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Volume 11 issue 4 January 2011

NETFISHING

ANCIENT EGYPT explores the WORLD WIDE WEB ...

THE BLACK PHARAOHS AND THE ASSYRIANS

This month’s NETFISHING continues its look at the history of Egypt by seeing what the World Wide Web has to say about the reign of the ‘Black Pharaohs’ of the Twenty-fifth Dynasty and their conflict with the Kings of Assyria.

 

The conquest of Egypt by the Nubian King Piy (or Piankhy) marked a turning point in Egypt’s fortunes. The new dynasty unified a once-divided country and encouraged trade and prosperity once more. It appeared Maat (good order) had once again returned to Egypt, and the country flourished under its new leadership. Refer:

 

www.crystalinks.com/dynasty25.html

 

The new line of Kings were devotees of the traditional Egyptian god Amun and undertook much restoration work at the largely neglected temples of Egypt. The Shabako Stone, now in the British Museum, records that King Shabako (or Shabaka), (the second ruler of the dynasty and brother of Piy) visited the temple of Memphis to consult the learned books only to discover that the papyri had become neglected and worm-eaten. He ordered that the most important book in the library be carved in stone, so that it would last for all eternity. Thus the Shabako Stone gives the Memphite account of ‘the creation of the world’ performed, of course, by the god of Memphis, Ptah. Refer:

 

www.sofiatopia.org/maat/shabaka.htm

www.touregypt.net/shabakastone.htm

www.britishmuseum.org/explore/highlights/highlight_objects/aes/t/the_shabako_stone.aspx

www.reshafim.org.il/ad/egypt/texts/shabaka_stone.htm

 

Other kings concentrated on building work, enlarging and erecting temples throughout the land. King Taharqo (or Taharqa, a son of Piy) constructed a new temple to Amun at Kawa, and built extensively at Karnak, erecting colonnades to the north, south, east and west of the temple complex. His most famous work is the ‘Kiosk’ he built in the first courtyard of Karnak temple, the remains of which survive today. Refer:

 

www.touregypt.net/featurestories/karnak2.htm

 

Taharqo also erected a small chapel to the Nubian gods within the Hypostyle Hall of Karnak temple itself, squeezed between the columns; this chapel can now be seen in the Ashmolean Museum at Oxford. Refer:

 

www.yare.org/museums/ashmolean/shrine%20of%20taharqa.htm

 

The kings of the Twenty-fifth Dynasty also ensured control over Upper Egypt by reducing the power of the priesthood of Amun. The old concept of ‘the God’s Wife of Amun’ was reworked and ‘the Divine Adoratrice’ now replaced the High Priest of Amun and was given total control over the estates of Amun and Karnak Temple. As she was the daughter of the ruling pharaoh, control was once again firmly in the hands of the royal family. Refer:

 

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Divine_Adoratrice_of_Amun

www.touregypt.net/featurestories/women2.htm

www.narmer.pl/dyn/bcaen.htm

 

A number of prominent daughters of the king occupied the position throughout the Twenty-fifth and Twenty-sixth Dynasties Refer:

 

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Amenirdis_I

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Shepenupet_II

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Amenirdis_II

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nitocris_I_(Divine_Adoratrice)

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ankhnesneferibre

 

and these ladies were all buried in a special chapel erected in the outer courtyard of Medinet Habu temple. Refer:

 

http://xy2.org/lenka/Adoratrices.html

 

All was not well, however, on the political front: Assyria was growing in power and extending its empire. The last years of Taharqo’s reign were plagued by attacks by the Assyrian king Esarhaddon. Repulsed at first, in 671 BC Esarhaddon launched a major attack and at last reached Memphis, forcing Taharqo to retreat southwards. The Assyrians formed an alliance with a number of petty chiefs in the Delta area and installed their own administration. Refer:

 

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Esarhaddon

www.britishmuseum.org/explore/highlights/article_index/e/esarhaddon,_king_of_assyria.aspx

www.varchive.org/tac/esarh.htm

 

Taharqo countered and regained Memphis, but the Assyrian forces returned, in greater numbers in 667 BC, under the control of their new king Ashurbanipal, who occupied Memphis and may have advanced as far south as Thebes (Luxor). Ashurbanipal captured several Delta princes (including a son of Taharqo) and took them to Nineveh where they were duly put to death. Refer:

 

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ashurbanipal

www.britishmuseum.org/explore/highlights/article_index/a/ashurbanipal,_assyrian_king.aspx

 

One of the captives taken to Nineveh was a certain Necho of Sais, who persuaded Ashurbanipal to restore him to power as ‘Governor of Egypt’, a puppet ruler for the Assyrians. Refer:

 

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Necho_I

www.phouka.com/pharaoh/pharaoh/dynasties/dyn26/01nekau1.html

 

Taharqo had by this time retreated into Nubia where he died a deposed king in 664 BC, but his son Tanutamun would continue the fight for Egypt – as will be seen in the next issue.

 

Victor Blunden


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