RAMESSES II - MYTH AND REALITY

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This article compares the current archaeological evidence for the Exodus in Ancient Egypt with the established historical evidence for the same timescale during the reign of Ramesses II.

Submitted: November 27, 2017

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Submitted: November 27, 2017

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Seated between Amen-Re to his left and Re-Harkhti to his right, the statue of Ramesses II has greeted the rising sun twice a year for the past 3,200 years at Abu Simbel.

This is a small part of the reality of Ramesses The Great, arguably the mightiest Pharaoh due to his military victories and monumental building projects. It interests me for another reason, however. It is difficult to know precisely when his date of birth was, but legend has it that the two dates when the sun shines in the temple at Abu Simbel ie. February 22 and October 22, correspond to his date of birth and then his coronation. He died in 1213 BC and was most probably born in 1303 BC, because he is reputed to have lived to the exceptional age of 90. This post is dedicated to one of my good friends on FB, Wendy Mockus, who has an interest in Egyptian history.

For this archaeological dig we are going to visit just one year in his epic lifetime. Yes, you guessed it, we're going to examine our best guesstimate for his age 36 "Year of Revolution" ie. most of 1267 BC. Think about it for a minute. I mean my one universal formula for all lives is about to be tested on a 3,000 year old Pharaoh! What will we uncover?? This story is in two parts.

OK, try this test for me. Search <1267 BC/Exodus>. See what you get. That's right, you get article after article telling us that this is the date referred to in scripture as the date of the Exodus of the Jews out of Egypt. Were you amazed at this? I know I was. There's no wonder that when Hollywood told this story of Moses and the plagues and 'let my people go', it was referring to Ramesses The Great. Did all this happen? Did he actually cave in to a bunch of slaves and have his supposed 'magic year' of achievement marked by a humiliating capitulation?

Moses Meets Ramesses II As Hollywood Portrays It

Now I'd like you to do another search for me. It's the same search except this time we're going to leave out the reference to the biblical exodus. That's right just search <1267 BC>. You don't see any references to the exodus, do you? The second item on page one lists 'state leaders of the 13th century BC', including a mention of 1267 BC, being an end to the rule of the Hittite leader Urhi-Teshub and the commencement of the rule of Hattusili III.

Now try a third and final search for me. This time look up . What you get is article after article after article all saying the same thing; that there is simply no archaeological or other evidence for there being around 1 million+ Jewish slaves in Egypt. I'm going to quote from RationalWiki here, although there are oodles of articles all saying the same thing,

"Mainstream history and archaeology now consider the Exodus never to have happened, and the story to be an entirely fictional narrative put together between the 8th and 5th centuries BCE. Christian and Jewish literalists do not accept this."

So, according to the overwhelming evidence, no sign of plagues in Egypt at the supposed time, nor parting of the Red Sea (or even the alternate theory of the 'Reed Sea'), or wandering around in the Sinai desert for some 40 years. No evidence for the existence of Moses or Abraham for that matter. Of course, biblical apologists have put forward other dates and other Pharaohs, or that the evidence is simply too hard to find or hasn't been found yet, or that the Egyptians (who were meticulous record keepers) expunged this period from their history due to embarrassment.

This doesn't wash with most serious academic investigators. According to the Israeli archaeologist Ze'eg Herzog, "The Israelites never were in Egypt. They never came from abroad. This whole chain is broken. It is not a historical one. It is a later legendary reconstruction — made in the seventh century [BCE] — of a history that never happened." So, not to put too fine a point to it - but it's a story, a myth, that served a useful political end when it was formulated, based on earlier stories.

So, if that's the myth of Ramesses The Great's age 36 "Year of Revolution", just what is the reality? And who in the heck is Urhi-Teshub?? I smell an investigation coming up.

Urhi-Teshub - Not Moses Or Abraham. More A Naughty Boy Who Stole The Crown From His Uncle.

