he was a usurper who seized the throne during a time of crisis and political unrest

The 19th Dynasty ended amid a tangle of events, not least due to the presence of Twosret as queen regnant, Egypt’s fourth queen regnant until that point. It’s uncertain if there was a brief period of anarchy between the end of Twosret’s solitary rule and the accession of her successor Setnakhte, probably only a few months. It’s unclear how Setnakhte got to the throne, or even who he was. The greatest source for the commencement of the 20th Dynasty is an account in the Great Harris Papyrus dated around 65 years later.
The remaining four ‘pages’ chronicle Setnakhte’s rise to power and suppression of Asiatic rebellions: he released besieged cities, returned people who had fled, and reopened temples and recovered their income. Setnakhte was the first king of Egypt’s 20th Dynasty, which was the New Kingdom’s final dynasty. This is the king’s birth name, which meaning “Victorious is Set, Beloved of Amun Re” when combined with his epithet, mereramunre. Setnakht and Sethnakht are two more names for him. Userkhaure Setepenre was his throne name, which meant “Powerful are the Manifestations of Re, Chosen by Re.”


The dynastic transition between the 19th and 20th Dynasties may not have been as difficult as the Papyrus Harris portrays. Hori son of Kama, who had been appointed Viceroy of Kush (a kingdom in Nubia) during the reign of Siptah, appears to have been retained by Setnakhte. Another Hori, a vizier, was supposedly permitted to stay in power as well. Setnakhte’s reign was brief, probably two or three years, and he may have ascended to the throne at a young age. By his wife, Tiymerenese, he fathered Egypt’s final great Egyptian King, Ramesses III. Ramesses III and his father may have had a brief co-regency.


Setnakhte reigned for only about three years. His son – the future Ramses III – by his wife Queen Tiy-merenese was apparently associated with him in a short co-regency.

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Setnakhte’s reign was just a few years long, but it was long enough for him to calm Egypt’s political situation and install his son, Rameses III, as Egypt’s heir to the throne. Setnakhte initiated the construction of a Temple of Amun-Re in Karnak, which was later finished by his son Ramesses III, according to the Bakenkhunsu stela. Setnakhte also began construction on a tomb in the Valley of the Kings, KV11, but was forced to halt when tombcarvers unintentionally broke into the tomb of Pharaoh Amenmesse of the Nineteenth Dynasty. Setnakhte then seized the tomb of his predecessor, Queen Twosret (KV14), for his personal use.
Setnakhte’s roots are unclear, and he might have been a commoner. Another theory is that he was linked to the previous dynasty, the Nineteenth, through his mother, and so could have been Ramesses II’s grandson. Ramesses III, Setnakhte’s son and successor, is considered the New Kingdom’s final great ruler. The Elephantine stela of Setnakhte mentions this turbulent time and specifically mentions the expulsion of certain Asiatics who fled Egypt, abandoning the riches taken from Egyptian temples. The extent to which this inscription alluded to current circumstances or rather rehashed anti-Asian animosity from Pharaoh Ahmose I’s reign is unknown. Setnakhte connected with the god Atum or Temu and constructed a shrine to him.


Death and burial

Setnakhte was buried with full royal honours after his death. “He was rowed on his king’s barge upon the river (across the Nile to the west bank), and rested in his eternal abode west of Thebes,” according to the Papyrus Harris I. He was buried in the tomb that was initially excavated for Queen Twosret (KV14) on the West bank of Thebes in the Valley of the Kings, however we don’t know why. He may have seized this tomb because the tomb he had started to build for himself, KV11, had been abandoned when labourers digging it broke through into Amenmesse‘ tomb next door (KV10).
Another theory is that his son, Ramesses III, hijacked KV14 for his father in order to realign and finish KV11, where he was buried, for himself. Setnakhte’s body was not recovered in KV14, but his coffin was unearthed in the royal stockpile in Amenhotep II’s tomb in 1898. (KV35). It’s probable that his body was discovered in that tomb unwrapped and unidentifiable in a wooden boat.


What was Setnakhte known for?

Setnakhte, Ramesses III’s father, had built his own tomb in the Valley of the Monarchs, KV 11, as was customary for kings at the time. Almost all of the other Pharaohs who are buried in the Valley of the Kings constructed their own tombs, which they later inhabited when they died.

What is Setnakhte family tree?

Setnakhte is said to be the grandson of Ramesses II, a former pharaoh. He was Ramesses III’s father. Ramesses III and his father may have had a brief co-regency.

When was Setnakhte died?

1184 BC.

Where was setnakhte buried?


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