Twenty-sixth Dynasty of Egypt
|664 BC–525 BC|
Portrait of a Pharaoh of the Saite Dynasty
|Common languages||Egyptian language|
|Religion||Ancient Egyptian religion|
• 664–610 BC
|Psamtik I (first)|
• 526–525 BC
|Psamtik III (last)|
The Twenty-sixth Dynasty of Egypt (notated Dynasty XXVI, alternatively 26th Dynasty or Dynasty 26) dynasty was the last native dynasty to rule Egypt before the Persian conquest in 525 BC (although others followed). The dynasty's reign (664–525 BC) 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.
|Periods and Dynasties of Ancient Egypt|
All years are BC
This dynasty traced its origins to the Twenty-fourth Dynasty. Psamtik I was probably a descendant of Bakenranef, and following the Neo-Assyrian Empire's invasions during the reigns of Taharqa and Tantamani, he was recognized as sole king over all of Egypt. While the Neo-Assyrian Empire was preoccupied with revolts and civil war over control of the throne, Psamtik threw off his ties to the Assyrians circa 655 BC, formed alliances with King Gyges of Lydia, and recruited mercenaries from Caria and ancient Greece to resist Assyrian attacks.
With the sack of Nineveh in 612 BC and the fall of the Assyrian Empire, both Psamtik and his successors attempted to reassert Egyptian power in the Near East, but were driven back by the Neo-Babylonian Empire under Nebuchadnezzar II. With the help of Greek mercenaries, Apries was able to hold back Babylonian attempts to conquer Egypt. The Persians would eventually invade Egypt in 525 BCE, when their king, Cambyses II, captured and later executed Psamtik III.
In May 2020, an Egyptian-Spanish archaeological mission headed by Esther Ponce revealed a unique cemetery, which consists of one room built with glazed limestone dating back to the 26th Dynasty (so-called the El-Sawi era) at the site of ancient Oxyrhynchus. Archaeologists also uncovered bronze coins, clay seals, Roman tombstones and small crosses.On October 3, 2020, Egypt unveiled 59 coffins of priests and clerks from the 26th dynasty, dating to nearly 2,500 years ago.
The 26th Dynasty may be related to the 24th Dynasty. Manetho begins the dynasty with:
When the Nubian King Shabaka defeated Bakenranef, son of Tefnakht, he likely installed a Nubian commander as governor at Sais. This may be the man named Ammeris. Stephinates may be a descendant of Bakenrenef. He is sometimes referred to as Tefnakht II in the literature. Nechepsos has been identified with a local king named Nekauba (678–672 BC). Manetho's Necho is King Necho I (672–664 BC); Manetho gives his reign as 8 years. I fled to Nineveh – capital of the Neo-Assyrian Empire – and returned to Egypt when Ashurbanipal defeated Tantamani and drove him back south. Scholars now start the 26th Dynasty with the reign of Psamtik I.Necho was killed during a conflict with the Nubian king Tantamani. Psamtik
Sextus Julius Africanus states in his often accurate version of Manetho's Epitome that the dynasty numbered 9 pharaohs, beginning with a "Stephinates" (Tefnakht II) and ending with Psamtik III. Africanus also notes that Psamtik I and Necho I ruled for 54 and 8 years respectively.
|Name of Pharaoh||Image||Reign||Throne name||Burial||Consort(s)||Comments|
| Psamtik I |
|664–610 BC||Wahibre||Sais||Mehytenweskhet||Reunified Egypt and ended the Nubian control of Upper Egypt. Manetho gives his reign as 54 years.|
|Necho II||610–595 BC||Wehemibre||Khedebneithirbinet I||Necho II is the Pharaoh most likely mentioned in several books of the Bible.|
| Psamtik II |
| Wahibre Haaibre |
|589–570 BC||Haaibre||Overthrown and forced into exile by Amasis II. Returned to Egypt at the head of a Babylonian army, but was defeated and likely killed. Manetho gives his reign as 19 years.|
| Amasis II |
|570–526 BC||Khnem-ib-re||Sais|| Tentkheta |
|Herodotus claims that when Cambyses II invaded Egypt, realizing he was not able to exact revenge for Amasis's previous misdeeds and trickery, he exhumed his body, desecrated it and burned what remained of the mummy.|
| Psamtik III |
|526–525 BC||Ankhkaenre||Ruled for only 6 months according to Herodotus before a Persian invasion led by Cambyses II.|
Amasis II or Ahmose II was a pharaoh of the Twenty-sixth Dynasty of Egypt, the successor of Apries at Sais. He was the last great ruler of Egypt before the Persian conquest.
