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Pharaoh Ramesses II (reigned: 1279-1213 BC) had a large number of children: between 48 to 50 sons, and 40 to 53 daughters[1] – whom he had depicted on several monuments.

Ramesses apparently made no distinctions between the offspring of his first two principal wives, Nefertari and Isetnofret I.[2][3] Both queens' firstborn sons and first few daughters had statues at the entrance of the Greater Abu Simbel temple, although only Nefertari's children were depicted at the smaller temple, dedicated to her.[4] Other than Nefertari and Isetnofret, Ramesses had six more great royal wives during his reign – his own daughters Bentanat, Meritamen, Nebettawy and Henutmire (the latter of whom, according to another theory, was his sister), and a Hittite princess Maathorneferure, a daughter of King Ḫattušili III of Hatti. Except for one single daughter by Maathorneferure and possibly Bentanat and Nebettawy as well, no other children are known to have been borne by them.

Beside the wives that are known to have been elevated to the status of Great Royal Wife/Queen, Ramesses presumably had many more minor wives and concubines. The names of these women are very rarely to almost never attested. However, a woman named Iwy is attested as the mother of Pipuy, who is likely to be identical with the daughter of Ramesses II. In that case Iwy would be a secondary wife of Ramesses. The other example is a Canaanite wife named Sutererey, who is attested as the mother of Siptah. This Siptah is either identical with the son of Ramesses II[5] or with the later Pharaoh Siptah,[3] thus potentially making Sutererey a secondary wife of Ramesses II.

Sons of Ramesses II

A procession at Wadi es-Sebua of the first eight sons of Ramesses: Amunherkhepeshef, Ramesses, Pareherwenemef, Khaemwaset, Mentuherkhepeshef, Nebenkharu, Meryamun and Setemwia (Richard Lepsius: Denkmäler).

Daughters of Ramesses II

A procession of the first nine daughters of Ramesses: Bentanat, Baketmut, Nefertari, Meritamen, Nebettawy, Isetnofret, Henuttawy, Werenro and Nedjemmut. Most of his children are known to us from processions like this.

The first few children of Ramesses usually appear in the same order on depictions. Lists of princes and princesses were found in the Ramesseum, Luxor, Wadi es-Sebua and Abydos. Important to note is that these lists account for procession and the children are not necessarily placed in order of birth. The children that Ramesses fathered by his first and second queens (Nefertari and Isetnofret) had priviliged status in the line of succession and therefore appear higher on the processional lists. Ramesses is attested to have married several women as Crown Prince under his father Seti I, making it unlikely that his eldest four sons were all conceived by just two of these women. Only the placement of birth of Amunherkhepeshef and Bentanat are very certain to be first born son and daughter respectively. This might have been the reason why their mothers became Ramesses' first two queens and why their children are favored in the lists of procession.

Beside lists of procession, some names of children are known to us from ostraca, tombs and other sources. The sons of Ramesses appear on depictions of battles and triumphs – such as the Battle of Kadesh in Year 5 and the siege of the Syrian city of Dapur in Year 10 – thus it is likely that several of them were born before he ascended to the throne. Many of his sons were buried in the tomb KV5 in the Valley of the Kings, a large tomb Ramesses' built for his sons. Daughters that became Ramesses' wives were buried in the Valley of the Queens.

Ramesses' efforts to have his children depicted on several of his monuments are in contradiction with the earlier tradition of keeping royal children, especially boys in the background unless they held important official titles. This was probably caused by the fact that his family was not of royal origin and he wanted to stress their royal status.[6]

Sons[]

