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Bakenkhonsu I
"Servant of Khonsu"
Bakenkhonsu I

Limestone statue of Bakenkhonsu I in Munich.©

High Priest of Amun Successor:
Dynasty 19th Dynasty
Pharaoh(s) Seti IRamesses II
Titles High Priest of Amun
Second Prophet of Amun
Third Prophet of Amun
God's Father of Amun
Nomarch of Waset
Mayor of Thebes
Father Ipui
Spouse(s) Meretseger
Issue Paser, Amenmesses, Nefertari
Burial TT35
For other pages by this name, see Bakenkhonsu.

Bakenkhonsu I (ancient Egyptian: bk-n-ḫnsw, "Servant of Khonsu") was a High Priest of Amun under Pharaoh Ramesses II of the 19th Dynasty during the New Kingdom.[1]


According to the information inscribed on his statue from Cairo (CG 42155), Bakenkhonsu came from a Theban family and was the son of Ipui, a priest of Amun (other sources suggest that he was the son of Roma, whose wife was also called Roma). His two younger brothers were Roma-Iry and Ipui.

Bakenkhonsu was married to Meretseger, who held the titles of Chief of the Harem of Amun.[2] Two of their sons, Paser and Amenmesses became governors of Thebes. Their daughter, Nefertari married Tjanefer, the Third Prophet of Amun and three of her sons and a grandson became high ranking priests (fourth, third, or second prophets of Amun). The family is related to another important family of priests which included Ramessesnakhte, who was High Priest of Amun during the 20th dynasty, as Nefertari's son Amenemopet married Ramessesnakhte's daughter Tamerit/Aatmerit.


Bakenkhonsu spent four years at the scribal school in the Temple of the Lady of Heaven, starting at the age of four, as was customary at that time. He then worked at the stables of Pharaoh Seti I for eleven years. There he received military training, learning to shoot with a bow and to drive a chariot. It is possible that he also served in the Pharaoh's army.

Bakenkhonsu's career as a priest then began when he joined the priesthood of Amun in Thebes where his father already served as a priest (Ipui later became Second Prophet of Amun). Bakenkhonsu was educated by his own father in the House of Amun and served as a wab priest (lowest priestly rank) for four years. He was then promoted to the rank of prophet and, twelve years later, he was the Third Prophet of Amun, the third highest ranking priest in the most powerful priesthood of the era. Later he was promoted to second, then finally succeeded Paser in office as first prophet or high priest, a position he held for twenty-seven years. He died in the last regnal year of Ramesses II, at least into his eighties and possibly at the age of ninety,[1] and was succeeded as High Priest by his brother Roma-Iry.

Bakenkhonsu was responsible for several building projects for Pharaoh Ramesses II, including the eastern temple in the Karnak Temple complex.


Bakenkhonsu has left autobiographical inscriptions on statues from Karnak, one of which is now in a museum in Munich.[3][1]

On his statues, Bakenkhonsu outlines his career as follows:

  • I spent 4 years as a promising youngster.
  • I spent 11 years as a youngster, when I was a trainee Stablemaster of King Menmaatre.
  • I was a wab priest of Amun for 4 years.
  • I was a God's Father of Amun for 12 years.
  • I was a Third Prophet of Amun for 15 years.
  • I was a Second Prophet of Amun for 12 years.
  • He [Ramesses II] showed me favor, because he recognized the worth of my character. He appointed me High Priest of Amun for 27 years (already).

His Munich statues furthermore states:

May (the god) give me a beautiful lifetime,
After 110 years.[1]


Bakenkhonsu was buried in his TT35 rock-cut tomb at Dra' Abu el-Naga', which is part of the Theban Necropolis. In the hallway there are several depictions of Bakenkhonsu and his wife Meretseger. A niche contains seated statues of Bakenkhonsu and his wife. The tomb also had a pyramid associated with it.

Bakenkhonsu's sarcophagus is now located in the World Museum Liverpool (M13864). Other finds from the tomb include a wooden scribe's palette in the form of a hes vase, which is now in the Louvre (N 3018), and a block statue, which is now in the Munich Staatliche Sammlung für Ägyptische Kunst.[4] The block statue[5] inscribed with four vertical columns of hieroglyphs relating his life story. The plinth of the block statue is also engraved with hieroglyphs.


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 Rosalind & Janssen 1996.
  2. Jansen-Winkeln 1993.
  3. Frood 2007.
  4. Rosalind & Porter 2004.
  5. Dodson 2001, p. 30.


  • Dodson, A., 2001: The Hieroglyphs of Ancient Egypt. Barnes & Noble, New York.
  • Frood, E., 2007: Biographical Texts from Ramessid Egypt.
  • Jansen-Winkeln, K., 1993: The Career of the Egyptian High Priest Bakenkhons. Journal of Near Eastern Studies, Vol. 52.
  • Rosalind, M./Janssen, J.J., 1996: Getting Old in Ancient Egypt. Rubicon Press, London.
  • Rosalind, M./Porter, B., 2004: Part 1: The Theban Necropolis. Private Tombs. In: Malek, Jaromir (ed.). Topographical Bibliography of Ancient Egyptian Hieroglyphic Texts, Reliefs, and Paintings, Vol. I (2nd ed.). Griffith Institute.
High Priest of Amun
19th Dynasty