Update on March 17: What was first believed to be a depiction of Pharaoh Ramses II is now more likely thought to be King Psammetich I, who ruled Egypt from 664 to 610 BC, according to Egyptian antiquities officials. The biggest clue pointing to the statue's true identity was the discovery of an inscription on it that read "Nebaa," a name closely linked to Psammetich I.
The statue's other characteristics led archaeologists to believe that the artifact came from Egypt's Late Period. If true, researchers believe it would be the largest statue from the Late Period ever discovered.
Other fragments of the statue will need to be studied to confirm the identity with certainty.
Archaeologists from Egypt and Germany have discovered the remains of an ancient Egyptian statue they believe could depict one of history's most famous rulers.
The likeness of what may be Pharaoh Ramses II was found submerged in groundwater in a working-class neighborhood of Cairo.
"We found the bust of the statue and the lower part of the head and now we removed the head and we found the crown and the right ear and a fragment of the right eye," Khaled al-Anani, Egypt's antiquities minister, told Reuters.
A quartzite colossus possibly of Ramses II and limestone bust of Seti II are seen after they were discovered at the ancient Heliopolis archaeological site in Matareya area in Cairo, Egypt on March 9, 2017. The statues were found in parts in the vicinity of the King Ramses II temple in the ancient city Heliopolis, also known as Oun, by a German-Egyptian archaeological mission.
The 26-foot statue is made of quartzite and could be up to 3,000 years old. The Antiquities Ministry in Egypt is hailing the discovery as significant. The remains lack an inscription bearing the pharaoh's name, but the discovery's proximity to a temple devoted to Ramses suggest the statue is of his likeness, the ministry says.
A limestone statue of Pharaoh Seti II, the grandson of Ramses II, was also found at the site.
The discovery was made by a joint effort between Egypt's Ministry of Antiquities and researchers from the University of Leipzig. A rising water table, industrial waste, and piling rubble have made excavation of the ancient site difficult.
Ramses II is one of the ancient world's most famous leaders. He ruled Egypt from 1279 to 1213 B.C., making his 60-year-long-rule one of the longest in ancient Egypt. His military exploits expanded Egypt's reach as far east as modern Syria and as far south as modern Sudan.
The growth and prosperity seen in Egypt at the time earned him the title "Ramses the Great."
Excavation will continue in Cairo and, if the remaining pieces can restore the statue, it will be erected at the Grand Egyptian Museum, which is set to open in 2018.
The neighborhood in which the statue was discovered is in the eastern part of the city and was built over the ancient city of Heliopolis. The city was so named because it served as the center of worship for the ancient Egyptian sun god Re.
Ramses was a chief worshiper of Re. He commissioned a number of temples in Heliopolis to be built for worshipping the sun god.
It's also believed Ramses II may have been the pharaoh from the biblical Book of Exodus from whom Moses demanded the release of his people.
In 2006, archaeologists discovered one of the largest sun temples in Cairo under a marketplace. It was found to house a number of statues of Ramses II weighing as much as five tons. One such statue depicted the pharaoh seated and wearing a leopard's skin, indicating that he might have served as a high priest of Re when the temple was built.
Much of what was once Heliopolis is now covered with residential buildings. Researchers believe many more remains of the ancient world lie hidden under the wider city of Cairo.