Shoshenq II

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Heqakheperre Shoshenq II or Shoshenq IIa [1] was a pharaoh of the 22nd dynasty of Egypt. He was the only ruler of this Dynasty whose tomb was not plundered by tomb robbers. His final resting place was discovered within an antechamber of Psusennes I's tomb at Tanis by Pierre Montet in 1939. Montet removed the coffin lid of Shoshenq II on March 20, 1939, in the presence of king Farouk of Egypt himself. [2] It proved to contain many jewel-encrusted bracelets and pectorals, along with a beautiful hawkheaded silver coffin and a gold funerary mask. [3] The gold facemask had been placed upon the head of the king. [4] Montet later discovered the intact tombs of two Dynasty 21 kings—Psusennes I and Amenemope a year later in February and April 1940 respectively. Shoshenq II's prenomen, Heqakheperre Setepenre, means "The manifestation of Ra rules, the chosen one of Ra." [5]


Shoshenq II's enigmatic identity

There is a small possibility that Shoshenq II was the son of Shoshenq I. Two bracelets from Shoshenq II's tomb mention king Shoshenq I while a pectoral was inscribed with the title 'Great Chief of the Ma Shoshenq,' a title which Shoshenq I employed under Psusennes II before he became king. [6] These items may be interpreted as either evidence of a possible filial link between the two men or just mere heirlooms.

A high degree of academic uncertainty regarding the parentage of this king exists: some scholars today contend that Shoshenq II was actually a younger son of Shoshenq I—who outlived Osorkon I and Takelot I—due to the discovery of the aforementioned items naming the founder of the 22nd Dynasty within his intact royal Tanite tomb. As the German Egyptologist Karl Jansen-Winkeln observes in the recent (2005) book on Egyptian chronology: "The commonly assumed identification of this king with the (earlier) HP and son of Osorkon I [by KA Kitchen] does not appear to be very probable." [7] A forensic examination of Shoshenq II's body by Dr. Douglas Derry, the head of Cairo Museum's anatomy department, reveals that he was a man in his fifties when he died. [8] Hence, Shoshenq II could have easily survived Osorkon I's 35-year reign and ruled Egypt for a few years before Takelot I came to power. Moreover, Sextus Julius Africanus's generally more accurate copy of Manetho's Epitome explicitly states that “3 Kings” intervened between Osorkon I and Takelot I. [9] While Manetho's suggested position for these three kings cannot be presently verified due to the paucity of evidence for this period and the brevity of their reigns, another of these poorly known monarchs would be Tutkheperre Shoshenq who was an early Dynasty 22 ruler since he is now monumentally attested in both Lower and Upper Egypt at Bubastis and Abydos respectively. [10] Evidence that Shoshenq II was a predecessor of Osorkon II is indicated by the fact that his hawk-headed coffin is stylistically similar to "a hawk-headed lid" which enclosed the granite coffin of king Harsiese A, from Medinet Habu. [11] Harsiese A was an early contemporary of Osorkon II and likely Takelot I too since the latter did not firmly control Upper Egypt in his reign. This implies that Shoshenq II and Harsiese A were near contemporaries since Harsiese A was the son of the High Priest of Amun Shoshenq C at Thebes and, thus, the grandson of Osorkon I.

Harsiese's funerary evidence places Shoshenq II roughly one or two generations after Osorkon I and may date him to the brief interval between Takelot I and Osorkon I at Tanis. [12] In this case, the objects naming Shoshenq I in this king's tomb would simply be heirlooms, rather than proof of an actual filial relation between Shoshenq I and II. This latter interpretation is endorsed by Jürgen von Beckerath, in his 1997 book, Chronologie des Pharaonischen Ägypten who believes Shoshenq II was actually an elder brother of Takelot I. The view that Shoshenq II was an elder brother of Takelot I is also endorsed by Norbert Dautzenberg in a GM 144 paper. [13] Von Beckerath, however, places Shoshenq II between the reigns of Takelot I and Osorkon II at Tanis. [14]

Kenneth Kitchen, in his latest 1996 edition of '’The Third Intermediate Period in Egypt (c.1100–650 BC)’', maintains that Shoshenq II was the High Priest of Amun Shoshenq C, son of Osorkon I and Queen Maatkare, who was appointed as the junior coregent to the throne but predeceased his father. [15] Kitchen suggests such a coregency is reflected on the bandages of the Ramesseum mummy of Nakhtefmut, which contain the dates "Year 3 [Blank]" and "Year 33 Second Heb Sed" respectively. [16] The “Year 33” date mentioned here almost certainly refers to Osorkon I since Nakhtefmut wore a ring which bore this king's prenomen. Kitchen infers from this evidence that Year 33 of Osorkon I is equivalent to Year 3 of Shoshenq II, and that the latter was Shoshenq C himself. [17]

