26th dynasty mummy of upper class male

The Late Period (712 to 332 B.C.) includes the 25th, 26th, 27th, 28th, 29th and 30th Dynasties, with one period of Nubia rule and one period of Persian rule (a second period of Persian rule occurred later). The 25th dynasty was Nubian. This marked the beginning of the Late Period. The 27th and 31st dynasties were Persian. After the 27th dynasty the Persians were expelled but returned once again. After experiencing a brief period of autonomy after the Persians were expelled the first time, Egypt was conquered again by Alexander the Great in 332 B.C.

After 1085 B.C. Egypt was divided and ruled by priests. Egyptian culture went into a period of decline. Treasuries shrunk as a result of expensive monument building and military campaigns. There were food riots and strikes. In 525 B.C., Egypt was conquered the Persians The New Kingdom was followed by the Third Intermediate Period (1075 to 715 B.C.), the Late Period (715 to 332B.C.) and the Greco-Roman Period (332 B.C. to A.D. 395).

On the 25th Dynasty, Dr Aidan Dodson of the University of Bristol wrote: “ For much of Egyptian history, Nubia had been regarded merely as a source of manpower and minerals for the Egyptian state. Then, around 730 B.C., tables were turned, and the Nubian King Piye invaded and conquered Egypt. The king and his successors were, however, steeped in Egyptian culture, and viewed themselves as the renewers of ancient glories, rather than as foreign incomers. As such, they revived the ancient custom of pyramid building, which had been dropped by the pharaohs some eight centuries before-shown above are the ruins of the pyramid of Taharqa (690-664 B.C.). Despite this history, Taharqa's successor was soon driven out of Egypt by an Assyrian invasion, never to return. [Source: Dr Aidan Dodson, Egyptologist, University of Bristol, BBC, February 17, 2011 |::|]

On the 26th Dynasty: “After their invasion, the Assyrians soon withdrew from Egypt, leaving power in the hands of Psametik I (664-610 B.C.), ruler of the city of Sais in north-western Egypt. His dynasty followed that of the Nubians in its promotion of the past as a model for the present, much of its artwork being inspired by, or copied from, ancient models. Unfortunately, although the Assyrians were no longer a threat, the Persians took over Egypt in the reign of Psametik III, shown above on a relief in a chapel in the temple of Karnak. This take-over spelt the beginning of the end for Egypt as an independent nation.” |::|

Websites on Ancient Egypt: UCLA Encyclopedia of Egyptology, escholarship.org ; Internet Ancient History Sourcebook: Egypt sourcebooks.fordham.edu ; Discovering Egypt discoveringegypt.com; BBC History: Egyptians bbc.co.uk/history/ancient/egyptians ; Ancient History Encyclopedia on Egypt ancient.eu/egypt; Digital Egypt for Universities. Scholarly treatment with broad coverage and cross references (internal and external). Artifacts used extensively to illustrate topics. ucl.ac.uk/museums-static/digitalegypt ; British Museum: Ancient Egypt ancientegypt.co.uk; Egypt’s Golden Empire pbs.org/empires/egypt; Metropolitan Museum of Art www.metmuseum.org ; Oriental Institute Ancient Egypt (Egypt and Sudan) Projects ; Egyptian Antiquities at the Louvre in Paris louvre.fr/en/departments/egyptian-antiquities; KMT: A Modern Journal of Ancient Egypt kmtjournal.com; Ancient Egypt Magazine ancientegyptmagazine.co.uk; Egypt Exploration Society ees.ac.uk ; Amarna Project amarnaproject.com; Egyptian Study Society, Denver egyptianstudysociety.com; The Ancient Egypt Site ancient-egypt.org; Abzu: Guide to Resources for the Study of the Ancient Near East etana.org; Egyptology Resources fitzmuseum.cam.ac.uk

Art and Culture During the Late Period

James Allen and Marsha Hill of the Metropolitan Museum of Art wrote: “During the Late Period, the reemergence of a centralized royal tradition that interacted with the relatively decentralized network inherited from the Third Intermediate Period created a rich artistic atmosphere. Particularly among royal artworks, it is possible to speak of marked affinities for models from certain anterior periods: Kushite kings admired Old Kingdom models, Saite kings those of the Old and New Kingdoms, and later kings of Dynasty 30 looked back beyond the Persian interlud to the kings of late Dynasty 26. Viewed from the perspective of metal statuary produced in temples or of nonroyal artworks, however, stylistic patterns suggest a complex interplay of influences less hierarchically determined by the temporal power of the king than in previous periods, with the result that the choices of patrons and artists are more recognizable. [Source: James Allen and Marsha Hill, Department of Egyptian Art, Metropolitan Museum of Art, October 2004, metmuseum.org\^/]

“A taste for realistic modeling of features of nonroyal persons emerges, while attention to the naturalistic modeling of flesh and bone in human and animal sculpture reaches new heights. While precious metal and bronze statuary and equipment had long associations with temple cult and ritual, by the first millennium B.C. changes in beliefs and practices had come about. A broad range of individuals made temple offerings, including relatively valuable bronze statuettes and equipment. While the king made offerings in his role as mediator between the gods and mankind, for private donors the goal was attainment of eternal life, for which the personal favor of or physical proximity to a deity was now believed to be as or even more efficacious than tombs and mortuary cult provisions. Osiris and the flourishing cults of animal avatars of certain gods were particular beneficiaries of these new offering practices. \^/

“Following the period of Persian rule, the kings of Dynasties 28 through 30 brought a new focus to their role as maintainers of a long tradition. Prodigious temple building and major production of statuary enacted an impressive reformulation and promulgation of the concept of divine kingship and formalized many other aspects of Egypt's ancient artistic and religious traditions in the face of threatening outside powers.” \^/


List of Rulers from the Late Period

Late Period
ca. 712–332 B.C.
Dynasty 25 (Nubian), ca. 712–664 B.C.
Shebitqo: ca. 698–690 B.C.
Taharqo (Loses control of Lower Egypt)32: ca.690–664 B.C.
Tanutamani (Loses control of Upper Egypt): ca. 664–653 B.C.
[Source: Department of Egyptian Art, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, October 2002]

from the Nubian musuem

Dynasty 26 (Saite), 688–252 B.C.
Nikauba: 688–672 B.C.
Necho I: 672–664 B.C.
Psamtik I: 664–610 B.C.
Necho II: 610–595 B.C.
Psamtik II: 595–589 B.C.
Apries: 589–570 B.C.
Amasis: 570–526 B.C.
Psamtik III: 526–525 B.C.

Dynasty 27: First Persian Period
525–404 B.C.
Cambyses: 525–522 B.C.
Darius I: 521–486 B.C.
Xerxes I: 486–466 B.C.
Artaxerxes I: 465–424 B.C.
Darius II: 424–404 B.C.

Dynasty 28, 522–399 B.C.
Pedubaste III: 522–520 B.C.
Psamtik IV: ca. 470 B.C.
Inaros: ca. 460 B.C.
Amyrtaios I: ca. 460 B.C.
Thannyros: ca. 445 B.C.
Pausiris: ca. 445 B.C.
Psamtik V: ca. 445 B.C.
Psamtik VI: ca. 400 B.C.
Amyrtaios II: 404–399 B.C.

