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High Priest of Amun

High Priest of Amun or First Prophet of Amun (transliteration: ḥm-nṯr-tpỉ-n-ỉmn) was an ancient Egyptian religious occupational title held by the highest-ranking priest in the priesthood of the god Amun, which is situated at the temple of Amun in Karnak, Thebes. The office has been attested since the beginning of the New Kingdom. Especially at the end of the New Kingdom and in the Third Intermediate Period, these priests held significant economic and political power. In the Twenty-first Dynasty they were the practical rulers of Upper Egypt and held numerous secular and religious titles. In the Late Period the office lost its importance.

Ranking in the Amun priesthood[]

The four highest ranking priestly offices in the Amun priesthood:[1]


The priesthood of Amun rose in power during the early Eighteenth Dynasty through significant tributes to the god Amun by pharaohs such as Hatshepsut and more importantly Thutmose III.[2]

The power of the Amun priesthood was temporarily curtailed during the Amarna Period. A high priest named Maya is recorded in Year 4 of Akhenaten. Akhenaten has the name of Amun removed from monuments during his reign as well as the names of several other deities. Not long after his death, the young pharaoh Tutankhaten changed his name to Tutankhamun to signal the restoration of Amun to his former place of prominence among the cults in Egypt.[3]

The Theban High Priest of Amun was appointed by the King. It was not uncommon for the position to be held by dignitaries who held additional posts in the pharaoh's administration. Though several of the high priests from the time of Ramesses II also served as Vizier.[4]

At the end of the New Kingdom, the Twentieth Dynasty priesthood of Amun is for a large part dominated by Ramessesnakhte. His son, Amenhotep, eventually succeeded his father and found himself in conflict with the Viceroy of Kush, Panehesy. Pinehesy took his troops north and besieged Thebes. After this period, generals by the name of Piankh and Herihor served as High Priest.

By the time Herihor was proclaimed as the first ruling High Priest of Amun (ca. 1077 BC) — after the death of Ramesses XI — the Amun priesthood exercised an effective stranglehold on Egypt's economy. The Amun priests owned two-thirds of all the temple lands in Egypt and 90 percent of her ships plus many other resources.[5] Consequently, the Amun priests were as powerful as Pharaoh, if not more so. The High Priests of Amun were of such power and influence that they were effectively the rulers of Upper Egypt from Thebes ca. 1077 to 943 BC, contemporary with the pharaohs of the Twenty-first Dynasty who ruled Lower Egypt from Tanis at the same time. They were however not regarded as a ruling dynasty with pharaonic prerogatives, and after this period the influence of the Amun priesthood declined. In the northern capital of Tanis, the pharaohs of the Twenty-first Dynasty decided to openly emulate Karnak by building and expanding their own temple of Amun-Ra, along with shrines dedicated to the other members of the Theban Triad. Despite their power struggle over Egypt, the High Priests at Thebes and Pharaohs at Tanis were related: one of the sons of the High Priest Pinedjem I would eventually assume the throne and rule Egypt for almost half a century as pharaoh Psusennes I, while the Theban High Priest Psusennes III is thought by some to be the same person as Pharaoh Psusennes II,[6] the final ruler of the Twenty-first Dynasty of Egypt.

During the Twenty-second and Twenty-third Dynasty, the Amun priesthood declined and by the end of the dynasty the succession of High Priests of Amun is unknown. It is possible that the charge of High Priest of Amun was vacant for decades.[7] The office may have already been absorbed into that of the increasingly more powerful God's Wife of Amun. By the Twenty-fifth Dynasty, a son and grandson of pharaoh Shabaka are attested as High Priest of Amun. However, this once powerful and influential title had long lost its importance in favor of the God's Wife and its significance may have been no more than honorific.