Unfortunately, however, the case for a coregency between Osorkon I and Shoshenq II is uncertain because there is no clear evidence that the Year 3 and Year 33 bandages on Naktefmut's body were made at the same time. These two dates were not written on a single piece of mummy linen—which would denote a true coregency. Rather, the dates were written on two separate and unconnected mummy bandages which were likely woven and used over a period of several years, as the burial practices of the Amun priests show. A prime example is the Mummy of Khonsmaakheru in Hamburg which contains separate bandages dating to Years 11, 12, and 23 of Osorkon I—or a minimum period of 12 Years between their creation and final use. (Altenmüller: 2000) A second example is the mummy of Djedptahiufankh, the Third or Fourth Prophet of Amun, which bears various bandages from Years 5, 10, and 11 of Shoshenq I, or a spread of six years in their final use for embalming purposes. As these two near contemporary examples show, the temple priests simply reused whatever old or recycled linens which they could gain access to for their mummification rituals. The Year 3 mummy linen would, hence, belong to the reign of Osorkon's successor. Secondly, none of the High Priest Shoshenq C's own children—the priest Osorkon whose funerary papyrus, P. Denon C, is located in the Russian National Library in St. Petersburg or a second priest named Harsiese (likely king Harsiese A) who dedicated a Bes statue in memory of his father, now in Durham Museum—give royal titles to their father on their own funerary objects. The priest Osorkon only calls himself the "son of the High Priest Shoshenq", rather than the title "King's Son" in his funerary papyri, which would presumably have been created long after his father's death. [18]

On Harsiese, Jacquet-Gordon notes that "there is no good evidence to suggest that the 1st prophet Shoshenq C ever claimed or was accorded royal rank." [19] She observes that Harsiese designated his father as a High Priest of Amun on a Bes statue without any accompanying royal name or prenomen and stresses that if Shoshenq C "had [even] the slightest pretensions to royal rank, his son would not have omitted to mention this fact. We must therefore conclude that he had no such pretensions." [20] [21] This implies that the High Priest Shoshenq C was not king Shoshenq II. While Shoshenq C's name is indeed written in a cartouche on the Bes statue, no actual royal name or prenomen is ever given. An example of a king's son who enclosed his name in a cartouche on a monument but never inherited the throne was Wadjmose, a son of the New Kingdom king Thutmose I.

Independent Reign

Pectoral of Shoshenq II. Pectoral of Heqakheperre Shoshenq II 2012.jpg
Pectoral of Shoshenq II.

More significantly, Shoshenq II's intact burial did not contain a single object or heirloom naming Osorkon I—an unlikely situation if Osorkon did indeed bury his own son. Kitchen notes that this king's burial goods included a pectoral that was originally inscribed for the Great Chief of the Ma Shoshenq I—before the latter became king—and "a pair of bracellets of Shoshenq I as king but no later objects." [22] This situation appears improbable if Shoshenq II was indeed Shoshenq C, Osorkon I's son who died and was buried by his own father. Other Dynasty 21 and 22 kings such as Amenemope and Takelot I, for instance, employed grave goods which mentioned their parent's names in their own tombs. This suggests that Heqakheperre Shoshenq II was not a son of Osorkon I but someone else's son, perhaps Shoshenq I. Karl Jansen-Winkeln writes in the most recent book on Egyptian chronology that:

"As the individuals interred in the [Tanite] royal tombs often bore objects belonging to their parents, this king (Shoshenq II) is probably a son of Shoshenq I." [7]

Since this pharaoh's funerary objects such as his silver coffin, jewel pectorals, and cartonnage all give him the unique royal name Heqakheperre, he was most likely a genuine king of the 22nd Dynasty in his own right, and not just a minor coregent. Jürgen von Beckerath adopts this interpretation of the evidence and assigns Shoshenq II an independent reign of 2 years at Tanis. [14] In their 2005 academic publication on Egyptian chronology, the Egyptologists Rolf Krauss and David Alan Warburton also ascribed Shoshenq II an independent reign of between 1 to 2 years in the 22nd dynasty although they place Shoshenq II's brief reign between that of Takelot I and Osorkon II. [23] The German Egyptologist Thomas Schneider, in a 2010 paper, has accepted the validity of the reference in Manetho's epitome to the "3 [Tanite] kings" from Africanus' version and placed the reigns of both Shoshenq II and Tutkheperre Shoshenq in the interval between Osorkon I and Takelot I. [24] The exclusive use of silver for the creation of Shoshenq II's coffin is a potent symbol of his power because silver "was considerably rarer in Egypt than gold." [25]

Death and Burial

View of tomb NRT III showing where Shoshenq II was buried and discovered NRT III e.jpg
View of tomb NRT III showing where Shoshenq II was buried and discovered

