"I Now Abandon You to Shishak"
(The Campaign Mural of Sheshonq at Karnak)
|Torah Names||Kings/Chronicles Names||Greek Names||Egyptian Names|
|Jacob-Israel||Composite Solomon||Dakos||Amenhotep II
(wife of Jacob)
(wife of Jacob)
|By Rachel, two sons|
("Father of Solomon")
|Laius, Menoikeus||Yuya, Imram|
|Asenath||("Egyptian" wife of Joseph)||Tuya|
|Jeroboam (the Elder)
Amon, "Ruler of the City"
|(Kith-)Airon||Aanen son of Yuya
|Asa/Shaul, Shishak||Asocheus, Creon||Aye, Sheshonq I
|Jehoshaphat son of Asa||Iuput A|
|Naamah, Maacah, Abihail||Joacaste, Merope
daughter of Yuya
|Shiloh||Composite Solomon||Polybos/Polybus||Amenhotep III|
(son of Naamah & Abishalom)
|Eliezer||Abijah, Abijam||Eteocles (A)||Smenkhare|
|By Leah, six sons and one daughter (Dinah)|
|1) Reuben||Uzziel, Mushi||Webensenu, Neby|
|Zerah (son of Simeon)
|Ikheny of Ta-Zety
|4) Judah||Nemuel/Jemuel||Thutmose IV
|Tola||Baasha son of Issachar||Ba'sa, Milkilu|
|Elah son of Baasha||Unattested|
Sheshonq's Palestine Campaign
The campaign of Aye/Sheshonq that was so grandly commemorated on the South Wall of the Karnak Temple can now be associated with the Biblical struggle between Asa and Baasha son of Issachar (Osokhor). The Bible emphasizes that there was war between Asa and Baasha "throughout their reigns." We are told that in his Year 36, territory belonging to Asa was effectively blockaded by Baasha. In response, Asa turned to Ben-Hadad, who attacked the northern holdings of Baasha. Ben-Hadad "smote Ijon, Dan, Abel-beth-maacah, and all Cinneroth, with all the land of Naphtali." a Strangely, the Bible provides details of Ben-Hadad's campaign against Baasha, but not that of Asa. For Asa's campaign, we must rely on the mural of Sheshonq at Karnak. The mural is sufficiently preserved to reveal that the campaigns of Ben-Hadad and Sheshonq were complementary. Lake Kinnereth (Galilee) was the southern terminus of Ben-Hadad's activities and the northern terminus of Sheshonq's campaign. As a result, Baasha "castled" from Ramah (of Ephraim)b to his stronghold at Tirzah.
The Bible places the campaign in Year 36 Asa. However, we have previously been told that Baasha became a king in Year 3 of Asa and reigned for 24 years. This would mean that his reign should have ended in Year 27 of Asa. Baasha did reign for 24 years before the appointment of his son Elah as his successor. Elah was assassinated less than two years later. The death of his son and co-regent effectively ended Baasha's dynasty, but not his kingship. In 1 Kings 16:6, the death of Baasha death is fixed in Year 27 of Asa. However, 2 Chron 16:1 tells us that Baasha is still alive and kicking in Year 36 of Asa. [A good general editor was hard to find, even in ancient times!]
The identification of Sheshonq as Labayu ("Lion Man") of the Amarna letters, makes it possible not only to resolve the apparent discrepancy in the Biblical record, but an uncertainty in Amarna letter dating. Labayu had been accused of taking the lands of Amenhotep III. However, in three letters to the pharaoh, Labayu reaffirms his loyalty and justifies his actions. He claims that Milkilu, who is evidently also his accuser, had initiated the aggression. By association, Milkilu, meaning "The King," is the Amarna Letter identity of Baasha/Naashon son of Issachar. The Bible also makes Baasha the instigator of the conflict. 2 Chron. 16:1 (KJV) states: "Baasha king of Israel came up against Judah, and built Ramah, to the intent that he might let none go out or come in to Asa king of Judah." However, Asa did not appeal to the "the Lord" (Amenhotep III) for relief, but to Ben-Hadad, king of Aram. This expedient alliance produced the desired effect for Asa, but inspired unwanted intrusions into Palestine by Aram in the future. For this Asa was rebuked by Hanani the prophet. Amenhotep III also required an explanation for Sheshonq's activities, which was provided by Asa (Labayu) in the Amarna Tablet correspondence. In EA 252 written to pharaoh Amenhotep III (Solomon), Labayu (Asa) responds to charges of aggression against his rival Milkilu (Baasha):
"I am slandered before the king, my lord. Moreover, when an ant is struck, does it not fight back and bite the hand of the man that struck it?" c
Another letter from Labayu to Amenhotep III, designated as EA 253, reads:
"As I am a servant of the king like my father and my grandfather, a servant of the king from long ago, I am not a rebel and I am not delinquent in duty. Here is my act of rebellion and here is my delinquency: when I entered Gazru, I spoke as follows: 'The king treats us kindly.' Now there is no other purpose (for me) except the service of the king, and whatever the king orders, I obey."