The 7th century BC began the first day of 700 BC and ended the last day of 601 BC.
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.
Psamtik II was a king of the Saite-based Twenty-sixth Dynasty of Egypt. His prenomen, Nefer-Ib-Re, means "Beautiful [is the] Heart [of] Re." He was the son of Necho II.
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, also known as Tanutamun or Tanwetamani was a pharaoh of Ancient Egypt and the Kingdom of Kush located in Northern Sudan and a member of the Twenty-fifth Dynasty of Egypt. His prenomen or royal name was Bakare, which means "Glorious is the Soul of Re."
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 departure 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.
Napata was a city of ancient Kush at the fourth cataract of the Nile. It is located approximately 1.5 kilometers from the right side of the river at the site of modern Karima, Sudan. It was the southernmost permanent settlement in the New Kingdom of Egypt and home to Jebel Barkal, the main Kushite cult centre of Amun. It was the sometime capital of the Twenty-fifth Dynasty of Egypt 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. Even after this move, Napata continued to be the kingdom's primary religious centre. 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.
The Late Period of ancient Egypt refers to the last flowering of native Egyptian rulers after the Third Intermediate Period in the 26th Saite Dynasty founded by Psamtik I, but includes the time of Achaemenid Persian rule over Egypt after the conquest by Cambyses II in 525 BC as well. The Late Period existed from 664 BC until 332 BC, following a period of foreign rule by the Nubian 25th dynasty and beginning with a short period of Neo-Assyrian suzerainty, with Psamtik I initially ruling as their vassal. The period ended with the conquests of the Persian Empire by Alexander the Great and establishment of the Ptolemaic dynasty by his general Ptolemy I Soter, one of the Hellenistic diadochi from Macedon in northern Greece. With the Macedonian Greek conquest in the latter half of the 4th century BC, the age of Hellenistic Egypt began.
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 seven 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.
Bakenranef, known by the ancient Greeks as Bocchoris, was briefly a king of the Twenty-fourth Dynasty of Egypt. Based at Sais in the western Delta, he ruled Lower Egypt from c. 725 to 720 BC. Though the Ptolemaic period Egyptian historian Manetho considers him the sole member of the Twenty-fourth dynasty, modern scholars include his father Tefnakht in that dynasty. Although Sextus Julius Africanus quotes Manetho as stating that "Bocchoris" ruled for six years, some modern scholars again differ and assign him a shorter reign of only five years, based on evidence from an Apis Bull burial stela. It establishes that Bakenranef's reign ended only at the start of his 6th regnal year which, under the Egyptian dating system, means he had a reign of 5 full years. Bakenranef's prenomen or royal name, Wahkare, means "Constant is the Spirit of Re" in Egyptian.
Almost nothing is known of Nekauba. He is listed as one of the early kings of the 26th Saite Dynasty in Manetho's Epitome and ruled for six years. However, his status as king is not confirmed by any contemporary documents and he may well be an invention of later Saite rulers to legitimise their kingship. Manetho writes that Nekauba is supposed to have succeeded Stephinates the founder of the 26th Dynasty—perhaps Tefnakht II—and was, in turn, followed by the well known Necho I, father of Psamtik I. Nekauba would have reigned as a local Saite king under the Nubian Dynasty between 678 BC to 672 BC if he did have an independent reign. If not, he would merely have been a local mayor of Sais who served in office for this period of time prior to the accession of king Necho I.
Tefnakht II or Stephinates, was an ancient Egyptian ruler of the city of Sais during the early 7th century BC. He is recognized as an early member of the so-called "Proto-Saite Dynasty", which directly preceded the 26th Dynasty of Egypt.
The family tree of the 26th Dynasty is just as complex and unclear as earlier dynasties. This dynasty possibly traced its origins to the Saite 24th Dynasty, and scholars now start the dynasty with the reign of Psamtik I, sometimes referrings to the previous rulers – Ammeris to Necho I – as "proto-Saites". The rule of the family of Necho I and Psamtik I ends with the death of Apries, who was replaced by Amasis II, originally a general, and not of the royal house at all. Amasis and his son Psamtik III are the final rulers of the 26th Dynasty.
The Twenty-fourth Dynasty of Egypt, is usually classified as the fourth Dynasty of the Ancient Egyptian Third Intermediate Period.
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.
Ammeris was a governor of Sais attributed to the so-called "Proto-Saite Dynasty" 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, during the Assyrian conquest of Egypt. 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.
The Assyrian conquest of Egypt covered a relatively short period of the Neo-Assyrian Empire from 677 BCE to 663 BCE.