Ramesses IV (Hekamaatresetepenamun) in Tour Egypt
RAMESSES IV, BEGINNING THE EMPIRE'S COLLAPSE
BY JIMMY DUNN --
The story of the Ramessid kings following Ramesses III is one of decline and the end of the great
empire ruled under the rule of Egyptians. Afterwards, Egypt would mostly be ruled by foreigners of
one kind or another.
However, Ramesses III's son, probably by either Queen Isis or Queen Titi, did seem to have enjoyed
a fairly prosperous, albeit short reign. Of course, we know from many other kings during this
period that his birth name, Ramesses, means "Re has Fashioned Him". His throne name, Heqamaatre
means "Ruler of Justice like Re. We know that he had a chief wife named Tentopet, who was buried in
QV74 in the Valley of the Queens, as little else of his family is known.
Ramesses IV became crown prince in the twenty-two of his father's reign. Though only the fifth son
of his Ramesses III, his four older brother's predeceased their father. Whether or not he ruled as
a co-regent of his father, during the closing years of Ramesses III's life, his son took on
increasing responsibilities. For example, as early as year 27 of Ramesses III's reign, he Ramesses
IV is depicted as being responsible for the appointment of one Amenemopet as the High Priest of Mut
Some scholars maintain that it was Ramesses IV who resided over the court that tried those arrested
in the "Harem Conspiracy" involving his father, but this is by no means certain. His father may, or
may not have survived that conspiracy, but irregardless, it is clear that the assassination attempt
was aimed at eliminating Ramesses IV as the crown prince. Obviously, this did not take place.
Though little in the way of military action can be documented during Ramesses IV's reign, there is
some slight evidence of a sea action, in Ramesses IV's third year, perhaps with the Sea People that
were such a bother to his father. And though we know of the viceroy of Nubia, one Hori II, who's
father had served under Siptah at the end of the 19th Dynasty, there is little other evidence for
Ramesses IV's activities outside Egypt proper.
We do know, from several inscribed stele in the Wadi Hammamat, that he sent large expeditions out
to obtain good stone for statues. One of these included 8,368 men, that included some 2,000
soldiers. Prior to this, little activity had taken place at Wadi Hammamat prior to the reign of
Seti I. Apparently the soldiers were not sent so much to defend the workmen, but rather to control
We also find recorded expeditions to the turquoise mines at Serabit el-Khadim in the Sinai, as well
as southern campaigns into Nubia as far south as the fort of Buhen, that lies just north of the
Second Cataract (rapids) on the Nile River.
He was also responsible, together with his father, for major work on enlargement of the temple of
Khonsu at Karnak. He also apparently at least began a mortuary temple, intended to be even larger
than that of his father's, near the temple of Hatshepsut. There is another, smaller temple
associated with him north of Medinet Habu, of which even less is known.
It has been suggested that the larger temple was abandoned for the less demanding size of the
smaller. In addition, he is attested to by a stela at Koptos and from other smaller monuments in
the Sinai, as well as a statue from Memphis and an Obelisk from Heliopols. Due to his building
actives, he apparently increased, and perhaps even doubled, the work force at Deir el-Medina.
However, as at the end of his father's reign, further delays in the delivery of basic commodities
needed by these workmen occurred, that, in hindsight at the end of the 20th Dynasty, can be seen to
have had a significant impact on the demise of the Egyptian Empire. These problems coincided with
the growing influence of the High Priest of Amun. Ramesesnakht, the older of that high office, was
soon accompanying the state officials when they went to pay the men their monthly rations, which
indicates that probably the temple of Amun, and not the Egyptian state itself, was now at least
partially responsible for their wages. In fact, Ramesesnakht controlled a powerful family
consisting of many priests in the temple of Amun. His son, Usermaatranakht was "steward of the
estate of Amun" and as such, he not only controlled a vast Temple estate, but also a majority of
the state owned land in Middle Egypt.
The High Priest of Amun was now a hereditary position, and its heirs would become more and more
independent of the king so that by the time of Ramesses XI at the end of the 20th Dynasty, the
Egypt would finally be divided between the High Priests at Thebes and the Lower Egyptian King,
resulting in the Third Intermediate Period.
Despite all of the good work for the gods and his prayer to Osiris for a long reign [as my
predecessor], recorded on a stele discovered by Mariette at Abydos that dates to year four of
Ramesses IV's reign, the king died after only about six years on the throne. He was succeeded on
the throne by a brother who continued the line of Ramessid names (Ramesses V). Ramesses IV was
buried on the West Bank of ancient Thebes (modern Luxor) just outside the earlier main grouping of
tombs in the Eastern Valley of the Kings in KV2, but his body was later discovered in the royal
cache unearthed in the tomb of Amenhotep II (KV35) and is now in the Egyptian Antiquities Museum in