Seti I

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Menmaatre Seti I (or Sethos I in Greek) was a pharaoh of the New Kingdom Nineteenth Dynasty of Egypt, the son of Ramesses I and Sitre, and the father of Ramesses II. As with all dates in Ancient Egypt, the actual dates of his reign are unclear, and various historians claim different dates, with 1294 BC to 1279 BC [4] and 1290 BC to 1279 BC [5] being the most commonly used by scholars today.

Greek language Language spoken in Greece, Cyprus and Southern Albania

Greek is an independent branch of the Indo-European family of languages, native to Greece, Cyprus and other parts of the Eastern Mediterranean and the Black Sea. It has the longest documented history of any living Indo-European language, spanning more than 3000 years of written records. Its writing system has been the Greek alphabet for the major part of its history; other systems, such as Linear B and the Cypriot syllabary, were used previously. The alphabet arose from the Phoenician script and was in turn the basis of the Latin, Cyrillic, Armenian, Coptic, Gothic, and many other writing systems.

Pharaoh Title of Ancient Egyptian rulers

Pharaoh is the common title of the monarchs of ancient Egypt from the First Dynasty until the annexation of Egypt by the Roman Empire in 30 BCE, although the actual term "Pharaoh" was not used contemporaneously for a ruler until Merneptah, c. 1200 BCE. In the early dynasty, ancient Egyptian kings used to have up to three titles, the Horus, the Sedge and Bee (nswt-bjtj) name, and the Two Ladies (nbtj) name. The Golden Horus and nomen and prenomen titles were later added.

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.

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The name 'Seti' means "of Set", which indicates that he was consecrated to the god Set (also termed "Sutekh" or "Seth"). As with most pharaohs, Seti had several names. Upon his ascension, he took the prenomen "mn-m3‘t-r‘ ", usually vocalized as Menmaatre, in Egyptian, which means "Established is the Justice of Re." [1] His better known nomen, or birth name, is transliterated as "sty mry-n-ptḥ" or Sety Merenptah, meaning "Man of Set, beloved of Ptah". Manetho incorrectly considered him to be the founder of the 19th dynasty, and gave him a reign length of 55 years, though no evidence has ever been found for so long a reign.

Over the course of some fourteen centuries, the Romans and other peoples of Italy employed a system of nomenclature that differed from that used by other cultures of Europe and the Mediterranean, consisting of a combination of personal and family names. Although conventionally referred to as the tria nomina, the combination of praenomen, nomen, and cognomen that have come to be regarded as the basic elements of the Roman name in fact represent a continuous process of development, from at least the seventh century BC to the end of the seventh century AD. The names developed as part of this system became a defining characteristic of Roman civilization, and although the system itself vanished during the early Middle Ages, the names themselves exerted a profound influence on the development of European naming practices, and many continue to survive in modern languages.

Ptah Egyptian deity

In Egyptian mythology, Ptah is the demiurge of Memphis, god of craftsmen and architects. In the triad of Memphis, he is the husband of Sekhmet and the father of Nefertum. He was also regarded as the father of the sage Imhotep.

Manetho Egyptian historian and priest from Ancient Egypt

Manetho is believed to have been an Egyptian priest from Sebennytos who lived in the Ptolemaic Kingdom in the early third century BC, during the Hellenistic period. He authored the Aegyptiaca in Greek, a major chronological source for the reigns of the pharaohs of ancient Egypt. It is unclear if he wrote his work during the reign of Ptolemy I Soter or Ptolemy II Philadelphos, but no later than that of Ptolemy III Euergetes.

Reign

Hieroglyphs from the tomb of Seti I Hieroglyphs from the tomb of Seti I.jpg
Hieroglyphs from the tomb of Seti I

After the enormous social upheavals generated by Akhenaten's religious reform, Horemheb, Ramesses I and Seti I's main priority was to re-establish order in the kingdom and to reaffirm Egypt's sovereignty over Canaan and Syria, which had been compromised by the increasing external pressures from the Hittite state. Seti, with energy and determination, confronted the Hittites several times in battle. Without succeeding in destroying the Hittites as a potential danger to Egypt, he reconquered most of the disputed territories for Egypt and generally concluded his military campaigns with victories. The memory of Seti I's military successes was recorded in some large scenes placed on the front of the temple of Amun, situated in Karnak. A funerary temple for Seti was constructed in what is now known as Qurna (Mortuary Temple of Seti I), on the west bank of the Nile at Thebes while a magnificent temple made of white limestone at Abydos featuring exquisite relief scenes was started by Seti, and later completed by his son. His capital was at Memphis. He was considered a great king by his peers, but his fame has been overshadowed since ancient times by that of his son, Ramesses II.