Dynasty 29, 399–380 B.C.
Nepherites I: 399–393 B.C.
Psammuthis: 393–393 B.C.
Achoris: 393–380 B.C.
Nepherites II: 380–380 B.C.
Dynasty 30, 380–343 B.C.
Nectanebo I: 380–362 B.C.
Teos: 365–360 B.C.
Nectanebo II: 360–343 B.C.:

Contacts between Pre-Classical Greece and Egypt

Stefan Pfeiffer of Martin-Luther-Universität Halle-Wittenberg wrote: “Already in the second Greek epic, the Odyssey, the geographical name Αἴγυπτος is attested. The best Greek source for Egyptian-Greek relations in Pre- Classical and Classical times is Herodotus’s second book of “Histories”, written in the second half of the fifth century. The value of this source is debated in modern historiography, but Herodotus has often been proved right by archaeological evidence or written Egyptian sources that verify his accounts. Herodotus’s reports on historical events and the cultural interrelations between Egypt and Greece can be augmented by the accounts of Diodorus and Strabo, two Greek authors of the first century B.C.. [Source: Stefan Pfeiffer, Martin-Luther-Universität Halle-Wittenberg, UCLA Encyclopedia of Egyptology, 2013 escholarship.org ]

Greek coins found in Egypt

“It is certain that Greek mercenaries, craftsmen, and traders traveled to Egypt since the middle of the seventh century B.C. At Naukratis, Kom Firin, Sais, Athribis, Bubastis, Mendes, Tell el-Maskhuta, Daphnai, and Magdolos in the Delta, and Heliopolis, Saqqara, Thebes, and Edfu in the Nile Valley, Greek presence is attested by archaeological evidence. With the aid of Greek mercenaries, Psammetichus I (664 – 610 B.C.) succeeded in uniting Egypt under his sole rule by defeating various Libyan chieftains. He might in fact have made a dedication of his dress to the sanctuary of Didymae near Miletus, which is reported by Herodotus. Afterwards he stationed Greek soldiers in the neighborhood of the city of Bubastis and at the Bolbitic mouth of the Nile. An Egyptian statue, dedicated by a certain Pedon, who perhaps took part in Psammetichus’s campaigns, was found near Priene. The inscription on the statue relates that Pedon was given a golden bracelet and a city by Psammetichus because of his braveness. It is quite probable that, like Pedon, most of the Greeks in Egypt came from the Ionian coast of Asia Minor, because the Demotic word for “Greeks” is “Wynn “(i.e., Ionians); in hieroglyphic Egyptian they were called “Haunebut”. This is supported by several goods found in Ionia that bear witness to the close trade contacts between Greeks and Egyptians. It also indicates that Greeks who had stayed in Egypt brought home Egyptian objects like the statue of Pedon, or scarabs and figurines of Egyptian deities.

“In the time of the Egyptian expansion under Necho (610 – 595 B.C.), Greek soldiers in the army of the pharaoh reached, as archaeological finds prove, Carchemish at the Euphrates. The presence of Greek mercenaries in the army of Psammetichus II is attested by some graffiti at Abu Simbel, inscribed during a Nubian campaign of the pharaoh. The Greeks who made a career in Egypt seem to have adapted Egyptian customs to a high degree as is evidenced by their funerals (if they can be traced at all), which were of Egyptian style. Like members of the Egyptian elite, some Greeks were buried near the Old Kingdom pyramids at Saqqara, accompanied by shabtis.

“Amasis (570 – 526 B.C.) reorganized Greek presence in Egypt. According to Herodotus, he settled Greeks in the vicinity of Memphis, where they were known as the Hellenomemphites, and at Naukratis, where their presence had already been attested since the seventh century B.C. In later Greek tradition the city was a Milesian colony, but in fact it was a port-of-trade for many Greek cities—a Greek “emporion “rather than a “polis, “according to Greek constitutional understanding. The cities that participated in the “emporion “were, in addition to Miletus, Samos and Aegina, which had also founded their own local sanctuaries. Chios, Klazomenai, Teos, and Phocaea from the Ionian coast, Rhodes, Halicarnassus, Knidos, and Phaselis from Dorian Asia Minor, and the city of Mytilene from Lesbos in contrast had their religious focus at a temple precinct called Hellenion. It is assumed that this unique Greek “emporion “in Egypt formed a kind of buffer between two different economical systems: the redistributive system of Egypt and the free-trade system of the Greeks. The new underwater discoveries at Thonis-Heracleion on the coast prove that the main entrance to Egypt for Greek traders was the Canopic branch of the Nile, the same branch that passes the Saite nome and the “emporion “Naukratis situated within it.

To sum up, it can be concluded that Greeks of the Pre-Classical Period had gained substantial knowledge about Egypt, as intensive trading contacts seem very likely. Furthermore, Egyptian influence can be noticed in Greek art in the adaptation by Greek sculptors and builders of Egyptian statuary forms—sometimes they even used the Egyptian royal cubit. Some scholars suggest that the Greek peripteral temple actually had its roots in Egypt. In contrast to the widespread presence of Egyptian material culture in Greece, Egyptians do not seem to have adopted Greek cultural elements: Greek mercenaries, craftsmen, and traders were welcome and needed, but the impact of Greek culture in Egypt cannot be traced.”

Relations between Pre-Classical Greece and Egypt

Stefan Pfeiffer of Martin-Luther-Universität Halle-Wittenberg wrote: “Since 526 B.C. Egypt was a satrapy of the Persian empire. Due to this fact, Egyptian soldiers surely participated in the Persian wars against Greece (490 and 480 B.C.). According to Herodotus, the Egyptian soldiers were the bravest in the sea-battle at Salamis. It is possible that Egyptian merchants were active in Greece since Classical times, as a cult to Isis is known to have existed in Athens dating back to the mid-fourth century. During the fifth and fourth centuries there were Egyptian rebellions against Persian rule. Athens sent help to support the revolts of Inaros and Amyrtaios in the middle of the fifth century B.C.; so did Sparta in the fourth century B.C. Furthermore, there seem to have been intensive economic contacts between Greece and Egypt in Classical times. Greek “polis”-states were interested in grain and papyri, while Egypt needed mercenaries for warfare and profited from imported timber and silver. [Source: Stefan Pfeiffer, Martin-Luther-Universität Halle-Wittenberg, UCLA Encyclopedia of Egyptology, 2013 escholarship.org ]

Egyptian items found in Greece

“The position of Naukratis as a major port-of- trade in Egypt was probably taken over by Thonis- Heracleion in Persian times. We learn this from the so-called Naukratis Stela found at Naukratis. A second copy of the stela was found during the underwater excavations on the coast of Abuqir. Both stelae were erected in the first year of Nectanebo I (380 – 363 B.C.) and offer almost identical texts. Only the last two columns differ. The Naukratis Stela reads: “Let these things be recorded on this stela, placed in Naukratis on the bank of the Anu.” The one from Abuqir reports: “Let these things be recorded on this stela, placed at the mouth of the sea of the Greeks in the city that is named Thonis from Sais.” Both stelae state that all ships coming to Egypt had to levy duty to the goddess Neith of Sais and that the taxes had to be paid directly at Henu (= Heracleion). Thus, in the economic relations between Greece and Egypt, Heracleion played a key role, which it did not lose until Alexander founded Alexandria. In Naukratis, duty had now to be paid only on goods that Greek craftsmen produced there. Therefore it seems clear that Naukratis was an important center of Greek production in Egypt. However, no longer having the port-of-trade status, Naukratis appears to have achieved the political status of a “polis “during the last period of Egyptian independence.

“In contrast to these intensive contacts, the archaeological documentation of Greek-Egyptian relations in Classical times, with the exception of findings at Naukratis and Heracleion, is relatively meager. It might only be supposed that Bubastis played some role because eventually a Doric temple was erected there in the fifth or fourth century B.C. The best example of Greek cultural influence might be the tomb of Petosiris at Tuna el-Gebel; Lefebvre 1923 – 1924; Cherpion et al. 2007), which may be dated to the time immediately before Alexander the Great conquered Egypt: the decoration of the “pronaos “shows scenes that are stylistically not typically Egyptian but a mixture of Greek, Egyptian, and Persian traditions. From Herodotus we hear furthermore of certain cultural contacts and even of a feast in Chemmis, which he presents as a combination of Greek and Egyptian rituals. Some scholars accept Herodotus’s description at face value, and as such it would indeed make a fascinating cross-cultural event, but the story should probably be treated with caution.

“In addition to the extensive knowledge of Egypt the Greeks had acquired through their intensive trading contacts and provision of soldiers for the Egyptian army, Greek intellectual elites had great interest in Egyptian culture and admired its antiquity and wisdom. The development of orphism, for example, was influenced by Egyptian thoughts on the afterlife. For Herodotus, Egypt was “mundus inversus”, a “world upside down,” yet at the same time had the most pious inhabitants.”

