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1316 - 1224 BC

The son of Seti I, Rameses II became known as Rameses the Great. As the 3rd king of the 3rd Dynasty, he ruled Egypt for 67 years, had over 200 wives and concubines, fathered 111 sons and 51 daughters. It is believed Rameses the Great is the pharaoh in the bible that freed the Israel people to go with their leader Moses.

Rameses became pharaoh when he was about 30 years old. To show his intent of being a strong leader, and, to ensure Egypt remained the most powerful country at that time, he led a campaign into Syria to confront Egypt’s most feared enemy, the Hittites. The war that followed lasted 20 years. In the end, a treaty was agreed they stop attacking each other, also, they would help defend each other from their common enemies.

With Egypt safe from attack, and their great wealth ensured, Rameses the Great embarked on a building project that made him the most famous pharaoh of all time. He added to the Temple of Amenhotep III at Luxor, and completed the Hall of Columns at Karnak, the later still being the largest columned room of any building in the world. Rameses also built a great city at Pi-Ramessu that contained his Royal Palace. He was also known to have the names of other pharaohs removed from their buildings and replaced by his.

Karnak image


Abu Symbel image

Abu Simbel

His most famous temples were not discovered until 1813. That was because of their remote location to the south of Egypt in ancient Nubia. Named Abu Simbel, the two main temples were cut into solid rock on a hillside on the west bank of the River Nile. The smaller temple was dedicated to his favorite wife Nefertari, and, the Hathor Goddess.

The larger temple was dedicated to the three main gods at that time, the Sun God Horakhty, Amon of Karnak and Ptah of Memphis. The larger temple is 119 feet wide and 110 feet high. The four statues at the entrance of the temples, the three gods and Rameses himself, are 67 feet in height. It is thought the temples were positioned at that location to show any of Egypt’s potential enemies, traveling from the south, just how mighty Egypt really was.

In the early 1960s, the High Dam was built at Lake Nasser to control the flooding of the Nile. Between 1964 and 1968, the temples of Abu Simbel were cut out of the rock. They were then moved 200 feet further up the sandstone cliff to keep them from being submerged in the lake.

The last Pyramids were built in the Middle Kingdom 2040 – 1640 BC. During the New Kingdom 1570 – 1070 BC, all the pharaohs and important citizens were buried in elaborate tombs in the Valley of the Kings. The death of Rameses the Great, in his nineties, led to his burial in the Valley of the Kings. His tomb, listed as KV7, covers more than 820 square meters. The tomb of his favorite wife, Nefertari, was discovered in the Valley of the Queens in 1904. Like all but one tomb, that of Tutankamun, it had already been opened and looted, the sarcophagus smashed and the mummy gone. The tomb of Nefartari is now considered by many as the most beautiful of all the tombs in Egypt.

The tomb of Rameses the Great was opened by 21st Dynasty priests so they could relocate his mummy to a tomb high in the mountains, along with other pharaohs. This action was taken to protect them from looters. The priests repaired any damage done by robbers, and, remove any valuables before moving them to the new location at Deir el-Bahri.

The brothers, Ahmed and Hussein Abd-er-Rasoul, found the royal mummy cache at Deir el-Bahri in the 1870s. These brothers, who liked to be known as guides and donkey-masters, were really tomb-breakers and mummy-snatchers. With the capture of the brothers in 1981, and after a few weeks of torture, the location of the mountain tomb at Deir el-Bahri, known as the Royal Cache, was given to the authorities. The first to enter were astounded by what they found. In a tomb originally carved for a 21st Dynasty high priest of Amun and his family, there were forty mummies and coffins, including royals from the 17th – 20th Dynasties, New Kingdom nobles, and family members of the 21st Dynasty priest-king, Pinudjem I.

The discovery of the mountain tomb, with the remains of Rameses the Great, allowed his mummy to be moved to the Cairo Museum where it is now one of the main attractions.

Most mummies were damaged or removed from their tombs, as, many had objects made from gold and precious stone placed between the layers of wrappings.

Rameses the Great was known as the last great pharaoh, as, after his death, Egypt went into decline. By about 1070 BC, Egypt was being invaded by Libyans, Ethiopians, Assyrians, Persians, Greeks and Romans.

en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ramesses_II People List