High Priest of Ptah

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Reconstruction of the temple of Ptah in Memphis.
“Temple of Ptah” redirects here. For the Temple of Ptah at Karnak, see Temple of Ptah (Karnak).
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High Priest of Ptah
(wer kherp hmww)
in hieroglyphs

The High Priest of Ptah was sometimes referred to as the Greatest of the Masters of the Craftsmen (wer kherp hmww). This title refers to Ptah as the patron god of the craftsmen.[1]

Ramesses II flanked by Ptah and Sekhmet

The office of the High Priest of Ptah was located in Memphis. The temple of Ptah in Memphis was dedicated to Ptah, his consort Sekhmet and their son Nefertem.[2]

High priests of Ptah are mentioned in inscriptions dating back to at least the Fourth Dynasty. In the tomb of the nobleman Debhen, for instance, there is a description of a visit by Pharaoh Menkaure to the construction site for his pyramid “Divine is Menkaure”. The pharaoh is accompanied by a naval commander and two high priests of Ptah.[3]

There used to be two high Priests of Ptah until the Sixth Dynasty. It was probably during the reign of Pepi I that the two offices were combined into one. In the tomb of Sabu called Thety in Saqqara, the owner mentions that “His Majesty appointed me as High Priest of Memphis alone. ___ The temple of “Ptah-South-of-His-Wall” in its every place was under my charge, although there never was a single High Priest of Ptah before.”[4]

A large temple complex dating to the time of Ramesses II is located at the modern site of Mit Rahina. The Temple of Ptah from this time period was one of the largest temple complexes in Egypt. Not much of this complex has been excavated because a large part of the site lies very close to the modern town.[5]

Sem Priest of Ptah

Prince Khaemwaset with the short wig and side lock typical for the sem priest of Ptah
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Sem Priest (of Ptah)
in hieroglyphs

It was common for the high priest to also hold the title of sem priest of Ptah. The sem priest could be recognized by the fact that he wore a short wig with a side-lock and was dressed in a panther skin.


Old Kingdom

Middle Kingdom

Second Intermediate Period

New Kingdom

Eighteenth Dynasty

Nineteenth Dynasty

Twentieth Dynasty

Third Intermediate Period

Twenty-first Dynasty

Twenty-second Dynasty

Twenty-fifth Dynasty

Late Period

Ptolemaic Period

The High Priests of Ptah in Memphis became very important during the Ptolemaic Period.[9]

  • Nesisti-Pedubast, son of Anemhor I and Renpet-neferet. Married to Renpet-neferet and Nefersobek. Children included Pedubast, Khonsiu, Amenhor II, Nefertiti and Neferibre.
  • Pedubast I (High Priest of Ptah), son of Nesisti-Pedubast and Nefersobek.
  • Amenhor II, son of Nesisti-Pedubast and Nefersobek. Married Herankh. Children include Djedhor, Horemakhet and possibly Horemhotep.
  • Djedhor son of Amenhor II and Herankh.
  • Horemakhet (223 BCE) son of Amenhor II and Herankh.
  • Nesisti (ca. 190 BCE?), son of Horemakhet and Nefertiti. Succeeded Horemakhet as High Priest of Memphis probably between 194/3 and 180
  • Pedubast II (High Priest of Ptah), son of Psherenptah and Taimhotep. Grandson of Horemakhet and Nefertiti.
  • Psherenptah II, son of Pedubast II
  • Pedubast III (High Priest of Ptah) (103 BCE), son of Psherenptah II and Berenice (probably daughter of Ptolemy VIII)
  • Psherenptah III (76 BCE), son of Pedubast III and Herankh-beludje
  • Imhotep-Pedubast (39 BCE), son of Psherenptah III and Taimhotep
  • Psherenamun I (30 BCE), brother-in-law of Psherenptah III. Son of Ka-hapi and Her-ankh
  • Psherenamun II (27 BCE), son of Psherenamun I and Taneferher.



  • Dodson and Hilton, The Complete Royal Families of Ancient Egypt, 2004
  • Wilkinson, The Complete Temples of Ancient Egypt, 2000, Thames and Hudson, pg 83
  • J.H. Breasted, Ancient Records of Egypt, Vol I, 2001 (originally 1906), pg 94-95
  • J.H. Breasted, Ancient Records of Egypt, Vol I, 2001 (originally 1906), pg 133
  • Wilkinson, The Complete Temples of Ancient Egypt, 2000, Thames and Hudson, pg 114-115
  • Donald B. Redford, The Coregency of Tuthmosis III and Amenophis II, The Journal of Egyptian Archaeology, Vol. 51 (Dec., 1965), pp. 107-122
  • W. F. Albright, Cuneiform Material for Egyptian Prosopography 1500-1200 B. C., Journal of Near Eastern Studies, Vol. 5, No. 1, Albert Ten Eyck Olmstead Memorial Issue (Jan., 1946), pp. 7-25
  • K.A. Kitchen,The Third Intermediate Period in Egypt, 1100-650 B.C., 1996 ed.


  1. High Priests of Memphis, a website by Chris Bennett

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