Osorkon II

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Usermaatre Setepenamun Osorkon II was the fifth king [1] of the Twenty-second Dynasty of Ancient Egypt and the son of King Takelot I and Queen Kapes. He ruled Egypt from approximately 872 BC to 837 BC from Tanis, the capital of that dynasty.


After succeeding his father, Osorkon II was faced with the competing rule of his cousin, King Harsiese A, who controlled both Thebes and the Western Oasis of Egypt. Potentially, Harsiese's kingship could have posed a serious challenge to the authority of Osorkon, however, when Harsiese died in 860 BC, Osorkon II acted to ensure that no king would replace Harsiese. He appointed his son, Nimlot C, as the high priest of Amun at Thebes, which would have been the source for a successor to Harsiese. This consolidated the king's authority over Upper Egypt and thereafter, Osorkon II ruled over a united Egypt. Osorkon II's reign was a time of prosperity for Egypt and large-scale monumental building ensued.

Foreign policy and monumental program

Entrance to the Tomb of Osorkon II Osorkon IIa.jpg
Entrance to the Tomb of Osorkon II

Despite his astuteness in dealings with matters at home, Osorkon II was forced to be aggressive on the international scene. The growing power of Assyria was accompanied with increased meddling in the affairs of Israel and Syria territories well within Egypt's sphere of influence.

Osorkon II devoted considerable resources into his building projects by adding to the temple of Bastet at Bubastis, [2] which featured a substantial new hall decorated with scenes depicting his Sed festival and images of his queen, Karomama. Monumental construction during his reign also was performed at Thebes, Memphis, Tanis, and Leontopolis. Osorkon II also built Temple J at Karnak during the final years of his reign and it was decorated by his high priest, Takelot F (the future king, Takelot II). Takelot F was the son of the deceased high priest Nimlot C and, thus, Osorkon II's grandson.

Now, all of Osorkon II's sizeable stone statues are known to be re-used works of earlier periods that merely were re-inscribed for Osorkon II, including the famous "Cairo-Philadelphia statue of Osorkon II". [3] Osorkon II was the last great Twenty-second Dynasty king of Tanis, ruling Egypt from the Delta to Upper Egypt. His successor, Shoshenq III, lost the effective control of Middle and Upper Egypt that Osorkon II had assembled into a united Egypt.

Many officials may be dated to the reign of Osorkon II. Ankhkherednefer was inspector of the palace, Paanmeny probably was his chief physician, Djeddjehutyiuefankh was the fourth prophet of Amun, [4] and Bakenkhons was another prophet of Amun during his reign. [5]

Reign length

Statue of Osorkon II from the Temple of Baalat Gebal in Byblos, displayed in the National Museum of Beirut. National Museum of Beirut - Osorkon II statue.jpg
Statue of Osorkon II from the Temple of Baalat Gebal in Byblos, displayed in the National Museum of Beirut.

Approximately 837 BC, Osorkon II died and he was buried in Tomb NRT I at Tanis. Currently, he is believed to have reigned for more than 30 years, rather than just 25 years as had been interpreted earlier. The celebration of his first Sed Jubilee previously was thought to have occurred in his Year 22, but the Heb Sed date in his Great Temple of Bubastis is damaged and also may be read as Year 30, as Edward Wente notes. [6] The fact that this king's own grandson, Takelot F, served him as High Priest of Amun at Thebesas the inscribed walls of Temple J prove supports the hypothesis of a longer reign for Osorkon II.

Recently, it has been demonstrated that Nile Level Text 14 (dated to Year 29 of an Usimare Setepenamun) belongs to Osorkon II on palaeographical grounds. [7] This finding suggests that Osorkon II likely did celebrate his first Heb Sed in his Year 30 as was traditionally the case with other Libyan era kings, such as Shoshenq III and Shoshenq V. In addition, a Year 22 Stela from his reign preserves no mention of any Heb Sed celebrations in that year, as would be expected (see Von Beckerath, 'infra').

While Osorkon II's precise reign length is unknown, some Egyptologists, such as Jürgen von Beckerath in his 1997 book Chronology of the Egyptian Pharaohs [8] and Aidan Dodson have suggested a range of between 38 and 39 years. [9] However, these much higher figures are not verified by the current monumental evidence. Gerard Broekman gives Osorkon II a slightly shorter reign of 34 years. [10] English Egyptologist Kenneth Kitchen, in a 2006 Agypten und Levante article, now accepts that if Nile Level Text 14 is correctly attributed to Year 29 of Osorkon II, then the reference to Osorkon's Sed Festival jubilee should be amended from Year 22 to Year 30. [11] Kitchen suggests that Osorkon II would have died shortly afterward, in his Year 31. [12]

Reliefs from the Tomb of Osorkon II Osorkon IIc.jpg
Reliefs from the Tomb of Osorkon II

