Treasures of Ancient Egypt Day 3 – the Younger Memnon

This head of the pharaoh Ramesses II is one of the heaviest objects in the British Museum. It weighs 7 tons, which is the same weight as a fully grown elephant.

Ramesses II lived about a hundred years after Tutankhamun. When Ramesses II was king, he had a massive temple called the Ramesseum built in his honour. He called it ‘The Mansion of a Million Years’. On either side of the entrance stood a colossal statue of the king.

The remains of one of the two statues can still be seen outside the Ramesseum in Egypt (low down, greenish in colour, between the first and second statues in the picture above). The other one is in the British Museum, brought there three hundred years ago by a circus strongman called ‘Belzoni the Great’. The colossal head of Ramesses II was too heavy for Belzoni to lift, but he was a man of many talents and he had already invented a powerful hydraulic machine that could lift incredibly heavy objects.

© The Trustees of the British Museum

At the time, people in Britain were perfectly happy to take things from Egypt and put them in museums. Today, an increasing number of people think it’s strange and wrong that we still have these ancient Egyptian artefacts in our possession.

Published by

Stephen Davies

Children's author: picture books, chapter books and YA novels

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