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Neferkare Shabaka (or Shabako) was the third Kushite pharaoh of the Twenty-fifth Dynasty of Egypt, who reigned from 705–690 BC. [3]

Kingdom of Kush ancient African kingdom

The Kingdom of Kush was an ancient kingdom in Nubia, located at the Sudanese and southern Egyptian Nile Valley.

Pharaoh Title of Ancient Egyptian rulers

Pharaoh is the common title of the monarchs of ancient Egypt from the First Dynasty until the annexation of Egypt by the Roman Empire in 30 BCE, although the actual term "Pharaoh" was not used contemporaneously for a ruler until Merneptah, c. 1200 BCE. In the early dynasty, ancient Egyptian kings used to have up to three titles, the Horus, the Sedge and Bee (nswt-bjtj) name, and the Two Ladies (nbtj) name. The Golden Horus and nomen and prenomen titles were later added.

Twenty-fifth Dynasty of Egypt Ethiopian period of Ancient Egypt

The Twenty-fifth Dynasty of Egypt, also known as the Nubian Dynasty or the Kushite Empire, was the last dynasty of the Third Intermediate Period of Egypt that occurred after the Nubian invasion.


Shabaka's timeline in the 25th dynasty

The archaeological evidence now in 2016/2017 firmly favours a Shebitku-Shabaka succession. Gerard Broekman's GM 251 (2017) paper shows that Shebitku reigned before Shabaka since the upper edge of Shabaka’s NLR #30’s Year 2 Karnak quay inscription was carved over the left-hand side of the lower edge of Shebitku’s NLR#33 Year 3 inscription. [4] This can only mean that Shabaka ruled after Shebitku.

Göttinger Miszellen journal

Göttinger Miszellen is a scientific journal published by the Seminar für Ägyptologie und Koptologie which contains short scholarly articles on Egyptological, Coptological, and other related subjects.

Critically, Frederic Payraudeau writes in French that "the Divine Adoratrix or God's Wife of Amun Shepenupet I, the last Libyan Adoratrix, was still alive during the reign of Shebitku because she is represented performing rites and is described as "living" in those parts of the Osiris-Héqadjet chapel built during his reign (wall and exterior of the gate) [5] [3] In the rest of the room, it is Amenirdis I, Shabaka's sister), who is represented with the Adoratrix title and provided with a coronation name. The succession Shepenupet I - Amenirdis I as God's Wife of Amun or Divine Adoratrix thus took place during the reign of Shebitku. This detail in itself is sufficient to show that the reign of Shabaka cannot precede that of Shebitku. [6]

Divine Adoratrice of Amun title

The Divine Adoratrice of Amun was a second title – after God's Wife of Amun – created for the chief priestess of the ancient Egyptian deity, Amun. During the first millennium BCE, when the holder of this office exercised her largest measure of influence, her position was an important appointment facilitating the transfer of power from one pharaoh to the next, when his daughter was adopted to fill it by the incumbent office holder. The Divine Adoratrice ruled over the extensive temple duties and domains, controlling a significant part of the ancient Egyptian economy.

Gods Wife of Amun

God's Wife of Amun was the highest-ranking priestess of the Amun cult, an important religious institution in ancient Egypt. The cult was centered in Thebes in Upper Egypt during the Twenty-fifth and Twenty-sixth dynasties. The office had political importance as well as religious, since the two were closely related in ancient Egypt.

Shepenupet I Ancient Egyptian princess and priestess, Gods Wife of Amun

Shepenupet I or Shapenewpet I was God's Wife of Amun during the Twenty-third Dynasty of Egypt.

The construction of the tomb of Shebitku (Ku. 18) resembles that of Piye (Ku. 17) while that of Shabaka (Ku. 15) is similar to that of Taharqa (Nu. 1) and Tantamani (Ku. 16). [7] [6] This also favours a Shebitku-Shabaka succession in the 25th dynasty. One of the strongest evidence that Shabaka ruled after Shebitku was demonstrated by the architectural features of the Kushite royal pyramids in El Kurru. Only in the pyramids of Piye (Ku 17) and Shebitku (Ku 18) are the burial-chambers open-cut structures with a corbelled roof, whereas fully tunnelled burial chamber substructures are found in the pyramids of Shabaka (Ku 15), Taharqa (Nu 1) and Tantamani (Ku 16), as well as with all subsequent royal pyramids in El Kurru and Nuri. [8] The fully tunnelled and once decorated burial chamber of Shabaka's pyramid was clearly an architectural improvement since it was followed by Taharqa and all his successors. [9] The pyramid design evidence also shows that Shabaka must have ruled after—and not before—Shebitku.