A third dispatch sent to Amenhotep III from Labaya, EA 254, emphatically proclaims:
"I know the actions of Milkilu against me!"
Labayu's claim that his father (Thutmose IV) and grandfather had been loyal to the crown may have been a subtle way of reminding Amenhotep III of his proud but tragic heritage. His father Thutmose IV and paternal grandfather Amenhotep II were by definition loyal servants of the crown. His maternal grandfather (father of Tuya) no doubt considered himself an obedient subject, but was killed by Siamun. Reference, even indirectly, to that fact probably gave Sheshonq considerable diplomatic immunity.
A Living Ant is Better than a Dead Lion
Labayu of Shechem likens himself to the ant. His defense is not only clever, but encodes inside information of a very personal nature. The Hebrew word for ant is nemalah, "an ant (probably from its almost bisected form)." Nemalah is derived from namal, "to become circumcised," or "to be cut down/off." Through identification with the nemalah, Labayu alludes both to his father Nimlot who was "cut down" in the prime of his life, and with the men of Shechem who had "become circumcised" only to be brutally "cut off" by Simeon. Simeon (Si-Amun) had slaughtered the ruler of the Libyan people of Upper Egypt. Sheshonq (Labayu) was made king in his place. The metaphor used by Labayu was a subtle way of reminding Amenhotep III that consideration for the Libyan and Shechemite people was still in order, and for himself as the true son of Nimlot.
The campaign of Sheshonq is thought to have included Gezer.d In EA 253, Labayu admits to having "entered" the royal city Gazru (Gezer). However, the entry in the conquered city list that logically corresponds to Gezer (city ring #11) is damaged. Only the first glyph is preserved. Therefore, it could have read as G[ezer], but has been reconstructed by others as G[aza].e (Note: The west bank of Thebes was called Ta-Geser, "the Sacred Land." f This is likely the same Gezer mentioned in the books of Joshua and Judges, if not also that of Labayu-Sheshonq.)
At the close of the 18th Dynasty, there was precious little in Judea to be concerned with. Moreover, Sheshonq-Labayu may have already been in control of this region. Accordingly, Judea is bypassed in Sheshonq's campaign. Jerusalem in Palestine was a town of only 5,000 people. Early Jerusalem was involved in the olive oil industry, and was dominated in this regard by nearby Lachish. Jerusalem would not achieve any measure of prominence until after the destruction of Lachish in the Assyrian period.g The Jerusalem of importance during Sheshonq's time was unquestionably Thebes. As will be proved in the chapters to follow, when Sennacherib of Assyria and Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon spoke of their victories over Jerusalem, they were referring to Thebes, and not to a place of minor importance during this time period in Palestine.
Dating Shoshenk's Redemption
Moran notes that the "hieratic docket" on EA 254, written by Labayu, can be read as either Year 12 (of Akhenaten) or Year 32 (of Amenhotep III). A date of Year 32 of Amenhotep III for this letter "would put the earliest level of the southern [Palestine] correspondence with comparable levels of the northern [Syrian] and international correspondences, late in this Pharaoh's reign." h Therefore, Year 32 of Amenhotep III is the likely context for the letter within the Amarna tablet corpus. Furthermore, Year 32 of Amenhotep III corresponds to Year 36 of Asa, which was the year of his war with Baasha.
