Ancient Egypt Wiki
Preceded by:
Pharaoh of Egypt
18th Dynasty
Succeeded by:
Ramesses I
Manetho: Armais/Armesis
Akkadian Cuneiform: Arma'a

Statue of Horemheb at the Museo Egizio, Turin.

1305-1290 BC (14/15 years) or
1320-1292 BC (26/27 years)
Holy are the Manifestations
of Re, Chosen of Re
Horus is in Jubilation,
Beloved of Amun
Horus name
Strong Bull, Whose Plans
are Clever
Nebty name
Great of Marvels at Karnak
Golden Horus
D2 Z1
Pleased with Ma'at, He who
(re)-created the Two Lands
Consort(s) Amenia, Mutnedjmet
Issue Tanedjmet (?)
Died 1290 or 1292 BC
Burial KV57
Monuments 2nd, 9th and 10th Pylons at Karnak,
Mortuary temple at Medinet Habu,
Saqqara tomb of Horemheb
For other pages by this name, see Horemheb.

Djoserkheperure-Setepenre Horemheb (ancient Egyptian: ḥrw-m-ḥb, "Horus is in Jubilation") was the last Pharaoh of the 18th Dynasty during the New Kingdom of Egypt. He ruled for at least 14 years between 1319 BC and 1292 BC.[1] Horemheb was born a commoner and rose to power rather late in life when the 18th dynastic line of royalty had ended.


Horemheb is generally known as Armais (Aρμαις) in Manetho's Epitome. Upon coronation, Horemheb adopted the throne name (or prenomen) Djoserkheperure (ancient Egyptian: ḏsr-ḫprw-rꜥ, "Holy are the Manifestations of Re"). In the Amarna letters, unlike other pharaohs from this time, he is referred to by his birth name, which is generally written as Arma'a in cuneiform. Horemheb is usually attested with the epithet Meryamun (ancient Egyptian: mry-ỉmn, "Beloved of Amun") after his birth name (or nomen) while his throne name often includes the epithet Setepenre (stp-n-rꜥ, "Chosen of Re"). His whole name is thus realised as Djeserkheperure-Setepenre Horemheb-Meryamun.

Origins and Family[]

See also: 18th Dynasty Family Tree.

Horemheb is believed to have originated from Heracleopolis Magna (modern: Ihnasiya el-Medina, ancient Egyptian: Hut-Nesut) on the west bank of the Nile, near the entrance to the Faiyum Oasis, since his coronation text formally credits the god Horus of Hut-Nesut for establishing him on the throne.[2] Horemheb is believed to have been a commoner and his parentage remains unknown.

Horemheb's queen consort was Mutnedjmet, who some scholars have speculated as identical to Mutbenret, the sister of Queen Nefertiti. Mutnedjmet's mummy shows she had given birth several times and was found buried with the mummy of a still-born infant. However, she ultimately failed to bear him a successor. Horemheb is not known to have had any children by his first wife Amenia either, whom he had married prior to kingship. Though highly speculative; a princess named Tanedjmet, whose royal connection thus far remains unknown, might potentially be his daughter.


Horemheb's specific titles are spelled out in his Saqqara tomb, which was built while he was still only an official: "Hereditary Prince, Fanbearer on the King's Right Hand, and Generalissimo"; the "King's Attendant in His Footsteps in the Foreign Lands of the South and the North"; the "King's Messenger in Front of His Army to the Foreign Lands to the South and the North"; and the "Sole Companion, he who is by the feet of his lord on the battlefield on that day of killing Asiatics".[3]

Prior to Accession[]

Amarna Period[]

It remains uncertain if the military official Paatenemheb ("The Aten is in Jubilation") was no other than pharaoh Horemheb in his early career, under a different name.[4] Paatenemheb made his way into the ranks of the military to become Generalissimo under Akhenaten.[5] He is mainly known from his AT24 tomb at Amarna.[6]

An equation between Horemheb and Paatenemheb is seen as possible by Aidan Dodson and Dyan Hilton.[6] Toby Wilkinson even contemplates the chance that Paatenemheb may have changed his name twice: born as Horemheb, changed to Paatenemheb during Akhenaten's Atenistic revolution, and conveniently reverted to Horemheb after the pharaoh's death at the commence of the post-Amarna religious restoration under Tutankhamun.[7] Conversely, Nicolas Grimal argued that the two were separate individuals.[5]

Under Tutankhamun[]

In the earliest known stage of his life, Horemheb served as "the royal spokesman for [Egypt's] foreign affairs" and personally led a diplomatic mission to visit the Nubian governors.[8] This resulted in a reciprocal visit by Heqanefer, the Chief of Miam, to Tutankhamun's court – "an event [that is] depicted in the tomb of the Viceroy of Kush Amenhotep-Huy."[9] Horemheb quickly rose to prominence under Tutankhamun, becoming Chief Commander of the Army, and advisor to the Pharaoh.

