Prince Seti-Merenptah, Chancellor Bay, and the Bark Shrine of Seti II at Karnak

in Journal of Egyptian History
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Abstract

The Triple Bark Shrine of Seti II at Karnak provides us with the only known reference for his son and heir, Prince Seti-Merenptah. In two of the chapels, those of Mut (eastern wall) and Khonsu (western wall), the prince is depicted directly behind his father, who presents offerings to the Theban triad. In the central chapel dedicated to Amun, the figure occupying the position behind the king on both walls has been thoroughly expunged along with the accompanying texts providing his identity. This article seeks to present the epigraphic data from the Seti II bark shrine and refine Yurco’s interpretation of them through analysis of the alterations and palimpsest inscriptions in the shrine’s relief decoration. We will also reassess the historical implications of these reliefs as related to the life of Prince Seti-Merenptah and the early career of Chancellor Bay under Seti II.

Prince Seti-Merenptah, Chancellor Bay, and the Bark Shrine of Seti II at Karnak

in Journal of Egyptian History
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References
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  • 3

    Wente“Genealogy of the Royal Family” 147.

  • 4

    Wente“Genealogy of the Royal Family” 147; KRI IV 257 nn. 8a–a 12a 15a–16a 258 n. 11a–b and 259 nn. 11a–b 12a–b; Miller “The Genealogy and Chronology of the Ramesside Period” 99; Gnirs Militär und Gesellschaft 129; Schneider “Siptah und Beja” 141; Dodson Poisoned Legacy 44 45 (fig. 40) 70–71 (fig. 72) 76 107 155 n. 12 and “Fade to Grey” 146–48 153 155–56. In the fourth volume of his Ramesside Inscriptions Kenneth Kitchen provides his own hand-copy of the texts from Seti II’s Triple Bark Shrine at Karnak accepting this reconstruction of Bay’s erased name as being “according to F. Yurco” without further comment or support but merely citing Wente’s note in An X-Ray Atlas. More recently Aidan Dodson has also championed this idea in his monograph on the late 19th Dynasty where he states: “it is clear that the prince’s figures and titles have replaced those of another individual while in some cases the king is followed by a largely blank space where a figure and its text have been erased. The erased figures and texts were those of the Great Overseer of Sealers of the Entire Land (“chancellor”) Bay.” In fact these erasures occur just twice and only in Amun’s chapel. Dodson like Yurco before him indicates in his The Complete Royal Families of Ancient Egypt that images of Prince Seti-Merenptah “replaced” those of Bay in the Mut and Khonsu chapels although this is not the case. In “Fade to Grey” however he asserts that Bay’s putative images were simply “transformed” into those of the young prince.

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  • 36

    DodsonPoisoned Legacy71.

  • 38

    GrandetLe Papyrus Harris I (BM 9999)75 5–6.

  • 40

    Černý“A Note on the Chancellor Bay” 36.

Figures
  • View in gallery
    Façade of Seti II’s Triple Bark Shrine in the First Court of Karnak. The western (left) side was substantially rebuilt by Nectanebo II. All photos by the authors.
  • View in gallery
    Plan of the Triple Shrine with chapels dedicated to Mut (left), Amun-Re (center) and Khonsu (right). Drawing by Erika Feleg.
  • View in gallery
    East interior wall of the Mut chapel at the south end. Seti II followed by Prince Seti-Merenptah offers libation to the bark of Mut.
  • View in gallery
    Figure of Prince Seti-Merenptah on the east interior wall of the Mut chapel.
  • View in gallery
    Detail of the Prince’s head showing recutting on his wig lappet. In its original configuration, the relief portrayed Chancellor Bay with a shoulder length official’s wig.
  • View in gallery
    Khonsu, relief from the east interior wall of the Mut chapel. The relief suffers from quarry damage, while some of the plaster used to mask these defects still adheres in front of the god’s face.
  • View in gallery
    A) Palimpsest inscription with the titles of Prince Seti-Merenptah superimposed over the erased titles of Chancellor Bay. B) Facsimile drawing of the inscription. Black lines represent the original, suppressed palimpsest inscription of Bay. Blue lines correspond to the final version of Sety-Merenptah’s titles. Drawing by Erika Feleg.
  • View in gallery
    West interior wall of the Mut chapel with the rough hewn masonry of Nectanebo II, who rebuilt this wall.
  • View in gallery
    Unfinished relief on the western jamb of the main gate of Amun’s chapel in Seti II’s triple shrine. The doorway is constructed of siliceous sandstone and its reliefs were cut with stone tools.
  • View in gallery
    Seti II and Prince Seti-Merenptah offer libation and incense to the bark of Khonsu. Relief from the west interior wall of the Khonsu chapel at the south end. The prince’s names and titles appear to either side of his figure.
  • View in gallery
    The titles and name of Prince Seti-Merenptah which appear in front (right) and behind (left) his figure. In both cases, the Seth-ideogram hieroglyph was defaced during the Late Period. On the right, scant traces of Bay’s title “Overseer of the Seal for the Entire Land” remain.
  • View in gallery
    Seti II and Prince Seti-Merenptah offer to the bark of Amun in a relief from the west interior wall of the Amun-Re chapel at the south end. Prince Seti-Merenptah’s figure and the inscription above him were thoroughly erased.
  • View in gallery
    Traces of the name “Seti” behind the Prince’s erased figure on the west interior wall of the Amun-Re chapel.
  • View in gallery
    Seti II and an erased figure of Prince Seti-Merenptah offer to the bark of Amun-Re from the east interior wall of the Amun-Re chapel at the south end.
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