Psamtik II

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Psamtik II (also spelled Psammetichus or Psammeticus) was a king of the Saite-based Twenty-sixth dynasty of Egypt (595 BC – 589 BC). His prenomen, Nefer-Ib-Re, means "Beautiful [is the] Heart [of] Re." [1] He was the son of Necho II. [2]

Ra ancient Egyptian solar deity

Ra or Re is the ancient Egyptian deity of the sun. By the Fifth Dynasty in the 25th and 24th centuries BC, he had become one of the most important gods in ancient Egyptian religion, identified primarily with the noon sun. Ra was believed to rule in all parts of the created world: the sky, the Earth, and the underworld.

Necho II Egyptian pharaoh

Necho II of Egypt was a king of the 26th Dynasty. Necho undertook a number of construction projects across his kingdom. In his reign, according to the Greek historian Herodotus (4.42), Necho II sent out an expedition of Phoenicians, which in three years sailed from the Red Sea around Africa to the mouth of the Nile. His son, Psammetichus II, upon succession may have removed Necho's name from monuments.


Campaigns and battles

Psamtik II led a foray into Nubia in 592 BC, marching as far south as the Third or even the Fourth Cataract of the Nile, according to a contemporary stela from Thebes (Karnak), which dates to Year 3 of this king's name and refers to a heavy defeat that was inflicted upon the kingdom of Kush. [3] A well-known graffito inscribed in Greek on the left leg of the colossal seated statue of Ramesses II, on the south side of the entrance to the temple of Abu Simbel, records that:

Ramesses II Egyptian pharaoh of the Nineteenth Dynasty of Egypt

Ramesses II, also known as Ramesses the Great, was the third pharaoh of the Nineteenth Dynasty of Egypt. He is often regarded as the greatest, most celebrated, and most powerful pharaoh of the New Kingdom. His successors and later Egyptians called him the "Great Ancestor".

Abu Simbel temples UNESCO World Heritage Site in southern Egypt

The Abu Simbel temples are two massive rock temples at Abu Simbel, a village in Nubia, Upper Egypt, near the border with Sudan. They are situated on the western bank of Lake Nasser, about 230 km (140 mi) southwest of Aswan. The complex is part of the UNESCO World Heritage Site known as the "Nubian Monuments", which run from Abu Simbel downriver to Philae. The twin temples were originally carved out of the mountainside in the 13th century BC, during the 19th dynasty reign of the Pharaoh Ramesses II. They serve as a lasting monument to the king and his queen Nefertari, and commemorate his victory at the Battle of Kadesh. Their huge external rock relief figures have become iconic.

"When King Psammetichus (i.e., Psamtik II) came to Elephantine, this was written by those who sailed with Psammetichus the son of Theocles, and they came beyond Kerkis as far as the river permits. Those who spoke foreign tongues (Greek and Carians who also scratched their names on the monument) were led by Potasimto, the Egyptians by Amasis. [4]

Kerkis was located near the Fifth Cataract of the Nile "which stood well within the Cushite Kingdom." [5]

This was the first confrontation between Egypt and Nubia since the reign of Tantamani. A Kushite king named Anlamani had revived the power of the kingdom of Napata. Psamtik II's campaign was likely initiated to destroy any future aspirations the Kushites may have had to reconquer Egypt. The Egyptian army advanced to Pnubs (Kerma) and the capital city of Napata in a series of fierce battles, where they looted its temples and destroyed the royal Kushite statues. [6] The Kushite capital was sacked under the reign of the native Kushite king Aspelta who was the younger brother of Anlamani and the son of Senkamanisken. The Year 3 Karnak stela is dated to II Shemu day 10 of Psamtik II's reign and states that:

Nubia region along the Nile river, which is located in northern Sudan and southern Egypt

Nubia is a region along the Nile river encompassing the area between Aswan in southern Egypt and Khartoum in central Sudan. It was the seat of one of the earliest civilizations of ancient Africa, with a history that can be traced from at least 2500 BC onward with the Kerma culture. The latter was conquered by the New Kingdom of Egypt under pharaoh Thutmose I around 1500 BC. Nubia was home to several empires, most prominently the kingdom of Kush, which conquered Egypt during the 8th century BC during the reign of Piye and ruled the country as its Twenty-fifth Dynasty.

Tantamani Egyptian pharaoh

Tantamani, Tanutamun or Tanwetamani (Egyptian) or Tementhes (Greek) was a Pharaoh of Egypt and the Kingdom of Kush located in Northern Sudan and a member of the Nubian or Twenty-fifth dynasty of Egypt. His prenomen or royal name was Bakare which means "Glorious is the Soul of Re."

