Last updated

Amenmesse (also Amenmesses or Amenmose) was the fifth pharaoh of the Nineteenth Dynasty in Ancient Egypt, possibly the son of Merneptah and Queen Takhat. Others consider him to be one of the innumerable sons of Ramesses II. Very little is known about this pharaoh, who ruled Egypt for only three to four years. Various Egyptologists date his reign between 1202 BC1199 BC [4] or 1203 BC1200 BC [5] with others giving an accession date of 1200 BC. [6] Amenmesse means "born of or fashioned by Amun" in Egyptian. Additionally, his nomen can be found with the epithet Heqa-waset, which means "Ruler of Thebes". [7] His royal name was Menmire Setepenre.

Ancient Egypt ancient civilization of Northeastern Africa

Ancient Egypt was a civilization of ancient North Africa, concentrated along the lower reaches of the Nile River in the place that is now the country Egypt. Ancient Egyptian civilization followed prehistoric Egypt and coalesced around 3100 BC with the political unification of Upper and Lower Egypt under Menes. The history of ancient Egypt occurred as a series of stable kingdoms, separated by periods of relative instability known as Intermediate Periods: the Old Kingdom of the Early Bronze Age, the Middle Kingdom of the Middle Bronze Age and the New Kingdom of the Late Bronze Age.

Merneptah Fourth pharaoh of the 19th Dynasty of Egypt

Merneptah or Merenptah was the fourth pharaoh of the Nineteenth Dynasty of Ancient Egypt. He ruled Egypt for almost ten years from late July or early August 1213 BC until his death on May 2, 1203 BC, according to contemporary historical records. He was the thirteenth son of Ramesses II and only came to power because all his older brothers, including his full brother Khaemwaset or Khaemwase, had died. By the time he ascended to the throne, he was probably around seventy years old. His throne name was Ba-en-re Mery-netjeru, which means "The Soul of Ra, Beloved of the Gods".

Takhat ancient Egyptian princess and queen

Takhat was an ancient Egyptian princess and queen of the 19th dynasty, the mother of Twosret and the usurper pharaoh Amenmesse.



It is likely that he was not Merneptah's intended heir. Some scholars such as Kenneth Kitchen and Jürgen von Beckerath believe that Amenmesse usurped the throne from Seti-Merneptah, Merneptah's son and crown prince who should have been next in line to the royal succession. It is unclear how this would have happened. Kitchen has written that Amenmesse may have taken advantage of a momentary weakness of Seti-Merneptah or seized power while the crown prince was away in Asia. Seti-Merneptah was most likely the same man as king Seti II, whose reign was traditionally thought to have followed upon Amenmesse's reign. The cartouches of Seti II's tomb in Upper Egypt were deliberately erased and then repainted, suggesting that Seti's rule in Upper Egypt was temporarily interrupted by agents of his half-brother. Confusion generally clouds Amenmesse's reign and location within the Egyptian 19th Dynasty. However, an increasing number of Egyptologists today such as Rolf Krauss and Aidan Dodson maintain that Seti II was in fact the immediate successor of Merneptah "without any intervening rule by Amenmesse." [8] Under this scenario, Amenmesse did not succeed Merneptah on the throne of Egypt and was rather a rival king who usurped power sometime during Years 2 to 4 of Seti II's reign in Upper Egypt and Nubia where his authority is monumentally attested. [9] Amenmesse was documented in power at Thebes during his third and fourth year (and perhaps earlier in Nubia) where Seti II's Year 3 and Year 4 are noticeably unaccounted for. [10] The treatment of Amenmesse as a rival king also best explains the pattern of destruction to Seti II's tomb which was initially ransacked and later restored again by Seti II's officials. This implies that the respective reigns of Amenmesse and Seti II were parallel to one another; Seti II must have initially controlled Thebes in his first and second years during which time his tomb was excavated and partly decorated. Then Seti was ousted from power in Upper Egypt by Amenmesse whose agents desecrated Seti II's tomb. Seti would finally defeat his rival Amenmesse and return to Thebes in triumph whereupon he ordered the restoration of his damaged tomb.

