The Monuments of Seti I: Epigraphic, Historical, and Art Historical Analysis

The Monuments of Seti I: Epigraphic, Historical, and Art Historical Analysis

The Monuments of Seti I: Epigraphic, Historical, and Art Historical Analysis

The Monuments of Seti I: Epigraphic, Historical, and Art Historical Analysis


One of ancient Egypt's most outstanding and important rulers was Seti I. He is especially notorious for his wars in neighboring Western Asia, Libya and Nubia. But he is also renowned, perhaps even more so, for his impressive building programs. Peter Brand's groundbreaking study is a major contribution to clarifying the internal history of the reign of Seti I, and revolutionizes our understanding of Seti's restoration program. It offers many new insights into the length of his reign, the royal succession and the establishment of the Ramesside house. Apart from a thorough analysis and interpretation, the reader will find detailed catalogues of Seti's original monuments, restorations and additions to those of his predecessors, including extended examinations of the Karnak Hypostyle Hall and Abydos and Gurnah temples, as well as new epigraphic and art historical criteria elucidating the chronology, the state of the program at his death, and separating his reliefs from those of Rameses I and II. The book contains many previously unpublished photographs and plans.


The reign of Seti I remains something of a paradox: well known for his vigorous foreign policy, grandiose building program, high standard of artistic achievement and for the tutelage of his son and heir Ramesses II, many important aspects of the reign are hazy in detail and much remains unknown. The present work grew out of a doctoral thesis, Brand (1998), originally envisaged as a complete reign study with sections on the royal administration, foreign policy and the like typically found in works of this genre. It soon became apparent that the projected catalog of monuments would by necessity be the centerpiece of the work, with a focus on epigraphic and art historical issues. From a survey of the literature on Seti I, it had become clear that while some aspects of his reign had been explored in depth by scholars—e.g., his war record, alleged coregency with Ramesses II and the major inscriptional evidence of the reign—others had been largely ignored.

A major problem was the poor understanding of the internal chronology of Seti's reign; its length remained controversial and due to a relatively small corpus of dated sources, no chronological structure for his reign, especially of his building program, was available. This was especially troubling in comparison with the scholarship on Ramesses II, since the isolation of a number of coincidental epigraphic features had made it possible to place undated reliefs and inscriptions in a more secure chronological framework, especially during the earliest part of his reign—a time when many believed that he ruled jointly with his father.

Research by the present author on the Great Hypostyle Hall of Karnak led to the development of a number of methodological criteria—presented in Chapter One—which have resulted in a more detailed Baugeschichte and chronology of the relief decoration under Seti I. These criteria have been applied to the king's other monuments with successful and at times surprising results.

The fullest possible use is made of epigraphic, art historical, iconographical and historical criteria to analyze the pharaoh's art and architecture, in particular his monumental reliefs. Philological analysis is limited to texts that bear directly on the dates of the monuments themselves, on chronological and historical issues treated in the final chapters, and on a handful of unpublished and poorly known texts. The . . .

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