Pharaoh Seti I, father of Ramses II


Who was pharaoh Seti I?

Menmaatre Seti I, Sethos I, son of Ramses I and Sitre, was the second pharaoh of the Nineteenth Dynasty; ruled about fifteen years, from 1294 to 1279 BC.

Seti I was a military man, like his father, born in the Nile Delta region. His name comes from Seth, the god of war, weapons and the army, whom Seti I served as a priest before becoming a soldier.

Not much is known about the youth of pharaoh Seti I, but about his reign. As his father became vizier of Horemheb and later pharaoh, he was soon associated with the throne, but by then he was of mature age.

In his first year of rule alone, he launched into the conquest of Palestine, Syria and Canaan, which had achieved their independence during the reign of Akhenaten or had been conquered by the Hittites, traditional enemies of ancient Egypt.

Seti’s campaigns to the south of these territories were a resounding success, unmatched since the times of Tuthmosis III and Amenhotep II, but he did not dare to go further north for the advance of Hittite rule.

Pharaoh Seti I: Reign

Upon ascending the throne, Seti I was already a family man, and his lifelong wife, Tuya, was not promoted to the rank of Great Royal Wife until his death.

It has been assumed that Seti I was the husband of Tanedjemet, a queen from the beginning of the dynasty, whose parentage is unknown, but that she was probably the daughter of Horemheb and the link between the 18th and 19th dynasties, which she gave legitimacy to the reign of the new dynasty and which explains why his wife, Yours, was not promoted to Great Royal Wife until her death.

Horemheb, Ramses I and Seti I had to pacify and reorder Egypt, being another of their conquests to dominate the powerful priests of Amun, who after the end of Akhenaten‘s revolution had returned to be too powerful.

One success in this silent battle was preventing the sons from inheriting the office. At the same time, the cult of the other traditional gods was strengthened (prohibiting, of course, mentioning the god Aten ), especially the god Seth.

It was precisely under Seti I that the real persecution towards the memory of Akhenaten began, and his unfinished capital, Akhetaten, began to be demolished.

The Nineteenth Dynasty was born as a true family of warrior kings, of a clear military origin. The successor of Seti I, the future Ramses II would not be an exception, and it was due to the immense fame that this pharaoh acquired that the memory of Seti I has come to us, undeservedly, somewhat diminished.

Seti I’s mummy, one of the best preserved, was found in 1881 in the cache of Deir el-Bahari and stored since in Cairo Museum. Studies on the mummy do not shed light on the reasons for his early death, although it is believed that he suffered from a vascular disease that caused his heart to malfunction.

Seti’s tomb ( KV17 ) is one of the largest in the Valley of the Kings and one of the most beautiful. It was discovered on October 16, 1817 by Belzoni. His sarcophagus, one of the most beautiful found in Egypt, is currently in the Sir John Soane’s Museum in London.

Seti I erected temples and his name appears in several monuments and inscriptions:

  • Temple and cenotaph at Abydos
  • Buildings in the Karnak temple, with a long series of scenes and inscriptions from the king’s wars
  • Main temple for the king’s cult, at Luxor, West Thebes
  • Blocks found in Elephantine (Island in the Nile)
  • Mentioned in various inscriptions near Aswan
  • Inscriptions in the Speos Artemidos (Temple of Hatshepsut in Beni Hasan )
  • Calcite stele found at Karnak
  • Statue in El Kab
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