Kenneth Anderson Kitchen is a British biblical scholar, Ancient Near Eastern historian, and Personal and Brunner Professor Emeritus of Egyptology and Honorary Research Fellow at the School of Archaeology, Classics and Egyptology, University of Liverpool, England. He is one of the leading experts on the ancient Egyptian Ramesside Period, and the Third Intermediate Period of Egypt, as well as ancient Egyptian chronology, having written over 250 books and journal articles on these and other subjects since the mid-1950s. He has been described by The Times as "the very architect of Egyptian chronology".

Jürgen von Beckerath was a German Egyptologist. He was a prolific writer who published countless articles in journals such as Orientalia, Göttinger Miszellen (GM), Journal of the American Research Center in Egypt (JARCE), Archiv für Orientforschung (AfO), and Studien zur Altägyptischen Kultur (SAK) among others. Together with Kenneth Kitchen, he is viewed as one of the foremost scholars on the New Kingdom and the Third Intermediate Period of Egypt.

Seti II Egyptian pharaoh, fifth ruler of the Nineteenth dynasty

Seti II was the fifth pharaoh of the Nineteenth Dynasty of Egypt and reigned from c. 1203 BC to 1197 BC. His throne name, Userkheperure Setepenre, means "Powerful are the manifestations of Re, the chosen one of Re." He was the son of Merneptah and Isetnofret II and sat on the throne during a period known for dynastic intrigue and short reigns, and his rule was no different. Seti II had to deal with many serious plots, most significantly the accession of a rival king named Amenmesse, possibly a half brother, who seized control over Thebes and Nubia in Upper Egypt during his second to fourth regnal years.

Rolf Krauss, followed by Aidan Dodson, suggests that Amenmesse was once a Kushite Viceroy called Messuy. [11] In particular, two representations of Messuy on the temple of Amida allegedly shows that a royal uraeus had been added to his brows in a way consistent with other pharaohs such as Horemheb, Merenptah and some of the sons of Rameses III. An inscription at the temple of Amada also calls him "the king's son himself" but this may be merely a figure of speech to emphasize Messuy high stature as Viceroy under Merneptah. However, Frank Yurco notes that various depictions of Messuy in several Nubian temples were never deliberately defaced by Seti II's agents compared to the damnatio memoriae meted out to all depictions of another Viceroy of Kush, Khaemtir, who had served as Amenmesse's Vizier. [12] This strongly implies that Seti II held no grudge against Messuy, which would be improbable if Messuy was indeed Amenmesse. [13] Yurco also observes that the only objects from Messuy's tomb which identified a Pharaoh all named only Merneptah, Seti II's father, which leads to the conclusion that Messuy died and was buried in his tomb at Aniba, Nubia, during Merneptah's reign, and could not be Amenmesse. [14]

Messuy (Messuwy) was Viceroy of Kush, Governor of the South Lands, Scribe of the Tables of the Two Lands during the reign of Merneptah and perhaps Seti II and Amenmesse.

Uraeus stylized, upright form of an Egyptian cobra used as a symbol of sovereignty, royalty, deity and divine authority in Ancient Egypt

The Uraeus is the stylized, upright form of an Egyptian cobra, used as a symbol of sovereignty, royalty, deity and divine authority in ancient Egypt.

Kingdom of Kush ancient African kingdom

The Kingdom of Kush or Kush was an ancient kingdom in Nubia, located at the Sudanese and southern Egyptian Nile Valley.

There has also been a suggestion that the story of the "Tale of Two Brothers", first attested during the reign of Seti II, may contain a veiled reference to the struggle between Amenmesse and Seti II.

Tale of Two Brothers

The Tale of Two Brothers is an ancient Egyptian story that dates from the reign of Seti II, who ruled from 1200 to 1194 BC during the 19th Dynasty of the New Kingdom. The story is preserved on the Papyrus D'Orbiney, which is currently preserved in the British Museum.

