Ramesses II

Ramesses II

Ramesses II’s Life, Accomplishments, and Facts Egypt’s Great Pharaoh

Ramesses The Great is one of ancient Egypt’s most celebrated and powerful pharaohs. He was the third pharaoh of the 19th dynasty of the family tree of Ramesses I, Seti I, and Merneptah. Ramesses II ruled Egypt from 1279 BC to 1213 BC around 66 years. Furthermore, Ramesses II was named after his grandfather, Ramesses I. 

The Early Life of Ramesses II:

As a young prince, Ramesses II grew up in a royal palace. His father Seti I ensured Ramesses II received the best education and training to become the future king. The great prince showed great skills in the training which promises the coming of a great military leader. Notably, Ramesses II accompanied his father on his royal missions and military campaigns to see and learn how to become a great military leader.

Sadly, when Ramesses II was 14 years old his older brother died. This opened the way for Ramesses II to become the upcoming king. Undoubtedly, it was a hard mission for him to be as successful as his father, but with his father, and his knowledge and experience, the journey will not be hard on him.

When he was 15, he married his two main wives Nefertari and Isetnofret. They stood by his side and supported him as he ruled Eygpt. Even as a young man, he showed bravery and skills in battle making everyone believe that he would be a great pharaoh one day. Furthermore, he led his soldiers in fighting when he was 22 which proves that he would be one of Egypt’s greatest pharaohs.

Head of Ramses II at the Luxor Temple, Egypt

Rise to Power: Becoming Pharaoh:

Ramesses II now became the pharaoh of Egypt when he was around 25 years old. The throne of Eygpt wasn’t easy to control especially, with the threat that came from the neighbors. But the young Pharaoh was ready to control all responsibilities, he wanted to make his mark and strengthen his power through battles.

One of the biggest achievements of Ramesses II was creating a new capital called Pi-Ramesses in the Nile Delta of Egypt, about 120 km northeast of Cairo. Later, this city would be the center of power and culture during his rule. Additionally, Ramesses II worked so hard to make his kingdom even bigger and stronger with his wives beside him and supporting him. He started to work on some important construction projects to increase the authority of his Empire and make it stronger.

The Reign of Ramesses II:

During the reign of Ramesses II all of his focus was on making Egypt more bigger and stronger. He led the Egyptian army in many battles and conquered different groups of people. Notably, his most famous enemies were the Hittites, Syrians, Libyans, and Nubians. He won all of his battles against the mentioned so he could build wider, bigger, and stronger borders showing that Eygpt is a great force, and no one could go on a battle with.

One of the most famous fights during his time as pharaoh was the Battle of Kadesh. Unfortunately, things didn’t go well or as planned he managed to make something good out of it. He signed a peace treaty with the Hittites, which was the first agreement between two powerful groups to stop fighting and live in peace. This treaty shows that Ramesses II can make wise and smart decisions to end any kind of conflict.

Besides being a great warrior, wise leader, and honorable king, he loved architecture construction, and building things. Furthermore, such love was reflected in his plan to fix old temples and also build new amazing temples such as the temples of Abu Simbel that still amaze people today.

So, during his reign, Ramesses II was all about making Egypt powerful, but he also knew how to make peace when it was needed. Plus, his building projects showed everyone his creativity and desire to leave a lasting impact on Egypt’s landscape and history.

Egypt Luxor Temple. granite Statue of Ramesses II seated in front of columns

Legacy of Ramesses II

The rule of Ramesses II was a great period for Egypt, where we restored our dominance in the era and proved that Egypt was a great force. Ramesses the Great was an amazing leader who left a big mark on Egypt. His time as a pharaoh made Egypt stronger and more beautiful with his military wins, huge building projects, and his influence on religion and culture. By time and achievements, he became one of ancient Egypt’s most famous and powerful kings.

Military Strength and Success

He was known for being a brave and smart military leader. His biggest and toughest battle was against the Hittites in the Battle of Kadesh. Despite its toughness, Ramesses the Great and his army were able to victory and he made peace with the Hittites. This victory made Egypt safer and showed how good of a leader he was.  He also led his soldiers to win battles against other groups, like the Libyans and Nubians. These wins made Egypt even stronger, so he had statues and pictures made to celebrate his victories. You can find them in the temples of Abu Simbel written on the walls.

Ramesses II fighting his enemies, depicted in the Small Temple of Abu Simbel

Ramesses II’s Amazing Temples 

Indeed, Ramesses the Great wanted to build many things to be remembered and memorized by his people and future generations. He made more than one temple and statue his most famous are the Ramesseum a huge temple near Luxor, and the Abu Simbel Temples, which are giant statues cut into rocks. He also contributed to building the Karnak Temple making it even more impressive. If these buildings could speak they would have told how great Ramesses II was. These buildings are still standing today, and they show how important and powerful Ramesses II wanted to be.

abu simbel egypt

How Ramesses II Changed the Culture and Religion of the Ancient Egyptian

Ramesses II has a deep belief and faith in God Amun who was the main god in Thebes. In addition, he wanted to make sure that God Amun was worshiped everywhere. He liked the god Amun. Moreover, he linked himself to the gods, he wanted people to think of him as having a special connection to the gods so they could believe in him and obey him more. Additionally, he claimed that he was related to some other gods like Ra, the sun god, and Seth, the god of storms and chaos. By pretending to be among gods Ramesses II made himself seem more impressive and important.

