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KRONOS Vol IV, No. 3



Copyright (c) 1979 by Immanuel Velikovsky

Editor's Note: The following material on Haremhab is taken from Velikovsky's forthcoming book The Assyrian Conquest, Vol II of the Ages in Chaos series. The appearance of The Assyrian Conquest will mark the completion of that series.


Josephus preserved a story he found in Manetho, the origin of which is in the adventures of Haremhab. The heroes of the story are Sethosis and Harmais, two brothers. Sethosis was the king of Egypt. His name is like that of King Sethos, who, according to Herodotus, went to war against Sennacherib and was saved when a catastrophe destroyed the Assyrian army in a single night.(1-1)

This Sethosis of Manetho, "who possessed an army of cavalry and a strong fleet, made his brother Harmais viceroy of Egypt and conferred upon him all royal prerogatives, except that he enjoined upon him not to wear the diadem, nor to wrong the queen....

He then departed on a campaign against Cyprus and Phoenicia, and later against the Assyrians and Medes .... Meanwhile, some time after his [Sethosis'] departure, Harmais, whom he had left in Egypt ... violated the queen and ... put on a diadem and rose in revolt against his brother .... Sethosis instantly returned to Pelusium and recovered his kingdom, and the country was called after him Aegyptus. For Manetho states that Sethosis was called Aegyptus and his brother Harmais, Danaus. Such is Manethos's account."(1-2)

Manetho, in his Sethosis, amalgamated Sethos of Herodotus, who went to war against the Assyrians under Sennacherib, and Seti the Great, who fought against the Babylonians and the Medes. Harmais (Haremhab) as a brother of the king probably reflects the true situation.(1-3) Like Sethos, he was educated to be a priest. The eponym Danaus may give a clue to Haremhab's place of refuge.(1-4)

Subsequently, the Assyrians re-established their dominion over Egypt.


1-1. II Kings 19:35; Isaiah 37:36.
1-2. Josephus, Against Apion, 1, 97-102.
1-3. A manuscript copy of Josephus has, as a marginal note, a variation: Sethos, Ramses, and Harmais as three brothers (see a note by Thackeray in his translation of Contra Apionem, Loeb Classical Library edition, pp. 202-203). Sethos was either an uncle of Seti the Great or more probably his grandfather, as it is known that the father of Ramses I was Seti I (Sethos).
1-4. According to Diodorus of Sicily, Danaus, when expelled by his brother, fled to Argos. But cf. Luckenbill, Ancient Records of Assyria II. Sec. 709.


We shall occupy ourselves in a series of sections with Haremhab, not because of any unusual importance of his historical role, but because of the importance of establishing his place in history. As long as Haremhab's place is misunderstood, all imaginable and also unimaginable conclusions are drawn; and even at this late date in Egyptology the dominant view makes him vizier and commander of the army under Tutankhamen. It also makes him a denizen of the fourteenth century, though I have already demonstrated, on exhaustive historical grounds, that Tutankhamen and the entire House of Akhnaton belong to the ninth century and that the Eighteenth Dynasty became extinct shortly after.

Haremhab, however, despite so many books and treatises and also novels and plays dealing with the House of Akhnaton, stood in no relation to this house: his historical place is in the opening decades of the Nineteenth Dynasty, and chronologically his reign in Egypt dates from -702 to -687. Of those sixteen years,(2-1) for up to eight years he administered the land, and for an almost equal time he wore the diadem of a king of Lower and Upper Egypt. As administrator and commander of the army he was not assuaging Tutankhamen's rage the boy-king died before reaching his eighteenth year and was not a raging despot. And why should a king still in his early teens place a royal crown on the head of a general? Tutankhamen did not abdicate; he was manipulated by his crafty maternal grandfather and, as I tried to elucidate in Oedipus and Akhnaton, fought his elder brother Smenkhkare, the rightful successor to Akhnaton. But I need not borrow anything from my other books: the presentation of the case stands and ends here.


2-1. For a recent discussion of the regnal length of Haremhab, see Donald B. Redford, "New Light on the Asiatic Campaigning of Horemheb," Bulletin of the American Schools of Oriental Research, no. 211 (Oct., 1973), pp. 3649 and particularly pp. 36-38. A regnal attestation of 16 years for Haremhab, discovered by Redford is now strengthened by the finds of G.T. Martin, et al., while excavating at the Memphite tomb of Haremhab. "A large quantity of pottery was found in the principal burial chamber and approach corridors and rooms, including large storage vessels and amphorae. Some of the latter bear hieratic dockets, one recording the highest year-date (13) of Horemheb hitherto certainly known" [the present whereabouts of the stone bowl bearing the inscription that attests to regnal year 16 is unknown (see Redford, loc. cit.) - LMG] . - See The Egypt Exploration Society Report for the Year 1977/78, p. 5, no. 2. [The year 13 discovered by Martin, et al., comes very close to a presumed figure of 12 years 3 months for the reign of Haremhab supposedly found in Manetho (see J.R. Harris, "How Long was the Reign of Horemheb?" in The Journal of Egyptian Archaeology 54 (1968), p. 97) - LMG]


In this reconstruction Haremhab and Tirhaka are contemporaries; in the conventional version of history they are separated by more than six centuries, Haremhab being dated to the late fourteenth and Tirhaka to the early seventh. A certain scene, carved on one of the walls of a small Ethiopian temple at Karnak, shows them together. The scene proves not only the contemporaneity of Haremhab and Tirhaka, but also permits us to establish a short period in their relations from which it dates. De Rouge, in his 1873 study of the monuments of Tirhaka, describes the relief:

"Tirhaka is standing and takes part in a panegyric. An important personage, named Hor-em-heb, a priest and hereditary governor, addresses to the people the following discourse in the name of the two forms of Amon: 'Hear Amon-ra, Lord of the Thrones of the World and Amon-ra, the husband of his mother, residing in Thebes! This is what they say to their son, the king of Upper and Lower Egypt [Neferatmukhure] son of the sun, Tirhaka, given life, forever: "You are our son whom we love, in whom we have repose, to whom we have given Upper and Lower Egypt; we do not like the kings of Asia - - - -"(3-1)