The Bible credits Solomon with an even 40-year reign. The highest regnal date for Amenhotep III is Year 38, however it is likely that he lingered into his 39th year.i It seems to have been customary for a king to be credited with the balance of his final regnal year, which in the case of Amenhotep III would have given him a 40-year reign for the "record books." If Amenhotep III died in his 39th year, then Year 32 of Amenhotep III would correspond to late in Year 4 of Akhenaten or sometime in his Year 5. Year 5 of Rehoboam is the year of Shishak's "attack." There is another way to check the math. Elah son of Baasha became a king in Year 27 of Asa, and was assassinated about Year 29 of Asa. We are told in 1 Kings 16:23 that Omri was recognized as king in Year 31 of Asa, and reigned for 12 years. This would place the death of Yuya about 2 years after the end of Asa's reign, and probably within a year of Amenhotep III's death, which is consistent with archaeology.
As discussed above, it was decided by the Biblical author to follow the Solomon (Amenhotep III) narrative with that of Rehoboam (Amenhotep IV) and his short-lived successor Abijah (Smenkhare). With that as a convenient breakpoint, the Biblical narrative returns in time to the reign of King Asa (Sheshonq I) and his rival King Baasha (Milkilu). In 1 Kings 15:18-20, Asa is said to have made an alliance late in his reign with "Ben-Hadad, son of Tabrimmon, the son of Hezion, the king of Syria." It will be shown in the following chapters that the reign of Ben-Hadad ended late in the 17-year reign of Rehoboam (Amarna Period), and that he was succeeded by the "usurper" Haza'el. This was originally deduced by Velikovsky, and it turns out to be correct. If Asa's reign had not begun until after the reigns of Rehoboam and Abijah, then the king of Aram/Syria with whom Asa made an alliance would have been named as Haza'el, or even a successor of Haza'el. On the contrary, the end of Asa's reign actually overlaps with the beginning of Rehoboam's reign. Therefore, King Asa's alliance with Ben-Hadad precedes Year 5 of Rehoboam (Akhenaten). It was in the Amarna Period that Ben-Hadad and then Haza'el became the scourges of Israel. These two kings were also correctly identified by Velikovsky as Abdi-Ashirta and Aziru of the Amarna Tablet correspondence.
Sheshonq and Jerusalem
Although the letters of Labayu to Amenhotep are defensive and unrepentant, they are not openly defiant or threatening. In fact, in EA 254, Labayu writes that he is voluntarily sending his own son "Ia" (Iuput) to the pharaoh. This is the same son who only a short time later was named High Priest of Amun and Commander of the Armies of Upper Egypt. Amenhotep III was willing to overlook any infractions of Sheshonq and his sons. He had much more pressing concerns, primarily maintaining his own sovereignty over Thebes and Upper Egypt.
2 Chron. 12:1-2 (KJV) states: "When Rehoboam had established the kingdom, and had strengthened himself, he forsook the law of the Lord, and all Israel with him. And it came to pass, that in the fifth year of king Rehoboam Shishak king of Egypt came up against Jerusalem because they had transgressed against the Lord." Rehoboam (Akhenaten) had become too strong, and the position of Amenhotep III was being threatened. The prophet Shemaiah spoke: "This is what the Lord [Amenhotep III] says, 'You have abandoned me; therefore, I now abandon you to Shishak.' " j Moral offenses are cited as the cause of Shishak's invasion. However, the charge of infidelity is used only as a pretext for the intervention. Solomon himself had dedicated a high place in Moab to Chemosh-Baal.k The primary motivation was as usual political.
1 Kings 14:22-24 (KJV) states that Rehoboam and Jerusalem were humbled by Shishak because "Judah did evil in the sight of the Lord . they also built them high places, and images, and groves, on every high hill, and under every green tree." We are later told that Asa "removed all the idols that his fathers had made. And also Maachah his mother, even she he removed from being queen, because she had made an idol in a grove; and Asa destroyed her idol, and burnt it by the brook Kidron. But the high places were not removed: nevertheless Asa's heart was perfect with the Lord all his days. And he brought in the things which his father had dedicated, and the things which himself had dedicated, into the house of the Lord, silver, and gold, and vessels." l The Chronicles version of the story qualifies the Kings account by saying that Asa removed the high places of Judah, "but the high places were not taken away out of Israel." m We shall see later that Asa-Shishak was quite the Baal-worshipper in Israel.
