to Administer Egypt
It is regularly admitted that it is not known how and
when Haremhab became king of Egypt. Some think that he was the last
king of the Eighteenth Dynasty; some place him at the beginning of the
He was not the son of a king, nor was he the father of Ramses I, who
followed him.(2) Nothing
is known of his antecedents. (3)
He was appointed by a king to rule the country, and some time after
a campaign of conquest or re-conquest against Ethiopia he was designated
by the king to be crowned. Nowhere is found the name of the king who
appointed him to this extraordinary office. Who could the appointing
monarch have been? It was often surmised that he was Akhnaton. But Akhnaton
had sons-in-law who followed him on the throne, Smenkhkare and Tutankhamen.
Often this role is ascribed to Tutankhamenbut the youthful king
was followed by an old general, Ay, the maternal grandfather of the
two young princes. Was it Ay who appointed Haremhab to administer the
land for him, and then, in his own lifetime, crowned him? But of
Haremhabs relation to Ay we know absolutely nothing. (4)
And if there is no historical link between Haremhab and Ay, the last
known king of the Eighteenth Dynasty, does any compelling reason exist,
or even any ground whatsoever, to place Haremhab immediately after Tutankhamen
or after Ay, where we usually find him in books on history? A likely
ground is not only non-existent, but everything confounds such placement
of the appointed pharaoh.
Had Haremhab been a prominent official in the days of
el-Amarna, he, like other generals and courtiers, would have had a sepulchral
chamber built for him in the necropolis of Akhet-Aton (el-Amarna).(5)
But no tomb, nor any other monument of his, was found there. However,
while yet a general, he built for himself a tomb near Memphis, a place
rather neglected during the Eighteenth Dynasty; later he prepared another
tomb for himself at Thebes.(6)
The finely sculptured Memphite tomb of the Great
Commander of the Army Haremhab was discovered early in the nineteenth
century. At that time it was dismantled and its blocks with inscriptions
and bas-reliefs were scattered among many private and public collections.
Through subsequent decades scholars spent efforts in trying to trace
the parts and collate the pictures and texts. Some blocks described
in older publications have since been losta block seen many years
ago in a private collection in Alexandria is such a case. The museums
of Leyden, Vienna, Bologna, and Berlin preserve disunited portions of
the tomb. More sculptured blocks have been retrieved in the newly-resumed
excavations by the Egypt Exploration Society, beginning in 1975.(7)
Haremhabs own statement of his title at the time
his sepulcher near Memphis was being prepared is:
Chosen of the king, Presider over the Two Lands [Egypt],
in order to carry on the administration of the Two Lands, general
of generals of the Lord of the Two Lands.(8)
Such titles no officer under the king had ever borne.
Under what ruler he thus served is not certain, but whoever he was,
such power in the hands of a subject must necessarily have endangered
his throne. (9)
On another fragment
from his tomb he is called The commander-in-chief of the army,
Haremhab, and on still another, Deputy of the King, presiding
over the Two Lands. (10)
the pictures next to these inscriptions he wears the diadem with the
uraeus, a cobra, the emblem of royal power in Egypt.
The scholars are thus compelled to the conclusion: Incongruity
in the tomb: Throughout its reliefs the figure of the general Haremhab
wears the uraeus. (11) It is unique
in Egyptian representational art that a uraeus should crown the head
of a person who does not occupy the throne. An explanation was offered
that the uraeus must have been added to the diadem at some later time,
after Haremhab was crowned.(12)
The bas-reliefs in the tomb in various scenes show
Haremhab in a pose of submission before a king, but the figure of the
king is regularly erased on the surviving fragments; the figure of the
king was deliberately destroyed in ancient times. On one bas-relief
Haremhab is shown with his right arm lifted in adoration of the king
whose figure, probably much larger than that of Haremhab, is not preserved;
in his left hand Haremhab holds a fan, and throughout the texts he carries
the honorific title the fan-bearer to the right of the king.
On another block (Berlin fragment), Haremhab is shown
in front of another group of Egyptian dignitaries; he and the rest of
them display obeisance by bending their bodies before the king whose
likeness is not preserved; Haremhab, though in front of those who pay
homage, is not depicted larger than the others in the group: nor does
he wear a diadem on this bas-relief.
Dignitaries of foreign lands, Syrians being prominent
among them, are shown as paying homage and affirming their role of vassals
to the king, whose likeness is destroyed.
The text, reconstructed by Gardiner, makes it appear
that the foreign chiefs availed themselves of Haremhabs good standing
with the king to assure him of their loyalty.
