Ramesses II was probably the greatest pharaohs who ruled Egypt. This is the reason he is known as Ramesses the Great.
“Ramesses II was the third pharaoh of the Nineteenth Dynasty of Egypt. He is often regarded as the greatest, most celebrated, and most powerful pharaoh of the New Kingdom, itself the most powerful period of Ancient Egypt” (Wikipedia).
Ramesses II ruled over Egypt for more than sixty years. Although he is never mentioned in the Bible, scholars believe that Ramesses II was the pharaoh who confronted Moses at the time Israel served as slaves of pharaoh. Ramesses II is the pharaoh of the Exodus.
Ramesses II was a great builder. Ramesses constructed many remarkable monuments, including Abu Simbel and the Ramesseum. While the Israelites were in Egypt, they built Pithom and Rameses as store cities for Ramesses (Exodus 1:11).
Ramesses was also a great warrior. During most of his reign, Ramesses II fought battles in Canaan, Syria, Anatolia, and Lybia. During the days of Ramesses, traveling from country to country was easy because there was no need of a passport to travel from one country to another.
However, 3000 years after Rameses died, when Ramesses traveled to France, he sure needed a passport.
An article published in Ancient Origins details what happened when the mummy of Rameses traveled to France. Archaeologists discovered that the mummy was deteriorating; they decided to take the mummy to France for an extensive examination and for treatment.
Below is an excerpt from the article:
The mummy of Ramesses II was placed in the Egyptian Museum in Cairo in 1885. In 1974, Egyptologists working for the museum realized that the pharaoh’s mummy was deteriorating at an alarming rate, and decided to have it sent to France for an examination. Apparently, under Egyptian law, even dead individuals are required to have the proper documents before they are allowed to leave the country. It has also been claimed that these documents would provide the pharaoh with the legal protection required to ensure his safe return to the country. It may have been feared that once in France, the mummy of the pharaoh would not be allowed to leave.
In any case, Ramesses II was issued a passport by the Egyptian government, and was the first (and probably the last) mummy to receive one. Apart from having a photo of Ramesses II’s face, the passport is also notable for listing the occupation of the ancient Egyptian pharaoh as ‘King (deceased)’. The mummy of Ramesses II left Egypt in 1976, and when it arrived in France, it was received at the Paris-Le Bourget Airport with the full military honors befitting a king.
It was found that the pharaoh was about 1.7 meters (5 feet 7 inches) tall, had fair skin and red hair. In addition, some of the maladies the pharaoh suffered from were identified. For instance, it was reported that he was suffering from arthritis, as well as a tooth abscess. Moreover, it seems that Ramesses II also had ankylosing spondylitis, a long-term inflammation of the joints of the spine, which would have made him walk with a hunched back during his later years.
After the analyses of the mummy were completed, it was flown back to Egypt and returned to the Cairo Museum.
I wonder! If Ramesses were alive today, I would like to know what was his impression of Paris.
NOTE: For other studies on the history and archaeology of Egypt, read my post Egypt, The Land of the Pharaohs.
Emeritus Professor of Old Testament
Northern Baptist Seminary
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