Ramesses IV (1155–1149 BC) is also known as Ramses or Rameses. He ruled as the third pharaoh of the 20th dynasty of the New Kingdom of ancient Egypt. As the second son of Ramesses III, he was not the apparent heir, but history was reversed when his elder brother, Amenherkhepshef, the rightful heir to the throne, died at the age of 15 in 1164 BC.
Ramesses IV was only 12 years old when he stepped on the throne as the crowned prince.
Historians commented that his appearance was an influencing factor for his ascent to the throne. You can attest that the king made the right decision to choose him as the heir because he was qualified based on the three titles given: “Hereditary Prince,” “Royal Scribe,” and “Generalissimo.” A text at the temple of Amenhotep III supported the last two titles given to him.
Ramesses IV was an incredibly young pharaoh at 21. His father, Ramesses III, reigned for 31 years, and he continued the kingship until 1149 BC. Trained by his father and endowed with wisdom to run the nation, Ramesses IV continued his father’s reign with his outstanding skills.
Who Was Ramesses IV?
Ramesses the Fourth was an excellent king. His father was the equally famous and strong Ramesses III. However, reports about his real mother were not clear. Recent discoveries about the royal family showed that his mother was probably Queen Tyti. Based on Papyrus BM ES 10052, Queen Tyti was a king’s daughter and a royal wife. She was also acclaimed as a king’s mother.
Meanwhile, some discoveries have mentioned that Ramesses IV’s mother was a lady called Iset Ta-Hemdjert or Isis. Records have been confusing as to who his real mother was. Historians could not provide accurate data because of the vague accounts about Ramesses IV’s family.
Would you believe that his ascendancy to the throne was marred with difficult events?
First, his father was assassinated by treacherous insurgents led by one of his wives, Tiye. She collaborated with some jealous officials to establish her son, Pentawer, on the throne. Rameses IV was able to protect the throne from his opportunist half-brother. In defense of his father’s kingship, he ordered the arrest and execution of those perpetrators against the kingdom, including his half-sibling.
Ramesses IV took Queen Duatentopet for his wife. They were blessed with a son named Ramesses V. Ramesses V was only 13 years old when he ascended to the throne after his father’s reign.
Work Under the Rule of Ramesses IV
Filled with hopes to continue the good examples of his father, Ramesses IV instituted a comprehensive plan to build the kingdom based on the standards of Ramesses III. He initiated massive projects that could benefit the nation. For example, he ordered the doubling of the size of the work in Deir el-Medina from 60 men to a total of 120 men. He quickly sent them on several expeditions to the famous quarries of Wadi Hammamat.
You know that such expeditions were among the nation’s great sources of income, along with the excavations at the turquoise mines at Sinai. He made sure that the people were working hard to resolve the economic needs of the nation. Historians revealed that the largest expeditions carried out for the country were recorded in his third year on the throne.
The said record was composed of 8,368 men, including 5,000 strong soldiers, 2,000 selected workers from Amun temples, 800 menial workers known as Habiru workers, and 130 expert stonemasons. They were all under the command of Ramessesnakht, the High Priest of Amun.
Working under the rule of Pharaoh Ramesses IV was undoubtedly hard. Scribes assigned to record the volume of work mentioned that there were 900 men in total who were omitted from the list composed during three years of labor in a quarry. Such men were omitted because they died, or, shall we say, they sacrificed their lives for the sake of the kingdom.
Lives have to be offered because of the magnitude of the labor. You could imagine how laborers dragged 40 tons or more of stones around 60 miles (96.5 kilometers) from the Nile to Wadi Hammamat.
It was an enormous engineering feat without machines to help them. Other quarries in Egypt, like those in Aswan, were considered much closer to the Nile. They used barges to transport stones and logs and deliver them to the main capital.
Ramesses IV initiated the expansion of government projects, including the Temple of Khonsu located in Karnak. He spearheaded the building of an enormous burial temple close to the Temple of Hatshepsut as part of his campaign to continue the development projects of his father.
His expeditions were all recorded in the stela of his scribe named Panufer. Panufer was the senior army scribe responsible for the recording of Ramesses IV’s achievements. You could tell that Ramesses was surrounded by the right people to support his projects. His scribe revealed that his projects included the acquisition of turquoise and the establishment of a cult chapel for Ramesses IV at the Temple of Hathor in Serabit el-Khadim.