The records of a court case early in the reign of Seti II also throw some light on the matter. Papyrus Salt 124 records that Neferhotep, one of the two chief workmen of the Deir el-Medina necropolis, had been killed during the reign of Amenmesse (the king's name is written as 'Msy' in the document). [15] Neferhotep was replaced by Paneb his adopted son, against whom many crimes were alleged by Neferhotep's brother Amennakhte in a strongly worded indictment preserved on a papyrus in the British Museum. If Amennakhte's allegations can be trusted, Paneb had stolen stone for the embellishment of his own tomb from that of Seti II in the course of its completion, besides purloining or damaging other property belonging to that monarch. Also he had allegedly tried to kill Neferhotep in spite of having been educated by him, and after the chief workman had been killed by 'the enemy' had bribed the vizier Pra'emhab in order to usurp his place. Whatever the truth of these accusations, it is clear that Thebes was going through very troubled times. There are references elsewhere to a 'war' that had occurred during these years, but it is obscure to what this word alludes--perhaps to no more than internal disturbances and discontent. Neferhotep had complained of the attacks upon himself to the vizier Amenmose, presumably a predecessor of Pra'emhab, whereupon Amenmose had Paneb punished. Paneb, however, then successfully brought a complaint before 'Mose'/'Msy' whereupon the latter decided to dismiss Amenmose from office. Evidently this 'Mose'/'Msy' was a person of the highest importance who most probably should be identified with king Amenmesse himself. [16]

The Papyrus Salt 124 is an ancient Egyptian papyrus dating to the beginning of the 20th Dynasty. This papyrus is a copy of a letter addressed to the vizier of the time, most likely Hori.

Deir el-Medina ancient Egyptian village in the Valley of the Kings

Deir el-Medina, or Dayr al-Madīnah, is an ancient Egyptian village which was home to the artisans who worked on the tombs in the Valley of the Kings during the 18th to 20th dynasties of the New Kingdom of Egypt The settlement's ancient name was Set maat "The Place of Truth", and the workmen who lived there were called "Servants in the Place of Truth". During the Christian era, the temple of Hathor was converted into a church from which the Egyptian Arabic name Deir el-Medina is derived.

Paneb was a chief at Deir el-Medina, a workmen's community at Thebes.


Jar inscribed with the prenomen and nomen of Amenmesse. Faience, cylindrical. 19th Dynasty. From Cemetery C at el-Riqqeh, Egypt. The Petrie Museum of Egyptian Archaeology, London Jar inscribed with the prenomen and nomen of Amenmesse. Faience, cylindrical. 19th Dynasty. From Cemetery C at el-Riqqeh, Egypt. The Petrie Museum of Egyptian Archaeology, London.jpg
Jar inscribed with the prenomen and nomen of Amenmesse. Faience, cylindrical. 19th Dynasty. From Cemetery C at el-Riqqeh, Egypt. The Petrie Museum of Egyptian Archaeology, London

His mother is known to be Queen Takhat, but who she is exactly is a matter of interpretation complicated by inscriptions being revised by Seti II and Amenmesse. Among her titles are "King's Daughter", which would make her a daughter of Merenptah or Ramesses II or possibly a granddaughter of Ramesses. The name Takhat appears in a list of princesses dated to Year 53 of Ramesses II (Louvre 666). [17] If this is the same Takhat, she would be about the same age as Seti II. [18]

A monument from Karnak, carved while Amenmesse was in control of the area, includes the relief of a woman titled "King's Daughter" and "King's Mother". When Seti ousted Amenmesse from the area, the piece was reinscribed from 'Mother' to 'Wife'. Another statue of Seti II (Cairo CG1198) bears Seti's name surcharged over someone else's while the names of Takhat were left alone. This suggests that Takhat was married to Seti as well as mother to Amenmesse. [19] Others such as Frank Yurco believe Takhat was wife to Merenptah making the rivals Seti II and Amenmesse half-brothers. [20]

Some have assumed that Twosret, wife of Seti II, was his sister, making him half-brother to Seti II. Amenmesse's wife was once thought to be a woman named Baktwerel but more recent analysis of his royal tomb proves that she was not a contemporary of this Pharaoh. As Aidan Dodson & Dyan Hilton state:

