A quiet, safe place for the Pharaoh?
Refugee comes home: Ramses returned to Giza two years ago.
The transport of the giant granite statue of ancient Egyptian Pharaoh, Ramses II, from Ramses Square, downtown Cairo on August 25, 2006, where it stood for more than 50 years, was watched by millions.
In Egypt and abroad, fond farewells were said as the stature was moved from the square that bore the Pharaoh's name, to a new prestigious location in the Grand Egyptian Museum (GEM) on the Giza plateau. The reason given for transporting the 83-tonne monument was that noise, pollution, and vibration from traffic and subways was threatening its existence. The Egyptian Government, therefore, decided to relocate the statue to a safer, and more dignified location. At a temporary location on the Giza plateau, it will undergo restoration. But because the Grand Egyptian Museum is scheduled to open in 2020, the statue is imprisoned in a steel cage near the plateau, not far from el-Remaya Square, another busy junction which funnels traffic from Cairo to other governorates, including dozens of trucks, every day.The move, however, has been criticised for its cost and concerns remain about pollution in the Giza location. Saeed el-Sabagh, a professor of archaeology at Mounifia University, says the location of the GEM in Giza is a symbol of Egyptian civilisation and is distinguished by its height from which one views Cairo and Giza and all their antiquities sites. Abdel Fattah el-Banna, a professor of restoration in Cairo University opposes the new location since it is near busy el-Remaya Square and moreover, there is a growing demand for housing in that area. He also expresses fears that the nearby quarries would cause earth tremours, threatening the statue.However, Alaa Shaheen, Chairman of the Egyptian Antiquities in Cairo University and a member of the technical committee of the Grand Museum, defends the new location saying that the presence of the Ramses statue near the Pyramids and Sphinx makes for an historic panorama. “The new location is one of the safest in terms of geology since it is on a huge plateau, higher than Giza and Cairo which was why the ancient Egyptians built the Pyramids and Sphinx in this area.“For the first time, the statue has been placed in a respectable neighbourhood that meets its status. The statues are carved to be placed in museums or temples, not in squares.” Ramses II was a warrior king, who is credited with bringing Egypt unprecedented power and splendour during his 67-year reign. He died in 1213 BC.