Authorities have thwarted an attempt to steal a statue of King Ramses II (1304-1237 BC) from an ancient stone quarry located south of the Upper Egyptian city of Aswan, Egyptian Minister of State for Antiquities Zahi Hawas said on Thursday.
The statue, made of pink granite and carved into the form of the god Osiris, stands six meters high, 100 to 175cm wide, and weighs approximately 160 tons.
The Egyptian government had been planning to turn the quarry, which was used by ancient Egyptians for building temples and carving statues, into an open-air museum.
Hawas explained that, while the statue had been completed by craftsmen, it had never been extracted from the quarry.
He added that thieves equipped with drilling tools had tried to carve the statue out from the quarry, but had been found out and arrested by local guards who handed them over to Aswan public prosecutors.