"Contrary to what has often been asserted, the Queen Baketwerel depicted in the tomb of Amenmesse, KV10, cannot have been a wife of his. The reliefs [of the Queen] in question are secondary, carved in plaster over the mutilated decoration of the king, reflecting later usurpation of the sepulcher, probably in the 20th Dynasty." [21]

Dodson suggests that Baktwerel was perhaps the wife of Ramesses IX, and that this lady later usurped Amenmesse's tomb and added her own scenes and inscriptions there (Dodson 1987).

Six quartzite statues originally placed along the axis of the hypostyle hall in the Amun Temple at Karnak are thought to be his, although these were defaced and overwritten with the name of Seti II. [22] One of these statues, with the inscription, "the Great Royal Wife Takhat", lends credence to the argument that a Takhat was Amenmesse's wife. Amenmesse was also responsible for restoring a shrine dating from Thutmose III that stands before a temple at El-Tod.

There is confusion about the events surrounding his death. His mummy was not amongst those found in the cache at Deir el Bahri, and from the destruction of his tomb in the Valley of the Kings, it is assumed that Seti II took revenge upon his usurping half-brother.


Amenmesse was buried in a rock-cut tomb in the Valley of the Kings which is now identified as Tomb KV10. However, almost all of its texts and scenes were either erased or usurped by Seti II's agents. No mention of Amenmesse was spared. [23] [24] A number of officials associated with Amenmesse were also attacked or replaced, chief among them being the Theban High Priest of Amun, Roma called Roy, and Khaemtir, a former viceroy of Kush, who may have supported Amenmesse's usurpation. [25]

Amenmesse's tomb was also opened in antiquity. While the remains of three mummies were found in this tomb, two women and one man, it is uncertain if any of these remains belong to Amenmesse, Takhat or the later Baketwerel without further testing or whether they were later intrusions. It seems more likely, however, that Seti II had Amenmesse's remains desecrated since his mummy was never found "in either of the two great caches of royal mummies found in 1881 and 1901" [26] Surviving inscriptions mentioning Takhat's name along with the wall inscriptions suggest she was buried in Amenmesse's tomb. Artifacts from the tombs of Seti I and Rameses VI were also found in the KV10 tomb adding to the uncertainty. After his death, Seti II also conducted a damnatio memoriae campaign against the memory of Amenmesse's Vizier, Khaemtir. Egyptologist Frank Yurco notes that Seti II's agents erased all of Khaemtir's depictions and inscriptions even those that Khaemtir had inscribed when he served as a Viceroy in Nubia. [27]

It is possible that Siptah, the Pharaoh who succeeded Seti II, was the son of Amenmesse and not of Seti II. A statue of Siptah in Munich shows the Pharaoh seated in the lap of another, clearly his father. The statue of the father, however, has been completely destroyed. Dodson writes:

"The only ruler of the period who could have promoted such destruction was Amenmesse, and likewise he is the only king whose offspring required such explicit promotion. The destruction of this figure is likely to have closely followed the fall of Bay or the death of Siptah himself, when any short-lived rehabilitation of Amenmesse will have ended". [28]

M. Georg [29] and Rolf Krauss [30] [31] find that there are a number of parallels between the story of Amenmesse and the biblical story of Moses in Egypt.

Related Research Articles

Ramesses X ninth ruler of the 20th dynasty of Ancient Egypt

Khepermaatre Ramesses X was the ninth pharaoh of the 20th dynasty of Ancient Egypt. His birth name was Amonhirkhepeshef. His prenomen or throne name, Khepermaatre, means "The Justice of Re Abides."

Ramesses XI Egyptian pharaoh

Menmaatre Ramesses XI reigned from 1107 BC to 1078 BC or 1077 BC and was the tenth and final pharaoh of the Twentieth dynasty of Egypt and as such, was the last king of the New Kingdom period. He ruled Egypt for at least 29 years although some Egyptologists think he could have ruled for as long as 30. The latter figure would be up to 2 years beyond this king's highest known date of Year 10 of the Whm Mswt era or Year 28 of his reign. One scholar, Ad Thijs, has suggested that Ramesses XI could even have reigned as long as 33 years.