Urhi-Teshub was the bastard son of the Hittite King Muwattali and when his father died in 1272 BC he succeeded as ruler, although it was said his birth status meant his claim to the throne was illegitimate. In fact, the Hittite Empire had been partitioned into two sections and Urhi-Teshub's uncle, Hattusili, who controlled the north, disapproved of him and was hoping to wrest ultimate power from his rebellious and arrogant nephew.

Young Urhi, on the other hand, was having none of it. He was in charge and that was that. He even moved the capital back to his territory in Hattusa, rendering Hattusili's governorship in the northern city of Tarhuntassa redundant. This just had to lead to a showdown and Urhi was no soldier, being described as lazy and undisciplined. He had lost in his only battle with the Assyrians. After several years, in 1267 BC, Hattusilis, with the support of many members of the elite and even Urhi's own brother, easily defeated him and he fled, firstly to Syria and then to Egypt. Here's where the plot thickens folks. This is what Ramesses The Great's age 36 "Year of Revolution" was really all about.

Ramesses was noted for his victories in battle, but there was one major conflict with the equally mighty Hittite Empire that he did not win. In 1274 BC Ramesses The Great with a huge army of 20,000 men faced off against Muwatalli with an even bigger army, over possession of the city of Kadesh near the modern day border of Syria and Lebanon. The Hittites considered that the local King Amurru had betrayed them to Egypt and wanted revenge. It is believed to have been the largest chariot battle ever fought, involving over 5,000 of these superior war machines.

Ramesses II In His Chariot At The Battle Of Kadesh

Ramesses II technically won this battle and boasted about it back in Egypt, complete with monumental inscriptions. However, it was actually a stalemate and he had to retreat to the south, leaving Kadesh back in Hittite control. In everyday language he had his fingers burnt. So what do you think happened when former military commander and now new Hittite King, Hattusili III, found out that his exiled nephew had taken refuge in the land of his enemy, in Northern Egypt? Again in everyday language he was mad as hell and he wanted his renegade nephew back ASAP, because he also feared a possible attempt by Egypt to restore Urhi to the throne.

Ramesses The Great didn't want to appear too accommodating, particularly when he had spun a victory out of the Battle of Kadesh, so he gave a response saying he had no knowledge of where he was. This was simply fuel added to the fire and Hattusili threatened outright war. It was like the equivalent of modern-day US and Russia, during the Cuban Missile crisis. Ramesses had gotten more than he bargained for and suddenly everything was on the line for him. His reputation, his legacy, the very future of Ancient Egypt. This was his "Moment of Frustration/Setback" in his all-important age 36 "Year of Revolution".

So what do you think this man-God did? This earthly representation of the two sun gods he sat beside in the temple he had built in Abu Simbel. He thought twice about his initial response, that's for sure and this request to hand over the useless Urhi-Teshub was now accompanied by a request for a favour in kind. This was to become the first recorded example of an extradition treaty between rival superpowers. You know, sort of like handing over some Soviet spies in return for captured US military personnel.

The two leaders never met directly, but went on to negotiate a deal through intermediaries. When this process began it could also be considered as his "Moment of Breakthrough/Achievement". Over a period of almost a decade, it involved Hattusili sending Ramesses a daughter to marry and Egypt sending physicians and medical treatment to the Hittites. Egypt also provided wheat to them during a time of famine. All told, things went from being close to the brink of war, to being positively neighbourly between these two great Empires.

This Is A Summary Of Events By Another Commentator

So what happened to the principal characters in this two act play? Well the two big winners were Ramesses The Great and Hattusili III. In 1258 BC they established a lasting peace treaty, known as the eternal treaty, which brought to an end 80 years of hostilities between the two nations. Copies of documents from both sides are still in existence today, so we're not talking about mere speculation and myth. Both sides had common interests in making peace. Egypt faced a growing threat from the so-called 'Sea Peoples' - an organised band of raiders and ex-soldiers, who had turned to warfare and piracy. The Hittites were concerned about the rising power of the Assyrian Empire in the east.

