Twosret, also spelled Tawosret or Tausret (d. 1189 BC conventional chronology) was the last known ruler and the final pharaoh of the Nineteenth Dynasty of Egypt.

She is recorded in Manetho's Epitome as a certain Thuoris, who in Homer is called Polybus, husband of Alcandra, and in whose time Troy was taken.[2] She was said to have ruled Egypt for seven years, but this figure included the nearly six-year reign of Siptah, her predecessor.[3] Twosret simply assumed Siptah's regnal years as her own. While her sole independent reign would have lasted for perhaps one to one and a half years from 1191 to 1189 BC, this number now appears more likely to be two full years instead, possibly longer. Excavation work by the University of Arizona Egyptian Expedition [4] on her memorial temple ("temple of millions of years") at Gournah strongly suggests that it was completed and functional during her reign and that Twosret started a regnal year 9, which means that she had two and possibly three independent years of rule, once one deducts the nearly six-year reign of Siptah. Her royal name, Sitre Meryamun, means "Daughter of Re, beloved of Amun."[5]


See also: Nineteenth Dynasty of Egypt family tree

Twosret or Tausret's birth date is unknown. She is thought to have been a daughter of Merneptah, possibly a daughter of Takhat, thereby making her sister to Amenmesse.

Queen consort

Foundation plaque bearing the double cartouches of Queen Twosret. From the mortuary temple of Twosret (Tawesret, Tausret) at Thebes, Egypt. 19th Dynasty. The Petrie Museum of Egyptian Archaeology, London

She was thought to be the second royal wife of Seti II. There are no children for Twosret and Seti II, unless tomb KV56 represents the burial of their daughter.[6]

Theodore Davis identified Twosret and her husband in a cache of jewelry found in tomb KV56 in the Valley of the Kings. This tomb also contained objects bearing the name of Rameses II. There is no consensus about the nature of this tomb. Some (Aldred) thought this was the tomb of a daughter of Seti II and Tawosret, but others (Maspero) thought this was a cache of objects originally belonging with the tomb of Tawosret herself.[7]


After her husband's death, she became first regent to Seti's heir Siptah jointly with Chancellor Bay. Siptah was likely a stepson of Twosret since his mother is now known to be a certain Sutailja or Shoteraja from Louvre Relief E 26901.[8]


When Siptah died, Twosret officially assumed the throne for herself, as the "Daughter of Re, Lady of Ta-merit, Twosret of Mut",[9] and assumed the role of a Pharaoh.

While it was commonly believed that she ruled Egypt with the aid of the Asiatic Chancellor Bay, a recently published document by Pierre Grandet in a BIFAO 100 (2000) paper shows that Bay was executed on Siptah's orders during Year 5 of this king's reign. The document is a hieratic ostracon or inscribed potshard and contains an announcement to the workmen of Deir El-Medina of the king's actions. No immediate reason was given to show what caused Siptah to turn against "the great enemy Bay," as the ostracon states. The recto of the document reads thus:

Year 5 III Shemu the 27th. On this day, the scribe of the tomb Paser came announcing 'Pharaoh, life, prosperity, and health!, has killed the great enemy Bay'.[10]

This date accords well with Bay's last known public appearance in Year 4 of Siptah. The ostracon's information was essentially a royal order for the workmen to stop all further work on Bay's tomb since the latter had now been deemed a traitor to the state.[11] Aidan Dodson believes that Twosret engineered Bay's downfall so that she would have total control at the palace court and need no longer share power with her political rival. As Dodson writes:

"Although [this act was nominally] carried out in the name of the still young Siptah, one can probably safely assume that the initiative was taken by Tawosret, signaling her intention to share power no longer with her erstwhile colleague in regency [Bay]. While Bay’s name remained intact on many of his monuments, it was probably at this point that his extraordinary representations in the bark-shrine at Karnak were erased."[12]

Meanwhile, Egyptian territories in Canaan seem to have become effectively independent under the overlordship of a man called Irsu. Papyrus Harris I, the main source on these events, seems to claim that Irsu and Twosret had allied themselves, leaving Irsu free to plunder and neglect the land.[13]

Reign length

Twosret's highest known date is a Year 8 II Shemu day 29 hieratic inscription found on one of the foundation blocks (FB 2) of her mortuary temple at Gournah in 2011 by the University of Arizona Egyptian Expedition.[14] Since this was only a foundation inscription and Twosret's temple, although never finished as planned, was at least partially completed, it is logical to assume that some time must have passed before her downfall and the termination of work on her temple project. Richard Wilkinson stressed that Twosret's mortuary temple was "largely structurally completed," although bearing minimal decoration;[15] therefore, she would have ruled for one or two more years beyond II Shemu 29 of her 8th Year for her temple to reach completion. As Richard Wilkinson writes in 2011:

"....[The discovery of the Year 8, 2nd month of shemu day 29 hieratic inscription]....has particular significance, for it provides confirmation for the text we discovered in 2006 on an adjacent foundation block (FB1) which was dated also to the eighth year of the queen’s reign. Although Tausert’s reign (including her regency for Siptah) has been understood commonly as being seven years (as stated by Manetho in his [Aegyptiaca] History), or eight at the most, the inscriptions on the foundation blocks show otherwise. Because they were made when the temple was begun, and we now have archaeological evidence that the temple was completed or nearly so (it must have taken a couple of years), these texts indicate clearly that Tausert must have reigned nine, or perhaps, even ten years."[16]

Further study by Pearce Paul Creasman has concluded that the temple was "functionally operational prior to its destruction."[17] Twosret could, hence, have possibly ruled for 6 to 20 more months after the inscription date to achieve these levels of completion, thus starting her 9th regnal year around the interval of IV Akhet/I Peret—when her husband died (since she assumed Siptah's reign as her own) or perhaps longer—before Setnakhte's rule began. Or she could have had a nearly full 9th year reign, including the 6-year reign of Siptah. Pearce Creasman writes in 2013 that "if the foundations of [Twosret's temple] were laid in her eighth year and construction of the temple was completed, or nearly so, Tausret must have ruled long enough past her eighth regnal year to see this accomplished. At least an additional year, maybe two."[18]

End of Twosret's reign

Main article: End of the 19th Dynasty

Twosret's reign ended in a civil war, which is documented in the Elephantine stela of her successor Setnakhte, who became the founder of the Twentieth dynasty. While it is not known if she was overthrown by Setnakhte or whether she died peacefully in her own reign and a conflit broke out at court over her succession; the former scenario is the most likely scenario. Her immediate 20th dynasty successor Setnakhte and his son Ramesses III described the late 19th dynasty as a time of chaos and Setnakhte usurped the joint KV14 tomb of Seti II and Twosret but reburied Seti II in tomb KV15, while deliberately replastering and redrawing all images of Twosret in tomb KV14 with those of himself. Setnakhte's decisions here may demonstrate his dislike and presumably hatred for Twosret since he chose to reinter Seti II but not Twosret.[19]

Setnakhte himself does not seem to have harboured any animosity towards Siptah. Twosret likely erased Siptah's own royal cartouches in his KV47 royal tomb and replaced the cartouches of Siptah with those of Seti II in KV14, Twosret's own tomb, once she had presumably begun her own reign as pharaoh. As Dodson writes:

"Taken together, it seems that although Tawosret appears to have granted Siptah a burial, it was one that denied his status as a king, and was combined with Tawosret’s desire to refocus her royal affiliations on her husband, rather than the young man for whom she had ruled for half a decade."[20]

Setnakhte, however, reinstated Siptah's cartouches in the young king's tomb which suggests that this person's opponent was not Siptah but rather Siptah's successor, Twosret.[21] It appears most likely that Setnakhte overthrew Twosret from power in a civil war. Setnakhte's son and successor, Ramesses III, later decided to exclude both Twosret and even Siptah of the 19th dynasty from his Medinet Habu list of Egyptian kings thereby delegitimizing them in the eyes of the Egyptian citizenry.[22][23]

Destruction of Twosret's mortuary temple & reuse of her tomb

A gold necklace that belonged to Queen Twosret

Pearce Creasman writes in 2013 that Twosret's 20th dynasty successors felt the overwhelming need to usurp her KV14 tomb and comprehensively destroy her mortuary temple. Twosret was one of the last ruling descendants of Ramesses II (the Great) of the 19th dynasty and the founders of the 20th dynasty of Egypt, presumably feared the shadow cast by this female pharaoh. Therefore,

"the founder of the 20th Dynasty, Sethnakht, or his long-ruling son, Ramesses III, set out against Tausret's memory and its physical manifestations. This dramatic refutation of the legitimacy of their unrelated 19th Dynasty predecessor likely made it easier for their own lineage to take root and overpower what must have been a substantial number of other potential claimants to the throne. Ramesses II, from whom Tausret is generally believed to be descended, had fathered as many as 100 children. Tausret’s royal cousins, and potential heirs, must have been legion....The attacks on Tausret’s monuments proved effective, so much so that when the site of Tausret's Theban temple was very briefly surveyed and selectively dug in 1896 by a team under the supervision of W. M. Flinders Petrie, “only a few stones of the foundation remained.”[24]

Twosret's KV14 tomb in the Valley of the Kings has a complicated history; it was started in the reign of Seti II. Tomb scenes show Twosret accompanying Siptah, but Siptah's name had later been replaced by that of Seti II presumably by Twosret who wished to associate herself with her late husband. The tomb was then usurped by Setnakhte, and extended to become one of the deepest royal tombs in the valley while Twosret's sarcophagus was reused by prince Amenherkhepeshef in KV13. Hartwig Altenmuller believes that Seti II was buried in one of the rooms in KV14 and later reburied in KV15. Others question this scenario.[25]

A mummy found in KV35 and known as Unknown Woman D has been identified by some scholars as possibly belonging to Twosret, but there is no other evidence for this other than the correct Nineteenth Dynasty period of mummification.[2]

Monuments and inscriptions

Relief of Tausert holding two sistrums at Amada Temple, Nubia.

It is believed that expeditions were conducted during her reign to the turquoise mines in Sinai and in Palestine and statues have been found of her at Heliopolis and Thebes. Her name is also found at Abydos, Hermopolis, Memphis, and in Nubia.