Under Ay[]

When Tutankhamun died while still a teenager, Horemheb had actually been designated as r-pʿt ("Crown Prince") and ỉdnw (King's "Deputy") which meant that Horemheb was the officially recognised heir to Tutankhamun's throne. However, the aged Vizier Ay managed to sideline Horemheb's claim to the throne and instead succeed Tutankhamun. Having pushed Horemheb aside, Ay proceeded to nominate a military officer named Nakhtmin, who was possibly Ay's son or adopted son, to succeed him rather than Horemheb.[10] After Ay's brief reign of four years and one month, however, Horemheb managed to seize power presumably from his position as Commander of the Army to assume what he must have perceived to be his just reward for having ably served Egypt under Tutankhamun and Ay.

Dates and Length of Reign[]

Scholars have long disputed whether Horemheb reigned for 14 or 27 years. Manetho's Epitome assigns a reign length of 4 years and 1 month to a king called Armais or Armesis.

The argument for a 27 year reign derived from two texts. The first is an anonymous hieratic graffito written on the shoulder of a now fragmented statue from his mortuary temple in Karnak which mentions the appearance of the king himself, or a royal cult statue representing the king, for a religious feast. The ink graffito reads; "Year 27, I Shemu day 9, the day on which Horemheb, who loves Amun and hates his enemies, entered [the temple for the event]". It was disputed whether this was a contemporary text or a reference to a statue of Horemheb for a commemoration festival written in Year 27 of a later king.[11]

The second text is the Inscription of Mes, from the reign of Ramesses II, which records that a court case decision was rendered in favour of a rival branch of Mes' family in Year 59 of Horemheb. It was argued that the Year 59 date included the reigns of all the rulers between Amenhotep III and Horemheb. Subtracting the nearly 17 year reign of Akhenaten, the 2 year reign of Neferneferuaten, the 9 year reign of Tutankhamun and the reign of Ay suggested a reign of 26–27 years for Horemheb. However, the length of Ay's reign is not actually known, the date itself is not supported by other documents, and Wolfgang Helck argues that there was no standard Egyptian practice of including the years of all the rulers between Amenhotep III and Horemheb.[10]

An ostracon from Deir el-Medina, which was initially published by Jac Janssen,[12] records the number of days on which an unknown Deir el-Medina workman was absent from work and covers the period from Year 26 III Peret day 11 to Year 27 II Akhet day 12 before breaking off. The significant fact here is that a Year change occurred in the ostraca from Year 26 to Year 27 around the interval IV Peret day 28 and I Shemu day 13. The probable accession date of Horemheb (I Shemu day 9) is located within this interval, as suggested by Krauss.[13] However, the ostracon comes from a context that contained material no earlier than the Twentieth Dynasty.[12] Only Ramesses III and Ramesses XI are eligible, but they had different accession dates.[14] Janssen therefore proposed that the Year change was probably a writing error committed on behalf of the scribe.[12]

Dutch Egyptologist Jacobus van Dijk provides evidence which leads to suggest that Horemheb's reign at most reached a regnal Year 15.[15] This results from the hieratic year dates attested on 46 wine amphorae from the tomb of Horemheb, KV57. Further analysis indicated that only the years 13 and 14 were attested. A few of them make it clear that Horemheb was interred after the vintage of his 14th regnal year and before the wine of a 15th year became available.[15] The lack of dated inscriptions for Horemheb after his year 14 also explains the unfinished state of Horemheb's royal KV57 tomb. Scholars previously assigned the four year reign figure of Manetho to Ay; however, this new evidence from Horemheb's KV57 tomb indicates that this figure should probably be raised by a decade to [1]4 years and 1 month and attributed to Horemheb.

Internal Reforms[]

Upon his accession, Horemheb initiated a comprehensive series of internal reforms meant to curb the gross abuses of power and privileges that had begun under Akhenaten's reign, due to the overcentralization of state power and privileges in the hands of a few officials. He "appointed judges and regional tribunes...reintroduced local religious authorities" and divided legal power "between Upper Egypt and Lower Egypt" between "the Viziers of Thebes and Memphis respectively".[16]

These deeds are recorded in a stela which the king erected at the foot of his Tenth Pylon at Karnak. Sometimes called The Great Edict of Horemheb,[17] it is a copy of the actual text of the king's decree to re-establish order to the Two Lands and curb abuses of state authority. The stela's creation and prominent location emphasizes the great importance which Horemheb placed upon domestic reform. Horemheb also reformed the Army and reorganized the Deir el-Medina workforce in his 7th Year while Horemheb's official, Maya, renewed the tomb of Thutmose IV, which had been disturbed by tomb robbers in his 8th Year.

Horemheb arranged to have Ay's WV23 tomb desecrated by smashing the latter's sarcophagus into several pieces, systematically chiselling out Ay's name and figure out of the tomb walls and probably destroying Ay's mummy.[18] However, he spared Tutankhamun's tomb from vandalism presumably because it was the Boy King who had promoted his sudden rise to power and had chosen him as successor.

