Third Intermediate Period of Egypt
|c. 1069 BC – c. 664 BC|
Political factions fractured ancient Egypt during the Third Intermediate Period. The boundaries above show the political situation during the mid-8th century BC.
|Common languages||Ancient Egyptian|
|Religion||Ancient Egyptian religion|
|c. 1069 BC|
|c. 664 BC|
|Today part of|
Part of a series on the
|History of Egypt|
|Periods and Dynasties of Ancient Egypt|
All years are BC
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.
The period was one of decline and political instability, coinciding with the Late Bronze Age collapse of civilizations in the Near East and Eastern Mediterranean (including the Greek Dark Ages). It was marked by division of the state for much of the period and conquest and rule by foreigners.
The period of the Twenty-first Dynasty is characterized by the country's fracturing kingship. Already during Ramesses XI's reign, the Twentieth Dynasty of Egypt was losing its grip on the city of Thebes, whose priests were becoming increasingly powerful. After his death, his successor, Smendes I, ruled from the city of Tanis, but was mostly active only in Lower Egypt, which he controlled. Meanwhile, the High Priests of Amun at Thebes ruled Middle and Upper Egypt in all but name.However, this division was less significant than it seems, since both the priests and pharaohs came from the same family.
The country was firmly reunited by the Twenty-second Dynasty founded by Shoshenq I in 945 BC (or 943 BC), who descended from Meshwesh immigrants, originally from Ancient Libya. This brought stability to the country for well over a century, but after the reign of Osorkon II, particularly, the country had effectively split into two states, with Shoshenq III of the Twenty-second Dynasty controlling Lower Egypt by 818 BC while Takelot II and his son Osorkon (the future Osorkon III) ruled Middle and Upper Egypt. In Thebes, a civil war engulfed the city, pitting the forces of Pedubast I, who had proclaimed himself pharaoh, against the existing line of Takelot II/Osorkon B. The two factions squabbled continuously and the conflict was only resolved in Year 39 of Shoshenq III when Osorkon B comprehensively defeated his enemies. He proceeded to found the Upper Egyptian Libyan Twenty-third Dynasty of Osorkon III – Takelot III – Rudamun, but this kingdom quickly fragmented after Rudamun's death, with the rise of local city states under kings such as Peftjaubast of Herakleopolis, Nimlot of Hermopolis, and Ini at Thebes.
The Nubian kingdom to the south took full advantage of this division and the ensuing political instability. Prior to Piye's Year 20 campaign into Egypt, the previous Nubian ruler – Kashta – had already extended his kingdom's influence into Thebes when he compelled Shepenupet, the serving Divine Adoratice of Amun and Takelot III's sister, to adopt his own daughter Amenirdis, to be her successor. Then, 20 years later, around 732 BC his successor, Piye, marched north and defeated the combined might of several native Egyptian rulers: Peftjaubast, Osorkon IV of Tanis, Iuput II of Leontopolis and Tefnakht of Sais.
Piye established the Twenty-fifth Dynasty and appointed the defeated rulers as his provincial governors. He was succeeded first by his brother, Shabaka, and then by his two sons Shebitku and Taharqa. The reunited Nile valley empire of the 25th Dynasty was as large as it had been since the New Kingdom. Pharaohs of the dynasty, among them Taharqa, built or restored temples and monuments throughout the Nile valley, including at Memphis, Karnak, Kawa, and Jebel Barkal. Dynasty ended with its rulers retreating to their spiritual homeland at Napata. It was there (at El-Kurru and Nuri) that all 25th Dynasty pharaohs were buried under the first pyramids to be constructed in the Nile valley in hundreds of years. The Napatan dynasty led to the Kingdom of Kush, which flourished in Napata and Meroe until at least the 2nd century AD.The 25th
The international prestige of Egypt had declined considerably by this time. The country's international allies had fallen firmly into the sphere of influence of Assyria and from about 700 BC the question became when, not if, there would be war between the two states as Esarhaddon had realised that a conquest of Lower Egypt was necessary to protect Assyrians interests in the Levant.
Despite Egypt's size and wealth, Assyria had a greater supply of timber, while Egypt had a chronic shortage, allowing Assyria to produce more charcoal needed for iron-smelting and thus giving Assyria a greater supply of iron weaponry. This disparity became critical during the Assyrian invasions of Egypt over the period 670-663 BC.Consequently, pharaoh Taharqa's reign, and that of his successor Tantamani, were filled with constant conflict with the Assyrians. In 664 BC the Assyrians delivered a mortal blow, sacking Thebes and Memphis. Following these events, and starting with Atlanersa, no Kushite ruler would ever rule over Egypt again.
