Thamphthis

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Thamphthis in hieroglyphs
Length of reign: unknown
Predecessor: Shepseskaf?
Successor: Userkaf?
ThamphthisThamphthisThamphthisThamphthisThamphthis

Saqqara table
ThamphthisThamphthisThamphthisThamphthisThamphthisThamphthisThamphthis
Thamphthis
ThamphthisThamphthis
[1]
Turin canon
(Column III, line 16)

Thamphthis is the hellenized name of an ancient Egyptian ruler (pharaoh) of the 4th dynasty in the Old Kingdom, who may have ruled around 2500 BC under the name Djedefptah for between two and nine years. His original Egyptian name is lost, but it may have been Djedefptah or Ptahdjedef ("he endures like Ptah") according to William C. Hayes. [2] Thamphthis is one of the shadowy rulers of the Old Kingdom, since he is completely unattested in contemporary sources. For this reason, his historical figure is discussed intensely by historians and egyptologists.

Hellenization historical spread of ancient Greek culture

Hellenization or Hellenisation is the historical spread of ancient Greek culture, religion and, to a lesser extent, language, over foreign peoples conquered by Greeks or brought into their sphere of influence, particularly during the Hellenistic period following the campaigns of Alexander the Great in the fourth century BC. The result of Hellenization was that elements of Greek origin combined in various forms and degrees with local elements; these Greek influences spread from the Mediterranean basin as far east as modern-day Pakistan. In modern times, Hellenization has been associated with the adoption of modern Greek culture and the ethnic and cultural homogenization of Greece.

Egypt Country spanning North Africa and Southwest Asia

Egypt, officially the Arab Republic of Egypt, is a country spanning the northeast corner of Africa and southwest corner of Asia by a land bridge formed by the Sinai Peninsula. Egypt is a Mediterranean country bordered by the Gaza Strip and Israel to the northeast, the Gulf of Aqaba and the Red Sea to the east, Sudan to the south, and Libya to the west. Across the Gulf of Aqaba lies Jordan, across the Red Sea lies Saudi Arabia, and across the Mediterranean lie Greece, Turkey and Cyprus, although none share a land border with Egypt.

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.

Contents

Background

Since Thamphthis' name was found in the historical works of Manetho, the Aegyptiacae, [3] egyptologists are trying to connect this ruler with contemporary kings to build up a continuous chronology, which resulted in controversies and debates.

Manetho Egyptian historian and priest from Ancient Egypt

Manetho is believed to have been an Egyptian priest from Sebennytos who lived in the Ptolemaic Kingdom in the early third century BC, during the Hellenistic period. He authored the Aegyptiaca in Greek, a major chronological source for the reigns of the pharaohs of ancient Egypt. It is unclear if he wrote his work during the reign of Ptolemy I Soter or Ptolemy II Philadelphos, but no later than that of Ptolemy III Euergetes.

As early as 1887, Eduard Meyer viewed Thamphthis as a mere usurper, who was not allowed to be mentioned in royal annals or have his own mortuary cult because he gained the throne illegitimately. [4] Peter Janosi goes further and says that Thamphthis is a fiction, due to the lack of archaeological support. He claims that Thamphthis should be erased from modern kinglists. [5]

Eduard Meyer German historian of antiquity

Eduard Meyer was a German historian. He was the brother of Celticist Kuno Meyer (1858-1919).

A usurper is an illegitimate or controversial claimant to power, often but not always in a monarchy. In other words, a person who takes the power of a country, city, or established region for himself, without any formal or legal right to claim it as his own. Usurpers are both those who overtake a region by often unexpected physical force, as well as individuals or organizations who overtake a region through political influence, machination, and subterfuge — though the word "usurper" denotes a single person; either an individual who acted alone, or the leader of a group which supported his controversial claim.

Winfried Seipel and Hermann Alexander Schlögl instead postulate that the historical figure behind Thamphthis could have been queen Khentkaus I. [6] This theory is supported by Khentkaus being depicted in her mortuary temple as a ruling pharaoh with nemes-headdress, king's beard and uraeus-diadem on her forehead. But this theory is problematic since Khentkaus' name never appears inside a serekh or royal cartouche. [7]

Khentkaus I Queen of Ancient Egypt during the 4th dynasty

Khentkaus I, also referred to as Khentkawes, was a royal woman who lived in ancient Egypt during the Fourth and the Fifth Dynasties. She may have been a daughter of king Menkaure, the wife of both king Shepseskaf and king Userkaf, the mother of king Sahure, and perhaps, in her own right, the king of Upper and Lower Egypt. Her mastaba at Giza – tomb LG100 – is located very close to Menkaure's pyramid complex. This close connection may point to a family relationship. Although the relationship is not clear, the proximity of the pyramid complex of Khentkaus to that of king Menkaure has led to the conjecture that she may have been his daughter.

Serekh

A serekh was a specific important type of heraldic crest used in ancient Egypt. Like the later cartouche, it contained a royal name.