Twentieth Fifth Dynasty 780 – 656 B.C.: Kushite (Nubian) Period

During the 25th Dynasty, native princes of Kush (Nubia-modern Sudan) conquered a weak Egypt and established themselves leaders of the region. They restored ancient customs, had old texts recopied, built new temples in Thebes and revived pyramid burials. Much of the art and sculpture produced during this time was an imitation the Old and Middle Kingdom styles, some of it so well executed that even experts can’t tell the difference. The 25th Dynasty Nubian kings were: Alara B.C.; Kashta B.C.; Piy 747-716 B.C.; Shabako 716-702 B.C.; Shabatka 702-690 B.C.; Taharka 690-664 B.C.; Tantarnani 644-656 B.C.; [Source: Mark Millmore, discoveringegypt.com discoveringegypt.com]

On the 25th Dynasty, Dr Aidan Dodson of the University of Bristol wrote: “ For much of Egyptian history, Nubia had been regarded merely as a source of manpower and minerals for the Egyptian state. Then, around 730 B.C., tables were turned, and the Nubian King Piye invaded and conquered Egypt. The king and his successors were, however, steeped in Egyptian culture, and viewed themselves as the renewers of ancient glories, rather than as foreign incomers. As such, they revived the ancient custom of pyramid building, which had been dropped by the pharaohs some eight centuries before-shown above are the ruins of the pyramid of Taharqa (690-664 B.C.). Despite this history, Taharqa's successor was soon driven out of Egypt by an Assyrian invasion, never to return. [Source: Dr Aidan Dodson, Egyptologist, University of Bristol, BBC, February 17, 2011 |::|]

James Allen and Marsha Hill of the Metropolitan Museum of Art wrote: “From ca. 728 to 656 B.C., the Nubian kings of Dynasty 25 dominated Egypt. Like the Libyans before them, they governed as Egyptian pharaohs. Their control was strongest in the south. In the north, Tefnakht's successor, Bakenrenef, ruled for four years (ca. 717–713 B.C.) at Sais until Piankhy's successor, Shabaqo (ca. 712–698 B.C.), overthrew him and established Nubian control over the entire country. The accession of Shabaqo can be considered the end of the Third Intermediate Period and the beginning of the Late Period in Egypt. [Source: James Allen and Marsha Hill, Department of Egyptian Art, Metropolitan Museum of Art, October 2004, metmuseum.org \^/]

“Nubian rule, which viewed itself as restoring the true traditions of Egypt, benefited Egypt economically and was accompanied by a revival in temple building and the arts that continued throughout the Late Period. At the same time, however, the country faced a growing threat from the Assyrian empire to its east. After forty years of relative security, Nubian control—and Egypt's peace—were broken by an Assyrian invasion in ca. 671 B.C. The current pharaoh, Taharqo (ca. 690–664 B.C.), retreated south and the Assyrians established a number of local vassals to rule in their stead in the Delta. One of them, Necho I of Sais (ca. 672–664 B.C.), is recognized as the founder of the separate Dynasty 26. For the next eight years, Egypt was the battleground between Nubia and Assyria. A brutal Assyrian invasion in 663 B.C. finally ended Nubian control of the country. The last pharaoh of Dynasty 25, Tanutamani (664–653 B.C.), retreated to Napata. There, in relative isolation, he and his descendants continued to rule Nubia, eventually becoming the Meroitic civilization, which flourished in Nubia until the fourth century A.D.” \^/

List of Rulers of Ancient Sudan

Nubia today

Napatan Dynasty
Alara (Unites Upper Nubia) (785–760 B.C.)
Kashta (Unites all Nubia) (760–747 B.C.)
Piye (Rules Nubia and Egypt) (747–712 B.C.)
Shabaqo(1) (712–698 B.C.)
Shebitqo(2) (698–690 B.C.)
Taharqo (Loses control of Lower Egypt)(3) (690–664 B.C.)
Tanwetamani (Loses control of Upper Egypt) (664–653 B.C.)
Atlanersa (653–643 B.C.)
Senkamanisken (643–623 B.C.)
Anlaman (623–593 B.C.)
Aspelta (593–568 B.C.)
Irike–Amanote (425–400 B.C.)
Harsiyotf (400–365 B.C.)
Nastasen (320–310 B.C.)

Meroitic Dynasty
(ca. 275 B.C.–300 A.D.
Arkamani (275–250 B.C.)
Arnekhamani (225–175 B.C.)
Arkamani II
Kandake (Queen) Shanakdakheto (170–150 B.C.)
Taneyidamani (100–75 B.C.)
Teriteqas (50–1 B.C.)
Kandake Amanitore
Kandake Amanishakheto
Natakamani (1–50 A.D.)
Kandake Amanitore
Shorkaro [Source (Department of Egyptian Art, Metropolitan Museum of Art, October 2001, metmuseum.org]

Nubia and Ethiopia

According to Minnesota State University, Mankato: Nubia was a region south of Egypt, which was divided by the Nile nearest the 2nd Cataract. The products of Nubia and Kush added greatly to the wealth of Egypt, particularly by providing gold, ivory, ebony, cattle, gums and semi-precious stones. Cattle were one of the major contributions made by Nubia suggesting that grasslands were more extensive in the time of the Old Kingdom. In addition, the Nile Delta below Memphis has always been one of great fertility, flanked on its eastern and western borders by wide meadowlands where goats, sheep and cattle were raised. The fertility of Nubia and it's products enriched both Egyptian and Nubian cultures which lived along the Nile. [Source: Minnesota State University, Mankato, ethanholman.com +]

In some ancient texts Ethiopians are described as living south or Egypt rather than Nubians. It seems likely that the authors meant Nubians or were reporting on Nubians and Ethiopians are generally describing black Africans that lived south of Egypt. During the 25th Dynasty, Egypt was led by three Nubian list three Ethiopian kings form the twenty-fifth dynasty, Sabacon, Sebichos, and Taracos (the Tirhaka of the Old Testament).

The main accounts of Ancient Nubia and Ethiopia from classical sources are a text on the Aspalta as King of Kush, c. 600 B.C.; Herodotus, The Histories, c. 430 B.C., Book III; Strabo: Geography, A.D. 22, XVI.iv.4-17; XVII.i.53-54, ii.1-3, iii.1-11; Acts of the Apostles 8:26-39; Dio Cassius: History of Rome, c. A.D. 220, CE, Book LIV.v.4-6; Inscription of Ezana, King of Axum, c. A.D. 32; Procopius of Caesarea: History of the Wars, c. A.D. 550, Book I.xix.1, 17-22, 27-37, xx.1-13. There are also accounts by Pliny the Elder, Claudius Ptolemaeus, and the Periplus but they used the same source that Strabo did. There is also an account by Diodorus Siculus but is virtually the same as Strabo’s. [Source: Paul Halsall, Forham University]

Nubian Conquest of Egypt

In the eighth century B.C., the new powerful kingdom of Napata emerged in Nubia just below the Forth Cataract. A nearby holy mountain was believed to be the home of the ram-headed supreme god of Amun and an oracle that attracted people from all over Africa and the Middle East was established there. At this time Egypt was weak. [Sources: Robert Draper, National Geographic, February 2008; David Roberts, Smithsonian]

Around 750 B.C., Napatan kings began expanding their territory northwards. Around 730 B.C., a great army under a king named Piye conquered all of Egypt and Nubia reached from present-day Khartoum to present-day Alexandra.

Piye wrote, “I shall let Lower Egypt taste the taste of my fingers." After capturing one city after another along the Nile in 730 B.C., the army of King Piye stormed the great walled capital of Memphis with flaming arrows. When the city was taken Piye did an extraordinary thing he packed up his army and booty and returned to Nubia never to set foot in Egypt again, as if the whole military campaign was simply to make some kind of point; namely that he was more Egyptian than the Egyptians themselves, which by that time had grown weak and corrupt.

