We know about this Pharaoh’s reign, who lived more than three thousand years ago, thanks to an ancient document – the Papyrus of Harris – that explained how Ramses III became a victim of a conspiracy.
In the details, on behalf of Ramses III himself, about the incredible prosperity of the country as a result of his wise reign: “I allowed the army and the charioteers to stay in idleness”. “I covered the whole land with green fruit gardens and allowed the people to rest in their shade.” Despite the rosy picture, Ramses III became a victim of murderers, although such a crime against the ruler of God was, for those times a matter almost inconceivable.
Over several thousand years on the thrones of ancient Egypt has replaced a considerable number of rulers; only the dynasties numbered more than two dozen. However, there was no such rampant passion in ancient times as we know in the struggle for power in later periods. The killing of Pharaoh was considered a crime against God. The punishment could be not an ordinary human punishment, but disasters for all people or a universal catastrophe. Therefore, ancient Egyptian rulers killed by their subjects could be counted on the fingers.
Only four such cases are known to scientists: the pharaohs Teti, Amenemhat I, Ramses III, and Bocchoris. And of them, only Ramses III historians have no doubts. In 2012, the mummy of this Pharaoh was carefully studied with the help of modern technology. The tomography showed a deep wound on the neck and several minor injuries so that the sacrilege can be considered proven. The Turin Judicial Papyrus tells us who could have dared to commit such a terrible crime.
This unusual ancient document was also written on behalf of Pharaoh himself, who, after his death, was “seen from above”. The divine accuser listed several groups of suspects in his murder. In all, nearly one hundred people were involved in the case. The main suspect was Pharaoh’s wife Tiye, who was worried about her son’s fate and wanted to put him on the throne. Besides her, many people are listed: other wives, the treasury chief, butlers, the head of guards, scribes, and others.
All those accused are divided according to the degree of guilt into those directly involved in the conspiracy and those who knew it but did not warn the ruler. A separate list, lists the unjust judges who abused their position during the trial and had a boozefest with the women from the harem. The Turin document was probably the result of a second trial. The perpetrators incurred terrible penalties, depending on the measure of guilt: they were sentenced to execution, suicide, and having their noses and ears cut off.
According to the papyrus, the son, for the sake of whose reign, the murder was committed, allegedly committed suicide – he was graced by the judges. Still, historians have their own opinion on this matter. For many years, Egyptologists have studied an unusual mummy from about the same historical period. It was buried without honors and passed on the documents under the name “unnamed King E”. It is not even a classic mummy, but a partially mummified body; it was wrapped in goatskin and placed in a coffin designed for another person.
Thanks to genetic analysis, it became known that the unnamed prince was most likely the son of Ramses III. The young man’s fate was terrible; apparently, the unfortunate man was tied up tightly and buried alive. What happened to the main instigator of the conspiracy, the judicial papyrus does not tell.
It was difficult to judge the judicial system in force three thousand years ago, but what is certain is that the concept of protection did not exist then. After all, justice was administered by Pharaoh himself, looking on as his murderers were judged.
“Let everything they have done fall on their heads, for I am set free and protected throughout eternity, for I am among the 753 righteous kings who are before Amon-Ra, king of the gods, and before Osiris, ruler-eternity.”