April 19, 2012

Ramses III Pharaoh and The Royal Family

The royal family
Despite the length of Ramesses' reign (31 years and 41 days according to the Great Harris Papyrus), little is known about the ladies of the court and the royal children. Ramesses' chief queen seems to have been named Isis, but for some curious reason the cartouches in the Medinet Habu temple where the queen's name would normally appear have been left blank. Possibly Isis was of Asiatic extraction since her mother's name was Habadjilat, a distinctly un-Egyptian name.

Queen Isis had her tomb in the Valley of the Queens (QV 51) and was the mother of Ramses VI. Ramses III not only had several wives but also a number of sons (probably at least ten), many of whom predeceased him - as is revealed by the number of their tombs in the Valley of the Queens. Notable amongst the tombs for their preservation and brightly coloured wall paintings are those of Amenhirkhopshef (QV 55) and Khaemwaset (QV 44). Also laid to rest in the Valley are the princes Parahirenemef (QV 42) and Sethirkhopshef (QV 43). All four sons held offices under their father concerned with the royal horses or chariotry.

Medinet Habu temple relief of Ramesses III
There are several other unnamed tombs of princes and princesses in the area, a number of which appear to date from Ramses Ill's reign and may belong to some of his other children. One of the larger tombs, that of a Queen Titi (QV 52), lacks any proper indication of her royal status, but an analysis of her titles suggests that she was possibly a daughter and, subsequently, wife of Ramses III who outlived him. No less than 43 times does her title as 'Mistress of the Two Lands' appear,- she is called 'Chief Royal Wife' 33 times, 'King's Daughter', 'King's Beloved Daughter of his Body' and 'His Beloved Daughter' 20 times; 'King's Sister' 4 times but, more importantly, 'King's Mother' 8 times - her son could possibly be Ramses IV. The majority of the tombs in the Valley of the Queens, including the finest, that of Ramses II's queen Nefertari (p. 148), were found by the Italian Egyptologist Ernesto Schiaparelli in 1903-4.

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