) was the 5th
ruler of the Nineteenth
in Ancient Egypt
the son of Merneptah
and Queen Takhat
. Others consider him to be one of the
innumerable sons of Ramesses II
little is known about this king, who ruled Egypt for only three to
four years. Various Egyptologists
his reign between 1202 BC–1199 BC or 1203 BC–1200 BC with others
giving an accession date of 1200 BC. Amenmesse means "born of or
fashioned by Amun
" in Egyptian. Additionally,
his nomen can be found with the epithet
, which means "Ruler of Thebes". His
royal name was Menmire Setepenre.
It is likely that he was not Merneptah's intended heir. Some
scholars such as Kenneth Kitchen
Jürgen von Beckerath
follow the traditional view that Amenmesse usurped the throne from
, Merneptah's son and Crown Prince
who should have been next in line to the royal succession. It is
unclear why this should 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." 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.
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. 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.
Rolf Krauss, followed by Aidan Dodson, suggests that Amenmesse was
once a Kushite
In particular, two representations of
Messuwy on the temple of Amida allegedly shows that a royal
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. Also 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 Messuwy's
high stature as Viceroy under Merneptah. However, Frank Yurco notes
that various depictions of Messuwy 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
, Kha-em-ter, who had served as
Amenmesse's Vizier. This strongly implies that Seti II held no
grudge against Messuwy which would be improbable if Messuwy was
indeed Amenmesse. Yurco also observes that the only objects from
Messuwy's tomb which identified a Pharaoh all named only Merneptah
, Seti II's father which leads to the
conclusion that Messuwy died and was buried in his tomb at Aniba,
Nubia during Merneptah's reign, and could not be Amenmesse.
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.
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
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 here who most probably should be identified with king
His mother is known to be Queen Takhat
was either a minor wife of Merneptah or a later royal wife of
Ramesses II or both. Some have assumed that Twosret
, wife of Seti II
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 sepulchure, probably in the 20th
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
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 .
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
stands before a temple at 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
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.Dodson, Aidan. The Tomb of King Amenmesse: Some
2 (1985): 7-11.Dodson, Aidan.
Death after Death in the Valley of the Kings.
Death and Taxes in the Ancient Near East,
ed. Sara E.
Orel, 53-59. Lewiston, New York: Edwin Mellen Press, 1992. A number
of officials associated with Amenmesse were also attacked or
replaced, chief among them being the Theban High Priest of Amun,
Roma-Roy, and Kha-em-ter, a former viceroy of Kush.
Amenmmesse'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" 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
also conducted a damnatio memoriae campaign against the
memory of Amenmesse's Vizier, Kha-em-ter. Egyptologist
Frank Yurco notes that Seti II's
agents erased all of Kha-em-ter's depictions and inscriptions –
even those that Kha-em-ter had inscribed when he served as a
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
Rolf Krauss finds that there are a number of points between the
story of Amenmesse and Biblical story of Moses in Egypt.
- Cardon, Patrick D. “Amenmesse: An Egyptian Royal Head of the
Nineteenth Dynasty in the Metropolitan Museum.” MMJ 14
- Dodson, Aidan. “The Takhats and Some Other Royal Ladies of the
Ramesside Period.” JEA 73 (1987): 224-29.
- ________. and Dyan Hilton, “The Complete Royal Families of
Ancient Egypt“, Thames & Hudson, 2004.
- ________. “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.
- ________. “Amenmesse in Kent, Liverpool, and Thebes.”
JEA 81 (1995): 115-28.
- ________. "Messuy, Amada and Amenmesse." JARCE 34
- Habachi, Labib. “King Amenmesse and Viziers Amenmose and
Kha’emtore: Their Monuments and Place in History.” MDAIK
34 (1978): 39-67.
- Kitchen, Kenneth A. “The Titularies of the Ramesside Kings as
Expression of Their Ideal Kingship.” ASAE 71 (1987):
- Krauss, Rolf. “Untersuchungen zu König Amenmesse (1.Teil).”
SAK 4 (1976): 161-99.
- ________. “Untersuchungen zu König Amenmesse (2. Teil).”
SAK 5 (1977): 131-74.
- ________. “Untersuchungen zu König Amenmesse: Nachträge.”
SAK 24 (1997): 161-84.
- Vandersleyen, Claude. ĽÉgypte et la Vallée du Nil.
Vol. 2, De la fin de ľAncien Empire á la fin du Nouvel
Empire. Paris: Presses Universitaires de France, 1995
- Wente, Edward and Charles Van Siclen III. "A Chronology of the
New Kingdom." In Studies in Honor of George R. Hughes:
January 12, 1977, 217-61. Chicago: The Oriental Institute,
- Yurco, Frank Joseph. “Was Amenmesse the Viceroy of Kush,
Messuwy?,” JARCE 34 (1997): 49-56.
Nos ancêtres de l'Antiquité, 1991, Christian Settipani, p. 175