List of High Priests of Amun[]

New Kingdom[]

High Priest Dynasty Pharaoh Comment
Djehuty 18th Dynasty Ahmose II Earliest known High Priest of Amun.
Minmontu 18th Dynasty Ahmose II
Hapuseneb 18th Dynasty Hatshepsut
Menkheperreseneb I 18th Dynasty Thutmose III
Menkheperreseneb II 18th Dynasty Thutmose III
Amenemhat 18th Dynasty Amenhotep II
Mery 18th Dynasty Amenhotep II
Amenemweskhet 18th Dynasty Thutmose IV
Ptahmose 18th Dynasty Amenhotep III Also served as Vizier of Upper Egypt.
Meryptah 18th Dynasty Amenhotep III
Maya 18th Dynasty Amenhotep III and Amenhotep IV Until at least Year 4 of Amenhotep IV.
Parennefer-Wenennefer 18th Dynasty Tutankhamun, Ay and Horemheb
Nebnetjeru-Tjenry 19th Dynasty Ramesses I (?) and Seti I
Nebwenenef 19th Dynasty Ramesses II One of only a few non-royals to have a mortuary temple built for at the Theban Necropolis.
Hori 19th Dynasty Ramesses II Son of Parennefer-Wennefer.
Paser 19th Dynasty Ramesses II Also served as Vizier of Upper Egypt. Son of Nebnetjeru-Tjenry.
Bakenkhonsu I 19th Dynasty Ramesses II
Roma-Iry 19th Dynasty Ramesses II, Merenptah and Seti II Brother of Bakenkhonsu I.
Mahuhy 19th Dynasty Seti II, Siptah and Tausret Appointed by Seti II after regaining control of Upper Egypt from Amenmesses.
Bakenkhonsu II 20th Dynasty Setnakhte and Ramesses III Son of a general named Amenemopet.
Ramessesnakhte 20th Dynasty Ramesses IVRamesses IX
Amenhotep 20th Dynasty Ramesses IX — Ramesses XI Briefly disposed from his position by the Viceroy of Kush Panehesy during the reign of Ramesses XI.
Piankh 20th Dynasty Ramesses XI Also held the office of Viceroy of Kush.
Herihor 20th Dynasty Ramesses XI Also held the office of Viceroy of Kush. Served several years under Ramesses XI (1078-1076 BC) and continued independently in the 21st Dynasty.

Twenty-first Dynasty[]

Though not officially pharaohs, the High Priests of Amun at Thebes were the de facto rulers of Upper Egypt during the Twenty-first dynasty, writing their names in cartouches and being buried in royal tombs.

High Priest Dates Pharaoh Comment
Herihor 1076–1070 BC
(6 years)
Ramesses XI and Smendes I First High Priest of Amun to claim kingship. After the death of Ramesses XI ca. 1076 BC, Herihor ruled over Upper Egypt and Nubia from Thebes, while Smendes I ruled over Lower Egypt from Tanis.
Pinedjem I 1070–1032 BC
(38 years)
Smendes I, Amenemnisut and Psusennes I Son of Piankh and father of Psusennes I.
Masaharta 1061–1052 BC
(9 years)
Smendes I, Amenemnisut and Psusennes I Son of Pinedjem I.
Djedkhonsiuefankh 1052–1051 BC
(1 year)
Psusennes I Son of Pinedjem I.
Menkheperre 1051–998 BC
(53 years)
Psusennes I and Amenemopet Son of Pinedjem I.
Smendes II 998–995 BC
(3 years)
Osorkon Son of Menkheperre.
Pinedjem II 995–976 BC
(19 years)
Osorkon and Siamun Son of Menkheperre and father of Psusennes II.
Psusennes II 976–943 BC
(33 years)
Siamun and Psusennes II (self) Last High Priest of Amun to consider himself as a pharaoh-like figure. After succeeding Siamun as pharaoh he remained in his position of High Priest as well.

