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Horemheb

Ruler/Tomb owner
1321-1293 B.C.
Horemheb offering wine [to Hathor]: detail (scene 4) (KV 57)

Horemheb is usually considered the last king of Dynasty 18, although Dynasty 19 rulers considered him the founder of their royal line. In later king lists, which ignored rulers associated with the hated Amarna Period, Horemheb was listed as the immediate successor of Amenhetep III, and the intervening reigns of Akhenaten, Tutankhamen, Semenkhkara, and Ay were ignored and their regnal years added to his. The highest regnal year recorded in contemporary texts is 13, but many Egyptologists believe that he ruled for twenty-four, or even twenty-eight years. The first reference to Horemheb is from the reign of Tutankhamen, when he is mentioned as a high-ranking military officer. During Tutankhamen’s reign, he led several military campaigns into Nubia and Syria. We know little else of his activities during the Amarna Period, but at his accession as king, a stela at Karnak referred to him as a reformer, a restorer of order, and a man who rid Egypt of corruption and abuse of power. Whether this is fact or hyperbole is unclear. Horemheb built extensively: at Karnak he constructed the second, ninth, and tenth pylons using stone taken from the dismantled buildings of Akhenaten; at Luxor Temple, he usurped scenes carved for Tutankhamen; at Madinat Habu, he usurped the work of Ay; and he built at Jabal as Silsilah and at sites in Nubia. There are many examples of fine quality statuary from Horemheb’s reign. At Saqqarah, a tomb had been cut for him while he served Tutankhamen. That monument, discovered in 1975 by British Egyptologist Geoffrey Martin, resembles a typical Egyptian memorial temple. On its walls were many scenes and extensive lists of the twenty-four titles Horemheb then held. After his coronation, work was begun on another tomb, this one in the Valley of the Kings, KV 57. Horemheb had no children, or at least none who survived him, and near the end of his reign he appointed a military colleague, Paramessu, as “Deputy of His Majesty in Upper and Lower Egypt.” At Horemheb’s death, Paramessu changed his name to Rameses I and became the first ruler of Dynasty 19.