Ancient Egypt Wiki
Preceded by:
Ramesses X
Pharaoh of Egypt
20th Dynasty
Succeeded by:
Smendes I
Ramesses XI
Prince: Khaemwaset
Ramesses XI

Ramesses XI depicted on a wall relief.©

1107-1076 BC (ca. 31 years)
The Justice of Re is Eternal,
Chosen of Ptah
Born of Re, He who Appeared
in Thebes, Beloved of Amun,
Divine Ruler of Heliopolis
Horus name
Strong Bull, Beloved of Re
Nebty name
He whose Blow is Powerful, and
whose Attacks are Countless
Golden Horus
Great of Strength, who
gives Life to the Two Lands,
Reconciler of the Two Lands
under the Majesty of Ma'at
Father Ramesses X (?)
Consort(s) Tentamun
Issue Tentamun, Nedjemet,
Died ca. 1076 BC
Burial KV4 (unused)
For other pages by this name, see Ramesses.

Menmaatre-Setepenptah Ramesses XI (1107-1078/74 BC) was the tenth and final Pharaoh of the Twentieth Dynasty during the New Kingdom. His name prior to assuming the crown was Khaemwaset. He ruled for at least 29 years and perhaps as many as 33 years.[1]


See also: 20th Dynasty Family Tree.

Ramesses XI's position within the royal family of the Twentieth Dynasty remains uncertain, though it has been speculated that he was the son of his predecessor Ramesses X, who's relationship to the dynasty is equally obscure. The identity of his mother remains unknown.

Ramesses XI's queen consort was Tentamun and they are known for certain to have had at least one daughter called Duathathor-Henuttawy. Additionally, two more princesses – Tentamun and Nedjemet – were presumably their daughters as well.

Ramesses XI's daughters all married powerful individuals of the early Twenty-first Dynasty; Tentamun married the next pharaoh Smendes I (who ruled over Lower Egypt), Nedjemet married the High Priest of Amun Herihor (who ruled over Upper Egypt and Nubia), and Duathathor-Henuttawy (presumably the youngest daughter) married Herihor's successor Pinedjem I.


Ramesses XI's reign was characterized by the gradual disintegration of the pharaoh's authority over the Egyptian state. Tomb robbing was prevalent all over Thebes as Egypt's fortunes declined and her Asiatic empire was lost. A power struggle existed between the High Priest of Amun and Viceroy of Kush, causing civil unrest. Year 19 of Ramesses XI marked the end of this chaos[2] and the beginning of an era referred to as the "Ramesside Renaissance" or wḥm-mswt in ancient Egyptian which lasted for the remainder of Ramesses XI's reign.

Transgression against the High Priest of Amun[]

Not long before Year 19 of Ramesses XI's reign, the High Priest of Amun Amenhotep was ousted from office by the Viceroy of Kush Panehesy. However, a heavily damaged inscription published by Wente is highly suggestive of Amenhotep having been restored to his former position after an appeal to the king.[3] Ultimately, Panehesy fled south and managed to maintain a powerbase in Nubia.

Ramesside Renaissance[]

Main article: Ramesside Renaissance.

The Renaissance era (wḥm-mswt) began in Regnal Year 19 of Ramesses XI and marked a period of a restored degree of order.

Sometime prior to Year 7 of the Renaissance (Year 25 of Ramesses XI) Amenhotep was succeeded in office by Piankh, since the latter is now attested as High Priest of Amun.[4][5] Some Egyptologists have argued that Herihor ruled in between,[citation needed] though recent studies by Karl Jansen-Winkeln now dispute this.[6][7] Piankh is also attested to have been Viceroy of Kush in Year 7,[8] perhaps suggesting that Panehesy's authority over Nubia in its entirety was by now limited or at least contested.

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. Although it is often postulated that it was the aim of this expedition to attack Panehesy and regain control over Nubia,[9] 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,[10][11] 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."[12] 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?"[13]

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."[13]

It has been argued that, given Piankh's prominent position at the time, the secrecy can only have concerned the king.[14] 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.

Dates and Length of Reign[]

Ramesses XI's reign is notable for a large number of important papyri that have been uncovered, including the Adoption Papyrus, which mentions Regnal Years 1 and 18 of his reign; the Turin Taxation Papyrus; the House-list Papyrus; and an entire series of Late Ramesside Letters written by the scribes Dhutmose, Butehamun, and the High Priest Piankh —the latter of which chronicle the severe decline of the king's power even in the eyes of his own officials.

