Last updated
Kushite King of Napata
Kerma King Tantamani (r.664-653 BCE) XXV Dynasty Kushite.jpg
Predecessor Taharqa
Successor Atlanersa
El-Kurru (K. 16)
SpousePiankharty, [..]salka, possibly Malaqaye,
IssuePossibly Atlanersa, Queen Yeturow, Queen Khaliset
Full name
Father Shabaka (or Shebitku?)
MotherQueen Qalhata

Tantamani (Egyptian: t n w t ỉmn, Neo-Assyrian: Rassam cylinder Urdamanee.jpg Urdamanee), Tanutamun or Tanwetamani (Egyptian) or Tementhes (Greek) (d. 653 BC) 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." [1]



He was the son of King Shabaka and the nephew of his predecessor Taharqa. [2] In some sources he is said to be the son of Shebitku. [3] Assyrian records call Tantamani a son of Shabaka and refer to Qalhata as a sister of Taharqa. Some Egyptologists interpreted the Assyrian text as stating that Tantamani was a son of Shebitku, but as he was most likely a son of Shabaka himself, it is now more common to consider Tantamani a son of Shabaka. [4]

Conflict with Ashurpanipal of Assyria

Portrait of Tantamani, Sudan National Museum. Granite Statue of King Tantamani, Sudan National Museum, Khartoum (3).jpg
Portrait of Tantamani, Sudan National Museum.
Ashurbanipal's account of his Second Sampaign in Egypt against Tantamani ("Urdamanee"/ "Ruddamon"), in the Rassam cylinder Ashurbanipal's Second Campaign in Egypt (Rassam cylinder).jpg
Ashurbanipal's account of his Second Sampaign in Egypt against Tantamani ("Urdamanee"/ "Ruddamon"), in the Rassam cylinder
Hiero Ca1.svg
Hiero Ca2.svg
nomen or birth name
t n w t ỉmn
in hieroglyphs

Once the Assyrians had appointed Necho I as king and left, Egypt was still seen as vulnerable. Tantamani soon invaded Egypt in hopes of restoring his family to the throne. Tantamani marched down the Nile from Nubia and reoccupied all of Egypt including Memphis. Necho I, the Assyrians' representative, was killed in Tantamani's campaign.

This led to a renewed conflict with Ashurbanipal in 663 BCE. In reaction, the Assyrians led by Ashurbanipal returned to Egypt in force. Together with Psamtik I's army, which comprised Carian mercenaries, they fought a pitched battle in north Memphis, close to the temple of Isis, between the Serapeum and Abusir. Tantamani was defeated and fled to Upper Egypt but just 40 days after the battle, Ashurbanipal's army arrived in Thebes. Tantamani had already left the city for Kipkipi, a location that remains uncertain but might be Kom Ombo, some 200 km (120 mi) south of Thebes. [5] The city of Thebes was conquered "smashed (as if by) a floodstorm" and heavily plundered, in the Sack of Thebes. [5] The event is not mentioned in Egyptian sources but is known from the Assyrian annals, [6] which report that the inhabitants were deported. The Assyrians took a large booty of gold, silver, precious stones, clothes, horses, fantastic animals, as well as two obelisks covered in electrum weighting 2.500 talents (c. 75.5 tons, or 166,500 lb): [5]

Capture of Memphis by the Assyrians. Egypt - Capture of Memphis by the Assyrians.png
Capture of Memphis by the Assyrians.

"This city, the whole of it, I conquered it with the help of Ashur and Ishtar. Silver, gold, precious stones, all the wealth of the palace, rich cloth, precious linen, great horses, supervising men and women, two obelisks of splendid electrum, weighing 2,500 talents, the doors of temples I tore from their bases and carried them off to Assyria. With this weighty booty I left Thebes. Against Egypt and Kush I have lifted my spear and shown my power. With full hands I have returned to Nineveh, in good health."

Rassam cylinder of Ashurbanipal [7]

The sack of Thebes was a momentous event that reverberated throughout the Ancient Near East. It is mentioned in the Book of Nahum chapter 3:8-10:

"Art thou better than populous No, that was situate among the rivers, that had the waters round about it, whose rampart was the sea, and her wall was from the sea? Ethiopia and Egypt were her strength, and it was infinite; Put and Lubim were thy helpers. Yet was she carried away, she went into captivity: her young children also were dashed in pieces at the top of all the streets: and they cast lots for her honourable men, and all her great men were bound in chains"

A prophecy in the Book of Isaiah [8] refers to the sack as well:

"Just as my servant Isaiah has gone stripped and barefoot for three years, as a sign and portent against Egypt and Cush, so the king of Assyria will lead away stripped and barefoot the Egyptian captives and Cushite exiles, young and old, with buttocks bared—to Egypt’s shame. Those who trusted in Cush and boasted in Egypt will be dismayed and put to shame."

The Assyrian reconquest effectively ended Nubian control over Egypt although Tantamani's authority was still recognised in Upper Egypt until his 8th Year in 656 BCE when Psamtik I's navy peacefully took control of Thebes and effectively unified all of Egypt. These events marked the start of the Twenty-sixth Dynasty of Egypt.

Later rule

Thereafter, Tantamani ruled only Nubia (Kush). Tantamani died in 653 BC and was succeeded by Atlanersa, a son of Taharqa. He was buried in the family cemetery at El-Kurru. The archaeologist Charles Bonnet discovered the statue of Tantamani at Kerma (now called Doukki Gel) in 2003. [9]

Tomb in El-Kurru

The tomb of Tantamani was located below a pyramid, now dissappeared, at the site of El-Kurru. Only the entrance and the chambers remain, which are beautifully decorated with mural paintings.


