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The Harem Conspiracy was a plot by conspirators to assassinate Pharaoh Ramesses III, of which the trials were recorded in the Judicial Papyrus of Turin. The papyrus contains the entire list of those who participated in the conspiracy, as well as their verdict and the punishment they received.[1]

The harem conspiracy was a plot to murder the Egyptian pharaoh Ramesses III. The principal figure behind the plot was one of the Ramesses III's secondary wives, Tiye, who hoped to put her son Pentawer on the throne instead of the pharaoh's chosen successor, Ramesses IV. The plan was organized by the court official Pebekkamen. During the Beautiful Festival of the Valley the plotters succeeded at assassinating Ramesses III, but ultimately failed to place Pentawer on the throne. The intended heir, Ramesses IV, was able to succeed his father and the conspirators were arrested and put on trial, including Tiye and Pentawer.

Recent CT scanning on Ramesses III's mummy revealed that beneath the bandages on his neck was a large gash that cut all the way to the bone. This injury proved fatal.[2][3] This finding confirms the murder and the theory that the trial of the conspirators was carried out by Ramesses IV in the name of his father, rather than by Ramesses III himself.[1] It was also revealed that Ramesses III's left big toe was missing and likely chopped off by a heavy sharp object like an ax. There were no signs of bone healing so this injury must have happened shortly before death. The embalmers placed a prosthesis-like object made of linen in place of the amputated toe.[2][3]

Pentawer was sentenced to suicide. Tiye's fate is not recorded in the papyrus,[4] but given her role in the conspiracy and the harsh punishments, she was certainly sentenced to death as well.

In 2012 the mummy called "Unknown Man E", also buried in the Deir el-Bahari cache, was positively identified as Ramesses III's infamous son Pentawer.[2]


  1. 1.0 1.1 De Buck 1937.
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 Hawass et al. 2012.
  3. 3.0 3.1 Hawass & Saleem 2016.
  4. Goedicke 1963.


  • Buck, A. de, 1937: The Judicial Papyrus of Turin. The Journal of Egyptian Archaeology. Egyptian Exploration Society. 23 (2).
  • Goedicke, H., 1963: Was Magic Used in the Harem Conspiracy against Ramesses III? (P.Rollin and P.Lee). The Journal of Egyptian Archaeology. 49.
  • Hawass, Z./Ismail, S./Selim, A./Saleem, S.N/Fathalla, D./Wasef, S./Gad, A.Z/Saad, R./Fares, S./Amer, H./Gostner, P./Gad, Y.Z./Pusch, C.M./Zink, A.R, 2012: Revisiting the harem conspiracy and death of Ramesses III: anthropological, forensic, radiological, and genetic study. BMJ Publishing Group Ltd. 345.
  • Hawass, Z./Saleem, S.N., 2016: Scanning the Pharaohs: CT Imaging of the New Kingdom Royal Mummies. Cairo: The American University in Cairo Press.