Necho II


Necho II
King 610-595 BC.
    The son and successor of *Psammetichus I, Necho II is not well represented by the monuments; in Egypt his main chronicler is the Greek writer *Herodotus. It is recorded that he was responsible for digging a canal to re-establish a waterway between the Nile and the Red Sea, which had the effect of increasing trade and commerce. He also provided Egypt with a fleet of triremes and sent his *Phoenician sailors around Africa on a voyage that lasted for three years, going from the Red Sea around the Cape and then returning by Gibraltar.
    His foreign policy brought him into the centre of world events. The *Assyrian empire had fallen to the Medes and the Babylonians and Necho II now became the main adversary of the Babylonian kings. Like many of his predecessors, Necho II interferred in the politics of Syria/Palestine. He fought against Josiah, king of Judah, who tried to prevent him from passing the walls of Megiddo, and when Josiah was killed, Necho II installed a compliant ruler in Judah. His ambition for international influence was short-lived, for within a few years, *Nebuchadrezzar (son of the Babylonian king, *Nabopolassar) defeated him in a great battle at Carchemish in 605 BC. In 601 BC, *Nebuchadrezzar (who was now king of Babylon) marched against Egypt, but suffered great losses and was forced to return home.
    Despite his unsuccessful forays into foreign politics, Necho II was an internationalist, whose interests in both foreign and domestic spheres extended beyond Egypt itself.
BIBL. Herodotus, Bk. ii, 158, Bk. iv, 42; Wiseman, D.J. Chronicles of Chaldaean Kings. London: 1956; Posener, G. Le canal du Nil a la Mer Rouge avant les Ptolemees. Chron. d'Eg. 13 (1968) pp. 258-73.
Biographical Dictionary of Ancient Egypt by Rosalie and Antony E. David

Ancient Egypt. A Reference Guide. . 2011.

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