Cairo, Feb 25 (IANS/AKI) Archaeologists have thwarted an attempt by looters to steal a statue of Egyptian pharaoh Rameses II who ruled more than 3,000 years ago.
The thieves tried to cut the six-metre tall statue into pieces but were caught by archaeologists and guards at the site at Aswan in southern Egypt, Antiquities Minister Zahi Hawass said Thursday in a statement.
The unfinished red granite statue which is 1.75 metre wide and weighs 160 tonnes, was carved out of Aswan's southern quarry and has a partially visible figure of the ancient Egyptian god Osiris attached to it. It is one of many treasures at the site.
A 19th Dynasty king, Rameses II ruled from 1304-1237 BC and is regarded as one of Egypt's most powerful pharaohs and was nicknamed 'the Great Ancestor' by his successors.
The famous twin temples at Abu Simbel, carved out of the rocks, the Ramesseum at Thebes, and Pi-Ramesses, a city complete with zoo near the old city of Avaris, are among the monuments built during his reign.
He was the son of Seti I, whose secret 'tomb within a tomb' was uncovered in June 2010 by a team of Egyptian archaeologists in the Valley of the Kings in central Egypt.
Egyptian archaeologists are currently working on the tomb of Rameses II in a bid to preserve the wall paintings and to search for a similar tunnel to the one in his father's tomb, Hawass had earlier told AKI.