Piye ancient Kushite king and Egyptian pharaoh

Piye was an ancient Kushite king and founder of the Twenty-fifth dynasty of Egypt who ruled Egypt from 744–714 BC. He ruled from the city of Napata, located deep in Nubia, modern-day Sudan.

Taharqa Egyptian Pharaoh

Taharqa, also spelled Taharka or Taharqo, was a pharaoh of the Twenty-fifth Dynasty of Egypt and qore (king) of the Kingdom of Kush.

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."

In the Cairo CG 42204 of the High Priest of Amun, Haremakhet—son of Shabaka—calls himself as "king’s son of Shabaka, justified, who loves him, Sole Confidant of king Taharqa, justified, Director of the palace of the king of Upper and Lower Egypt Tanutamun/Tantamani, may he live for ever." [10] However, no mention of Haremakhet's service under Shebitku is made; even if Haremakhet was only a youth under Shebitku, this king's absence is strange since the intent of the statue's text was to render a chronological sequence of kings who reigned during Horemakhet's life, each of their names being accompanied by a reference to the relationship that existed between the king mentioned and Horemakhet. [11] This implies that when Haremakhet was born, king Shebitku was already dead which would favour a Shebitku-Shabaka succession.

Haremakhet High Priest of Amun

Haremakhet, also Horemakhet or Harmakhis, was an ancient Egyptian prince and High Priest of Amun during the 25th Dynasty.

Payraudeau notes that Shebitku's shabtis are small (about 10 cm) and have a very brief inscription with only the king's birth name in a cartouche preceded by "the Osiris, king of Upper and Lower Egypt" and followed by mȝʿ-ḫrw. [12] [6] They are thus very close to those of Piye/Piankhy [42 – D. Dunham, (see footnote 39), plate 44.]. However, Shabaka's shabtis are larger (about 15–20 cm) with more developed inscriptions, including the quotation from the Book of the Dead, which is also present on those Taharqo, Tanouetamani and Senkamanisken." [6] All this evidence suggests that Shebitku ruled before Shabaka. Finally, Payraudeau observes that in the traditional Shebitku-Shabaka chronology, the time span between the reign of Taharqa and Shabaka seems to be excessively long. He notes that Papyrus Louvre E 3328c from Year 2 or Year 6 of Taharqa mentions the sale of a slave by his owner who had bought him in Year 7 of Shabaka, that is 27 years earlier in the traditional chronology but if the reign of Shabaka is placed just before that of Taharqa (with no intervening reign of Shebitku), there is a gap of about 10 years which is much more credible. [13]

Senkamanisken was a Kushite King who ruled from 640 to 620 BC at Napata. He used royal titles based on those of the ancient Egyptian pharaohs.

The respected German scholar Karl Jansen Winkeln also endorsed a Shebitku-Shabaka succession in a JEH 10 (2017) N.1 paper titled 'Beiträge zur Geschichte der Dritten Zwischenzeit’, Journal of Egyptian History 10 (2017), pp. 23–42 when he wrote a postscript stating “Im Gegensatz zu meinen Ausführungen auf dem [2014] Kolloquium in Münster bin ich jetzt der Meinung, dass die (neue) Reihenfolge Schebitku—Schabako in der Tat richtig ist...” or ‘In contrast to my exposition at the [2014] Munster colloquium, I am now of the opinion that the (new) succession Shebitku-Shabako is in fact correct…’ [14]


Shabaka is thought to be the son of King Kashta and Pebatjma, although a text from the time of Taharqa could be interpreted to mean that Shabaka was a brother of Taharqa and hence a son of Piye.