See also

Related Research Articles

This article concerns the period 669 BC – 660 BC.

The year 664 BC was a year of the pre-Julian Roman calendar. In the Roman Empire, it was known as year 90 Ab urbe condita. The denomination 664 BC for this year has been used since the early medieval period, when the Anno Domini calendar era became the prevalent method in Europe for naming years.

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, from 690 to 664 BC. He was one of the "Black Pharaohs".

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.

Psamtik I Pharaoh

Wahibre Psamtik I (Ancient Egyptian: wꜣḥ-jb-rꜥ psmṯk, 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.

Necho I Ancient Egyptian ruler of the city of Sais, father of Psammetich I

Menkheperre Necho I was a ruler of the ancient Egyptian city of Sais. He was the first securely attested local Saite king of the 26th Dynasty of Egypt who reigned for 8 years according to Manetho's Aegyptiaca. Egypt was reunified by his son Psamtik I.

Shabaka Egyptian pharaoh

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

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. The concept of a "Third Intermediate Period" was coined in 1978 by British Egyptologist Kenneth Kitchen.

Shebitku Egyptian pharaoh

Shebitku was the second pharaoh 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.

Napata city

Napata was a city of ancient Nubia on the west bank of the Nile at the site of modern Karima, Sudan. It was the southernmost permanent settlement in the New Kingdom of Egypt and the main Nubian cult centre of Amun. It was the sometime capital of the Nubian Twenty-fifth Dynasty and, after its fall in 663 BC, of the Kingdom of Kush. In 593 BC, it was sacked by the Egyptians and the Kushite capital was relocated to Meroë. The city was sacked a second time by the Romans in 23 BC but was rebuilt and continued as an important centre of the Amun cult.

Kashta Kushite King of Napata

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.

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 the first cataract of the Nile and the confluence of the blue and white Niles or ,more strictly, Al Dabbah. It was the seat of one of the earliest civilizations of ancient Africa, as the Kerma culture lasted from around 2500 BC until its conquest 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.

Kingdom of Kush c. 785 BC – c. 350 AD kingdom in Nubia, northeast Africa

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

El-Kurru cemetery in Sudan

El-Kurru was one of the royal cemeteries used by the Nubian royal family of Kush and Egypt's 25th Dynasty. It is now located in Northern state, Sudan. Excavated by George Reisner, most of the royal Nubian pyramids date to the early part of the Kushite period, from Alara of Nubia to King Nastasen.

Qalhata Queen consort of Nubia and Egypt

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

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.

Twenty-sixth Dynasty of Egypt Egyptian dynasty of the Late Period (664-525 BCE)

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.

Haremakhet High Priest of Amun

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

Sack of Thebes Assyrian plunder of Kushite Thebes

The Sack of Thebes took place in 663 BC in the city of Thebes at the hands of the Neo-Assyrian Empire under king Ashurbanipal, then at war with the Kushite Twenty-fifth Dynasty of Egypt under Tantamani. After a long struggle for the control of the Levant which had started in 705 BC, the Kushites had gradually lost control of Lower Egypt and, by 665 BC, their territory was reduced to Upper Egypt and Nubia. Helped by the unreliable vassals of the Assyrians in the Nile Delta region, Tantamani briefly regained Memphis in 663 BC, killing Necho I of Sais in the process.

Assyrian conquest of Egypt

The Assyrian conquest of Egypt covered a relatively short period of the Neo-Assyrian Empire from 677 BCE to 663 BCE.


  1. Clayton, Peter A. (1994). Chronicle of the Pharaohs: The Reign-by-Reign Record of the Rulers and Dynasties of Ancient Egypt . London: Thames and Hudson. p.  190. ISBN   0-500-05074-0.
  2. Dodson, Aidan; Hilton, Dyan (2004). The Complete Royal Families of Ancient Egypt. Thames & Hudson. ISBN   0-500-05128-3.
  3. Dunham, Dows; Macadam, M. F. Laming (1949). "Names and Relationships of the Royal Family of Napata". Journal of Egyptian Archaeology. 35: 139–149. doi:10.1177/030751334903500124.
  4. Morkot, R. G. (2000). The Black Pharaohs: Egypt's Nubian Rulers. The Rubicon Press. ISBN   0-948695-23-4.
  5. 1 2 3 Kahn 2006, p. 265.
  6. Robert G. Morkot: The Black Pharaohs, Egypt's Nubian Rulers, London ISBN   0948695234, p. 296
  7. Ashurbanipal (auto) biography cylinder, c. 668 BCE; in James B. Pritchard, ed., Ancient Near Eastern Texts Relating to the Old Testament with Supplement (Princeton UP, 1950/1969/2014), 294-95. ISBN   9781400882762. Translated earlier in John Pentland Mahaffy et al., eds., A History of Egypt, vol. 3 (London: Scribner, 1905), 307. Google Books partial-view: books.google.com/books?id=04VUAAAAYAAJ&pg=PA307; and E. A. Wallis Budge, A History of Ethiopia: Volume I, Nubia and Abyssinia (London: Taylor & Francis, 1928/2014), 38. ISBN   9781317649151
  8. 20:3-5
  9. "Digging into Africa's past". Archived from the original on November 11, 2007.
  10. "Sudan National Museum". sudannationalmuseum.com.

Further reading

Regnal titles
Preceded by
Pharaoh of Egypt
664 656 BC
Twenty-fifth Dynasty
Succeeded by
In Egypt:
Psamtik I
King of Kush
664 653 BC
Succeeded by
In Kush: