Remains of the house of scribe Butehamun at Medinet Habu, design by Anand Balaji.

The Hunt for Herihor: Butehamun and the Death of the Royal Necropolis–Part II

(Read the article on one page)

Sometime around Regnal Year 17 or 19 of Pharaoh Ramesses XI matters took a turn for the worse, due in no small measure to civil unrest and a failing economy. The northern and southern parts of the country were on a collision course and Amenhotep, the influential High Priest of Amun clashed with the Nubian viceroy, Panehesy. These events weakened and vexed the king immensely; but he had one more card up his sleeve in the form of general Piankh, whom he sent to Thebes to quell the violence. However, upon tasting victory, Piankh forced the ruler’s hand and arrogated kingship unto himself in the south; leaving Ramesses XI to conduct affairs in the north as the nominal head of the entire land.

[Read Part I Here]

Soon, state sanctioned tomb robbery reared its ugly head; and by the time of King Herihor, this endeavor was euphemistically referred to as ‘restoration’. The divine dead were viewed as nothing more than a source of bullion in troubled times. Two individuals, the scribes Djehutymose and his son, Butehamun, wrote the most sordid chapter in ancient Egyptian history when they were tasked with systematically dismantling the sacred necropolis.

This round-topped stela shows the erased figure of Herihor—General and First Prophet of Amun-Re—with his Great Royal, Wife Nodjmet. Rijksmuseum van Oudheden, Leiden.

This round-topped stela shows the erased figure of Herihor—General and First Prophet of Amun-Re—with his Great Royal, Wife Nodjmet. Rijksmuseum van Oudheden, Leiden. (Photo: Rob Koopman/ CC BY-SA 2.0 )

Herihor’s Tribute to Khonsu

Even though right through the Twenty-First Dynasty, a clear division seemed to exist between the ruler of the south and the high priest and army chief in the south, the lines may have blurred considerably over the years. “It has been noted that in the earlier part of the Dynasty, while Herihor, Pinudjem I and Menkheperre were in power, the Lower Egyptian kings were hardly represented in Thebes at all, but by contrast after the end Menkheperre’s rule, the kings Amenemope, Siamun and Osochor were all documented in Thebes, while at that time the chief priest Pinudjem II did not adopt any royal attributes,” states Dr Chris Naunton.

“The major monument confirming the might of Herihor is the temple of Khonsu, the moon-god son of Amun, which lies just within the southern temenos wall of the Karnak complex. Reliefs here depict Herihor at the same scale as the king, although not in the same scenes, and in the forecourt Herihor's name and titles appear in the royal cartouche. The implications are obvious. It seems that there might have been as much as a six-year overlap in the reigns of Ramesses XI and Herihor, each ruling in their own northern and southern domain respectively, and with Herihor dying before Ramesses XI. The story is not so much one of blatant usurpation as of a tacit recognition by each of the other's sphere of influence. The documents certainly recognize this with dual dating, where Year 2 of Herihor is equated with Year 25 of Ramesses,” Peter Clayton informs.

(Left) Drawing of the Theban High Priest of Amun, Herihor, depicted on a relief. From Karnak, Temple of Khonsu (forecourt D, lower east wall, part A), 20th Dynasty, New Kingdom. (Right) Drawing from the temple of Khonsu in Karnak (Room E) shows a close-up of Pharaoh Ramesses XI participating in a sort of "Shower of Life" ritual performed by two gods. (Artwork: by Karl Richard Lepsius/Public Domain)

(Left) Drawing of the Theban High Priest of Amun, Herihor, depicted on a relief. From Karnak, Temple of Khonsu (forecourt D, lower east wall, part A), 20th Dynasty, New Kingdom. (Right) Drawing from the temple of Khonsu in Karnak (Room E) shows a close-up of Pharaoh Ramesses XI participating in a sort of "Shower of Life" ritual performed by two gods. (Artwork: by Karl Richard Lepsius/Public Domain)

Herihor and Pinudjem I are both recorded as builders in Thebes, and Pinudjem directly succeeds Herihor with regard to the decoration of the Temple of Khonsu. Piankh, on the other hand is not recorded as a builder. A similar situation is to be found regarding the re-burials in the Theban necropolis…

READ MORE… 

Like this Preview and want to read on? You can! JOIN US THERE  with easy, instant access  ) and see what you’re missing!! All Premium articles are available in full, with immediate access.

For the price of a cup of coffee, you get this and all the other great benefits at Ancient Origins Premium. And - each time you support AO Premium, you support independent thought and writing.

Independent researcher and playwright Anand Balaji , is an Ancient Origins guest writer and author of Sands of Amarna: End of Akhenaten

--

Top Image: Remains of the house of scribe Butehamun at Medinet Habu, design by Anand Balaji. (Photo credits: Meretseger Books); Deriv.

Register to become part of our active community, get updates, receive a monthly newsletter, and enjoy the benefits and rewards of our member point system OR just post your comment below as a Guest.

Top New Stories

Denisova cave, some 150 km (93 mi) south of the city of Barnaul, is the only source of Denisovan's remains. Pictures: The Siberian Times
The distance from the only currently known home of the Denisovans in Altai region to the nearest point of Australia is roughly akin to the length of the Trans-Siberian railway, and yet it is looking increasingly likely that these ancient species of humanoids somehow made this epic journey deep in pre-history, perhaps 65,000 years ago.

Myths & Legends

A vase-scene from about 410 BC. Nimrod/Herakles, wearing his fearsome lion skin headdress, spins Noah/Nereus around and looks him straight in the eye. Noah gets the message and grimaces, grasping his scepter, a symbol of his rule - soon to be displaced in the post-Flood world by Nimrod/Herakles, whose visage reveals a stern smirk.
The Book of Genesis describes human history. Ancient Greek religious art depicts human history. While their viewpoints are opposite, the recounted events and characters match each other in convincing detail. This brief article focuses on how Greek religious art portrayed Noah, and how it portrayed Nimrod in his successful rebellion against Noah’s authority.

Ancient Places

Artist’s representation of the sealed door of Vault B at Padmanabhaswamy Temple.
Ropes of gold several meters long, Napoleonic coins, Venetian jewelry, diamond belts, emeralds the size of ostrich eggs, and barrels of golden rice…these are just some of the treasures said to have been hidden within Padmanabhaswamy Temple. But insufferable dangers may also be lurking for those who dare to open the temple’s mysterious sealed door. Would you take the risk?

Our Mission

At Ancient Origins, we believe that one of the most important fields of knowledge we can pursue as human beings is our beginnings. And while some people may seem content with the story as it stands, our view is that there exists countless mysteries, scientific anomalies and surprising artifacts that have yet to be discovered and explained.

The goal of Ancient Origins is to highlight recent archaeological discoveries, peer-reviewed academic research and evidence, as well as offering alternative viewpoints and explanations of science, archaeology, mythology, religion and history around the globe.

We’re the only Pop Archaeology site combining scientific research with out-of-the-box perspectives.

By bringing together top experts and authors, this archaeology website explores lost civilizations, examines sacred writings, tours ancient places, investigates ancient discoveries and questions mysterious happenings. Our open community is dedicated to digging into the origins of our species on planet earth, and question wherever the discoveries might take us. We seek to retell the story of our beginnings. 

Ancient Image Galleries

View from the Castle Gate (Burgtor). (Public Domain)
Door surrounded by roots of Tetrameles nudiflora in the Khmer temple of Ta Phrom, Angkor temple complex, located today in Cambodia. (CC BY-SA 3.0)
Cable car in the Xihai (West Sea) Grand Canyon (CC BY-SA 4.0)
Next article