Piye (Piankhi)

Written by Felgr Pavel on .

"The black Pharaoh" Piye was the ruler of Nubia and he considered himself as an inheritor of big Kings of golden age. Piye (Piankhi) extended his kingdom gradually and he almost managed to take control over the whole Egypt. He was a generous Pharaoh and valiant warrior, a new unifier of both Landes and an almighty "son of Amun".

Piye replaced his father Kashta on the throne in 745 BC and he was extending his territory toward the north for the first ten years and controlled the whole Upper Egypt soon.

Perfidious Tefnakht

Tefnakht ruled in then capital Sais in the north of the land and he tried to unify the nomes in Delta under his rule. So he invated all the representatives of the Upper Egypt and persuaded them to unite with him. Also the cities Herakleopolis and Hermopolis joined this coalition. Tefnakht tried to gain allies in the Middle Egypt as well with the aim of seizing the control of the whole land.

When Piye (Piankhi) realized that norhtern armies were getting ready against him, he proved to be a great strategist. He watched the coalition soldieries from a distance, let them to get up to Herakleopolis and then he ordered his army to block the enemy inside the city. Piye (Piankhi) recommended the soldiers not to attack at night, fight only from a distance and wait for infantry reinforcements and carriage troops. The soldiers fulfilled his instructions and Tefnakht and his allies were defeated. Although they successfully fled to Hermopolis, they were encircled there and suffered another defeat.

March to the north

The Pharaoh's army fought bravely and the ruler desided that it was time to go to the north. Piye (Piankhi) left the capital Napata in the lead of large army with no rush, because he knew that the longer the siege would last, the more exhausted the enemy would be. He stopped in Karnak during the journey, where he celebrated the New Year and the Opet festival. When he got to Hermopolis, the Libyan King Nimlot gave him the city without a fight and the ruler of Herakleopolis Pefcavejbastet gave up to him as well.

Piye (Piankhi) continued and conquered the fortress, which guarded the entry into Faiyum oasis and he got up to former capital of Memphis (Mennefer). Tefnakht and his allies entrenched there, but Piye's army was decided to besiege the city persistently and thanks to more advanced warrior arms, they conquered the city in the end. Then Piye set out in Heliopolis, where he paid tribute to the God Ra and repeated his crowning ceremony.

When the allies of Tefnakht realized, how quickly Memphis (Mennefer) was captured, they hurried to swear obedience to their new master. But the rebellious Tefnakht didn't come. He fled from the siege and hid in the marshes of the delta. Then he sent out a messenger to the Pharaoh and promised via him that he would act in accord with the King's orders. Piye (Piankhi) was satisfied with this assurance.

Piye (Piankhi) came back to Napata then and counted on the fact that the political disunity will be enough to control potential throne candidates. He let build prestigious buildings in Karnak and Abydos and let widen the temple in Gebel Barkal at the same time. The local temple was dedicated to Amun since Pharaoh Thutmose III time and last time it was aggrandized by Ramesses II.

Tefnakht - the King of delta

In the meantime Tefnakht permanently longed for power in the delta and furtively extended his influence up to Memphis (Mennefer). He declared himself the first King of the 24th dynasty in 724 BC and consolidated his position during his reign. After his death his son Bakenranef came to the throne, who confirmed the domination over the northern Egypt.

Piye (Piankhi) died in 716 BC after 31 years of successful reign. According to his wish he was buried in el-Kurru necropolis close to Napata in a pyramid, which he let build according to the ancient Pharaonic tradition.

Libyan Sheshonks on the Egyptian throne

Written by Felgr Pavel on .

The Sheshonks seized the throne in Henen-Nesut (Herakleopolis Magna), which stayed free after the reign of featureless Tanis rulers and they founded the 22nd dynasty. In fact it was one family, who established a military dictatorship. Their dominion gradually expanded up to Thebes (Waset) and to the Nile delta.

The Libyans represented a strong colony of mercenaries living in the Nile delta under the 20th dynasty rule. In the course of time they became Egyptians, lost their identity and merged with new land. When the last Pharaoh of the 21st dynasty Psusennes II died, a member of Sheshonk dynasty - Sheshonk I captured the throne.

Sheshonk I and his successors

Sheshonk ISheshonk I. was the commanding general of the Pharaoh's army and he married the ruler's daughter Maatkare. So he took over the sceptre without trouble. Apart from the marriage with the princess he strenghthened and made his rule legitimate when he accepted the titulary, which associated him with the previous dynasty. Sheshonk I placed his residence and the central power seat in Tell Basta. He brought various dignitariesof Libyan origin with him to the court, who ruled over most of the large cities in the Nile delta.

Plundering of Jerusalem

Sheshonk I tried to return its former glory to the land. Sheshonk I. was a warrior in the first place, so he preferred the military way and didn't pay much attention to inhabitants indignation, who protested against soldiers' cruelty and high taxes.

Sheshonk I made a victorious campaign into Palestina around 925 BC. He renewed business connections with Byblos before this campaign, which was a strategical base for all assaults into Asia. King Solomon ruled in Israel then. Successorship arguments broke out after Solomon's death between Jeroboam (who came to the throne in the end) and Rehoboam, who was established for a successor by Solomon. Sheshonk I used their arguments perfectly, sent his soldieries into Jerusalem and plundered the local temple. Thus Egypt renewed its former borders in Asia and filled the temple treasuries.

The builder Sheshonk I.

