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The Pharaohs

Seti I
Birth name: Seti Meryenptah ("He of the God Seth, Beloved of Ptah")
Throne name: Menmaatre ("Eternal is the Justice of Re")
Rule: 1291 - 1278 BC (2nd king of the 19th dynasty, New Kingdom)
Noteworthy relatives: Ramses I (father), Sitre (mother), Tuya (wife), Ramses II (son)


Seti I became pharaoh after the death of his father, Ramses I. Previously he had been troop commander in the army and also a vizier. During the very first year as pharaoh, he demonstrated his strong military background by waging campaigns against Syria, Libya, and Lebanon. Seti I reoccupied parts of Asia that hadn't been under Egyptian control since the times of Tuthmosis III and Amenhotep III.

Seti I is also known for some amazing building projects that were constructed during his reign, including the addition of the hypostyle hall to the Temple of Amun at Karnak. He also had a beautifully decorated temple built in Abydos. Carved on one of its walls is The Royal List of Abydos, a huge relief that shows Seti and his young son Ramses II standing in front of rows of cartouches (76 total) naming "all" the past kings of Egypt (controversial rulers like Hatshepsut, Tutankhamun, and Akhenaten were left off the list out of embarrassment!).

Temple of Amun at Karnak. By Cornell University Library [CC BY 2.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons

Just a few of the 134 columns in the Hypostyle Hall started by Seti I. By Dennis Jarvis from Halifax, Canada (Egypt-3A-049) [CC BY-SA 2.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons

Located in The Valley of the Kings, the tomb of Seti I (known by Egyptologists as KV17 or "tomb #17 in the King's Valley") was discovered in 1817 by Giovanni Belzoni. As both the longest and the deepest in the entire Valley of the Kings, Seti's tomb is yet another amazing example of the achievements in construction and art during his rule. To deceive potential tomb robbers, there is a false burial chamber (the real one was hidden much further and deeper within the tomb) on the other side of a deep shaft near the bottom of the steps of the entrance. A daring would-be robber would risk his life to cross the seemingly bottomless pit, only to reach an empty burial chamber on the other side! The shaft also collected rain water that dripped into the tomb, preventing it from flowing any further into the tomb and destroying the artifacts inside. Nearly every square inch of the entire tomb is covered with painted reliefs, and the real burial chamber has a beautiful painted ceiling that shows the constellations of the northern part of the sky. The sarcophagus of Seti I was found inside. It was made out of alabaster and is only about 5 cm thick, making it translucent to light. The bottom part was in good condition but the lid was smashed to bits by ancient robbers who obviously weren't fooled by that false burial chamber.

Seti's mummy was not in the tomb, however. It was found decades later (in 1881) in the royal mummy cache of Deir el-Bahari. It was in perfect condition-- probably the best preserved mummy of all the pharaohs. It actually had been "touched up" at least twice in ancient times: first around 1080 BC, after his tomb was robbed the first time, and then again around 1054 BC.

Due to the potential for collapsing ceilings in the burial chamber and other rooms, Seti's beautiful (but dangerous) tomb was closed to tourists for good in 1991.

Mummy of Seti I. By Emil Brugsch

Section of the ceiling of Seti's tomb showing stars and constellations.

By Jean-Pierre Dalbéra [CC BY 2.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons

Watch: "Tomb of Seti I (3D Tour)"

Take a 360˚ Photosphere virtual visit to Seti I's tomb!

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