King's name: Ramses II
Birth place: Egypt
Parents: Seti I (father), Queen Tuya (mother)
Ramses was the third pharaoh of the 19th dynasty. He is often regarded as the greatest, most celebrated and most powerful pharaoh of the Egyptian Empire. In addition to his wars with the Hittites and Libyans, he is known for mastering Mathematics (which was essential during the Egyptian era) that led to his extensive building programs and for the many colossal statues of him found all over Egypt.
At age 14, he accompanied his father on campaigns in Libya and Palestine. By age 22, he was already leading his own campaigns in Nubia with his sons. After the death of Seti I in 1290 BCE, Ramses assumed the throne and at once began military campaigns to restore the borders of Egypt and ensure trade routes. Ramses expanded his empire beyond Memphis and Thebes and named one of his cities Pi-Ramses.
The Battle of Kadesh was one of his earliest engagement that nearly cost him his life. It was his wits, intelligence, courage and bravery that defeated the Hittite King Muwatalli II. The empty victory of Kadesh was followed by a greater achievement, an international peace treaty with the Hittites, a copy of which is now on the wall of the General Assembly building of the United Nations. The treaty covers extradition, arbitration of disputes, and mutual economic aid, a clause which was later honoured by the Egyptians when their old enemies were afflicted with food shortage.
The temple-building programme instigated by Ramses may have been rushed but it turned out to be the most extensive ever achieved by a single Pharaoh in all Ancient Egypt's 30 dynasties, and some of the king's monuments, such as the delicate temple built at Abydos next to the larger complex of his father, show refinement and even understatement. The twin temples of Abu Simbel in Nubia, though by no means understated, are masterpieces of land- and river-scaping, as well as being political propaganda skilfully translated into stone.
Ramses outlived many of his sons and was succeeded by the thirteenth, a prince named Merneptah who was already advanced in years.
Ramses the Great (1292-1213BCE)
Abu Simbel, part of UNESCO World Heritage Site.