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Preceded by:
Ahmose I
Pharaoh of Egypt
17th Dynasty
Succeeded by:
Kamose
Tao II
Tao the Brave
Thut-Aa, Djehuty-Aa
TaoII

Sarcophagus of Tao II.

Reign
1558–1555 BC or
1548-1545 BC (3 years?)
Praenomen
M23
t
L2
t
<
raz
q
n
n
A24
>
Seqenenre
Made Brave by Re
Nomen
G39ra
<
t
O47
O29
a
Y1
>
Djehuty-Aa (Tao)
Thoth the Great
Horus name
G5N28
Aa13
R19t
N24
O33
Khaemwaset
He who Appeared in Waset
Legacy
Father Ahmose I
Mother Tetisheri
Consort(s) Ahhotep I, Ahmose-Inhapi,
Sitdjehuty
Issue Kamose, Ahmose II,
Ahhotep II, Ahmose-Nefertari
Ahmose-Henutemopet,
Ahmose-Meritamen,
Ahmose-Nebetta,
Ahmose-Tumerisy,
Ahmose-Henuttamehu,
Ahmose, Ahmose-Sipair (?)
Died 1555 BC or 1545 BC (?)
Burial TT320 (reburied)
Monuments Palace and fortifications
at Deir el-Ballas
Not to be confused with Tao I.

Seqenenre Tao II, also Thut-Aa or Djehuty-Aa (transliteration: ḏḥwty-ꜤꜢ, meaning: "Thoth the Great"), dubbed "the Brave", was an ancient Egyptian Pharaoh of the Seventeenth Dynasty based in Upper Egypt during the Second Intermediate Period. He ruled over the last of the local kingdoms of the Theban region of Egypt. The dates of his reign are uncertain, but he may have risen to power in the decade ending in 1560 BC or in 1558 BC (based on the probable accession date of his son, Ahmose II, the first ruler of the Eighteenth Dynasty, see Egyptian chronology). Tao II is credited with starting the opening moves in a war of revanchism against Hyksos incursions into Egypt, which saw the country completely liberated during the reign of his son Ahmose II.

Family[]

Tao II was probably the son and successor of Ahmose I by his Queen, Tetisheri. Tao II's Queen was his sister, Ahhotep I, with whom he fathered two pharaohs; Kamose, his immediate successor who was the last pharaoh of the Seventeenth Dynasty, and Ahmose II who, following a regency by his mother, was the first pharaoh of the Eighteenth Dynasty. Tao II and Ahhotep I's eldest daughter Ahhotep II became the Great Royal Wife of Kamose, while another daughter, Ahmose-Nefertari, became the Great Royal Wife of Ahmose II. Three more daughter are known to them; Ahmose-Nebetta, Ahmose-Tumerisy, Ahmose-Henutemopet, and possibly a sixth; Ahmose-Meritamen. Tao II also married two other sisters; Ahmose-Inhapi, with whom he had a daughter, Ahmose-Henuttamehu, and Sitdjehuty, with whom he had another daughter, Ahmose. Ahmose-Sipair might also be Tao II's son.

Foreign Policy[]

Seqenenre Tao is known to have fought military campaigns against the Hyksos rulers in the north. New Kingdom literary tradition states that Seqenenre Tao came into contact with his Hyksos contemporary in the north, Apepi (hellized Apophis). The tradition took the form of a tale, nowadays called "The Quarrel of Apophis and Seqenenre", in which the Hyksos king Apepi sent a messenger to Seqenenre in Thebes to demand that the Theban hippopotamus pool be done away with, for the noise of these beasts was such that he was unable to sleep in far-away Avaris. Perhaps the only historical information that can be gleaned from the tale is that Egypt was a divided land, the area of direct Hyksos control being in the north, but the whole of Egypt paying tribute to the Hyksos kings.

Seqenenre Tao participated in active diplomatic posturing, which went beyond simply exchanging insults with the Asiatic ruler in the North. He seems to have led military skirmishes against the Hyksos and, judging from the vicious head wounds on his mummy in the Egyptian Museum in Cairo, may have died during one of them.[1]

Building projects[]

The relatively short length of the reign of Seqenenre Tao did not allow for the construction of many monumental structures, but it is known that he had built a new palace made of mud brick at Deir el-Ballas. On an adjacent hillside overlooking the river, the foundations of a building were found that almost certainly was a military observation post.[2]

A relatively large amount of pottery known as Kerma-ware was found at the site, indicating that a large number of Kerma Nubians were resident at the site. It is thought that they were there as allies of the pharaoh in his wars against the Hyksos.[2]

Burial and Succession[]

Tao II's son and successor Wadjkheperre Kamose, the last ruler of the Seventeenth Dynasty at Thebes, is credited with launching a successful campaign in the Theban war of liberation against the Hyksos, although he is thought to have died in the campaign.[1] Tao II's principal wife, Ahhotep I, is thought to have ruled as regent after the death of Kamose and continued the warfare against the Hyksos until Ahmose II, the second son of Tao II and Ahhotep I, was old enough to assume the throne and complete the expulsion of the Hyksos and the unification of Egypt. Tao II's tomb remains unknown.