The monument must be dated to the time early in Haremhab's career when he was acting as priest and governor under his brother Sethos. Egypt was then allied with Ethiopia, actually under Ethiopian domination, and was bracing itself to meet the armies of Assyria; for Sennacherib had shut up Hezekiah in Jerusalem "like a bird in a cage" and was advancing to the border of Egypt. The Egyptian-Ethiopian army which had gone to block him had suffered a crushing defeat at Eltekeh in Palestine. The declaration "We do not like the kings of Asia" was appropriate for the moment. The ways of Tirhaka and Haremhab would soon part: Tirhaka would flee to Ethiopia and become the bitterest enemy of Haremhab, who would go over to the side of Sennacherib and campaign against the Ethiopian king and his own brother Sethos.


3-1. M. le Vicomte de Rougé, "Etude sur quelques monuments du règne de Taharka" in Mélanges d'Archeologie, Vol. I (1873). The text was published by Prisse d'Avennes, Monuments égypriens (Paris, 1847), Pl. XXXII, Wall D of the small building of Tirhaka at Karnak. The article of de Rougé is also reprinted in Bibliotheque Egyptologique 28 (1918), p. 268.


It is regularly admitted that it is not known how and when Haremhab became king of Egypt. Some think that he was the last king of the Eighteenth Dynasty; some place him at the beginning of the Nineteenth Dynasty.(1) He was not the son of a king, nor was he the father of Ramses I, who followed him.(2) "Nothing is known of his antecedents."(3) He was appointed by a king to rule the country, and at some point after a campaign of conquest or re-conquest against Ethiopia, he was designated by the king to be crowned. Nowhere is found the name of the king who made this extraordinary appointment. Who could this monarch have been? It is often surmised that he was Akhnaton. But Akhnaton was succeeded on the throne by Smenkhkare and Tutankhamen. Often this role is ascribed to Tutankhamen - but the youthful king was followed by an old general, Ay, the maternal grandfather of the two young princes. Was it Ay who appointed Haremhab to administer the land for him, and then, in his own lifetime, crowned him? But "of Haremhab's relation to Ay we know absolutely nothing".(4) And if there is no historical link between Haremhab and Ay, the last known king of the Eighteenth Dynasty, does any compelling reason exist, or even any ground whatsoever, to place Haremhab immediately after Tutankhamen or after Ay, where we usually find him in books on history? A likely ground is not only non-existent, but everything confounds such placement of the "appointed pharaoh".

Had Haremhab been a prominent official in the days of el-Amarna, he, like other generals and courtiers, would have had a sepulchral chamber built for him in the necropolis of Akhet-Aton (el-Amarna).(5)

But no tomb, nor any other monument of his, was found there. However, while yet a general, he built for himself a tomb near Memphis, a place rather neglected during the Eighteenth Dynasty; later he prepared another tomb for himself at Thebes.(6)

The finely sculptured Memphite tomb of the "Great Commander of the Army" Haremhab was discovered early in the nineteenth century. At that time it was dismantled and blocks with inscriptions and bas-reliefs were scattered among many private and public collections. Through subsequent decades scholars made great efforts to trace the parts and collate the pictures and texts. Some blocks described in older publications have since been lost - a block seen many years ago in a private collection in Alexandria is such a case. The museums of Leiden, Vienna, Bologna and Berlin preserve disunited portions of the tomb. More sculptured blocks have been retrieved in the newly-resumed excavations by the Egypt Exploration Society, beginning in 1975 .(7) Haremhab's own statement of his title at the time his sepulchre near Memphis was being prepared is:

"King's follower on his expeditions in the south and north country. Greatest of the great, mightiest of the mighty; great lord of the people. King's messenger at the head of his army, to the south and north country.

Chosen of the King, presider over the Two Lands (Egypt), in order to carry on the administration of the Two Lands, general of generals of the Lord of the Two Lands."(8)

"Such titles no officer under the king had ever borne. Under what ruler he thus served is not certain, but whoever he was such power in the hands of a subject must necessarily have endangered his throne. "(9)

On another fragment from his tomb he is called "The commander-in-chief of the army, Haremhab," and on still another, "Deputy of the King, presiding over the Two Lands".(10) But in the pictures next to these inscriptions he wears the diadem with the uraeus, a cobra, the emblem of royal power in Egypt.

The scholars were thus compelled to the conclusion that there was an "incongruity in the tomb. Throughout its reliefs the figure of the general, Haremhab, wears the uraeus".(11) It is rather unusual in Egyptian representational art that a uraeus should crown the head of a person who does not occupy the throne. An explanation was offered that the uraeus must have been added to the diadem at some later time, after Haremhab was crowned.(12)

The bas reliefs in the tomb in various scenes show Haremhab in a pose of submission before a king, but the figure of the king is regularly erased on the surviving fragments; the figure of the king was deliberately destroyed already in ancient times. On one bas-relief Haremhab is shown with his right arm lifted in adoration of the king whose figure, probably much larger than that of Haremhab, is not preserved; in his left hand Haremhab holds a fan, and throughout the texts he carries the honorific title "the fan-bearer to the right of the king".

On another block (Berlin fragment), Haremhab is shown in front of another group of Egyptian dignitaries; he and the rest of them display obeisance by bending their bodies before the king whose likeness is not preserved. Haremhab, though in front of those who pay homage, is not depicted larger than the others in the group; he also has no diadem on this bas-relief.

Dignitaries of foreign lands, Syrians being prominent among them, are also shown paying homage and affirming their role as vassals to the king, whose likeness is destroyed.