Words spoken to His Majesty _ _ _ when _ _ _ came the great ones of
all foreign lands to beg life from him, by the hereditary prince,
sole friend and royal scribe Haremhab, justified. He said, making
answer (to the king _ _ _ foreigners) who knew not Egypt, they are
beneath thy feet forever and ever; Amun has handed them over to thee.
. . . Thy battle cry is in their hearts. (13)
Despite the lacunae it is clear that the king is addressed with
flattering words and is assured that his might extends over all lands.
In front of a huddled group of foreigners, none shackled,
a personage proclaimed by a group to be an intepreter, speaks to them;
Haremhab, also present and shown larger than the interpreter, attentively
listens to him. A raised surface above the head of that man had been
prepared for the words spoken by him, but was never filled. The foreigners,
by their arms lifted in adoration, document the royal presence; the
figure of the king, however, as in the rest of the bas-reliefs, is not
preserved. Like Haremhab, the great ones of all lands who came
to beg life listen to what the interpreter has to say. The
words of all lands are of importance, observes Gardiner,
and makes a point also of the fact that Haremhab is seen in converse
with the interpreter, but he draws no further conclusion from
On many bas-reliefs of the Eighteenth Dynasty, like those
of Hatshepsut, Thutmose III, Amenhotep III, or Akhnaton, foreigners
are shown in the presence of the pharaoh either as prisoners or as vassals,
but never is a person designated as interpreter depicted; nor do the
bas-reliefs of the Nineteenth Dynasty, with foreigners depicted, show
intepreters. Was the king whose likeness we miss not versed in Egyptian?
Another fragment from the Memphite tomb of General Haremhab
(no. 1889 from Bologna) has a scene chiseled in low relief showing a
horse rider between groups of what appear to be soldiers and laborers,
possibly in an armed camp. A horserider is practically unknown from
Egyptian artthe Egyptians used horses to draw chariots or wagons,
but not to ride horseback. The rider in the scene sits on the horse
with no saddle under him. A person is shown mounted on a horse
without a saddlea representation most unique rarissime)
in Egyptian art, and the person has not the appearance of an Egyptian,
though he holds in his hand an emblem of a dignitary. . . (15)
But this was the Assyrian way of riding horsesnever with a saddle,
for the most placing a rug or cloth on the horses back to sit
The way the horses are depicted on Assyrian baw-reliefs
differs greatly from the ways they are presented in Egyptian, Mycenaean,
or Scythian reliefs, and each of these differs also from all others.
The design of the horse with its rider on the stone plate in the Bologna
collection from the Memphite tomb of Haremhab is not Egyptian, but clearly
Assyrian. the prancing horse under a rider with one of the front legs
raised from the ground, and also its mane arrangement, and the way the
artist generally treats the horse, are eminently Assyrian. The Egyptian
steed, never for horseback riding and regularly drawing a chariot whether
in war or in hunt, has traditionally two forelegs raised, thus charging
in gallop, differs in every detail from the horse under the rider on
the Bologna fragment from Haremhabs bas-relief. The Assyrians
are credited with the development of cavalry; in the words of a Hebrew
prophet, Assyrians . . . horsemen riding upon horses. (16)
The fact that throughout the texts the name of the
king is not given is strange, and does not follow established practice,
or, one may say, an otherwise unalterable rule: in Egyptian texts the
native Pharaoh is always named by his royal names and cognomens, not
just as His Majesty. Together with the presence of a translator
to interpret the words of the king to his vassals, the Egyptian commander-of-the-army
among them, and likewise the employ of cavalry, must impress ever stronger
that the king whose likeness is absent and whose name is not given was
a foreign monarch, and more concretely, an Assyrian king.
In the same tomb the enigmatic king is called The
Great of Strength [who] will send his mighty arm in front of [his army
_ _ _ and will] destroy them and plunder their towns and cast fire into
_ _ _ and _ _ _ foreign countries will set others in their places.(17)
In Egyptian texts of conquest, the expression plunder
their towns in not infrequently met with; but cast fire
into [their lands] is not usual. In the records of Sennacherib
and of his son Esarhaddon, as also in those of earlier and later Assyrian
kings, the graphic descriptions of their scorched earth
tactics make clear that casting fire was a never absent feature of their
warfare. I besieged, I captured, I destroyed, I devastated, I
burned with fire, wrote Sennacherib in the record of his second
campaign, and similarly of his fifth, sixth, and seventh campaigns.(18)
He called himself the flame that consumes the insubmissive.
(19) This epithet of the great king"the
flame"is also used by Haremhab: not in describing himself, but
in addressing the king who appointed him: Thy name is flame.
