Ancient Egypt Wiki
Preceded by:
Pharaoh of Egypt
19th Dynasty
Succeeded by:
Seti II
Hellenized: Sethos II
Seti II2

Quartzite and sandstone statue of Seti II at the British Museum.

1203-1197 BC (6 years)
ra stp
Powerful are the Forms of Re,
Chosen of Re
One of Seth,
Beloved of Ptah
Horus name
Strong Bull, Great of Might
Nebty name
Aa1 X1 D40F23
Nakhtkhepeshderpedjut 9
The strong-armed one who
has repelled the Nine Bows
Golden Horus
He whose victories are great
in all the lands
Father Merenptah
Mother Isetnofret II
Consort(s) Tausret, Sutererey (?)
Issue Seti, Siptah (?)
Died 1197 BC
Burial KV15
Monuments Barque shrine at Karnak
For other pages by this name, see Seti or Merenptah.

Userkheperure-Setepenre Seti II (reigned 1203 B.C.E. - 1197 B.C.E.) was the fifth Pharaoh of the Nineteenth Dynasty during the New Kingdom. His rule commenced a period known for dynastic intrigue and short reigns. Seti II had to deal with many serious plots and complications, most significantly the rise of a rival king named Amenmesses, possibly a half-brother, who seized control over Upper Egypt and Nubia during Seti II's second to fourth regnal years.


Upon ascending the throne, Seti II took the throne name (or prenomen) Userkheperure-Setepenre (transliterated: wsr-ḫpr.w-rꜥ stp-n-rꜥ, meaning: "Powerful are the Forms of Re, Chosen of Re"). His birth name (or nomen) is Seti-Merenptah (transliterated: stḫy mr-n-ptḥ, meaning: "One of Seth, Beloved of Ptah"), which is the same as his great-grandfather Seti I. His name is thus realised as Userkheperure-Setepenre Seti-Merenptah.


See also: 19th Dynasty Family Tree.

Seti II was the eldest son of Pharaoh Merenptah and Queen Isetnofret II and hence a grandson of Ramesses II and Isetnofret I. Prince Khaemwaset might have been his maternal-grandfather, depending on his mother's identity. Seti II served as Crown Prince during his father's reign. He had two younger brothers named Merenptah and Khaemwaset and possibly a sister named Isetnofret.

The traditional view has been that the rivals (Seti II and Amenmesses) were half-brothers, with pharaoh Merenptah as their father. Queen Isetnofret II was the mother of Seti II while a minor wife Takhat was the mother of Amenmesses. Alternatively, since a statue usurped by Seti II from Amenmesses shows that Takhat's title of King's Mother had been replaced with King's Wife, has been interpretated as evidence that she was Seti's wife.[1] This would mean that Amenmesses usurped the throne from his own father, which is unprecedented – given ancient Egyptian theology regarding kingship – and should be deemed unlikely. It seems more probable that the two were half-brothers rivalling their father's throne. Furthermore, the main purpose was to remove the title King's Mother to deny Amenmesses the recognition as a king and the replacement title of King's Wife may therefore predate Seti's reign and refer to Merenptah.

Seti II's queen throughout his reign was his half-sister Tausret, who would subsequently become pharaoh in her own right. Tausret may well have been the mother of Seti's only known child Seti. However, tomb KV56 might represent the burial of their daughter.[2]

For many years, a certain Tiaa was also accepted as a wife of Seti II and mother of the later pharaoh Siptah.[3] This was based on a number of funerary objects found in the KV47 tomb of Siptah bearing the name of Tiaa as King's Wife and King's Mother. However, recent research showed that all these artifacts belonged to Tiaa, the Eighteenth Dynasty wife of Thutmose IV, and washed into Siptah's tomb from her nearby KV32 tomb as the result of an accidental breakthrough.[4] The fact that Siptah later changed his royal name or nomen to Siptah-Merenptah after his Year 2 suggests rather that his father was Merenptah and that he was thus another (half-)brother of Seti II.