Marriages and children

Osorkon II is known to have had at least four wives:

Other children of record included:

Other possible children attributed to Osorkon II include his successor Shoshenq III and the King's Daughter Tentsepeh (D), the wife of General Ptahudjankhef, who was a son of Nimlot C and hence, a grandson of Osorkon II. [13]


David Aston has argued in a JEA 75 (1989) paper that Osorkon II was succeeded by Shoshenq III at Tanis rather than Takelot II Si-Ese as Kitchen presumed because none of Takelot II's monuments have been found in Lower Egypt where other genuine Tanite kings, such as Osorkon II, Shoshenq III, and even the short-lived Pami (at 6-7 years) are attested on donation stelas, temple walls, and annal documents. [17] Other Egyptologists, such as Gerard Broekman, Karl Jansen-Winkeln, Aidan Dodson, and Jürgen von Beckerath have endorsed this position as well. Von Beckerath also identifies Shoshenq III as the immediate successor of Osorkon II and places Takelot II as a separate king in Upper Egypt. [18] Gerard Broekman writes in a recent 2005 GM article that, "in light of the monumental and genealogical evidence", Aston's chronology for the position of the twenty-second dynasty kings "is highly preferable" to Kitchen's chronology. [19] The only documents that mention a king Takelot in Lower Egypt, such as a royal tomb at Tanis, a Year 9 donation stela from Bubastis, and a heart scarab featuring the nomen 'Takelot Meryamun' now have been attributed exclusively to king Takelot I by Egyptologists today, including Kitchen. [20]

The English Egyptologist Aidan Dodson, in his book The Canopic Equipment of the Kings of Egypt, observes that Shoshenq III built "a dividing wall, with a double scene showing Osorkon II" and him "each adoring an unnamed deity" in the antechamber of Osorkon II's tomb. [21] Dodson concludes that while one may argue Shoshenq III erected the wall to hide Osorkon II's sarcophagus, it made no sense for Shoshenq to create such an elaborate relief if Takelot II really had intervened between him and Osorkon II at Tanis for 25 years, unless Shoshenq III was Osorkon II's immediate successor. Shoshenq III must, hence, have wished to associate himself with his predecessor Osorkon II. [22] Consequently, the case for establishing Takelot II as a Twenty-second Dynasty king and successor to Osorkon II disappears, as Dodson writes. Takelot II instead founded the twenty-third dynasty of Egypt and ruled a divided Egypt by administering Middle and Upper Egypt.


Interior photograph of the tomb of Osorkon II Osorkon IIb.jpg
Interior photograph of the tomb of Osorkon II

The French excavator Pierre Montet discovered Osorkon II's plundered royal tomb at Tanis on February 27, 1939. It revealed that Osorkon II was buried in a massive granite sarcophagus with a lid carved from a Ramesside-era statue. Only some fragments of a hawk-headed coffin and canopic jars remained in the robbed tomb to identify him. [23] While the tomb had been looted in antiquity, what jewellery that remained "was of such high quality that existing conceptions of the wealth of the northern Twenty-first and Twenty-second dynasties had to be revised." [24]

Related Research Articles

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Kenneth Anderson Kitchen is a British biblical scholar, Ancient Near Eastern historian, and Personal and Brunner Professor Emeritus of Egyptology and Honorary Research Fellow at the School of Archaeology, Classics and Egyptology, University of Liverpool, England. He is one of the leading experts on the ancient Egyptian Ramesside Period, and the Third Intermediate Period of Egypt, as well as ancient Egyptian chronology, having written over 250 books and journal articles on these and other subjects since the mid-1950s. He has been described by The Times as "the very architect of Egyptian chronology".

Takelot II Egyptian Pharaoh

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Shoshenq II Egyptian Pharaoh

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Pedubast I Egyptian pharaoh

Pedubastis I or Pedubast I was an Upper Egyptian Pharaoh of Ancient Egypt during the 9th century BC. Based on lunar dates which are known to belong to the reign of his rival in Upper Egypt Takelot II and the fact that Pedubast I first appeared as a local king at Thebes around Year 11 of Takelot II's rule, Pedubast I is today believed to have had his accession date in either 835 BC or 824 BC. This local Pharaoh is recorded as being of Libyan ancestry and ruled Egypt for 25 years according to the redaction of Manetho done by Eusebius. He first became king at Thebes in Year 8 of Shoshenq III and his highest dated Year is his 23rd Year according to Nile Level Text No. 29. This year is equivalent to Year 31 of Shoshenq III of the Tanis based 22nd Dynasty of Egypt; however, since Shoshenq II only controlled Lower Egypt in Memphis and the Delta region, Pedubast and Shoshenq III were not political rivals and may even have established a relationship. Indeed, Shoshenq III's son, the general and army leader Pashedbast B "built a vestibule door to Pylon X at Karnak, and in one and the same commemorative text thereon named his father as [king] Sheshonq (III)" but dated his actions here to Pedubast I. This may show some tacit support for the Pedubast faction by the Tanite based 22nd dynasty king Shoshenq III.