Egyptians described Nubians as experts with bow and arrow and Nubia itself was sometimes called Ta-Seti ("Land of the Bow"). Although Egyptian stelae refer to to Nubian leaders as "raging panthers" who attacked their enemies "like a cloudburst," they were regarded by historians as benevolent horse people who patronized the arts and were buried with their chariots. Piye reported that he chose the horses from a conquered lands rather than its women. He was buried with four of his favorite horses.

In 701 B.C. , the Nubians battled the Assyrians in Eltekeh in present-day Israel and prevented the Assyrians from taking over Egypt. After the Assyrians moved on Jerusalem, where according to the Bible they looked assured of victory but, as if by miracle, suddenly retreated. Some historian have suggested they fled because they heard the Nubians were advancing towards Jerusalem. The historian Henry Aubin has argued this was a key moment in history, allowing Judaism to strengthen enough to survive the attempt by Babylonian king Nebuchadnezzar to annihilate them, paving the way for Judaism to survive and Christian and Islam to develop.

The Nubian dominance was short-lived. By 667 B.C. the Nubians had moved out of Egypt and were replaced by the war-loving Assyrians, whose leaders boasted "I tore up the root of Kush and not one therein escaped to submit to me."

Ramses II fighting Nubians

Herodotus on the Nubian Invasion of Egypt

Herodotus wrote in Book 2 of “Histories”: “After him reigned a blind man called Anysis, of the town of that name. In his reign Egypt was invaded by Sabacos king of Ethiopia [Shabaka, the 3rd Nubian king of Egypt’s 25th Dynasty] and a great army of Ethiopians [[robably referring to Kushites or Nubians). The blind man fled to the marshes, and the Ethiopian ruled Egypt for fifty years, during which he distinguished himself for the following: he would never put to death any Egyptian wrongdoer but sentenced all, according to the severity of their offenses, to raise embankments in their native towns. Thus the towns came to stand yet higher than before; for after first being built on embankments made by the excavators of the canals in the reign of Senusret, they were yet further raised in the reign of the Ethiopian. Of the towns in Egypt that were raised, in my opinion, Bubastis is especially prominent, where there is also a temple of Bubastis, a building most worthy of note. Other temples are greater and more costly, but none more pleasing to the eye than this. Bubastis is, in the Greek language, Artemis. 138. [Source: Herodotus, “The Histories”, Egypt after the Persian Invasion, Book 2, English translation by A. D. Godley. Cambridge. Harvard University Press. 1920, Tufts]

“Her temple is of this description: except for the entrance, it stands on an island; for two channels approach it from the Nile without mixing with one another, running as far as the entryway of the temple, the one and the other flowing around it, each a hundred feet wide and shaded by trees. The outer court is sixty feet high, adorned with notable figures ten feet high. The whole circumference of the city commands a view down into the temple in its midst; for the city's level has been raised, but that of the temple has been left as it was from the first, so that it can be seen into from above. A stone wall, cut with figures, runs around it; within is a grove of very tall trees growing around a great shrine where the image of the goddess is; the temple is a square, each side measuring an eighth of a mile. A road, paved with stone, about three eighths of a mile long leads to the entrance, running eastward through the marketplace, towards the temple of Hermes; this road is about four hundred feet wide, and bordered by trees reaching to heaven. Such is this temple. 139.

“Now the departure of the Ethiopian (they said) came about in this way. After seeing in a dream one who stood over him and urged him to gather together all the Priests in Egypt and cut them in half, he fled from the country. Seeing this vision, he said, he supposed it to be a manifestation sent to him by the gods, so that he might commit sacrilege and so be punished by gods or men; he would not (he said) do so, but otherwise, for the time foretold for his rule over Egypt was now fulfilled, after which he was to depart: for when he was still in Ethiopia, the oracles that are consulted by the people of that country told him that he was fated to reign fifty years over Egypt. Seeing that this time was now completed and that he was troubled by what he saw in his dream, Sabacos departed from Egypt of his own volition. 140.

“When the Ethiopian left Egypt, the blind man (it is said) was king once more, returning from the marshes where he had lived for fifty years on an island that he built of ashes and earth; for the Egyptians who were to bring him food without the Ethiopian's knowledge were instructed by the king to bring ashes whenever they came, to add to their gift. This island was never discovered before the time of Amyrtaeus; all the kings before him sought it in vain for more than seven hundred years. The name of it is Elbo, and it is over a mile long and of an equal breadth. 141.

Black Pharaohs of Egypt

Nubian pharoahs

Piye's victories united all Egypt under the Nubian rule for three-quarters of a century. Piye and his successors became the black pharaohs of the 25th Dynasty and the capital of Nubia was moved from Napata to Memphis. Under Nubian rule, Egyptian culture was revived,

Piye modeled himself after powerful pharaohs such as Ramses II, and claimed to be th rightful heir of Egypt. Naming himself Thutmose III, after a famous, Egyptians pharaoh, he had his soldiers purify themselves by bathing in the Nile before battle, dress in fine lines and sprinkle their bodies with water from the temple of Karnak, a site regarded as the dwelling place of the Egyptian god Amun, which Piye had selected as his own personal; deity. When Piye died in 715 B.C. and his 35-year reign ended he was buried in an Egyptian-style pyramid.

Piye was succeeded by his brother Shabaka, who embraced Egyptians ways as vigorously as Piye. He adopted the name Pepi, the name of a famous Egyptians Old Kingdom pharaoh and took up residence in the Egyptian capital of Memphis. He made grand additions to the temple in Thebes, erecting a pink granite statute of himself with a Kushite crown at Karnak, one of ancient Egypt's most sacred sites.

Dena Connors-Millard wrote: “Shabaka, also spelled Sabaka or Shebaka, was from Nubia. He was born c. 760 B.C. and died c.695 B.C. He became the first Ethiopian-born Pharaoh and began the 25th Dynasty of Egypt about 2710 years ago. Shabaka is known for his building projects such as restoring the gate at Karnak. He also promoted a return to ancient religious customs like pyramid burials. Shabaka is probably best known for the. Shabaka Stone. This is a stone with the information of Memphite beliefs carved on it. The stone was commissioned by Shabaka when it was found that the only information left of the Memphite beliefs was on a deteriorating piece of papyrus. The idea of the stone was to preserve the Memphite belief system forever. Unfortunately,the stone was later used as a mill stone and parts of the text are illegible.” [Source: Dena Connors-Millard, Minnesota State University, Mankato, ethanholman.com]

Nubian queens were thought to have great power. Because kings often married their sisters, some scholars say that power descended through the female line. Great treasures have been found in the tomb of an unidentified queen of the Napatan king Piye, who had at least five wives.


sphinx of Taharqa

Piye's son Taharqa succeeded Shabaka and ruled Egypt-Nubia for 26 years. Nubian Egypt reached its pinnacle under his rule. He built monuments with images and cartouches all over Egypt and Nubia and presided over huge harvests helped by record rains and the swelling of the Nile. At Jebel Barkal, Taharqa created a temple dedicated to the goddess Mut, the consort of Amun. He also added an entrance to the Great Temple of Amun at Karnak. Perhaps the most telling evidence of his influence was an eradication campaign that was launched to wipe out all images of him in Egypt after his death.

Taharqa needed lots of cedar and juniper from Lebanon to realize his building campaign. When the Assyrian ruler King Esarhaddon tried to shut down the trade, Taharqa sent troops to the southern Levant to support a revolt against the Assyrians. Esarhaddon stopped the effort and launched an attack into Egypt which Taharqa's army pushed back in 674 B.C.