Rivalry for the Throne[]

Seti II was Merenptah's son and Crown Prince, who should have been next in the line of royal succession, but it is evident that Amenmesses usurped the throne from him. The reign of Seti II was traditionally thought to have followed upon that of Amenmesses. Egyptologists such as Kenneth Kitchen and Jürgen von Beckerath have theorized that Amenmesses succeeded Merenptah instead of the intended heir, Seti II. Kitchen has written that Amenmesses may have taken advantage of a momentary weakness of Seti II or seized power while the crown prince was away in Asia.

However, this is currently proven incorrect. It is well known that Neferhotep, the chief at Deir el-Medina, was killed during the brief reign of Amenmesses on the orders of a certain Msy who was either Amenmesses himself or one of this king's agents, according to Papyrus Salt 124.[5] However, Neferhotep is attested in office in the work register list of Ostraca MMA 14.6.217, which also recorded Seti II's accession to the throne and was later reused to register workers' absences under this king's reign.[6] If Seti II's 6-year reign followed that of the usurper Amenmesses, then Neferhotep would not have been mentioned alive in a document which dated to the start of Seti II's reign.[7] This indicates undoubtedly that Amenmesses' reign did not precede Seti II's, and that it was therefore the latter who directly succeeded Merenptah.

Rolf Krauss and Aidan Dodson had already provided evidence suggesting that Seti II was in fact the immediate successor of Merenptah.[8] Under this scenario, Amenmesses did not succeed either Merenptah or Seti II on the throne of Egypt and was rather a rival king who briefly usurped power sometime during Years 2 to 4 of Seti II's reign in Upper Egypt and Nubia where his authority is monumentally attested.[9] Wolfgang Helck has shown that Amenmesses is only attested in Upper Egypt by several Year 3 and a single Year 4 ostracon; Helck also noted that no Year 1 or Year 2 ostracas from Deir el-Medina could legitimately be assigned to the reign of Amenmesses.[10]

The treatment of Amenmesses as a rival king also best explains the pattern of destruction to Seti II's tomb which was initially ransacked and later restored again by Seti II's officials.[11] This implies that the respective reigns of Amenmesses and Seti II were parallel to one another; Seti II must have initially controlled Thebes in his first and second years during which time his tomb was excavated and partly decorated. Then Seti was ousted from power in Upper Egypt and Nubia during his regnal Years 3 to 4 (perhaps earlier in Nubia) by Amenmesses whose agents desecrated Seti II's tomb. This conforms well with the clear evidence of Seti II's control over Thebes in his first two years, which is attested by various documents and papyri. In contrast, Seti II is absent from Upper Egypt during his third and fourth years which are notably unattested— presumably because Amenmesse controlled this region from Thebes during this time.[12]

Seti would finally defeat his rival prior to Year 5 and return to Thebes in triumph whereupon he ordered the restoration of his damaged tomb. Seti also launched a damnatio memoriae campaign against all inscriptions and monuments belonging to both Amenmesses and this king's main supporters in Thebes and Nubia, which included a certain Khaemtir, a former Viceroy of Kush, who had served as Amenmesses' Vizier. Seti II's agents completely erased both scenes and texts from KV10, the royal tomb of Amenmesses.[13]


Seti II promoted Bay to Chancellor, to become his most important state official and built 3 tombs – KV13, KV14, and KV15 – for himself, his Queen Tausret and Bay in the Valley of the Kings. This was an unprecedented act on his part for Bay, who was of Syrian descent and not connected by marriage or blood ties to the royal family.

Seti II's earliest prenomen in his First Year was 'Userkheperure Setepenre'[14] which is written above an inscription of Messuwy, the Viceroy of Kush under Merenptah, on a rock outcropping at Bigeh Island. However, Messuwy's burial in Tomb S90 in Nubia has been discovered to contain only funerary objects naming Merenptah which suggests that Messuwy died during Merenptah's reign and Seti II merely associated himself with an official who had actively served his father as Viceroy of Kush. Seti II soon changed his prenomen to 'Userkheperure Meryamun', which was the most common form of his prenomen.

