Horemheb Pharaoh Biography 1321-1293 BC
Horemheb's background is virtually unknown except that he came from Herakleopolis near the entrance to the Faiyum and was obviously a career officer whose capabilities were early recognized. First serving under Amenhotep III, he became Great Commander of the Army under Akhenaten and was later appointed King's Deputy by Tutankhamun. He was obviously a highly ambitious man, and the death of Ay offered the perfect opportunity to restore to Egypt the strong leadership he felt she needed. Horemheb therefore declared himself king in 1321, consolidating his claim to the throne through his marriage to a lady named Mutnodjme, the sister of Nefertiti. He thus formed a link back to the female royal blood line, albeit a tenuous one. From evidence in his recently rediscovered tomb at Saqqara he appears to have had an earlier wife, but her name is not known.
|Detail of a statue of Horemheb, at the Kunsthistorisches Museum, Vienna|
Horemheb usurped the monuments of his immediate predecessors Ay and Tutankhamun. To the two great 'Restoration' stele that detailed the good works of Tutankhamun he simply added his own name. Embellishments were carried out at the great temple of at Karnak where he initiated the great Hypostyle Hall and added a tall pylon, No. 9. Here he achieved two objects: first, he built the pylon to the glory of Amun on the south side of Karnak; and secondly, he destroyed the hated temple to the Aten erected by Akhenaten by simply dismantling it and using its small talatat ('two-hands width') blocks as interior filling for the hollow pylon. Archaeologists have recovered thousands of these blocks during the restoration of the pylon and have been able to reconstruct great Amarna scenes. In one sense, therefore, Horemheb's destructive scheme backfired: by hiding the blocks in the pylon he preserved them for posterity.
|Horemheb with Amun at the Museo Egizio|
Although official records of Horemheb's reign go as high as Year 59 (incorporating those of the Amarna pharaohs), his actual reign of almost 30 years was spent in consolidation. There is little evidence of external contact except for a campaign in Kush (possibly simply a royal progress or inspection) and a trading expedition to the south.
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