Ancient Pharaoh's Statue Found
June 7, 2005 By Rossella Lorenzi, Discovery News.
A life-sized statue of the 13th Dynasty Pharaoh Neferhotep I has emerged from the ruins of ancient Thebes in Luxor, Egypt's Supreme Council of Antiquities said on Saturday.
Buried for almost 3,600 years, the six-foot limestone statue shows the "beautiful and good" pharaoh — this is what Neferhotep means — wearing the royal head cloth.
The forehead bears the emblem of a cobra, which pharaohs wore on the crown as a protective symbol: they believed that the cobra would spit fire at enemies.
The statue was found by a French-Egyptian team of archaeologists who were carrying out restoration work around the Karnak Temple, beneath the obelisk of Queen Hatshepsut, Egypt's only female pharaoh, who ruled from 1504-1484 BC.
"We found it about 1.6 meters below ground, under a stone portal which was the entrance of a temple for Pharaoh Thutmosis I, who reigned from 1530 to 1520 B.C.," Francois Larche, director of the Center Franco-Egyptian d'Etude des Temples de Karnak (CFEETK), told reporters.
The second half of the statue is still buried in sand. Archaeologists cannot dig it out as the carving lies in a niche below the foundation pit of the Hatshepsut obelisk.
It is also blocked by the remnants of the stone portal, which would have to be dismantled and then restored in order to bring the statue to light.
"It's up to the Higher Council of Egyptian Antiquities to decide whether to unearth the statue or leave it buried," Larche said.
According to reports in the Egyptian press on Monday, the statue might be left in its current place as it could disintegrate on removal. An exhibition will be set at the statue's site, Zahi Hawass, the head of Egypt's Supreme Council for Antiquities, said.
"The statue shows a very high quality of craft and art," Hawass said.
Little is known about Neferhotep I. The son of a temple priest in Abydos, he was the 22nd king of the 13th Dynasty and ruled Egypt from 1696 to 1686 B.C.
Though he did not have any royal blood, he ascended the throne thanks to his father's position. Some biblical historians believe he may have been the Pharaoh of the Exodus, under whose reign the Jewish exodus occurred. Neferhotep's body and tomb have never been found.
A similar statue of Neferhotep was unearthed in 1904 in Luxor. It is now on display in the Egyptian Museum.