"I am Ozymandias, King of Kings. If anyone would know how great am I and where I buried, let him surpass any of my works."

Inscription at the feet of the Colossal statue infront of the Entrance to Ramesseum.

The Mortuary Temple of King Ramesses II (1290-1279 BC) and the god Amon Ra, known as Ramesseum, is located in Theban Necropolis - the Resting Place of the Ancient Egyptian Kings of the New Kingdom.


Pharaoh of the XIX Dynasty, Ramesses the Great, spent 20 years for building of his grandiose Memorial Temple Complex in Western Thebes during his 67-year reign, at the period ancient Egyptian power and glory in the XIII th century BC.

For many years, Ramesseum was mentioned in historical chronicles under different names, such as "Ozyimandias Tomb", "Temple of Millions of Years, united by Thebes" and "Memnonium." The first name appeared while translating the King's name to Greek language from the ancient Egyptian "User-Maat-Ra", and the last one was given by the Greeks who associated the destroyed granite statue of Colossus, located in front of the Temple, with the legendary hero Memnon, the son of Aurora.

The French scientist Jean-Francois Champollion was the first who determined the true identity of the complex. After studying the Necropolis area, it had appeared that the ruins of the Theban Temple were the architectural masterpiece of the Pharaoh of the XIX Dynasty - Ramses II, or "Ramses the Great." Since that times, this ancient object is named as "Ramesseum", a name given by Champollion in 1829.

In comparison with the architectural standards of the temples of the New Kingdom, Ramesseum is unusually large. The basis of it makes a rectangle of 183 x 67 meters.

Hypostyle hall, occupying the major part of the Temple, contains 29 columns, which depicts fragments of scenes of the famous Kadesh battle.

The main entrance to the Temple complex is located in the East Pylon, which walls are decorated with bas-reliefs with scenes of the battle of Kadesh, festivals of Min and Syrians wars. The right wing of the pylon contains the bas-reliefs of the cities that Ramses II conquered during his reign and groups of prisoners being taken to the King. The left wing of the pylon reflects the famous battle of Ramses II with the Hittites.

Drawing of the bas-relief "Battle with Hitties", made by Georg Moritz Ebers, 1881

The 1st court has only one colonnade. The second court - two rows of columns, made in the form of statues of Ramses II in the shape of Osiris. To the south of the second court there is a smaller hypostyle hall with eight columns in the form of papyrus. This place is called the Astronomy Hall, where the first 12-month calendar in the history was depicted.

Weidenbach, Ernst , 1849-1956

In the north-west of Ramesseum there is a complex of royal warehouses, built of mud bricks. They are the earliest arched buildings in history.

These warehouses were used for storing funeral materials, various worker tools, as well as grain storerooms. In ancient Egypt, grain was valued as precious as the gold, and from royal temple vaults it was shipped all over the country. The size of such granaries determined the generosity and wealth of the reigning King.

Before the entrance to Ramesseum there was once a majestic statue, depicting the King Ramses II, sitting on the throne. The Colossus statue was carved from red Aswan granite. It's weight was about 1000 tons, and height - 19 meters. If the Colossus was still towering above the ground, it could rival the Colossus of Memnon and the statues of Ramses, carved into the mountains at Abu Simbel. To our great regret, now we can see only some fragments of this ancient masterpiece.

Being inspired by the sizes of this once grand statue of Ramesses the Great, English poet Percy Bishe Shelley (1792-1822), wrote his famous sonnet "Ozymandias", which in the Greek interpretation means the royal name User-Ma'at-Ra, carved on the shoulder of the statue.

Despite the fact that only some formless fragments has remained from this once Colossal statue, Percy Bysshe Shelley describet it that way, that involuntarily the mind of a reader begins to draw the shapes of the great work of the ancient sculptor - thus resurrecting from the ruins the true Keeper of Ramesseum:

"Ozymandias" , handwritten by Percy Bysshe Shelly in 1817г. (Oxford's Bodleian Library).

