Horemheb


Horemheb
King 1348-1320 BC.
    Horemheb came of unknown parentage from the town of Hnes and rose to become king of Egypt. During *Akhenaten's reign, he was the 'Great Commander of the Army', and it is possible that his wife Mudnodjme (who appears with him in the Turin statue-group) was *Nefertiti's sister and that this marriage was destined to raise him from obscurity and ultimately to provide some justification for his claim to the throne.
    Under *Tutankhamun, he became King's Deputy and undertook extensive administrative duties. It was during these years, before he became aware that he would become king, that he prepared a magnificent tomb at Saqqara which has been excavated and studied: the wall-reliefs, many of which are now scattered throughout museums around the world, demonstrate the superb quality of the art and reflect the earlier military stages of his career.
    When *Ay died, Horemheb became king, probably because there was no living royal heir. It is probable that he was already *Ay's co-regent, and the Coronation Statue in Turin implies that there was a smooth transition from *Ay to Horemheb, although it has been speculated that the two men were rivals and that *Ay had preempted Horemheb by seizing the kingship when *Tutankhamun died.
    On his accession Horemheb obviously had the support of the army and of the orthodox priesthood of Amun at Karnak. His reign was devoted to the restoration of unity and stability and, in his inscriptions, he dated his reign as if it succeeded immediately after that of *Amenophis III, thus disregarding as illegitimate those rulers who were associated with *Akhenaten and the Amarna Period.
    Horemheb probably established his capital at Memphis and set out to reorganise the country. According to his Edict, badly preserved on a stela at Karnak, he took firm measures to restore law and order: the army was now divided and placed under two (northern and southern) commanders; abuses which had flourished in central and local government in Akhenaten's reign were now eliminated, thus easing the oppression of the poor; and the king instituted law-courts in all the major cities, appointing priests from the temples and mayors from the towns as judges who were directly responsible to him. Distrust of the old nobility led him to appoint to the re-established temples priests who were drawn from the army. To improve the people's morale and to enable them to worship again in a traditional manner, he repaired and refurbished the temples that had been neglected during the Amarna interlude; he endowed them with estates and appointed new priests and officials. Gradually, Horemheb sought to obliterate the worst excesses of corruption in the judiciary and the tax collection system, and to restore and renew old beliefs and values.
    His major building programme included preliminary work on the Great Hypostyle Hall at Karnak. He usurped his predecessors' monuments including *Tutankhamun's wall-reliefs at the Temple of Luxor and *Ay's Theban funerary temple. The extent of his action against the heretic *Akhenaten remains unclear. He may have been responsible for razing Akhetaten (Amarna) to the ground, desecrating the Royal Tomb, and dismantling the Aten temples at Thebes and using the material from these as infill for the pylons in the Temple of Karnak. It is possible that it was the subsequent Ramesside rulers rather than Horemheb who were most active in destroying traces of the Amarna kings.
    Horemheb prepared a large tomb for himself in the Valley of the Kings at Thebes, equipped with a fine red granite sarcophagus. The tomb was discovered by Theodore M.Davis in 1908, but it had been heavily plundered and there was no trace of a body.
    At his death, Horemheb left a strong, unified country to his successor, Ramesses I, who was also a man of humble origins who had pursued an army career; his brief reign introduced the Ramesside Period and his descendants made every attempt to restore Egypt's glory.
BIBL. Hari, R. Horemheb et la Reine Moutnedjemet. Geneva: 1965; Hornung, E. Das Grab des Haremhab in Tal der Konige. Berne: 1971; Pfluger, K. The Edict of King Haremhab. JNES 5 (1946) pp. 260-8; Martin, G.E. Excavation reports on the Tomb of Horemheb at Saqqara. JEA 62 (1976) pp. 5 ff, 63 (1977) pp. 13 ff, 64 (1978) pp. 5 ff, 65 (1979) pp. 13 ff.
Biographical Dictionary of Ancient Egypt by Rosalie and Antony E. David
* * *
(reigned c. 1323–1295 BC)
   Throne name Djeserkheperure. Of unknown parentage from Henes. Possibly to be identified with Paatonemheb attested during the reign of Akhenaten, he was a military commander during the reign of Tutankhamun. He was married to Mutnodjmet, possibly a sister of Nefertiti. Horemheb conducted campaigns in Nubia and Palestine to restore Egyptian power and alongside Ay conducted affairs in the minority of Tutankhamun and helped organize the return to orthodoxy after the Amarna Period. Histombat Saqqara, built when he was a commoner, was first seen in the 19th century and was rediscovered and excavated by an expedition of the Egypt Exploration Society from 1975–1980. Horemheb succeeded to the throne upon the death of Ay and continued the policy of rebuilding Egypt at home and abroad and suppressed the names of his immediate predecessors since Amenhotep III. He died childless and appears to have arranged the succession of his vizier, Ramesses I, founder of Dynasty 19. He was buried in tomb KV57 in the Valley of the Kings, but his mummyhas not been recovered or identified.
   See also DYNASTY 18.
Historical Dictionary Of Ancient Egypt by Morris L. Bierbrier

Ancient Egypt. A Reference Guide. . 2011.

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