Inside One of Egypt’s Biggest Royal Weddings

When Ramses II married a Hittite princess, it strengthened the political alliance between the two former enemies. But the arrangements weren’t easy to make.

Ramses II enjoyed one of the longest reigns in Egyptian history. He spent more than 65 years on the throne during a period of military and cultural splendor which would win him the title Ramses the Great.

In 1249 B.C. Ramses II had been ruling for 30 years. To commemorate such a notable occasion, pharaohs held jubilee celebrations known as Heb Sed. Ramses chose his magnificent new capital city, Pi-Ramses, to stage a suitably lavish celebration for this milestone.

Nothing, for the moment, imperiled the prosperity and security of Egypt, especially the Hittites to the north, whose empire spread over modern-day Turkey and northern Syria. Ramses II had defeated them in 1275 B.C. at the Battle of Kadesh. Ramses presented his win as a crushing victory over the Hittites. He had 60-foot-tall statues of himself carved out of the sandstone in Lower Nubia near the Nile at Abu Simbel. Scenes of the battle adorn the halls of these astonishing funerary temples, exemplifying Ramses’ dual role as builder and public relations expert. Historians now know, by comparing Hittite and Egyptian accounts of the battle, that the outcome of Kadesh was probably less one-sided than Ramses’ depiction.

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