Ancient Egypt / Religion /
Available information on the temple indicate that it was begun 1278 BCE, and completed about 1258.
The temple is 205 metre long, its first pylon 60 metre wide. The full size of the temple enclosure is 270 x 185 metre.
Its design is noted for a peculiar slant in angles. Following an east-west axis, the most sacred section slants about 5 metres south compared to the pylon. This appears to have been for some reason, the surrounding structure of magazines is correctly aligned with the pylon. Still, the temple itself follow the standard pattern of New Kingdom temples, in which two open-air court opens into a hypostyle hall before the inner, most-sacred sections of several rooms.
The identity of the architects are known to us, Penre of Coptos and Amenemone of Abydos.
Similar to Medinet Habu, there is a palace to the left of the pylon. Also, a small temple of Seti 1 is built right next to the main temple. Around the sacred structures graineries and storerooms occupied much space. Many of these are in uncommonly good condition, despite having been built from mud-brick. There was even a scribal training school here.
Beneath the floor of the temple a shaft tomb from about 1700 BCE has been excavated.
Much of the temple walls are battered. The principal explanation for this is the temple being part of the area annually being flooded by the Nile.
The Ramesseum is famous for its seated 18 metre granite colossis of Ramses 2. The head of one of them was in 1815 removed from the site by Giovanni Belzoni, and is today in the British Museum. The other lies on the ground, allowing visitors a dramatic experience of the actual size of such statues.
Interestingly, there is a block on top of the 1st Pylon in which the pillaging of a town named Shalem in 1271 BCE is recorded; this may possibly have been Jerusalem.
On temple walls, depictions of the Battle of Kadesh, wars in Syria and the Festival of Min are found.
Similar to many other Egyptian temples, parts of the Ramesseum was turned into a Coptic church.
Originally, the Ramesseum was identified as Tomb of Ozymandias by the Greek historian Diodorus, a name derived from Ramses' throne name.
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