2 Chron. 12:9 (KJV) states: "Shishak king of Egypt came up against Jerusalem, and took away the treasures of the house of the Lord, and the treasures of the king's house: he took all: he carried away the shields of gold which Solomon had made." In the Asa narrative, we find out what Shishak did with those treasures. Rehoboam evidently had taken precious articles from the temple of Amun, and was using them in his own temples (of the Aten). We are told that Sheshonq (in the guise of Shishak) "carried them off." Sheshonq (in the guise of Asa) returned them to their original place in the temple of the Lord, i.e., the temple of Amun. It seems that the temple treasury was especially in need of replenishing, because less than a year earlier Asa/Shishak himself "brought out silver and gold out of the treasures of the house of the Lord and of the king's house, and sent to Ben-Hadad king of Syria." n
The Bible claims that "Asa's heart was perfect with the Lord all his days." o It is clear that Asa had been attacking unofficial cult activity well before his assault in Year 5 of Rehoboam. This belies the assertion that Shishak's invasion was brought on solely due to spiritual infidelity. We find that Shishak was acting to protect the interests of the Lord (Amenhotep III), and naturally his own interests as well. Earlier, when Asa was in jeopardy of being overwhelmed by his family rival Zerah, he called upon "the Lord" (Amenhotep III) and Zerah was defeated. When the Lord Solomon (Amenhotep III) found himself being bullied by members of his own immediate family (such as Yuya, Tiye and Amenhotep IV/Akhenaten), he in turn relied on Sheshonq for support.
Solomon and Shishak jointly assumed the role of the "pharaoh who sought to kill him," that is Rehoboam/Moses II. Perhaps Rehoboam (Akhenaten) endured long enough to replace the gold shields of Solomon taken away from him by Shishak (Aye/Sheshonq I) with bronze ones. However, his own replacement with Iuput and forced exile to Akhet-aten also occurred in that same Year 5. The invasion of Year 5 is the last event in the Biblical narrative of Rehoboam's reign. With Akhenaten's expulsion, Sheshonq installed his own son Iuput (Jehoshaphat) as High Priest of Amun and Commander of the Armies of Upper Egypt. Iuput would also become Governor (Ruler) of all Upper Egypt although he evidently did not claim pharaonic titles.
2 Chron 12:12-13 (KJV) states: "And when he [Rehoboam] humbled himself, the wrath of the Lord [eventually] turned from him, that he would not destroy him altogether . So king Rehoboam strengthened himself [again] in Jerusalem, and reigned." It would be 7 years before Akhenaten was allowed to break his exile and set foot in Thebes once again. Akhenaten was able to continue as king in Jerusalem (Thebes) only after the death of Amenhotep III and with the considerable influence of Tiye. In his Year 12, Akhenaten returned to Thebes long enough to preside at Amenhotep III's "opening of the mouth" ceremony. However, his coronation took place back at Akhet-aten in his Year 13. The Bible gives Rehoboam credit for reigning 17 years in Jerusalem, however there was a conspicuous 7-year interruption in the middle that is glossed over in the Kings/Chronicles narrative. From the perspective of an Amunite priest and Theban historian, there was little else worthy of reporting about Akhenaten after his Year 5.
Sheshonq at Karnak
In 2 Chronicles 12:7-8 (KJV), the prophet Shemaiah proclaims: "My wrath shall not be poured out upon Jerusalem by the hand of Shishak: Nevertheless they shall be his servants; that they may know my service, and the service of the kingdoms of the countries." Jerusalem was not structurally damaged by Shishak, but it did become subject to him. Sheshonq (Asa) installed his son Iuput (Jehoshaphat) as High Priest of Amun and Ruler of Upper Egypt. Sheshonq and Iuput were at liberty to build (or tear down) in all the sacred precincts of Thebes, including Karnak. Sheshonq did not commemorate his victory over Thebes as a foreign king would have done. Rather, for Sheshonq, Thebes was the chosen place where triumphant Egyptian princes won the right to boast of their achievements on behalf of the family empire.
