Psusennes I was the third king of the Twenty-first Dynasty and is probably the best known of all this dynasty's kings.
This is because of the discovery of his intact tomb during the excavation of Tanis. His mummy was found in the tomb and
was that of an old man. Also is the tomb was a second burial chamber was for his sister and wife, Queen Mutnodjme. At some
time later, her mummy and funerary objects were removed. King Amunemope's mummy and funerary objects were placed there
after he was moved from another tomb that was not too far away. There were also several other mummies found in this tomb
as well. These mummies were thought to have been placed here to be protected from the destruction of the other tombs
Psusennes I, or [Greek Ψουσέννης], Psibkhanno or Hor-Pasebakhaenniut I [Egyptian ḥr-p3-sb3-ḫˁỉ--nỉwt] was the
third king of the Twenty-first dynasty of Egypt who ruled between 1047 – 1001 BC. Psusennes is the Greek version
of his original name Pasebakhaemniut, which means "The Star Appearing in the City" while his throne name,
Akheperre Setepenamun, translates as "Great are the Manifestations of Re, chosen of Amun." He was the son of
Pinedjem I and Henuttawy, Ramesses XI's daughter by Tentamun. He married his sister Mutnedjmet.
Professor Pierre Montet discovered pharaoh Psusennes' intact tomb (No.3 or NRT III) in Tanis in 1940.
Unfortunately, due to its moist Lower Egypt location, most of the "perishable" wood objects were destroyed by
water - a fate not shared by KV62, the tomb of Tutankhamun in the drier climate of Upper Egypt. However, the
king's magnificent funerary mask was recovered intact; it proved to be made of gold and lapis lazuli and held
inlays of black and white glass for the eyes and eyebrows of the object. Psusennes I's mask is considered to be
"one of the masterpieces of the treasure[s] of Tanis" and is currently housed in Room 2 of the Cairo Museum. It
has a maximum width and height of 38 cm and 48 cm respectively. The pharaoh's
"fingers and toes had been encased in gold stalls, and he was buried with gold sandals on his feet. The finger
stalls are the most elaborate ever found, with sculpted fingernails. Each finger wore an elaborate ring of gold
and lapis lazuli or some other semiprecious stone."
Psusennes' outer and middle sarcophagi had been recycled from previous burials in the Valley of the Kings through
the state-sanctioned tomb-robbing that was common practice in the Third Intermediate Period. A cartouche on the
red outer sarcophagus shows that it had originally been made for Pharaoh Merneptah, the nineteenth dynasty
successor of Ramesses II. Psusennes, himself, was interred in an "inner silver coffin" which was inlaid with
gold. Since "silver was considerable rarer in Egypt than gold," Psusennes I's silver "coffin represents a
sumptuous burial of great wealth during Egypt's declining years."
Dr. Douglass Derry, who worked as the head of Cairo University's Anatomy Department, examined the king's remains
in 1940, determined that the king was an old man when he died. Derry noted that Psusennes I's teeth were badly
worn and full of cavities, and observed that the king suffered from extensive arthritis and was probably crippled
by this condition in his final years.
Psusennes' precise reign length is unknown because different copies of Manetho's records credit him with a reign
of either 41 or 46 Years. Some Egyptologists have proposed raising the 41 year figure by a decade to 51 years to
more closely match certain anonymous Year 48 and Year 49 dates in Upper Egypt. However, the German Egyptologist
Karl Jansen-Winkeln has suggested that all these dates should be attributed to the serving High Priest of Amun
Menkheperre instead who is explicitly documented in a Year 48 record. Jansen-Winkeln notes that "in the first
half of Dyn. 21, [the] HP Herihor, Pinedjem I and Menkheperre have royal attributes and [royal] titles to
differing extents" whereas the first three Tanite kings (Smendes, Amenemnisu and Psusennes I) are almost never
referred to by name in Upper Egypt with the exception of one graffito and rock stela for Smendes. In contrast,
the name of Psusennes I's Dynasty 21 successors such as Amenemope, Osochor and Siamun appear frequently in various
documents from Upper Egypt while the Theban High Priest Pinedjem II who was a contemporary of the latter three
kings never adopted any royal attributes or titles in his career..
Hence, two separate Year 49 dates from Thebes and Kom Ombo could be attributed to the ruling High Priest
Menkheperre in Thebes instead of Psusennes I but this remains uncertain. Psusennes I's reign has been estimated at
46 years by the editors of the Handbook to Ancient Egyptian Chronology. Psusennes I must have enjoyed cordial
relations with the serving High Priests of Amun in Thebes during his long reign since the High Priest Smendes II
donated several grave goods to this king which was found in Psusennes II's tomb.
During his long reign, Psusennes built the enclosure walls and the central part of the Great Temple at Tanis which
was dedicated to the triad of Amun, Mut and Khonsu.