Sennacherib’s son, Esarhaddon, avenged Taharka support for Palestine’s revolt and defeated Taharka’s army. Memphis was captured, along with its royal harem. When Esarhaddon withdrew from Egypt, Taharka returned from his sanctuary in Upper Egypt and massacred all the Assyrians he could get his hands on. He controlled Egypt until he was defeated by Esarhaddon’s son, Ashurbanipal, after which he fled south to Nubia. How Taharqa spent his final years is unknown but he was allowed to remain in power in Nubia. Like his father Piye he was buried in a pyramid. [Source: Mark Millmore, discoveringegypt.com discoveringegypt.com]

Nubians Versus Assyrians in Egypt

Taharqa, a Nubian leader of Egypt, sent troops to the southern Levant to support a revolt against the Assyrians. Esarhaddon stopped the effort and launched an attack into Egypt which Taharqa’s army pushed back in 674 B.C.

Robert Draper wrote in National Geographic, “The victory clearly went to the Nubian’s head, Rebel states along the Mediterranean shared his giddiness and entered into an alliance against Esarhaddon. In 671 B.C., the Assyrians marched with their camels into the Sinai desert to quell the rebellion, Success was instant: now it was Esarhaddon who brimmed with bloodlust. He directed his troops towards the Nile Delta.”

In 671 B.C. The Assyrians sacked Memphis, “Taharqa and his arm squared off against the Assyrians. For 15 days they fought pitched battles—“very bloody” — by Esarhaddon’s own admission. But the Nubians were pushed back all the way to Memphis. Wounded five times Taharqa escaped with his life and abandoned Memphis. In typical Assyrian fashion, Esarhaddonslaughtered the villagers and “erected piles of theirs heads.”

The Assyrians later wrote: “His queen, his harem, Ushankhuru his heir, and the rets of his ons and daughters, his property and his goods, his horses, his cattle, his sheep, in countless numbers I carried off to Assyria. The root of Kush I tore up out of Egypt.” To commemorate the event a stelae was raised that showed Taharqa’s son Ushankhuru, kneeling before the Assyrian king with a rope around his neck.

In 669 B.C. Esarhaddon died on route to Egypt but his successor quickly mounted a n assault on Egypt. Taharqa knew he was outnumbered this time and fled to Napata never to return to Egypt again. How Taharqa spent his final years is unknown but he was allowed ti remain in power in Nubia. Like his father Piye he was buried in a pyramid.

Aspalta, King of Kush, c. 600 B.C.

Aspelta was a ruler of the kingdom of Kush (c. 600 – c. 580 B.C.) who used titles based on those of the Egyptian Pharaohs. A text called Aspalta as King of Kush (c. 600 B.C.) reads: “Now the entire army of his majesty was in the town named Napata, in which Dedwen, Who presides over Wawat, is God — he is also the god of Kush — after the death of the Falcon [Inle-Amon] upon his throne. Now then, the trusted commanders from the midst of the army of His Majesty were six men, while the trusted commanders and overseers of fortresses were six men.... Then they said to the entire army, "Come, let us cause our lord to appear, for we are like a herd which has no herdsman!" Thereupon this army was very greatly concerned, saying, "Our lord is here with us, but we do not know him! Would that we might know him, that we might enter in under him and work for him, as It-Tjwy work for Horus, the son of Isis, after he sits upon the throne of his father Osiris! Let us give praise to his two crowns." Then the army of His Majesty all said with one voice, "Still there is this god Amon-Re, Lord of the Thrones of It-Tjwy, Resident in Napata. He is also a god of Kush. Come, let us go to him. We cannot do a thing without him, but a good fortune comes from the god. He is the god of the kings of Kush since the time of Re. It is he who will guide us. In his hands is the kingship of Kush, which he has given to the son whom he loves.... [Source: Schäfer, “A History of Ancient Aethiopian Kingship” (London, 1905), pp. 81-100]

“So the commanders of His Majesty and the officials of the palace went to the Temple of Amon. They found the prophets and the major priests waiting outside the temple. They said to them, "Pray, may this god, Amon-Re, Resident in Napata, come, to permit that he give us our lord, to revive us, to build the temples of all the gods and goddesses of Kemet, and to present their divine offerings! We cannot do a thing without this god. It is he who guides us. Then the prophets and the major priests entered into the temple, that they might perform every rite of his purification and his censing. Then the commanders of His Majesty and the officials of the palace entered into the temple and put themselves upon their bellies before this god. They said, "We have come to you, O Amon-Re, Lord of the Thrones of It-Tjwy, Resident in Napata, that you might give to us a lord, to revive us, to build the temples of the gods of Kemet and Rekhyt, and to present divine offerings. That beneficent office is in your hands — may you give it to your son whom you love!"

“Then they offered the king's brothers before this god, but he did not take one of them. For a second time there was offered the king's brother, son of Amon, and child of Mut, Lady of Heaven, the Son of Re, Aspalta, living forever. Then this god, Amon-Re, Lord of the Thrones of It-Tjwy, said, "He is your king. It is he who will revive you. It is he who will build every temple of Kemet and Rekhyt. It is he who will present their divine offerings. His father was my son, the Son of Re, Inle-Amon, the triumphant. His mother is the king's sister, king's mother, Kandake of Kush, and Daughter of Re, Nensela, living forever, He is your lord."

Strabo on the Life of the Nubians and Ethiopians


Strabo wrote in “Geography” (A.D. 22): “The mode of life of the Ethiopians is wretched; they are for the most part naked, and wander from place to place with their flocks. Their flocks and herds are small in size, whether sheep, goats, or oxen; the dogs also, though fierce and quarrelsome, are small. . . . They live on millet and barley, from which also a drink is prepared. They have no oil, but use butter and fat instead. There are no fruits, except the produce of trees in the royal gardens. Some feed even upon grass, the tender twigs of trees, the lotus, or the roots of reeds. They live also upon the flesh and blood of animals, milk, and cheese. They reverence their kings as gods, who are for the most part shut up in their palaces. [Source: Strabo, “The Geography of Strabo:” XVI.iv.4-17; XVII.i.53-54, ii.1-3, iii.1-11, translated by H. C. Hamilton, esq., & W. Falconer (London: H. G. Bohn, 1854-1857), pp. 191-203, 266-272, 275-284]

“Their largest royal seat is the city of Meroë, [ancient capital of Kush on the east bank of the Nile about 200 kilometers north-east of Khartoum in present-day Sudan] of the same name as the island. The shape of the island is said to be that of a shield. Its size is perhaps exaggerated. Its length is about 3000 stadia, and its breadth 1000 stadia. It is very mountainous, and contains great forests. The inhabitants are nomads, who are partly hunters and partly farmers. There are also mines of copper, iron, gold, and various kinds of precious stones. It is surrounded on the side of Libya by great hills. of sand, and on that of Arabia by continuous precipices. In the higher parts on the south, it is bounded by the confluence of the rivers Astaboras [modern Atbara], Astapa [the White Nile], and Astasobas [the Blue Nile]. On the north is the continuous course of the Nile to Egypt, with its windings, of which we have spoken before.

“The houses in the cities are formed by interweaving split pieces of palm wood or of bricks. They have fossil salt [rock salt], as in Arabia. Palm, the persea [the peach], ebony, and carob trees are found in abundance. They hunt elephants, lions and panthers. There are also serpents, which encounter elephants, and there are many other kinds of wild animals, which take refuge, from the hotter and parched districts, in watery and marshy districts. Above Meroë is Psebo [the modern Lake Tana], a large lake, containing a well-inhabited island. As the Libyans occupy the western bank off the Nile, and the Ethiopians the country on the other side of the river, they thus dispute by turns the possession of the islands and the banks of the river, one party repulsing the other, or yielding to the superiority of its opponent.

“The Ethiopians use bows of wood four cubits long, and hardened in the fire. The women also are armed, most of whom wear in the upper lip a copper ring. They wear sheepskins, without wool; for the sheep have hair like goats. Some go naked, or wear small skins or girdles of well-woven hair around the loins. They regard as god one being who is immortal, the cause of all things; another who is mortal, a being without a name, whose nature is not clearly understood. In general they consider as gods benefactors and royal person, some of whom are their kings, the common saviors and guardians of all; others are private persons, esteemed as gods by those who have individually received benefits from them. Of those who inhabit the torrid region, some are even supposed not to acknowledge any god, and are said to abhor even the sun, and to apply opprobrious names to him, when they behold him rising, because he scorches and tortures them with his heat; these people take refuge in the marshes. The inhabitants of Meroë worship Hercules, Pan, and Isis, besides some other barbaric deities. Some tribes throw the dead into the river; others keep them in the house, enclosed in hyalus. Some bury them around the temples in coffins of baked clay. They swear an oath by them, which is reverenced as more sacred than all others.