Wolfgang Helck points out that Khentkaus I could have been the mother of Thamphthis, so Thamphthis would have been the son of king Shepseskaf. As a possible wife of Thamphthis he proposes a princess named Bunefer, who may have been the daughter of Shepseskaf. She was a priestess of Shepseskaf. [8] [9]

Hans Wolfgang Helck was a German Egyptologist, considered one of the most important Egyptologists of the 20th century. From 1956 until his retirement in 1979 he was a Professor at the University of Hamburg. He remained active after his retirement and together with Wolfhart Westendorf published the German Lexikon der Ägyptologie, completed in 1992. He published many books and articles on the history of Egyptian and Near Eastern culture. He was a member of the German Archaeological Institute and a corresponding member of the Göttingen Academy of Sciences.

Shepseskaf Egyptian pharaoh

Shepseskaf was the sixth and last pharaoh of the Fourth Dynasty of Egypt during the Old Kingdom. He reigned 6 to 8 years starting circa 2510 BC. The only activities firmly datable to his reign are the completion of the temple complex of the Pyramid of Menkaure and the construction of its own mastaba tomb at South Saqqara, the Mastabat al-Fir’aun, "stone bench of the pharaoh".

Bunefer ancient Egyptian queen consort

Bunefer was an Ancient Egyptian queen from the 4th or 5th dynasty. It is not known which king she was married to. Bunefer was buried in tomb G 8408 in the Central Field of the Giza Necropolis.

Name sources and contradictions

In the Manethonian tradition of the historian Sextus Julius Africanus, who translated Manetho, Thamphthis is described as the last ruler of the 4th dynasty with a reign of nine years. In the tradition of the historians Eusebius and Eratosthenes his name is missed. Eusebius gives the reason that Thamphthis was not meant to be named, for he "didn't do something worth to be mentioned". [3] [10]

Sextus Julius Africanus was a Christian traveler and historian of the late second and early third centuries. He is important chiefly because of his influence on Eusebius, on all the later writers of Church history among the Church Fathers, and on the whole Greek school of chroniclers.

Eusebius Greek church historian

Eusebius of Caesarea, also known as Eusebius Pamphili, was a historian of Christianity, exegete, and Christian polemicist. He became the bishop of Caesarea Maritima about 314 AD. Together with Pamphilus, he was a scholar of the Biblical canon and is regarded as an extremely learned Christian of his time. He wrote Demonstrations of the Gospel, Preparations for the Gospel, and On Discrepancies between the Gospels, studies of the Biblical text. As "Father of Church History", he produced the Ecclesiastical History, On the Life of Pamphilus, the Chronicle and On the Martyrs. He also produced a biographical work on the first Christian Emperor, Constantine the Great, who ruled between 306 and 337 AD.

Eratosthenes ancient Greek scientist

Eratosthenes of Cyrene was a Greek polymath. He was a man of learning, becoming the chief librarian at the Library of Alexandria. He invented the discipline of geography, including the terminology used today.

A further source for the chronology of rulers of the Old Kingdom is the Royal Canon of Turin, composed during the 19th dynasty around 1300 BC. It names kings which are omitted in many other kinglists. But the Turin Canon is damaged at several spots, so many royal names are fragmentary or completely lost in lacuna today. For this reason it cannot be excluded that Thamphthis' name was originally present in this document too, since the Aegyptiacae of Manetho are mostly consistent with the Turin Canon. In column III, line 12 king Khafra is mentioned, after him, in line 13, a lacuna appears. After king Shepseskaf, mentioned in line 15, a second lacuna appears. Whilst line 13 may possibly be assigned to a king Baka, the missing line 16 could have originally held Thamphthis' name. These lacunae cover two years during which a king could have reigned. [11]

The Royal kinglist of Saqqara from the tomb of Tjuneroy (19th dynasty) lists nine kings for the 4th dynasty, whilst the Abydos King List gives only six names. Curiously the Saqqara-Table has after Shepseskaf two cartouches before Userkaf, but both are heavily damaged, so the original names are no longer legible. Whilst one of these two cartouches once may have held Thamphthis' name, the other cartouche remains a mystery. [12]

A rock inscription in the Wadi Hammamat made in the Middle Kingdom presents a list of the cartouche-names of Khufu, Djedefre, Baufra and prince Djedefhor (also recorded as Hordjedef). Curiously Djedefhor's name is written in a cartouche, too. This leads to the possibility that he could have been a king for a very short while himself. If this was true, this fact would close the chronological gaps. But contemporary sources don't show Djedefhor and Baufra as kings; they give to these two only the titles of princes and call them both "son of the king". [13]

