« PreviousContinue »
and when the army came to the south of the town of Shabtun, two of the spies of the Shasu came into the camp and pretended that they had been sent by the chiefs of their tribe to inform Rameses II. that they had forsaken the chief of the Cheta, and that they wished to make an alliance with his majesty and become his vassals. They then went on to say Defeat of that the chief of the Cheta was in the land of Chirebu to the the Cheta. norjjj Qf Tunep some distance off, and that he was afraid to come near the Egyptian king. These two men were giving false information, and they had actually been sent by the Cheta chief to find out where Rameses and his army were; the Cheta chief and his army were at that moment drawn up in battle array behind Kadesh. Shortly after these men had Rameses been dismissed, an Egyptian scout came into the king's warrior. presence bringing with him two spies from the army of the chief of the Cheta; on being questioned, they informed Rameses that the chief of the Cheta was encamped behind Kadesh, and that he had succeeded in gathering together a multitude of soldiers and chariots from the countries round about. Rameses summoned his officers to his presence, and informed them of the news which he had just heard; they listened with surprise, and insisted that the newly received information was untrue. Rameses seriously blamed the chiefs of the intelligence department for their neglect of duty, and they admitted their fault. Orders were straightCapture of way issued for the Egyptian army to march upon Kadesh, Kadesh. an(j as thev were crossing an arm of the river near that city the hostile forces fell in with each other. When Rameses saw this, he "growled at them like his father Menthu, lord of Thebes," and having hastily put on his full armour, he mounted his chariot and drove into the battle. His onset was so sudden and rapid that before he knew where he was he found himself surrounded by the enemy, and completely isolated from his own troops. He called upon his father Amen-Ra to help him, and then addressed himself to the slaughter of all those that came in his way, and his prowess was so great that the enemy fell in heaps, one over the other, into the waters of the Orontes. He was quite alone, and not one of his soldiers or horsemen came near him to help him. It was only with great difficulty he succeeded in cutting his way through the ranks of the enemy. At the end of the inscription he says, " Everything that my majesty has stated, that did I in the presence of my soldiers and horsemen." In the poem of Pen-ta-urt the king is said to have been surrounded by 2,500 chariots. The defeat of the chief of the Cheta and his allies was crushing, and Rameses was able to demand and obtain much tribute.
In the eighth year of his reign he led an expedition against towns in southern Syria, and Ascalon among others fell into his hands, and within a few years Mesopotamians, Syrians, dwellers on the coast, Libyans, the Shaasu and Ethiopians all submitted to him. In the twenty-first year of his reign he made a treaty with Mautenure, chief of the Cheta at Egyptian Tanis, the favourite dwelling-place of Rameses. This treaty |he Chet! sets out at full length the relations which had existed between the two nations for some time before, and each party solemnly promises not to make war on the other, and to assist the other in war if required; to cement the alliance Rameses married a daughter of the chief of the Cheta called Maa-ur-neferu-Ra.
