Evil madman


misunderstood general?

Much has been written about Horemheb, most of it in a very negative way. In the majority of theories about the end of the Amarna period Horemheb is cast as the evil general who disposes of any pharaoh and commoner who stands in his way to becoming pharaoh himself.

 Firstly - Who was Horemheb?

From the tatters of a failed monotheistic religion the general Horemheb surfaces to help take control of the country (along with Ay) and steer Tutankhamun back from the brink of a heretic life of Aten worship and once more into the arms of Amun.

Horemheb must of begun his rise in the military during the time of Akhenaten, when he was known as 'Great Commander of the Army'. But little is heard about Horemheb during the Amarna Period which has been taken to mean by some modern scholars to mean that Horemheb was not prepared to follow the 'mad' teachings of that pharaoh and / or was a religious follower of the older gods.

There is a theory, however, that Horemheb was around in Amarna during the religious revolution and indeed played a bigger part in it than previously thought.There is mention of someone known as Paatenemheb, who may or may not be Horemheb. Why the connection? Horemheb does seem to spring into existence under Tutankhamun, and in a powerful position. Could Paatenmheb and Horemheb be the same man? Paatenmheb was a follower of the Aten, he was at Amarna and was a powerful man during that time.

When the Aten religion crumbled did Paatenmheb rather shrewdly change his religion back to the glorious Amun and change his name from the heretical PaATENmheb to Horemheb?

To add strength to his position (politically and in terms of his chances of reaching the throne), Horemheb was married to Nefertiti's sister Mutnedjmet. - To read more about her, and his mysterious first wife - CLICK HERE

Horemheb's Memphite tomb.

Before he became Pharaoh, Horemheb started work on his tomb at Saqqara. Not only do many images of Horemheb come from here (showing how the uraeus was added to his brow after the original carving took place), but also a list of his titles he had while serving under Tutankhamun:

 Concerning the Pharaoh and Central Government Hereditary:

Prince (of Upper and Lower Egypt) and count.

Sole Companion.

Deputy (Regent) of the King in the entire land.

Foremost of the King's courtiers.

Fanbearer on the right of the king.

Master of the Secrets of the Palace.

Overseer of (all) Offices of the King.

One elected by the King above the Two Lands to carry out the government of the Two Banks.



Overseer of the Generals of the Lord of the Two Lands.


King's Envoy.

Scribe of Recruits.

Overseer of Recruits of the Lord of the Two Lands.

 General Administration:

Chief of the Entire Land.

Seal Bearer of King of Upper and Lower Egypt.

High Steward.

Mouth Who Appears in the Entire Land.



True Royal Scribe.

One Who has authority over the library.

Overseer of all Overseers of Scribes of the King.


Public Works:

Overseer of all works of the King in every place.

Overseer of works in the hill of gritstone.



Overseer of all divine Offices.

Overseer of Priests of Horus, lord of Seby.

(These are only some of the titles in his tomb!)

Horemheb's rebuilding program

Horemheb wasted no time in undertaking numerous building projects when he succeeded Ay as pharaoh (these included work at the temples of Karnak (the Great Hypostyle Hall) and Luxor), this also meant repairing the various temples that had been shut down and neglected during Akhenaten's time in power. Horemheb also took over many monuments belonging to Tutankhamun and Ay.

Horemheb also began to rebuild law and order (especially in local government) which had apparently flourished under Akhenaten - the Pharaoh instituted law-courts in all the major cities (he then appointed priests from the local temples and mayors from the towns as judges in his law-courts and made them directly responsible to him).

Horemheb and the desecration of Akhenaten.

It is not very clear as to what extent Horemheb took in destroying the name of Akhenaten and his immediate family; it is thought that he may have given the orders to raze Amarna to the ground, desecrate the Royal Tomb at Amarna and also to dismantle the Aten temples at Thebes (surviving until present day and now known as 'Talatat'). However, it is also thought that the later Ramesside Kings may have taken it upon themselves to add to this process. But if Horemheb was responsible for entering Ay's tomb in the valley of the Kings to exact religious retribution (which is a serious act) then it would suggest that Horemheb was following a plan of 'divine justice' and if not responsible for all the destruction of the works of Akhenaten then he must of been responsible for at least a good amount.

