Ramesses II

memfis-ramesses statue tour

Ramesses II ruled Egypt from 1279. BC up to 1212. BC. He was the son of Seti I and the Queen Tuya. His main wife was Nefertari and the other wifes were:Isetnofret, Bintanath, Meritamen, Nebettawy, Henutmire, Maathorneferure, an unknown Hittite princess…


During his lifetime, and he died when he was over 90 (the average lifespan at that time was 30 to 40 years), Ramesses II had over 100 sons and countless daughters.

He came to the throne of Egypt at the age of 25, and he was raised to become King of Egypt. He was trained in traditional military institutions founded by his grandfather, Ramzes I, studied military and state skills at the age of 10.

Ramesses II married as a young man, and his first wife was Queen Nefertari. After the death of his first wife Nefertari, Ramesses II built a magnificent tomb that was “the architectural wonder” of ancient Thebes.

After many years of conflict with the Hittites, and after the conclusion of peace, Ramesses II married Hittitian princess Maathorneferure. The second Hittitian princess arrived to Egypt seven years after the Maathorneferure.

The father of Ramesses II, Seti I, had seen many of his grandchildren, and among them was Prince Khaemweset, the fourth son of Ramesses II, and the other son of Queen Isetnofret, who was the chief priest of the temple dedicated to the god Ptah in Memphis.




In the first half of Ramesses II reign, relations with the Hittites, a kingdom on the northern borders of Egypt, were quite tight. From the time of Seth I, the Hittites, under their influence, kept the northern regions of Syria, and also held the town of Kades under their control, and therefore controlled most of the land and sea routes in this part of the Mediterranean. Ramesses II in the beginning of 1294 BC began with the expansion and strengthening of influence and territory. He attacked the kingdom of Amur, and violated the agreement his father signed with the Hittites. On the throne of the Hittite kingdom was ruler Muvatali II, who, due to the rebellion in the western regions of his kingdom, paid less attention to the Egyptians in the south. There are a lot of records on temples and papyrus about the battle of Kadesh. For the next few years, Ramesses II organized several war hikes against Hittites, but soon realized that it would not be able to keep the northern parts of Syria under his influence, as the Hittites would not be able to hold the southern parts. The Hittites constantly had problems, from the east they were threatened by a new enemy – the Assyrians. The new Hittites king Hatushilis III realized that he could no longer have two strong enemies – Egypt and Assyria – and therefore proposed a peace with Egypt. 1270. BC, Ramesses II and Hatushilis III have concluded a peace agreement, which is considered to be the first peace agreement in the history of human society.

Ramesses II built large and numerous temples throughout Egypt. He added some elements to the great temples in Karnak and Luxor, and he completed the mortal temple of his father Seti I in Thebes, as well as the great temple of Seti I in Abidos, where he also built his own temple. On the west coast of Nile he built his mortal temple – Ramesseum, which, according to records from the granite quarry in Gebel el-Silsili, was built by over 3,000 workers. In addition to the temple in Ramesseum, he built several more temples in Nubia – Beit el-Wali, Gerf Hussein, Wadi es-Sebua…


Among the largest and most important buildings built by Ramesses II is definitely Abu Simbel temple in Nubia. At the very entrance to the temple, on the right and left side, there are four large statues of Ramesses II – two on each side of the door, 18 meters high. Around the legs of the statues there are statues of his wifes. This building complex had to be moved to a higher level in the XX century (to build the Aswan dam) in order not to be submerged. The temple is 60 meters carved into the hill, there are 4 statues inside – Amon Ra, Ramesses II, Ra Harakhti and Ptah. The interior of the temple is painted with scenes from the Battle of Kadesh, the wars in Syria and Libya and also scenes from the life of Pharaoh. The smaller temple of Queen Nefertari is dedicated to the goddess Hator.


egypt-abu simbel


The Abu Simbel Temple was discovered in 1813. It was covered with large layers of sand. After the discovery of the temple, it was declared as “a miracle of Egyptian architecture”, among the other things, because its orientation is so perfectly calculated that the sun rays twice a year (February 20 and October 20, on Ramzes’s birthday ) penetrate the temple to the statues and light up only three. The fourth – God Ptah, always remains in the shadow because he is connected with the underworld and the dark.


Death of the Ramesses II

After the reign of 67, Ramesses II died at the age of 90. He was buried in the Valley of the Kings. The mummy of Egypt’s most powerful Egyptian pharaoh Ramesses II was found along with other royal mummies in 1881. in a cave near Deir el-Bahri.

Ramesses II was buried in the Valley of Kings on the western slopes of Thebes, in the grave KV7, but his mummy was later moved to a common grave at Deir el-Bahri, where he was found in 1881. In 1885, his mummy was moved to the Egyptian Museum in Cairo. 

In 1974. Egyptologists at the Egyptian Museum in Cairo observed that the state of the mummy deteriorated and sent the mummy with an airplane to be examined in Paris. On that occasion, the Egyptian authorities issued a passport for Ramses, and in it the section was written that his occupation is deceased king. According to the documentary film of the Discovery Channel at the airport in Paris, he was received with full military honours, on a red carpet, like any other visiting head of state.


In Paris, it was noted that the mummy was attacked with molds. Ramesses II had been found to have suffered injuries from former wars, although it can not be said with certainty that this abscess was the cause of Pharaoh’s death. It has also been found that in recent years, Ramesses II has been suffering from arthritis. After the study it turned out that Pharaoh was a cousin with the prehistoric and inhabitants of the Mediterranean.


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