Notwithstanding his activity in war, Rameses II. found Rameses time to make himself famous as one of the greatest builders builder, that ever sat on the throne of Egypt, and his name is found on stelae, obelisks, temples, etc., etc., from Bcyrut in Syria to remote Napata. He built a temple of granite at Tanis, a town which seems to have been founded four hundred years before his time by Nubti, one of the so-called Hyksos kings. Near this city ran the wall from Pelusium to Heliopolis, which Rameses is supposed to have built to keep out the Asiatics. At Heliopolis he set up obelisks, none of which has come down to our time; at Memphis he added largely to the temple of Ptah; and at Abydos he completed the temple begun by his father Seti I. At Thebes he finished the buildings begun by his father and grandfather; he repaired the temples of Thothmes III. and Amenophis III., adding walls and doors, and occasionally usurping monuments of the kings who went before him; he set up statues of himself and two splendid obelisks before a building which he
made adjoining the temple of Amenophis III.; on the western side of Thebes he finished the temple originally dedicated to Rameses I., and consecrated it to his father Seti I.; he restored the temple of Hatshepset at Der el-Bahari; he built a temple at Medinet Habu, and at Thebes, his greatest work of all, the Ramesseum. The statues of himself which he placed in this last place are among the largest and finest known. At Bet el-Wall at KalabsM in Nubia he built a beautiful little rock temple, on the walls of the court of which are some well executed sculptures representing the bringing of tribute to Rock him by Asiatics and Ethiopians. At Abu Simbel, the temple at ciassjcai Aboccis, he hewed out of the solid rock a large temple Simbel. to Ra Harmachis to commemorate his victory over the Cheta; it is the largest and finest Egyptian monument in Nubia, and for simple grandeur and majesty is second to none in all Egypt. It is hewn out of the rock to a depth of 185 feet, and the surface of the rock, which originally sloped down to the river, was cut away for a space of about 90 feet to form the front of the temple, which is ornamented by four colossal statues of Rameses II., 66 feet high, seated on thrones, hewn out of the living rock. The large hall inside contains eight columns with large figures of Osiris about 17 feet high upon them. Among other matters the inscriptions give a list of the children of Rameses. The gold mines in the land of Akita, now Gebel Alaki, which were worked by Seti I., appear not to have been very profitable, by reason of the scarcity of water. The well which he sank to the depth of 120 cubits supplied little or no water, and the works in the mines were stopped. In the third year of his reign Rameses sent men to bore another well, and they found abundant water at the depth of twelve cubits.
Rameses II. is generally thought to have been the Oppression oppressor of the Jews in Egypt, and it was probably for him Jews!.6 tnat DU''t ^e treasure-cities of Pithom and Raamses.
Rameses reigned sixty-seven years, and at his death he left Egypt one of the largest and most powerful kingdoms upon earth ; under him this country reached its highest point of prosperity and glory. The tribute brought in by conquered nations enriched the country, the hosts of foreign workmen employed by the king produced articles of luxury and beauty, art and literature flourished unfettered, and the tombs and sepulchres of the dead were scarcely less splendid than the palaces of the king or the houses of his nobles. After the death of Rameses Egypt declined rapidly, chiefly through the inertness and want of national spirit possessed by the hosts of foreigners who lived there, and the country became a mart and a home of traders rather than of warriors.
Mer-en-Ptah, the thirteenth son of Rameses II., had been 1300 associated with his father in the rule of the kingdom before he ascended the throne. The chief event in his reign was an expedition against the Lebu, Kehak, Mashuash, Akauasha, Tursha, Leku, Sharetana and Shekelasha in the fifth year of his reign. The Lebu, thought by some to be the Libyans, under Maroi, the son of Titi, had advanced to the city of PaBairo, and were preparing to march upon Heliopolis and Memphis; Maroi himself had reached Pa-aru-shep, when the god Ptah appeared to Mer-en-Ptah in a dream and promised Defeat of him victory. On the third day of Epiphi the hostile forces ^bes joined in battle. Maroi fled, about thirteen thousand of his people were slain, and all his and their property fell into the hands of the Egyptians. The Akauasha have by some been identified with the Achaeans, the Sharetana with the Sardinians, the Shekelasha with the Sicilians, the Lebu with the Libyans, the Tursha with the Etruscans, the Leku with the Lycians, etc., etc. These identifications, based on a suggestion made by de Rouge, cannot be accepted, lacking as they do any historical evidence in support of them. It is quite certain, however, that the tribes against which Mer-enPtah fought were comparatively close neighbours of Egypt. The Exodus is thought by some to have taken place during The the reign of this king. Exodus
Of Mer-en-Ptah's successor, Seti II., but little is known; his reign was very short, and was not distinguished by any remarkable event. The rule of the XlXth dynasty was brought to an end by the reigns of Amen-mes and Se-Ptah.