Upper Egypt remained for a time under the rule of Taharqa and Tantamani, whilst Lower Egypt was ruled from 664 BC by the nascent 26th Dynasty, client kings established by the Assyrians. In 663 BC, Tantamani launched a full-scale invasion of Lower Egypt, taking Memphis in April of this year, killing Necho I of Sais in the process as Necho had remained loyal to Ashurbanipal. Tantamani barely had the time to receive the submission of some Delta kinglets and expel the remaining Assyrians that a large army led by Ashurbanipal and Necho's son Psamtik I came back. Tantamani was defeated north of Memphis and Thebes was thoroughly sacked shortly after. The Kushite king withdrew to Nubia while the Assyrian influence in Upper Egypt quickly waned. Permanently weakened by the sack, Thebes peacefully submitted itself to Psamtik's fleet in 656 BC. To affirm his authority, Psamtik placed his daughter in position to be the future Divine Adoratrice of Amun, thereby also submitting the priesthood of Amun and effectively uniting Egypt. Tantamani's successor Atlanersa was in no position to attempt a reconquest of Egypt as Psamtik also secured the southern border at Elephantine and may even have sent a military campaign to Napata. Concurrently, Psamtik managed to free himself from the Assyrian vassalage while remaining on good terms with Ashurbanipal, possibly owing to an ongoing rebellion in Babylon. By doing so, hebrought increased stability to the country during his 54-year reign from the city of Sais.
Four successive Saite kings continued guiding Egypt into another period of peace and prosperity from 610 to 525 BC. Unfortunately for this dynasty, a new power was growing in the Near East – the Achaemenid Empire of Persia. Pharaoh Psamtik III had succeeded his father Ahmose II for only 6 months before he had to face the Persian Empire at Pelusium. The Persians had already taken Babylon and Egypt was no match for them. Psamtik III was defeated and briefly escaped to Memphis, before he was ultimately imprisoned and, later, executed at Susa, the capital of the Persian king Cambyses, who now assumed the formal title of Pharaoh.
The historiography of this period is disputed for a variety of reasons. Firstly, there is a dispute about the utility of a very artificial term that covers an extremely long and complicated period of Egyptian history. The Third Intermediate Period includes long periods of stability as well as chronic instability and civil conflict: its very name rather clouds this fact. Secondly, there are significant problems of chronology stemming from several areas: first, there are the difficulties in dating that are common to all of Egyptian chronology but these are compounded due to synchronisms with Biblical archaeology that also contain heavily disputed dates. James et al. argued contra Kitchen that the period lasted less than 200 years - starting later than 850 BC but ending at the conventional date - as the five dynasties had many years of overlap.Finally, some Egyptologists and biblical scholars, such as Kenneth Kitchen and David Rohl have novel or controversial theories about the family relationships of the dynasties comprising the period.
Taharqa, also spelled Taharka or Taharqo, was a pharaoh of the Twenty-fifth Dynasty of Egypt and qore (king) of the Kingdom of Kush.
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.
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.
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.
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."
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.
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.
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.
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.
Pedubastis I or Pedubast I was an Upper Egyptian Pharaoh of Ancient Egypt during the 9th century BC. Based on lunar dates which are known to belong to the reign of his rival in Upper Egypt Takelot II and the fact that Pedubast I first appeared as a local king at Thebes around Year 11 of Takelot II's rule, Pedubast I is today believed to have had his accession date in either 835 BC or 824 BC. This local Pharaoh is recorded as being of Libyan ancestry and ruled Egypt for 25 years according to the redaction of Manetho done by Eusebius. He first became king at Thebes in Year 8 of Shoshenq III and his highest dated Year is his 23rd Year according to Nile Level Text No. 29. This year is equivalent to Year 31 of Shoshenq III of the Tanis based 22nd Dynasty of Egypt; however, since Shoshenq II only controlled Lower Egypt in Memphis and the Delta region, Pedubast and Shoshenq III were not political rivals and may even have established a relationship. Indeed, Shoshenq III's son, the general and army leader Pashedbast B "built a vestibule door to Pylon X at Karnak, and in one and the same commemorative text thereon named his father as [king] Sheshonq (III)" but dated his actions here to Pedubast I. This may show some tacit support for the Pedubast faction by the Tanite based 22nd dynasty king Shoshenq III.
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.
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.
Rudamun was the final pharaoh of the Twenty-third dynasty of Ancient Egypt. His titulary simply reads as Usermaatre Setepenamun, Rudamun Meryamun, and excludes the Si-Ese or Netjer-Heqawaset epithets employed by his father and brother.
Shepenupet II was an Ancient Egyptian princess of the 25th Dynasty who served as the high priestess, the Divine Adoratrice of Amun, from around 700 BC to 650 BC. She was the daughter of the first Kushite pharaoh Piye and sister of Piye's successors, Shabaka and Taharqa.
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.
The Kingdom of Kush was an ancient kingdom in Nubia, located at the Sudanese and southern Egyptian Nile Valley.
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.
The Temple of Amun is an archaeological site at Jebel Barkal in Northern State, Sudan. It is situated about 400 kilometres (250 mi) north of Khartoum near Karima. The temple stands near a large bend of the Nile River, in the region that was called Nubia in ancient times. The Temple of Amun, one of the largest temples at Jebel Barkal, is considered sacred to the local population. Not only was the Amun temple a main centre of what at one time was considered to be an almost universal religion, but, along with the other archaeological sites at Jebel Barkal, it was representative of the revival of Egyptian religious values. Up to the middle of the 19th century, the temple was subjected to vandalism, destruction, and indiscriminate plundering, before it came under state protection.
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.
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.
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