Twenty-third Dynasty of Egypt

Last updated
837 BC–728 BC
Capital Thebes, Herakleopolis
Common languages Egyptian language
Ancient Egyptian Religion
Government Absolute monarchy
Historical era Classical antiquity
837 BC
728 BC
Preceded by
Succeeded by
Blank.png Twenty-second Dynasty of Egypt
Twenty-fourth Dynasty of Egypt Blank.png

The Twenty-third Dynasty of Egypt (notated Dynasty XXIII, alternatively 23rd Dynasty or Dynasty 23) 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.

Ancient Egypt ancient civilization of Northeastern Africa

Ancient Egypt was a civilization of ancient North Africa, concentrated along the lower reaches of the Nile River in the place that is now the country Egypt. Ancient Egyptian civilization followed prehistoric Egypt and coalesced around 3100 BC with the political unification of Upper and Lower Egypt under Menes. The history of ancient Egypt occurred as a series of stable kingdoms, separated by periods of relative instability known as Intermediate Periods: the Old Kingdom of the Early Bronze Age, the Middle Kingdom of the Middle Bronze Age and the New Kingdom of the Late Bronze Age.

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 Meshwesh were an ancient Libyan tribe of Berber origin from beyond Cyrenaica. According to Egyptian hieroglyphs, this area is where the Libu and Tehenu inhabited.



There is much debate surrounding this dynasty, which may have been situated at Herakleopolis Magna, Hermopolis Magna, and Thebes. Monuments from their reign show that they controlled Upper Egypt in parallel with the Twenty-second dynasty, shortly before the death of Osorkon II.

Upper Egypt strip of land on the Nile valley between Nubia and Lower Egypt

Upper Egypt is the strip of land on both sides of the Nile that extends between Nubia and downriver (northwards) to Lower Egypt.

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.

Drawing of the upper part of the victory stele of pharaoh Piye. The lunette on the top depicts Piye being tributed by various Lower Egypt rulers, and the text describes his successful invasion of Egypt. While the stela itself dates back to Piye's reign in the Twenty-fifth Dynasty, it also describes events from the Twenty-third Dynasty. Stele Piye Mariette.jpg
Drawing of the upper part of the victory stele of pharaoh Piye. The lunette on the top depicts Piye being tributed by various Lower Egypt rulers, and the text describes his successful invasion of Egypt. While the stela itself dates back to Piye's reign in the Twenty-fifth Dynasty, it also describes events from the Twenty-third Dynasty.

While the Twenty-third Dynasty is considered a Tanite dynasty, as in originating from the city Tanis, it never reigned from there. The Twenty-second Dynasty, coming from Bubastis, took over Tanis and Memphis and managed to retain these cities almost until the end of their Dynasty. As a result, the Twenty-third Dynasty, being more or less an offshoot of the Twenty-second Dynasty, originated from Tanis. Instead, as mentioned above, most historians argue that they used Leontopolis as their capital. [1] This is confirmed by Piankhy's stela, which locates Iuput II in Leontopolis. [2] However, some historians argue that Iuput II should not be considered a Twenty-third Dynasty king at all, as it has not been undoubtedly proven that the Twenty-third Dynasty ruled from Leontopolis, merely that Iuput II ruled from somewhere in the Delta. [3] And if Iuput II is the only connection between the Twenty-third Dynasty and Leontopolis, this viewpoint would eliminate Piankhy's stela as proof for Leontopolis being the capital of the Twenty-third Dynasty.

Tanis village and ancient city in Sharqia Governorate, Egypt

Tanis is a city in the north-eastern Nile Delta of Egypt. It is located on the Tanitic branch of the Nile which has long since silted up.

Bubastis Archaeological site in Egypt

Bubastis, also known in Arabic as Tell-Basta or in Egyptian as Per-Bast, was an Ancient Egyptian city. Bubastis is often identified with the biblical Pi-Beseth. It was the capital of its own nome, located along the River Nile in the Delta region of Lower Egypt, and notable as a center of worship for the feline goddess Bastet, and therefore the principal depository in Egypt of mummies of cats.

Memphis, Egypt Ancient capital of Inebu-hedj, Egypt

Memphis was the ancient capital of Inebu-hedj, the first nome of Lower Egypt. Its ruins are located near the town of Mit Rahina, 20 km (12 mi) south of Giza.

Another reason why there is much debate is because next to the conflicts between Lower and Upper Egypt that existed, there were now also conflicts in the Delta itself. Part of these conflicts were succession struggles, but another part of it were High Priests of Amun at Thebes, who for a period during the Twenty-first Dynasty effectively ruled Upper Egypt, despite not being regarded as a separate dynasty (however, some did become pharaoh as part of a dynasty, like Psusennes I). Although their power declined after the Twenty-first Dynasty, the High Priests of Amun remained powerful and influential people, and marriages into the royal family were not unusual. [4] As a result, multiple reigns within the Twenty-third Dynasty as well as between the Twenty-second and Twenty-third Dynasties overlap. This is because some members of the Twenty-third Dynasty reigned as independent kings (like Harsiese A), and as a separate dynasty after Osorkon II’s (of the Twenty-second Dynasty) death. Some historians argue that the Twenty-third Dynasty started with Takelot II, and consider Pedubastis I as a separate independent (and short lived) part of that Dynasty. Others consider Takelot II's line as a separate independent part of the Twenty-second Dynasty, and consider Pedubastis I's short lived line as the Twenty-third Dynasty. [1]

Thebes, Egypt Ancient Egyptian city

Thebes, known to the ancient Egyptians as Waset, was an ancient Egyptian city located along the Nile about 800 kilometers (500 mi) south of the Mediterranean. Its ruins lie within the modern Egyptian city of Luxor. Thebes was the main city of the fourth Upper Egyptian nome and was the capital of Egypt for long periods during the Middle Kingdom and New Kingdom eras. It was close to Nubia and the Eastern Desert, with its valuable mineral resources and trade routes. It was a cult center and the most venerated city of ancient Egypt during its heyday. The site of Thebes includes areas on both the eastern bank of the Nile, where the temples of Karnak and Luxor stand and where the city proper was situated; and the western bank, where a necropolis of large private and royal cemeteries and funerary complexes can be found.

Twenty-first Dynasty of Egypt

The Twenty-first Dynasty of Egypt is usually classified as the first Dynasty of the Ancient Egyptian Third Intermediate Period, lasting from 1069 BC to 945 BC.

Psusennes I Egyptian pharaoh

Psusennes I was the third pharaoh of the 21st Dynasty who ruled from Tanis between 1047–1001 BC. Psusennes is the Greek version of his original name Pasibkhanu or Pasebakhaenniut, which means "The Star Appearing in the City" while his throne name, Akheperre Setepenamun, translates as "Great are the Manifestations of Ra, chosen of Amun." He was the son of Pinedjem I and Henuttawy, Ramesses XI's daughter by Tentamun. He married his sister Mutnedjmet.

When Osorkon II died, crown prince Shoshenq had already died, so his younger brother, Takelot II, took the throne at Tanis. High priest of Amun at that moment in time was Nimlot, Takelot II's half-brother. Nimlot was appointed by Osorkon II, and Nimlot married his own daughter, Karomama Merytmut II, to Takelot II. As a result, Nimlot would be grandfather of any children, and thus heirs to the throne, Takelot II would get. When Nimlot died in the eleventh year of Takelot II, [5] a fight for his succession broke out. Takelot II chose prince Osorkon, but Harsiese, grandson of the chief priest, did not agree. Thebes revolted at his hand, but prince Osorkon managed to crush the revolt.

Nimlot C Egyptian High Priest of Amun

Nimlot C was a High Priest of Amun at Thebes during the reign of pharaoh Osorkon II of the 22nd Dynasty.

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.

This relative peace lasted four years, as in Takelot II's fifteenth year a civil war broke out. This conflict lasted for almost ten years, and after another two years of relative peace, the Thebans once again revolted. Takelot II died before this new conflict was resolved, and with prince Osorkon far from Tanis, his younger brother Shoshenq III seized power. While this helped in resolving the conflict with Thebes, because they accepted Shoshenq III as king, a new conflict started. Instead of a conflict between royal families, this was from within the royal family. Prince Pedubastis proclaimed himself king, and reigned from Leontopolis, simultaneously with Shoshenq III. [5]

Shoshenq III Egyptian pharaoh of the 22th Dynasty

King Usermaatre Setepenre/SetepenamunShoshenq III ruled Egypt's 22nd Dynasty for 39 years according to contemporary historical records. Two Apis Bulls were buried in the fourth and 28th years of his reign and he celebrated his Heb Sed Jubilee in his regnal year 30. Little is known of the precise basis for his successful claim to the throne since he was not a son of Osorkon II and Shoshenq's parentage and family ties are unknown.

