Egyptian Pharoah Ramses III was murdered in a conspiracy involving one of his wives, a son, and his harem. His wife, Tiye, wanted to place her son, Pentaweret, on the throne, but Ramses named another successor. The plot succeeded in eliminating the Ramses III, but failed to install Pentaweret on the throne. In the end, 38 people were executed for their part in the conspiracy and Ramses IV succeeded his father as planned.
By 1155 B.C., Ramses III had ruled Egypt for over 30 years. The 62-year-old Pharaoh had reached old age, so he named his eldest son, Ramses Amonhirkhopshef, his successor. Pharaoh had multiple wives with Tyti being Amonhirkhopshef’s mother. While one son and mother prepared for the succession, another pair plotted to seize power.
Queen Tiye wanted her son, Pentaweret, to inherit the throne over Tyti’s son. The queen hatched a plot to kill the king and install her son in his stead. She recruited many disgruntled government officials into her scheme. Additionally, some of Pharaoh’s harem became involved. Tiye even turned to black magic to ensure success.
The conspirators succeeded in assassinating Ramses III. Until recently, many believed poison killed the Pharaoh. However, a CAT scan of his mummy uncovered a deep cut on the throat. The strike went down to the bone and spinal column.
Following the assassination, the conspirators failed miserably in their attempts to grab power. Ramses IV moved with lightning speed and efficiency to consolidate the throne. Few supported Tiye against the new pharaoh. The conspiracy fatally miscalculated. The new king quickly initiated an investigation and brought the guilty to trial.
The Judicial Papyrus of Turin documents the Harem Conspiracy, the trial, and the disposition of the guilty. Members of the harem attempted to seduce some of the judges, but failed. Queen Tiye was probably executed by immolation while Pentaweret probably took poison. His mummy was buried in impure goatskin and both mother and son’s tombs were vandalized to deny them entry into the afterlife. The only record of their existence comes from the trial transcripts. In the end, 38 people were sentenced to death for their role in the crime.
Ramses III had his throat cut to the bone in a brazen assassination. The conspirators failed to consolidate power after the king’s death. As a result, they were quickly rounded up and executed. In the end, Ramses IV proved more than a match for the hapless conspirators.