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Ancient Egypt: The Ramesside Period

The Ramesside period is so-called after the eleven kings with the name Ramesses, who ruled in the Nineteenth to the Twentieth Dynasties. Ramesses II (about 1279-1213 BC) faced the armies of the Hittite empire at the Battle of Kadesh and as a result became a role model for his successors. Partly in response to the threat of foreign incursions, he founded a capital in the Nile Delta, known as Piramesse.

The period was characterised by efforts to ward off migrating tribes known as the 'Sea Peoples' who, by the reign of Ramesses III (about 1184-1153 BC), had joined forces with Libyan tribes. In struggling against these peoples, Egypt lost its hold on the empire. After the assassination of Ramesses III the internal economy began to crumble, resulting in administrative corruption and political strife. The succession of kings named Ramesses failed to live up to the achievements of their famous predecessor.

The artistic style of the time of Ramesses II, who left more monuments than any other Egyptian king, was the model for the entire Ramesside Period. The literature of the time includes accounts of the great battles, but also many important letters and documents relating to everyday life. These documents include accounts of the trial of the assassins of Ramesses III, the trials of tomb robbers and records of strikes by tomb workers.