Dr. Derry's medical examination of Shoshenq II's mummy reveals that the king died as a result of a massive septic infection from a head wound. [26]

The final resting place of Shoshenq II was certainly a reburial because he was found interred in the tomb of another king, Psusennes I of the Twenty-first Dynasty. Scientists have found evidence of plant growth on the base of Shoshenq II's coffin, which suggests that Shoshenq II's original tomb had become waterlogged, [27] hence a need to rebury him and his funerary equipment in another tomb. As Aidan Dodson writes:

It is abundantly clear that the presence of Shoshenq II within NRT III (Psusennes I's tomb) was the result of a reburial. Apart from the presence of the [king's] coffinettes within an extremely mixed group of secondhand jars, the broken condition of the trough of the king's silver coffin showed that it had received rough handling in antiquity. [28]

Related Research Articles

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.

Takelot II Egyptian Pharaoh

Hedjkheperre Setepenre Takelot II Si-Ese was a pharaoh of the Twenty-third Dynasty of Ancient Egypt in Middle and Upper Egypt. He has been identified as the High Priest of Amun Takelot F, son of the High Priest of Amun Nimlot C at Thebes and, thus, the son of Nimlot C and grandson of king Osorkon II according to the latest academic research. Based on two lunar dates belonging to Takelot II, this Upper Egyptian pharaoh is today believed to have ascended to the throne of a divided Egypt in either 845 BC or 834 BC. Most Egyptologists today, including Aidan Dodson, Gerard Broekman, Jürgen von Beckerath, M.A. Leahy and Karl Jansen-Winkeln, also accept David Aston's hypothesis that Shoshenq III was Osorkon II's actual successor at Tanis, rather than Takelot II. As Aidan Dodson and Dyan Hilton write in their comprehensive book on the royal families of Ancient Egypt:

Takelot II is likely to have been identical with the High Priest Takelot F, who is stated in [the] Karnak inscriptions to have been a son of Nimlot C, and whose likely period of office falls neatly just before Takelot II's appearance.

Osorkon II Egyptian pharaoh

Usermaatre Setepenamun Osorkon II was the fifth king 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.

Osorkon I Egyptian pharaoh (1000-0889)

Sekhemkheperre Osorkon I was an ancient Egyptian pharaoh of the 22nd Dynasty.

The Twenty-third Dynasty of Egypt is usually classified as the third dynasty of the ancient Egyptian Third Intermediate Period. This dynasty consisted of a number of Meshwesh ancient Libyan (Berber) kings, who ruled either as pharaohs or independent kings of parts of Upper Egypt from 880 BC to 720 BC, and pharaohs from 837 BC to 728 BC.

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.

Jürgen von Beckerath was a German Egyptologist. He was a prolific writer who published countless articles in journals such as Orientalia, Göttinger Miszellen (GM), Journal of the American Research Center in Egypt (JARCE), Archiv für Orientforschung (AfO), and Studien zur Altägyptischen Kultur (SAK) among others. Together with Kenneth Kitchen, he is viewed as one of the foremost scholars on the New Kingdom and the Third Intermediate Period of Egypt.

Harsiese B ancient Egyptian high priest of Amun

Harsiese B was a High Priest of Amun in 874 BC. Earlier Egyptologists assumed he was both the High Priest of Amun (HPA) and son of the High Priest Shoshenq C, who may have become a king at Thebes. However, recent research by Karl Jansen-Winkeln shows that all the monuments of the first (King) Harsiese A demonstrate that he was never Theban High Priest of Amun in his own right, merely a regular Priest of Amun. While the earlier Harsiese was certainly a king at Thebes, he is clearly a different person from the later Harsiese, Harsiese B, who is attested as a High Priest of Amun. Jansen-Winkeln further shows that Harsiese A's son, [...du], was only an ordinary Priest of Amun.

Shoshenq VI Egyptian pharaoh

Shoshenq VI is known to be Pedubast I's immediate successor at Thebes based upon the career of the Letter Writer to Pharaoh Hor IX, who served under Osorkon II and Pedubast I. Since Shoshenq VI's prenomen is inscribed on Hor IX's funerary cones, this indicates that Hor IX outlived Pedubast I and made his funeral arrangements under Shoshenq VI instead. His prenomen or royal name was "Usermaatre Meryamun Shoshenq" which is unusual because it is the only known example where the epithet "Meryamun" appears within a king's cartouche. Shoshenq VI's High Priest of Amun was a certain Takelot who first appears in office in Year 23 of Pedubast I.

Amenemope (pharaoh) Egyptian Pharaoh

Usermaatre Amenemope was an ancient Egyptian pharaoh of the 21st Dynasty. Ruled during 1001-992 or 993-984 years.