“Kings are appointed from among persons distinguished by their personal beauty, or by their breeding of cattle, or by their courage, or their riches. In Meroë the priests anciently held the highest rank, an sometimes sent orders even to the king, by a messenger, to put an end to himself; when they appointed another keeper, in his place. At last one of their kings abolished this custom, going with an armed body to the temple where the golden shrine is, and slaughtering all the priests. The following custom exists among the Ethiopians. If a king is mutilated in any part of the body, those who are most attached to his person, as attendants, mutilate themselves in the same manner, and even die with him. Hence the king is guarded with the utmost care.”

Twenty-Sixth Dynasty 664–525 B.C.: the Saite Period

26th dynasty art

Psamtek I reunited Egypt under Egyptian control and freed it from the Assyrians, thus inaugurating the 26th Dynasty and the Saite period. He reformed Egypt’s government and removed the last vestiges of the Kushite rule. Psamtek, Neko II and Amose II carried out numerous building programs, including an ambitious scheme by Neko II (Necho II) to link the Red Sea and the Nile by digging a canal through the Wadi Tumilat. Neko II defeated the army of Josiah of Judah but was later was defeated by the Babylonian armies of Nebuchadnezzar. Necho II is regarded as one of the most significant Late Kingdom rulers. He came to the throne in 658 B.C. ) and recruited the displaced Ionian Greeks to form an Egyptian navy. His capture of Palestine is described in The Bible in the second Book of Kings. Kings from the 20th Dynasty were: Neko I 672-664 B.C.; Psamtek 1 644-610 B.C.; Neko II 610-595 B.C.; Psamtek II 595-589 B.C.; Apries 589-570 B.C.; Amose II 570-526 B.C.; Psamtek III 526-525 B.C.; [Source: Mark Millmore, discoveringegypt.com, Minnesota State University, Mankato, ethanholman.com]

On the 26th Dynasty, “Dr Aidan Dodson of the University of Bristol wrote: “After their invasion, the Assyrians soon withdrew from Egypt, leaving power in the hands of Psametik I (664-610 B.C.), ruler of the city of Sais in north-western Egypt. His dynasty followed that of the Nubians in its promotion of the past as a model for the present, much of its artwork being inspired by, or copied from, ancient models. Unfortunately, although the Assyrians were no longer a threat, the Persians took over Egypt in the reign of Psametik III... This take-over spelt the beginning of the end for Egypt as an independent nation.” [Source: Dr Aidan Dodson, Egyptologist, University of Bristol, BBC, February 17, 2011]

James Allen and Marsha Hill of the Metropolitan Museum of Art wrote: “When the Assyrians withdrew after their final invasion, Egypt was left in the hands of the Saite kings, though it was actually only in 656 B.C. that the Saite king Psamtik I was able to reassert control over the southern area of the country dominated by Thebes. For the next 130 years, Egypt was able to enjoy the benefits of rule by a single strong, native family, Dynasty 26. Elevated to power by the invading Assyrians, Dynasty 26 faced a world in which Egypt was no longer concerned with its role in international power politics but with its sheer survival as a nation. The Egyptians, however, still chose to think of their land as self-contained and free from external influence, unchanged from the days of the pyramid builders 2,000 years earlier. In deference to this ideal, the Saite pharaohs deliberately adopted much from the culture of earlier periods, particularly the Old Kingdom, as the model for their own. Later generations would remember this dynasty as the last truly Egyptian period and would, in turn, recapitulate Saite forms. [Source: James Allen and Marsha Hill, Department of Egyptian Art, Metropolitan Museum of Art, October 2004, metmuseum.org \^/]

“Under Saite rule, Egypt grew from a vassal of Assyria to an independent ally. There were even echoes of the bygone might of Egypt's New Kingdom in Saite military campaigns into Asia Minor (after the collapse of the Assyrian empire in 612 B.C.) and Nubia. In pursuit of these goals, however, the Saite pharaohs had to rely on foreign mercenaries—Carian (from southwestern Asia Minor, modern Turkey), Phoenician, and Greek—as well as Egyptian soldiers. These different ethnic groups lived in their own quarters of the capital city, Memphis. The Greeks were also allowed to establish a trading settlement at Naukratis in the western Delta. This served as a conduit for cultural influences traveling from Egypt to Greece.

After the fall of Assyria in 612 B.C., the major foreign threat to Egypt came from the Babylonians. Although Babylonia had invaded Egypt in 568 B.C. during a brief civil war, both countries formed a mutual alliance in 547 B.C. against the rising threat of a third power, the Persian empire—but to no avail. The Persians conquered Babylonia in 539 B.C. and Egypt in 525 B.C., bringing an end to the Saite dynasty and native control of Egypt.

Herodotus on Psammetichus (Psamtik I: 664–610 B.C.)

Herodotus wrote in Book 2 of “Histories”: “This Psammetichus had formerly been in exile in Syria, where he had fled from Sabacos the Ethiopian, who killed his father Necos; then, when the Ethiopian departed because of what he saw in a dream, the Egyptians of the district of Saïs brought him back from Syria. Psammetichus was king for the second time when he found himself driven away into the marshes by the eleven kings because of the helmet. Believing, therefore, that he had been abused by them, he meant to be avenged on those who had expelled him. He sent to inquire in the town of Buto, where the most infallible oracle in Egypt is; the oracle answered that he would have vengeance when he saw men of bronze coming from the sea. [Source: Herodotus, “The Histories”, Egypt after the Persian Invasion, Book 2, English translation by A. D. Godley. Cambridge. Harvard University Press. 1920, Tufts]

“Psammetichus did not in the least believe that men of bronze would come to aid him. But after a short time, Ionians and Carians, voyaging for plunder, were forced to put in on the coast of Egypt, where they disembarked in their armor of bronze; and an Egyptian came into the marsh country and brought news to Psammetichus (for he had never before seen armored men) that men of bronze had come from the sea and were foraging in the plain. Psammetichus saw in this the fulfillment of the oracle; he made friends with the Ionians and Carians, and promised them great rewards if they would join him and, having won them over, deposed the eleven kings with these allies and those Egyptians who volunteered. 153.

“Having made himself master of all Egypt, he made the southern outer court of Hephaestus' temple at Memphis, and built facing this a court for Apis, where Apis is kept and fed whenever he appears; this court has an inner colonnade all around it and many cut figures; the roof is held up by great statues twenty feet high for pillars. Apis in Greek is Epaphus. 154.

“To the Ionians and Carians who had helped him, Psammetichus gave places to live in called The Camps, opposite each other on either side of the Nile; and besides this, he paid them all that he had promised. Moreover, he put Egyptian boys in their hands to be taught Greek, and from these, who learned the language, are descended the present-day Egyptian interpreters. The Ionians and Carians lived for a long time in these places, which are near the sea, on the arm of the Nile called the Pelusian, a little way below the town of Bubastis. Long afterwards, king Amasis removed them and settled them at Memphis to be his guard against the Egyptians. It is a result of our communication with these settlers in Egypt (the first of foreign speech to settle in that country) that we Greeks have exact knowledge of the history of Egypt from the reign of Psammetichus onwards. There still remained in my day, in the places out of which the Ionians and Carians were turned, the winches64 for their ships and the ruins of their houses. This is how Psammetichus got Egypt. 155.