Leontopolis Archaeological site in Egypt

Leontopolis was an Ancient Egyptian city located in the Nile Delta, Lower Egypt. It served as a provincial capital and Metropolitan Archbishopric, which remains a Latin Catholic titular see. The archaeological site and settlement are known today as Kafr Al Muqdam.

While prince Osorkon did get usurped by his brother Shoshenq III, Shoshenq did reappoint him as chief priest of Amun. Because Harsiese, the one from the Theban revolt mentioned before, disappeared in the twenty-ninth year of Shoshenq III's reign, prince Osorkon effectively controlled Upper Egypt for about a decade as chief priest of Amun. Meanwhile, Shoshenq III was and remained more powerful than the kings in Leontopolis. By this time, Pedubastis and his son Iuput, who he had appointed as co-regent, had already died, seemingly in the same year (804 BC). Shoshenq IV had succeeded Pedubastis, [1] but not for long as prince Osorkon succeeded him six years later as Osorkon III, [6] reigning simultaneously with Shoshenq III for the last years of his reign.

At Herakleopolis a Twenty-second Dynasty king was still in power in the name of Shoshenq V around 766 BC. However, Osorkon III installed his eldest son Takelot there, also allowing him to be chief priest of Amun at the same time. As a result, the Twenty-second Dynasty's role in the Theban area was greatly reduced. When Osorkon III died, Takelot had already co-reigned with his father, [1] and was thus now sole ruler. [5]

Takelot III had given up his role as chief priest when he became pharaoh, and his sister, Shepenwepet I, seems to have taken over that role, as well as being appointed as Divine Adoratrice of Amun. As a result, she effectively ruled over the Theban region together with her brother. Takelot III also gave up his rule of Herakleopolis, to Peftjauawhybastet, who was married to a daughter of Rudamon, Takelot's brother. Rudamon succeeded Takelot III, but shortly after was already succeeded by Iuput II (also known as Ini/Iny). Under his reign the region became more divided again, as Peftjauawybastet and Nimlot, governor of Hermopolis, adopted royal titles. Rudamon and Iuput II only reigned over Thebes in the final phase of the Twenty-third Dynasty, as Piankhy, king of Napata, put an end to the so-called ‘Libyan anarchy’. [5]

Pharaohs and Kings of the 23rd Dynasty

Pharaoh / KingImage Throne Name / PrenomenReignConsort(s)Comments
Harsiese A
Sarcophage Harsiesis.JPG
Hedjkheperre Setpenamun880 860 BCIsetweret IIndependent King of Thebes; Ruled during Takelot I's and Osorkon II's reigns
Takelot II
Karnak Ptah 08.jpg
Hedjkheperre Setpenre840 815 BCKaromama D
Tabeketenasket A
Contemporary with the Twenty-Second Dynasty king Shoshenq III, who controlled Lower Egypt.
Pedubast I
Torso of Pedubast I by Michael Martin.jpg
Usermaatre Setpenamun829 804 BCInvolved in a prolonged civil war with king Takelot II/Crown Prince Osorkon B.
Iuput I 829 804 BCco-regent
Shoshenq VI Usermaatre Meryamun804 798 BCSucceeded Pedubast I at Thebes and ruled Upper Egypt for 6 years.
Osorkon III
Osorkon III.jpg
Usermaatre Setpenamun798 769 BCTentsai A
Involved in a civil war against Pedubast I and Shoshenq VI.
Takelot III
Karnak Takelot III.jpg
Usermaatre Setepenamun774 759 BCKakat
Osorkon III's eldest son, junior coregent and successor.
Rudamun Egypte louvre 054.jpg Usermaatre Setepenamun759 755 BCTadi[...]The younger brother and successor of Takelot III. A poorly attested king.
Ini Menkheperre755 750 BCOnly controlled Thebes during his reign.

Further reading

Related Research Articles

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.

The Twenty-second Dynasty of Egypt is also known as the Bubastite Dynasty, since the pharaohs originally ruled from the city of Bubastis. It was founded by Shoshenq I.

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.

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.

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.

Pedubast I Egyptian pharaoh

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.

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.

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.

Peftjauawybast Egyptian ruler

Peftjauawybast or Peftjaubast was an ancient Egyptian ruler ("king") of Herakleopolis Magna during the 25th Dynasty.

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.


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