Two important papyri date from the reign of Seti II. The first of these is the "Tale of Two Brothers", a fabulous story of troubles within a family on the death of their father, which may have been intended in part as political satire on the situation of the two half brothers; Seti II and Amenmesses.

The second is the records of the trial of Paneb. Neferhotep, one of the two chief workmen of the Deir el-Medina necropolis, had been replaced by Paneb, his troublesome son-in-law. Many crimes were alleged by Neferhotep's brother — Amennakhte — against Paneb in a violently worded indictment preserved in papyrus now in the British Museum. If Amennakhte's testimony can be trusted, Paneb had allegedly stolen stone from the tomb of Seti II while still working on its completion — for the embellishment of his own tomb — besides purloining or damaging other property belonging to that monarch. Paneb was also accused of trying to kill Neferhotep, his adopted father-in-law, despite being educated by the latter and after the murder of Neferhotep by 'the enemy,' Paneb had reportedly bribed the Vizier Paraemheb in order to usurp his father's office. Whatever the truth of these accusations, it is clear that Thebes was going through very troubled times. There are references elsewhere to a 'war' that had occurred during these years, but it is obscure to what this word alludes — perhaps to no more than internal disturbances and discontent. Neferhotep had complained of Paneb's attacks on himself to the vizier Amenmose, presumably a predecessor of Paraemheb, whereupon Amenmose had punished Paneb. This trouble-maker had then brought a complaint before 'Mose' (i.e., 'Msy'), who then acted to remove Paraemheb from his office. Evidently this 'Mose' must have been a person of the highest importance, perhaps the king Amenmesses himself or a senior ally of the king.

Monuments and Attestations[]

Seti II erected an obelisk and built a sandstone/quartzite barque shrine on the courtyard in front of the 'Pylon II' at Karnak, with chapels of the Theban Triad; Amun, Mut and Khonsu. He also expanded the copper mining at the Timna Valley in Edom, building an important temple to Hathor in the region. It was abandoned in the late Bronze Age collapse, where a part of the temple seems to have been used by Midianite nomads.

Burial and Succession[]

Seti II was buried in KV15, a rock-cut tomb in the Valley of the Kings. He was succeeded by Siptah. Due to the relative brevity of his reign, Seti's tomb was unfinished at the time of his death. According to an inscribed ostraca document from the Deir el-Medina worker's community, Seti II's death was announced to the workmen by "The Chief of the Police, Nakhtmin" on Year 6, I Peret 19 of Seti II's reign.[15] Since it would have taken time for the news of Seti II's death to reach Thebes from the capital city of Pi-Ramesses in Lower Egypt, the date of I Peret 19 only marks the day the news of the king's death reached Deir el-Medina.[16] Because Seti II had his accession between II Peret 29 and III Peret 6, while his successor Siptah had his accession around late IV Akhet to early I Peret 2,[17] Seti's sixth and final regnal year lasted about ten months; therefore, Seti II ruled Egypt for 5 years and 10 months or almost 6 full years when he died. Wolfgang Helck and R.J. Demarée have now proposed I Peret 2 as the date of Seti II's actual death,[18][19] presumably since the mummification process takes 70 days before the day of his burial. From a graffito written in the first corridor of Tauret's KV14 tomb, Seti II was buried in his KV15 tomb on "Year 1, III Peret 11" of Siptah's reign.[20]


Seti II Mummy

Mummyhead of Seti II (Smith 1912).

Seti II's mummy has the inventory number CG 61081.[21] In April 2021 his mummy was moved from the Museum of Egyptian Antiquities to National Museum of Egyptian Civilization along with those of 17 other kings and 4 queens in an event termed the Pharaohs' Golden Parade.[22]


Main article: KV56.

