Archaeologists in Egypt have discovered a massive statue in a Cairo slum which is thought to be of Pharaoh Ramses II, one of the country’s most famous ancient rulers.

The colossus, whose head was pulled from mud and groundwater by a bulldozer on Thursday, is around 26ft high and was discovered by a German-Egyptian team.

Ramses II ruled Egypt more than 3,000 years ago and was a great builder whose effigy can be seen at a string of archaeological sites across the country.

Massive statues of the warrior-king can be seen in Luxor, while his most famous monument is found in Abu Simbel, near Sudan.

Egyptologist Khaled Nabil Osman said the statue was an “impressive find” and the area is likely to be full of other buried artifacts.

“It was the main cultural place of ancient Egypt – even the bible mentions it,” he said.

“The sad news is that the whole area needs to be cleaned up – the sewers and market should be moved.”

Mr Osman added that the massive head removed from the ground was made in the style in which Ramses was typically depicted. The site contained parts of both that statue and another.

Egypt is packed with ancient treasures, many of which still remain buried. Sites open to tourists are often empty of late as the country has suffered from political instability which has scared off visitors since the Arab Spring uprising in 2011.

Famed archaeologist Zahi Hawass, Egypt’s former antiquities minister, said the area where the head was found is a very important archaeological site containing the remains of temples to Akhenaten and Thutmose III – kings who ruled during the 18th Dynasty – as well as Ramses II.

He said excavating the area is difficult because there are houses and buildings on top of the site and the ground below is filled with rainwater.

Mr Hawass said the excavated head had been broken in earlier times. The minister added: “There is difficulty in the transfer of the relics from the bottom of groundwater to the highest ground.”

In November last year, Egyptian archaeologists discovered a village and cemetery used by officials tasked with building royal tombs.

The findings at the site some 250 miles south of Cairo included 15 large tombs dating back to the Early Dynastic Period, more than 4,500 years ago.

New discoveries in Egyptology continue to be a source of fascination worldwide.

Ramses II, who took the throne in his early 20s as the third pharaoh of the 19th Dynasty, is credited with expanding ancient Egypt’s reach as far as modern Syria to the east and modern Sudan to the south. This expansion earned him the title “Ramses the Great”.

He ruled Egypt for 60 years.

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