Shabaka's Queen Consort was Qalhata, according to Assyrian records, a sister of Taharqa. Shabaka and Qalhata were the parents of King Tantamani and possibly the parents of King Shebitku as well, but this conflicts with evidence in favor of Shabaka ruling after Shebitku. [2]

It is possible that Queen Tabekenamun was a wife of Shabaka. [15] She is thought by some to be a wife of Taharqa. [2]

Shabaka's son Haremakhet became High Priest of Amun and is known from a statue and a fragment of a statue found in Karnak. [2] A lady named Mesbat is mentioned on the sarcophagus of Haremakhet and may be his mother. [15]

Shabaka is the father of at least two more children, but the identity of their mother is not known. Piankharty later became the wife of her (half-)brother Tantamani. She is depicted on the Dream Stela with him. Isetemkheb H likely married Tantamani as well. She was buried in Abydos, Egypt. [2]


Shabaka succeeded his uncle Shebitku on the throne, and adopted the throne name of the Sixth Dynasty ruler Pepi II Neferkare. Shabaka's reign was initially dated from 716 BC to 702 BC by Kenneth Kitchen. However, new evidence indicates that Shebitku died around 705 BC because Sargon II (722–705 BC) of Assyria states in an official inscription at Tang-i Var (in Northwest Iran)—which is datable to 706 BC—that it was Shebitku, Shabaka's predecessor, who extradited Iamanni of Ashdod to Shebitku as king of Egypt. [16] [17] This view has been accepted by many Egyptologists today such as Aidan Dodson, [18] Rolf Krauss, David Aston, and Karl Jansen-Winkeln [19] among others because there is no concrete evidence for coregencies or internal political/regional divisions in the Nubian kingdom during the Twenty-fifth Dynasty. This point was also stressed by Dan'el Kahn in a 2006 article. [20] All contemporary records suggest that the Nubian Pharaohs ruled Egypt with only a single king on the throne, while Taharqa states explicitly on one of his Kawa steles that he assumed power only after the death of his brother, Shebitku. [21]

Shabaka's reign is significant because he consolidated the Nubian Kingdom's control over all of Egypt from Nubia down to the Delta region. It also saw an enormous amount of building work undertaken throughout Egypt, especially at the city of Thebes, which he made the capital of his kingdom. In Karnak he erected a pink granite statue of himself wearing the twin crowns of Egypt. Shabaka succeeded in preserving Egypt's independence from outside foreign powers—especially the Neo-Assyrian Empire of Sargon II. The most famous relic from Shabaka's reign is the Shabaka Stone which records several Old Kingdom documents that the king ordered preserved. [22]

Also notable is the Shabaka Gate, a large stone door unearthed by archeologists in 2011 and believed to have guarded the room where the king's treasures were stored. Despite being relative newcomers to Egypt, Shabaka and his family were immensely interested in Egypt's past and the art of the period reflects their tastes which harked back to earlier periods. Shabaka would grant refuge to king Iamanni of Ashdod after the latter fled to Egypt following the suppression of his revolt by Assyria in 712 BC.


Shabaka is assumed to have died in his 15th regnal year based on BM cube statue 24429, which is dated to Year 15, II Shemu day 11 of Shabaka's reign. [23] Shabaka was buried in a pyramid at el-Kurru and was succeeded by his nephew Taharqa.

Related Research Articles

Third Intermediate Period of Egypt period of Ancient Egypt (1069-664 BCE)

The Third Intermediate Period of Ancient Egypt began with the death of Pharaoh Ramesses XI in 1070 BC, which ended the New Kingdom, and was eventually followed by the Late Period. Various points are offered as the beginning for the latter era, though it is most often regarded as dating from the foundation of the Twenty-Sixth Dynasty by Psamtik I in 664 BC, following the expulsion of the Nubian Kushite rulers of the Twenty-fifth Dynasty by the Assyrians under King Assurbanipal.

Shebitku Egyptian pharaoh

Shebitku was the second king of the Twenty-fifth Dynasty of Egypt who ruled from 714 BC-705 BC, according to the most recent academic research. He was a son of Piye, the founder of this dynasty. Shebitku's prenomen or throne name, Djedkare, means "Enduring is the Soul of Re." Shebitku's queen was Arty, who was a daughter of king Piye, according to a fragment of statue JE 49157 of the High Priest of Amun Haremakhet, son of Shabaka, found in the temple of the Goddess Mut in Karnak.