After being a pharaoh for 30 years, Ramesses II wanted to do something as a celebration a huge party called the Sed festival. This event was like a big party for the king to be honored by his people for what he had done.  During the Sed festival, everyone treated Ramesses II like a god, performing rituals and ceremonies to show how much they respected and admired him. The Sed festival was a way for the Egyptians to show their love and appreciation for their pharaoh.

Ramesses II was so appreciated and loved by his people. They wanted to celebrate all the good things Ramesses II had brought to Egypt during his rule. Additionally, this celebration turned to do something more important. Moreover, it helped make sure that his son, who was leading the Egyptian army, would become the next pharaoh without anyone trying to take the throne. So, the Sed festival was not only a big party but also a clever way to keep the royal family in power.

Bas relief of Ramesses II and Seth in the Great Temple of Abu Simbel

Ramesses II’s Influence On Our Present Time

The legacy of the great Ramesses II still inspires people nowadays with discoveries, exhibits, and cultural references that keep his memory alive. In the 19th and 20th centuries, we witnessed very important archaeological excavations of sites related to Ramesses II. The Mortuary Temple, the Ramesseum, and the temples at Abu Simbel were explored and discovered at that time, and also they revealed a lot of secrets about this visionary king.

One notable discovery was the colossal statue of Ramesses II found in a temple near Memphis. This statue was found and reconstructed again in Cairo in 1995. Moreover, it was taken from one place to another in an archaeological mission. Before, transporting the statue it was located in Ramsis Square in Cairo then it was transported to Grand Egyptian Museum in Giza. The main idea behind this transport was to avoid the vibration that comes from the underground metro.

Therefore, the decision was made to relocate the statue to a safer location. The statue finally reached its temporary location at the Giza Plateau, the statue went through a restoration process lasting between six to twelve months. The final destination for the statue was the nearby Grand Egyptian Museum (GEM).

Popular Culture References:

In literature, The French writer Christian Jacq wrote the Ramsès series of historical novels, which talks about the life of Ramesses II. In addition, Norman Mailer‘s novel, Ancient Evenings, also describes the reign of Ramesses II in detail.

Conclusion

Ramesses II, or Ramesses the Great earned his place as one of the greatest pharaohs who ruled Egypt. His reign had a significant impact on Egypt’s history and culture. He ruled Egypt for 66 years. Moreover, he led successful military campaigns and signed a famous peace treaty with the Hittites. Ramesses II was also a builder and a visionary king he built huge and important temples that still have their style. He built the Ramesseum and Abu Simbel. His influence on Egyptian religion and culture was strong. Ramesses II remains a popular figure in books, movies, and history debates.

Related FAQ

How long did Ramesses II rule?

Ramesses II had a remarkably long reign, ruling Ancient Egypt from 1279 B.C. to 1213 B.C., a total of 66 years. This makes him one of the longest-ruling pharaohs in Egyptian history.

What was Ramesses II known for?

Ramesses II is known for his military campaigns, particularly the Battle of Kadesh against the Hittites, and for signing the first recorded peace treaty. He was also a prolific builder, constructing temples, statues, and cities across Egypt, including the famous Abu Simbel temples.

Was Ramesses II a great ruler?

Yes

Ramesses II is considered one of the greatest pharaohs of Ancient Egypt. His rule marked the peak of Egypt's imperial power, and he is known for bringing the country to a golden age of prosperity and cultural advancement. He was a skilled military leader, a devout patron of the gods, and a visionary builder.

Where is Ramesses II buried?

In the Egyptian Museum in Cairo

Ramesses II's mummy was discovered in 1881 in a secret royal cache at Deir el-Bahri. Since 1885, his mummy has been housed in the Egyptian Museum in Cairo. Various artifacts and statues associated with him are also on display in museums worldwide, including the British Museum in London.

How did Ramesses II die?

Ramesses II died of natural causes, most likely old age, around the age of 90. By the time of his death, he had outlived many of his wives and children. His long life and reign allowed him to leave a significant legacy in terms of military conquests, architecture, and cultural influence.

What was the impact of Ramesses II's rule?

Ramesses II's rule marked the last peak of Egypt's imperial power. His military campaigns expanded the Egyptian empire, and his building projects, including the city of Pi-Ramesses, contributed to the country's prosperity. His influence on Egyptian religion and culture was also significant, promoting the worship of certain gods and associating himself with divine legitimacy.

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