With respect to Sheshonq's mural at the Karnak Temple, Donald Redford writes, "The triumphal scene . refers to the Asiatics 'who had taken to attacking thy (the king's) frontiers.' " These Asiatics included "battalions of the army of Mitanni." p "How unhistorical his [Sheshonq's] large claims were is clear from a statement to the pharaoh by the god Amon: 'I have subjugated [for] thee the Asiatics of the armies of Mitanni.' Mitanni as a nation had ceased to exist at least four centuries earlier," q i.e., at the end of the 18th Dynasty. Therefore, Egyptologists must postulate that Sheshonq I was merely initiating a revival of New Kingdom forms and language. Sheshonq's mural includes the obligatory Asiatic "head smiting" scene, as well as mention of a stele erected in the vanquished land. These mural features, as well as the conquered city list, are of quintessential New Kingdom style. According to Aidon Dodson, "New Kingdom-style military ambition [is] displayed by Shoshenq's Palestinian campaign." r However, in the conventional chronology, Sheshonq lives and rules over 300 years later than the New Kingdom pharaoh Ramses II whose mural is found adjacent to his own.
Donald Redford concluded that the form of Sheshonq's campaign, and the mural describing it (city lists) are both in the genre of the 18th Dynasty. However, in the present chronology, Sheshonq's mural did not exist in the time of Ramses II. Egyptologists must postulate that the section of wall on which the mural was inscribed also did not exist. If it had, Ramses certainly would have used it. Ramses instead built a perpendicular extension to the south wall in order to create enough space to complete his own elaborate campaign murals. But why did Ramses not extend the south wall in order to completely cover the 2nd Pylon? The Ramesside portion of the wall encloses less than half of the 2nd Pylon. Moreover, the western end of the south wall would have been exposed where it adjoins the 2nd Pylon. Yet, this end of the wall was not only unfinished, but contained blocks with spoiled faces.
The present model of how the architecture evolved does not make any sense. The more reasonable explanation is that Sheshonq's mural was already inscribed on the southern wall of the temple prior to the time of Ramses II.1 Therefore, Ramses was prevented from using the area of the south wall already inscribed by Sheshonq. In order to create additional wall space for his own murals, Ramses had no other choice but to build an extension. Moreover, Ramses placed or replaced a divider (torus/roll moulding) between his new murals and those of Sheshonq.2 The addition/modification of this architectural element required that blocks on the Ramses side of the divider also be replaced or reworked. Faces that were spoiled or had been used for practice were turned toward the Sheshonq portion of the wall. Even with the spoiled faces hidden, the quality of the murals was inferior to those produced two generations earlier by Sheshonq. The Epigraphic Survey compares the mural of Sheshonq to the "similar though less ambitious triumphal reliefs of Ramses II" that are found immediately beside it.s Are we to believe that Sheshonq of the impoverished 3rd Intermediate Period was able to excel Ramses in his own imperial art forms!? On the contrary, it was Ramses who produced a "poor imitation" of Sheshonq's murals.
Sheshonq left a second record of his campaign on a stele placed near the annals of Thutmose III in the Iput-isut section of the Karnak temple.t The annals of Thutmose III are 500 years before those of Sheshonq I according to the conventional dating. Therefore, Egyptologists must conclude that Sheshonq was again only conforming to the style of the adjacent inscriptions, in this case those of Thutmose III. However, as the great-grandson of Thutmose III, it was theoretically possible for Sheshonq to have been taken on a campaign late in Thutmose's 54-year reign. Certainly, he would have been old enough to join his grandfather Amenhotep II on his campaigns in Syria and Aram Naharaim (Mitanni). His father Thutmose IV would have policed Egyptian claims in Syria and Aram, although there is no archaeological record of this.
One other architectural feature at Karnak must also be reconciled, that being the Bubastite Portal. This opening in the Great Court is a prominent feature of the south wall, and is located just to the west of Sheshonq's campaign mural. This portion of the wall would have been constructed by Sheshonq. However upon close examination it becomes clear that the Portal itself was created at a much later date. Sheshonq originally placed matching doorways on the south and north sides of the Great Court. The doorway on the north side is still intact. However, the doorway across from it on the south side was eliminated when Ramses III chose that location to adjoin a small chapel onto the Great Court. Sometime after the reign of Ramses III it was decided to cut a new entrance into the south wall of the Great Court.
