, pub-5063766797865882, DIRECT, f08c47fec0942fa0 Horemheb Pharaoh 1321-1293 BC ~ Ancient Egypt Facts

April 18, 2012

Horemheb Pharaoh 1321-1293 BC

Djeserkheperure Setepenre 
Dynasty 18
1321-1293 BC

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 must have been in middle age when he became king and he immediately set about restoring the status quo, reopening the temples, repairing them where necessary, and bringing back the priesthood of Amun. Here he did make a change, however: realizing the stranglehold they had endeavoured to put on Amenhotep III, he reappointed priests from the army, whose loyalties he could rely on. To consolidate his hold over the army, now that he was really no longer primarily a military man, he divided it under two separate commanders, one for the north and one for the south.

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
Horemheb took over Ay's mortuary temple on the west bank at Medinet Habu, together with the two colossal quartzite statues of Tutankhamun that Ay had himself usurped. Thus he set about completely expunging from the record any trace of his four Amarna predecessors. He dated his reign from the death of Amenhotep III, adding the intervening years to his own total; none of the Amarna names appeared in any of the Ramesside king lists at Abydos and Karnak. Furthermore, in the early 19th Dynasty tomb of a certain Amenmosi at Thebes (TT 19), where two rows of seated statues of kings and queens are depicted on the west wall, Horemheb is placed between Amenhotep III and Ramses I. Kings of the 19th Dynasty were to regard him as the founder of their line, and this probably explains why a number of tombs of officials, as well as that of Ramses II's sister, the princess Tia, were deliberately placed near his Saqqara tomb.

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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