Tomb KV57 - tomb of Horemheb in the Valley of the Kings

Horemheb's tomb was a change from the type of tomb that had been built before, both in its design and its decoration (on its walls were scenes from the Book of Gates (a religious text along the same lines of the Book of the Dead).

Decoration in the tomb

 Room E (Well Room)

(1)Left half of the room. Five scenes:

1. Anubis Jackal

2. King led by Harsiesi to Isis

3. Offering wine to Western Hathor.

4. Before Osiris-Onnophris.

5. Before Western goddess and Harsiesi


(2) Right half of the room. Five scenes:

1. King led by Horus to Hathor.

2 - 4. as at (1).

5. King before Osiris, Anubis and Harsiesi.






 Antechamber I

(3)Left half of room. Seven scenes:

1. King embraced by Hathor.

2. Before Anubis.

3. Offering wine to Isis.

4. Before Harsiesi.

5. Offering wine to Hathor.

6. Before Osiris.

7. Offering ointment to Ptah in front of a Zad-pillar.


(4)Right half of room. Seven scenes.

1. King led by Harsiesi to Hathor.

2. Offering wine to Anubis

3. Before Isis.

4. Offering wine to Harsiesi.

5. Before Hathor.

6. Offering wine to Osiris.

7. Before Nefertem in front of sa-sign.

 Sarcophagus Chamber J (Golden Hall)

(5) Outer thicknesses, Ma'at.

(6) and (7) Book of Gates, 1st division.

(8) and (9) Book of Gates, 3rd and 4th divisions, three registers, I-III, and part of 5th division.

(10) and (11) Book of Gates, 2nd division.

(12) Book of Gates, 5th division with Hall of Osiris.

Sarcophagus, red granite, still in tomb.

 Side-room K

(13) Osiris in front of zad-pillar (painted).

 Horemheb's tomb was discovered in 1907/08 by Theodore Davis, the decorations in the tomb were still in very good condition - although some of the columns and walls in the tomb were cracked and loose (caused by the movement of the hillside itself above the tomb). The original stone chippings dating back to when the tomb was first dug out from the hill still filled the tomb seeming like drifts of sand. Bones were found in the tomb, some still in the sarcophagus but others had been thrown into other rooms. The mummies belonging to Horemheb and his queen had not been recovered in the cache of kings and so it seems likely that these pathetic remains are all that is left of this particular pharaoh and his queen (although there some inspection graffiti on a door jamb within the tomb that can cast a little uncertainty on this assumption). If a correct and proper excavation had been undertaken then perhaps more questions could of been answered, but Davis and his team were true to form (KV55 a good example) and now a lot of evidence has been lost.

Horemheb's burial equipment had been shattered, broken, stripped and scattered throughout the tomb.

The tomb does show much evidence that the original tomb builders were not able to finish before the burial of Horemheb - the reliefs on the different walls show different stages of completion. Some scenes have only been sketched in by the intial draughtsmen, some then have correcting marks made on these intial sketches followed again by the first steps of carving the figures into the walls. Most of the tomb does lack any decoration - most of the corridors are painted a plain white.

The sarcophagus and the Book of Gates.

Horemheb's sarcophagus was a similar design to that of Ay's, Tutankhamun's and Akhenaten's - a very grand affair with a goddess supporting the corners.

The Book of Gates, which shows the specific problems of the Beyond - the threat of Apophis, the nature of time, Justice, material blessings and composition of the Beyond

Monuments of Horemheb

 Memphis - Tomb before accession

Memphis - Apis burials, Serapeum

Memphis - Piece of stela

Amarna - Fragment in Aten temple

Karnak - Pylon X

Karnak - Pylon XI

Karnak - Connecting wall of pylons

Karnak - Avenue of sphinxes

 Karnak - Wall between Pylon V and sanctuary

Karnak - Stele

Karnak - Inscription in temple of Ptah

Karnak - Block in pylon of Khonsu temple

Luxor - Usurped colonnade

Deir el Bahri - Restoration inscription

Medinet Habu - Restoration inscription

Silsileh - Rock temple, scenes of gods

Silsileh - Rock temple, Sudan war

Kom Ombo - Block re-used by Ptolemies

Kuban - Lion-Headed Shrine

Gebel Addeh - Rock shrine