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Seti I was a remarkable king on his own, but is mostly remembered as the father of Ramesses II. Ramesses was their second son -- Seti and his wife Tuya lost their firstborn son.
He came to the throne as an accomplished military leader for his father, Ramesses I. He had led a number of campaigns into Western Asia, like his father, and continued to maintain diplomatic and economic ties to other countries. In one inscription, he is shown to have taken three divisions of 60,000 troops into battle. He maintained the Egyptian garrisons (and in some cases re-opened them) in Syria. He warred against Palestine and was responsible for bringing the city of Damascus back under Egyptian control.
Both he and his son, Ramesses II brought forces against Kadesh, although Seti managed to reconcile with the powerful Hittite kings in the region. Scenes inscribed at Karnak are considered some of the most important military reliefs from the New Kingdom. They are inscribe don the outer pylon at Karnak, and show the battles with the Bedouin, the capture of Gaza and Rafah, and, of course, the great battle at Kadesh. THe texts accompanyiing these images list many place names that have been instrumental in determining the geography of the region during this period.
Seti I called himself "Repeater of Births" and considered himself to be the founder of a new renaissance in Egyptian culture. This was not only true for his military campaigns, but also for the art and architecture of his reign.
He built a number of monuments, including a cenotaph (false tomb) and temple in Abydos. The temple of Seti I was unique in that it has seven sanctuaries -- six to the gods and one to Seti I himself. The cenotaph to Osiris, commonly called the Osireion stands near the temple. Solar boats were found here which predate the Solar Boat of Cheops in Giza by about 400 years.
One of the major king lists (the Abydos List) is carved into the wall of the temple, showing the kings from the first dynasty up to Seti I himself. THis is one of the king lists that skips the Amarna kings (Akhenaton, Smenkhkare, Tutankhamun, Ay) and jumps from Amenhotep III directly to Horemheb.
Seti is responsible for perhaps the most notable addition to the Temple of Amun at Karnak -- the great hypostyle hall, which is one of the largest religious structures ever built. The hall, 1.3 acres in size, contains 134 columns (most of which remain standing). THe largest columns are 23 meters (75 feet) high.
Seti I's tomb in the Valley of the Kings is the longest, deepest (at 300 feet), and most complete tomb in the valley. While it was excavated in 1817 by modern archeologists, it has been open since antiquity, and was restored in several stages during the reigns of Heribor and Smendes in the xxth Dynasty. The tomb is completely decorated (most tombs have decorations in the burial chambers only) and the style of decoration continued for every tomb throughout the rest of the valley's history.
His mummy was found in the Deir el-Bahari cache in 1881. An alb aster sarcophagus (empty, like so many of them are) was found in the burial chamber and is now in a museum in London. THe mummy is in the Mummy Room of the Egyptian Museum in Cairo.
Inside the tom, a steep passageway leads down beyond the burial chamber, which may have been intended to reach groundwater in the valley -- Seti I was very much a believer in the symbolic link of the kingship and land to the water, as was shown in the Osireion, which was intended to be a sanctuary rising from the water of creation.
Seti I was succeeded by his son, Ramesses II -- Ramesses the Great.