The Ramesseum is one of the temples of the Nile's west bank at Luxor. Visitors drive by this temple when they are going from the valley of the Kings and Hatshepseut's temple to the colossi of Memnon. Ramses II built the Temple of the Ramesseum as a funerary Temple in 1304-1207 B.C, and it was dedicated to the God Ra. Most of the Temple is in a very bad condition nowadays, or in ruins. The entrance to the Temple once had two pylons that have now collapsed. In the first courtyard, of the Temple, there is only a colonnaded hall that has survived. In front of the ruins of the first pylon, there once stood a colossal statue of Ramses that was more than 1000 Tons in weight and 18m high! You can still see the remains of it today.
Many other Kings have superimposed monuments in the Ramesseum such as Mernptah and Ramses III.
The Greeks identified this as the Temple of Memnonium (they associated the colossal statue in front of the Temple with their legendry hero, Memnon, the son of Aurora who's mother, Eos, was the Goddess of dawn. Also they sometimes called it “the tomb of Ozymandias”, a name that might have be derived from the ancient Egypt word “User-Maat-Ra”.
The Roman historian, Diodorus, was under the impression that the Temple was the work of the legendry King called Ozymandias, and his tomb was located in there. He even give detailed descriptions of the tomb of Ozymandias and described the inscription that was on its entrance, which says: " I am Ozymandias, King of Kings. If anyone would know how great I am and where I lie, let him surpass any of my works."
In the great hypostyle hall there are 29 columns that are still standing, the ones in the middle are shorter than those on the sides to allow light into the Temple! Here, on the left side, you can see more scenes of the battle of Kadesh.
On the right of this hall, and outside the walls of the hypostyle hall, lies a much older Temple, built by Seti I and dedicated to the God Amon Ra. The Second courtyard is in a much better condition, than the first one, and you can see on both sides, two rows of Osiris columns, representing Ramses II. Further south there is another small hypostyle hall that once had 8 papyrus-bud columns. In here the hall of astronomy is located, where the first 12th month calendar is illustrated. This hall is decorated with scenes of offering, and scenes of the sacred boat of Amon Ra. On the western wall you will see Ramses II sitting under the tree of life, where the God Thoth and the Goddess Seshat are recording his name, in the leaves of the tree, for long life.
If you go further into the western side, there are the ruins of two vestibules that lead you to a library, linen room and the badly ruined sanctuary, which was dedicated to the God Amon Ra.
To the south of the Temple, Ramses II built a great mud break palace where he stayed during his visits to the site. To the south of this section, lies the small Temple of Mern-Ptah, the successor of Ramses II. In 1896, the great Egyptologist, William Flinders Petrie, did extensive excavations at this site.
Petrie found here a very important Stella, known as the “Israel Stella”, which contained the first reference to the “Tribe of Israel”. Because of this Stella, many archaeologists believe that Mern-Ptah is very likely to be the Pharaoh of the Exodus.