Northern Illinois University Press

The Harem Conspiracy

The Murder of Ramesses III

Susan Redford

"A superb study of an intriguing topic."—Richard H. Wilkinson, author of Symbol and Magic in Egyptian Art

"An appealing reconstruction, vivid and convincing.... This book will prove irresistible to enthusiasts of ancient Egypt."—Choice

"An educational and enjoyable venture into the intrigue and mystery of the times."—The Scroll

For more than three thousand years, the mysterious events surrounding the death of Ramesses III have puzzled historians and students of ancient Egypt. Now, archaeologist Susan Redford investigates the circumstances of the ancient pharaoh's death and discovers among the women of his harem the threads of a murder conspiracy.

From new translations of ancient papyri and careful readings of temple carvings, Redford identifies the suspects in the assassination—wives, concubines, and attendants. She evaluates the evidence against them and outlines a possible murder plot that turns upon a shocking revelation about the pharaoh's immediate family. On the basis of new discoveries relating to the identity of Ramesses III's queens and their sons, she uncovers a primary motive for regicide and presents persuasive evidence of a palace revolt. Divisions between clans and rival lineages, she argues, gave rise to a plot to murder the king.

Richly illustrated with thirty photos and diagrams, Redford's groundbreaking investigation of the plot to murder "the last of the great pharaohs" offers an extraordinary vision of the ancient Egyptian world.

(2002) 200 pp., 30 illus.
ISBN: 978-0-87580-620-4
Paper $28.00

Susan Redford, a research affiliate of Pennsylvania State University, directs the Theban Tomb Survey in the Valley of the Nobles at Luxor. She lives with her two sons and her husband, Donald, in State College, Pennsylvania.

Table of Contents

List of Illustrations and Tables
Egypt's Imperial Age: An Historical Overview by Donald B. Redford
Introduction: Evidence of a Conspiracy
1. Murder at Court
2. A House Divided
3. The Royal Harem
4. All the King's Men
5. Mansion of Millions of Years
6. "The Hawk Has Flown to Heaven"
7. "United with Eternity"
Epilogue: "Of Whom Is Pharaoh Still Master?"
Appendix A: Dramatis Personae
Appendix B: The Calendar

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ISBN: 978-0-87580-620-4
paper $28.00