Ramesses II (c. 1303 BC; died July or August 1213 BC)

Ramesses was the son of pharaoh Seti I and queen Tuya. Seti was considered a great ruler, setting the tone for his son's future rule. Ramesses became ruler of Egypt in 1279. His reign was highlighted by a number of military campaigns and notable building work at home.

Dan the Info-man
The first Ramesses was the grandfather of Ramesses II. The name means "Ra bore him."

Active military leader

Ramesses II was interested in increasing Egypt's role as a major regional power. He campaigned in Syria, fought in Nubia, defeated pirates and possibly conquered the Libyans. He famously clashed with the powerful Hittite Empire, who objected to his aggressive expansion policy. The two sides engaged in a famous ancient battle...

Battle of Kadesh (1274 BC)

At the Battle of Kadesh (or Qadesh) over 5,000 chariots clashed against each other. Along with thousands of infantry, the two armies fought ferociously, with the Egyptians arguably winning a tactical victory. Peace was negotiated between the Egyptians and the Hittites. Ramesses II had cemented his position as a powerful pharaoh.

Moving capitals

Egyptians engaged in a lot of building work; the capital was moved from Thebes to Pi-Ramesses (which means "House of Ramesses"). Thebes was 500 miles south of the Mediterranean, whereas Pi-Ramesses was in the Nile Delta, not far from the coast. This meant Ramesses could keep a much more watchful eye on potential enemies from the east.

Building history

Many ruins, statues, monuments and relics have been found from the reign of Ramesses II. The Ramesseum is a famous example of building work from the great pharaoh's time. It is in Luxor, a city famous in Egypt for the huge amount of temples, tombs and monuments located there. This temple would have inspired awe in the Egyptians living at that time.

Death and family

Ramesses II died at the age of 90-91, an incredible age for that particular time of history. He had many wives and a huge number of children (as many as 103)! He was succeeded by his son, Merneptah, and many other pharaohs were named Ramesses in honor of the great king (Menmaatre Ramesses XI was the last one).

Dan the Info-man
This statue of Ramesses II weighs about 83 tons. It was found near Memphis in Egypt.

Pharaoh of the Exodus?

There are some that believe Ramesses II (Ramesses the Great) was the Egyptian king who chased after Moses and the slaves as they escaped from Egypt. There is little evidence to suggest that it was actually Ramesses who was this particular ruler, regardless of suggestions in popular culture (especially in movies).

Dan the Info-man
Ramesses' mummy was found in the Valley of the Kings (modern Luxor) and can now be seen in Cairo's Egyptian Museum.
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