The text, reconstructed by Gardiner, makes it appear that the foreign chiefs availed themselves to Haremhab's good standing with the king to assure him of their loyalty:

Words spoken to His Majesty - - when - - came the great ones of all foreign lands to beg life from him, by the hereditary prince, sole friend and royal scribe Haremhab, justified. He said, making answer (to the king- - foreigners) who knew not Egypt, they are beneath thy feet for ever and ever; Amun has handed them over to thee .... Thy battle cry is in their hearts.(13)

Despite the lacunae it is clear that "the king is addressed with flattering words and is assured that his might extends over all lands" (14)

In front of a huddled group of foreigners, none shackled, a personage proclaimed by the group to be an interpreter, speaks to them; Haremhab, also present and shown larger than the interpreter, attentively listens to him. A raised surface above the head of that man had been prepared for the words spoken by him, but was never filled. The foreigners, by their arms lifted in adoration, document the royal presence; the figure of the king, however, as in the rest of the bas-reliefs, is not preserved. Like Haremhab, "the great ones of all lands who came to beg life" listen to what the interpreter has to say. "The words of all lands are of importance," observes Gardiner, who also makes a point of the fact that Haremhab is seen "in converse with the interpreter," but he draws no further conclusion from these texts.

On many bas-reliefs of the Eighteenth Dynasty such as those of Hatshepsut, Thutmose III, Amenhotep III and Akhnaton foreigners are shown in the presence of the pharaoh either as prisoners or vassals, an interpreter is never depicted; nor do the bas-reliefs of the Nineteenth Dynasty depicting foreigners show interpreters. Was the king whose likeness we miss not versed in Egyptian?

Another fragment from the Memphite tomb of General Haremhab (#1889 from Bologna) has a scene chiseled in low relief showing a horse rider between groups of what appear to be soldiers and laborers, possibly in an armed camp. A horse rider is practically unknown from Egyptian art the Egyptians used horses to draw chariots or wagons, but not to ride horseback. The rider in the scene sits on the horse with no saddle under him. "A person is shown mounted on a horse without a saddle a very rare representation ("rarissime") in Egyptian art, and the person does not have the appearance of an Egyptian, though he holds in his hand a dignitary's emblem ...."(15)

But this was the Assyrian way of riding horses never with a saddle, for the most part placing a rug or cloth on the horse's back to sit upon.

The way the horses are depicted on Assyrian bas-reliefs differs greatly from the ways they are presented in Egyptian, Mycenaean, or Scythian reliefs, and each of these differs also from all others. The design of the horse with its rider on the stone plate in the Bologna collection from the Memphite tomb of Haremhab is not Egyptian, but clearly Assyrian. The prancing horse under a rider with one of its front legs raised from the ground, the arrangement of its mane, and the way the artist generally treats the horse, are eminently Assyrian. The Egyptian steed, never for horseback riding and regularly drawing a chariot whether in war or in the hunt, traditionally has two forelegs raised, thus charging in a gallop, and differs in every detail from the horse under the rider on the Bologna fragment from Haremhab's bas-relief.

The Assyrians are credited with the development of cavalry; in the words of a Hebrew prophet, "Assyrians ... horsemen riding upon horses".(16)

It is strange that throughout the texts the name of the king is not given. This does not follow established practice, or, as one may say, an otherwise unalterable rule: in Egyptian texts the native Pharaoh is always named by his royal nomen and cognomen, not just as "His Majesty". This, together with the presence of a translator to interpret the words of the king to his vassals, the Egyptian commander-of-the-army among them, as well as the employment of cavalry, yields a strong impression that the king whose likeness is absent and whose name is not given was a foreign monarch and, more concretely, an Assyrian king.

In the same tomb the enigmatic king is called "The Great of Strength [who] will send his mighty arm in front of [his army - - and will] destroy them and plunder their towns and cast fire into - - and - - - foreign countries will set others in their places."(17)

In Egyptian texts of conquest, the expression "plunder their towns" is not infrequently met with; but "cast fire into [their lands] " is not usual. In the records of Sennacherib and his son Esarhaddon, as also in those of earlier and later Assyrian kings, the graphic descriptions of their "scorched earth" tactics make clear that casting fire was a feature never absent from their warfare. "I besieged, I captured, I destroyed, I devastated, I burned with fire," wrote Sennacherib in the record of his second campaign, and similary of his fifth, sixth and seventh campaigns.(18) He called himself "the flame that consumes the insubmissive".(19) This epithet of the great king "the flame" is also used by Haremhab; not in describing himself, but in addressing the king who appointed him: "Thy name is flame".(20) It was a fitting cognomen of Sennacherib, and Haremhab used it too in offering an epithet in lieu of a name to designate the Assyrian king.

The removal of entire populations from their lands was a practice peculiar to the Assyrians and their warfare (later also adopted by the Chaldeans); the Egyptians never transferred conquered peoples from one country to another. Yet the last line of the above quoted text from the tomb of Haremhab ("- - - foreign countries will set others in their places") refers to such measures. Breasted's reading of the passage was: "- - - Asiatics; others have been placed in their abodes."(21) Sargon, father of Sennacherib, removed the last of the Ten Tribes from Samaria and her cities and settled others in their place (II Kings 17:24), and according to his prism inscriptions Sennacherib removed large numbers of people of Judah, over two hundred thousand, from their land to exile.(22)

On a stone from Haremhab's tomb, discovered serving as a doorpost in a building in Cairo, Haremhab is described as "a henchman at the feet of his lord on the battle field on this day of slaughtering the Asiatics."(23) On another fragment (at Alexandria) he is said to have been "sent as the King's envoy to the sun-disc's rising, returning in triumph, his attack having succeeded";(24) many times in his tomb he is titled "Great Commander of the Army" and one who was "chosen by the King to carry on the administration of the Two Lands [Egypt] ".

All leads to the conclusion that Haremhab served under an Assyrian king as an appointed military administrator of Egypt.