The Bubastite Portal is a bastardized piece of architecture, even by Karnak standards. On the interior side of the Portal, two niches were formed by a set columns lined with pilasters (panels). The east pilaster is joined to the 2nd Pylon and actually occludes the inscriptions of Ramses II. The west pilaster is joined to the east wall of Ramses III's temple, and occludes his inscriptions. This would seem to be incontrovertible proof that Sheshonq must be later than Ramses III. However, the pilasters were obviously moved from their original location. The Epigraphic Survey states: "The three scenes on each of the pilasters are largely notable for showing the great prominence of Sheshonq I's son, the High Priest of Amun and Commander-in-Chief of the Army, Iuput, who appears behind his father in every one of the scenes. In the bottom scene on each pilaster the space was so small that he [Iuput] had to be literally crowded in."
High up on one pilaster, an ankh symbol is truncated. Mid-way up the other pilaster, a cartouche is also "crowded" onto the edge of the panel. Not only are the reliefs of the pilasters truncated, there are also large and irregular gaps between the blocks comprising the pilasters. Iuput would not have allowed his image to be wedged into the murals.u He himself supervised the construction of these murals. This effect and other damage was incurred when the blocks were pried apart, transported, trimmed and reassembled in their present location. The reliefs were carved by Iuput before the time of Ramses II and Ramses III. However, they were moved sometime after these kings. The panels are too wide to have been taken from the south wall where the Bubastite Portal was cut. However, they certainly could have flanked the original doorway on the south wall that was dismantled by Ramses III.
Small blocks inscribed with the names of Amenirdis and Nitocris (daughter of 26th Dynasty founder Psamtik I) were used to form a "screen" between the pilasters and columns.v Between the time of Amenirdis and Nitocris, pharaoh Taharqa built a kiosk at the center of the Great Court. Taharqa is the earliest pharaoh who could have constructed the Portal, with the block screening possibly added by Queen Nitocris. However, the Portal could conceivably be the work of a much later time. The important conclusion is that there is nothing inherent to the architecture of the Bubastite Portal or elsewhere that would preclude Sheshonq from having been a contemporary of Amenhotep III.
- 1 Kings 15:20 (KJV); also 2 Chron. 16:2-4
- There was also a Rama of Central Palestine near Gibeon (city no. 17 in Sheshonq's itinerary), and there may be some confusion in the Biblical narrative between this Rama and the Ramah of Ephraim to the north. Regardless, Tirzah is the last city of importance in Sheshonq's itinerary.
- Excerpts of EA 252-254 quoted from W. Moran, The Amarna Letters.
- See, The Harper Collins Concise Atlas of the Bible, ed. J. Pritchard, pp 62-63.
- See, D. Rohl, Pharaohs and Kings, p 126.
- Alberto Siliotti, Guide to the Valley of the Kings, p 8.
- See, Thomas Thompson, The Bible in History.
- W. Moran, The Amarna Letters, p xxxvii.
- Aidon Dodson, Monarchs of the Nile, p 95.
- 2 Chron. 12:5 (NIV)
- 1 Kings 11:7
- 1 Kings 15:12-15 (KJV)
- 2 Chron. 15:17 (KJV), 2 Chron. 14:2-5
- 2 Chron 16:2 (KJV)
- 1 Kings 15:14 (KJV)
- Donald Redford, Egypt, Canaan, and Israel in Ancient Times, p 314.
- Ancient Near Eastern Texts Relating to the Old Testament (ANET), J. Pritchard. ed., pp 263-4.
- Aidon Dodson, Monarchs of the Nile, pp 164-5.
- Preface, p. IX.
- Nicolas Grimal, A History of Ancient Egypt, p 322.
- In each of his six murals on the pilasters of the Bubastite Portal at Karnak, Iuput proudly sports a shawl made from the pelt of a lion cub.
- The Epigraphic Survey, p. IX.
