Ramses the Second of Egypt - the Great

Ramses the Second, also known as Ramesses the Great and alternatively transcribed as Ramses and Rameses is the greatest pharaoh of the 19th Dynasty, and one of the most well known Egyptian kings, comparable in fame to King Tutankhamen.

Everything about Ramses II has to have the suffix "the Great" added. He reigned for a very long period, 67 years, and died in his 90s, at a time when the life expectancy was in the late thirties or early forties.

Along with the five royal names given to pharaohs, Ramses the Second had about a hundred epithets, such as "The Great Bull, Beloved of Maat, Protector of Egypt, Conqueror of Foreign Lands, Rich in Years, Great in Victories, Lord of the Two Lands, and so on.

The two most important, his prenomen (king name) and nomen (birth name) are transliterated as User Maat Re Setep en Re and Ra Meses Meri Amen, respectively. It translates as "Powerful one of Maat, the Justice of Ra is Powerful, chosen of Ra, Ra bore him, beloved of Amen".

The pharaoh had four Royal Wives, a large harem and fathered about 80 children. His most beloved and venerated wife was Nefertari. Ramses outlived many of his sons and daughters. Merneptah, his 13th son, eventually succeeded him.

Early in his reign, Ramses the Second decided to attack territory in the Levant which belonged to a more substantial enemy, the Hittite Empire. At the Second Battle of Kadesh in 1274 BC towards the end of the fourth year of his reign, Egyptian forces under his leadership marched through the coastal road through Canaan and south Syria through the Bekaa Valley and approached Kadesh from the south. Ramses planned to seize the citadel of Kadesh which belonged to king Muwatallis of the Hittite Empire. The battle almost turned into a disaster, but with bravery at the command of his Amen Brigade and the reinforcement of the Ptah Brigade, Ramses managed to turn the tide of battle against the Hittites. Egypt's sphere of influence was now restricted to Canaan while Syria fell into Hittite hands. Over the ensuing years, Ramses the Second would return to campaign against the Hittites. However, neither power could decisively defeat the other in battle. Consequently, in the twenty-first year of his reign (1258 BC), Ramses decided to conclude an agreement with the new Hittite king at Kadesh, Hattusili III, to end the conflict. The ensuing document is the earliest known peace treaty in world history.

Ramses the Second of Egypt at British MuseumRamses II drove his attention to campaigning south of the first cataract into Nubia and into massive monument building, including the renowned archeological complex of Abu Simbel, and the mortuary temple known as the Ramesseum. It is said that there are more statues of him in existence than of any other Egyptian pharaoh, not surprising as he was the second-longest-reigning Pharaoh of Egypt after Pepi II. A colossal statue of Ramses the Second of Egypt was taken from a temple in Memphis. reconstructed and erected in 1955 on Ramses Square in Cairo, a well known tourist spot. In August 2006, contractors moved the 3,200-year-old statue from Ramses Square to save it from exhaust fumes that were causing the 83-ton statue to deteriorate. The new site will be located near the future Grand Egyptian Museum. The mummy of Ramses the Great is the most famous attraction in the collection of Royal Mummies at the Egyptian Museum.

In 1995, Professor Kent Weeks, head of the Theban Mapping Project rediscovered Tomb KV5. It has proven to be the largest tomb in the Valley of the Kings which originally contained the mummified remains of some of the pharaoh's estimated 52 sons. Approximately 150 corridors and tomb chambers have been located in this tomb as of 2006 and the tomb may contain as many as 200 corridors and chambers.

Category: Ancient Egypt

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