Pyramids, gold, the Nile, hieroglyphics, gods and goddessesno matter how much we know about it, we all see one of these things when we picture Egypt. However, this image is not complete without the Pharaoh. Not much in Egypt was. So to be considered “The Last Great Pharaoh of Egypt” is quite an honor, an honor that Ramesses III carries. A ruler in the time of the New Kingdom, he gave Egypt a few more years of glory before it’s decline.
Most people have heard of Ramsese II, who is believed to be Ramesses’ III great-grandfather. There is no solid proof for this, just evidence shown in tombs and on temple walls. We do know for sure though that Ramesses’ immediate predecessor (and father) was Setnakeht. Setnakeht was a relatively unknown and unimportant ruler, and only ruled for a short period of time, his son however is still remembered well today.
Not much is known about Ramesses’ III childhood, it’s likely though that he led the “typical” pharaoh’s childhood until he was old enough to have any power, and then later take control.
When Ramesses III went into power in 1187 B.C.E., that part of the world was having a very difficult time. Anyone who knows Greek history will tell you about how that was the time of the Trojan War. Even in times where civilizations were isolated compared to today, a war that big will cause disrupt all over the world. The fall of Mycenae was also no laughing matter. It left many people homeless and fleeing for their lives, and almost was the end to several other civilizations. The world as a while was very desperate for food, and Egypt, being a bread basket had all eyes turned to it. A group of people, known today as the Sea People were also on the move. The Sea People gave a blow to the Hittite empire and threatened Egypt many times.
Although Shakespeare may disagree, there’s a lot to be said about names, especially those of Pharaohs. Ramesses III had a very common birth name, as most Pharaohs of the 20th dynasty named their children after Ramses II. Ramesses literally means “Re has created him.” The second part of his birth name (hardly ever used), Heqainunu, means “Ruler of Heliopolis” (an ancient city just north of modern day Cairo). The throne name of Ramesses III was Usermaatre Meryamun, or “Powerful is the Justice of Re, Beloved of Amun.” And like most ancient names, there are many different ways to spell and pronounce them.
Ramesses III started his 31 year (and 41 days) in 1153 B.C.E and had a peaceful rule for a few years before he would be bombarded with problems and wars. He started his rule at Heliopolis, which remained his capital throughout his reign. His hometown, though unsure, is thought to be Tell el Yehudiyeh, the modern Naytahut located just north of Cairo and by the delta of the Nile. The most hard evidence for this is tombs of other people thought to be his family members and temples.
As his reign began, he tried to “settle down” existing problems and unite his nation once again. His father, though he had an uneventful rule, wasn’t the best of Pharaohs, and created some internal problems. Nubia at this time was very peaceful, just a quite trade partner in the south. However, all good things must come to an endand peace only lasted five years for him. During his fifth year the Libyans seized the opportunity and attacked for the first time since the 19th Dynasty when Marenptah was ruling. The Libyans were accompanied by two other groups of people, the Mshwesh and the Seped. Ramesses handled this situation very well, proving himself for the first time. Anyone who wasn’t killed in the short series of battles was enslaved.
The next attackers in Ramesses eighth year of rule are quite a mystery. Known today as the “Sea People” they were highly feared, but we still don’t really even know where they came from. We known that they were so powerful and fierce that they destroyed the Hittite civilization and threatened the entire region. Egyptian records left us this:
“The foreign countries