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Volume 11 issue 3 December 2010



This month’s NETFISHING continues its look at the history of Egypt by seeing what the World Wide Web has to say about Egypt’s ‘Black Pharaohs’ – the Twenty-fifth Dynasty, who restored Egypt’s fortunes once more.


The decision made by Osorkon II to consolidated his position as king, by appointing his sons as administrators of different parts of the country, was to set a precedent for, in time, his successors would come to look upon these lands as their own; by the end of the Twenty-second Dynasty, different lines of ‘kings’ ruled over different parts of the country. None of these monarchs had the power or authority to extend their control over all of Egypt and so the land returned to a state of division, with different ‘dynasties’ each ruling their own local areas and establishing petty princedoms each based upon one of the major cities of Egypt.


Far to the south of Egypt, the town of Napata, in the neighbourhood of the Fourth Cataract of the Nile in Sudan, had

been ruled by a native Sudanese dynasty for generations. The withdrawal of Egyptian authority was in the distant past, yet this Sudanese dynasty still preserved Egyptian customs, was generally Egyptian in character and still maintained the worship of the god Amun. Essentially the rulers of Napata were more Egyptianised than the ‘kings’ who actually lived in Egypt itself, for these were merely petty princes who controlled small areas of land and continually vied with one another.


A native Nubian king, Piy (or Piankhy), was, therefore, ruling in Nubia, and looking northwards at the collapse of the once-great country of Egypt, while a certain Tefnakhte, a ruler based at Sais, in the Egyptian Delta, had occupied

Memphis and was exerting his influence over the other petty rulers of Lower Egypt.


It was time for a change, and Piy decided to move northwards to restore order (maat) to what he most probably considered to be the ‘mother country’ and re-establish the rule of the god Amun. As Piy’s forces moved into Upper Egypt Tefnakhte organised a coalition of princes to stand again this ‘vile Nubian’ invasion. In this coalition he was joined by King Osorkon IV (of Tanis), King Peft-Jaua-Bastet (of Herakleopolis), King Namart (of Hermopolis) and King Iuput (of Leontopolis).


They all marched south with their forces to deal with the Nubian upstart, confident in Egyptian superiority over an enemy they had considered inferior for centuries. When the opposing sides met at Herakleopolis, the Egyptian’s incompetence was displayed as each king wanted to control the battle, and they were completely routed by the superior, united, forces of King Piy. The ‘kings’ retreated to the Delta and eventually surrendered to Piy, who, in an enlightened policy, allowed them to continue ruling as ‘Governors’ in their respective cities – as long as they acknowledged him as ‘King of Egypt’. Thus was founded the Twenty-fifth Dynasty of ‘Black Pharaohs’ on the throne of Egypt, with Egypt initially being controlled by King Piy from his own capital of Napata, far to the south in Nubia.


For an outline of the Twenty-fifth Dynasty, refer:





Tefnakhte http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/tefnakht

Piy http://www.touregypt.net/featurestories/piye.htm


Shabaqo http://www.touregypt.net/25dyn01.htm



Shabitqo http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Shebitku


Taharqo http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Taharqa


Tanutamani http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tantamani



Perhaps one of the Twenty-fifth Dynasty’s greatest achievements lay in finally resolving the problem of a divided Egypt by reducing the power of the priesthood of Amun at Thebes. This was done by replacing the position of the High Priest of Amun with that of the ‘Gods Wife of Amun’ instead (who was in effect the daughter of the ruling king). Thus the royal family established control over the whole country once more. Refer:




Victor Blunden

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