the death of Tausret it was not certain if Bay tried to claim
the throne but the first known ruler of the 20th Dynasty was Sethnakht.
He did not rule for very long and was then succeeded by his son, Rameses
III. Egypt was a peaceful country at this time, but soon he
had to contend with more immigration problems of the Libyan tribes. The
biggest problem Rameses III had to face was an attack by the Sea
Peoples on the Delta. The Egyptian forces were well prepared
for the attack and fought of the invaders, preventing the Sea Peoples from
increasing their empire. The Sea Peoples were in control of a large
area of the Eastern Mediterranean but never managed to conquer Egypt.
III built numerous monuments and temples. The biggest and most elaborate
was the Mortuary Temple at Medinet Habu. He also expanded the city
of Piramesse. Egypt was plagued with corruption following
an unsettled period prior to his ascension to the throne. Rameses III
large areas of land to the major temples at Heliopolis, Memphis
and Thebes. The temples owned a third of the fertile land by the
end of his reign. Three quarters of this was owned by the Cult of Amun
at Thebes. The priesthood of Amun became more and more powerful,
upsetting the balance of power between the State and Temples leading to
economic crisis. The situation led to the monthly rations for the people
of Deir El-Medina being delayed, to which the workmen organized
the first strike in history!
the end of his reign there was an assassination attempt on the life of
III. One of the king`s wives, Tiy, was the ring leader supported
by harem officials. They aimed to replace him with Tiy`s son, Pentaweret.
The attempt was unsuccessful and those involved were tried and sentenced.
Many were forced to commit suicide.
III`s natural death, his fifth son, Rameses IV took the throne.
He began building a mortuary temple and his royal tomb at the beginning
of his reign but little of his anticipated projects were completed as he
died after only a few years. During his brief time in power further problems
occurred in the payment of wages to the workers at Deir El-Medina.
The power of the priests of Amun from Thebes continued to
grow, with the Temple of Amun now being partly responsible for the
payment of wages and not the state. The position of High Priest
of Amun became a hereditary one, with the king no longer able to
exert much control over this appointment.
IV was followed on his death by his son Rameses V. The most
notable event in his reign was a crime and corruption scandal in the priesthood
at Elephantine. Rameses V died after four years, of smallpox.
was followed by a younger son of Rameses III, who became Rameses
VI. He claimed the tomb prepared for his nephew Rameses V, for
himself. The deceased king could not be buried until another tomb was prepared
which was into the new king`s second year in power. He reigned for seven
years, after which time he was succeeded by another of Rameses III's
The reign of Rameses
VII was even shorter than his predecessor. The next king was also a
son of Rameses III.
next king, Rameses IX, reigned for eighteen years, during
which the country was troubled by raids by Libyan tribes and further strikes.
There were also some robberies of a 17th Dynasty royal tomb at
Dra Abu El-Naga and some private tombs, along with thefts from temples.
The power of the priesthood of the Temple of Amun at Karnak
had by now reached a level as great, if not more, than that of the pharaoh.
In two wall reliefs at Karnak, the High Priest of Amun
shown as the same size as the king. The wealth of the king`s estate was
by now reduced to what it had been in previous years.
little is known about Rameses X. His successor, Rameses XI,
reigned for thirty years. His reign was plagued with further problems.
The workmen in Thebes were unable to go to work on the West Bank
due to the threat of Libyan gangs. There were more robberies of tombs,
palaces and temples, as well as famine and eventually civil war. The Viceroy
of Nubia, Panehsy, took his army to Thebes in an attempt
to restore peace to the area. When he was there he took on the title of
"Overseer of the granaries" so that he could ensure that his men
were fed. This caused trouble with the High Priest of Amun, Amenhotep,
as his estate owned most of the areas fertile land. At one point, Panehsy`s
troops held Amenhotep at Medinet Habu in a siege. Amenhotep
requested help from the king, which then started the civil war. Panehsy`s
troops pushed northwards until the king`s army, led by General Piankh,
forced them back into Nubia.
Piankh claimed the title of Overseer of the Granaries and also became
High Priest of the Temple of Amun after Amenhotep died. Piankh
was now in charge of the Theban area and acted as King of Upper (Southern)
Egypt for the last seven years of Rameses XI`s reign.
Following the death of Piankh, his role was inherited by his son-in-law,
When Rameses XI died the rule of the North of Egypt was taken
over by Smendes, who is the founder of the 21st Dynasty
Habu temple built by Rameses III
Corridor of Rameses IV's Tomb leading to his Granite Sarcophagus.
Part of the ceiling in the tomb of Rameses IV showing scrolls with the
king`s name and a winged solar disk.
The ceiling inside Rameses VI's tomb showing an image of the winged sky
Inside the sarcophagus room of Rameses VI
Wall decoration in the tomb of Rameses VI.
)Wall decoration inside the sarcophagus room in Rameses VI's tomb.
The term 'Sea Peoples' was first introduced by the French Egyptologist
Gaston Maspero. Sea Peoples were a race of ship-faring raiders who
drifted into the eastern shores of the Mediterranean and attempted to enter
Egyptian territory during the late 19th dynasty, and especially year 5
of Rameses III of the 20th Dynasty.
seafarers invaded eastern Anatolia, Syria, Palestine, Cyprus and Egypt
in the 2nd millenium BCE. The exact ethnic origin, culture and language
is not known.
Sea Peoples could well be a branch of another people of the region, and
there have been several suggestions to this: Ekmesh (a name the Hittites
used for the Ahhiyawa), Teresh, Tyrrhenians (ancestors of the Estruscans),
Sardinians, Shekelesh of Sicily or Pelest. Another theory is that they
could have been a deserted army, or even survivors after a lost war.
their name, their main military campaigns were overland. They started near
Ugarit (the location of which corresponds to modern Latakia, Syria),The
destructionof Ugarit, was so heavy that it was abandoned forever, Then
they continued south, until they ran into Egyptian forces in 1231
BCE where they fought the forces of King Merneptah. According to
the Victory Stela found near Thebes, the Sea Peoples consisted of the following
peoples or clans: Shardana, Lukka, Meshwesh, Teresh, Ekwesh and Shekelesh.
While Merneptah claimed victory over the Sea People, this is perhaps not
true, since Egypt entered a period of much internal unrest following this
have received important information on the Sea Peoples, principally what
they looked like, from Egyptian temple reliefs, like the temple of Ramses
III at Madinat Habu near Luxor.
the Sea People attacked different countries, they attacked capitals and
cities important to administration. In these cities they destroyed government
buildings, palaces and temples, while leaving residential areas and the
surrounding countryside untouched. By doing this, they destroyed the local
leadership, and could win fairly easy victories.
Sea Peoples were in almost all ways a negative and destructive force for
the region. Even if the Sea People destroyed much through their campaigns,
it is believed that they were the founders of the Philistine and Phoenician
civilizations, which soon grew to some of the most important forces in
the eastern Mediterranean.
Egyptian Chronicles is a co-op of Egyptian authors.
contained in these pages are the personal views, or work, of the authors,
bear the sole responsibility of the content of their work.
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