“I have often mentioned the Egyptian oracle, and shall give an account of this, as it deserves. This oracle is sacred to Leto, and is situated in a great city by the Sebennytic arm of the Nile, on the way up from the sea. Buto is the name of the city where this oracle is; I have already mentioned it. In Buto there is a temple of Apollo and Artemis. The shrine of Leto where the oracle is, is itself very great, and its outer court is sixty feet high. But what caused me the most wonder among the things apparent there I shall mention. In this precinct is the shrine of Leto, the height and length of whose walls is all made of a single stone slab; each wall has an equal length and height; namely, seventy feet. Another slab makes the surface of the roof, the cornice of which is seven feet broad. 156.

“Thus, then, the shrine is the most marvellous of all the things that I saw in this temple; but of things of second rank, the most wondrous is the island called Khemmis. This lies in a deep and wide lake near the temple at Buto, and the Egyptians say that it floats. I never saw it float, or move at all, and I thought it a marvellous tale, that an island should truly float. However that may be, there is a great shrine of Apollo on it, and three altars stand there; many palm trees grow on the island, and other trees too, some yielding fruit and some not. This is the story that the Egyptians tell to explain why the island moves: that on this island that did not move before, Leto, one of the eight gods who first came to be, who was living at Buto where this oracle of hers is, taking charge of Apollo from Isis, hid him for safety in this island which is now said to float, when Typhon came hunting through the world, keen to find the son of Osiris. Apollo and Artemis were (they say) children of Dionysus and Isis, and Leto was made their nurse and preserver; in Egyptian, Apollo is Horus, Demeter Isis, Artemis Bubastis. It was from this legend and no other that Aeschylus son of Euphorion took a notion which is in no poet before him: that Artemis was the daughter of Demeter. For this reason the island was made to float. So they say. 157.

“Psammetichus ruled Egypt for fifty-three years, twenty-nine of which he spent before Azotus, a great city in Syria, besieging it until he took it. Azotus held out against a siege longer than any city of which we know. 158.

Psammetichus's meeting with Cambyses II of Persia

Herodotus on Necos (Nechos II 610–595 B.C.) And Psammis (Psamtik II: 595–589 B.C.)

Herodotus wrote in Book 2 of “Histories”: “Psammetichus had a son, Necos, who became king of Egypt. It was he who began building the canal into the Red Sea, which was finished by Darius the Persian. This is four days' voyage in length, and it was dug wide enough for two triremes to move in it rowed abreast. It is fed by the Nile, and is carried from a little above Bubastis by the Arabian town of Patumus; it issues into the Red Sea. Digging began in the part of the Egyptian plain nearest to Arabia; the mountains that extend to Memphis (the mountains where the stone quarries are) come close to this plain; the canal is led along the foothills of these mountains in a long reach from west to east; passing then into a ravine, it bears southward out of the hill country towards the Arabian Gulf. Now the shortest and most direct passage from the northern to the southern or Red Sea is from the Casian promontory, the boundary between Egypt and Syria, to the Arabian Gulf, and this is a distance of one hundred and twenty five miles, neither more nor less; this is the most direct route, but the canal is far longer, inasmuch as it is more crooked. In Necos' reign, a hundred and twenty thousand Egyptians died digging it. Necos stopped work, stayed by a prophetic utterance that he was toiling beforehand for the barbarian. The Egyptians call all men of other languages barbarians. 159. [Source: Herodotus, “The Histories”, Egypt after the Persian Invasion, Book 2, English translation by A. D. Godley. Cambridge. Harvard University Press. 1920, Tufts]

“Necos, then, stopped work on the canal and engaged in preparations for war; some of his ships of war were built on the northern sea, and some in the Arabian Gulf, by the Red Sea coast: the winches for landing these can still be seen. He used these ships when needed, and with his land army met and defeated the Syrians at Magdolus,66 taking the great Syrian city of Cadytis67 after the battle. He sent to Branchidae of Miletus and dedicated there to Apollo the garments in which he won these victories. Then he died after a reign of sixteen years, and his son Psammis reigned in his place. 160. “While this Psammis was king of Egypt, he was visited by ambassadors from Elis, the Eleans boasting that they had arranged the Olympic games with all the justice and fairness in the world, and claiming that even the Egyptians, although the wisest of all men, could not do better. When the Eleans came to Egypt and announced why they had come, Psammis assembled the Egyptians reputed to be wisest. These assembled and learned all that the Eleans were to do regarding the games; after explaining this, the Eleans said that they had come to learn whether the Egyptians could discover any juster way. The Egyptians deliberated, and then asked the Eleans if their own citizens took part in the contests. The Eleans answered that they did: all Greeks from Elis or elsewhere might contend. Then the Egyptians said that in establishing this rule they fell short of complete fairness: “For there is no way that you will not favor your own townsfolk in the contest and wrong the stranger; if you wish in fact to make just rules and have come to Egypt for that reason, you should admit only strangers to the contest, and not Eleans.” Such was the counsel of the Egyptians to the Eleans. 161.

Herodotus on Apries (589–570 B.C.)

pyramids in Nubia

Herodotus wrote in Book 2 of “Histories”: “Psammis reigned over Egypt for only six years; he invaded Ethiopia, and immediately thereafter died, and Apries the son of Psammis reigned in his place. He was more fortunate than any former king (except his great-grandfather Psammetichus) during his rule of twenty-five years, during which he sent an army against Sidon and fought at sea with the king of Tyre. But when it was fated that evil should overtake him, the cause of it was something that I will now deal with briefly, and at greater length in the Libyan part of this history. Apries sent a great force against Cyrene and suffered a great defeat. The Egyptians blamed him for this and rebelled against him; for they thought that Apries had knowingly sent his men to their doom, so that after their perishing in this way he might be the more secure in his rule over the rest of the Egyptians. Bitterly angered by this, those who returned home and the friends of the slain openly revolted. 162. [Source: Herodotus, “The Histories”, Egypt after the Persian Invasion, Book 2, English translation by A. D. Godley. Cambridge. Harvard University Press. 1920, Tufts]

“Hearing of this, Apries sent Amasis to dissuade them. When Amasis came up with the Egyptians, he exhorted them to desist; but as he spoke an Egyptian came behind him and put a helmet on his head, saying it was the token of royalty. And Amasis showed that this was not displeasing to him, for after being made king by the rebel Egyptians he prepared to march against Apries. When Apries heard of it, he sent against Amasis an esteemed Egyptian named Patarbemis, one of his own court, instructing him to take the rebel alive and bring him into his presence. When Patarbemis came and summoned Amasis, Amasis (who was on horseback) rose up and farted, telling the messenger to take that back to Apries. But when in spite of this Patarbemis insisted that Amasis obey the king's summons and go to him, Amasis answered that he had long been preparing to do just that, and Apries would find him above reproach, for he would present himself, and bring others. Hearing this, Patarbemis could not mistake Amasis; he saw his preparations and hastened to depart, the more quickly to make known to the king what was going on. When Apries saw him return without Amasis, he did not stop to reflect, but in his rage and fury had Patarbemis' ears and nose cut off. The rest of the Egyptians, who were until now Apries' friends, seeing this outrage done to the man who was most prominent among them, changed sides without delay and offered themselves to Amasis. 163.

“Learning of this, too, Apries armed his guard and marched against the Egyptians; he had a bodyguard of Carians and Ionians, thirty thousand of them, and his royal palace was in the city of Saïs, a great and marvellous palace. Apries' men marched against the Egyptians, and so did Amasis' men against the foreigners. So they both came to Momemphis and were going to make trial of one another. 164.

“When Apries with his guards and Amasis with the whole force of Egyptians came to the town of Momemphis, they engaged; and though the foreigners fought well, they were vastly outnumbered, and therefore were beaten. Apries, they say, supposed that not even a god could depose him from his throne, so firmly did he think he was established; and now, defeated in battle and taken captive, he was brought to Saïs, to the royal dwelling which belonged to him once but now belonged to Amasis. There, he was kept alive for a while in the palace and well treated by Amasis. But presently the Egyptians complained that there was no justice in keeping alive one who was their own and their king's bitterest enemy; whereupon Amasis gave Apries up to them, and they strangled him and then buried him in the burial-place of his fathers. This is in the temple of Athena, very near to the sanctuary, on the left of the entrance. The people of Saïs buried within the temple precinct all kings who were natives of their district. The tomb of Amasis is farther from the sanctuary than the tomb of Apries and his ancestors; yet it, too, is within the temple court; it is a great colonnade of stone, richly adorned, the pillars made in the form of palm trees. In this colonnade are two portals, and the place where the coffin lies is within their doors. 170. [Source: Herodotus, “The Histories”, Egypt after the Persian Invasion, Book 2, English translation by A. D. Godley. Cambridge. Harvard University Press. 1920, Tufts]

Herodotus on Amaris (Amasis, 570–526 B.C.)

