Twenty-Fifth Dynasty 747 - 656 B C }
The Nubian or 25th Dynasty heralded better times for the
Egyptian nation. The Nubians, led by their King Piankhy, had
conquered them in roughly 712 B.C. The conquerors were a
southern people who were greatly influenced by Egyptian culture
and their royal house would rule over Egypt for a half century.
King Piankhy's successor Shabaqo made short work of the other
local monarchs and Memphis was once again named the capitol.
Taharqo, who succeeded Shabaqo, revived the art of building.
Pharaoh Taharqo made the worst of it when King Esarheddon and
his Assyrians attacked the nation. When these invaders stood
before Memphis in 671 B.C., Taharqo fled to the south. The
Nubian Dynasty continued to reign over the kingdom for several
years. Taharqo returned, but failed to offer any resistance
during a subsequent Assyrian attack. Thebes was subjugated and
plundered in 664 B.C. The Nubian kings were forced aside in
favor of a new world power.
With the crumbling of the Assyrian empire thoughts in Egypt
turned to independence. It was the turn of Psamtek I to create a
dynasty from his court-capital in the Delta. In order to
strengthen his control in Upper Egypt he appointed his daughter
NITOKRIS as the high priestess of Amun in Thebes. Under the
tutelage of this new dynasty Egypt underwent a wondrous time in
which the religious life experienced an upsurge and the ancient
arts flourished once again. Institutions and traditions were
again based on those that dated from earlier prosperous periods.
The temples were bestowed with extravagant riches and the
worship of sacred animals, as manifestations of influential
gods, assumed proportions never known before. Another phenomena
that reached unprecedented heights was the influx of foreigners
into Egypt: Israelites, Assyrians, Greeks and Libyans to include
Psamtek ruled for almost 54 years and was succeeded by his son,
Nekau, who was just as enamored with construction projects as
his father but, due to his short reign, failed to achieve as
much as his predecessor. He ordered the construction of a canal
from the Nile to the Red Sea but this was apparently never
completed. Nekau was saddled with pressing international
problems; the powerful kingdom of the MEDEN in Persia was
beginning to flourish. These strange dominating forces continued
for some time.
Nubia had ceased to be an Egyptian possession or dependency.
When priest-kings of Thebes were attacked by the Libyans, many
of the priesthood took refuge in Nubia. The temple at Napata
became a sort of Thebes in exile. For two centuries of Libyan
domination the tradition of the Amun-Ra cult was maintained.
Egyptian language stayed the official language of the government
and the Nubians took pride that they were still Egyptians.
The Nubian king, Piankhy, launched an invasion of Egypt from the
south, transporting his army down the Nile in a huge flotilla of
boats. They encountered Tefnakht, the local prince or governor
of SAIS, at Thebes and defeated him there, then fought their way
on down-river, taking Hermopolis, Memphis and finally
overrunning the Delta. The Egyptians made submission to Piankhy,
and Tefnakht on his surrender was treated honorably by the
Nubian king. Then, his conquest complete, Piankhy and his army
abandoned Egypt and returned up the Nile to their distant
capital, No attempt was made to leave an administration. The
last king of the Libyan Dynasty, Osorkon, reoccupied Thebes and
set up his own rule again. Tefnakht resumed his control of
Memphis and the Delta.
Piankhy’s son and successor, Shabaka (ruled 716-702BC), invaded
Egypt, brought the Libyan Dynasty and the twenty-fourth dynasty
to an end, and set up his capital at Thebes. During his reign
temples were renovated throughout the country. He made a treaty
with the Assyrians, avoiding war on that front.
His successor was Shabitku (ruled 702-690BC), during whose reign
confrontation with the Assyria could not be avoided, and an
alliance was made with the kingdom of Judah. His uncle, Taharqa,
led an army into Palestine, where Sennacherib, king of Assyria,
was besieging Jerusalem. At this time the Assyrians were struck
by a mysterious plague, and war was again delayed.
In 690BC, Taharqa had Shabitku murdered and assumed the throne
himself. He moved his capital to Tanis, in the eastern Delta,
from which forward position he hoped to mount an empire-building
campaign into Near east. Taharqa was an efficient administrator
and planner. Military governors were installed at Thebes and
In 671BC the Assyrian king Esarhaddon finally launched a direct
attack on Egypt. Whilst Taharqa awaited him in the Delta, the
Assyrian marched directly on Memphis, capturing the city and
cutting the Egyptians’ lines of communication. Taharqa’s family
was captured by the Assyrians and the Pharaoh himself fled back
Esarhaddon, by now had captured a great deal of the Middle East,
and did not remain in Egypt. Thus, Taharqa returned and retook
Memphis. His possession was only for a few years before
Esarhaddon’s successor, Assurbanipal, came with a vast force and
captured Memphis and Thebes. Taharqa died in 664BC and was
followed by Tantamani (ruled 664-656BC).
He invaded Egypt from Napata in order to drive out the
Assyrians, but Assurbanipal forced him back into Nubia. The
Nubian Dynasty was at an end.