Akhenaten 18th dynasty pharaoh

Akhenaten, known before the fifth year of his reign as Amenhotep IV, was an ancient Egyptian pharaoh of the 18th Dynasty who ruled for 17 years and died perhaps in 1336 BC or 1334 BC. He is noted for abandoning traditional Egyptian polytheism and introducing worship centered on the Aten, which is sometimes described as monolatristic, henotheistic, or even quasi-monotheistic. An early inscription likens the Aten to the sun as compared to stars, and later official language avoids calling the Aten a god, giving the solar deity a status above mere gods.

Horemheb Egyptian Pharaoh

Horemheb was the last pharaoh of the 18th Dynasty of Egypt. He ruled for 14 years somewhere between 1319 BC and 1292 BC. He had no relation to the preceding royal family other than by marriage to Mutnedjmet, who is disputed to have been the daughter of his predecessor Ay; he is believed to have been of common birth.

Ramesses I the founding Pharaoh of Ancient Egypts Nineteenth Dynasty

Menpehtyre Ramesses I was the founding pharaoh of ancient Egypt's 19th dynasty. The dates for his short reign are not completely known but the time-line of late 1292–1290 BC is frequently cited as well as 1295–1294 BC. While Ramesses I was the founder of the 19th dynasty, in reality his brief reign marked the transition between the reign of Horemheb who had stabilized Egypt in the late 18th dynasty and the rule of the powerful pharaohs of this dynasty, in particular his son Seti I and grandson Ramesses II, who would bring Egypt up to new heights of imperial power.

Duration of reign

Basalt fragment. Part of a necklace, in relief, is shown together with a cartouche of Seti I. 19th Dynasty. From Egypt. The Petrie Museum of Egyptian Archaeology, London Basalt fragment. Part of a necklace, in relief, is shown together with a cartouche of Seti I. 19th Dynasty. From Egypt. The Petrie Museum of Egyptian Archaeology, London.jpg
Basalt fragment. Part of a necklace, in relief, is shown together with a cartouche of Seti I. 19th Dynasty. From Egypt. The Petrie Museum of Egyptian Archaeology, London

Seti I's reign length was either 11 or 15 full years. Egyptologist Kenneth Kitchen has estimated that it was 15 years, but there are no dates recorded for Seti I after his Year 11 Gebel Barkal stela. As he is otherwise quite well documented in historical records, other scholars suggest that a continuous break in the record for his last four years is unlikely, although it is technically possible simply that no records have been yet discovered.

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".

Temple of Seti I at Abydos GD-EG-Abydos001.JPG
Temple of Seti I at Abydos

Peter J. Brand noted that the king personally opened new rock quarries at Aswan to build obelisks and colossal statues in his Year 9. [6] This event is commemorated on two rock stelas in Aswan. However, most of Seti's obelisks and statues such as the Flaminian and Luxor obelisks were only partly finished or decorated by the time of his death since they were completed early under his son's reign based on epigraphic evidence. (they bore the early form of Ramesses II's royal prenomen: 'Usermaatre') Ramesses II used the prenomen 'Usermaatre' to refer to himself in his first year and did not adopt the final form of his royal title--'Usermaatre Setepenre'--until late into his second year. [7]

Aswan City in Egypt

Aswan is a city in the south of Egypt, and is the capital of the Aswan Governorate.

Flaminio Obelisk obelisk in Rome

The Flaminio Obelisk is one of the thirteen ancient obelisks in Rome, Italy. It is located in the Piazza del Popolo.

Luxor Obelisk Egyptian obelisk in Paris

The Luxor Obelisk is a 23 metres (75 ft) high Ancient Egyptian obelisk standing at the centre of the Place de la Concorde in Paris, France. It was originally located at the entrance to Luxor Temple, in Egypt. The Luxor Obelisk was classified as a historical monument in 1936.

Brand aptly notes that this evidence calls into question the idea of a 15 Year reign for Seti I and suggests that "Seti died after a ten to eleven year reign" because only two years would have passed between the opening of the Rock Quarries and the partial completion and decoration of these monuments. [8] This explanation conforms better with the evidence of the unfinished state of Seti I's monuments and the fact that Ramesses II had to complete the decorations on "many of his father's unfinished monuments, including the southern half of the Great Hypostyle Hall at Karnak and portions of his father's temples at Gurnah and Abydos" during the very first Year of his own reign. [9] Critically, Brand notes that the larger of the two Aswan rock stelas states that Seti I "has ordered the commissioning of multitudinous works for the making of very great obelisks and great and wondrous statues (i.e. colossi) in the name of His Majesty, L.P.H. He made great barges for transporting them, and ships crews to match them for ferrying them from the quarry." (KRI 74:12-14) [10] However, despite this promise, Brand stresses that

Ramesses II Egyptian pharaoh of the Nineteenth Dynasty of Egypt

Ramesses II, also known as Ramesses the Great, was the third pharaoh of the Nineteenth Dynasty of Egypt. He is often regarded as the greatest, most celebrated, and most powerful pharaoh of the New Kingdom. His successors and later Egyptians called him the "Great Ancestor".

Great Hypostyle Hall

The Great Hypostyle Hall is located within the Karnak temple complex, in the Precinct of Amon-Re. It is one of the most visited monuments of Ancient Egypt. The structure was built around the 19th Egyptian Dynasty. Its design was initially instituted by Hatshepsut, at the North-west chapel to Amun in the upper terrace of Deir el-Bahri. The name refers to hypostyle architectural pattern.

Karnak Ancient Egyptian temple complex

The Karnak Temple Complex, commonly known as Karnak, comprises a vast mix of decayed temples, chapels, pylons, and other buildings near Luxor, in Egypt. Construction at the complex began during the reign of Senusret I in the Middle Kingdom and continued into the Ptolemaic period, although most of the extant buildings date from the New Kingdom. The area around Karnak was the ancient Egyptian Ipet-isut and the main place of worship of the eighteenth dynasty Theban Triad with the god Amun as its head. It is part of the monumental city of Thebes. The Karnak complex gives its name to the nearby, and partly surrounded, modern village of El-Karnak, 2.5 kilometres north of Luxor.

there are few obelisks and apparently no colossi inscribed for Seti. Ramesses II, however, was able to complete the two obelisks and four seated colossi from Luxor within the first years of his reign, the two obelisks in particular being partly inscribed before he adopted the final form of his prenomen sometime in [his] year two. This state of affairs strongly implies that Seti died after ten to eleven years. Had he ruled on until his fourteenth or fifteenth year, then surely more of the obelisks and colossi he commissioned in [his] year nine would have been completed, in particular those from Luxor. If he in fact died after little more than a decade on the throne, however, then at most two years would have elapsed since the Aswan quarries were opened in year nine, and only a fraction of the great monoliths would have been complete and inscribed at his death, with others just emerging from the quarries so that Ramesses would be able to decorate them shortly after his accession. ... It now seems clear that a long, fourteen-to fifteen-year reign for Seti I can be rejected for lack of evidence. Rather, a tenure of ten or more likely probably eleven, years appears the most likely scenario. [11]

Astronomical ceiling of Seti I tomb showing the personified representations of stars and constellations La tombe de Sethi 1er (KV.17) (Vallee des Rois, Thebes ouest) -5.jpg
Astronomical ceiling of Seti I tomb showing the personified representations of stars and constellations

The German Egyptologist Jürgen von Beckerath also accepts that Seti I's reign lasted only 11 Years. [12] Seti's highest known date is Year 11, IV Shemu day 12 or 13 on a sandstone stela from Gebel Barkal [11] but he would have briefly survived for 2 to 3 days into his Year 12 before dying based on the date of Ramesses II's rise to power. Seti I's accession date has been determined by Wolfgang Helck to be III Shemu day 24, which is very close to Ramesses II's known accession date of III Shemu day 27. [13]

In 2011, Jacobus van Dijk questioned the "Year 11" stated on the Gebel Barkal stela. This monument is quite badly preserved but still depicts Seti I in erect posture, which is the only case occurring since his Year 4 when he started to be depicted in a stooping posture on his stelae. Furthermore, the glyphs "I ∩" representing the 11 are damaged in the upper part and may just as well be "I I I" instead. Subsequently, Van Dijk proposed that the Gebel Barkal stela is dated to Year 3 of Seti I, and that Seti's highest date more likely is Year 9 as suggested by the wine jars found in his tomb. [14] In a 2012 paper, David Aston analyzed the wine jars and came to the same conclusion since no wine labels higher than his 8th regnal year were found in his tomb. [15]

Seti's military campaigns

Seti I fought a series of wars in western Asia, Libya and Nubia in the first decade of his reign. The main source for Seti’s military activities are his battle scenes on the north exterior wall of the Karnak Hypostyle Hall, along with several royal stelas with inscriptions mentioning battles in Canaan and Nubia.