Thijs, in his GM 173 paper, notes that the House-list Papyrus, which is anonymously dated to Year 12 of Ramesses XI (ie: the document was compiled in either Year 12 of the pre-Renaissance period or during the Wḥm Mswt era itself), mentions two officials: the Chief Doorkeeper Pnufer, and the Chief Warehouseman Dhutemhab. These individuals were recorded as only as ordinary Doorkeeper and Warehouseman in Papyri BM 10403 and BM 10052, respectively, which are explicitly dated to Year 1 and 2 of the Wḥm Mswt period. This would suggest that the Year 12 House-list Papyrus postdates these two documents and was created in Year 12 of the Wḥm Mswt era instead (or Regnal Year 30 proper of Ramesses XI), which would account for these two individuals' promotions. Thijs then proceeds to use several anonymous Year 14 and 15 dates in another papyrus, BM 9997, to argue that Ramesses XI lived at least into his 32nd and 33rd Regnal Years (or Years 14 and 15 of the Wḥm Mswt). This document mentions a certain Sermont, who was only titled an Ordinary Medjay (Nubian) in the Year 12 House-list Papyrus but is called "Chief of the Medjay" in Papyrus BM 9997. Sermont's promotion would thus mean that BM 9997 postdates the House-list Papyrus and must be placed late in the Renaissance period.

If true, then Ramesses XI would certainly have survived into his 33rd Regnal Year or Year 15 of the Renaissance era before dying. Unfortunately, however, it must be stressed that there are clear inconsistencies in the description of an individual's precise title even within the same source document itself. For instance, Papyrus Mayer A mentions both a certain Dhuthope, a doorkeeper of the temple of Amun as well as a Dhuthope, Chief Doorkeeper of the temple of Amun. The reference to the first Dhuthope occurs in the regular papyrus entry while the other appears towards the end of the list but few people would dispute that they refer to the same man. Similarly, the Necropolis Journal entry from Year 17 of Ramesses XI lists the Chief Workman Nekhemmut as well as a workman named Nekhemmut, son of Amenua. While they appear to be the same person at first glance, their official titles are different with the latter lacking the senior title 'Chief'. Hence, Thijs' case for a Year 33 proper for Ramesses XI may be illusory. Since there are two attested promotions of individuals in 2 separate papyri, however, there is a possibility that Ramesses XI did survive into his 33rd Regnal Year. Against this view, however, is the fact that no evidence survives of a Heb Sed Feast for Ramesses XI. At present, only his proposal that Papyrus BM 10054 dates to Year 10 of the Renaissance (or Year 28 proper of Ramesses XI) has been confirmed by other scholars such as Von Beckerath and Annie Gasse--the latter in a JEA 87 (2001) paper which studied several newly discovered fragments belonging to this document.[15] Consequently, it would appear that Ramesses XI's highest undisputed date is presently Year 11 of the Renaissance (or Year 29 proper) of his reign, when Piankh's Nubian campaign terminated which means that he had a minimum reign of c.29 years when he died, with 33 years being hypothethical at present.

When Ramesses XI died after a reign of undetermined length, the village of Deir el-Medina was abandoned because the Royal Necropolis was shifted northward to Tanis. There was no further need for its services at Thebes.

Burial and Succession[]

Sometime during this troubled period, Ramesses XI died in obscurity. While he had had a tomb prepared for himself in the Valley of the Kings (KV4), it was left unfinished and Ramesses XI instead arranged to have himself buried away from Thebes, possibly near Tanis.

Smendes I thus inherited the throne, based on the Egyptian convention that he who buried the king inherited the throne. Since Smendes buried Ramesses XI, he could formally assume the crown of Egypt and inaugurate the 21st Dynasty from his hometown, Tanis, even if he did not control Middle and Upper Egypt, which were now effectively in the hands of the High Priest of Amun at Thebes.

See also[]


  1. Thijs 1999, p. 175-192.
  2. Thijs 1999, p. 98.
  3. Wente 1966.
  4. Nims 1948, p. 157-162.
  5. Thijs 2009, p. 343-353.
  6. Jansen-Winkeln 1992, p. 22-37.
  7. Shaw 2000, p. 309.
  8. Thijs 2003, p. 296.
  9. Török 1997.
  10. Niwiński 1992, p. 257-258.
  11. Thijs 2003, p. 299.
  12. Wente 1990, p. 171.
  13. 13.0 13.1 Wente 1967, p. 53.
  14. Thijs 2003, p. 301-302.
  15. Gasse 2001, p. 81-92.


  • Gasse, A., 2001: "Panakhemipet et ses complices (À propos du papyrus BM EA 10054, R° 2, 1–5)", JEA 87.
  • Jansen-Winkeln, K., 1992: Das Ende des Neuen Reiches. ZAS 119.
  • 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.
  • Shaw, I., 2000: The Oxford History of Ancient Egypt. Oxford University Press.
  • Thijs, A., 1999: Reconsidering the End of the Twentieth Dynasty. Part III: Some Hitherto Unrecognised Documents from the Wḥm Mswt. Göttinger Miszellen, Vol. 173.
  • 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.
  • Török, L., 1997: The Kingdom of Kush: Handbook of the Napatan-Meriotic Civilization. Brill Academic Publishers.
  • Wente, E.F., 1966: The Suppression of the High Priest Amenhotep. Journal of Near Eastern Studies, Vol. 25.
  • Wente, E.F., 1967: Late Ramesside Letters. SAOC 33.
  • Wente, E.F., 1990: Letters from Ancient Egypt. Atlanta.
Ramesses X
Pharaoh of Egypt
Twentieth Dynasty
Smendes I