The Pharaoh for whom a Passport Was Issued in 1974: II. Ramses

When we say Egypt, most of us think of pyramids and mummified pharaohs. So much so that these pharaohs are still remembered thousands of years after they died, and the bodies of many of them defy time by not decaying. Before coming to the interesting subject we mentioned in the title, let’s look at 1974. That year was a year in which a big step was taken in the history of humanity. Yes, while a group of people was talking about the effect of setting foot on the Moon, another group went to the general directorate of population and citizenship affairs for the passport procedures of the 3000-year-old pharaoh grandfather. Let’s find out the details of these passport procedures!

Great Pharaoh: II. Ramses

Pharaoh was once the name given to the rulers of Egypt. This word, meaning Great House” or “Palace”, indicated that it was the most powerful name in the land of Egypt. So much so that the pharaohs were also regarded as the symbol of the God Horus on earth and, after the fifth dynasty, the son of the God of the Sun, Ra. In other words, the pharaohs acted as a bridge between gods and humans in a way. Thanks to their superhuman authority, the pharaohs were considered to own all the lands in Egypt. They could also make laws at will, collect taxes, and protect Egypt from invaders as the commander-in-chief of the army.

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One of the Longest Reigning Sovereigns

Ramses II was also one of the most famous and successful pharaohs in Egypt. According to many researchers, he was also one of the longest-reigning people in human history. Ramses II, ascended the throne in 1279, BC and He was the head of his country until 1213 BC and expanded his territory for about 67 years. In fact, he is also known as ” the protector of Egypt, who binds foreign countries,” because he fought and won many countries.

The First Written Treaty in Human History: Kadesh

You must have seen it in the history books; In 1275 BC, the result of the war between the Egyptian Empire and the Hittite Empire had reached a stalemate. And for the first time in history, a written agreement was made to solve this problem. The first international treaty was signed during the reign of Ramses II in 1286 BC. The original text of the treaty in clay tablet form is in Turkey today. You can find the photo of the original version of the treaty in the Istanbul Archeology Museum below.

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The original text of the treaty in the Istanbul Archeology Museum (Image Source: Wikipedia )

The Kadesh treaty includes the following sentence:

“It is concluded that Reamasesa-Mai-Amana, the Great King, the king (of the land of Egypt) with Hattusili, the Great King, the king of the land of Hatti, his brother, for the land of Egypt and the land of Hatti, in order to establish a good peace and a good fraternity forever among them.

In addition, there are two other important decisions in the treaty:

  • Countries will send aid to each other in case of any kind of internal or external attack on one of the two countries.
  • People who fled from Egypt to Hatti country or from Hatti country to Egypt will be extradited to their own countries, but these people will not be severely punished.

A Leader Who Can’t Find Comfort Even In His Grave

Ramses II died at the age of 90. Ramses’ body had waited in Egypt for over 3000 years. His tomb was kept in the Valley of the Kings for a long time like other pharaohs. However, after a while, the ancient Egyptian priests thought that the looters might attack the tomb and wanted to take precautions and moved the tomb. The location of the burial was not found for a very long time. It was discovered in the Deir El Bahri Temple in 1881. Researchers did not want to leave Ramses alone for his rest either.

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After a while, the researchers who checked the tomb realized that the pharaoh was not in good condition. “How good can someone who is already dead be?” You may be thinking. You’re right, but we don’t mean dead. His body was on the verge of decay due to the threat of fungi and urgent intervention was required. Experts wanted to take Ramses from Egypt and move it to France with the aim of restoring it. There, they would complete their careful restoration and bring him back to Egypt.

However, there was a problem. Ramses did not have a passport and therefore had problems entering and leaving the country. There was no passport required for the travel of dead bodies in France, but the Egyptian government said that by law Ramses had to have a passport. Many sources said that Egypt’s decision was a tactic to ensure the return of the pharaoh to the country.

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Image Source: Heritage Daily (Image representation. Actual passport not made public.)

Receiving his passport Ramses II went on a journey. Brought to Paris on a French military plane in 1974, the pharaoh was indeed greeted with a state ceremony attended by the “Garde Republicaine”, France’s Republican Guard. This ceremony was only held for politically important people such as statesmen.

What Have We Learned in This Restoration Work?

Researchers show that Ramses was about 1.73m tall and had red hair. We also understood that the pharaoh had health problems such as arthritis (joint inflammation) and tooth abscess.

References and Further Reading

HeritageDaily. (2021, August 26). The passport of ramesses II. HeritageDaily. Retrieved July 10, 2022, from https://www.heritagedaily.com/2020/03/the-passport-of-ramesses-ii/126812

Ramses II’s Egyptian mummy was issued a passport 3000 years after his death. IndiaTimes. (2020, October 26). Retrieved July 10, 2022, from https://www.indiatimes.com/technology/science-and-future/ramses-ii-egyptian-mummy-passport-3000-years-after-death-522966.html

Wikimedia Foundation. (2022, April 2). Firavun _ Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. Retrieved July 10, 2022, from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Firavun

Wikimedia Foundation. (2022, July 7). II. Ramses . Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. Retrieved July 10, 2022, from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/II._Ramses

Istanbul Archaeological Museums . Istanbul Archaeological Museums – Treaty of Kadesh. (n.d.). Retrieved July 10, 2022, from https://web.archive.org/web/20160413055805/http://www.istanbularkeoloji.gov.tr/web/15-67-1-1/muze_-_tr/kolakliyatlar/sark_eserleri_muzesi_eserler /cascade_agreement

The proofreading has been done by Asu Pelin Akköse and Mete Esencan.

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Mete Esencan

Hello everyone! I'm Mete Esencan. I am a graduate student in the Department of Chemistry at METU. I was planning to establish a platform by combining the research knowledge I gained during my basic science education and the management experience I gained in the METU Chemistry Society, which I was in charge of for three years. For this purpose, in February of 2021, I took the first step and established the OkButWhy, a platform where we can write articles as if to chat about science, art and philosophy. I wish everyone a pleasant reading!

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