Ramesses VI fifth ruler of the Twentieth dynasty of Egypt

Ramesses VI Nebmaatre-Meryamun was the fifth pharaoh of the Twentieth Dynasty of Egypt. He reigned for about eight years in the mid-to-late 12th century BC and was a son of Ramesses III and queen Iset Ta-Hemdjert. As a prince, he was known as Ramesses Amunherkhepeshef and held the titles of royal scribe and cavalry general. He was succeeded by his son, Ramesses VII Itamun, whom he had fathered with queen Nubkhesbed.

Psusennes II Egyptian pharaoh

Titkheperure or Tyetkheperre Psusennes II [Greek Ψουσέννης] or Hor-Pasebakhaenniut II [Egyptian ḥr-p3-sb3-ḫˁỉ-⟨n⟩-nỉwt], was the last king of the Twenty-first dynasty of Egypt. His royal name means "Image of the transformations of Re" in Egyptian. Psusennes II is often considered the same person as the High-Priest of Amun known as Psusennes III. The Egyptologist Karl Jansen-Winkeln notes that an important graffito from the Temple of Abydos contains the complete titles of a king Tyetkheperre Setepenre Pasebakhaenniut Meryamun "who is simultaneously called the HPA and supreme military commander." This suggests that Psusennes was both king at Tanis and the High Priest in Thebes at the same time, meaning he did not resign his office as High Priest of Amun during his reign. The few contemporary attestations from his reign include the aforementioned graffito in Seti I's Abydos temple, an ostracon from Umm el-Qa'ab, an affiliation at Karnak and his presumed burial – which consists of a gilded coffin with a royal uraeus and a Mummy, found in an antechamber of Psusennes I's tomb at Tanis. He was a High Priest of Amun at Thebes and the son of Pinedjem II and Istemkheb. His daughter Maatkare B was the Great Royal Wife of Osorkon I.

Bintanath Ancient Egyptian princess and queen

Bintanath was the firstborn daughter and later Great Royal Wife of the Egyptian Pharaoh Ramesses II.

Twosret final pharaoh of the 19th dynasty

Twosret was the last known ruler and the final Pharaoh of the Nineteenth Dynasty of Egypt.

Siptah Penultimate Pharaoh of the 19th dynasty

Akhenre Setepenre Siptah or Merenptah Siptah was the penultimate ruler of the Nineteenth Dynasty of Egypt. His father's identity is currently unknown. Both Seti II and Amenmesse have been suggested although the fact that Siptah later changed his royal name or nomen to Merneptah Siptah after his Year 2 suggests rather that his father was Merneptah. If correct, this would make Siptah and Seti II half-brothers since both of them were sons of Merneptah.

Psusennes I Egyptian pharaoh

Psusennes I was the third pharaoh of the 21st Dynasty who ruled from Tanis between 1047–1001 BC. Psusennes is the Greek version of his original name Pasibkhanu or Pasebakhaenniut, which means "The Star Appearing in the City" while his throne name, Akheperre Setepenamun, translates as "Great are the Manifestations of Ra, chosen of Amun." He was the son of Pinedjem I and Henuttawy, Ramesses XI's daughter by Tentamun. He married his sister Mutnedjmet.

Baketwernel ancient Egyptian queen consort

Baketwernel was an ancient Egyptian queen during the 20th Dynasty. She is likely to have been the Great Royal Wife of Ramesses IX.

Takhat was the mother of ancient Egyptian Pharaoh Ramesses IX of the 20th dynasty.

Isetnofret II ancient Egyptian queen consort

Isetnofret was one of the Great Royal Wives of Pharaoh Merenptah.

Khaemtir was a Viceroy of Kush and Vizier of Ancient Egypt. He served during the reign of Amenmesse and Seti II.

