Nineteenth Dynasty of ancient Egypt

Nineteenth Dynasty of ancient Egypt

The Nineteenth Dynasty of ancient Egypt (notated Dynasty XIX), also known as the Ramessid dynasty, is classified as the second Dynasty of the Ancient Egyptian New Kingdom period, lasting from 1292 BC to 1189 BC. The 19th Dynasty and the 20th Dynasty furthermore together constitute an era known as the Ramesside period. This Dynasty was founded by Vizier Ramesses I, whom Pharaoh Horemheb chose as his successor to the throne.


The warrior kings of the early 18th Dynasty had encountered little resistance from neighbouring kingdoms, allowing them to expand their realm of influence quickly. Still, the international situation changed radically towards the end of the Dynasty. The Hittites had gradually extended their influence into Syria and Canaan to become a significant power in international politics, a power that both Seti I and his son Ramesses II would confront in the future.

Seti and Ramesses II

The New Kingdom of Egypt reached the zenith of its power under pharaoh Seti I and Ramesses II (“The Great”), who campaigned vigorously against the Libyans and the Hittites. The city of Kadesh was first captured by king Seti I, who decided to concede it to Muwatalli of Hatti in an informal peace treaty between Egypt and Hatti. Ramesses II later attempted unsuccessfully to alter this situation in his fifth regnal year by launching an attack on Kadesh in his Second Syrian campaign in 1274 BC. he was caught in history’s first recorded military ambush. Still, thanks to the arrival of the Ne’arin (a force allied with Egypt), Ramesses was able to rally his troops and turn the tide of battle against the Hittites. During his eighth and ninth regnal years, Ramesses II later profited from the Hittites’ internal difficulties when he campaigned against their Syrian possessions, capturing Kadesh and portions of Southern Syria and advancing as far north as Tunip, where no Egyptian soldier had been seen for 120 years. He ultimately accepted that a campaign against the Hittites was an unsupportable drain on Egypt’s treasury and military. In his 21st regnal year, Ramesses signed the earliest recorded peace treaty with Urhi-Teshub’s successor, Hattusili III, and with that act, Egypt-Hittite relations improved significantly. Ramesses II even married two Hittite princesses, the first after his second Sed Festival.

Merneptah Rule

This Dynasty declined as infighting for the throne between the heirs of Merneptah increased. Amenmesse usurped the throne from Merneptah’s son and successor, Seti II, but he ruled Egypt for only four years. After his death, Seti regained power and destroyed most of Amenmesse’s monuments. Seti was served at court by Chancellor Bay, who was originally just a ‘royal scribe’ but quickly became one of the most powerful men in Egypt, gaining the unprecedented privilege of constructing his tomb in the Valley of the Kings (KV13). Both Bay and Seti’s chief wife, Twosret, had a sinister reputation in Ancient Egyptian folklore. After Siptah’s death, Twosret ruled Egypt for two more years, but she could not maintain her hold on power amid the conspiracies and powerplays being hatched at the royal court. She was likely ousted in a revolt led by Setnakhte, founder of the 20th Dynasty.

Pharaohs of the 19th Dynasty

The pharaohs of the 19th Dynasty ruled for approximately 110 years: from c. 1292 to 1187 BC. Many pharaohs were buried in the Valley of the Kings in Thebes (designated KV). More information can be found on the Theban Mapping Project website.

Ramesses I

Menpehtyre Ramesses I (or Ramses) was the founding pharaoh of ancient Egypt’s 19th Dynasty. The dates for his short reign are not entirely known, but the timeline of late 1292–1290 BC is frequently cited as well as 1295–1294 BC. While Ramesses I was the founder of the 19th Dynasty, his brief reign mainly served to mark the transition between the power of Horemheb, who had stabilized Egypt in the late 18th Dynasty, and the rule of the mighty pharaohs of his own Dynasty, in particular, his son Seti I, and grandson Ramesses II.

Seti I

Menmaatre Seti I (or Sethos I in Greek) was the second pharaoh of the Nineteenth Dynasty of Egypt during the New Kingdom period, ruling from c.1294 or 1290 BC to 1279 BC. He was the son of Ramesses I and Sitre and the father of Ramesses II.

