Ancient Egypt Artifacts Depicting Ramses the Great as Victorious General Were Spreading Fake News

Ramses II, also known as Ramses the Great, was Pharaoh of Egypt from 1279-1300 and, according to ancient inscriptions, was a great warrior who led Egypt to many successful battles. However, a recent archaeological find suggests that stories of Ramses’ battle victories may be little more than elaborate lies.

In a study published in Antiquity, scientists in England found 3,300-year-old sickle blades, handstones, querns and cow bones—all forms of ancient farming tools and evidence of cattle rearing—less than five miles away from an Egyptian fort deep in Libyan territory, Phys.org reported. The finding shows that Egyptians farmed far into Libyan territory without the need for military protection, suggesting that the two nations were not at war, but lived peacefully beside each other.

Related: Ancient Egyptian Pyramidion Found Next To Largest Obelisk Hints At Existence Of Queen's Lost Chamber 

In addition, according to lead researcher Nicky Nielsen, an Egyptologist at the University of Manchester in the UK, this evidence shows that not only did Egyptians in Libya territory rely on their neighbors for trade, but also relied on the Libyans’ knowledge of their environment to help improve their farming skills.

“The type of agriculture practiced in the region around the fort is sustained by very limited rainfall and required in-depth knowledge of hydrological conditions, water storage etc,” Nielsen told Newsweek. "The Egyptians were used to a far more fertile agricultural system supported by the Nile Inundation. It is difficult to imagine that an Egyptian garrison would be able to set up a functional agricultural system in such an alien environment without local know-how.”

The evidence points to peace between the two peoples, not constant fierce war and conquering, as the ancient inscriptions would suggest. In fact, the study even goes as far as to say that Ramses the Great purposely spread lies about himself in order to depict an image of reign that was not true.

Related: Secret Of Ancient Egyptian Writing Revealed In 2,000-Year-Old Papyrus Scrolls 

“Ramses was trying to live up to the image of a perfect Egyptian Pharaoh” Nielsen said. “No Pharaoh would ever have admitted defeat publicly—this is why it is very difficult to study Egyptian historical documents as they tend to be very biased.”

01_29_Egypt You can't always believe everything you read, even in Ancient Egyptian pyramids. KHALED DESOUKI/AFP/Getty Images

Nielsen explained that Ramses was a young member of a military dynasty, and most Egyptian pharaohs portrayed themselves as warriors. Furthermore, Ramses’ father, Seti I, was a successful warrior and Ramses may have felt pressure to live up to his father's greatness.

Stories of Ramses’ greatness are inscribed in Egyptian monuments, often carved so deeply that it was nearly impossible to remove the etchings, Nielsen explained, according to Phys.org. Ramses ruled Egypt for 69 years, Nielsen said, and sired over 160 children. This meant that his lies of greatness had plenty of time to take root, and his plentiful descendants may have helped to spread and uphold the lies.

“Members of the public (at least the soldiers present at Qadesh for instance) would probably have known [about Ramses' lies], and possibly the court would have as well,” Nielsen told Newsweek . “But it was simply expected that Pharaoh portrayed himself as a great victor (regardless of whether this was true or not), so I doubt anyone would have seen anything strange in what Ramses did."

Ramses ruled thousands of years ago, and there is no denying that he was a great leader, although in ways different than those he chose to depict. What Ramses II may have lacked in military skill he made up in architecture accomplishments. The pharaoh was responsible for the erection of more monuments than any other Egyptian pharaoh, with the most notable being the Ramesseum and the temples of Abu Simbel, Ancient Egypt Online reported. Regardless, according to Nielsen, the new findings have broader implications than simply proving the ancient king had a tendency to inflate his reputation.

As he said: “They show that we need to be aware when studying ancient Egypt to not simply take the word of the Egyptian monumental sources, inscriptions and great reliefs.”