Relief of Ramesses II Smiting his Enemies

This block is decorated with a traditional scene representing King Ramesses II smiting his enemies. He wears a complete, elegant costume; the Blue Crown adorned with the uraeus, the collar called Usekh or Wesekh, an elaborate garment, two armlets, two bracelets and sandals.

He holds, in his left hand, three prisoners by their hair while in his right hand he holds an axe with which he is about to strike them. The facial features, the hairstyle and the beards of the enemies indicate that they belong to three different peoples: the Nubians, the Libyans and the Syrians.

Relief of King Ramesses II Smiting his Enemies. Egyptian Museum, Cairo. JE 46189
Relief of King Ramesses II Smiting his Enemies. Egyptian Museum, Cairo. JE 46189

The theme of the pharaoh massacring enemies is an ancient one, known since the 1st Dynasty and can be seen, for example, in the Narmer Palette.

Ramesses II was one of the most important and longest-ruling kings ever – he ruled for 67 years. During his reign he continued the war against the Hittites begun by his father, which culminated in the Battle of Kadesh, where Ramesses only averted defeat by personal bravery. Eventually the Egyptian army was forced to withdraw, but a few years later Ramesses was able to reconquer part of the lost territory. Shortly after he signed a peace treaty with the Hittites.

New Kingdom, 19th Dynasty, reign of Ramesses II, ca. 1279-1213 BC. Painted limestone. From Memphis. Now in the Egyptian Museum, Cairo. JE 46189