Nineteenth Dynasty of Egypt Egyptian dynasty from -1295 to -1186

The Nineteenth Dynasty of Egypt is classified as the second Dynasty of the Ancient Egyptian New Kingdom period, lasting from 1292 BC to 1189 BC. The 19th Dynasty and the 20th Dynasty furthermore together constitute an era known as the Ramesside period. This Dynasty was founded by Vizier Ramesses I, whom Pharaoh Horemheb chose as his successor to the throne.

The Twentieth Dynasty of Egypt is the third and last dynasty of the Ancient Egyptian New Kingdom period, lasting from 1189 BC to 1077 BC. The 19th and 20th Dynasties furthermore together constitute an era known as the Ramesside period.


  1. Peter Clayton, Chronicle of the Pharaohs, Thames & Hudson Ltd, 1994. p.158
  2. Amenmesse
  3. KV-10 The Tomb of Amenmesse
  4. Edward Wente and Charles Van Siclen III, "A Chronology of the New Kingdom," 218
  5. Michael Rice, Who's Who in Ancient Egypt, Routledge, 1999
  6. Vandersleyen, ĽÈgypte et la Vallée du Nil, vol 2: 575
  7. K. A. Kitchen, "The Titularies of the Ramesside Kings as Expression of Their Ideal Kingship," ASAE 71 (1987): 134-35.
  8. Erik Hornung, Rolf Krauss & David Warburton (editors), Handbook of Ancient Egyptian Chronology (Handbook of Oriental Studies), Brill: 2006, p.212
  9. Krauss 1976, 1977, 1997; Dodson 1997
  10. Hornung, Krauss & Warburton, op. cit., p.213
  11. Krauss 1976, 1977; The Viceroy of Kush Archived 2007-02-23 at the Wayback Machine
  12. Frank J. Yurco, Was Amenmesse the Viceroy of Kush, Messuwy?, JARCE 34 (1997), pp.53-54 & 56
  13. Yurco, JARCE 34, p.56
  14. Yurco, JARCE 34, pp.55-56
  15. J.J. Janssen, Village Varia. Ten Studies on the History and Administration of Deir El-Medina, (Egyptologische Uitgaven 11) Leiden 1997. pp.99-109
  16. Rolf Krauss, Untersuchungen zu König Amenmesse: Nachträge, SAK 24 (1997), pp.161-184
  17. Dodson A.; Poisoned Legacy: The Decline and Fall of the Nineteenth Egyptian Dynasty. American University In Cairo Press, (2010), p 42 n 42
  18. Dodson, A.; (2010) p 42
  19. Dodson, A.; (2010) p 40-42
  20. Dodson A.; (2010); n 38, n 40
  21. Aidan Dodson & Dyan Hilton, The Complete Royal Families of Ancient Egypt, Thames & Hudson (2004), p.286, no.130
  22. Cardon 1979; Yurco 1979
  23. Dodson, Aidan. The Tomb of King Amenmesse: Some Observations.DE 2 (1985): 7-11.
  24. Dodson, Aidan. Death after Death in the Valley of the Kings. In Death and Taxes in the Ancient Near East, ed. Sara E. Orel, 53-59. Lewiston, New York: Edwin Mellen Press, 1992.
  25. Dodson, Aidan (2004), ibid, p.176
  26. Yurco, JARCE 34 (1997), p.54
  27. Yurco, JARCE 34 (1997), pp.49-56.
  28. Dodson, Aidan,(2004),"The Complete Royal Families of Ancient Egypt" (American University of Cairo Press), p.181
  29. Georg, M (2000), "Mose - Name und Namenstraeger. Versuch einer historischen Annaeherung" in "Mose. Aegypten und das Alte Testament", edited by E. Otto, (Verlag Katholisches Bibelwerk, Stittgart)
  30. Krauss, R. (2000), "Moise le pharaon" (Editions du Roche)
  31. Rolf Krauss, "Das Rätsel Moses-Auf den Spuren einer Erfindung biblischen, Ullstein Verlag, München 2001)