83-ton Ramses II collossus moved to new home

Rameses in the main entrance of the Grand Egyptian Museum. Photo by AFP.An 83-ton colossus of Pharaoh Ramses II wended its way at a snail’s pace from a Cairo storage facility to the atrium of the new Grand Egyptian Museum in Giza. Moving the 3,200-year-old statue 1,200 feet from the warehouse to the shiny new museum was a logistical challenge because of its massive weight and its towering 30 feet of height. The solid granite monument required the construction of a custom rig to make the move possible while minimizing risk of damage. It was locked into a metal cage on two trailer beds and then slowly, slowly driven to its final destination accompanied by a phalanx of army engineers and contractors. The total cost for the move was an estimated $770,000.

Ramses on the move in custom rig. Photo by AFP.When it arrived, the statue was welcomed by a cheering crowds, government officials, press, assorted dignitaries and a military mounted escort and marching band. This video captures the sloooow movement of the great pharaoh’s colossus and its arrival at the new museum where he is welcomed by the military band. Our old friend Zahi Hawass is there too, declaring the transfer of the colossus “the most important cultural event in the world.”

Rameses stares down Cairo traffic. Photo by AFP.After his ouster as Antiquities Minister in the wake of the toppling of the Mubarak regime, Hawass had to lie low for a while (well, as low as he can) and had no involvement in any of Egypt’s many archaeological projects and missions that he once ruled with the kind of unquestioned control that Ramses II himself would recognize. Now he’s back in the game, charged with a high-profile Antiquities Ministry mission to look for the tomb of an 18th Dynasty pharaoh known as Ay who was King Tutankhamun’s successor.

The Grand Egyptian Museum is still under construction. The scheduled completion date is 2020, and Ramses II’s red granite colossus will be one of 100,000 Egyptian artifacts that will be on display in the 650,000-square-foot building in the shadow of the pyramids of Giza.