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Egypt: Tausert, Qeen and Last Pharaoh of the 19th Dynasty


Tausert, Queen and Last Pharaoh of the 19th Dynasty
by Jimmy Dunn


As one of the few queens who ruled Egypt as Pharaoh (between 1187 and 1185 BC), it is regrettable that we have so little information on Tausert, traditionally the last ruler of Egypt's 19th Dynasty. Her name appears even in modern works in many different forms, including Twosre, Twore, Tawosret and Twosret. Her birth name appears to have been Two-sret (setep-en-mut) which means "Might Lady, Chosen of Mut". Her Throne name was Sit-re Mery-amun which means "Daughter of Re, Beloved of Amun".

Tausert becomes known to us as the wife of Seti II, and apparently a very beloved wife at that, even though she was not his first. That was an honor given to a lady named Takhat II, though she apparently did not supply him with an heir. Tausert gave birth to his first born sun, Sethos Merneptah, but unfortunately he died young. It was Seti II who initially ordered her tomb to be built in the Valley of the Kings, an honor given to few queens.

Upon Seti II's death, a son by what appears to be a Syrian wife, his third, named Tiaa, ascended to the throne of Egypt. His name was Ramesses-Siptah (Siptah Merenptah), but he was very young, probably in his early teens. He also suffered from a deformed left leg.

tausert1

It was Tausert who assumed the role of regent as the "Great Royal Wife", though it appears that for the remainder of her life, another powerful non-royal personage would perhaps be the power behind the throne. In effect, Siptah was under the double supervision of his stepmother and a certain chancellor Bay. Bay was originally the royal scribe of Seti II, and is thought to have also been of Syrian decent. If tradition is to be believed, Bay seduced the pharaoh's widow, who then gave him total control of Egypt's treasury.

Siptah held the throne of Egypt for approximately six years before his death, when Tausert formally ascended the throne of Egypt herself. In fact, in the fifth year of Siptah's rule, Tausert elevated herself considerably, taking full royal titles as Hatshepsut had done several hundred years in the past. However, it is believed that Bay continued to largely rule in the background. Her reign was short, lasting perhaps two years.

While little is known of this time, we do believe that campaigns were waged in the Sinai and Palestine, and there is evidence of her building work at Heliopolis, where a statue of the queen was found as well as at Thebes. At Thebes, she constructed a mortuary temple discovered by William Petrie to the south of the Ramesseum, and of course, continued work on her tomb in the Valley of the Kings. Her name also appears at Abydos, Hermopolis and Memphis.

She was probably originally buried in her tomb in the Valley of the Kings, but this tomb was later taken by Ramesses III for his father, Setnakht. Her mummy has not been positively identified, though it has been suggested that the remains of an "Unknown Woman D" form KV 35 is that of Tausert.

References:

Title

Author

Date

Publisher

Reference Number

Chronicle of the Pharaohs (The Reign-By-Reign Record of the Rulers and Dynasties of Ancient Egypt)

Clayton, Peter A.

1994

Thames and Hudson Ltd

ISBN 0-500-05074-0

History of Ancient Egypt, A

Grimal, Nicolas

1988

Blackwell

None Stated

Monarchs of the Nile

Dodson, Aidan

1995

Rubicon Press

ISBN 0-948695-20-x

Oxford History of Ancient Egypt, The

Shaw, Ian

2000

Oxford University Press

ISBN 0-19-815034-2

Who Were the Phraohs? (A history of their names with a list of cartouches)

Quirke, Stephen

1990

Dover Publications

ISBN 0-486-26586-2

Last Updated: June 12th, 2011

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