Two of Ramses III’s sons are buried in the Valley of the Queens
While not as famous as his namesake, Ramses II, the Twentieth Dynasty pharaoh Ramses III reigned from 1186 to 1155 BCE during the beginning of the decline of the New Kingdom. He was the last pharaoh to have complete ultimate power over the country, and Egypt’s authority in the ancient world began to decline during Ramses’ reign. External threats of invasion led to economic decline, and his successors struggled to maintain their hold over the country for almost seventy-five years after his assassination.
Constant warfare plagued Egypt, and the royal treasury declined from the cost of the wars. Despite the economic turmoil, the royal family still commissioned tombs in the Valley of the Queens for burials. Ramses III’s sons Amun-her-khepeshef and Khaemwaset are both buried in the Valley of the Queens. These opulent royal burials further strained the economy, leading to tensions in the population, especially among the workers who constructed the tombs. By the end of his reign, Ramses III had weakened royal power and set the stage for the fall of the New Kingdom.
Although both the royal princes Amun-her-khepeshef and Khaemwaset were given lavish burials when they died, not much is known about their lives. Amun-her-khepeshef’s burial tomb, QV 55, was discovered in the early twentieth century, but it was robbed in antiquity. The prince was Ramses III’s oldest son and heir before he died of unknown causes when he was fifteen, probably from illness. Amun-her-khepeshef makes an appearance as Ramses III’s heir in relief at one of his father’s temples, Medinet Habu.
Khaemwaset’s tomb in QV 44 was also uncovered nearly intact. The grave goods were missing, but archaeologists recovered a canopic jar from the tomb, which is now located in the Egyptian Museum in Cairo. His sarcophagus was also recovered and brought to the Turin Museum of Natural History in Italy. Not much is known about Khaemwaset, other than he was a priest of the god Ptah in Memphis and he outlived his father Ramses III. Khaemwaset died in the reign of his older brother, Ramesses IV, who interred him in the Valley of the Queens.