Merneptah was the fourth pharaoh of the 19th Dynasty. He was the thirteenth son of Ramesses II, also known as Ramesses the Great, and inherited the throne as his elder brothers had all died before their father. As a result of this, Merneptah was in his sixties when he became pharaoh, and only ruled Egypt for just under ten years before his death.
Merneptah built his mortuary temple of the west bank at Luxor. Although it was mostly destroyed, it has been extensively restored by the Swiss Institute of Archaeology
Merneptah (or Merenptah) was the fourth ruler of the Nineteenth Dynasty of Ancient Egypt.
He ruled Egypt for almost ten years between late July or early August
1213 and May 2, 1203 BC, according to contemporary historical records. He was the thirteenth son of Ramesses II and only came to power because all his older brothers, including his full brother Khaemwaset or Khaemwase, had predeceased him, by which time he was almost sixty years old. His throne name was Ba-en-re Mery-netjeru, which means “The Soul of Ra, Beloved of the Gods”.
Merneptah suffered from arthritis and atherosclerosis and died an old man after a reign which lasted for nearly a decade. Merneptah was originally buried within tomb KV8 in the Valley of the Kings, but his mummy was not found there. In 1898 it was located along with eighteen other mummies in the mummy cache found in the tomb of Amenhotep II (KV35) by Victor Loret. Merneptah’s mummy was taken to Cairo and eventually unwrapped by Dr. G. Elliott Smith on July 8, 1907. Dr Smith notes that:
The body is that of an old man and is 1 meter 714 millimeters in
height. Merneptah was almost completely bald, only a narrow fringe of
white hair (now cut so close as to be seen only with difficulty)
remaining on the temples and occiput. A few short (about 2 mill) black
hairs were found on the upper lip and scattered, closely clipped hairs
on the cheeks and chin. The general aspect of the face recalls that of
Ramesses II, but the form of the cranium and the measurements of the
face much more nearly agree with those of his [grand]father, Seti the
My favorite Merneptah memory: When I went to Egypt with 2 of my grad school friends in 2008, we of course went to the Cairo museum and we were assigned a very nice gentleman (“Bob”) as our ‘tour guide’ but I think we only had about 2 hours total in the museum. After about 5-10 minutes listening to this guy talk, I realized if I stayed with the group I would miss out on pretty much everything I wanted to see in the museum. The moment of decision came when we were led to a corner of a room and I was looking at the very large stele directly behind our guide, trying to figure out why it looked so familiar. And lo, it was the Merneptah Stele! I kind of freaked out (quietly, of course). Our guide didn’t even mention the stele. At all. Even though he was basically leaning on it while he was talking. So, we (my 2 friends and I) ditched the group and saw all the things we wanted to see and made much better use of those 2 very short hours. I highly recommend buying the extra tickets for the royal mummy rooms. They’re an oasis of quiet and calm in the sea of chaos that is the Cairo Museum. Plus, it’s super cool to hang out with queens and pharaohs. They’re a pretty rad bunch :) I hope they’re ok…