1. "It is difficult at the present day to know what position to assign him [Haremhab] in the Pharaonic lists: while some regard him as the last of the XVIIIth Dynasty, others prefer to place him at the head of the XIXth." Maspero, The Struggle of the Nations (1896), p. 369; cf. A.K. Philips, "Horemheb, Founder of the XIXth Dynasty?" in Orientalia 46 (1977).
2. E. Meyer, Geschichte des Altertums Vol. II, Pt. 1, p. 427; R. Hari, Horemheb et la Reine Moutnodjemet (Geneva, 1964), p. 412.
3. G. Martin, "Excavations at the Memphite Tomb of Horemheb, 1975: Preliminary Report," in The Journal of Egyptian Archaeology 62 (1976), p. 9.
4. A.H. Gardiner, "The Memphite Tomb of the General Haremhab." The Journal of Egyptian Archaeology, vol. 39 (1953), p. 11, note 3.
5. "An individual of the importance of Harmhabi, living alongside this king, would at least have had a tomb begun for him at Tell el-Amarna." Maspero, The Struggle of the Nations. pp. 342-343, note.
6. G. Maspero, The Tomb of Harmhabi and Tourankhamanou (London, 1912).
7. See G.T. Martin, "Excavations at the Memphite Tomb of Horemheb, 1975: Preliminary Report," in The Journal of Egyptian Archaeology 62 (1976), pp. 5-13; idem, "Excavations at the Memphite Tomb of Horemheb, 1976: Preliminary Report" in The Journal of Egyptian Archaeology 63 (1977), pp. 13-20.
8. Breasted, Records, Vol. III, Sec. 20.
9. Breasted, History of Egypt, pp. 399-400.
10. The Leiden and London fragments.
11. Breasted, Records, Vol. III, Sec. 12.
12. Breasted in Zeitschrift fur Aegyptische Sprache 38 (1900), pp. 47-50; Martin, "Excavations at the Memphite Tomb of Horemheb, 1976" in The Journal of Egyptian Archaeology 63 (1977), p. 15: "The uraeus has been carefully added ...."
13. Gardiner, "The Memphite Tomb of the General Haremhab," The Journal of Egyptian Archaeology 39 (1953), p 5.
14. Ibid., p. 6.
15. Hari, Horemheb et la Reine Moutnodjemet, p. 74.
16. Ezekiel 23:12. Cf. Sargon II's reference to his mounted troops as my cavalry which never, even in friendly territory, leaves my side" (Pritchard, Ancient Near Eastern Texts, p. 286). For representations of horses of Sennacherib, see Sidney Smith, Assyrian Sculptures in the British Museum from Shalmaneser III to Sennacherib (London, 1938), Plates 37, 39, 43, 46, 57, 65-67; Cp. KRONOS III:3 (Spring-1978), p. 18.
17. Gardiner, "The Memphite Tomb of the General Haremhab", JEA 39, p. 7.
18. Luckenbill, Records of Assyria II. 237-250.
19. Ibid., II. 233, 256, 300.
20. The hieroglyphic sign for "fire" or "flame" is a noun. Gardiner (JEA 39, p. 5) translates not literally "Thy name flares"; Breasted (Records III, Sec. 8) renders the phrase: "Thy name is a fire."
21. Breasted, Records III, Sec. 11.
22. A total of 200,125 according to the Taylor Prism.
23. K. Pflüger, Haremhab und die Amarnazeit (1936), p. 16; also Hari, Horemheb et la Reine Moutnodjemet, p. 89 and plate XIV.
24. The so-called Zizinia fragment: Breasted, Records III, Sec. 13; Hari, Horemheb et la Reine Moutnodjemet, p. 66 and plate XI.


After a period of time during which Haremhab officiated as the head of the army and administrator of the land, he was crowned. The coronation inscription is preserved on the back of a double statue of himself sitting with his queen.(5-1) This statue, now in the Turin Museum, is of fine workmanship; the head of the king is, however, broken off. The queen's name survived: Mutnodjme; and her position next to Haremhab at his coronation and the titles she bore indicate that she played an important part in the ceremony. When we study the text of the inscription it will become evident that Haremhab was in fact crowned at the wedding ceremony at which he married Mutnodjme; he was thus obliged to her for his elevation to the throne.

It would be unusual, but not unthinkable, that a commoner or a military man, having climbed in his career, should be elevated to pharaoh when the throne became vacant; or that a usurper should put the crown on his head after murdering the rightful pharaoh. But the case of Haremhab mounting the throne followed neither of these models. He was crowned by a king who neither abdicated at the occasion nor remained as a co-ruler. Further, as just said, he was crowned at a wedding ceremony.

The inscription on the statue gives the story of Haremhab's growth in the king's favor and an account of the coronation ceremonial.

Now he acted as vice-regent of the Two Lands [Upper and Lower Egypt] over a period of many years.

With councillors Haremhab was "doing obeisance at the gates of the King's House". It also happened that

He being summoned before the Sovereign when the Palace fell into rage, and he opened his mouth and answered the King and appeased him with the utterance of his mouth.

Haremhab had to assuage the King in his rage. Was the raging king the teenager Tutankhamen?(5-2)

In order to shorten the process of unraveling before the reader the meaning of the coronation text, let us substitute the proper person for the anonymous king. Sennacherib was the sovereign. He had Haremhab, a scribe, priest and military man not an unusual combination of offices in ancient Egypt as the commanding officer in charge of an expedition against Ethiopia (Nubia) and as his regent over Egypt. In this capacity Haremhab succeeded in weathering the rages of the wrathful overlord; by this, he claims, he also won the appreciation of his own people ("the people were happy").

Then the king, according to the inscription on the double statue,

"knew the day of his good pleasure to give him his kingship. Lo, this god distinguished his son in the sight of the entire people .... The heart of the King being content with his dealings, and rejoicing at the choice of him."