I met a traveller from an antique land who said:
Two vast and trunkless legs of stone stand in the desert.
Near them, on the sand, Half sunk, a shattered visage lies, whose frown,
And wrinkled lip, and sneer of cold command,
Tell that its sculptor well those passions read,
Which yet survive, stamped on these lifeless things,
The hand that mocked them, and the heart that fed,
And on the pedestal these words appear:
"My name is Ozymandias, King of Kings:
Look upon my works, ye Mighty, and despair!"
Nothing beside remains.
Round the decay of that colossal wreck,
Boundless and bare the lone and level sands stretch far away.

Percy Bysshe Shelly, 1817


The origins of modern Egyptology have been traced since the arrival of Napoleon Bonaparte's army to Egypt in summer of 1798. Among the troops of the French Emperor, a significant place was occupied by people of science - those ones, whose works, written under the desert sun of the Sahara, revealed the world their famous 23-volume report, known as the "Description of Egypt" (fr: Description de l'Égypte).

Click the image to enlarge.

Click the image to enlarge.

Click the image to enlarge.

Click the image to enlarge.

Click the image to enlarge.

The next explorer of Ramesseum was Italian engineer and researcher Giovanni Belzoni. In 1815, upon his arrival to Cairo, he met the British Consul General Henry Salt, who hired him to transport to England a fragment of the statue, found at the entrance to the Ramesseum. This fragment, the so-called "Younger Memnon", was probably located to the right from the entrance to the temple, while Colossus, according to the scheme below, taken from the from Napoleon's report, was located to the left of the entrance.

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Artist: Aglio, Agostino, 1820

Due to Belzoni's engineering skills and his hydraulic mechanisms, the 7-ton head of the statue of Ramses II ("The Younger Memnon") has arrived to London in 1818. A few years later it was exhibited in the British Museum.

Source: British Museum. (Click on the image to enter the website of British Museum)

The first sketch of Ramesseum was made in 1780 by the Danish naval captain and researcher Frederick Lewis Norden, who became famous after the publication of the work "Journey from Egypt to Nubia."

Author: Frederic Lewis Norden. 1780.

Subsequently, the views of Ramesseum were reflected in the works of Scottish artist David Roberts and a number of first photographers, researchers of Egyptian antiquities.

Artist: David Roberts, 1838

Artist: David Roberts, 1846

Photographer: Francis Frith, 1858

Photographer: Francis Frith, 1858

Photographer: Francis Frith, 1862

Unknown photographer. 1875

(Click the image to enlarge)

Photographer: Bechard Henri, 1887 (Click the image to enlarge)

Flinders Petri directs archaeological works in Ramesseum. Artist: Henry Wallis, 1895

Photographer: Schroeder, 1900

Photographer: Schroeder, 1900 (Click the image to enlarge)

1914 (Click the image to enlarge)

1914 (Click the image to enlarge)

ISIDA Project 2017 (Click the image to enlarge)

ISIDA Project 2017 (Click the image to enlarge)

ISIDA Project 2017 (Click the image to enlarge)

Since 1991, the archaeological and restoration works in Ramesseum is carried out by the joint Franco-Egyptian mission.


ISIDA Project Research Group visited Ramesseum scince 2011 to 2017. Thanks to the ongoing restoration work on the territory of the Temple complex of Ramses II, the magnificent architectural ensemble gradually emerges from the sand, where the ageless stone is carrying through the Time the priceless historical chronicles, set by the great Egyptian King more than 3 thousand years ago.

General view of the Temple.


Internal architectural structures of the Temple.


Bas-reliefs and statues.


Granite Colossus.


King's granaries, made of mud brick.



Frederic Lewis Norden
The antiquities, natural history, ruins and other curiosities of Egypt, Nubia and Thebes
Year: 1780

Denkmaeler aus Aegypten und Aethiopien nach den Zeichnungen der von seiner Majestat dem Koenige von Preussen Friedrich Wilhelm IV nach diesen Landern gesendeten und in den Jahren 1842-1845 ausgefuhrten wissenschaftlichen Expedition ...

Napoleon Bonaparte
Description de l'Égypte, ou Recueil des observations et des recherches qui ont été faites en Égypte pendant l'expédition de l'Armée française

Year: 1812



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