Psammetichus I


Psammetichus I
King 664-610 BC.
    The Egyptian local princes who had intrigued with *Taharka, the Ethiopian ruler of Egypt, against the *Assyrians were removed to Nineveh. One of these—*Necho I, the Prince of Sais—and his son Psammetichus were returned to Egypt by the Assyrian king, *Ashurbanipal. *Necho then became *Assyria's vassal ruler at Sais and Memphis, while Psammetichus was appointed ruler of Athribis (c.665 BC) under his *Assyrian name of Nabu-shezibanni.
    Psammetichus followed *Necho I as ruler of Sais and Memphis and, as Psammetichus I, became the true founder of the Twenty-sixth Dynasty. At first, he probably ruled concurrently with Tanuatamun (664-656 BC), the last Ethiopian ruler of Egypt, after the deaths of Tanuatamun's predecessor, *Taharka, and Psammetichus' father, *Necho I. While Tanuatamun ruled in the south, Psammetichus I established a strong position in the Delta. By Year 8 of his reign, Psammetichus I had probably become the effective overlord of the Delta, bringing rivals under his control and establishing his leadership of the 'Dodecarchy' of native princes to whom *Herodotus refers (ii, 147).
    Herodotus (ii, 152) also mentions Psammetichus' use of *Greek mercenaries, who undoubtedly helped him to gain mastery over the other Delta princes, while in Middle Egypt he had the support of a powerful ally, Pediese. By Year 9 (656 BC), Psammetichus had gained recognition as ruler in Upper Egypt and his daughter, *Nitocris, was sent to Thebes to be adopted by Shepenopet II, the God's Wife of Amun, and her heir apparent, Amenardis II, as their future successor. There is a detailed account of this journey on a stela found at Karnak and in a set of reliefs in the Temple of Mut at Karnak. *Nitocris received great riches and possessions, including some two thousand acres of land. Sixty years later, the process was repeated when she in turn adopted as her successor the daughter of *Psammetichus II. At Thebes, Psammetichus I left the old officials in place, including the Mayor of Thebes and High-priest of Amun, *Montemhet. However, as they died, he replaced them with his own men so that by 654 BC he was the strong and effective ruler of the whole country.
    In this powerful position Psammetichus I ceased to pay tribute to *Assyria, although in 616 BC he decided that it was prudent to form an alliance with *Assyria against the new threat posed by the joint forces of the Babylonians and the Medes. By 655 or 654 BC, he had also made an alliance with *Gyges of Lydia who sent troops to assist him in Egypt; generally, although it is probable that he sent a punitive expedition to Nubia early in his reign, Psammetichus I focused his attention mainly on Western Asia and his northern neighbours.
    At home, an increasing number of foreigners began to reside in Egypt, coming either as mercenaries in the army or as traders, and this began to cause concern amongst the indigenous population; consequently it was necessary to introduce certain measures to confine foreigners to particular areas. Nevertheless, the dynasty was based on these foreign military skills and the kings also made good use of *Greek naval expertise and trading ability. As a parallel development, there was a revival of national spiritin and in art and in religion it is possible to determine a pronounced archaism and a reassertion of the essentially Egyptian values of the earlier periods. In particular, animal worship—which was a distinctively Egyptian concept—became increasingly popular and was seen as a focus for nationalistic sentiments.
BIBL. Kienitz, F.K. Diepolitische. Caminos, R.A. The Nitocris Adoption Stela. JEA 50 (1964) pp. 71-101, pls. 7-10.
Biographical Dictionary of Ancient Egypt by Rosalie and Antony E. David

Ancient Egypt. A Reference Guide. . 2011.

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