In this and other passages "king" and "this god" are designations of the sovereign who crowned Haremhab.

The scene of the coronation starts when "his father Horus placed him (Haremhab) behind himself". The translator of the text, Gardiner, comments in wondering: "but the place of a protective deity was behind the protected person" and he refers to various known instances when the falcon Horus or goddesses with protecting wings place themselves behind the royal figure they protect. Assuming a textual error and thinking of Horus as a deity, Gardiner corrects the sentence and makes of it: "His father Horus placed himself behind him (Haremhab)." The text however makes it clear that it was the much-feared monarch who stood in front of Haremhab and led him through the ceremony. "The form of a god was his aspect in sight of him who beheld his dread image," is in the text, and once more Gardiner stumbles on the adjective "dread," not usually applied to divine statues.(5-3)

"Lo, this noble god Horus of Hnes, his heart desired to establish his son upon his eternal throne and he commanded - - -"[lines broken] .

It was usual in Egypt to call the king "god"; in the case of Sennacherib he was called "god" and also "noble god Horus" apparently in appreciation of the syllable hr in the name Sennacherib; more specifically the Assyrian king is referred to as "this noble god Horus of Hnes". Haremhab calls himself "god Horus of Hnes' son".

"Then did Horus proceed amid rejoicing to Thebes, the city of the lord of Eternity, his son in his embrace, to Ipet-lsut (Karnak), in order to induct him into the presence of Amun for the handing over to him of his office of king."

The king inducted him "to his office and his throne". From now on Haremhab is "Hereditary Prince, Chieftain [King] over the Two Lands" and his future issue is supposed to inherit the title and the throne. He proceeded to the palace, to "his [the king's] noble daughter the Great of Magic, her arms in welcoming attitude, and she embraced his beauty and established herself in front of him".(5-4)

Mutnodjme is here identified as daughter of Sennacherib. She brought the crown to Haremhab: the coronation and the marriage ceremonies took place one following the other, on the same day. Haremhab became the son-in-law of Sennacherib and for this reason he was called "son" of "this god" the Assyrian king.

A royal crown was placed "upon his head" and the populace acclaimed Haremhab as their savior. From now on, as the text makes it known, his titulary would be "Horus of Gold, Satisfied with Truth, fostering the Two Lands, King of Upper and Lower Egypt Djeserkheprure-setpenre, son of Re, Haremhab-miamun, given life".

Haremhab's wife is called "Great Wife of the King, Lady of the Two Lands, Mutnodjme, beloved of Isis". Queen Mutnodjme is also spoken of as a "great hereditary princess" and as "regent of Egypt" and even "of all the countries".(5-5) Thus the queen occupied the throne not just because she was the king's spouse, but in her own right. Her exalted position is also reflected in her scarabs or signets. They were made of gold. Surviving scarabs of queens of the preceding ages are made of various materials, mostly minerals, but not of gold; not even from Hatshepsut who occupied the throne as "king", or from Tiy, the exalted queen of Amenhotep III, do we possess scarabs of gold. "Scarabs of gold are extremely rare of the scores of thousands found in the soil of Egypt, not more than four examples are known."(5-6)

The cause for this unusual status of queen Mutnodjme as a regent of Egypt and also the reason for her having her scarabs molded in gold is no longer obscure she was given as a wife to the administrator of Egypt by his suzerain, the king of Assyria, and at the same time her husband was promoted from the position of "King's Deputy" in Egypt to the status of a pharaoh, yet still subordinate to his suzerain and even dependent on his own queen.


5-1. A. Gardiner, "The Coronation of King Haremhab" in The Journal of Egyptian Archaeology 39 (1953), pp. 13-31.
5-2. So Gardiner in "The Coronation of King Haremhab," p. 21: '['Haremhab] also dwells upon the confidence that had been reposed in him by the king, doubtless Tut'ankhamun, on whose behalf he had ruled over a long period of years - a time ... when the temper of the Palace was not always as cool as it might have been, and needed the wisdom and moderation of a man as astute as himself to steer the ship of state aright."
5-3. Gardiner, 'The Coronation of King Haremhab," p. 16.
5-4. "Established herself in front of him" is Breasted's translation (Ancient Records of Egypt, Vol III, par 28). Gardiner amends it to "established herself upon his forehead" - which seems to make little sense unless she is metaphorically thought of as the uraeus, sign of royal power, with which Haremhab was now endowed
5-5. Hari, Horemheb et la reine Moutnedjemet, p. 190.
5-6. Ibid., p. 199.


Haremhab in his coronation inscription referred to himself as a ward of Harsiese: "Har-si-ese, his guardian was the protector of his limbs. "(6-1)

Haremhab regarded his having been reared by Harsiese as a great distinction.

Harsiese is well preserved as the name of the man who became high priest of Thebes and exercised power there when king Osorkon II in a formal decree granted a high degree of independence to Thebes; later, when a high priest by the name of Osorkon was expelled in the reign of Sheshonk III at the end of the eighth century, Harsiese asserted his right to the office on the ground of his origin from the great prophets of Amon.

There came the great priest of the house of Amon ... IIarsiese ... triumphant, before the governor of the South, saying: "I am the ... priest of Karnak, I am the son of the great prophets of Amon, through my mother."(6-2)

"In the sixth year of Sheshonk III we find [a] High Priest named Harsiese at Thebes."(6-3)

The high priest of Amon, Harsiese, was a young man in the closing years of the Libyan Dynasty. Haremhab, who before embarking on his political career was a scribe and a priest, was among Harsiese's pupils. Even after coronation he had himself portrayed by sculptors as a scribe.(6-4) And Harsiese officiated at Haremhab's coronation.(6-5)

The high priest Harsiese, who began his service in Thebes at the close of the Libyan Dynasty, is regularly assigned to his proper time, the latter part of the eighth and the early part of the seventh centuries. But his ward, Haremhab, together with the entire so-called Nineteenth Dynasty that followed him, is carried back to the fourteenth century.


