Today’s postcards feature the statue of Ramesses II in repose in Memphis. Two superior gents of Western appearance have taken possession of the reclining form – their proprietorial stares directed downward from their elevation. At ground level we have an assortment of local worthies with their beasts of burden. The shattered statue was excavated in Memphis in 1820 where it remained until 1955 when its six fragments of red granite were transported to Cairo on the orders of President Nasser. There, it was raised to the vertical, clamped together by internal scaffolding and installed on a roundabout in the city centre. The square in which it stood was renamed Ramesses Square and there it remained for just over half a century of slow decay and disintegration. In 2006 it was dismantled by the authorities and moved to Giza for repair and restoration. This work is scheduled for completion next year when it will be erected at the entrance to the new Grand Egyptian Museum (GEM) which has been under construction since 2012 to a design by architects Heneghan Peng of Dublin.
In the last 10 days there’s been much excitement in Cairo with the discovery of giant fragments of what was initially thought to be another statue of Ramesses II – found in a drainage ditch between two apartment blocks in Matariya, Heliopolis. On further inspection the subject turned out to be Psamtek I, still a major discovery and a new exhibit for the GEM. The other two postcards are less populated – in one a bearded figure squats in solitary contemplation while the other is animated by the presence of a small group of traders in fruit.