Ancient Egypt / New Kingdom / 20th Dynasty /
Other spellings: Rameses, Ramesses
Ramses 3 was the son of King Setnakht, a man about whom we know little except that he founded a new dynasty. He assumed power toward the end of civil wars that brought the 19th Dynasty to a conclusion.
During his reign Egypt was involved in 3 great wars, all the result of foreign invasion into Egyptian territory. Twice the attacks were from the Lybians, and once from the Sea People. Egypt defeated brought defeat to its attackers in all three wars. But the victory against the Sea People was only partial, since many of the Sea People settled along the coast to the north of the Egyptian borders (corresponding to modern Israel). Their control over the area would for ever mean an end to advances by Ancient Egyptian into that area.
With the end of the 3rd war, Egypt sent an expedition to Punt (probably corresponding to modern Somalia). Minerals were extracted from Sinai and Nubia.
The most enduring problems of his reign were internal. Corruption and crime were hard to suppress at the end of the civil wars. Yet, much was achieved in terms of restructuring Egyptian society and creating a workable administration. The middle period of his reign was stable and prosperous, but things became difficult later because of conflicts between groups in the administration. A good example of a problem is that one of his wives plotted to have Ramses 3 killed in order to secure her son's position as the next king. It is most probable that the plot didn't succeed, as there are no wounds on his mummy. The plotters were captured and brought to trial.
During his reign many temples assumed positions of power in Egypt, while Ramses' own court declined in affluence and authority. This resulted from a change in the distributing of taxes.
The achievements of Ramses 3 are celebrated on the walls of his mortuary temple at Madinet Habu near Luxor. Temples and palaces built by Ramses 3 had the same characteristics as those built by Ramses 2.
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