Image: statue of ancient pharaoh Amenhotep II
Supreme Council of Antiquities v
A statue of ancient pharaoh Amenhotep III, left, was found by an excavation team clearing out a temple dedicated to the pharaoh, on the west bank of the Nile in the southern city of Luxor, in Egypt.
updated 3/5/2009 12:48:56 PM ET 2009-03-05T17:48:56

A team of Egyptian and European archaeologists has discovered two large statues of an ancient pharaoh who ruled Egypt some 3,400 years ago, the country's archaeology chief said Thursday.

The two statues of Amenhotep III were found while the excavation team was clearing out a temple dedicated to him on the west bank of the Nile in the southern city of Luxor, according to a statement by Zahi Hawass, head of the Supreme Council of Antiquities.

Hawass said one statue is made of black granite and shows Amenhotep wearing a traditional pharaonic headcover, while the second one depicts him in the shape of sphinx — the mythological creature with a human head and the body of a lion.

The statues were said to be "large" but no other details about the discovery were provided.

Amenhotep was the ninth pharaoh of the 18th dynasty, in what is known as the New Kingdom. He ruled for around 40 years during the 14th century B.C. He was the father of pharaoh Akhenaten who tried to make ancient Egyptians worship a single god, the sun god Ra, making him one of the first known proponents of monotheism.

Luxor is one of the most popular tourist sites in Egypt, famous for its Valley of the Kings and other ruins from pharaonic times.

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