Ramses II, Ramses also spelled Ramesses or Rameses, byname Ramses the Great, (flourished 13th century BCE), third king of the 19th dynasty (1292–1190 BCE) of ancient Egypt whose reign (1279–13 BCE) was the second longest in Egyptian history. In addition to his wars with the Hittites and Libyans, he is known for his extensivebuilding programs and for the many colossal statues of him found all over Egypt.
Ramses’ family, of nonroyal origin, came to power some decades after the reign of the religious reformer Akhenaton (Amenhotep IV, 1353–36 BCE) and set about restoring Egyptian power in Asia, which had declined under Akhenaton and his successor, Tutankhamen. Ramses’ father, Seti I, subdued a number of rebellious princes in Palestine and southern Syria and waged war on the Hittites of Anatolia in order to recover those provinces in the north that during the recent troubles had passed from Egyptian to Hittite control. Seti achieved some success against the Hittites at first, but his gains were only temporary, for at the end of his reign the enemy was firmly established on the Orontes River at Kadesh, a strong fortress defended by the river, which became the key to their southern frontier.