The tomb inscriptions of several high officials, princes and priests do not preserve any evidence that some kind of internal political conflict had arisen or that a usurper had seized the throne of Egypt. Prince Sekhemkare reports about his career under the kings Khafra, Menkaura, Shepseskaf, Userkaf and even Sahure, but makes no mention of Thamphthis. The same goes for the high official Netjer-pu-nesut, who was honoured under the kings Djedefre, Khafra, Menkaura, Shepseskaf, Userkaf and Sahure. Again no Thamphthis is mentioned. The 5th dynasty high priest and official Ptahshepses who served under king Niuserre and took care of the mortuary cults of king Menkaura and Shepseskaf also made no reference to Thamphthis. [14] The late Patrick F. O'Mara in a GM 158 paper notes that "no royal monument private tomb in the cemeteries of Gizeh and Saqqara record names of any other [except the aforementioned] kings for the [fourth] dynasty. No names of estates of the period compounded with royal names make mention of any other [fourth dynasty] kings than these, nor do the names of the royal grandchildren, who often bore the name of a royal ancestor as a component of their own" names. [15]

The lack of contemporary attestations for Thamphthis does not by itself prove that he was a "faux king" or 'phantom king' since he may well have been a short-lived ruler of the fourth dynasty. The stela of the fifth dynasty official Khau-Ptah is informative: while this official lists his career in an uninterrupted sequence of Sahure, Neferirkare, Raneferef and Niuserre, he completely omits Shepseskare. [16] Shepseskare or Sisires likely did not rule Egypt for the 7 years assigned to him by both Manetho and the Turin Canon judging by the paucity of contemporary records for his rule, but he certainly ruled Egypt for a brief period of time. [17] This is established by the existence of two cylinder seals identifying him [18] and four or five fragments of clay sealings bearing his name. [19] In more recent years, "several new sealings [of Shepseskare]" which were found in Abusir also show that Shepseskare did exist. [20] Verner argues that the archaeological context of the sealings show that Shepseskare succeeded Raneferef (rather than the reverse as Manetho and the Turin Canon states) and that a dynastic struggle ensued in which Shepseskare was soon overthrown by Niuserre, Raneferef's brother, after a very brief reign. This would explain the surprising omission of Shepseskare by Khau-ptah since the former was a usurper who briefly seized the throne after Raneferef's death. But there is no evidence for any dynastic difficulties in the late fourth dynasty and the complete lack of contemporary attestations for Thamphthis is strong evidence for regarding him as a phantom king. In this situation, the two year figure assigned to him by later Egyptian records could possibly be added to Shepseskaf's existing 4-year reign.

Literature

Related Research Articles

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Hotepsekhemwy Egyptian pharaoh

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Neferirkare Kakai Egyptian pharaoh

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References

  1. Alan H. Gardiner: The royal canon of Turin. Griffith Institute, Oxford (UK) 1997, ISBN   0-900416-48-3, p. 16; table II.
  2. William C. Hayes: The Scepter of Egypt, Band 1. p. 66; cifer: Jürgen von Beckerath: Handbuch der ägyptischen Königsnamen, pp. 53–54, 180.
  3. 1 2 William Gillian Waddell: Manetho (The Loeb classical library 350). pp. 47–49
  4. Eduard Meyer, Johannes Dümichen: Geschichte des alten Aegyptens. page 114.
  5. Peter Janosi: Die Gräberwelt der Pyramidenzeit. p. 151.
  6. Wilfried Seipel: Untersuchungen zu den ägyptischen Königinnen der Frühzeit und des Alten Reiches. pp. 189–190.
  7. Hermann Alexander Schlögl: Das Alte Ägypten. pp. 99–100.
  8. Wolfgang Helck: Geschichte des Alten Ägypten. pp. 57 & 61.
  9. Jánosi, Peter. "G 4712 - Ein Datierungsproblem." Göttinger Miszellen 133 (1993), pp. 56, 60–62.
  10. Alan B. Lloyd: Herodotus, book II.. pp. 77ff.
  11. Kim Ryholt, Adam Bülow-Jacobsen: Inclusion of Fictitious Kings. In: The political situation in Egypt during the second Intermediate Period. p. 17.
  12. Jürgen von Beckerath: Chronologie des pharaonischen Ägypten. page 24 & 216.
  13. Peter Jánosi: Giza in der 4. Dynastie. pp. 64 & 65.
  14. I. E. S. Edwards: The Cambridge ancient history, Band 3. page 176.
  15. Patrick F. O'Mara, Manetho and the Turin Canon: A Comparison of Regnal Years, GM 158, 1997, p .51 O'Mara notes that his records are based on an examination of Ld. II, Urk I, and A. Mariette, Mastabas de l'ancien empire.
  16. A. Mariette, Mastabas de l'ancien empire, 295
  17. Miroslav Verner, Archaeological Remarks on the 4th and 5th Dynasty Chronology, Archiv Orientální, Volume 69: 2001, pp.395-400
  18. G. Daressy, ASAE 15, 1915, 94f
  19. P. Kaplony, Die Rollsiegel des Altes Reiches. Katalog der Rollsiegel, Bruxelles 1981, A. Text, 289–294 and B. Talfen, 81f
  20. Miroslav Verner, Who was Shepseskare and when did he reign?, in Abusir and Saqqara in the Year 2000 (ArOr Suppl.9, 2000,) pp. 581–602