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Ramesses II

Ramesses II A pharaoh of the 19th dynasty in the New Kingdom, Ramesses II (c. 1289–1224 BC) was probably the most powerful ruler in ancient Egyptian history. At the beginning of his reign, he vowed to recapture the territories of Palestine and Syria, which had been conquered by the Hittite people. Ramesses II, who reigned for 67 years, living into his late eighties, was responsible for more building projects than any other Egyptian ruler. He also built a new capital, named Per Ramesses, in the Nile Delta. This remained Egypt’s capital until the end of the New Kingdom. Although Ramesses had many wives and children in the course of his long life, his Great Royal Wife, Queen Nefertari, was a well-loved and much respected figure. He had a temple built specially for her at Abu Simbel.



Ramesseum, Ramesses II’s mortuary temple

Nefertari, Ramesses’ queen

Battle of Kadesh

Continuing the military campaigns of his father, Seti I, Ramesses fought the Hittite king, Muwatalli II, at the Battle of Kadesh, a place on the Egyptian frontier with Syria, in 1284 BC. The Hittites tricked Ramesses into believing they had retreated, before cutting off one division of the Egyptian army, headed by the pharaoh himself. Ramesses, however, managed to hold out until reinforcements arrived. Both armies later withdrew and the battle ended in stalemate. But, despite having narrowly escaped heavy defeat, Ramesses considered it a great Egyptian victory. Wall paintings in two of his buildings, the temples of Abu Simbel and the hypostyle hall at Karnak, depict the scenes from the battle. Ramesses later signed a peace treaty with the Hittite king, and married a Hittite princess. Egypt remained at peace for the rest of his reign.

Ramesses II had at least 95 children. He outlived his 13 oldest sons. Merenptah, his 14th son, succeeded him as pharaoh.

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