Who Was the Southern Vizier during the Last Part of the Reign of Amenhotep III?
Ancient Egyptian history has been under scrutiny for centuries of Egyptologists and historians. For quite a number of years, it was believed that Ramose was the southern vizier and Amenhotep the northern vizier during the last part of the reign of Amenhotep III, especially since he has one of the most impressive tombs from the 18thdynasty built in Thebes.
However, this has been in dispute for a number of years amongst scholars as “one scene of the Sed festival reliefs at Soleb depicts Ramose as the southern vizier and implies that one of Amenhotep’s statues from Bubastis describes him as an architect in several northern districts”. Thus, there may have been two viziers, one North and one South, during the reign of Amenhoptep III.
Looking at the names of these viziers, the name of the reputed southern vizier may be associated with the north, while the name of the so-called northern vizier may be associated with the south. The name Ramose is linked with Heliopolis (part of modern day Cairo), whilst Amenhotep, “Amen is at peace,” is linked with Thebes. Because of these, the names imply that a northern- or southern-sounding name does not necessarily imply a northern or southern origin.
Ramose was married to Merytptah, “the beloved of Ptah” whose name indicates that she was associated with the north. “Ornament of the king” was her title, implying that she may have been part of the king’s harem. From the evidence shown, it appears that Ramose was from a northern-based powerful family.
Both Amenhoptep and Ramose had tombs built in the south, but which one was the southern vizier? Although Ramose’s tomb is one of the most impressive from this period, no evidence was found of the burial of the vizier Ramose when his tomb was excavated. “Because Ramose’s tomb is relatively complete but with no evidence of a burial and with a smaller transverse chamber than that of Amenhotep, one possible explanation is that Ramose’s tomb is a cenotaph and that he was buried in the north. Or, he, as a northerner, may have intended to be buried at Thebes for religious reasons, as his father may have been, but circumstances prevented the accomplishment of his original intent. The large size of Amenhotep’s tomb, however incomplete, indicates that it may have been intended for his burial, and as a display of power by the most important local official”.
Stele and other iconography stress the northern aspect of Ramoses family. In summary, while Ramose has long been accepted that he was the southern vizier and Amenhotep the northern vizier during the last part of the reign of Amenhotep III, looking at the archaeological evidence suggests that, in fact, Amenhotep was the southern vizier and Ramose the northern vizier.
Gordon, Andrew (1989) Who Was the Southern Vizier during the Last Part of the Reign of Amenhotep III?, Journal of Near Eastern Studies, The University of Chicago Press.