6-1. Breasted, Records, Vol. III, sec. 24. Gardiner, in his publication of the coronation Inscription of Haremhab (The Journal of Egyptian Archaeology 39 (1953), p. 14) renders the passage thus: "Horus, son of Isis, his guardianship was the talisman of his flesh." He assumes that Harsiese was a deity. so also R. Hari, Horemheb et la Reine Moutnedjemet (Geneva, 1964), p. 378.
6-2. Breasted, Records, Vol. IV, sec. 753.
6-3. Breasted, Records, Vol. IV, sec. 758; cf. sec. 698.
6-4. See for instance the statue in the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, No. 23-10-l, also in Hari, Horemheb et la Reine Moutnedjemet, plt. 4 and 5.
6-5. At a later date, a Harsiese, by appointment of Esarhaddon, son of Sennacherib, became vice-king of one of the twenty provinces of Egypt. An inscription of Assurbanipal, son of Esarhaddon, mentions Harsiese by the name of Harsiaeshu, vice-king of Sabnuti, a nome in Egypt (Luckenbill, Records of Assyria, II, sec. 771). Later, Harsiese and the other vice-kings were arrested, brought to Nineveh, and, except for one, put to death by Assurbanipal (Luckenbill, Ibid., Secs. 772-774; also see KRONOS III:3 (Spring-1978) p.22). Whether we are dealing with the same man is perhaps open to question - he might then have been in his eighties.


Having assumed royal powers, Haremhab composed and published a decree, his Great Edict. The fragmentary text is inscribed on the largest stele ever found in Egypt. G. Maspero discovered it in Karnak in 1882.

"Hear ye these commands which my majesty has made for the first time governing the whole land, when my majesty remembered these cases of oppression ...." And he gave his edict to deliver"the Egyptians from the oppressions which were among them".(8-1)

The king who bestowed the crown on Haremhab was exalted by him, and called a "god" and Haremhab called himself his "son"; at the same time the rule of the land preceding that of Haremhab was branded by him as a wicked rule. Here again is an incongruity, unless the king who gave him the crown was not the king who ruled Egypt as a native ruler. The rule of Haremhab was that of a king named to administer Egypt by the decree of the foreign king.

Haremhab's Great Edict is a manifesto of his policy for keeping the state in order. The language of the Edict differs from the usual mode of expression of Egyptian edicts. It is a dry, juridical document, clear, and, apart from the introduction, free from the usual verbosity and figurative exaltations of Egyptian inscriptions. In such language were the legal documents of the Assyrians written.

Throughout the Edict of Haremhab, emphasis is placed on the principle of justice. The Edict "might be entitled 'The Justice of the King' ". (8-2)

Sennacherib wrote of himself as one "who likes justice, who established order".(8-3) Haremhab used the same sort of language.

The Edict of Haremhab contains provisions for martial law. Punishment for offenders was severe: anyone interfering with boat traffic on the Nile, "his nose shall be cut off, and he shall be sent to Tharu".(8-4) This penalty was not known in Egypt before Haremhab;(8-5) but in the time of Sennacherib it was a customary punishment inflicted by the Assyrians on vanquished peoples. Sennacherib wrote in the annals of his eighth campaign, against Elam: "With sharp swords I cut off their noses."(8-6)

For this reason Tharu, the place of the exile of the mutilated offenders, was called Rhinocorura or Rhinocolura by Greek authors, or "cut-off noses".(8-7) Rhinocolura is el-Arish, on the Palestinian border of Egypt.(8-8)

Another punishment prescribed in Haremhab's Edict is for a soldier accused of stealing hides: "one shall apply the law to him by beating him with 100 blows and 5 open wounds."(8-9)

Egyptian justice was traditionally marked by its humane treatment of criminals. From the first legal texts that become available under the Old Kingdom, through the Middle Kingdom and much of the New Kingdom in fact till the time of Haremhab and the Great Edict, the punishment for most crimes involved the confiscation of a person's property and removal from office, in some cases forced labor. Only high treason, directed against the person of the king, was punishable by death. The beating and maiming of criminals is so uncharacteristic of the Egyptian idea of justice that some scholars have looked for a foreign influence to explain the introduction of these practices in the time of Haremhab.(8-10) Punishments reminiscent of those mentioned in Haremhab's decree - beatings, cutting-off of ears, nose, lips, and pulling out of the hair - are prescribed in Assyrian law codes of the second millennium. There are no Assyrian law codes extant from the time of Sennacherib but clearly, there was a tradition of harsh punishments in Assyria. Its introduction into Egypt, however, was only possible at the time that Egypt was under direct Assyrian domination, and this occurred for the first time in the days of Haremhab.

The Edict confirms what we have already deduced from the study of the Memphite tomb of Haremhab and of his coronation text: the pharaoh was an appointee of his Assyrian overlord. He refers to himself in terms not dissimilar from those with which Sennacherib, on the Taylor Prism, refers to his august person, stressing love of justice and support of the needy, but vengeance upon the offenders and the insubmissive. Sennacherib introduces himself in the opening passage as "The wise ruler (literally 'shepherd'), favorite of the great gods, guardian of the right, lover of justice, who comes to the aid of the needy, who turns (his thoughts) to pious deeds, perfect hero, mighty man; first among the princes, the flame that consumes the insubmissive ...."(8-11) We have already noted that Haremhab, in a text from his tomb at Memphis, compared his overlord to a "flame".(8-12)


