordance to that, they had them closed off, destroyed all of the statues and temples as well as re-used the blocks in buildings churches, houses and private buildings. Accordingly, there has never been the discovery of a complete statue in this area," Hawass asserted.

He added that he had also contacted the German archeologist Dietrich Raue, director of the German excavation, in order to assess the discovery. He received video documentation and photographs showing the removal and transport of the statue fragments.

"I would also like to clarify that the process of transporting any statue of a large size, such as the discovered statue here, was assisted by heads of workers from the city of Qeft," Hawass said.

"They are trained to the highest level for transporting heavy statues such as through the example having done this work in Saqqara with the El Kereti family..

"The workers transported various statues and sarcophagi, some of which weighing 20 tons. As to what occurred during the Coptic Era, the discovered statue in Mataria was broken to various pieces," Hawass concluded.

Initially, the colossal statue was thought to be Ramses II, but an inscription revealed it was Psamtik I.

The big question for us is whether Antinous and Hadrian saw this colossal statue when they visited Egypt in 130 AD.

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