King Ramesses III is considered to have been the last great king of the New Kingdom. He was not the son of Ramesses II; his father was Setnakhte, the founder of the 20th Dynasty.
He was a great admirer of his ancestor Ramesses II and he followed in his footsteps, especially as a great warrior and in his building works. He built a great temple on the west bank of the Nile at Luxor called Medinet Habu, and many structures in Karnak and Luxor temples, in Heliopolis, Memphis, Abydos and Hermopolis.
He saved Egypt from an invasion of the so-called “Sea people”, who were more dangerous than the Hyksos, and defeated them in a naval battle. He seems to have died when he was in his sixties as the result of a harem conspiracy; the records of the trial of his murderers still survive.
He was buried in his tomb (KV11) in the Valley of the Kings, West Thebes; it had been begun for his father but was abandoned on the latter’s early death. Due to the tomb being robbed, the mummy was moved several times by the priests, and the king was reburied three times.
The last tomb was where the mummy was found in the Deir el-Bahari cachette (DB320) in 1881. His mummy had pierced ears, which was the fashion during this period. Now in the National Museum of Egyptian Civilization, Cairo. CG 61083
Photo: Patrick Landmann