Ramses II

Egypt is located in northeastern of Africa along the river Nile, an ancient civilization flourished long before the Roman Empire but ultimately faded from importance after thousands of years. The Ancient Egypt Civilization prospered near the Nile River due to the natural factors combined. Egypt usually has cloudless sky and the Sun almost always shone, consistently providing heat and light. 1 The Nile River served as a water highway for the people and the constant source of life-giving water.

And since there are seasonal rains in Africa every year, the Nile River overflows the banks of Egypt, after the water had receded; a rich black soil covers the floodplain. Enabling the Egyptians to cultivate and develop a successful economy based on agriculture. In addition, natural barriers provide good protection from hostile attacks. The Ancient Egyptians were very sophisticated and creative. They produced a vast body of written records, including ethical and moralistic treatises, instructional texts, religious and magical scrolls, reminiscent love poetry, epic stories and tales.

They also possessed the understanding of mathematics and the principles of architecture enabling them to construct large stone buildings. The villages and town were mostly located near the Nile for the reason that it is the chief highway for transportation. 2 Houses back then were built using mud brick and the walls are richly colored. Windows were small and have high openings covered usually by matting. The most fashionable district back then was more often located near the palace. Even so, the houses were built close together in order to save space for farmlands.

The Upper-class Egyptians spent most of their time grooming themselves. They bathed with soda instead of soap and rubbed oil onto their skin. Men cut their hair short and wore wigs or added false braids onto their hair. 3 Both men and women wore make-ups. They darken their eyelids with black or green paints. Women however, rouged their cheeks and lips and stained their nails with henna. The luxurious life of the pharaoh and the noble men were made possible by the continual labor of the peasants. Peasants usually work on farms, cultivating the land and harvesting the crops.

After their job in the farm, the pharaoh regularly calls the peasants to go off to labor on the irrigation system, quarry stones or to built tombs and temples. They’re only pay for the job were grains, clothes, oil, fish and vegetables. 4 The craftsman and artists, however, have a better life. They work near the palace or near the noblemen and priests. Their work is never hurried and their job is hereditary. The craftsmen made weapons, tools, tableware, jewelry, etc. Potters turned clay into furnaces as tall as a man and some other cooking utensils and decorative pots.

Women wove fabrics for clothing and tapestries and awnings to decorate the house. Egyptians are pagans. They worship a lot of gods and goddesses of different nature. But the most significant gods are Ra (the sun-god), Horus (the sky-god) and Osris (the god of the dead). Each town has its own “town-god”. And if a town grew in influence, the “town-god” becomes more important too. They worship the “town-god” as part of the allegiance to the town. Occasionally, people combine their worship of the town-god and that of Ra especially when the town is very progressive. 5

The love for Architecture led the pharaohs into competing as to who would be able to build the most magnificent temples, pyramids, tombs, statues, etc. As a result and as a fact, two of the Seven Wonders of the World is found in Egypt: the pyramids at Giza and the lighthouse at Alexandria. Egyptians think that death is just a chapter of a person’s life. They give much importance on their tomb to the extent that they furnish it with expensive things and decorate it magnificently. Temples in honor of their gods and goddesses were also built skillfully and could be found everywhere in Egypt.

In this locale, a lot of paintings, scrolls, artifacts, sculptures, etc are found. It was said that the priests back then perform magic to heal and cast spells inside the temples as to protect the riches buried within it including the mummy. Before the Middle Kingdom, the civil and the military were not distinguished. Military forces consisted of local militants under their own officials and some included foreigners, and nonmilitary expeditions to dig out minerals from the desert or to transport heavy loads through the country were organized in similar fashion. Not until the New Kingdom there was no separate priesthood.

Holders of civil office also had priestly titles, and priests had civil titles. 6 Often priesthoods’ chief significance was the income they brought. The same was true of the minor civil titles accumulated by high officials. At a lower level, minor priesthoods were held on a rotating basis by “laymen” who served every fourth month in temples. State and temple were so closely interconnected that there was no real tension between them before the late New Kingdom. The history of the Ancient Egypt Civilization was divided into kingdoms. Each of the Kingdoms was characterized by the accomplishments of their own.