An inscription at the Silsilah Quarry dates either to Year 21 of Sheshonq or Year 21 of his overlord Amenhotep III (which would correspond to Year 25 of Sheshonq). It reads:
"It was his majesty who gave directions to build a very great pylon…, to illuminate Thebes by erecting its double door of millions of cubits, to make a festival court for the house of his father Amun-Re, king of the gods, and to surround it with statues and a colonnade." 
James Breasted and Georges Legrain proposed that the intended pylon was the 1st Pylon.  This remains the most suitable candidate. However, the relation between the 1st Pylon and its Court (the 1st Court or Great Court) with adjoining Great Hypostyle Hall must now be reconsidered. The Great Court and Hypostyle Hall are separated by the 2nd Pylon, which is generally attributed to Horemheb. A single wall surrounds both the Great Court, the Hypostyle Hall and the 2nd Pylon separating the two sections of the temple. Sheshonq is given credit for the outer enclosure, and the mural of Sheshonq is actually on the portion of the south wall that spans the Great Court and Hypostyle Hall. The 2nd Pylon of Horemheb lies directly behind his mural. A younger Horemheb was certainly a powerful figure in Egypt during the final years of Sheshonq and Amenhotep III. However, his tenure as pharaoh concluded at least 30 years after that of Sheshonq, and at least 15 years after the death of Iuput, who is thought to have completed the murals of Sheshonq on the south wall. Immediately adjacent to Sheshonq's mural on the south wall are the murals of Ramses II, which cover the remaining portion of the 2nd Pylon and extend even further east to enclose the southern side of the Hypostyle Hall. The sole reign of Ramses II did not begin until at least 15 years after Horemheb.
Many pharaohs contributed to the construction of the Great Court and Hypostyle Hall at the same time, or nearly the same time. This makes it very difficult to reconstruct the exact evolution of the architecture. There is at least some indication that it was Amenhotep III who initiated work on the Hypostyle Hall. Sheshonq, as an ally of Amenhotep III, began construction of the Great Court, either in his Year 21 (Year 17 of Amenhotep III) or Year 25 (Year 21 of Amenhotep III), only about half-way into the reign of Amenhotep III. The reference to "his Majesty" in the Silsilah Quarry, if referring to Amenhotep III, is further indication that Amenhotep III commissioned the entire complex. The Great Court was completed by Sheshonq. The Hypostyle Hall was later finished by Seti I and Ramses II. Therefore, the Hypostyle Hall, although possibly started before the Great Court, was actually completed some time after the mural of Sheshonq was in place on the south wall. Likewise the 2nd Pylon could have been completed by Horemheb after the outer wall was already in place.
There is a physical break in the south wall between the mural of Sheshonq and the murals of Ramses II that were later placed beside it. The separation is almost negligible in width, and is sloped from the base of the wall to the top in the direction of the Hypostyle Hall. This architectural feature was originally accentuated with a decorative false column known as a "torus." Viewed from the outside, it leads the eye from east to west, or from the Hypostyle Hall toward the 1st Court. The portion of the Sheshonq mural adjacent to the torus is badly damaged, and only a small piece of the torus remains in tact, exposing the gap over most of its length. Possibly the break was cut by Seti I or Ramses II. More likely it served as an agreed upon interface between the contributions of Sheshonq and Amenhotep III or their immediate successors. Sheshonq and Iuput continued their inscriptions right up to the divider. This served to prevent encroachment by their rivals.
Ramses II reworked the interface to suit his purposes, but would not have substantially disturbed the preexisting mural of Sheshonq. Ramses II may have been the dominant pharaoh of Egypt, but during his time Thebes was itself ruled directly by his 23rd Dynasty contemporaries. (This will be addressed beginning with Chapters 28 of this book) The uppermost rows of blocks on Sheshonq's side of the south wall were toppled in some later period. This has exposed the upper inside corner of the Ramesside portion of the south wall. A few of these inside blocks were inscribed, and a cartouche of Ramses II can be clearly seen. However, the inscriptions are very rough, and do not form a coherent scene. These faces may have been rejects or used for practice. When these blocks were mounted, the used faces were turned to the side. Certainly, there was no intention for the "scratching" on the inside edge of the Ramesside portion of the wall to be exposed.