Sunday 5 June 2016

Rameses II

The greatest pharaoh of the New Kingdom(1550 - 1069 BC), Rameses II reigned supreme for almost 70 years and brought stability and prosperity to Egypt. He used diplomacy, military strategy and propaganda to promote Egypt and maintain his empire.

Being the third pharaoh of the 19th dynasty(1295 - 1187 BC) , from his father Seti I ,Rameses inherited an established empire that stretched from modern day Syria on the North to Sudan in the south. The greatesst threat to his empire was the Hittite Empire further north in Anatolia.

Rameses II, Born - 1302 BC; Died - 1213 BC
His famous confrontation with the Hittites was at the battle of Kadesh in Syria in 1275 BC. Around 1258 BC after continues skirmishes, the Hittites and Egyptians drew up a groundbreaking agreement, effectively ending hostilities between them. Rameses married at least one Hittite princess to underline this new accord.

Egyptian-Hittite peace treaty

 The peace treaty between Rameses II and Hattuski III was first recorded on a silver tablet. An astonishingly modern document, it is seen as the first real international peace treaty, containing clauses on advanced concepts, such as amnesty issues for refugees and extradition of fugitives. It's copy is hanging in the headquarters of United Nations.  

Young Rameses II

This limestone fragment from a stele(commemorative pillar), shows Rameses sitting next to hieroglyphs(symbols) that indicate he is destined to become King of Egypt. He wears the side plait and a heavy ear decoration that was typical of a young Egyptian prince.

Battle of Kadesh
This bas relief from Abu Simbel portrays Rameses II fighting the Hittites single handedly. He is seen astride a chariot, wielding a bow and arrow, and wearing the crown of war.

Rameses built the famous temples dedicated to himself and his favorite wife, Nefertari, at Abu Simbel , close to Egypt's modern border with Sudan. The four massive statues of Rameses at Abu Simbel are one of the greatest achievements of Egyptian art.

Rameses II temple at Abu Simbel

Another major site was Rameses' vast mortuary temple, the Ramesseum, built on the west bank on the Nile at Thebes. A symbol of pharaoh's power and wealth, it was a part of grand complex included a splendid funerary temple dedicated to his parents, courts framed with statues of himself and grand avenues of sphinxes.


Rameses' reign was the last great era of imperial glory for ancient Egypt, and he made his presence felt as far as modern Turkey. He left a wonderful record of art and history, and a real taste of the grandeur and power of the pharaohs.

Rameses' mummy

Discovered in the 19th century the mummy of Rameses II was later unwrapped to reveal his body. He was a tall man for the times, with a long narrow face, prominent nose, large jaw and red hair. He is thought to be about 90 years old when he died.

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