Herodotus wrote in Book 2 of “Histories”: “After Apries was deposed, Amasis became king; he was from a town called Siuph in the district of Saïs. Now at first he was scorned and held in low regard by the Egyptians on the ground that he was a common man and of no high family; but presently he won them over by being shrewd and not arrogant. He had among his countless treasures a golden washbowl, in which he and all those who ate with him were accustomed to clean their feet. This he broke in pieces and out of it made a god's image, which he set in a most conspicuous spot in the city; and the Egyptians came frequently to this image and held it in great reverence. When Amasis learned what the townsfolk were doing, he called the Egyptians together and told them that the image had been made out of the washbowl, in which Egyptians had once vomited and urinated and cleaned their feet, but which now they greatly revered. “Now then,” he said, “I have fared like the washbowl, since if before I was a common man, still, I am your king now.” And he told them to honor and show respect for him. 173. [Source: Herodotus, “The Histories”, Egypt after the Persian Invasion, Book 2, English translation by A. D. Godley. Cambridge. Harvard University Press. 1920, Tufts]

“The following was how he scheduled his affairs: in the morning, until the the hour when the marketplace filled, he readily conducted whatever business was brought to him; the rest of the day, he drank and joked at the expense of his companions and was idle and playful. But this displeased his friends, who admonished him thus: “O King, you do not conduct yourself well by indulging too much in vulgarity. You, a celebrated man, ought to conduct your business throughout the day, sitting on a celebrated throne; and thus the Egyptians would know that they are governed by a great man, and you would be better spoken of; as it is, what you do is by no means kingly.” But he answered them like this: “Men that have bows string them when they must use them, and unstring them when they have used them; were bows kept strung forever, they would break, and so could not be used when needed. Such, too, is the nature of man. Were one to be always at serious work and not permit oneself a bit of relaxation, he would go mad or idiotic before he knew it; I am well aware of that, and give each of the two its turn.” Such was his answer to his friends. 174.

Nubian queen

“It is said that even when Amasis was a private man he was fond of drinking and joking and was not at all a sober man; and that when his drinking and pleasure-seeking cost him the bare necessities, he would go around stealing. Then when he contradicted those who said that he had their possessions, they would bring him to whatever place of divination was nearby, and sometimes the oracles declared him guilty and sometimes they acquitted him. When he became king, he did not take care of the shrines of the gods who had acquitted him of theft, or give them anything for maintenance, or make it his practice to sacrifice there, for he knew them to be worthless and their oracles false; but he took scrupulous care of the gods who had declared his guilt, considering them to be gods in very deed and their oracles infallible. 175.

“Amasis made a marvellous outer court for the temple of Athena71 at Saïs, far surpassing all in its height and size, and in the size and quality of the stone blocks; moreover, he set up huge images and vast man-headed sphinxes,72 and brought enormous blocks of stone besides for the building. Some of these he brought from the stone quarries of Memphis; the largest came from the city of Elephantine,73 twenty days' journey distant by river from Saïs. But what I admire most of his works is this: he brought from Elephantine a shrine made of one single block of stone; its transport took three years and two thousand men had the carriage of it, all of them pilots. This chamber is thirty-five feet long, twenty-three feet wide, thirteen feet high. These are the external dimensions of the chamber which is made of one block; its internal dimensions are: thirty-one feet long, twenty feet wide, eight feet high. It stands at the entrance of the temple; it was not dragged within (so they say) because while it was being drawn the chief builder complained aloud of the great expense of time and his loathing of the work, and Amasis taking this to heart would not let it be drawn further. Some also say that a man, one of those who heaved up the shrine, was crushed by it, and therefore it was not dragged within. 176.

“Furthermore, Amasis dedicated, besides monuments of marvellous size in all the other temples of note, the huge image that lies supine before Hephaestus' temple at Memphis; this image is seventy-five feet in length; there stand on the same base, on either side of the great image, two huge statues hewn from the same block, each of them twenty feet high. There is at Saïs another stone figure of like size, supine as is the figure at Memphis. It was Amasis, too, who built the great and most marvellous temple of Isis at Memphis. 177.

“It is said that in the reign of Amasis Egypt attained to its greatest prosperity, in respect of what the river did for the land and the land for its people: and that the number of inhabited cities in the country was twenty thousand. It was Amasis also who made the law that every Egyptian declare his means of livelihood to the ruler of his district annually, and that omitting to do so or to prove that one had a legitimate livelihood be punishable with death. Solon the Athenian got this law from Egypt and established it among his people; may they always have it, for it is a perfect law. 178.

“Amasis made friends and allies of the people of Cyrene. And he decided to marry from there, either because he had his heart set on a Greek wife, or for the sake of the Corcyreans' friendship; in any case, he married a certain Ladice, said by some to be the daughter of Battus, of Arcesilaus by others, and by others again of Critobulus, an esteemed citizen of the place. But whenever Amasis lay with her, he became unable to have intercourse, though he managed with every other woman; and when this happened repeatedly, Amasis said to the woman called Ladice, “Woman, you have cast a spell on me, and there is no way that you shall avoid perishing the most wretchedly of all women.” So Ladice, when the king did not relent at all although she denied it, vowed in her heart to Aphrodite that, if Amasis could have intercourse with her that night, since that would remedy the problem, she would send a statue to Cyrene to her. And after the prayer, immediately, Amasis did have intercourse with her. And whenever Amasis came to her thereafter, he had intercourse, and he was very fond of her after this. Ladice paid her vow to the goddess; she had an image made and sent it to Cyrene, where it stood safe until my time, facing outside the city. Cambyses, when he had conquered Egypt and learned who Ladice was, sent her away to Cyrene unharmed. 182.

“Moreover, Amasis dedicated offerings in Hellas. He gave to Cyrene a gilt image of Athena and a painted picture of himself; to Athena of Lindus, two stone images and a marvellous linen breast-plate; and to Hera in Samos, two wooden statues of himself that were still standing in my time behind the doors in the great shrine. The offerings in Samos were dedicated because of the friendship between Amasis and Polycrates,75 son of Aeaces; what he gave to Lindus was not out of friendship for anyone, but because the temple of Athena in Lindus is said to have been founded by the daughters of Danaus, when they landed there in their flight from the sons of Egyptus. Such were Amasis' offerings. Moreover, he was the first conqueror of Cyprus, which he made tributary to himself. “

Image Sources: Wikimedia Commons

Text Sources: UCLA Encyclopedia of Egyptology, escholarship.org ; Internet Ancient History Sourcebook: Egypt sourcebooks.fordham.edu ; Tour Egypt, Minnesota State University, Mankato, ethanholman.com; Mark Millmore, discoveringegypt.com discoveringegypt.com; Metropolitan Museum of Art, National Geographic, Smithsonian magazine, New York Times, Washington Post, Los Angeles Times, Discover magazine, Times of London, Natural History magazine, Archaeology magazine, The New Yorker, BBC, Encyclopædia Britannica, Time, Newsweek, Wikipedia, Reuters, Associated Press, The Guardian, AFP, Lonely Planet Guides, “World Religions”edited by Geoffrey Parrinder (Facts on File Publications, New York); “History of Warfare” by John Keegan (Vintage Books); “History of Art” by H.W. Janson Prentice Hall, Englewood Cliffs, N.J.), Compton’s Encyclopedia and various books and other publications.

Last updated September 2018

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