The Old Kingdom (2700BC-2200BC), was the period where the great pharaohs built the pyramids. The Middle Kingdom (2000BC-1800BC), Egypt started to broaden its political strength and conducted transactions among its neighbors. And lastly, the New Kingdom (1600BC-1100BC), where in Egypt reached the peak of its political power and its acquisition of an empire mostly in Asia. Usermaatre Setepenre better known as Ramses II or Ramses the Great or just Ramses was the son of King Sethi I and Queen Tuy. He was born in the year 1303B. C. in the Eastern Nile Delta and passed away in the year 1213B.

C. about 90 years old. He was an ambitious builder, a successful general and a popular ruler plus he was one of the longest-reigning monarchs in the Ancient Kingdoms. 7 Furthermore, he was said to be the Pharaoh in the book of Exodus in the Bible. Although Ramses is not really the sole heir to the throne, he never the less ruled Egypt at an early age and served as the coregent of his father for about 21 years before he finally became the third ruler of the 19th dynasty in 1292B. C. He fought wars with the Hittites and erected colossal monuments for himself throughout his reign.

Due to his vast accomplishments, he was said to be the greatest ruler of Egypt. Most of the pharaohs who are subsequent to him tried to beat his greatness but failed. Given that when Ramses II was still young he served as the coregent of his father, Seti I, they spent a lot of their time together. Seti I taught most of the things Ramses the Great knows about ruling and fighting wars. 8 It was his father he idolized a lot and so, when his father passed away, he ensured the completion of some of the unfinished projects that his late father unfortunately left undone.

Some of these are the great Hypostule Hall in Karnak, his father’s temple in Abydos and his father’s funerary temple in the west bank of the Nile at Luxor. And because his love for his father was very deep and immense he had always wished that he accomplished all of the great things he did together with his father. Ramses II was a well-known ladies’ man. And for the reason that he was the pharaoh, he had as many wives as he desired and had more than a hundred children with all of them. In fact, he even married a Hittie princess to stop the war and he also married some of his daughters; which at that time is perfectly normal.

But Ramses II loved only one in particular, his first and greatest love, Queen Nefertari. Queen Nefertari is very special to Ramses the Great. He even called her “Great Royal Wife” or “Mistress of Upper and Lower Nile”. They got married even before Ramses II took throne and after that, Queen Nefertari bore his first boy child, Merenpath. His love for his wife was immeasurable and to show his love for his wife, he built a small temple in Abu Simbel dedicated for Queen Nefertari and the goddess of Love. But unfortunately their marriage did not last long, Nefertari died when he was only 48 years old. Given that Ramses II has many wives, he was still a good family man.

He usually spends his time playing with his more-than-a-hundred children. He was proud of them and even built some statues of his favorite children and places them in temples and such. During the early part of his reign Ramses fought to regain the territory in Africa and western Asia that Egypt had held during the 16th and 15th centuries BC. His principal opponents were the Hittites, a powerful people of Asia Minor, against whom he waged a long war.

The major battle of this war was fought in 1274 at Kadesh, in northern Syria, and in 1258 BC a treaty was signed whereby the contested lands were divided and Ramses agreed to marry the daughter of the Hittite king. 10 Every country has it’s own legends to tell, history to treasure and incidents to remember. It could be about wars, revolutions, political warfares, or family disputes among the rulers. Each event affects not only a single society but the whole world as well. Ramses the Great did not just construct temples and fought wars, he also opened the eyes of the succeeding pharaohs in the wonders of Architecture.

He made wonders in Egypt, he even fought battles and made peace that affected the lives of those people living in those era. He let the world see how rich and powerful Egyptians could be. Even though Ramses II had many children, he never fails to be there whenever his children need him nor to show his wives that he cares and loves them dearly. This characteristic of his made him not only a role model for the succeeding rulers but also a role model for the successful men all over the world. I idolize his being a good family man.


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