The name ‘Seti’ means “of Set”, which indicates that he was consecrated to the god Set (also termed “Sutekh” or “Seth”). As with most pharaohs, Seti had several names. Upon his ascension, he took the prenomen “mn-m3’t-r’ “, usually vocalized in Egyptian as Menmaatre (Established is the Justice of Re). His better-known nomen, or birth name, is transliterated as “sty mry-n-ptḥ” or Sety Merenptah, meaning “Man of Set, beloved of Ptah”. Manetho incorrectly considered him to be the founder of the 19th Dynasty and gave him a reign length of 55 years, though no evidence has ever been found for so long a reign.

Ramses II

Ramses II is the third king of the Nineteenth Dynasty of ancient Egypt. His reign was the second-longest in Egyptian history, from 1279 to 1213 BC. Historians regard this pharaoh as the greatest, most celebrated, and most powerful of the New Kingdom. Indeed, the New Kingdom was the most potent period in Ancient Egypt. After Ramses II’s death, his successors and later Egyptians called him the” “Great Ancestor” In addition to his wars with the Hittites and Libyans, Ramses II was a great reformer. He used extensive building strategies and established many temples and colossal statues throughout Egypt. Undoubtedly, the works of this pharaoh refer strongly to his greatness.


Merneptah or Merenptah (reigned July or August 1213 BC – 2 May 1203 BC) was the fourth pharaoh of the Nineteenth Dynasty of Ancient Egypt. He ruled Egypt for almost ten years, from late July or early August 1213 BC until his death on 2 May 1203 BC, according to contemporary historical records. He was the thirteenth son of Ramesses II, only coming to power because all his older brothers had died, including his full brother Khaemwaset or Khaemwase. By the time he ascended to the throne, he was probably around seventy. His throne name was Ba-en-re Mery-netjeru, which means “The Soul of Ra, Beloved of the Gods”. He is perhaps best known for his victory stele, featuring the first known mention of the name Israel.

Seti II

Seti II (or Sethos II) was the fifth pharaoh of the Nineteenth Dynasty of Egypt and reigned from c. 1203 BC to 1197 BC. His throne name, Userkheperure Setepenre, means “Powerful are the manifestations of Re, the chosen one of Re.” He was the son of Merneptah and Isetnofret II and sat on the throne during a period known for dynastic intrigue and short reigns, and his rule was no different. Seti II had to deal with many serious plots, most significantly the accession of a rival king named Amenmesse, possibly a half-brother, who seized control over Thebes and Nubia in Upper Egypt during his second to fourth regnal years.


Amenmesse (also Amenmesses or Amenmose) was the fifth pharaoh of the Nineteenth Dynasty in Ancient Egypt, possibly the son of Merneptah and Queen Takhat. Others consider him to be one of the innumerable sons of Ramesses II. Very little is known about this pharaoh, who ruled Egypt for only three to four years. Various Egyptologists date his reign between 1202 BC–1199 BC or 1203 BC–1200 BC, with others giving an accession date of 1200 BC. Amenmesse means “born of or fashioned by Amun” in Egyptian. Additionally, his nomen can be found with the epithet Heqa-waset, which means “Ruler of Thebes”. His royal name was Menmire Setepenre.


Twosret, also spelt Tawosret or Tausret (d. 1189 BC conventional chronology), was the last known ruler and the final pharaoh of the Nineteenth Dynasty of Egypt.

She is recorded in Manetho’s Epitome as a certain Thuoris, who in Homer is called Polybus, husband of Alcandra, and in whose time Troy was taken. She was said to have ruled Egypt for seven years, but this figure included the nearly six-year reign of Siptah, her predecessor. Twosret assumed Siptah’s regnal years as her own. While her sole independent authority would have lasted perhaps one to a half years from 1191 to 1189 BC, this number now appears more likely to be two whole years, possibly longer. Excavation work by the University of Arizona Egyptian Expedition on her memorial temple (“temple of millions of years”) at Gournah strongly suggests that it was completed and functional during her reign and that Twosret started a regnal year 9, which means that she had two and possibly three independent years of rule, once one deducts the nearly six-year reign of Siptah. Her royal name, Sitre Meryamun, means “Daughter of Re, beloved of Amun.”