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The end of the 19th Dynasty: the influence of officials of foreign origin.
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The end of the 19th Dynasty

The land of Egypt was overthrown from without, and every man was (thrown out) of his right; they had no chief mouth (rA-Hr) for many years formerly until other times. The land of Egypt was in the hands of the chiefs and of rulers of towns; one slew his neighbor, great and small. Other times have come after it, with empty years, Yarsu, a certain Syrian (xA-rw) was with them as chief. He set the whole land tributary before him together; he united his companions and plundered their possessions. They made gods like men, and no offerings were presented in the temples."
Harris Papyrus Pl. 75.
James Henry Breasted: Ancient Records of Egypt Part Four § 398.
    That a Syrian might try and usurp the throne is hardly surprising given the fact, that even slaves and their offspring could rise in the pharaonic administration and achieve positions of responsibility.
    One such was Bay, a Syrian, who served as butler to the king and became chancellor of Ramses Siptah.
Wearer of the royal seal, sole companion, casting out lying, presenting truth; whom the king established [in] the seat of his father, great chief treasurer of the whole land, Ramses-Khementer-Bay.
James Henry Breasted Ancient Records of Egypt, Part Three, § 647
    Bay's support of his pharaoh was crucial to his being able to hold on to the throne. But the scribe of the Tomb Paser announced to the workers of Deir el Medina in the fifth year of the reign of Siptah:
Pharaoh LPH killed the great enemy Bay.
Ostracon IFAO 1864
BIFAO vol.100, 2000 [2]
With the chancellor's death Queen Twosret's influence grew over the twelve year old king, who at about this time changed his name to Merneptah Siptah; and he had to accept Twosret as coregent. Merneptah Siptah died at the age of eighteen.
It used to be speculated whether Bay and Yarsu were one and the same.
    Another influential foreigner [1] was Ben Azama, who served as Merneptah's herald, a post of confidence. Of the eleven butlers of Ramses III, five were foreigners, a Libyan, a Lycian, a Syrian and two whose origin is uncertain.
The the gods decided to pacify the land and to return it to legitimate order. They chose as the head of the whole country a son of their own flesh, King Sethnakhte.
from the Harris Papyrus
    With the death of Queen Twosret the 19th dynasty ended. Sethnakhte's origins are obscure and it is doubtful that he was a legitimate heir. He was certainly capable and restored peace to the country in the first two years of his reign.

 


[1] foreigner here: Egyptian of foreign origin

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The Chancellor Bay’s execution[2] BIFAO vol.1000: Pierre Grandet, The Chancellor Bay’s execution (O. Ifao 1864)
 

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© August 2000
Update:
August 2006


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