Psusennes I and Tanis

A renowned wine-producing region that “lay in the centre of a great vineyard,”223 Pi-Ramesses remained famous centuries later, as it was moved by the priest-king Psusennes I (fl. 1047–1001 BCE) to the city of Tanis, apparently created for this very purpose, thus keeping its memory alive. For hundreds of years, priests maintained the pharaohs’ divine legacies through inheriting these rulers’ property specifically for this reason.

Tanis was situated in the Nile Delta on the Mediterranean along the popular Horus Way, in between Jerusalem and Alexandria. It was built evidently for the purpose of maintaining the memory of Pi-Ramesses and Ramesses II, and, since the city survived into the second century AD/CE, it is likely that Jews during the millennium of Pi-Ramesses’s existence were aware of its connection to the pharaoh and, therefore, knew about him as well. Psalm 78, written in post-exilic times, recounts that the Israelites toiled “in the fields of Tanis,” thereby appearing to recognize that Pi-Ramesses was in Tanis.

 The city’s inclusion biblically may explain why, over the centuries, the famous Ramesses II has been the favored pharaoh associated with the Exodus. In any event, biblical writers may have known about Pi-Ramesses and used it as a historical detail to flesh out their tales.