10 Things You Probably Didn’t Know About the Harem Conspiracy

Various studies suggest that all the conspirators came from the inner circle of Ramses III. Amid the plotters were military men, household servants as well as civil servants.

The royal harems of ancient Egypt were full of conspirators. Quite a few high-ranked royals died a brutal death, mainly because someone plotted against them. For example, no one truly knows why King Tutankhamun’s tomb was abruptly sealed. His burial chamber was not accurately adorned and was significantly small.

There are multiple mysteries of ancient Egypt that have not been solved as of yet; the Harem conspiracy is one of them. A detailed assessment of the mummy of pharaoh Ramesses III revealed that his throat was cut to the bone. As per various reports, the wound was quite deep and must have been lethal back in time. The aforementioned conclusions go well with the ancient texts that represent a conspiracy against the pharaoh’s life, which included the involvement of the women, sorcerers and high ranking officials. 

The mummy of Ramses III. Source: Wikimedia Commons
The mummy of Ramses III. Source: Wikimedia Commons

Here are ten interesting facts regarding the Harem Conspiracy of Egypt:

1. The accused of the Harem conspiracy were put on trial:

The Turin Papyrus revealed that the conspirators of the Harem Conspiracy were put on trial. The accused was one of the secondary wives of Ramesses called Queen Tiye. She aimed to get her son, prince Pentawer, onto the throne of Egypt. The said case eventually became known as the Harem Conspiracy, and it was extensively documented by the ancient Egyptian judicial system. 

2. Ramses III’s rule had weakened over time:

Ramses III’s reign was in pieces back when he was brutally murdered by one of his own. He had to deal with multiple military disputes in the first 20 years of his rule. Moreover, the condition of Egypt’s economy deteriorated over time, and his position had become weakened. Queen Tiye took advantage of the situation and accumulated co-conspirators in the royal castle of Egypt.

3. The judicial papyrus of Turin:

As stated above, the said papyrus contains a detailed account of all those who were accused and put on trial. There were twenty-seven men and six women that were charged with high treason. Moreover, over five men were charged with corruption.

4. The initial plan was to murder the pharaoh and sideline the chosen heir:

The conspirators wanted to eliminate Ramesses III and his chosen heir, prince Ramesses Amenherkhepshef. However, it is believed that their goal was to stir controversies and hatred for the pharaoh amid the people of Egypt. One of the women in the harem had asked her brother, a captain of the army commanding Nubian archers, to encourage rebels of the country.

5. No one truly knows if Ramses III survived the attack or not:

Evidence suggests that Ramesses III survived the attack as he was the one who appointed the members of the court of investigation. Lee Papyrus describes that Ramesses III passed away during the trial. However, the physical evidence from the mummy revealed that the cut to the throat was so severe that is it hard to see how Ramesses could have survived this attack for more than a just few hours.

6. Sorcerers were involved in Ramses III’s murder:

Multiple renowned magicians of ancient Egypt were involved in the Harem conspiracy. Queen Tiye appointed the sorcerers to weave spells around the pharaoh so he could die a quick death. She wanted her son to take his place on the throne.

7. Ramses III’s toe was missing:

Physical evidence also showed that besides the fatal wound to the throat, his toe was cut off before his death. This depicts that he was attacked by multiple assailants. If Ramesses was not killed during the Harem Conspiracy, then there must have been a second successful attempt on his life during the trial.

8. The conspirators were Ramses III’s most trusted servants:

Various studies suggest that all the conspirators came from the inner circle of Ramses III. Amid the plotters were military men, household servants as well as civil servants. Moreover, multiple sorcerers and women from the harem were involved. The commander of the army, overseer of the treasury, butler, and scriber were also part of the master plan.

9. Ramses III was assassinated in around 1155 BC:

Ramesses III was in the royal harem in the Western Tower of Medinet Habu when an attempt on his life was made. Ramses III was assassinated on day 15 of month 3 of Shemu, 1155 BC. This particular date was selected as it matched with the Beautiful Feast of the Valley.

10. The conspirators were brutally punished:

Queen Tiye and her son were brutally punished after the death of Ramses III. The mummy known as ‘Unknown Man E’ is commonly considered to be Prince Pentawer, the son of Queen Tiye. His body was not embalmed, but wrapped in an unclean goatskin and placed in an anonymous coffin. Genetic studies confirmed that he has the same Y-chromosome haplotype and shares half his autosomal DNA with Ramesses III.

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