Anlamani Nubian king

Anlamani was a king of Nubia or Kush who ruled from 620 BC and died around 600 BC.

The army that your Majesty sent to Nubia has reached the land of Pnubs....Nubians from all parts [of Kush] had arisen against him, their hearts full of anger when he attacked those who had rebelled against him there; because he was furious at those who had arisen against him. His Majesty took part in the combat as soon as he reached the battle. The rebels capitulated before a single arrow was unleashed against them....Those who tried to flee did not succeed and were brought back as prisoners: four thousand two hundred men. [7]
Psamtik II's victory stela from Kalabsha which records his campaign against Kush Victory stela of Psamtik II at Kalabsha by John Campana.jpg
Psamtik II's victory stela from Kalabsha which records his campaign against Kush

As a result of Psamtik's devastating campaign, Kush's power was crushed, and its kings from Aspelta onwards lost any opportunity of ever regaining control of Egypt. Instead, the Nubian rulers decided to shift their capital further south from Napata to the relative safety of Meroë. Curiously, however, Psamtik II does not appear to have capitalized on his victory. His troops retreated back to the First Cataract, and Elephantine continued to be the southern border of Egypt.

Meroë ancient city along the eastern bank of the Nile River in Northern Sudan

Meroë is an ancient city on the east bank of the Nile about 6 km north-east of the Kabushiya station near Shendi, Sudan, approximately 200 km north-east of Khartoum. Near the site are a group of villages called Bagrawiyah. This city was the capital of the Kingdom of Kush for several centuries. The Kushitic Kingdom of Meroë gave its name to the Island of Meroë, which was the modern region of Butana, a region bounded by the Nile, the Atbarah and the Blue Nile.

An outcome of this campaign was the deliberate destruction of monuments belonging to the 25th Dynasty Kushite kings in Egypt "by hacking out their names and the emblems of royalty from their statues and reliefs." [8] Later, in 591 BC, during the fourth year of his reign, Psamtik II launched an expedition into Palestine "to foment a general Levantine revolt against the Babylonians" that involved, among others, Zedekiah of the Kingdom of Judah. [9]


Psamtik II was both a dynamic warrior pharaoh as well as a prolific builder in his brief 6-year reign. A significant Saite temple was likely built by Psamtik II and his son Apries at the village of El-Mahalla El-Kubra which lies equidistant from Sebennytos and Behbeit El-Hagar in the Lower Nile Delta. [10] Officials from the Napoleonic expedition to Egypt observed "an extraordinary number of pharaonic building elements of granite and turquoise reused in modern buildings" at this site; this discovery was subsequently confirmed by Nestor L'Hôte in 1828 who counted more than 120 granite columns built into this village's mosque alone. [11] A 1.8 metre long fragment of red granite with the name of Psamtik II and a door lintel of Apries was also seen at El-Mahalla El-Kubra. [10]

Under Psamtik II's reign, a pair of obelisks more than 21.79 metres high were erected in the temple of Heliopolis; the first Emperor of Rome, Augustus, later had one of the obelisks, today known as the Obelisk of Montecitorio, which had probably been thrown down by the Persian invaders in 525 BC, brought to Rome in 10 BC. [10] Psamtik II also constructed a kiosk on Philae island. This kiosk today "represents the oldest known monument known on the island" and consisted "of a double row of four columns, which were connected by screen walls." [10]

The Temple of Hibis was founded by Psamtik II at Kharga Oasis. The Temple of Hibis by Hanne Siegmeier.jpg
The Temple of Hibis was founded by Psamtik II at Kharga Oasis.
Another view of the reconstructed Temple of Hibis at Kharga Oasis in December 2008. Temple of Hibis.jpg
Another view of the reconstructed Temple of Hibis at Kharga Oasis in December 2008.

Psamtik II was also responsible for founding the Temple-house at Hibis in El-Kharga Oasis for the triad of Amun, Mut, and Khonsu with significant installations for the cult of Osiris. [12] This 19.5 x 26 metre temple was originally situated on the bank of an ancient lake which has now disappeared and its temple decorations were only completed under the Persian kings Darius I and possibly Darius II. [10] The Hibis temple consisted of a hypostyle hall with two-by-two papyrus capital columns, a hall of offerings, three sanctuaries in the rear section of the temple and a chapel at the side of the sanctuaries for the cult of Psamtik II. [12] The front of the temple house of Hibis featured:

"a pronaos with four papyrus bundle columns and screen walls. During the construction of the pronaos, the side walls were extended for the addition of a court[yard]. This extension, was, however, only carried out in the 30th Dynasty [by Nectanebo I and Nectanebo II.] The eight papyrus columns of the pronaos still show the New Kingdom type of open, bell-shaped capitals." [13]

A massive sandstone gateway through an outer enclosure wall still stands almost 5 metres tall and was constructed during the Ptolemaic or Roman periods. [14] Many inscriptions and decrees were carved on the gateway on a wide variety of topics such as taxation, inheritance, the court system and the rights of women, with the earliest text dating to 49 AD. [14]

The Temple of Psamtik II at Hibis was completely preserved until 1832 when its roof and portions of the temple were removed for the construction of an aluminium factory. [13] Only excavation work by the Metropolitan Museum of Art in 1910-1911 and restorations performed by the Egyptian Antiquities Service arrested its decline. [13] Today, the Hibis temple remains—together with the Oracle or Ammoneion of Siwa—as "the best preserved and best-documented temple of the early Egyptian Late Period and is therefore a primary monument to the history of [Egyptian temple] building." [13]


When Psamtik II died in 589 BC, he was succeeded by Apries who was his son by Queen Takhut, a Princess of Athribis. Psamtik and Queen Takhut were also the parents of Menekhubaste, a Priestess of Atum at Heliopolis, and Ankhnesneferibre, a God's Wife of Amun who served in this powerful office in Upper Egypt to the end of the Saite period in 525 BC, when Egypt was conquered by the Persians. [15] The date of Psamtik II's death is mentioned in the Adoption stela of Ankhnesneferibre: Year 7, I Akhet day 23. [16]

Related Research Articles

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Psamtik I Pharaoh

Wahibre Psamtik I, known by the Greeks as Psammeticus or Psammetichus, who ruled 664–610 BC, was the first of three kings of that name of the Saite, or Twenty-sixth Dynasty of Egypt. Historical references for what the Greeks referred to as the Dodecarchy, a loose confederation of twelve Egyptian territories, based on the traditional nomes, and the rise of Psamtik I in power, establishing the Saitic Dynasty, are recorded in Herodotus's Histories, Book II: 151–157. From cuneiform texts, it was discovered that twenty local princelings were appointed by Esarhaddon and confirmed by Ashurbanipal to govern Egypt.

Nubian pyramids pyramids that were built by the rulers of the ancient Kushite kingdoms

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Aspelta Kushite King

Aspelta was a ruler of the kingdom of Kush.

Napata city

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Ankhnesneferibre Ancient Egyptian princess and priestess, Gods Wife of Amun, High Priest of Amun

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National Museum of Sudan

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The Twenty-sixth Dynasty of Egypt was the last native dynasty to rule Egypt before the Persian conquest in 525 BC. The dynasty's reign is also called the Saite Period after the city of Sais, where its pharaohs had their capital, and marks the beginning of the Late Period of ancient Egypt.


  1. Peter Clayton, Chronicle of the Pharaohs, Thames and Hudson, 1994. p.195
  2. Roberto Gozzoli: Psammetichus II, Reign, Documents and Officials, London 2017, ISBN   978-1906137410, p. 18 (the father-son relation is known from Herodotus and confirmed by an inscription on a statue)
  3. The New Encyclopædia Britannica: Micropædia, Vol.9, 15th edition, 2003. p.756
  4. "king Psammetichus II (Psamtik II)". Retrieved 2011-11-20.
  5. Britannica, p.756
  6. Charles Bonnet & Dominique Valbelle, The Nubian Pharaohs, The American University in Cairo Press, 2005. p.166-167
  7. Bonnet & Valbelle, pp.166-167
  8. Brittanica, p.756
  9. Alan B. Lloyd, 'The Late Period' in The Oxford History of Ancient Egypt (ed. Ian Shaw), Oxford Univ. Press 2002 paperback, p.381
  10. 1 2 3 4 5 Dieter Arnold, Temples of the Last Pharaohs, Oxford University Press, 1999. p.76
  11. Nestor L'Hôte, Sur le Nil avec Champollion: Lettres, journaux et dessins inédits de Nestor L'Hôte: premier voyage en Egypte, 1828-1830
  12. 1 2 Arnold, p.77
  13. 1 2 3 4 Arnold, Temples, p.79
  14. 1 2 "Hibis". Retrieved 2011-11-20.
  15. Christian Settipani, Nos ancêtres de l'Antiquité, 1991. pp.153 & 161
  16. Bonnet & Valbelle, p.170