, pub-5063766797865882, DIRECT, f08c47fec0942fa0 Merneptah Pharaoh 1212-1202 BC ~ Ancient Egypt Facts

April 19, 2012

Merneptah Pharaoh 1212-1202 BC

Dynasty 19
1212-1202 BC

Merneptah Pharaoh Biography 1212-1202 BC
By the time that Merneptah, Ramesses' 13th son, succeeded his long- lived father he must have been into his sixties. Merneptah's ten-year reign is documented by three great inscriptions: some 80 lines on a wall in the temple of Amun at Karnak; a large stele with 35 lines remaining from Athribis in the Delta; and the great Victory Stele found by Flinders Petrie in 1896 in Merneptah's ruined mortuary temple at Thebes, consisting of 28 lines.

All three relate to Merneptah's military campaigns and complement each other. For the last years of Ramses II peace had reigned on the Egyptian frontiers and amongst the vassals, but times were changing. A 'flash' revolt in southern Syria was quickly crushed. The Hittite king, now facing attacks on his northern territories and also famine through crop failure, invoked the old treaty of support to which Merneptah responded by sending grain - once more, as in the Biblical story, Egypt was a granary for the starving Near East.

Statue of Merenptah on display at the Egyptian Museum
There was unrest on the western borders with the Libyans who had been quietly infiltrating the Delta and in Year 5 (1207 BC) attempted an invasion, fermenting revolt in Nubia and in the western oases. Rapid mobilization and a heavy pre-emptive strike left the Libyans totally vanquished: the Karnak inscription records Merneptah's valour and the slaughter, 'Libyans, slain, whose uncircumcised phalli were carried off 6359' (the Athribis stele records only 6200!). Nubia had risen to support the Libyans, but so swift was the destruction of the latter that Merneptah could immediately turn south and inflict a crushing blow on the rebels. Merneptah, although elderly, had made the point that insurgents could not tamper with Egypt's security.

Merneptah realized that his time on the throne might be short. He rapidly commenced building his mortuary temple on the edge of the desert at Thebes and his tomb in the Valley of the Kings. Like many of his predecessors, he was not averse to using earlier buildings as a quarry. His masons turned to the nearby mortuary temple of Amenhotep III, now largely disused, and removed much of it, including the large stele that was turned round to take Merneptah's Victory Hymn. Merneptah's tomb in the Valley of the Kings (KV 8) lies close to that of his father, but at a slightly higher level, so it has not suffered the effects of flooding that assailed Ramesses' tomb. Fragmentary remains of funerary equipment, including alabaster ushabtis, have been recovered from the tomb, but the curious fact is that Merneptah apparently had several sarcophagi, each carved in various stones that included alabaster, rose and black granite. One of Merneptah's granite sarcophagi was found reused in the intact tomb of the pharaoh Psusennes (c. 1033 BC), discovered at Tanis in the Delta (pp. 180-81).

Merneptah's mummy was not found in the tomb, parts of which may have been open from antiquity, neither was it in the great cache of royal mummies discovered in 1881. His absence led many Biblical scholars to underline the fact that he must have been the pharaoh of the Exodus and had perished in the Red Sea,- his tomb was merely a cenotaph since the body was not recovered. These arguments were confounded in 1898 when the mummy of Merneptah appeared amongst the 16 bodies found in the royal mummy cache concealed in the tomb of Amenhotep II (KV 35). There is some evidence that Merneptah's queen, Isisnofret, was also buried in his tomb rather than in the Valley of the Queens, and that she predeceased him, but her body has not been identified.

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