The most celebrated of the conquering Pharaohs was Rameses II, who ruled for nearly seventy years. His campaigns were mainly against the Hittites, who had moved southward from their home in Asia Minor. Rameses II have been entirely successful at length entering into an allithe Hittites,” by which their dominion over northern Syria was recognized. The treaty between them was inscribed on the walls of a temple at Thebes, where we may read it to-day. In the arts of peace Rameses II achieved a more lasting renown. He erected many statues and temples in various parts of Egypt and made Thebes the most magnificent city of the age.
Ancient Thebes stood on both banks of the Nile and must have once covered a wide area. The public buildings, the quays, the walls with their “hundred gates,” and the thousands of brick dwellings are now represented by a few insignificant mounds. The wasting hand of time has been kinder to the celebrated temples on the eastern side of the Nile, where lie the modern villages of Karnak and Luxor. The Temple of Amon-Ra at Karnak 1 was one of the most imposing structures ever raised by man. From Karnak an avenue more than a mile long, once lined with ram-headed sphinxes, approached the Temple of Luxor, which was also does not seem to against his foes.
The mummy was discovered in 1881 in an underground chamber near the site of Thebes. With it were the coffins and bodies of more than a score of royal personages. Rameses II was over ninety years of age at the time of his death. In spite of the somewhat grotesque disguise of mummification, the face of this famous Pharaoh still wears an aspect of majesty and pride.
It was erected in honor of the great god Amon. The western side of the Nile does not lack monuments. Here Rameses II built an imposing temple, the Ramesseum, and placed before it a seated statue of himself, fifty-seven feet in height. Its huge fragments still strew the ground. Not far away an earlier Pharaoh set up two gigantic statues of himself, but now called the Colossi of Memnon. The Tombs of the Kings are hollowed out in the sides of a mountain near Thebes. This royal cemetery is a labyrinth of corridors and chambers, once containing the bodies of some of the most famous Egyptian rulers.
The diadem consists of a broad band of gold with the asp on the forehead and the ends terminating in tombs, though carefully a representation of the same sacred serpent. Hidden, were rifled by robbers at an early date. The only Pharaoh whose last resting place has been found undisturbed is Tutankhamen.
Rameses II was the last of the great Pharaohs. Egypt gradually lost warlike energy and her Asiatic provinces Decline of fell away, never to be recovered. The country Egypt in the sixth century B.C. became a province of the Persian Empire.