8-1. Breasted, Ancient Records of Egypt III, Secs. 67, so. Cf. the translations by Maspero in Davis, The Tombs of Harmhabi and Toutankhamanou (London, 1912), pp. 45-57, and by Pfluger in The Journal of Near Eastern Studies 5 ( 1946), pp. 260-268.
8-2. Petrie, History of Egypt, II. 251.
8-3. Sennacherib's Taylor Prism inscription, the first campaign. Luckenbill, Records of Assyria II. 233; cp. 256.
8-4. Breasted, Records, Vol. III, Sec. 51. W. Helck ("Das Dekret des Königs Haremheb" in Zeitschrift für Aegyptische Sprache 80 (1955), p. 118) translates "Abschneiden der Nase und Verbannung nach Sile."
8-5. D. Lorton, "The Treatment of Criminals in Ancient Egypt" in Journal of the Economic and Social History of the Orient 20 (1977), p. 24.
8-6. While punishments inflicted upon criminals and those meted out to prisoners of war are
not strictly comparable, it must be remembered that Egypt was, under Haremhab, in the position of a subjugated country. Sennacherib's quoted statement refers to his eighth campaign, against Elam; see Luckenbill, The Annals of Sennacherib, II (1920)
8-7. Strabo, Geography XVI.ii.31; Diodorus of Sicily, Bibliotheca I. 60; see the discussion on the identification of Tharu with Avaris in Volume I of Ages in Chaos, pp. 86-89.
8-8. For a discussion of the location of Tharu and Avaris, see A. Gardiner in The Journal of Egyptian Archaeology 3 (1916), p. 101.
8-9. Lorton, "The Treatment of Criminals in Ancient Egypt," p. 56.
8-10. Ibid, pp. 50ff. Only one case of punishment by beating is known earlier, from the time of Thutmose III - see pp. 23-24.
8-11. Luckenbill, Records of Assyria II. 233.
8-12. see above, section "Haremhab Appointed to Administer Egypt: By Whom?


A legal document in hieroglyphics composed under Ramses II refers to a contract concluded under Haremhab, and mentions, without any further amplification, the "fifty-ninth year".(9-1) Haremhab did not rule Egypt anywhere near that long. No era is known in Egyptian history to which the figure could apply. Much was written on the subject, but without a satisfying solution.

It was proposed that Haremhab counted as his own the years of the heretical pharaohs of the Eighteenth Dynasty: Akhnaton, Smenkhkare, Tutankhamen and Ay.(9-2) But it is now admitted that such a solution would require the sole reign of Haremhab to have lasted not less than twenty-seven years, while his dated monuments cease after year sixteen.(9-3)

In the light of the understanding here presented of the true time and role of Haremhab, the thought must come that the "fifty-ninth year" refers to an Assyrian era. On February 26, -747 the era of Nabonassar began;(9-4) this era was still in use in the second Christian century when Claudius Ptolemy, the Alexandrian scholar, wrote his great works.

The year 59 in the era of Nabonassar is the year 689 or 688 before the present era. About this time Tirhaka came from Ethiopia and occupied Egypt. This leads us to the conclusion that the document in question was written at the very end of Haremhab's reign, just before he was expelled by the Ethiopian king and fled by sea. A few months later Sennacherib embarked on his second campaign against Palestine and Egypt.


9-1. The co-called inscription of Mes. see V. Loret and A. Moret, "La grande inscription de Mes" In Zeitschrift für; Aegyptische Sprache 39 (1901), pp. 1-39; A. Gardiner, "The Inscription of Mes, a Contribution to Egyptian Juridical Procedure," Untersuchungen IV, pt. 3 (Leipzig, 1905); G. Maspero in The Tombs of Harmhabi et Toutankhamanou (London, 1912), p. 33; Revillout, Revue Egyptologique 9 (1952), pp. 177-187.
9-2. This thesis was first formulated by Loret; sec above, note 1.
9-3. See D.B. Redford, op. cit., pp. 37-38; The Egypt Exploration Society, Report for the Year 1977/78, p. 5, no 2; Cp. J.R. Harris, "How Long was the Reign of Horemheb?" in The Journal of Egyptian Archaeology 54 (1968), pp. 95ff.
9-4. See Worlds in Collision, p. 210.


The fifty-ninth year of the era of Nabonassar was the last of Haremhab's reign. In that year Tirhaka, son of Shabaka, came down from Ethiopia and, together with Sethos, drove Haremhab out of Egypt. Sennacherib's second campaign against Judah and Egypt was apparently in response to the collapse of the Assyrian-supported regime of Haremhab and its replacement by Ethiopian rule. The Ethiopians pursued an aggressive foreign policy, forging a defensive alliance with Judah, and drawing the Phoenician trading cities, Sennacherib's former vassals, into their own political orbit and out of the rapacious hand of Assyria.

When Sennacherib came to Palestine for the second time, Hezekiah refused to submit or to pay tribute. The Ethiopian king Tirhaka stood together with his Egyptian confederate Sethos at the border of Egypt, prepared to meet the threat. Sennacherib sent his messengers to Hezekiah from Lachish and once more from Libnah to demand submission; he also wrote him an ultimatum and blasphemed the Hebrew God.

But in a single night the Assyrian host, about 185,000 warriors, perished, destroyed by some natural cause.(a-1)


a-1. II Kings 19:35; Isaiah 37:36; Josephus, Jewish Antiquities X.i.4-5.


On a stele Esarhaddon, the son of Sennacherib, depicted Tirhaka as a captive negro with a ring through his nose;(b-1) "but Taharqa (Tirhaka) was never a prisoner in Assyrian hands."(b-2)

Then why did Esarhaddon depict Tirhaka as a prisoner? The Assyrian kings were not accustomed, like the kings of Egypt, to invent victories, and cruel as they were, they usually matched their cruelty with a truthful description of their campaigns. It is claimed that Esarhaddon had no reason to present his retreating adversary as a captive he never caught up with the king of Ethiopia.