  1. Amunherkhepeshef or Setherkhepeshef ("Amun/Set is with His Strong Arm"), firstborn son of Nefertari; Crown Prince until his death in Year 26.[7] He changed his name to Setherkhepeshef.
  2. Ramesses ("Born of Re"), eldest son of Isetnofret, crown prince between Years 25 and 50.[8]
  3. Pareherwenemef ("Re is with His Right Arm"), Nefertari's second son. Appears on depictions of the triumph after the Battle of Kadesh and in the smaller Abu-Simbel temple. He was never crown prince; it is likely he predeceased his elder brothers.[8]
  4. Khaemwaset ("He who Appears in Thebes"), Isetnofret's second son, "the first Egyptologist", crown prince until about the 55th year.[9]
  5. Mentuherkhepeshef ("Montu is with His Strong Arm") was mentioned on a stela from Bubastis. A statue of him is in Copenhagen. He was present at the siege of Dapur.
  6. Nebenkharu ("Lord of the land of Asiatics") was present at the triumph and the siege.
  7. Meryamun or Ramesses-Meryamun ("Beloved of Amun") was present at the triumph and the siege; was buried in KV5 where fragments of his canopic jars were found.[10]
  8. Amenemwia or Setemwia ("Amun/Set in the Divine Barque") also appears at Dapur. He changed his name from Amenemwia to Setemwia around the same time when his eldest brother changed it.[7]
  9. Seti ("One of Set") was also present at Kadesh and Dapur. He was buried in KV5 – where two of his canopic jars were found – around Year 53. On his funerary equipment his name is spelled Sutiy. He might have been identical with another Seti, mentioned on an ostracon which is now in the Egyptian Museum in Cairo.[11]
  10. Setepenre ("Chosen of Re") was present at Dapur too.[11]
  11. Meryre ("Beloved of Re") was the son of Nefertari. It is likely that he died at a young age; a brother of his (18th on the list of princes) was probably named after him.[12]
  12. Horherwenemef ("Horus Is with His Right Arm")
  13. Merenptah ("Beloved of Ptah"), son of Isetnofret, crown prince after the 55th year, then pharaoh.[13]
  14. Amenhotep ("Amun is Pleased/Satisfied")
  15. Itamun ("Amun is the Father")
  16. Meryatum ("Beloved of Atum"), son of Nefertari. High Priest of Ra at Heliopolis.[10]
  17. Nebentaneb or Nebtaneb ("Lord of All Lands")
  18. Meryre ("Beloved of Re") probably named after his deceased brother (11th on the list of princes).[12]
  19. Amenemopet ("Amun is at Opet")
  20. Senakhtenamun ("Amun Gives Him Strength") is likely to have been resided in Memphis, as it is suggested by a votive plaque belonging to his servant Amenmose.
  21. Merenre or Ramesses-Merenre ("Beloved of Re")
  22. Thutmose or Djehutymes ("Born of Thoth")
  23. Simentu ("Son of Mentu") was the Overseer of the Royal Vineyards in Memphis. He was married to Iryet, daughter of a Syrian captain, Benanath.[14]
  24. Mentuemwaset ("Mentu is in Thebes")
  25. Siamun ("Son of Amun")
  26. Siptah or Ramesses-Siptah ("Son of Ptah") was probably the son of a secondary wife called Sutererey.[3] A relief of them is in the Louvre. A Book of the Dead, which was probably his, is now in Florence.
  27. Unknown
  28. Mentuenheqau ("Mentu is with the rulers")

The following sons of Ramesses II are known from various sources:

  • Ramesses-Siatum ("Son of Atum") is the 19th in the Abydos procession of princes, which shows a slightly different order of them.[11]
  • [Ramesses-Me]rpare ("Beloved of Re") is the 20th on the Abydos procession.[8]
  • (Ramesses)-Userkhepesh ("Powerful Arm") is the 22nd in the Abydos procession.[11]
  • Ramesses-Meryset ("Beloved of Set") the 23rd in the Abydos procession. He is also known from a stone block originally from the Ramesseum, reused at Medinet Habu, and is named on a stela, a door lintel and on a doorjamb.[11]
  • Ramesses-Sikhepri ("Son of Khepri") is the 24th in the Abydos procession.[11]
  • Ramesses-Merymaat ("Beloved of Ma'at") is the 25th in the Abydos procession.[11]
  • Ramesses-Meryastarte ("Beloved of Astarte") is the 26th in the Abydos procession.[11]
  • Mahiranat is mentioned in the Ramesseum. His name is of Canaanite origin.
  • [Set]emnakhte ("Set as the Champion") is known from a stone block, from the Ramesseum, reused in Medinet Habu. He is also mentioned on a doorway.[11]
  • Geregtawy ("The Two Lands are at Peace") is known from a stone block, from the Ramesseum, reused in Medinet Habu.[7]
  • Astarteherwenemef ("Astarte is with His Right Arm") is known from a stone block, from the Ramesseum, reused in Medinet Habu.[7]
  • Merymontu ("Beloved of Mentu") was depicted in Wadi es-Sebua and Abydos.[10]
  • […]montu is mentioned in Abydos.
  • Neben[…] is mentioned on an ostracon in Cairo.[10] He is possibly the same person as either Nebenkharu or Nebentaneb.
  • Ramesses-Maatptah ("Justice of Ptah") is only known from a letter, in which the palace servant Meryotef rebukes him.[8]
  • Ramesses-Meretmire ("Loving like Re") is the 48th on the Wadi es-Sebua procession.[8]
  • Ramesses-Meryamun-Nebweben ("Ramesses II is the Lord of Sunshine") is known from his coffin's inscriptions.[8]
  • Ramesses-Paitnetjer ("The God's Father") is known from a Cairo ostracon.[11]
  • Ramesses-Userpehty ("Powerful in Strength") is probably a son of Ramesses II. He is mentioned on a Memphis statue and on a plaque.[11]
  • Seshnesuen[…] mentioned on a Cairo ostracon.[11]
  • Setemhir[…] mentioned on the same Cairo ostracon as Seshnesuen[…].[11]
  • Shepsemiunu ("The Noble One in Heliopolis") known from stone blocks from the Ramesseum, reused at Medinet Habu.[11]
  • Wermaa[…] is mentioned on a Cairo ostracon.[11]
  • Unknown Man (an unidentified mummy at the Bolton Museum) is shown by craniofacial measurements to likely be one of the numerous sons of Ramesses II.[15]

Daughters[]

It is harder to determine the birth order of the daughters than that of the sons. The first ten of them usually appear in the same order. Many of the princesses are known to us only from Abydos and from ostraca. The six eldest princesses have statues at the entrance of the Greater Abu Simbel temple.

  1. Bentanat ("Daughter of Anat"), daughter of Isetnofret, later Great Royal Wife.
  2. Baketmut ("Handmaid of Mut") is known from the Greater Abu Simbel temple.
  3. Nefertari ("Beautiful Companion"), possibly the wife of Amunherkhepeshef.[16]
  4. Meritamen ("Beloved of Amun") is Nefertari's daughter, later Great Royal Wife. She is probably the best known of Ramesses' daughters.[11]
  5. Nebettawy ("Lady of the Two Lands") later became Great Royal Wife.[17]
  6. Isetnofret ("The beautiful Isis") is also known from a letter in which two singers inquire after her health. It is possible she was identical with Merenptah's wife Isetnofret II, but it is also possible that Merenptah's wife was Khaemwaset's daughter, also called Isetnofret.[9]
  7. Henuttawy ("Mistress of the Two Lands") was Nefertari's daughter.
  8. Werenro ("Great Spell")
  9. Nedjemmut ("Mut is Sweet")

The following daughters of Ramesses II are known from various sources:

From the Abydos procession of daughters:

  • Qedmerut ("Of Loving Nature")
  • Nebetiunet ("Lady of Dendera"), appears 10th in the Luxor procession of princesses.
  • Nebetnehat ("Lady of the Sycamore Tree")
  • Mut-Tuya or Tuya, appears 13th in the Luxor procession of princesses.
  • Henutah ("Mistress of the Palace")
  • Meritsekhmet ("Beloved of Sekhmet"), probably identical to […]sekhmet who appears 11th in the Luxor procession of princesses.
  • Henutiunu ("Mistress of Heliopolis")
  • Nubherkhesbed ("Gold with Lapis Lazuli")
  • Shepesherites ("Noblewoman of Her Father")
  • Henutmerut ("Mistress of Love")
  • Meritmihapi ("Beloved like the Nile river")
  • Meritites ("Beloved by Her Father")
  • Nubemiunu ("Gold is in Heliopolis")
  • Henutpaher[…]
  • Henutsekhemu ("Mistress of Powers")
  • Henut[…]i-sep
  • Pypuy is possibly identical to a princess who was the daughter of Iuy and was reburied in the Sheikh Abd el-Qurna cache.[8]
  • Parerenpetnofret or Renpetnofret ("Beautiful in Years"), appears 15th in the Luxor procession of princesses.
  • Neferure ("Beauty of Re") daughter of the Hittite princess Maathorneferure.
  • Meritnetjer ("Beloved of the God")

From the Luxor procession of daughters:

From Medinet Habu:

  • […]uimenes
  • […]emmerut
  • […]em[…]mut

From Wadi es-Sebua:

  • Henutpare[…]

From a Louvre ostracon:

  • […]taweret
  • Henuttaneb ("Mistress of All Lands")
  • Henuttadesh
  • Hetepenamun ("Peace of Amun")
  • Nebetimmunedjem
  • Henuttamehu ("Lady of Lower Egypt")
  • Nebetananash
  • Sitamun ("Daughter of Amun")
  • Tia-Sitre ("Daughter of Re")
  • Tuya-Nebettawy ("Tuya, Lady of the Two Lands")
  • Takhat is probably identical to the mother of Amenmesses.
  • Nubemweskhet ("Gold is in the Broad Hall")

From a statue at Tanis:

References[]

  1. Dodson & Hilton 2004, p. 166.
  2. Tyldesley 2001.
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 Callender 2006, p. 52; Callender's source comes from p. 140 of Thomas Schneider's ZAS 130 (2003) paper titled Siptah und Beja.
  4. Dodson & Hilton 2004, p. 167.
  5. Dodson & Hilton 2004.
  6. Dodson & Hilton 2004, p. 164–165.
  7. 7.0 7.1 7.2 7.3 Dodson & Hilton 2004, p. 170.
  8. 8.0 8.1 8.2 8.3 8.4 8.5 8.6 Dodson & Hilton 2004, p. 173.
  9. 9.0 9.1 Dodson & Hilton 2004, p. 171.
  10. 10.0 10.1 10.2 10.3 Dodson & Hilton 2004, p. 172.
  11. 11.00 11.01 11.02 11.03 11.04 11.05 11.06 11.07 11.08 11.09 11.10 11.11 11.12 11.13 11.14 11.15 Dodson & Hilton 2004, p. 174.
  12. 12.0 12.1 Dodson & Hilton 2004, p. 165.
  13. Dodson & Hilton 2004, p. 171-172.
  14. Dodson & Hilton 2004, p. 171, 175.
  15. Cockcroft, L., 2008: "Egyptian mummy exhibit is son of Ramesses II". The Telegraph.
  16. Dodson & Hilton 2004, p. 168.
  17. Dodson & Hilton 2004, p. 167-172.

Bibliography[]

  • Callender, G., 2006: The Cripple, the Queen & the Man from the North. KMT Vol. 17.
  • Dodson, A./Hilton, D., 2004: The Complete Royal Families of Ancient Egypt. Thames & Hudson, London.
  • Tyldesley, J.A., 2001: Ramesses: Egypt's Greatest Pharaoh. Penguin.
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