Inscriptions with Twosret's name appear in several locations:

Twosret's coffin, later usurped by prince Amunherkhepeshef.


  1. ^ Peter Clayton, Chronicle of the Pharaohs, Thames & Hudson Ltd, 1994. pp 156 & 158
  2. ^ a b J. Tyldesley, Chronicle of the Queens of Egypt, 2006, Thames & Hudson
  3. ^ Erik Hornung, Rolf Krauss & David Warburton (editors), Handbook of Ancient Egyptian Chronology, Brill: 2006, p.214
  5. ^ Clayton, p.158
  6. ^ Aidan Dodson & Dyan Hilton: The Complete Royal Families of Ancient Egypt. Thames & Hudson, 1987 ISBN 0-500-05128-3
  7. ^ "Theban Mapping Project Tomb 56". Archived from the original on 2008-09-26. Retrieved 2010-05-26.
  8. ^ Gae Callender, The Cripple, the Queen & the Man from the North, KMT Volume 17, No.1 (Spring 2006), p.52
  9. ^ Tydlesey, Joyce (2006) "The Complete Queens of Egypt"(American University in Cairo Press)
  10. ^ Pierre Grandet, "L'execution du chancelier Bay O.IFAO 1864", BIFAO 100 (2000), pp.339-345
  11. ^ Gae Callender, The Cripple, the Queen & the Man from the North, KMT, Spring 2006, p.54
  12. ^ A. Dodson, Poisoned Legacy The Fall of the Nineteenth Egyptian Dynasty, American University in Cairo 2010, p.107
  13. ^ Hans Goedicke, "Irsu the Khasu in Papyrus Harris", Wiener Zeitschrift für die Kunde des Morgenlandes, Vol. 71 (1979), pp. 1-17
  14. ^ Now labeled Foundation Block Text 4. See Richard H. Wilkinson, “Tausert Temple Project: 2010-11 Season,” The Ostracon: The Journal of the Egyptian Study Society, 22 (Fall 2011), 8, fig. 4. Additional foundation inscriptions were discovered in previous seasons. Foundation Block Text 2 was found in the 2007 excavation season and bears the date “Regnal Year seven, I Akhet 23,” and this is the earliest dated inscription found at the temple, so construction most likely began late in the latter half of year seven. The original publication with a mistranslation of this inscription is idem, "Tausert Temple Project: 2007 Season," The Ostracon, 18, No. 1 (Summer 2007), 7, fig. 9. The corrected translation appears in idem, “Tausert Temple Project: 2008 Season,” The Ostracon, 19, No. 1 (Fall 2008), p.7.
  15. ^ Richard H. Wilkinson, “History of the Temple,” in The Temple of Tausret: The University of Arizona Egyptian Expedition Tausret Temple Project, 2004-2011, p.166.
  16. ^ Tausert Temple Project: 2010-11 Season, p.10
  17. ^ Pearce Paul Creasman, "Excavations at Pharaoh-Queen Tausret's Temple of Millions of Years: 2012 Season PDF," Journal of the Society for the Study of Egyptian Antiquities 39 (2012/2013), p.15.
  18. ^ Pearce Creasman, An Elusive Female Pharaoh and Her “Temple of Millions of Years", Newsletter of the Society for the Study of Egyptian Antiquities, 2013, p.2
  19. ^ Hartwig Altenmüller, "The Tomb of Tausert and Setnakht," in Valley of the Kings, ed. Kent R. Weeks (New York: Friedman/Fairfax Publishers, 2001), pp.222-31
  20. ^ Dodson, Poisoned Legacy, p.111
  21. ^ Dodson, Poisoned Legacy, p.111 & 121-122
  22. ^ Epigraphic Survey, Medinet Habu IV: Festival Scenes of Ramesses III, University of Chicago Oriental Institute Publications, vol. 51 (Chicago: The University of Chicago Press, 1940), pl. 203. Cf. Donald B. Redford, Pharaonic King-Lists, Annals, and Day-Books: A Contribution to the Study of the Egyptian Sense of History, SSEA Publication 4 (Mississauga, Canada: Benben Publications, 1986), pp.36-37
  23. ^ Medinet Habu Canon
  24. ^ Pearce Creasman, An Elusive Female Pharaoh and Her “Temple of Millions of Years", Newsletter of the Society for the Study of Egyptian Antiquities, 2013, p.1
  25. ^ "Theban Mapping Project, Tomb KV14". Archived from the original on 2017-06-06. Retrieved 2010-05-26.
  26. ^ a b c Vivienne G. Callender, Queen Tausret and the End of Dynasty 19, Studien zur Altägyptischen Kultur, Bd. 32, (2004), pp. 81-104
  27. ^ J. von Beckerath: Queen Twosre as guardian of Siptah, in: Journal of Egyptian Archaeology, 48 (1962), 70-74
  28. ^ a b Itamar Singer, Merneptah's Campaign to Canaan, Bulletin of the American Schools of Oriental Research, No. 269 (Feb., 1988), pp. 1-10