Pharaoh of Egypt
Reign c. 1077/1076–1052 BC[1], 21st Dynasty
Predecessor Ramesses XI
Successor Amenemnisu
Consort(s) Tentamun B
Children Amenemnisu ?
Mother Possibly Hrere
Died 1052 BC
Burial Unknown

Hedjkheperre Setepenre Smendes was the founder of the Twenty-first dynasty of Egypt and succeeded to the throne after burying Ramesses XI in Lower Egypt – territory which he controlled. His Egyptian nomen or birth name was actually Nesbanebdjed[4] meaning "He of the Ram, Lord of Mendes"[5] but it was translated into Greek as Smendes by later classical writers such as Josephus and Sextus Africanus. While Smendes' precise origins remain a mystery, he is thought to have been a powerful governor in Lower Egypt during the Renaissance era of Ramesses XI and his base of power was Tanis[citation needed].



Nesibanebdjedet (Smendes) may have been a son of a lady named Hrere. Hrere was a Chief of the Harem of Amun-Re and likely the wife of a high priest of Amun. If Hrere was the mother of Nesibanebdjedet, then he was a brother of Nodjmet and through her brother in law of the High Priests Herihor and Piankh.

Nesibanebdjedet (Smendes) was married to Tentamun B, likely a daughter of Ramesses IX. They may have been the parents of his successor Amenemnisu.[6]

Report of Wenamun

Smendes features prominently in the Report of Wenamun, dated to Year 5 of the Renaissance or Whm Mswt era (or Year 23 proper of Ramesses XI), as a person of the highest importance. Wenamun states here that he had to visit Tanis and personally present his letters of accreditation to Smendes in order to receive the latter's permission to travel north to modern Lebanon and procure precious cedar wood for use in the Great Temples of Amun at Thebes. Smendes responded by dispatching a ship for Wenamun's travels to Syria and the Levant.


Smendes' nominal authority over Upper Egypt is attested by a single inscribed stela found in a quarry at Ed-Dibabiya, opposite Gebelein on the right bank of the Nile as well as a separate graffito inscription on an enclosure Wall of the Temple of Monthu at Karnak dating from the reign of Tuthmose III.[7] The quarry stela describes how Smendes "while residing in Memphis, heard of danger to the temple of Luxor from flooding, gave orders for repairs (hence the quarry works), and received news of the success of the mission."[8] Smendes is assigned a reign of 26 Years by Manetho in his Epitome and was the husband of Tentamun. This figure is supported by the Year 25 date on the Banishment Stela which recounts that the High Priest Menkheperre suppressed a local revolt in Thebes in Year 25 of a king who can only be Smendes because there is no evidence that the High Priests counted their own regnal years even when they assumed royal titles like Pinedjem I did.[9] Menkheperre then exiled the leaders of the rebellion to the Western Desert Oases. These individuals were pardoned several years later during the reign of Smendes' successor, Amenemnisu.

Smendes ruled over a divided Egypt and only effectively controlled Lower Egypt during his reign while Middle and Upper Egypt was effectively under the suzerainty of the High Priests of Amun such as Pinedjem I, Masaharta and Menkheperre. His prenomen or throne name Hedjkheperre Setepenre/Setepenamun--which means 'Bright is the Manifestation of , Chosen of Rê/Amun'[3]--became very popular in the following 22nd Dynasty and 23rd Dynasty. In all, five kings: Shoshenq I, Shoshenq IV, Takelot I, Takelot II and Harsiese A adopted it for their own use. On the death of Smendes in 1051 BC, he was succeeded by Neferkare Amenemnisu, who may have been this king's son.


  1. ^ R. Krauss & D.A. Warburton "Chronological Table for the Dynastic Period" in Erik Hornung, Rolf Krauss & David Warburton (editors), Ancient Egyptian Chronology (Handbook of Oriental Studies), Brill, 2006. p. 493
  2. ^ Clayton, Peter A. Chronicle of the Pharaohs. Thames & Hudson. 2006. p. 178
  3. ^ a b Clayton, p. 178
  4. ^ Nesbanebdjed
  5. ^ Smendes
  6. ^ Aidan Dodson & Dyan Hilton, The Complete Royal Families of Ancient Egypt, Thames & Hudson (2004) ISBN 0-500-05128-3, pp. 196-209
  7. ^ J. Cerny, "Egypt from the Death of Ramesses III to the End of the Twenty-First Dynasty" in The Middle East and the Aegean Region c. 1380-1000 BC, Cambridge University Press, p. 645 ISBN 0-521-08691-4
  8. ^ K.A. Kitchen, The Third Intermediate Period in Egypt (1100-650 BC), Warminster: Aris & Phillips, 3rd ed., 1996. p. 256
  9. ^ Kitchen, p. 260

Further reading

  • Nicolas Grimal, A History of Ancient Egypt, Blackwell Books (1992)

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