Monday, February 16, 2009

King Ramses II - Ramses the Great

King Ramses II
King Ramses II , who reigned for 67 years during the 19th dynasty of the 12th century BC, was known as "Ramses the Great". He is known as one of Egypt's greatest warriors, but also as a peace-maker and for the monuments he left behind all over Egypt. He was the first king in history to sign a peace treaty with his enemies, the Hittites, ending long years of wars and hostility.King Ramses reigned for 67 years (1292–1225 B.C.). Under him Egypt acquired unprecedented splendor. His empire extended from Syria to near the Fourth Cataract of the Nile.

King Ramses left monuments throughout Egypt. The principal ones are probably the temple at Karnak, which he completed; the Rameseum, his mortuary temple, at Thebes; the temple at Luxor; and the great rock temple at Abu Simbel with four seated figures of the king on the facade. The period of his rule was characterized by great luxury, increased slavery, and the growth of a mercenary army, all of which led to the final decline of Egypt.

Ramses II was born to Queen Tuy and his father Seti I. He was given the throne at the age of about 20 and ruled for 67 years. This allowed him to be the second longest-ruling Pharaoh. Successor to Harmhab and ruler of ancient Egypt during the XIX and XX dynasties King Ramses I was grandfather to Ramses The Great. This son of Seti, who was not heir to the throne but instead upsurped it, brought Egypt to unprecedented splendor during his long reign from 1292 B.C to 1225 B.C. Born about 1303 B. C. in the eastern Nile Delta, Ramses The Great was known as the Warrior King and Son of Ra, the sun god. A serious child, he was appointed co-ruler by his aging father and assumed the throne in 1297 B.C. at age 24. According to tradition Ramses II was the Pharaoh of Egypt in the biblical Exodus story. Married to Nefertari, whose tomb is considered the most beautiful in Egypt. Ramses The Great was an ambitious builder, a successful general and a popular ruler. He was believed to have sired 100 children during his life.

King Ramses II

Ramses The Great marched 20,000 soldiers north into Syria to defend his empire against Hittite invaders. His empire stretched from South Syria to the fourth cataract of the Nile. Social life was luxurious for the upper classes during his reign and Ramses The Great left many monuments to himself. Ramses duty was to preserve the union of Upper and Lower Egypt which he did by defeating Egypts enemies and honoring the gods.

Ramses II was a prolific ruler that fought to reclaim territory in Africa and Western Asia. The Hittites and Asia Minor were his main opponents or his main enemies. During his fifth year as Pharaoh, he led a campaign known as the Battle of Kadesh. Ramses II tried to keep the newly acquired territory, today it is known as Syria, but lost the battle along with one of his opponents - the Hittites. Seen as a standstill, Ramses II pulled back and Kadesh remained with the Hittites once more. Later, a treaty was signed, territory was divided, and Ramses II agreed to marry the daughter of the Hittite King. During his duration as Pharaoh, he attacked many of his enemies such as the Libyans and the Nubians and also attacked Syria about half a dozen times. Although known for his military might, Ramses II also lived a life of extreme wealth and in addition, he had a need for divine architecture.

Ramses devoted a vast number of buildings like the new capital in the Nile delta. He finished the columned great hall in the temple of Amon-re at Karnak. At Abu Simbel he built the rock temple and took credit for many of his ancestor's buildings. His love of architecture and power allowed him to erect more monuments and temples than any other Pharaoh. Abu Simbel, probably Ramses II’s most impressive structure was carved from a sandstone cliff that faced to the east. This was located in ancient Nubia. Although Abu Simbel remains his most famous structure, he had many more architectural projects. Among them, is included the expansion of Luxor and Karnak. There he finished older projects set forth by his father and erected many more monuments. It was evident Ramses II wanted to leave a mark as a reminder of his great strength and wealth.


The tomb of Ramses II is located in the Valley of the Kings and remains empty. After years or being looted and weathered, it remains destroyed. Great amounts of effort are in progress with the hope of returning the tomb to a somewhat presentable stage. Although the tomb remains empty, the mummy of the Pharaoh has been found. Ramses II’s mummy is thought to be one of the best-preserved mummies ever found. In his tomb there were many jewels and a lot of gold. His favorite designed shoes were there also along with his servants. There was a horse and one of his 5-6 wives that he had.

Two of Ramses II's projects, on the west bank of the Nile that cut deep into the cliffs at Abu Simbel, are perhaps the most famous. These temples, considered Ramses' greatest achievements, were erected in honor of Egypt's major gods and their local variants. After ordering the artisans to carve impressive images of him onto the facade and pillars of these temples, King Ramses' perception of himself changed forever. The temples' scenes of the gods were ordered to be re-carved to include the great king, and he gained eminence equal to that of his fellow gods.

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