Explore / Articles

 

Ramesses II, King of Egypt (1279-1213 BC)

Ramesses II ascended the throne as the third king of the Nineteenth Dynasty at the age of twenty-five. In his sixty-seven year reign he probably built more temples and sired more children than any other Egyptian king. Today, he is popularly known as Ramesses 'the great'.

He founded a new capital, Piramesse in the eastern Delta, which remained the royal residence throughout the Ramesside period. He also built a vast number of temples throughout Egypt and Nubia. The most famous of these are the rock cut temple at Abu Simbel, and his mortuary temple at Thebes, the Ramesseum. The tomb of his principal wife, Nefertari, at Thebes is one of the best preserved royal tombs. The tomb of many of his sons has also recently been found in the Valley of the Kings (KV5). Ramesses II was buried in the Valley of the Kings and his body was found in the Deir el-Bahari cache.

For Ramesses II, the most momentous event in his reign was the battle of Kadesh, fought against the Hittites. On his monuments, the battle was commemorated as a great victory. However, the Hittite account, found at their capital, Hattusas, suggests that the battle was closer fought.

Shop Online

British Museum collections, £12.99

British Museum collections, £12.99