Erich Lessing/Art Resource, NY

This colossal head of Ramesses II tops one of the four seated statues that flank the entrance to the Great Temple at Abu Simbel. Often identified as the pharaoh of the Exodus, Ramesses II was an ambitious monument builder. Besides the breathtaking temple at Abu Simbel, he constructed a giant mortuary temple, the Ramesseum, at Thebes, and magnificent temples at Karnak, Luxor and Abydos.

The walls of these five temples are covered with inscriptions and reliefs that celebrate Ramesses’ “victory” over the Hittites at the Battle of Kadesh. Besides offering detailed information about the battle itself, these reliefs give compelling pictorial evidence of a possible Egyptian model for the Israelite Tabernacle.