Twenty-second and Twenty-third Dynasties[]

High Priest Dates Pharaoh Comment
Iuput A 943–920 BC Shoshenq I and Osorkon I Son of Shoshenq I and brother of Osorkon I.
Shoshenq Q 920–890 BC Osorkon I Possibly identical to Shoshenq II. Son of Osorkon I and Maatkare C.
Iuwalot 890-880 BC Osorkon I — Takelot I Son of Osorkon I and brother of Takelot I.
Smendes III 880-868 BC Takelot I — Osorkon II Son of Osorkon I and brother of Takelot I.
[…du/aw…] (possibly Padibastet A) 868–860 BC Horsaiset Son of Pharaoh Horsaiset. His name was later erased.
Nimlot C 860–845 BC Osorkon II Son of Osorkon II. Became high priest of Amun after Year 16 of his father.
Takelot F 845–840 BC Osorkon II Son of Nimlot C. Followed his father as high priest of Amun before probably becoming a Theban King as Takelot II.
Horsaiset C (?) 840-830 BC Osorkon II, Takelot II A second Prophet of Amun who may have been promoted to High Priest late under Osorkon II. However, he may never have risen to the post of high priest at all, in which case this period of office should be assigned to Horsaiset B instead. He was succeeded by Takelot II's son, Osorkon B.
Osorkon B 830-813 BC, 810-806 BC and 798-796 BC Takelot II and Shoshenq III Son of Takelot II. He replaced Horsaiset as High Priest of Amun late under his father's kingship. Horsaiset was reinstated under Padibastet I's reign, but Osorkon retook his position by force and eventually rose to kingship as Osorkon III.
Horsaiset B 840-830 BC (?) and 813-810 BC Padibastet I (possibly also Osorkon II and Takelot II) Son of Padibastet A […du/aw…] (=Padibastet I?). High Priest of Amun under Padibastet I. May have already been high priest late under Osorkon II.
Takelot E 806-798 BC Padibastet I and Shoshenq VI High Priest of Amun under Padibastet I and Shoshenq VI after displacing Osorkon B, until the latter retook the position.
Takelot G 796-773 BC Osorkon III Son of Osorkon III. Later became his father's co-regent and successor as Takelot III.
Osorkon F 773-757? BC Osorkon III — Rudamun Probable son of Osorkon III. Likely succeeded his brother Takelot III as high priest after the latter became their father's co-regent.

Twenty-fifth and Twenty-sixth Dynasties[]

  • Horemakhet, son of Shabaka 704?–660 BC.
  • Horkhebi, son of Horemakhet, grandson of Shabaka. Served as High Priest of Amun until at least Year 14 of Psamtik I. 660–644 BC.
  • 2 unattested High Priests of Amun or vacant? 644–595 BC.
  • Ankhnesneferibre, God's Wife of Amun who also served as High Priest of Amun. 595–c. 560 BC.
  • Nitocris II, daughter of Pharaoh Ahmose III. c. 560–525 BC.

See also[]


  1. Dodson & Hilton 2004.
  2. Breasted 1906.
  3. Aldred 1988.
  4. Kitchen 1996a.
  5. Clayton 2006.
  6. Peden 2001 p. 267.
  7. Kitchen 1996b, p. 608.


  • Aldred, C., 1988: Akhenaten: King of Egypt. Thames & Hudson, London.
  • Breasted, J.H., 1906: Ancient Records of Egypt. Volume 2: The Eighteenth Dynasty. University of Chicago Press.
  • Clayton, P.A., 2006: Chronicle of the Pharaohs: The Reign-by-Reign Record of the Rulers and Dynasties of Ancient Egypt. Thames & Hudson, London.
  • Dodson, A./Hilton, D., 2004: The Complete Royal Families of Ancient Egypt. Thames & Hudson, London.
  • Kitchen, K.A., 1996a: Ramesside Inscriptions, Translated & Annotated. Translations, Volume III, Blackwell Publishers.
  • Kitchen, K.A., 1996b: The Third Intermediate Period in Egypt (1100–650 BC). Aris & Phillips Limited, Warminster.
  • Peden, A.J., 2001: The Graffiti of Pharaonic Egypt: Scope and Roles of Informal Writings (C. 3100-332 B.C (Probleme Der Agyptologie, 17. Bd). Brill Academic Publishers.