Seti I

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Seti I was a pharaoh of Ancient Egypt (19th dynasty), the son of Rameses I and Queen Sitre and later the father of Rameses II. According to some historians, he reigned between 1291 BC and 1278 BC. According to others, he reigned between 1328 BC and 1298 BC, between 1309 BC and 1291 BC or between 1303 BC and 1290 BC, depending on the chronological system they use. The ancient Egyptians counted time according to the year of a Pharaoh's reign. When a Pharaoh died or fell from the throne, the year became number 1 of his successor's reign. To identify Seti I's year 1 with a specific BC year, a chronologist must not only take into account the existing evidence from various sources, but set which interpretations of them he finds valid, so different chronologist and historians can have different views on the subject.

There have been finds dating up to year 13 of Seti's reign. It is uncertain whether he died during this year or if he continued to reign for more years. In year 7 of his reign, Seti shared his power with his son Rameses II and this co-regency continued for several years. But as soon as Seti died, the formerly junior Pharaoh started counting from year 1 again. This was probably to establish a difference between his years as the junior partner of his father and his reign as sole Pharaoh on the throne. Throughout his reign, Rameses celebrated the anniversary of his rise to the throne. This anniversary has been estimated to be on December 15, which is probably the date of Seti's death.

Seti's mummy was found in 1881 at Deir el-Bahri, and has since been kept at the Giza museum. From an examination of his mummy, Seti seems to have been less than forty years old when he died. This is in contrast to Horemheb, Ramses I and Rameses II who all lived to an advanced age. The reasons for his relatively early death are uncertain but there is no evidence of violence on the mummy to suggest that he was murdered. It has been suggested that he died from a disease which has affected him for years, possibly related to his heart. The later was found in the right part of the body, while the usual practice of the day was to place it in the left part during the mummification. Opinions vary whether this was a mistake, an attempt to have Seti's heart work better in his afterlife than it did during his lifetime or even that Seti was born with his heart on the right side of his body, a rare occurrence.

After the social trouble generated by Akhenaten's religious reform, Horemheb's, Rameses I's and Seti I's main purpose was to re-establish order in the kingdom and to reaffirm Egypt's sovereignty over Palestine and Syria, compromised by the weakening of the Egyptian central authority and pressure from the Hittites. Seti, with energy and decision, confronted the Hittites several times. Without succeeding in destroying the Hittites as a potential danger to Egypt, he re-conquered most of the disputed territories for Egypt and generally concluded his military campaigns with victories. The memory of such enterprises was perpetuated by some large pictures placed on the front of the temple of Amon, situated in Karnak. Seti also built his funerary temple at Abydos. His capital was at Memphis. He is considered a great king, but his fame has been overshadowed since ancient times by that of his son Rameses II.

The name Seti means "of Set", which indicates that he was consecrated to the god Set. As with most pharaohs, Seti had a number of names. Upon his accession, he took the praenomen, which has the technical transliteration mn-m3‘t-r‘. This is usually realised as Menmaatre, meaning 'Established one of Ma഼Maat and Ra'. His better known nomen, or birth name is technically transliterated as sty mry-n-ptḥ, which is usually realised as Sety Meryenptah, meaning 'Man of Set, beloved of Ptah'. The Greeks called him Sethosis. Manetho incorrectly considered him the founder of the 19th dynasty and estimated his reign to have lasted either 51 or 55 years.

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Preceded by:
Ramses I
Pharaoh of Egypt
Nineteenth Dynasty
Succeeded by:
Ramses II
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