Archaeologists have discovered an ancient sun temple under an outdoor market place in Cairo in Egypt with huge statues of the pharaoh, Ramses II. Ramses II is believed to have ruled Egypt from around 1279 to 1213 B.C. and he is known for his military exploits and various monumental building projects. He erected different temples and statues of himself to celebrate his victories.
An Egyptian team along with a team of archaeologists from the German Archaeological Institute is doing the excavations in the Ain Shams and Matariya neighborhoods of Cairo. It is believed by many of the Egyptologists that much of Egypt is still buried under modern cities.
The ancient sun temple discovered was built in limestone and the remains of one of the pillars have been discovered with inscriptions of Ramses II. Archaeologists are trying to excavate the entrance area and the west side of the temple. Other things discovered from the site include a kiln for making amulets, chambers for the storage of wheat, a head of granite weighing 2 tons (1.8 metric tons) and part of a large statue with a head that weighs 5 tons (4.5 metric tons) and must have stood for a height of about 20 feet (6 meters) tall.
The most striking feature of the excavation is the unusual seated statue of Ramses II wearing a leopard skin of a priest which shows that he built the temple as the high priest of Re.
Ramses II became famous for his battles with the Hittites and the Syrians and is believed to have been the Pharaoh of Exodus, the biblical figure from whom Moses demanded the release of his people. The most famous temple of Ramses II is the Abu Simbel which he erected in to a sandstone mountain on the banks of the river Nile.
The discovery of the sun temple may throw light on the on the status of Heliopolis in ancient Egypt. Many temples in honor of Egypt’s sun gods, particularly the chief god Re were built in the ancient city of Heliopolis.