According to Panufer, there were two routes for his mining expeditions. The first was from the Delta base, which included Memphis. This was followed by south expeditions, moving toward Sinai. These were not easy routes at that time. You can imagine the difficult situation of those working at the mines, transporting those precious stones under the scorching heat of the sun.
Surviving the routes was tantamount to a miracle because of the distance and hazards along the way. Furthermore, Ramesses IV initiated the building of an obelisk, a temple for his royal cult, and the expansion of the agricultural sector in Egypt.
Probably, you could attest that the most significant proof of the pharaoh’s success was his documentation of his father Ramesses III’s accomplishments, gifts to the temples of Egypt, and the papyrus of Turin.
In retrospect, you could recount that Ramesses IV was probably the last king to invest in the establishment of magnanimous buildings after Ramesses III, his father. It was because of the apparent economic decline in Egypt during his time. They suffered from the fact that their trading partners had minimal imports compared to the previous years. Traders had become more careful in their deals to save their money and survive the indication of a challenging economic scarcity.
Everyone adored the affluence of Egypt in ancient times, and the people were proud of the country’s accomplishments. However, the government gradually began to deteriorate in the latter part of the 20th century.
Ramesses IV was able to restore the kingdom from chaos, and he survived the conspiracy planned against his throne. Nonetheless, the national dilemma crept in.
He encountered problems in the government, as well as in the relationships of the royal families. The renowned Papyrus Harris I testifies to the glory and chaos of Egypt as it keeps records of the plots to destroy the kingdom.
His reign was extremely short to deal with the problems of the entire country. The wars against its neighboring countries further affected the stability of the nation. Jealousy among the royal members was also prevalent. An example of that was the planned revolt against his throne, and the worst of all was the existing corruption among the leaders of the government.
Consequently, his reign was tainted by a number of troubles, such as the presence of government officials who tried doing criminal activities but went free for 10 years. Even Ramessesnakht, the High Priest of Amun in the 20th century, was responsible for securing personal control of some royal priestly duties.
In other words, he was using his position for his family’s gain. Lastly, the enormous minefields of the throne were taken away by corrupt officials, and only the copper mines in Sinai were returned to Egypt’s kingdom.
Ramesses IV’s Religion and Death
Egyptians have been believers of various gods who they thought had shaped their lives. Ramesses IV worshipped Osiris, one of the most important gods in Egyptian culture. He prayed for a longer life to preserve his kingdom and accomplish his dreams for Egypt.
He worshipped wholeheartedly, believing that his gods could prolong his life. Nevertheless, after six and a half years on the throne, Ramesses IV death happened. His two stelas located in Abydos could explain his piety and remarkable adoration of his ancient gods, particularly Osiris. He died at a considerably young age.
Although he was filled with ambitions for his beloved Egypt, it was disheartening to see his death, as well as the continuing disintegration of a highly acclaimed country. There were notions that the Egyptians had enjoyed so much prestige as an exemplary nation, and there came a time when the people had become complacent with their situation.
They never expected to see their economic, political, and military decline because they were so engrossed with the thought of being the most outstanding country in the world.
Ramses IV tomb was marked tomb KV2, but his mummy was found in the chamber of Amenhotep II. Although he built a tomb for himself in the Valley of the Queens, he was secured in a royal cache later on.
His first wife, Queen Duatentopet, also known as Tentopet or Male, was buried in QV74. Currently, the mummy of Ramesses IV is being cared for by the Cairo Museum, which takes full responsibility for his remains.
Ramesses IV succeeded his father, Ramesses III, as the third pharaoh of the 20th dynasty. He followed his father’s advocacy of expanding the kingdom and strengthening the power of Egypt against its adversaries.
Let’s recap his legacy:
- He was too young to be a crown prince, but he was trained by his father to do the royal duties in the house of Ramesses III.
- Having learned the ambitious goals of his father, Ramesses IV commissioned his men to accomplish double the results in the quarries to be able to acquire more wealth for the national needs of Egypt.
- He instituted more expansions in his government, but he succumbed to his death after only six years on the throne.
- He was buried in the Valley of the Kings.
- Afterward, his son, Ramesses V, inherited the kingdom.
You might be awed by his accomplishments as a king, who immortalized his efforts to maintain the nation’s prosperity amid a degenerating situation.