But Hebrew sources preserved an episode neglected by the historians that justifies Esarhaddon's depicting his adversary as a humiliated prisoner. Seder Olam and other sources tell the following story:

"After the destruction of the Assyrian army [of Sennacherib, by a natural cause], when the Jews searched the abandoned camps, they found Pharaoh the king of Egypt and the Ethiopian king Tirhakah. These kings had hastened to the aid of Hezekiah, and the Assyrians had taken them captive and clapped them in irons, in which they were languishing when the Jews came upon them. Liberated by Hezekiah, the two rulers returned to their respective realms ....(b-3)

Pharaoh, king of Egypt, mentioned here without a name, was Sethos. He opposed Sennacherib also fifteen years earlier at the battle of Eltekeh. In that battle, during the first campaign of Sennacherib against Judah and the Palestinian coast, next to "the Egyptian charioteers and princes" (under Sethos), the Assyrian fought also "the charioteers of the king of Ethiopia"(b-4) but not their king. The king of Ethiopia in -701 was Shabaka.


b-1 . The Sendjirli Stele, transl. by Luckenbill, Records of Assyria II. 580; See Eine Bronzefigur des Taharka, Heinrich Sch-afer, in Zeitschrift fur Aegyptische Sprache 33 ( 1895), Pl. VII. no.4.
b-2. J. Garstang, Meroë, the City of the Ethiopians (excav. 1909-1910), (Oxford, 1911), p. 4.
b-3. L. Ginzberg, Legends of the Jews, Vol. IV, p. 271; Seder Olam 23; other sources in Ginzberg, Vol. VI, p. 365, note 68.
b-4. The Oriental Institute Prism of Sennacherib, in Luckenbill, The Annals of Sennacherib, Vol II ( 1920); Luckenbill, Records of Assyria II. 240.


In the early decades of the present century, archaeologists, digging in the ruins of ancient Hermopolis, in the vicinity of el-Amarna on the opposite bank of the Nile, discovered in the north-western portion of the mound the remains of a temple. From the reliefs found inside it was judged that it had been built by Sethos, and the temple received the name "Sethos-Temple".

In 1930 continuing excavations revealed, in the back of the structure, an architrave with the name of Ramses II; later a dedicatory inscription of Merneptah was found cut into the outer facade: in it Merneptah claimed to have completed the structure and to have dedicated it to the deity, presumably Thoth.(c-1) In the conventional scheme Sethos' reign comes at the end of the Nineteenth Dynasty, following that of Merneptah. Clearly, if Merneptah completed the temple and dedicated it then Sethos could not have participated in its construction. Scholars nevertheless concluded that Sethos must in some sense have completed the building that had already been finished and dedicated by Merneptah. This awkward explanation came to be accepted because the conventional chronology made it necessary.(c-2)

In the revised scheme Sethos is shown to belong to the beginning of Dynasty XIX. He it was who began the temple in accordance with the excavators' original conclusion. Work continued sporadically over a number of decades until the structure was completed by Merneptah more than a century after its beginning, who also dedicated it to Thoth.


c-1. G. Roeder, "Die Weihinschrift des K-onigs Mer-en-Ptah" in Annales du Service des Antiquites de l'Egypte"52 (1952-54), pp. 319-320.
c-2. R.O. Faulkner for instance claims that "Sethos completed the decoration of the temple of Thoth at Hermopolis which had been begun by Ramses II and of which the fabric had been completed by Merneptah" (The Cambridge Ancient History Third Edition, p. 237).


Of the hundreds of rock-cut tombs crowding the Theban necropolis, or the Valley of the Kings, the one bearing the name of Petamenophis, a high official of the Ethiopian period, early attracted the attention of Egyptologists by its large size and ambitious lay-out. It was first described in detail by Lepsius in his pioneering work Denkmäler aus Aegypten und Aethiopien.(d-1) To have occupied a spacious tomb in so prestigious a location Petamenophis must have been a person of distinction. In his inscriptions he describes himself as "Sealbearer and Sole Beloved Friend, Lector and Scribe of the Records in the Sight of the King, Petamenophis". (d-2) The king is not named, but his identity is revealed by an inscription, also reproduced by Lepsius, on a wall in the northern part of the great outer courtyard. Though much damaged in the course of time it contains two names, still clearly legible: Petamenophis, and next to it a cartouche of King Haremhab.(d-3)

The tomb was later visited and described by Wilkinson, by Duemichen, and others, before Maspero, seeing its deteriorating condition and realizing the necessity of protecting it from despoliation, had it sealed at the end of the last century. It remained closed until 1936 when W.F. von Bissing obtained permission to re-open it with the purpose of performing a definitive survey and publication. Braving the "billions of bats" that infested the place and the thick air (the ventilation "left much to be desired") he persevered, and already two years later, in 1938, printed a detailed description of the finds.

Rudolf Anthes and Hermann Grapow were entrusted with making a cast of the inscription with Haremhab's cartouche, and found that "the name [of Haremhab] stands out quite clearly" ("steht der Name völlig deutlich da").

Next arose the question of the tomb's date and the time of Petamenophis' career. The archaeologists were unable to agree, except that, on stylistic grounds, it could not be earlier than Ethiopian times. "Unfortunately," von Bissing wrote, "in the entire vast tomb, no single indication was found that would directly yield a date".(d-4) But was not the cartouche of Haremhab just the sought for indication? By rejecting the chronological value of Haremhab's name carved next to that of the tomb's owner, the archaeologists were left without any other date. Anthes nevertheless arrived at what appears to be the correct estimate of the date of the tomb: he concluded that it belongs to the time of Tirhaka.(d-5)


d-1. R. Lepsius, Denkmälerr aus Aegypten und Aethiopien (Berlin, 1849) Text, pp. 244-245.
d-2. F. W. von Bissing, "Das Grab des Petamenophis in Theben" in Zeitschrift für Aegyptische Sprache und Altertumslcunde 74 (1938), p. 2.
d-3. Lepsius, Denkmäler, Text, 245 middle.
d-4. Von Bissing, "Das Grab des Petamenophis," ZÄS (1938), p. 24.
d-5. R. Anthes in Zeitschrift für Aegyptische Sprache 73 (1937), pp. 30ff.

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