Amenmesse (Menmire) in Tour Egypt
KING AMENMESSES AND HIS TOMB IN THE VALLEY OF THE KINGS
BY JIMMY DUNN AND MARK ANDREWS
Amenmesses is generally considered to be the 5th ruler of Egypt's 19th Dynasty, though most Egyptologists believe
he was probably not the legitimate heir to the throne. He succeeded Merneptah as pharaoh, but it was probably
Merneptah's son, prince Seti-Merneptah who should have ascended the throne on his father's death. Various
theories exist about why he did not. It is very possible that Merenptah may have died suddenly while the crown
prince was away, and Amenmesses simply took advantage of the situation. Interesting, but not unpredictable, is
that this disorder came only a generation after the strong, but long rule of Ramesses II (Ramesses the Great).
However, it is also very likely that Seti-Merneptah was no other then Seti II, who ruled Egypt just after
Amenmesses. It was probably Seti II who scraped the images and inscriptions from that kings monuments, and
otherwise usurped Amenmesses' building projects. Therefore, very little is known about this king, who apparently
ruled for three or four years. Various Egyptologists give him a reign from between 1202 - 1199 BC and 1203 - 1200
Amenmesses would have been his birth name, but a Greek version. Manetho called him Ammenemes and assigned five
years to his rule, though we may also find his named as Amenmeses. His Egyptian name was probably Heqa-waset,
which means "Fashioned by Amun, Ruler of Thebes". His throne name was Men-mi-re Setep-en-re, meaning "Eternal
like Re, Chosen by Re.
It was long believed that Amenmesses was a son of Merneptah by a queen Takhat, though really his origins are
unknown, and that he probably married a woman named Baktwerel. However, some Egyptologists have suggested that
Takhat and Baktwerel were actually the mother and wife of Ramesses IX. Originally, his parentage was based on the
fact that there were scenes and inscriptions related to these two women in Amenmesses tomb, but recent
excavations seem to indicate that the tomb, originally meant for Amenmesses was actually usurped for these women.
If so, this would probably negate any argument of them being his mother and wife.
There is enough confusion surrounding Amenmesses that some Egyptologists actually place his rule after that of
Seti II. Yet, Seti II's name has been written over the name of Amenmesses in several Theban locations, it is
generally believed that Seti II succeeded him. Still others believe that Amenmesses usurped Seti II in the middle
of Seti II's reign, sometime between years three and five of his rule, which would seem more probable then him
ruling after Seti II. It is also possible that Amenmesses only ruled the southern parts of Egypt during Seti IIs
reign. If this is true, he may have been a vizier over Nubia named Messui during the time of Merneptah, but this
theory has recently been called into question. There has even been speculation that a queen Ti'a, supposed mother
of Saptah, the penultimate ruler of the dynasty, may have been a wife of Amenmeses, thus making him the father of
the successor to Sety II as part of a rival dynastic branch.
It should also be noted that Amenmesses usurped a number of preexisting monuments himself, and though we now
believe that tomb KV 10 in the Valley of the Kings was originally began by this king, little other building work
exists. Inscriptions bearing his name are mostly only found in Upper Egyptian sites, primarily in the Theban
region and in Nubia. These include inscriptions at Karnak, a dedication inscription at the small temple at
Medinet Habu, an inscriptions at a chapel at Deir el-Medine and a stela found at Buhen. Perhaps as many as six
quartzite statues originally placed along the axis of the hypostyle hall in the Amun Temple at Karnak are thought
to be his, though these were also usurped (in the name of Seti II). However, one of these statues thought to
belong to Amenmesses has an inscription bearing the title, "the Great Royal Wife" Takhat, lending support to the
argument that she actually was his wife. Amenmesses was also, among others, responsible for restoration work on a
barque shrine dating from Tuthmosis III that stands before a small temple at Tod.
The Tomb of Amenmesses (KV 10)
Amenmesses' tomb cannot be visited as it is being excavated, and unless some sort of amazing recovery process is
discovered, it may never be a popular tourist attraction. The tomb, located in the Valley of the Kings on the
West Bank at Luxor (ancient Thebes) is mostly incomplete, and much of its decorations have been destroyed.
The tomb has been known since antiquity, and there are signs that it has been visited from classical times.
Pococke noted it on hs map of the area in 1743 and it was examined by Burton and Hays, Champollion, Lepsius and
Wilkinson during the early 19th century. The decorations of the tomb were mostly recorded and published by Edgene
Lefebure in 1883. In the excavation season of 1907 Edward Ayrton used the tomb's corridor as a dinning or work
However, full scale investigation of the tomb is currently underway by Otto Schaden as a project of the
University of Arizona and the University of Memphis. There is little doubt that the results will shed light on
this dim corner of Egyptian history. It would seem though, at the moment, that we still do not know whether
Amenmesses was ever interred here, or the actual relationship he might have had with Takhat and Baketwerel, for
whom part of the tomb was redecorated.
The tomb is a fairly simple affair, and as stated, unfinished. Three descending corridors lead down to a room
where the ritual shaft was to be dug, but never was. Within these corridors, we find scenes of king Amenmesses
(destroyed) before Re-Horakhty, passages (scenes) from the Litany of Re, the Amduat and in the well room, a scene
of Takhat making offerings before deities.
After the shaft room, where the tomb becomes level, is the first four pillared hall, with several more scenes.
They include Baketwerel making offerings before the gods, and scenes from the Book of the Dead. To the west of
the four pillared hall is an unfinished annex. The ceiling of this chamber has been penetrated by the tomb of
Ramesses III (KV 11). The original decorative program of the tomb never reached beyond the four pillared hall,
though up to that point it was almost identical to that found in the tomb of Merenptah (KV 8). Later, the outer
corridors, shaft room and four pillared hall were plastered over and redecorated for Takhat and Baketwere, who we
know were royal women. We just do not know their exact position in regards to their son and husband, because the
redecoration calls into question their relationship to Amenmesses. Some of this later decoration has fallen off,
so that now we find some of the original and some of the later decorations.
After the four pillared hall there is another corridor leading to the burial chamber. However, the burial chamber
is in reality another corridor that was adapted as for this purpose.
There were three mummies found within the tomb including those of two women and a man. They have never been
identified. However, fragments of canopic jars and part of a red granite sarcophagus lid, usurped itself from
someone named Anketemheb, both inscribed with the name of Takhat, probably indicate that at least she was buried
here, so one of the mummies may be hers. Little else has been found (and at least reported at this time). Much of
what was found within the tomb was actually intrusive, including fragmentary shabti figures from Seti I,
sarcophagus fragments of Ramesses VI and a few other items.
Amenmesse in Wikipedia
Amenmesse (also Amenmesses or Amenmose) was the 5th ruler 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 king, who ruled Egypt for only three to four years. Various Egyptologists date 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 Heqa-waset, 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 and Jürgen von Beckerath
follow the traditional view 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 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 Viceroy called Messuwy. In
particular, two representations of Messuwy 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. 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 Kush, 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 document). 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 Amenmesse himself.
His mother is known to be Queen Takhat, who 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, 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 sepulchure, probably in the 20th Dynasty."
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 . 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 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
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.
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 II 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 Viceroy in Nubia.
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".
Rolf Krauss finds that there are a number of points between the story of Amenmesse and Biblical story of Moses in