The Temple of Luxor is interesting for several reasons, because it is older than Phylae, it is largely intact though defaced, because the architecture is typical New Kingdom instead of Ptolmaic and because the front of the temple is built by Ramesses II (1303-1213 BCE) with his exuberant love for enormous things with his image and name on them. This was a king who understood, as never before, the power of scale, the purpose of awe. Ramesses thought large, and this extended to his family, since he boasted that he was the father of more than 100 sons and 60 daughters. As I said before, the temple was built for the festival of Opet cementing the God-like status of the living pharoah. During the 18th Dynasty (1503-1292 BCE) the festival lasted eleven days, but had grown to twenty-seven days by the reign of Ramesses III (1186-1155 BCE) in the 20th Dynasty. At that time the festival included the distribution of over 11,000 loaves of bread, 85 cakes and 385 jars of beer. The procession of images of the current royal family began at Karnak and ended at the Temple of Luxor. By the late 18th Dynasty the journey was being made by barge, on the Nile River. Each god or goddess was carried in a separate barge that was towed by smaller boats.
The Temple of Luxor gives us an opportunity to become acquainted with the differing representations of lotus and papyrus in the columns and decorations. These are a little beat up, but you can clearly see the closed lotus bud and open papyrus capital columns. Since the finishing on the columns was either removed or just fell off during the millennia that they were buried, you can clearly see the construction of the columns with square blocks rather than the drums used by the Greeks and Romans. Also note the difference between Amenhotep III “closed bud” columns that have more detail than the relatively smooth columns of Ramesses II only a hundred years later. This was just a part of the fast paced methods Ramesses used to build more quickly. Previous Pharaohs had followed the rule that in temple design, incised relief was used on the exterior walls, where it could cast strong shadows. Inside the temples, however, bas-relief was employed, since it does not produce such contrasts and creates a serene effect in the semi-dark. Unfortunately, bas-relief takes time, since the background to every detail needs to be cut away. Ramesses decided to double the rate of temple-building, by seeing to it that the work was done in fast, and cheap, incised relief.
Since Ramesses “The Great” built the front portion of the Luxor Temple, his name(s) are written all over the obelisk, statues and columns. Like his father and grand-father, Ramessu (II) was probably born a non-royal, but it would have been very early in his life that his grand-father, Ramessu (I) came to the throne. Ramessu (II) was previously know as Ramses, but he changed the spelling of his name to Ramessu during his 20th year of his reign. Although it remains unknown why he changed his name, it was not an uncommon thing for the Ancient Egyptians to do. The spelling of his name was also quite varied both in nomen (birth name) and prenomen (throne name) making translation more difficult, keeping in mind that hieroglyphs do not include vowels. Also, as a small aside, Ancient Egyptian Hieroglyphs depended on syllables, so the modern pronunciation of Ramesses might be broken as Ram-Es-ses while the correct sequence would be Ra-Mess. Even today, the spelling can be Ramses, Rameses, Ramesses, Rammesses or Ramessu.
I don't intend to delve into this list of names, I leave that to scholars. I simply want you to see the many variations of Ramesses II nomen and prenomen. Even though Ramesses II used deep incised reliefs for most of his constructions, subsequent pharoahs did sometimes write over his name. In addition, he had no problem at all in writing over other pharoah's names as seen in the above well known example. A palimpsest is a manuscript page, either from a scroll or a book (or in this case a stone carving), from which the text has been either scraped or washed off so that the page can be reused, for another document or painting. In some cases the original carving can be recovered, this is called a Palimpsest. As an amusing aside, there are those who think they see a UFO and jet planes in the jumbled mess of hieroglyphs.
As I have observed previously, in my posts from Phylae, all pharoahs had five names which I have listed above for Ramesses II. I found a string of hieroglyphs at the base of Ramesses sitting colossus that reveals a few of the names as seen above. I have also included some hieroglyph examples to help you understand the transliterations.
The section of hieroglyphs above features the “Horus Name” of Ramesses II on each side of his Nomen (birth name) topped by the ceremonial hat of the Pharoah, two long feathers with a sun disc. The Horus name is the oldest title of Pharaohs, stretching back to pre-dynastic times. The Horus name is framed inside a “Serekh” or ornamentic vignette, combining a front view of a palace facade and a plan (top view) of the royal courtyard topped by a falcon representing the god Horus. The symbol of the pharaoh was placed in the empty courtyard area as you can barely see above. Ramesses II Horus name was “Strong Bull, Beloved of Ma'at”.
These examples give us a much larger vocabulary for upper and lower Egypt, showing that the city/region symbol combined with papyrus and lotus clumps can be equivalent to the sedge and bee symbol. Also this shows two different ways to write “Son of Ra”, the Sa Ra and Egg/Amun Ra. The “walking legs” was/user could indicate strength against neighboring countries.
Ramesses II is the most famous of the Pharaohs, and there is no doubt that he intended this to be so. Known as Ramesses the Great, he ruled Egypt for more than 60 years and built many of ancient Egypt's greatest monuments. Ramesses became the third king of the 19th Dynasty at the age of 25. The temple-building program instigated by Ramesses may have been rushed, but it turned out to be the most extensive ever achieved by a single Pharaoh in all of Ancient Egypt's 30 dynasties, and some of the king's monuments, such as the delicate temple built at Abydos next to the larger complex of his father, show refinement and even understatement. The twin temples of Abu Simbel in Nubia, though by no means understated, are masterpieces of land- and river-scaping, as well as being political propaganda skillfully translated into stone. Ramesses reasserted Egyptian control over the Levant in the east and Nubia to the south. The most momentous event of his reign was the Battle of Kadesh (now in Syria) in 1274 BC. Ramesses claimed a great victory against the Hittites, who were long-standing enemies of the Egyptians. It is now thought the battle was more of a draw. Perhaps more significant was the treaty signed afterwards between the Egyptians and the Hittites, which is believed to be the first written peace treaty between foreign powers. This brought Egypt an unprecedented era of peace and prosperity that continued until Ramesses' death.
Discovering Egypt: http://discoveringegypt.com
Rameses the Great: http://digital.library.upenn.edu/women/edwards/nile/nile-XV.html
Ramses Wives and Children: http://euler.slu.edu/~bart/egyptianhtml/kings%20and%20Queens/Ramses-II.html
Name the Pharoah: http://www.timetrips.co.uk/pharaoh%20names.htm
Variants of Ramesses Name(s): https://pharaoh.se/pharaoh/Ramesses-II
Neb Hieroglyph: http://www.ancientegyptmagazine.co.uk/permesut39.htm
Hieroglyph Dictionary: http://www.pyramidtextsonline.com/documents/DicksonDictionary.pdf