A newly-discovered statue of Ramses II in Al-Sharqiyah might mean that the 19th dynasty was present in the area. The red granite statue is 2.47 metres tall and approximately 1.9 metres wide. It was found during the excavations of the German-Egyptian archaeological mission near the Bastet temple at Tell Basta. According to the mission’s blog run by the team director Dr Eva Lange, the statue was reportedly found last November, but needed further research to properly identify the three figures.
The 19th Dynasty statue was found flanked by the deities Hathor and Ptah Hotp.
According to the Ministry of Antiquities’ Facebook page, the area is considered one of the most ancient archaeological sites: “The oldest findings there date back to the fourth Dynasty. It was an important religious centre and one of the capitals of Ancient Egypt. Due to its location [at] the eastern entrance of Egypt, this area faced the comers from the east across Sinai, witnessing many conquerors and invaders, therefore having historical and geographical importance that still needs to be discovered.”
Dr Lange described the find in Dromos Square on the mission’s blog as “unexpected”. “Dromos Square is situated on the axis [that] leads from the temple of Bastet to the city itself. Precisely on this axis, we started to excavate new squares in order to investigate the building history of that area. Assuming that traces of the once-monumental, stone-paved Dromos, doubtless the most important street of the city in the Late Dynastic Period, or of its demolishing process, should be hidden here, we excavated huge disturbed layers of mud brought by rainfalls and the inundation as well as windblown sand. The characteristics of those layers and the discovered pottery showed us that this area lay open as wasteland for a very long period of time, at least from the Early Roman Period onwards,” wrote Dr Lange.
The features were not completely discernible, due to the area’s climate, which aided the wear and tear process. They could not find any inscriptions on the front of the statue, but they did find some on the back of it: “Features of a cartouche, revealing the prenomen of Ramses”. However, further studies were needed to accurately identify the three figures.
According to the Ministry of Antiquities, the mission discovered a second statue made of sandstone: “The statue carries an ancient Egyptian text, pointing out that it is a present to the gods Bastet, Sekhmet and Hor Akhty.”
The discoveries might indicate a second temple in the area. The two statues were transferred to the open-area museum in Tell Basta.