Preceded by:
Ramesses X
[[Pharaoh|Pharaoh of Egypt]]
20th Dynasty
Succeeded by:
Ramesses XI
Also written Ramses and Rameses
style="vertical-align: top; text-align: right;" | Reign colspan="3" style="text-align: left;" | 1102 BC to 1073 BC or 1069 BC -
style="vertical-align: top; text-align: right;" | Praenomen colspan="3" style="text-align: left;" |

- style="vertical-align: top; text-align: right;" | Nomen colspan="3" style="text-align: left;" |
r r



style="vertical-align: top; text-align: right;" | Horus name colspan="3" style="text-align: left;" | Kanakht Meryre -
style="vertical-align: top; text-align: right;" | Nebty name colspan="3" style="text-align: left;" | Userkhepesh-hedhefenu -
style="vertical-align: top; text-align: right;" | Golden Horus colspan="3" style="text-align: left;" | Werpehtisankhtawy-ityankhwedjaseneb-seheribmaat-seheteptawy -
style="vertical-align: top; text-align: right;" | Died colspan="3" style="text-align: left;" | 1073 BC or 1069 BC -
style="vertical-align: top; text-align: right;" | Burial colspan="3" style="text-align: left;" | KV4 -

Menmare Ramesses XI (also written Ramses and Rameses) reigned 1102 BC – 1073 BC or 1069 BC) was the tenth and final king of the Twentieth Dynasty of Egypt. He ruled for at least 29 years and perhaps as many as 33 years[2].


Ramesses XI's reign was characterized by the gradual disintegration of the Egyptian state. Civil conflict was already evident around the beginning of his reign when High Priest of Amun, Amenhotep, was ousted from office by the king with the aid of Nubian soldiers under command of Pinehesy, Viceroy of Nubia, for overstepping his authority with Ramesses XI. Tomb robbing was prevalent all over Thebes as Egypt's fortunes declined and her Asiatic empire was lost.

As the chaos and insecurity continued, Ramesses was forced to inaugurate a triumvirate in his Regnal Year 19, with Herihor ruling Thebes and Upper and Smendes controlling Lower Egypt. In order to restore a degree of order. Herihor had risen from the ranks of the Egyptian military to restore a degree of order, and became the new high Priest of Amun. This period was officially called the Era of the Renaissance or Whm Mswt by Egyptians. Herihor amassed power and titles at the expense of Pinehesy, Viceroy of Nubia, whom he had expelled from Thebes. This rivalry soon developed into full-fledged civil war under Herihor's successor. At Thebes, Herihor usurped royal power at Thebes without actually deposing Ramesses, and he effectively became the defacto ruler of Upper Egypt because his authority superseded the king's.

Herihor died around Year 6 of the Whm Mswt (Year 24 of Ramesses XI) and was succeeded as High Priest by Piankh. Piankh initiated one or two unsuccessful campaigns into Nubia to wrest control of this gold-producing region from Pinehesy's hands, but his efforts were ultimately fruitless as Nubia slipped permanently out of Egypt's grasp. This watershed event worsened Egypt's woes, because she had now lost control of all her imperial possessions and was denied access to a regular supply of Nubian gold.

Reign Length

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 Whm 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 Whm Mswt period. This would suggest that the Year 12 House-list Papyrus postdates these two documents and was created in Year 12 of the Whm 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 Whm 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 Whm Mswt 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 Whm-Mswt (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.[3] Consequently, it would appear that Ramesses XI's highest undisputed date is presently Year 11 of the Whm-Mswt (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.


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 Memphis.

Smendes 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 Priests of Amun at Thebes.


  1. [1] Ramesses XI Menmaatre-setpenptah
  2. Ad Thijs, "Reconsidering the End of the Twentieth Dynasty. Part III: Some Hitherto Unrecognised Documents from the Whm Mswt," GM 173 (1999), pp. 175-192.[2]
  3. Annie Gasse, "Panakhemipet et ses complices (À propos du papyrus BM EA 10054, R° 2, 1–5)", JEA 87 (2001), pp.81-92

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