Ancient Egypt Wiki
"The Living"
High Priest of Amun Successor:
Viceroy of Kush Successor:
Dynasty 20th Dynasty
Pharaoh(s) Ramesses XI
Titles High Priest of Amun
Viceroy of Kush
Overseer of the Archery
Overseer of the Granary
Fanbearer on the King's Right Hand
Royal Scribe
Spouse(s) Nedjemet
Issue Herihor (?), Pinedjem I,
Heqanefer, Heqamaat,
Ankhefenmut, Faienmut
Burial Unknown

Piankh (ancient Egyptian: pꜣ-ꜥnḫ, "The Living") was an ancient Egyptian high official of the Twentieth Dynasty during the New Kingdom, serving as High Priest of Amun and briefly as Viceroy of Kush under Ramesses XI.


See also: 21st Dynasty Family Tree.

Piankh's parentage remains unknown. He seems to have had a military background rather than a priestly one and perhaps married into the prominent family that ruled the priesthood of Amun.[1] However, the identity of his wife has not been established beyond doubt. In the Temple of Luxor there is a graffito of which only rudimentary traces of the first hieroglyph of her name have survived. This has been interpreted as either an (Gardiner's Sign List V28, supporting Herer) or as nḏm (Gardiner's Sign List M29). In case of the latter, Piankh could have been married to the "King's Mother Nedjemet, daughter of the King's Mother Herer" making him a possible son-in-law of the High Priest of Amun Amenhotep (his predecessor) and the probable father of the High Priest of Amun Herihor (his successor).[2]

The Luxor graffito dates to Pinedjem I, who later by that time had become High Priest of Amun, and shows him honoring "his deceased father" Piankh as well as Nedjemet. The latter thus presumably his mother and Piankh's wife. Beside Pinedjem himself it attests three more "sons" of Piankh; Heqanefer, who became Second Prophet of Amun; Heqamaat, a Sem Priest at Medinet Habu; and Ankhefenmut, the Overseer of the Cattle, Chief Steward of Amun and Priest of Mut.[3] A daughter named Faienmut is also known.[4]


Piankh's only known monument is a funerary stela from Abydos which records him as High Priest of Amun, Generalissimo, Viceroy of Kush, Chief of the Southern Lands, Overseer of the Archery, Overseer of the Granary, Fanbearer on the King's Right Hand, and Royal Scribe.


Piankh is first attested as High Priest of Amun in Year 7 of the Ramesside Renaissance (Year 25 of Ramesses XI), he therefore succeeded Amenhotep in office sometime prior to this year.[5][6] Piankh is also attested to have been Viceroy of Kush in Year 7,[7] indicating that his military titles likely preceded his position as High Priest.

By Year 10 of the Renaissance (Year 28 of Ramesses XI) the then High Priest of Amun Piankh, in his position of Viceroy of Kush, led an army into Nubia with the apparent aim to "meet Panehesy", probably the former Viceroy who fled back to Nubia after a failed attempt to oust the High Priest of Amun Amenhotep from office just before the Renaissance. The fact that Piankh was now viceroy perhaps suggests that Panehesy's authority over Nubia in its entirety was by now limited or at least contested. Although it is often postulated that it was the aim of this expedition to attack Panehesy and regain control over Nubia,[8] this is by no means certain. The sources are actually ambiguous on this point and the political climate may well have changed over the years. There is some evidence that at this time Piankh may no longer have been a loyal servant of Ramesses XI, which allows for the possibility that he was secretly negotiating with Panehesy,[9][10] possibly even plotting against the reigning king. As Wente wrote: "One has the impression that the viceroy and his Nubian troops were loyalists, for the remarks made by his opponent Piankh in letter No. 301 are quite disparaging of the pharaoh, Ramesses XI."[11] In this letter, better known as LRL no. 21, Piankh remarks:

"As for Pharaoh, L.P.H., how shall he reach this land? And of whom is Pharaoh, L.P.H., superior still?"[12]

In the same letter and two others (LRL no. 34 and no. 35) Piankh gives the order to the Scribe of the Necropolis Tjaroy (=Thutmose), Nedjemet and a certain Payshuweben to secretly arrest and question two Medjay policemen about certain things they had apparently said:

"If they find out that (it is) true, you shall place them (in) two baskets and (they) shall be thrown (into) this water by night. But do not let anybody in the land find out."[12]

It has been argued that, given Piankh's prominent position at the time, the secrecy can only have concerned the king.[13] Unfortunately, due to the very limited nature of the sources, the exact relationships between Piankh, Panehesy and Ramesses XI remain far from clear. A fourth figure, Herihor, had meanwhile advanced through the ranks of the military under Ramesses XI and came out as the beneficiary of this complex political situation. He eventually held the offices of High Priest of Amun and Viceroy of Kush, both of which he might have inherited from Piankh. When Ramesses XI died, Herihor ultimately became the de facto ruler of Upper Egypt and Nubia, because his authority there had superseded that of the king.


The whereabouts of Piankh's tomb and mummy remain unknown.

See also[]


  1. Thijs 2013, p. 61.
  2. Thijs 2013.
  3. Thijs 2013, p. 63-64.
  4. Dodson & Hilton 2004, p. 200-201.
  5. Nims 1948, p. 157-162.
  6. Thijs 2009, p. 343-353.
  7. Thijs 2003, p. 296.
  8. Török 1997.
  9. Niwiński 1992, p. 257-258.
  10. Thijs 2003, p. 299.
  11. Wente 1990, p. 171.
  12. 12.0 12.1 Wente 1967, p. 53.
  13. Thijs 2003, p. 301-302.


  • Dodson, A./Hilton, D., 2004: The Complete Royal Families of Ancient Egypt. Thames & Hudson, London.
  • Nims, C.F., 1948: An Oracle Dated in "The Repeating of Births". Journal of Near Eastern Studies, Vol. 7, No. 3.
  • Niwiński, A., 1992: Bürgerkrieg, militärischer Staatsstreich und Ausnahmezustand in Ägypten unter Ramses XI: Ein Versuch neuer Interpretation der alten Quellen. In: Gamer-Wallert, Helck (eds.), Gegengabe: Festschrift für Emma Brunner-Traut. Attempto, Tübingen.
  • Thijs, A., 2003: The Troubled Careers of Amenhotep and Panehsy: The High Priest of Amun and the Viceroy of Kush under the Last Ramessides. Studien zur Altägyptischen Kultur (SAK), Vol. 31.
  • Thijs, A., 2009: The Second Prophet Nesamun and his claim to the High-Priesthood. Studien zur Altägyptischen Kultur (SAK), Vol. 38.
  • Thijs, A., 2013: Nodjmet A, Daughter of Amenhotep, Wife of Piankh and Mother of Herihor. ZÄS 140.
  • Török, L., 1997: The Kingdom of Kush: Handbook of the Napatan-Meriotic Civilization. Brill Academic Publishers.
  • Wente, E.F., 1967: Late Ramesside Letters. SAOC 33.
  • Wente, E.F., 1990: Letters from Ancient Egypt. Atlanta.
High Priest of Amun
20th Dynasty

Viceroy of Kush
20th Dynasty