Setnakht (a.k.a. Sethnakht) (r. 1196 - 1194) intiated this dynasty
and he ruled for only 2-3 years. Scholars don't know actually how
he got to the throne as the 19th
dynasty ended in confusion. After his short reign, his son, Ramesses
III, succeeded him.
Ramesses III (r. 1194 - 1163) was the last of the great Pharaohs
who ever ascended the ancient Egyptian monarchy.
Ramesses probably ruled as a co-regent with his father before his
Soon after taking over, he found himself facing many challenges.
The world outside was at time in turmoil and people were yearning
for Egypt as a prosperous country. Neighbors were actually trying
to settle in Egypt to enjoy its luxury.
Some of these made some alliance known as "the Sea Peoples".
They were tribes of Shekelesh (possibly from Sicily), Peleset (the
Philistines), Shardana (possibly from Sardis of Lydia or Sardinians),
Danu or Danuna (possible the Danaoi mentioned in Homer's Iliad),
and other tribes like the Tjekker and the Weshesh.
Those tribes carried out attacks initially against the Hittites.
Their military tactic was characterized by quick assaults along
The Sea Peoples then began to raid the delta in Egypt. Ramesses
III by his great cunning set ambushes in the delta's waterways to
finish off his enemies. The battle was unprecedented, as Egyptians
usually feared the sea. Many of the Sea Peoples were slew and those
who survived were taken as slaves.
Ramesses III had all his battle glories recorded on the walls of
his mortuary temple
at Medinet Habu.
Ramesses then faced another danger from the west as Libyan tribes
were also immigrating as immigrating groups when it turned to be
Libyans were taught a strong lesson from Ramesses. They were also
Another challenge came from Nubia
but once more Ramesses curb its rebellion. Internally, he allowed
priests to regain their authorities, a move that would lead to tragic
On the other hand, workers in Thebes
(Luxor) were suffering an economic slump because they were running
short of crops. They also had to go on strike to have their wages
increased. The unrest was like a prelude to the chaos that took
place later and resulted in the fall of the dynasty.
Ramesses III was also associated with a Harem
conspiracy. A trial took place, and many dignitaries and royal women
were put to death.
Ramesses III erected shrines at Karnak
temple and built a temple at Medinet Habu. He also built his
at the Valley
of the Kings and finally died at the age of 65 after ruling
for about 32 years.
The subsequent kings: Ramesses IV ===== > Ramesses XI
The subsequent kings bore the same name of Ramesses.
Their influence on the dynasty was limited and their reigns were
associated with general confusion in the country.
Kinship between those kings is sometimes obscure. Some of those
found themselves facing severe problems as the economic crisis,
foreign infiltration and the rising power of the priests.
Granite head of
Ramesses VI; part
of his sarcophagus
image courtesy of
The Egypt Archive
Corruption spread all over the country but incumbent kings didn't
really pay attention to that point. Even worse, some preferred to
reside in the royal castles, isolating themselves from people.
Things began to deteriorate when in the reign of Ramesses IX, the
great tomb robberies took place.
That was a result of the bad economic situation. Robbers were so
mean and dared to steal the tombs of their kings. The robberies
were backed by some collaborated officials in return of bribes.
They mainly targeted tombs in the valley of kings, but fortunately
disappeared from view, thus remained intact for many centuries until
its rediscovery in 1922 by Howard Carter.
In the reign of Ramesses XI (r. 1100 - 1070),
a priest called Herihor served as the "high priest of Amun".
His power increased until he finally ascended the throne.
Ramesses was feeble and helpless, and upon his death Herihor easily
kept his firm grip over the power and succeeded to usurp it and end
the dynasty. This marked the start of a new era when Egypt plunged
in another dark age of its history or what is known as the third