People > Ramesses II
Ramesses II (1300s-1213 BCE) was one of the most famous and powerful of rulers over ancient Egypt. He ruled over Egypt between 279 BCE and 1213 BCE. Ascending to power in his early twenties, Ramesses II ruled Egypt for over 60 years and was a great military leader as well as known for building massive construction projects throughout the kingdom.
Ramesses is also well known for being featured in the Hebrew Bible as the leader who was contemporary with Moses, but the authenticity of the story itself is dubious. It is extremely important to note that we will never use the word Pharaoh to describe an Egyptian King. The word "Pharaoh" was a myth much like the supposed massive Israelite Exodus and like most of the biblical works filled with constant streams of half truths and lies spun into myths and stories. It is our goal to educate you on the true history of the path save our future ancestors really do start to take such works as fact.
Ramesses II was born to his father Seti I who was presiding over Egypt as it began to finally emerge from the devastating Bronze Age Collapse. Seti was forced to put down rebellions throughout the southwestern area of Mesopotamia which was facing invasion from the growing Hittite Empire in northern Asia Minor.
The civilizations of Egypt the Hittites became embattled for the region currently known as Syria and Palestine but was once the Kingdom of Judah and the Kingdom of Israel. Ramesses himself was trained as a young boy and accompanied his father on many of these military campaigns. He was eve given the title of captain even ceremoniously by the age of ten, which does suggest his early training though.
Ramesses assumed power in his early twenties when Seti I would die. Four years after becoming the King of Egypt, Ramesses continued north to claim the territories which his father had been unable to acquire. His first military campaign was successful and he was able to claim all up Lebanon into the modern city of Beirut.
The following year Ramesses launched a campaign aimed at the Hittite stronghold at Kadesh during what was known as the Battle of Kadesh. He sustained heavy losses and was forced to retreat to Egypt despite winning the battle. The Hittites retained control over their territory as Ramesses retreated.
Ramesses would continue his campaigns against the Hittites for another twelve more years and while achieving battlefield victories was unable to gain any real territory for Egypt. In addition to campaigning throughout Mesopotamia king Ramesses also pushed the Egyptian borders into the kingdoms of Nubia and Libya. However, these were weak kingdoms and poised no threat to Egypt's security.
First Peace Treaty
Ramesses is well known in history for being the first leader to initiate a peace treaty. After twenty-one years of rule Ramesses agreed to finally make peace with the Hittites and two stories in history emerge from this engagement. At the conclusion of the peace treaty both sides wrote in their respective histories that the other had sued for peace and wanted to end the constant warfare.
Regardless of what was written in the history to ascertain blame, it appears that the first peace treaty held and there was no more conflicts or battles between the Egyptians and the Hittites.
Ramesses in the first period of his reign was responsible for moving the capital city of Egypt from Thebes which lay in the center of Egypt, up to the Nile Delta right on the Mediterranean Sea. The new city was named Pi-Ramesses and was located closer to his childhood home but also right near his enemies.
Within a few years the new city of Pi-Ramesses developed from a tiny village to a massive city with palaces, temples, statues and all sorts of government operations as well as a massive arms manufacturing industry. Pi-Ramesses was abandoned long after the reign of Ramesses and currently archaeologists believe that they have uncovered the ruins to this great city.
Many historians believed that the city of Pi-Ramesses was the same city of Raamses that is mentioned in the Old Testament of the Bible and was one of the "treasure cities" that the Israelites constructed while in Egyptian captivity. Some people even believe Ramesses the ruler of Egypt during the story of the Exodus whom the character Moses forced to free the Israelites.
This story is well open to debate as the massive migration of people would have left some sort of archeological or historical evidence and yet there is none. In fact, in the ancient Egyptian records there is not a single mention of the Israelites whatsoever.
Even more so, the very concept of slavery was not even prevalent in Egyptian society until after conquest by the Achaemenid Empire.
Public Works Projects
Throughout the course of his reign king Ramesses built many great temples, monuments, storehouses, government buildings. waterworks, roads and all sorts of other massive public works projects that projected the influence of his reign. He constantly had himself inscribed over all these monuments and often would re-carve previous Egyptian kings in his own name. Apparently he ordered the masons to engrave his image so deep that no future king could ever do the same.
Death & Legacy
Ramesses lived a long and prosperous life, dying at the old age of 90. He was buried in a tomb that was located in the Valley of the Kings but it was later moved to a different location. His burial site was discovered in the 1800's and is currently on display in the Cairo Museum.
His reign was the second longest in all of Egyptian history and he was able to stabilize the territory of Egypt, bring peace with the Hittites and was able to launch massive construction projects that benefited all of Egypt.
He is regarded by some of the later Egyptians as the greatest king in all of their history. Overall his influence in seeing Egypt successfully out of the Bronze Age Collapse and presiding over such a golden age is extremely important in the development of civilization in the region.1975, the mummy of Ramesses II was taken to France for preservation. The mummy was also forensically tested by Professor Pierre-Fernand Ceccaldi, the chief forensic scientist at the Criminal Identification Laboratory of Paris, who wrote: "Hair, astonishingly preserved, showed some complementary data - especially about pigmentation: Ramses II was a Red haired cymnotriche leucoderma", that is a fair-skinned person with wavy red hair. In 2008, S. O. Y. Keita wrote "There is no scientific reason to believe that the primary ancestors of the Egyptian population emerged and evolved outside of northeast Africa.... The basic overall genetic profile of the modern population is consistent with the diversity of ancient populations that would have been indigenous to northeastern Africa and subject to the range of evolutionary influences over time, although researchers vary in the details of their explanations of those influences."