Monday, December 15, 2008

You are..... THE WEAKEST LINK-

Well, maybe YOU are, but Ramses the Great certainly wasn't. The people loved him, and that's a good thing because he ruled for 66 YEARS. Maybe that's not a long time in our society, but in theirs, it was a very long time. Most people only lived to be 50 or 60 years old, but Ramses was speculated to be 91-99 years old! He even outlasted some of his grandchildren! How wicked is that?? He was a very good ruler, building great monuments still here today, managing cities with care, protecting Egypt from invaders. Its no wonder why people were so sad when he died! Here was this pharaoh, restoring order after a religion had been overthrown, building monuments to the old gods, defeating hordes of invaders, and bringing Egypt into a golden age.... gone. Just like that. I'm sure many of the mourners at his funeral weren't fake crying!

Where'd he get his smarts?

Both sides of Ramses' family came from military positions. His dad, Seti I, had built many great monuments and won land from the Hittites. This is probably one of the places he got his inspiration to lead his people. His mother came from a society where women could fight in the army, and after being in Egypt, started being a doctor to help injured soldiers on the battlefield. His father took him on campaigns as a child, just as Ramses would later do with his own sons, on five and six years old! I don't know how you would feel, but I don't think watching daddy stab people sounds like much fun! I'd probably be scared for life... But I guess they must have learned something by it. They became great military leaders in Egyptian society.

Hey lets go get some land...

If you're going to be called Ramses THE GREAT, you obviously had to have had a big impact on a society. For Ramses II, one of his many impacts was gaining large amounts of land for the Egyptians. The Egyptian army would use overwhelming force to crash like waves upon their enemies. However, these tactics were put to the test in Ramses' first battle, where his enemy the Hittites ambushed their camp in the desert. Luckily he had a reserve army following behind, and he regrouped and routed the Hittites. However, half his huge 10,000 man army had been slaughtered. This probably made him re-think his tactics a little bit! The Egyptians used many weapons. For example, they used a sort of curved baton, much like a boomerang, to throw at enemies from mild distances. They also used spears, mostly for thrusting, but sometimes for throwing also. One main military innovation during the Egyptians' time was the chariot. This small horse drawn vehicle was equivalent to motorcycles or jet skis today, fast and agile. However, unlike the jet ski, the chariot was PROBABLY something you didn't want to fall off of! You could get trampled or stabbed by an enemy soldier, which doesn't sound like much fun.
There would usually only be one person in the chariot, but in the Pharaoh's grand chariot there would be two, a driver and the Pharaoh himself, thrusting with his spear from atop the large carriage. That would scare me, some dude with leather armor coming by with a big spear in my face!

Friday, December 12, 2008

You built WHAT?

Ramses the Great, as he was rightfully called, had a huge sense of pride for his people and his legacy. He had hundreds of statues built to resemble him in all of his glory. You can see some of these amazing works of craftsmanship and planning in museums all around the world. He also built large temples honoring himself, his ancestors, and the gods. This temple (below) was carved out of a hillside near the town Abul Simbel to signify his wealth and power. Nearby, he built a temple to his wife Nerfertari. I mean c'mon, if you're gonna build a temple for yourself you might as well build one for your wife too!

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Religion.... YUSS!

Ramses II came into the picture only a couple of Pharaohs behind Amenhotep IV, (or Akhenaten) who had drastically changed the religion from polytheism to monotheism. After Akhenaten and his descendants lost power, Pharaohs like Tutankhamun and Ramses II made sure that polytheism was reinstated and the temples and shrines to Akhenaten's gods were hunted down and destroyed. Once this was satisfactory to him, Ramses put up new and grander temples, hoping to appease the gods for the switch the earlier Pharaoh had made. I don't know how you'd feel about some person coming along and forcing you to change your religion from something you've followed your whole life, but I know I'd be pretty mad. If the Ancient Egyptians felt that way, they sure must have been glad when Ramses came along!

What are some of the reasons YOU think the Ancient Egyptians went to war with other civilizations?

What is a difference between some of today's buildings, and the construction projects Rameses II worked on?

What are areas of strength for this blog?

What are areas of improvement for this blog?

Text Resources

  • Forty, Jo. Ancient Egyptian Pharoahs. London: PRC Ltd., 1998.
  • Ramses II: Magnificence on the Nile. Alexandria, VA: Time-Life Books, 1993