The Feet of the Colossos of Ramses II at the Temple of Ramses II at the Ramesseum in Luxor, Egypt.
Ramses II (variously transliterated as “Rameses” (/ˈræməsiːz/) or “Ramses” (/ˈræmsiːz/ or /ˈræmziːz/); born c. 1303 BC; died July or August 1213 BC; reigned 1279–1213 BC), also known as Rameses the Great, was the third pharaoh of the Nineteenth Dynasty of Egypt. He is often regarded as the greatest, most celebrated, and most powerful pharaoh of the Egyptian Empire. His successors and later Egyptians called him the “Great Ancestor”. Ramses II led several military expeditions into the Levant, reasserting Egyptian control over Canaan. He also led expeditions to the south, into Nubia, commemorated in inscriptions at Beit el-Wali and Gerf Hussein.
At age fourteen, Ramesses was appointed Prince Regent by his father Seti I. He is believed to have taken the throne in his late teens and is known to have ruled Egypt from 1279 BC to 1213 BC.Estimates of his age at death vary; 90 or 91 is considered most likely. Ramesses II celebrated an unprecedented 14 sed festivals (the first held after thirty years of a pharaoh’s reign, and then every three years) during his reign—more than any other pharaoh. On his death, he was buried in a tomb in the Valley of the Kings; his body was later moved to a royal cache where it was discovered in 1881, and is now on display in the Cairo Museum.
The temple complex built by Ramses II between Qurna and the desert has been known as the Ramesseum since the 19th century. The Greek historian Diodorus Siculus marveled at the gigantic temple, now no more than a few ruins.
Oriented northwest and southeast, the temple itself was preceded by two courts. An enormous pylon stood before the first court, with the royal palace at the left and the gigantic statue of the king looming up at the back. Only fragments of the base and torso remain of the syenite statue of the enthroned pharaoh, 17 metres (56 ft) high and weighing more than 1,000 tonnes (980 long tons; 1,100 short tons). The scenes of the great pharaoh and his army triumphing over the Hittite forces fleeing before Kadesh, represented on the pylon. Remains of the second court include part of the internal facade of the pylon and a portion of the Osiride portico on the right. Scenes of war and the alleged rout of the Hittites at Kadesh are repeated on the walls. In the upper registers, feast and honor of the phallic god Min, god of fertility. On the opposite side of the court the few Osiride pillars and columns still left can furnish an idea of the original grandeur.