Their individual legacies were greatly enhanced during their long reigns (Hattusili dying in 1237 BC after 30 years in power and of course Ramesses living on till 1213 BC), and their written documents became known as the foremost example of an "international peace treaty" in the ancient world. So it was a win-win solution all round, but what about poor old Urhi? Well, as soon as the extradition was agreed, he was returned and 'disappeared from the pages of history', as the phrase goes. His brother was renamed Kurunta and elevated to governorship in Tarhuntassa, owing to his support of Hattusili, so the family did some good for themselves after all.

POSTSCRIPT :-

Now I could leave this important account of the rulers of Ancient Egypt and the Hittites as it stands, but anyone who has read my books, will know I possess a quirky sense of humour. My books always end up with a fantasy scenario, when I bring my subjects back to life. So, when I was writing this it reminded me of a snippet out of an earlier post I did on the notorious Mob boss, John Gotti Jr.

He actually 'made his bones' (as the phrase goes) with the Gambino crime family by murdering the gangster James McBratney, for kidnapping and murdering Gambino's nephew. It made me imagine what a scene from a fantasy movie would be like, if instead of the venerable historical leaders of the ancient world discussing a problem with the actions of a nephew, we had two modern day mob bosses doing a similar scene.

OK, OK, it's Al Capone VS John Gotti Jr. but just stretch your imaginations a bit.........Now it's "Harry The Hat" (Hattusili) vs "Rocky" (Ramesses)

So, let's just imagine for a minute that it's not Hattusili III or Ramesses II, but 'Harry The Hat' (Hattusili) and 'Rocky' (Ramesses).

ACT ONE.

'Harry The Hat' stubs out his cuban cigar and spits out of the corner of his mouth on the ground.

"Hey Rocky. I believe you got sumptin' that belongs ta me!"

"Yeah Harry, an' jes what might that be?"

"My traitor of a nephew, by the name of Urhi-Teshub is what."

"Er-he-test-tube? Nah, I never hoid a him."

"See that's not what my boys tell me. They tells me that not only do you know where he is, but that you and him might be cookin' up a get square. No I sugges' that you go search your memory real good an' come up with a different answer, that is if you don't want any big-time heat from me. Capice?!"

'Rocky' fully draws up his lower lip, looks at the ground and spits out of the corner of his mouth.

ACT TWO (several months later)

"Hey Harry! I believe I jes might have located your missing property, but I got to thinking you might be able to sweeten the deal a bit your end, since you're so keen about it."

"Now you're makin' sense Rocky. So what do you have in mind?"

"Well how's about fixin' me up a date with that good lookin' cousin of yours."

"What Shoiley! You and Shoiley eh?! Our two families gettin' together, now would be interestin'. But that's a big request see. I might have a request of my own."

"OK, Harry out with it."

"Well you got a doctor I hear is real good. Ah'd like him to help my boys out with a bit of medicin' from time to time, seein' as how they kan't exactly go to no hoshpital."

"Well maybe I could, but I don't want to see a single hair on his head touched!"

"Done!"

ACT THREE (Several years later)

The two family consiglieres (literally means 'counsellor', but usual meaning is 'Mob lawyer') accompany 'Harry' and 'Rocky' to a meeting on neutral territory.

This time it's an embrace complete with a kiss on the cheek.

"Rocky, Rocky. It's good to see ya. By the way here's a little sumptin' fer yer weddin' with Shoiley."

Hands over an envelope stuffed with bills.

"Tanks a bunch Harry. An' from me I'm making that arrangement with young Doctor Schwartzman permanent, owin' to me gettin' someone else."

"That's good news. Hey, I was thinkin' maybe we should have a formal truce between our families. That's why I asked fer you to bring your consigliere along to meet with mine. They could spell out the territories an' stuff."

"Makes sense ta me, 'specially since I got this renegade outfit in Vegas, been musclin' in on my patch."

"I know whatcha' mean Rocky. I got big problems comin' up with the Corleone family out east."

"An' as my good buddy Aneilo (Neil) says, 'May ya have some luck with da cycles'...... or sumptin' like that."


© Copyright 2018 Neil Killion. All rights reserved.

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