Psusennes II Egyptian pharaoh

Titkheperure or Tyetkheperre Psusennes II [Greek Ψουσέννης] or Hor-Pasebakhaenniut II [Egyptian ḥr-p3-sb3-ḫˁỉ-⟨n⟩-nỉwt], was the last king of the Twenty-first dynasty of Egypt. His royal name means "Image of the transformations of Re" in Egyptian. Psusennes II is often considered the same person as the High-Priest of Amun known as Psusennes III. The Egyptologist Karl Jansen-Winkeln notes that an important graffito from the Temple of Abydos contains the complete titles of a king Tyetkheperre Setepenre Pasebakhaenniut Meryamun "who is simultaneously called the HPA and supreme military commander." This suggests that Psusennes was both king at Tanis and the High Priest in Thebes at the same time, meaning he did not resign his office as High Priest of Amun during his reign. The few contemporary attestations from his reign include the aforementioned graffito in Seti I's Abydos temple, an ostracon from Umm el-Qa'ab, an affiliation at Karnak and his presumed burial – which consists of a gilded coffin with a royal uraeus and a Mummy, found in an antechamber of Psusennes I's tomb at Tanis. He was a High Priest of Amun at Thebes and the son of Pinedjem II and Istemkheb. His daughter Maatkare B was the Great Royal Wife of Osorkon I.

Napata city

Napata was a city-state of ancient Nubia on the west bank of the Nile at the site of modern Karima, Sudan.

Kashta King of Nubia (0800-0745)

Kashta was an 8th century BC king of the Kushite Dynasty in ancient Nubia and the successor of Alara. His nomen k3š-t3 "of the land of Kush" is often translated directly as "The Kushite". He was succeeded by Piye, who would go on to conquer ancient Egypt and establish the Twenty-Fifth dynasty there.

Tefnakht Egyptian Pharaoh

Shepsesre Tefnakht was a prince of Sais and founder of the relatively short Twenty-fourth dynasty of Egypt; he rose to become a Chief of the Ma in his home city. He is thought to have reigned roughly 732 BCE to 725 BCE, or 7 years. Tefnakht I first began his career as the "Great Chief of the West" and Prince of Sais and was a late contemporary of the last ruler of the 22nd dynasty: Shoshenq V. Tefnakht I was actually the second ruler of Sais; he was preceded by Osorkon C, who is attested by several documents mentioning him as this city's Chief of the Ma and Army Leader, according to Kenneth Kitchen, while his predecessor as Great Chief of the West was a man named Ankhhor. A recently discovered statue, dedicated by Tefnakht I to Amun-Re, reveals important details about his personal origins. The statue's text states that Tefnakht was the son of a certain Gemnefsutkapu and the grandson of Basa, a priest of Amun near Sais. Consequently, Tefnakht was not actually descended from either lines of Chiefs of the Ma and of the Libu as traditionally believed but rather came from a family of priests, and his ancestors being more likely Egyptians rather than Libyans.

Takelot I Egyptian pharaoh(1000-0874)

Hedjkheperre Setepenre Takelot I was an ancient Libyan ruler who was pharaoh during the Twenty-second Dynasty of Egypt.

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.

Alara of Nubia King of Nubia

Alara was a King of Kush who is generally regarded as the founder of the Napatan royal dynasty by his 25th Dynasty Nubian successors and was the first recorded prince of Nubia. He unified all of Upper Nubia from Meroë to the Third Cataract and is possibly attested at the Temple of Amun at Kawa. Alara also established Napata as the religious capital of Nubia. Alara himself was not a 25th dynasty Nubian king since he never controlled any region of Egypt during his reign compared to his two immediate successors: Kashta and Piye respectively. Nubian literature credits him with a substantial reign since future Nubian kings requested that they might enjoy a reign as long as Alara's. His memory was also central to the origin myth of the Kushite kingdom, which was embellished with new elements over time. Alara was a deeply revered figure in Nubian culture and the first Nubian king whose name came down to scholars.

Atlanersa Kushite king of the Napatan kingdom of Nubia in the 7th century BC

Atlanersa was a Kushite king of the Napatan kingdom of Nubia, reigning for about a decade in the mid 7th century BC. He was the successor of Tantamani the last ruler of the 25th Dynasty of Egypt, and possibly a son of Taharqa or less likely of Tantamani, while his mother was a queen [...]salka. Atlanersa's reign immediately followed the collapse of the Nubian control over Egypt, which witnessed the conquest by the Assyrians and then the beginning of the Late Period under Psamtik I.