In his first regnal year, he led his armies along the "Horus Military road," the coastal road that led from the Egyptian city of Tjaru (Zarw/Sile) in the northeast corner of the Egyptian Nile Delta along the northern coast of the Sinai peninsula ending in the town of "Canaan" in the modern Gaza strip. The Ways of Horus consisted of a series of military forts, each with a well, that are depicted in detail in the king’s war scenes on the north wall of the Karnak Hypostyle Hall. While crossing the Sinai, the king’s army fought local Bedouins called the Shasu. In Canaan, he received the tribute of some of the city states he visited. Others, including Beth-Shan and Yenoam, had to be captured but were easily defeated. The attack on Yenoam is illustrated in his war scenes, while other battles, such as the defeat of Beth-Shan, were not shown because the king himself did not participate, sending a division of his army instead. The year one campaign continued into Lebanon where the king received the submission of its chiefs who were compelled to cut down valuable cedar wood themselves as tribute.

At some unknown point in his reign, Seti I defeated Libyan tribesmen who had invaded Egypt's western border. Although defeated, the Libyans would pose an ever-increasing threat to Egypt during the reigns of Merenptah and Ramesses III. The Egyptian army also put down a minor "rebellion" in Nubia in the 8th year of Seti I. Seti himself did not participate in it although his crown prince, the future Ramesses II, may have.

Capture of Kadesh

The greatest achievement of Seti I's foreign policy was the capture of the Syrian town of Kadesh and neighboring territory of Amurru from the Hittite Empire. Egypt had not held Kadesh since the time of Akhenaten. Tutankhamun and Horemheb had failed to recapture the city from the Hittites. Seti I was successful in defeating a Hittite army that tried to defend the town. He entered the city in triumph together with his son Ramesses II and erected a victory stela at the site.[ citation needed ] Kadesh, however, soon reverted to Hittite control because the Egyptians did not or could not maintain a permanent military occupation of Kadesh and Amurru which were close to the Hittite homelands. It is unlikely that Seti I made a peace treaty with the Hittites or voluntarily returned Kadesh and Amurru to them but he may have reached an informal understanding with the Hittite king Muwatalli on the precise boundaries of the Egyptian and Hittite Empires. Five years after Seti I's death, however, his son Ramesses II resumed hostilities and made a failed attempt to recapture Kadesh. Kadesh was henceforth effectively held by the Hittites even though Ramesses temporarily occupied the city in his 8th year.

The traditional view of Seti I's wars was that he restored the Egyptian empire after it had been lost in the time of Akhenaten. This was based on the chaotic picture of Egyptian-controlled Syria and Palestine seen in the Amarna letters, a cache of diplomatic correspondence from the time of Akhenaten found at Akhenaten’s capital at el-Amarna in Middle Egypt. Recent scholarship, however, indicates that the empire was not lost at this time, except for its northern border provinces of Kadesh and Amurru in Syria and Lebanon. While evidence for the military activities of Akhenaten, Tutankhamun and Horemheb is fragmentary or ambiguous, Seti I has left us an impressive war monument that glorifies his achievement, along with a number of texts, all of which tend to magnify his personal achievements on the battlefield.

Burial

Head of the mummy of Seti I Pharaoh Seti I - His mummy - by Emil Brugsch (1842-1930).jpg
Head of the mummy of Seti I

Seti's well preserved tomb (KV17) was found in 1817 by Giovanni Battista Belzoni, in the Valley of the Kings; it proved to be the longest at 446 feet (136 meters) [16] and deepest of all the New Kingdom royal tombs. It was also the first tomb to feature decorations (including The Legend of the destruction of mankind [17] ) on every passageway and chamber with highly refined bas-reliefs and colorful paintings – fragments of which, including a large column depicting Seti I with the goddess Hathor, can be seen in the Museo Archeologico, Florence. This decorative style set a precedent which was followed in full or in part in the tombs of later New Kingdom kings. Seti's mummy itself was discovered by Émil Brugsch on June 6, 1881 in the mummy cache (tomb DB320) at Deir el-Bahri, and has since been kept at the Cairo Museum. [18]

His huge sarcophagus, carved in one piece and intricately decorated on every surface (including the goddess Nut on the interior base), is in Sir John Soane's Museum, [19] Soane bought it for exhibition in his open collection in 1824, when the British Museum refused to pay the £2,000 demanded. On its arrival at the museum, the alabaster was pure white and inlaid with blue copper sulphate. Years of the London climate and pollution have darkened the alabaster to a buff colour and absorbed moisture has caused the hygroscopic inlay material to fall out and disappear completely. A small watercolour nearby records the appearance, as it was.

The tomb also had an entrance to a secret tunnel hidden behind the sarcophagus, which Belzoni's team estimated to be 100 meters (328 feet) long. [20] However, the tunnel was not truly excavated until 1961, when a team led by Sheikh Ali Abdel-Rasoul began digging in hopes of discovering a secret burial chamber containing hidden treasures. [20] The team failed to follow the original passage in their excavations, and had to call a halt due to instabilities in the tunnel; [21] further issues with permits and finances eventually ended Sheikh Ali's dreams of treasure, [20] though they were at least able to establish that the passage was over 30 meters (98 feet) longer than the original estimate. In June 2010, a team from Egypt's Ministry of Antiquities led by Dr. Zahi Hawass completed excavation of the tunnel, which had begun again after the discovery in 2007 of a downward-sloping passage beginning approximately 136 meters (446 feet) into the previously excavated tunnel. After uncovering two separate staircases, they found that the tunnel ran for 174 meters (571 feet) in total; unfortunately, the last step seemed to have been abandoned prior to completion and no secret burial chamber was found. [21]

From an examination of Seti's extremely well-preserved mummy, Seti I appears to have been less than forty years old when he died unexpectedly. This is in stark contrast to the situation with Horemheb, Ramesses I and Ramesses II who all lived to an advanced age. The reasons for his relatively early death are uncertain, but there is no evidence of violence on his mummy. His mummy was found decapitated, but this was likely caused after his death by tomb robbers. The Amun priest carefully reattached his head to his body with the use of linen cloths. It has been suggested that he died from a disease which had affected him for years, possibly related to his heart. The latter was found placed in the right part of the body, while the usual practice of the day was to place it in the left part during the mummification process. Opinions vary whether this was a mistake or an attempt to have Seti's heart work better in his afterlife. Seti I's mummy is about 1.7 metres (5 ft 7 in) tall. [22]

Alleged co-regency of Seti I

Around Year 9 of his reign, Seti appointed his son Ramesses II as the crown prince and his chosen successor, but the evidence for a coregency between the two kings is likely illusory. Peter J. Brand who has published an extensive biography on this pharaoh and his numerous works, stresses in his thesis [23] that relief decorations at various temple sites at Karnak, Qurna and Abydos, which associate Ramesses II with Seti I, were actually carved after Seti's death by Ramesses II himself and, hence, cannot be used as source material to support a co-regency between the two monarchs. In addition, the late William Murnane, who first endorsed the theory of a co-regency between Seti I and Ramesses II, [24] later revised his view of the proposed co-regency and rejected the idea that Ramesses II had begun to count his own regnal years while Seti I was still alive. [25] Finally, Kenneth Kitchen rejects the term co-regency to describe the relationship between Seti I and Ramesses II; he describes the earliest phase of Ramesses II's career as a "prince regency" where the young Ramesses enjoyed all the trappings of royalty including the use of a royal titulary and harem but did not count his regnal years until after his father's death. [26] This is due to the fact that the evidence for a co-regency between the two kings is vague and highly ambiguous. Two important inscriptions from the first decade of Ramesses' reign, namely the Abydos Dedicatory Inscription and the Kuban Stela of Ramesses II, consistently give the latter titles associated with those of a crown prince only, namely the "king's eldest son and hereditary prince" or "child-heir" to the throne "along with some military titles." [27]

Hence, no clear evidence supports the hypothesis that Ramesses II was a co-regent under his father. Brand stresses that:

Though an abstract game, its backstory included the playing of Seti in ancient Egypt; the rules for the 20th century version have been surmised.

See also

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References

  1. 1 2 Peter Clayton, Chronicle of the Pharaohs, Thames and Hudson Ltd, 1994. p.140
  2. "Sety I Menmaatre (Sethos I) King Sety I". Digital Egypt. UCL. Retrieved 2007-02-15.
  3. "Ancient Egyptian Royalty" . Retrieved 2009-07-21.
  4. Michael Rice (1999). Who's Who in Ancient Egypt. Routledge.
  5. J. von Beckerath (1997). Chronologie des Äegyptischen Pharaonischen (in German). Phillip von Zabern. p. 190.
  6. Peter J. Brand, "The 'Lost' Obelisks and Colossi of Seti I", JARCE , 34 (1997), pp. 101-114
  7. Brand, "The 'Lost' Obelisks", pp. 106-107
  8. Brand, "The 'Lost' Obelisks", p. 114
  9. Brand, "The 'Lost' Obelisks", p.107
  10. Brand, "The 'Lost' Obelisks", p.104
  11. 1 2 Peter J. Brand (2000). The Monuments of Seti I: Epigraphic, Historical and Art Historical Analysis. Brill. p. 308.
  12. von Beckerath, Chronologie, p.190
  13. Brand, The Monuments of Seti I, pp. 301-302
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Bibliography