Cairo: An ancient cenotaph was on Saturday moved from medieval Cairo to be placed at the entrance of a major Egyptian museum being built near the world-famous Giza Pyramids outside the Egyptian capital, antiquities official said.
The relocation of the column of Merenptah, the fourth king of ancient Egypt’s 19th dynasty, comes more than a month after a colossus of Ramses II was brought to the site of the Grand Egyptian Museum, as the country is seeking to revive its ailing tourism industry.
The 5.5-long–metre column was transported from the Saladin Citadel in the east of Old Cairo where it underwent years-long restoration, curator of the museum Tareq Tawfiq, said.
“The transportation operation took one hour,” he told the official Middle East News Agency. “All modern scientific steps were taken in order to protect the column during its transportation.”
The granite column, weighing 17 tons, carries engravings and hieroglyphic inscriptions recording military victories of Merentpah, the 14th son of Ramses II.
The cenotaph was originally unearthed in the Cairo suburb of Al Matariya in the late 1960s. It was moved to the Saladin Citadel for restoration in 2008.
The column will be placed along with the massive statue of Ramses II, one of Egypt’s greatest pharaohs, at the atrium of the new museum that will be partially opened later this year.
Egypt plans to showcase some of its most famous ancient artifacts, including those of the boy king Tutankhamun, at the new museum in an effort to lure more foreign visitors.
Tourism, which used to be a main foreign country for Egypt, bore the brunt of the turmoil that hit the country after the 2011 uprising. The industry has shown signs of recovery in recent years.