Ramses III (rămˈsēz) [key], Rameses III, or Ramesses III both: rămˈəsēzˌ, d. 1167 B.C., king of ancient Egypt, 2d ruler of the XX dynasty. He ended the period of anarchy that followed Merneptah rule and reigned c.1198–1167 B.C. The last important king of the XX dynasty, he fought off the attempted invasions of the Libyans and the threat of the sea peoples who were camping in Syria waiting to invade Egypt. Although he was able to maintain an Asian empire in Palestine, he was the last Egyptian king to hold territory in this region. The accumulation of slaves and riches in the temples and the tremendous wealth of the nobility weakened the Egyptian social structure so that it could not recover. The last year of Ramses III was darkened by the conspiracy of his wife Tiy. The XX dynasty continued to be ruled by kings with the name Ramses, but little of significance occurred during their reigns. The dynasty ended with Ramses XI in 1090 B.C.
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