Shoshenq C Egyptian High Priest of Amun

Shoshenq C was the eldest son of the 22nd Dynasty pharaoh Osorkon I and queen Maatkare, the daughter of Psusennes II, and served as the High Priest of Amun at Thebes during his father's reign. Consequently, he was the most important official in Upper Egypt after the king himself. He has generally been equated with Heqakheperre Shoshenq II by the English Egyptologist Kenneth Kitchen and viewed as a short-lived co-regent to his father based on the Nile God British Museum statue 8 which identifies him as the son of Osorkon I and Queen Maatkare, daughter of Hor-Psusennes but this assumption is unproven. In the statue, Shoshenq C is called "the Master of the Two Lands" and the formula "beloved of Amun" is enclosed within a royal cartouche. However, in the text of the statue, he is not given a specific throne name or prenomen, the use of a cartouche by a royal prince is attested in other periods of Egyptian history such as that of Amenmes, son of Thutmose I, and the documents depicts Shoshenq C as a simple High Priest of Amun on the side of the legs of the Nile God, rather than a king.

Shoshenq IV Egyptian pharaoh

Hedjkheperre Setepenre Shoshenq IV ruled Egypt's 22nd Dynasty between the reigns of Shoshenq III and Pami. In 1986, David Rohl proposed that there were two king Shoshenqs bearing the prenomen Hedjkheperre – (i) the well-known founder of the dynasty, Hedjkheperre Shoshenq I, and (ii) a later pharaoh from the second half of the dynasty, whom Rohl called Hedjkheperre Shoshenq (b) due to his exact position in the dynasty being unknown. Following Rohl's proposal, the British Egyptologist Aidan Dodson supported the new king's existence by demonstrating that the earlier Hedjkheperre Shoshenq bore simple epithets in his titulary, whereas the later Hedjkheperre Shoshenq's epithets were more complex.

Osorkon III Egyptian pharaoh

Usermaatre Setepenamun Osorkon III Si-Ese was Pharaoh of Egypt in the 8th Century BC. He is the same person as the Crown Prince and High Priest of Amun Osorkon B, son of Takelot II by his Great Royal Wife Karomama II. Prince Osorkon B is best attested by his Chronicle—which consists of a series of texts documenting his activities at Thebes—on the Bubastite Portal at Karnak. He later reigned as king Osorkon III in Upper Egypt for twenty-eight years after defeating the rival forces of Pedubast I/Shoshenq VI who had apparently resisted the authority of his father here. Osorkon ruled the last five years of his reign in coregency with his son, Takelot III, according to Karnak Nile Level Text No. 13. Osorkon III's formal titulary was long and elaborate: Usermaatre Setepenamun, Osorkon Si-Ese Meryamun, Netjer-Heqa-waset.

Takelot III Egyptian pharaoh

Usimare Setepenamun Takelot III Si-Ese was Osorkon III's eldest son and successor. Takelot III ruled the first five years of his reign in a coregency with his father, according to the evidence from Nile Quay Text No.14, and succeeded his father as king the following year. He served previously as the High Priest of Amun at Thebes. He was previously thought to have ruled Egypt for only 7 years until his 13th Year was found on a stela from Ahmeida in the Dakhla Oasis in 2005.

Rudamun Egyptian pharaoh

Rudamun was the final pharaoh of the Twenty-third dynasty of Ancient Egypt. His titulary simply reads as Usermaatre Setepenamun, Rudamun Meryamun, and excludes the Si-Ese or Netjer-Heqawaset epithets employed by his father and brother.

Karomama I Egyptian queen consort

Queen Karomama I was an Egyptian queen, married to Osorkon II. She was part of the 22nd dynasty of Ancient Egypt.

High Priest of Amun position

The High Priest of Amun or First Prophet of Amun was the highest-ranking priest in the priesthood of the ancient Egyptian god Amun. The first high priests of Amun appear in the New Kingdom of Egypt, at the beginning of the Eighteenth Dynasty.

Nimlot C Egyptian High Priest of Amun

Nimlot C was a High Priest of Amun at Thebes during the reign of pharaoh Osorkon II of the 22nd Dynasty.

Karomama II Queen consort of Egypt

Karomama II was an ancient Egyptian queen, Great Royal Wife of pharaoh Takelot II of the 23rd Dynasty of Egypt.

Smendes III Egyptian High Priest of Amun

Smendes III was a High Priest of Amun at Thebes during the reign of pharaoh Takelot I of the 22nd Dynasty.


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  22. Dodson, The Canopic Equipment of the Kings of Egypt, p.95
  23. "San el-Hagar". Archived from the original on 2009-01-20. Retrieved 2006-02-18.
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Further reading