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Ramesses II (Ramesses the Great)

Ramesses II (Ramesses the Great)

May 31, 2012

Ramesses II (Ramesses the Great), is regarded as the most powerful pharaoh in Egyptian History. He was the third pharaoh of the 19th dynasty. Ramesses II reigned for 67 years (1279-1213 BC) and used a massive building program, diplomacy, and propaganda to become the greatest ruler of Egypt’s Golden Age. If it is true that he ascended to the throne of Egypt in 1279 as believed, then he became pharaoh May 31, 1279 BC. Hittite Problem With a young pharoah on the throne of Egypt, the Hittites invaded and captured the important town of Kadesh. Ramesses gathered an army together and led them to battle against the Hittites. The Hittites quickly gained the advantage after ambushing the Egyptians and devastating the ‘Ra’ division which took the initial charge of the Hittite chariots. It appeared the Egyptians would be defeated. However, as reinforcements arrived, Ramesses was able to rally the soldiers and battle to a stalemate. Amazed by Ramesses ability to turn a losing battle into a stalemate, the battle was considered a triumph for Ramesses. Propoganda Ramps Up Ramesses would use his propaganda machine to proclaim his victory to the Egyptians. For example, on the temple walls of Luxor, his stalemate is described as follows: His majesty slaughtered the armed forces of the Hittites in their entirety, their great rulers and all their brothers … their infantry and chariot troops fell prostrate, one on top of the other. His majesty killed them … and they lay stretched out in front of their horses. But his majesty was alone, nobody accompanied him … Ramesses realized the need for diplomacy with the Hittites and was able to negotiate the earliest known peace treaty in history. His propaganda is again demonstrated in the agreement. Both the Egyptian hieroglyphic and cuneiform versions of the document survive. Most of the text is identical between the two versions, but the Hittite version claims that the Egyptians were suing for peace and the Egyptian version claims the opposite. Building Projects Having established peace with the Hittites, Ramesses II would focus on major construction projects. The most well known of these projects are: The Ramesseum (across the Nile from the modern city...