Sheshonk I wanted to go down in history as a builder as well, so he started large building works in Karnak and charged his son Iuput to manage these works. He let build a ceremonial courtyard  with a colonnade in front of the second pylon - it is called Bubastite hall today. He also let engraved depiction of his victory over Judah and Israeli tribes into outside wall  of the southern gate.

Heirs and the decline

Sheshonk I established his son Osorkon for his successor after twenty years of the reign. This son went down in history under the name Osorkon I (924 - 889 BC) and continued with his father's politics. He appointed his son Sheshonk II an Amun high priest immediately after his coming to the throne and so he replaced his brother Iuput in this position.

Osorkon I Sheshonk II
Osorkon I Sheshonk II

Takelot IIf Sheshonk II got to the throne at all, it was for a very short period. So the next real ruler was Takelot I (889 - 874 BC) - son of Osorkon I and a concubine.


Osorkon IIA great builder Osorkon II ruled ca. in 874 - 850 BC. Osorkon II. aggrandized Tell Basta, let renovate the temple in Elephantine and began the building works in Thebes (Waset).

Except his building activities he also strenghtened his business connections with the Middle East and he tried timidly to fight with Asyria, which became a powerful neighbour meanwhile. That's why Osorkon II ensured an alliance with Palestinian fortresses, which were the last barrier in front of the egyptian borders.

A problem with successorship came to pass after his death. His younger son Takelot II came to the throne in Tanis and ruled in years 850 - 825 BC. Takelot's half-brother Nimlot gained a great influence in Thebes (Waset) at the same time, who married his daughter to Takelot II. Takelot II made a great political mistake after Nimlot's death, when he made one of his son (not one of the Nimlot's sons) a successor. A conflict bursted out between both branches, which was the beginning of the decline.

Nesbanebdjed (Smendes)

Written by Felgr Pavel on .


The last Pharaoh of the 20th dynasty Ramesses XI tried to stop the long-term political and economic decline of the ancient Egypt as well as the ruler's power decline, but his effort fell flat. The Egypt was practically divided into two parts at the end of his reign. These parts were more of less autonomous and the boundary was approximatelly set on the level of Faiyum oasis. Nesbanebdjed (Smendes) ruled over the northern part, who was likely a vizier and high military commander there under Ramesses XI rule.

After Ramesses' XI death Nesbanebdjed (Smendes) married his daughter Tentamonhe, usurped the royal titulary and became the founder of the 21th dynasty this way. The settlement city of this dynasty Pharaohs became Tanis, a former harbour of Pi-Ramesses city. The southern part of Egypt was controlled by Hrihor, a high priest in Amun's temple in Karnak.

Decomposition of the Egyptian state 

Decomposition of the Egyptian state was undoubtedly related to more and more power centralizing in hands of the dignitaries or even whole families. These dignitaries held high administrative, military and also priest positions, which often became hereditary. Another cause was vast movements of inhabitants in the eastern Mediterranean.

Egypt was the only one that stood up to these changes with every effort, but it didn't manage to defend against the changes in ethnic composition of the inhabitants. The land in Delta was already assigned to the Libyans under the 19th dynasty rule, but especially under the 20th dynasty rule. In most cases the Libyans got to Egypt as prisoners of war. Even though these groups „egyptianized“ pretty quickly, they kept the original social structure and organization to a considerable extent.

Nesbanebdjed (Smendes)Nomadic and semi-nomadic tribes constantly invaded the western border of delta and made the „Libyan element“ even stronger. So the next generations of Libyan residents became a key part of society. On the top of that the mercenaries of Libyan origin became a basic component of Egyptian army for a long time.

Nesbanebdjed (Smendes) and his successors tried to continue in internal and foreign politics of the last Ramesses dynasty rule, which is proved with royal titularies that come out of templates of the New Kingdom period. A special emphasis was laid on the God Amun and it definitely wasn't a coincidence that the rulers of the 21st dynasty replaces Seth (the main God of Tanis till that time) with Amun and other deities connected with Thebes (Waset).

Pharaohs 24th and 25th dynasty

Written by Felgr Pavel on .

Pharaoh Reign Significant events
Tefnakht 7 years  
Bakenranef 5 years  
25th dynasty
Piye 32 years  
Shabaka 1 year  
Shabataka 1 year  
Taharqa 26 years  
Tantamani year  

25th dynasty

Message from the Nile

  • History of Czech institution of egyptology

    The Czech egyptology founder is Frantisek Lexa, the author of up to now evaluated work about ancient Egypt magic and Demotic grammar. Seminar for egyptology started thanks to him in Faculty of Philosophy and Arts of Charles University in Prague in 1925. Two years later Lexa became the first regular professor of egyptology in then Czechoslovakia.

  • Abusir - outstation of Czech egyptology expedition

    Abusir is an archaeological locality in Egypt named after nearby recent village Abusir. It is situated on western Nile bank on the edge of Libyan tableland approximately 20 kilometers to the south-west of Cairo. The name of this locality is derived from ancient Egypt god Osiris, from Per Usir (Busiris), "(cult) place of Osiris" (Busiris in Greek).

  • Researches in Western desert

    Czech egyptology is successful in researching not only on pyramidal fields in Abusir recently, but also in supporting and organizing smaller expeditions into egyptian Western desert. Czech expedition has been working even in slowly evanescent oasis El-Hajez since 2003, which is situated about 400 km to the south-west from Cairo.

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