Monuments and Attestation[]

Horemheb was a prolific builder: in his life-time, he built numerous temples and buildings throughout Egypt. He constructed the Second, Ninth and Tenth Pylons of the Great Hypostyle Hall, in the Karnak using recycled talatat blocks from Akhenaten's own monuments, as building material for the first two Pylons.[19]

Mortuary temple[]

Main article: Mortuary temple of Ay and Horemheb.

Horemheb also usurped and enlarged Ay's mortuary temple at Medinet Habu for his own use and erased Ay's titulary on the back of a 17 foot colossal statue by carving his own titulary in its place. This statue is now located in the Oriental Institute of Chicago.

Burial and Succession[]

Horemheb was buried in his KV57 rock-cut tomb in the Valley of the Kings. While the decorations of Horemheb's KV57 tomb walls were still unfinished upon his death, this situation is not unprecedented: Amenhotep II's tomb was also not completed when he was buried and this ruler enjoyed a reign of at least 26 years. Since Horemheb was unsuccesful at producing an heir, he appointed his Vizier, Paramesse, as his succeessor before his death. Paramesse employed the name Ramesses I upon assuming power and founded the 19th Dynasty of the New Kingdom.

Horemheb's Saqqara tomb[]

Main article: Saqqara tomb of Horemheb.

Because of his unexpected rise to the throne at an already advanced age, Horemheb had a non-royal tomb constructed for himself at Saqqara (the necropolis of the city Memphis) while he was still a military official under Tutankhamun. Horemheb had used his Saqqara tomb for the burial of his first wife, Amenia, who predeceased him prior to becoming pharaoh. During his reign, Horemheb accomodated the tomb for the burial of Queen Mutnedjmet as well.


Under Horemheb, Egypt's power and confidence was once again restored after the chaos of the Amarna Period; this situation set the stage for the rise of the 19th Dynasty under such ambitious Pharaohs like Seti I and Ramesses II.

See also[]


  1. Hornung et al. 2006, p. 493.
  2. Gardiner 1953, p. 14, 16, 21.
  3. Wilson 1955, p. 250–251.
  4. "Horemheb as Amun-Re, Dyn. 18". Virtual Egyptian Museum.
  5. 5.0 5.1 Grimal 1992, p. 242.
  6. 6.0 6.1 Dodson & Hilton 2004, p. 154.
  7. Wilkinson 2011, p. 211.
  8. Grimal 1992, p. 242.
  9. Grimal, p.242
  10. 10.0 10.1 Helck 1984, p. 1908-1910.
  11. Krauss 1994, p. 73–85.
  12. 12.0 12.1 12.2 Janssen 1984, p. 303-306.
  13. Krauss 1994.
  14. Hornung et al. 2006, p. 197-219.
  15. 15.0 15.1 Van Dijk 2008, p. 193-200.
  16. Grimal 1992, p. 243.
  17. The Great Edict of Horemheb.
  18. Tomb 23 in the western annex of the Valley of the Kings; see Porter & Moss 1960, p. 550-551.
  19. Grimal op.cit. 1992, p. 243, 303.


  • Dijk, J. van, 2008: New evidence on the length of the reign of Horemheb. Journal of the American Research Center in Egypt, Vol. 44.
  • Dodson, A./Hilton, D., 2004: The Complete Royal Families of Ancient Egypt. Thames & Hudson, London.
  • Gardiner, A., 1953: The Coronation of King Haremhab. The Journal of Egyptian Archaeology, Vol. 39.
  • Grimal, N., 1992: A History of Ancient Egypt. Blackwell.
  • Helck, W., 1984: Urkunden der 18. Dynastie: Texte der Hefte 20-21. Akademie-Verlag, Berlin.
  • Hornung, E./Krauss, R./Warburton, D. , 2006: Ancient Egyptian Chronology. Handbook of Oriental Studies, Boston/Leiden.
  • Janssen, J.J., 1984: A Curious Error. Bulletin de l'Institut Français d'Archéologie Orientale (BIFAO), Vol. 88.
  • Krauss, R., 1994: Nur ein kurioser Irrtum oder ein Beleg für die Jahr 26 und 27 von Haremhab?. Discussions in Egyptology, Vol. 30.
  • Porter, B./Moss, R., 1960: Topographical Bibliography of Ancient Egyptian Hieroglyphic Texts, Statues, Reliefs and Paintings: Volume I: The Theban Necropolis. Part II. Private Tombs Griffith Institute. Oxford Clarendon Press.
  • Wilkinson, T., 2011: The Rise and Fall of Ancient Egypt. Random House.
  • Wilson, J.A., 1955: Texts from the tomb of general Hor-em-heb. Ancient Near Eastern Texts (ANET) relating to the Old Testament (2nd ed.). Princeton University Press.

External links[]

Pharaoh of Egypt
Eighteenth Dynasty
Ramesses I