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Watch Empires Egypts Golden Empire online: Episode 3 The Last Great Pharaoh

The reign of Ramesses II - known also as Ramesses the Great - marked the high point of the New Kingdom and the high point of Egyptian culture. But like any highpoint, it was all downhill as the New Kingdom gradually fell into ruin. When Ramesses came to the throne, Egypt was threatened by the Hittites. They soon invaded and took the town of Kadesh. Ramesses had no option but to fight. Tall and red-headed, Ramesses was a distinctive and powerful figure. He was lucky to win the Battle of Kadesh, but wanted his victory to seem more impressive. He carved stories on temple walls that told his people how, single-handed, he had defeated the enemy. Throughout his reign he would use propaganda to build up his reputation. Ramesses also used Egypt's wealth to expand or rebuild its temples, including those at Luxor and Karnak. He also constructed a brand new capital, built in his honor - Per Ramesses. But his greatest buildings were two enormous temples, carved out of the mountains of Abu Simbel in southern Egypt. The first was for his dead wife, Nefertari, while the other was for him. Ramesses had a huge number of children - possibly around 80 sons and 60 daughters. He outlived almost all of his children, reigning for a remarkable 67 years and only dying at the grand old age of 93. As most subjects had been born within the lifetime of this worshipped pharaoh many thought his death marked the end of Egypt. In some ways, they were right. The New Kingdom would never again see the glory days of Ramesses the Great. Within 150 years the golden age of Egypt was over for good.

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