El-Kurru was one of the royal cemeteries used by the Nubian royal family. Reisner excavated the royal pyramids. Most of the pyramids date to the early part of the Kushite period, from Alara of Nubia to King Nastasen.

Qalhata Ancient Egyptian queen consort

Qalhata was a Nubian queen dated to the Twenty-fifth Dynasty of Egypt.

Arty was a Nubian King's Wife dated to the Twenty-fifth Dynasty of Egypt.

The Sack of Thebes took place in 664 BC at the hands of the Neo-Assyrian Empire under king Ashurbanipal, then at war with the Kushite Twenty-fifth Dynasty of Egypt under Taharqa or Tantamani. This was a major event in the history of the city of Thebes and of ancient Egypt in general, as it precipitated the rise of the Twenty-sixth Dynasty and heralded the end of the Third Intermediate Period.


  1. King Shabako
  2. 1 2 3 4 5 Aidan Dodson & Dyan Hilton: The Complete Royal Families of Ancient Egypt. Thames & Hudson, 2004, ISBN   0-500-05128-3 p.237
  3. 1 2 F. Payraudeau, Retour sur la succession Shabaqo-Shabataqo, Nehet 1, 2014, p. 115-127 online here
  4. GPF Broekman, Genealogical considerations regarding the kings of the Twenty-fifth Dynasty in Egypt, GM 251 (2017), p.13
  5. [45 – G. Legrain, “Le temple et les chapelles d’Osiris à Karnak. Le temple d’Osiris-Hiq-Djeto, partie éthiopienne”, RecTrav 22 (1900) 128; JWIS III, 45.]
  6. 1 2 3 4 F. Payraudeau, pp.115-127
  7. [39 – D. Dunham, El-Kurru, The Royal Cemeteries of Kush, I, (1950) 55, 60, 64, 67; also D. Dunham, Nuri, The Royal Cemeteries of Kush, II, (1955) 6-7; J. Lull, Las tumbas reales egipcias del Tercer Periodo Intermedio (dinastías XXI-XXV). Tradición y cambios, BAR-IS 1045 (2002) 208.]
  8. Dows D. Dunham, El Kurru; The Royal Cemeteries of Kush (Cambridge, Massachusetts 1950)
  9. G.P.F. Broekman, The order of succession between Shabaka and Shabataka. A different view on the chronology of the Twenty-fifth Dynasty, GM 245, (2015), pp.21-22
  10. G.P.F. Broekman, The order of succession between Shabaka and Shabataka. A different view on the chronology of the Twenty-fifth Dynasty, GM 245, (2015), p.23
  11. G.P.F. Broekman, GM 245 (2015), p.24
  12. [41 – JWIS III, 51, number 9; D. Dunham, (see footnote 39), 69, plate 45A-B.].
  13. Payraudeau, Nehet I, 2014, p.119
  14. Jansen-Winkeln, Journal of Egyptian History 10 (2017), N.1, p.40
  15. 1 2 R. Morkot: The Black Pharaohs, Egypt's Nubian Rulers, London 2000, p. 205 ISBN   0-948695-24-2
  16. G. Frame, The Inscription of Sargon II at Tang-i Var, Orientalia 68 (1999), pp. 31-57
  17. Dan'el Kahn, "The Inscription of Sargon II at Tang-i Var and the Chronology of Dynasty 25," Orientalia 70 (2001), pp. 1–3
  18. Journal of Egyptian Archaeology 88 (2002) p.182
  19. Karl Jansen-Winkeln, "The Third Intermediate Period" in Erik Hornung, Rolf Krauss & David Warburton (editors), Ancient Egyptian Chronology (Handbook of Oriental Studies), Brill, 2006. pp. 258–259
  20. Kahn, Dan'el., Divided Kingdom, Co-regency, or Sole Rule in the Kingdom(s) of Egypt-and-Kush?, Egypt and Levant 16 (2006), pp. 275–291 online PDF
  21. Kawa Stela V, line 15
  22. Shabaka stone
  23. Kitchen, Kenneth A. (1996).The Third Intermediate Period in Egypt (1100–650 BC), 3rd edition (Warminster: Aris & Phillips), pp. 153-54