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New Kingdom
(1550 - 1070 BC)
18th Dynasty 19th Dynasty 20th Dynasty
20th Dynasty
(1196 - 1070 BC)
Setnakht
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
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 death.
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 HittitesWhat does it mean?. Their military tactic was characterized by quick assaults along the coastline.

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 an invasion.
Libyans were taught a strong lesson from Ramesses. They were also defeated.
Another challenge came from NubiaWhat does it mean? but once more Ramesses curb its rebellion. Internally, he allowed the AmunWho is this deity? priests to regain their authorities, a move that would lead to tragic consequences later.
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 HaremWhat does it mean? 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 tomb 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.

Ramesses VI
Granite head of
Ramesses VI; part
of his sarcophagus

image courtesy of
The Egypt Archive
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.

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 Tutankhamun's tomb 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 intermediate period.

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