Mummy[]

Seqenenre's mummy was discovered in 1881 in the royal cache at Deir el-Bahari. He was interred along with those of later, Eighteenth and Nineteenth Dynasty rulers. His mummy has the inventory number CG 61051.

TaoIIMummyHead

Mummified head of Seqenenre Tao, bearing axe wounds. The common theory is that he died in a battle against the Hyksos (Smith 1912).

The mummy was unwrapped by Eugène Grébaut when Professor Gaston Maspero resigned his office of directorship on June 5, 1886, and was succeeded in the superintendency of excavations and Egyptian archeology by M. Eugene Grebault. In the same month Grebault started upon the work of unbandaging the mummy of the Theban King Sekenenra Ta-aken, of the eighteenth dynasty. It was under this monarch that a revolt against the Hyksos, or Shepherd Kings, had originated, in the course of which the Asiatics were expelled from Egypt. The history of this king has always been considered legendary, but from the signs of wounds present in the mummy, it is certain that he had died in battle. In the same season the mummy of Seti I was unbandaged, and also that of an anonymous prince.[3]

A vivid description provides an account of the injury that was done to the pharaoh at his death:

"...it is not known whether he fell upon the field of battle or was the victim of some plot; the appearance of his mummy proves that he died a violent death when about forty years of age. Two or three men, whether assassins or soldiers, must have surrounded and despatched him before help was available. A blow from an axe must have severed part of his left cheek, exposed the teeth, fractured the jaw, and sent him senseless to the ground; another blow must have seriously injured the skull, and a dagger or javelin has cut open the forehead on the right side, a little above the eye. His body must have remained lying where it fell for some time: when found, decomposition had set in, and the embalming had to be hastily performed as best it might."[1]

The wound on his forehead was probably caused by a Hyksos axe and his neck wound was probably caused by a dagger while he was prone.[2] There are no wounds on his arms or hands, which suggests he was not able to defend himself.

Until 2009, the main hypotheses had been that he died either in a battle against the Hyksos or was killed while sleeping.[4] A reconstruction of his death by Egyptologist Garry Shaw and archaeologist and weapons expert Robert Mason suggested a third, which they saw as the likeliest, that Seqenenre was executed by the Hyksos king. Garry Shaw also analysed the arguments for the competing hypotheses and other physical, textual and statistical evidence concluding "that the most likely cause of Seqenenre’s death is ceremonial execution at the hands of an enemy commander, following a Theban defeat on the battlefield."[5]

His mummy appears to have been hastily embalmed. X-rays that were taken of the mummy in the late 1960s show that no attempt had been made to remove the brain or to add linen inside the cranium or eyes, both normal embalming practice for the time. In the opinion of James E. Harris and Kent Weeks, who undertook the forensic examination at the time the X-rays were taken, his mummy is the worst preserved of all the royal mummies held at the Egyptian Museum, and they noted that a "foul, oily smell filled the room the moment the case in which his body was exhibited was opened," which is likely due to the poor embalming process and the absence of the use of absorbing natron salts, leaving some bodily fluids in the mummy at the time of burial.[6]

In 2021, a CT scan of his mummy revealed that he died in his forties in a battlefield, meanwhile his deformed hands imply that he was possibly imprisoned with his hands tied, and his facial fractures correlated well with the Hyksos weapons.[7]

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.[8]

References[]

  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 Maspero 1901.
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 Shaw 2000, p. 198-199.
  3. Rappoport 1904.
  4. Smith 1912.
  5. Shaw 2009.
  6. Harris & Weeks 1973.
  7. Saleem & Hawass 2021.
  8. Parisse, Emmanuel (5 April 2021). "22 Ancient Pharaohs Have Been Carried Across Cairo in an Epic Golden Parade". ScienceAlert.

Bibliography[]

  • Harris, J.E./Weeks, K.R., 1973: X-raying the Pharaohs. Charles Scribner's Sons.
  • Maspero, G., 1901: History Of Egypt, Chaldaea, Syria, Babylonia, and Assyria. Volume 4 (of 12). Project Gutenberg EBook. Release Date: December 16 2005. Archived from original on 2015-09-24.
  • Rappoport, S., 1904: History of Egypt from 330 B.c. to the Present Time. Volume 12 (of 12). The Grolier Society Publishers, London. Project Gutenberg EBook. Release Date: December 17 2005. Archived from original on 2016-03-13.
  • Saleem, S.N./Hawass, Z., 2021: Computed Tomography Study of the Mummy of King Seqenenre Taa II: New Insights Into His Violent Death. Frontiers in Medicine. Vol. 8: 637527.
  • Shaw, G.J., 2009: The Death of King Seqenenre Tao. Journal of the American Research Center in Egypt. Vol. 45.
  • Shaw, I., 2000: The Oxford History of Ancient Egypt. Oxford University Press, p. 198-199.
  • Smith, G.E., 1912: The Royal Mummies. Duckworth Egyptology. (Reprinted year 2000 edition).
Predecessor:
Ahmose I
Pharaoh of Egypt
Seventeenth Dynasty
Successor:
Kamose
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