Harsiese A priest (1000-0860)

King Hedjkheperre Setepenamun Harsiese or Harsiese A, is viewed by the Egyptologist Kenneth Kitchen in his Third Intermediate Period in Egypt to be both a High Priest of Amun and the son of the High Priest of Amun, Shoshenq C. The archaeological evidence does suggest that he was indeed Shoshenq C's son. However, recent published studies by the German Egyptologist Karl Jansen-Winkeln in JEA 81 (1995) have demonstrated that all the monuments of the first (king) Harsiese show that he was never a High Priest of Amun in his own right. Rather both Harsiese A and his son [...du] —whose existence is known from inscriptions on the latter's funerary objects at Coptos —are only attested as Ordinary Priests of Amun. Instead, while Harsiese A was certainly an independent king at Thebes during the first decade of Osorkon II's kingship, he was a different person from a second person who was also called Harsiese: Harsiese B. Harsiese B was the genuine High Priest of Amun who is attested in office late in Osorkon II's reign, in the regnal year 6 of Shoshenq III and in regnal years 18 and 19 of Pedubast I, according to Jansen-Winkeln.

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.

Tutkheperre Shoshenq or Shoshenq IIb is an obscure Third Intermediate Period Libyan king whose existence was until recently doubted. In 2004, a GM 203 German article by Eva R. Lange on a newly discovered stone block decoration from the Temple of Bubastis that bore his rare royal prenomen, Tutkheperre, confirmed his existence because his name is found in Lower and Upper Egypt. Tutkheperre's prenomen translates approximately as "Appearance of the Image of Re."

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.

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.

High Priest of Ptah position

The High Priest of Ptah was sometimes referred to as "The Greatest of the Directors of Craftsmanship" (wr-ḫrp-ḥmwt). This title refers to Ptah as the patron god of the craftsmen.

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.


  1. At the October 2007 Egyptological Conference on the History and Chronology of the Libyan Period in Egypt at Leiden University, the conference members voted unanimously to designate him as Shoshenq IIa.
  2. Bob Brier, Egyptian Mummies: Unravelling the Secrets of an Ancient Art, William Morrow & Company Inc., New York, 1994. p.145
  3. Sheshonq II
  4. Brier, p.144
  5. Peter A. Clayton, Chronicle of the Pharaohs: The Reign-by-Reign Record of the Rulers and Dynasties of Ancient Egypt, Thames and Hudson, London, 1994. p.185
  6. Kenneth A. Kitchen, The Third Intermediate Period in Egypt (1100–650 BC), 3rd edition: 1996, Aris & Phillips Ltd., p.117
  7. 1 2 Karl Jansen-Winkeln, The Chronology of the Third Intermediate Period: Dyns 22-24 in 'Handbook of Egyptian Chronology,' ed. Rolf Krauss, Erik Hornung, David Warburton, Brill: 2005, p.237
  8. Douglas E. Derry, Note on the Remains of Shashanq, Annales du Service des Antiquités de l’Égypte 39 (1939), pp.549-551
  9. Jürgen von Beckerath, Chronologie des Pharaonischen Ägypten, Philipp von Zabern: Mainz am Rhein, (1997), pp.95
  10. Eva R. Lange, Ein Neuer König Schoschenk in Bubastis, Göttinger Miszellen 203 (2004), pp.65–72
  11. Aidan M. Dodson, The Canopic Equipment of the Kings of Egypt, Kegan Paul Intl: London, 1994. pp.90 & 92
  12. J. von Beckerath, p.98
  13. Norbert Dautzenberg, Bemerkungen zu Schoschenq II., Takeloth II. und Pedubastis II., Göttinger Miszellen144 (1995), pp.21-29
  14. 1 2 J. von Beckerath, pp.98 & 191
  15. Kitchen, pp.117–119
  16. Kitchen, p.110
  17. Kitchen, p.308
  18. Helen Jacquet-Gordon, book review of KA Kitchen's The Third Intermediate Period in Egypt (1100–650 B.C.), Bibliotheca Orientalis 32 (1975), pp.358–359
  19. Jacquet-Gordon, pp.358–360
  20. Jacquet-Gordon, p.35
  21. Kitchen, p.117
  22. Kitchen, pp.117–118
  23. Rolf Krauss & David A. Warburton, Chronological Table for the Dynastic Period in 'Handbook of Egyptian Chronology,' ed. Rolf Krauss, Erik Hornung, David Warburton, Brill: 2005, p.493
  24. Thomas Schneider, Contributions to the Chronology of the New Kingdom and the Third Intermediate Period, Aegypte und Levante 20 (2010) p.403
  25. Christine Hobson, Exploring the World of the Pharaohs: A complete Guide to Ancient Egypt, Thames & Hudson 1987. p.123
  26. Derry, pp.549–551
  27. Derry, pp.549-551
  28. Dodson, p.89

Further reading