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Notes on the Geography of Egypt: Ramesseum

Ramesseum is a modern name, assigned by Jean-François Champollion to the memorial temple of Rameses II. When built, the temple was called the Temple of Millions of Years of User-Ma'at-Ra United with Thebes in the Estates of Amen West of Thebes.

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Egypt: Ramesseum picture 1

The first pylon--its entrance blocked--is made of sandstone instead of the usual mud brick. Internal staircases at either end lead to the top.

Egypt: Ramesseum picture 2

A view from left to right of the second pylon, the second court, the hypostyle hall, and the sanctuary.

Egypt: Ramesseum picture 3

Osirid columns.

Egypt: Ramesseum picture 4

Toppled at the second pylon: this is the colossal statue of Rameses II that inspired Shelley's "Ozymandias."

Egypt: Ramesseum picture 5

The figure apparently stood for well over a thousand years: Diodorus Siculus in the First Century A.D. claims to have seen it intact.

Egypt: Ramesseum picture 6

"Look on my works, ye Mighty, and despair." The statue, showing the deified Rameses, was originally 57 feet high.

Egypt: Ramesseum picture 7

Colonnade of second court.

Egypt: Ramesseum picture 8

Columns in the hypostyle hall.

Egypt: Ramesseum picture 9

The walls of the temple are decorated with both secular and spiritual images.

Egypt: Ramesseum picture 10

Soldiers use ladders to attack the Hittite fort at Dapur, a location not precisely identified but likely in modern Syria, Lebanon, or Israel.

Egypt: Ramesseum picture 11

Here, on the back side of the second pylon, Rameses II devastates the Hittite Army. Traces of blue indicate the Orontes River, where the battle took place.

Egypt: Ramesseum picture 12

Egyptian soldiers watch the slaughter.

Egypt: Ramesseum picture 13

Meanwhile, Rameses II kneels before the Theban triad, Amun-Ra, Mut, and Khonsu.

Egypt: Ramesseum picture 14

He sits before a Persea tree, while Amun-Ra writes the king's name on its leaves. The tree (Mimusops schimperi) was associated with the rising sun.

Egypt: Ramesseum picture 15

Amen-Ra and Mut at the coronation of Rameses.

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On the left, the king is escorted by Atum and Montu; on the right he kneels before them; below, the king's sons.

Egypt: Ramesseum picture 17

A closer view of the escort party. On the right, the ibis-headed Thoth, scribe of the gods, pen in hand.

Egypt: Ramesseum picture 18

Priests carry the sacred barque.

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