In January 1908, the Egyptologist Edward R. Ayrton, in an excavation conducted for Theodore M. Davis, discovered a small burial in tomb KV56 which Davis referred to as 'The Gold Tomb' in his publication of the discovery in the Valley of the Kings; it proved to contain a small cache of jewelry that featured the name of Seti II.[23] A set of "earrings, finger-rings, bracelets, a series of necklace ornaments and amulets, a pair of silver 'gloves' and a tiny silver sandal" were found within this tomb.[24]

See also[]


  1. Dodson 2010, p. 40.
  2. Dodson & Hilton 2004.
  3. Aldred 1963, p. 41-48.
  4. Dodson 2010, p. 91.
  5. Janssen 1997, p. 99-109.
  6. Janssen 1997, p. 104.
  7. Janssen 1997, p. 100.
  8. Hornung et al. 2006, p. 212.
  9. Krauss 1976, 1977, 1997.
  10. Hornung et al. 2006, p.213.
  11. Dodson 1999, p. 136-138.
  12. Wente & Van Siclen 1977, p. 252.
  13. Yurco 1997.
  14. Yurco 1997, p. 49-56.
  15. KRI IV: 327. II.22-28, §57 (A.17).
  16. Janssen 1997, p. 153-154.
  17. Von Beckerath 1997, p. 201.
  18. Helck 1992, p. 270, n. 12.
  19. Demarée 1993, p. 52.
  20. Altenmüller 1984, p. 37-38.
  21. Habicht et al. 2016.
  22. Parisse, Emmanuel (5 April 2021). "22 Ancient Pharaohs Have Been Carried Across Cairo in an Epic Golden Parade". ScienceAlert.
  23. Davis 1908.
  24. Reeves 2001.


  • Altenmüller, H., 1984: Der Begräbnistag Sethos II. SAK 11.
  • Davis, T.M., 1908: The Tomb of Sipthah, the Monkey Tomb and the Gold Tomb, No. 4, Bibân el Molûk, Theodore M. Davis' Excavations, A. Constable, London.
  • Demarée, R.J., 1993: The King is Dead – Long Live the King. GM 137.
  • Dodson, A., 1999: The Decorative Phases of the Tomb of Sethos II and their Historical Implications. JEA 85.
  • Dodson, A./Hilton, D., 2004: The Complete Royal Families of Ancient Egypt. Thames & Hudson, London.
  • Dodson, A., 2010: Poisoned Legacy: The Decline and Fall of the Nineteenth Egyptian Dynasty. American University In Cairo Press.
  • Habicht, M./Rühli, F./Bouwman, A., 2016: Identification of Ancient Egyptian Royal Mummies from the 18th Dynasty reconsidered. American Journal of Physical Anthropology.
  • Helck, W., 1992: Begräbnis Pharaos, in The Intellectual Heritage of Egypt: Studies Presented to László Kákosy by Friends and Colleagues on the Occasion of his 60th Birthday, ed. Ulrich Luft, La Chair d'Égyptologie de l'Université Eötvös Loráno de Budapest.
  • Hornung, E./Krauss, R./Warburton, D., (editors), 2006: Handbook of Ancient Egyptian Chronology. Handbook of Oriental Studies, Brill.
  • Janssen, J.J., 1997: Amenmesse and After: The chronology of the late Nineteenth Dynasty Ostraca. In: Village Varia: Ten Studies on the History and Administration of Deir el-Medina. Egyptologische Uitgaven 11. Nederlands Instituut voor het Nabije Oosten, Leiden.
  • Krauss, R., 1976: Untersuchungen zu König Amenmesse (1.Teil). SAK 4.
  • Krauss, R., 1977: Untersuchungen zu König Amenmesse (2.Teil). SAK 5.
  • Krauss, R., 1997: Untersuchungen zu König Amenmesse (Nachträge). SAK 24.
  • Reeves, N., 2001: "Re-excavating 'The Gold Tomb". University College London.
  • Smith, G.E., 1912: The Royal Mummies. (2000 reprint ed.). Bath, UK: Duckworth.
  • Yurco, F.J., 1997: Was Amenmesse the Viceroy of Kush, Messuwy? JARCE 39.
  • Wente, E.F./Van Siclen, C.C., 1977: A Chronology of the New Kingdom. In: Studies in Honor of George R. Hughes. Studies in Ancient Oriental Civilization (SAOC), Vol. 39. Oriental Institute, Chicago.
Pharaoh of Egypt
Nineteenth Dynasty