(20) It was a fitting cognoment of Sennacherib,
and Harmhab used it too in offering an epithet in lieu of a name to
designate the Assyrian king.
The removal of entire populations from their lands was
a practice peculiar to the Assyrians and their warfare (later also adopted
by the Chaldeans); the Egyptians never transferred conquered poeples
from one country to another. Yet the last line of the above quoted text
from the tomb of Haremhab ( _ _ _ foreign countries will set others
in their places ) refers to such measures. Breasteds reading
of the passage was: _ _ _ Asiatics; others have been placed in
their abodes. (21) Sargon, father
of Sennacherib, removed the last of the Ten Tribes from Samaria and
her cities and settled others in their place (II Kings 17:24), and according
to his prism inscriptions Sennacherib removed large numbers of people
of Judah, over two hundred thousand, from their land to exile.(22)
On a stone from Haremhabs tomb, discovered serving
as a doorpost in a building in Cairo, Haremhab is described as a
henchman at the feet of his lord on the battle filed on this day of
slaughtering the Asiatics. (23)
On another fragment (at Alexandria) he is said to have been sent
as the Kings envoy to the sun-discs rising, returning in
triumph, his attack having succeeded. (24)
Many times in his tomb he is entitled Great Commander of the Army,
also one who was chosen by the king to carry on the administration
of the Two Lands [Egypt].
All leads to the conclusion that Haremhab served under
an Assyrian king as an appointed military administrator of Egypt.
It is difficult at the present day to
know what position to assign him [Haremhab] in the pharaonic lists:
while some regard him as the last of the XVIIIth Dynasty, others
prefer to place him at the head of the XIXth. Maspero The
Struggle of Nations, p. 369; cf. A. K. Philips, Horemheb,
Founder of the XIXth Dynasty? Orientalia 46 (1977).
E. Meyer, Geschichte des altertums
Vol. II, pt. I, p. 247; R. Hari, Horemheb et la Reine Moutnodjemet
(Geneva, 1964), p. 412.
G. Martin, Excavations at the Memphite
Tomb of Horemheb, 1975: Preliminary Report, Journal of
Egyptian Archaeology 62 (1976), p. 9.
A. H. Gardiner, The Tomb of the General
Haremhab, Journal of Egyptian Archaeology, vol. 39
(1953), note 3.
An individual of the importance of Harmhabi,
living alongside the king, would at least have a tomb begun for
him at Tell el-Amarna. Maspero, The Struggle of Nations,
p. 342, note.
G. Maspero, The Tomb of Harmhabi and Toutankhamanou
Annual preliminary reports appear in Journal
of Egyptian Archaeology.
James Breasted, Ancient Records of Egypt,
Vol. III, Sect. 20
Breasted, History of Egypt, pp. 399f.
The Leyden and London fragments.
Breasted, Ancient Records of Egypt, Vol.
III, sec. 12.
Breasted, Zeitschrift fuer Aegyptische
Sprache 38 (1900), pp. 47-50; Martin, Excavations at the
Memphite Tomb of Horemheb, 1976, Journal of Egyptian Archaeology
63 (1977), p. 14: The uraeus has been carefully added. . .
Gardiner, The Memphite Tomb of the
General Haremhab, Journal of Egyptian Archaeology 39
(1953), p. 5
Ibid., p. 6.
Hari, Horemheb et la Reine Moutnodjemet,
Ezekiel 23:112. Cf. Sargon IIs reference
to his mounted troops as my cavalry which never, even in friendly
territory, leaves my side. (Pritchard, Ancient Near Eastern
Texts, p. 286.) For representations of horses of Sennacherib,
see Sidney Smith, Assyrian Sculptures in the British Museum from
Shalmaneser III to Sennacherib (London, 1938).
Gardiner, The Memphite Tomb of the
General Haremhab, Journal of Egyptian Archaeology 39,
Luckenbill, Records of Assyria, II,
The hieroglyphic sign for fire
or flame is a noun. Gardiner (op. cit., p. 5)
translates not literally Thy name flares ; Breasted
(Records, III.) renders the phrase more accurately as Thy
name is fire.
Breasted, Records, III, sec. 11.
A total of 200,125 according to th Taylor
K. Pfluger, Haremhab und die Amarnazeit
(1936), p. 16; also Hari, Horemheb et la reine Moutnodjemet,
p. 89 and plate XIV.
The so-called Zinzinia fragment: Breasted,
Records, III, sec. 8. Hari, Horemheb et la reine Moutnodjemet,
p. 66 and pl. XI.