HomeAncient HistoryAncient EgyptSais period - Twenty-sixth dynasty of Egypt (664. – 525.)

Sais period – Twenty-sixth dynasty of Egypt (664. – 525.)



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Under the Assyrian reign, Egypt has been divided into many small principalities. The most powerful princes ruled in the city of Sais, and they were the descendants of the rulers from the 24. Dynasty.

Nekao I (Necho, Nekau) (627. – 664.)

After Ashurbanipal, in 667. penetrated all the way to Thebes, he put himself on the throne in Egypt, while as a vassal pharaoh was set Nekau I (Necho). He was Bokkhoris‘s son, but as a vassal king of Egypt, he was fond of Assyrians. This meant a change in the Assyrian strategy, which up until then relied on occasional robberies. Probably the army had heavy losses, and they decided to establish a certain vassal relationship, which includes and the collection of taxes from the conquered country. During Taharque‘s rebellion, Nekau I. turned to the Taharque and because of that, Assyrians sent him to Nineveh as one of the leaders of the rebellion. He manages to gain Ashurbanipal who sent him back to Sais, but Tantamani (son of Shabaka) had him executed.

Psamtik I (Psametih I) (664. – 610.)

He was set as king of Sais and Memphis while Thebes remained in isolation. He also attacked the Assyrians, but detailed information about that attack is not familiar. Psamtik  was the first known Egyptian ruler who used Greek mercenaries.

Lydian king Gyges sent to Psametik troops of Greek mercenaries with whom he was in anti-Assyrian coalition. Graffiti on monuments witnessed about their presence at Abu Simbel. With their help, Psametik forced the princes and kings of Egypt in obedience. In order to conquer all Egypt he had to pass over Thebes and its ruler (princess) Shepenupet II.  Psamtik I solved this by persuading Shapenupet to adopt his daughter Nitocris which from that moment was called Shapenupet III. The Medes caused the weakening and the final fall of the Assyrian Empire. They appeared in the Middle East as the new military force. First, they were in war against the Scythians, and then they joined forces with the Babylonians against the Assyrians. In 663. Assyrians were attacked, they were weakened in people. In 612.  Nineveh fell in to the hands of an enemy, and that is how the Assyrian Empire also fell down. After the fall of Assyria, the Medes and Babylonians represented a threat to the Egyptian supremacy in foreign policy represent Psametik decides to enter into a coalition with weakened Assyrians.

Nekau II. (610. – 595.) also Necho II

In order to preserve the borders, he attacked Babylon-Medes coalition (he helped Ashur-uballit II against Nabopolassar), and by violating of the act of non-aggression, the Egyptians were attacked by Judea troops. They (Judea) attacked because Nekau, after the fall of Nineveh, wanted to put again under the Egyptian government the ancient Egyptian zones of interest in the area of Judea. In the Battle of Megiddo Egyptians defeated and they killed Josiah, king of Judah.

Battles at Euphrates

Egyptians came to the Euphrates, and they merge with army of asyyrian king Assuruballit II. In the beginning of the war, luck was on the side of the Egyptians, but Assuruballit’s army lost the battle.

Battle at Karkemish (Carchemish)

In 605. Babylonians (led by Nebuchadnezzar, at that time he was still a Prince) defeated Egyptian army. In 604. Nebuchadnezzar, the new king of Babylon, decided to attack Egypt, but Egyptians stopped him. Nekau II. encouraged anti-Babylon coalition in Syria and Palestine, but Nebuchadnezzar preventively attacked Jews and large part of them were taken to slavery. (597.). Nekau  II.  build navy and he planned to dredge a channel between the Nile and the Red Sea (he failed in that quest; channel was dug during the Persian occupation). In 601. Nekau again attacked Nebuchadnezzar.

Psametik II (595. – 589.)

He fought on two fronts, with The Babylonians on the south, and with the new Nubian state Napata (the special role of the Greek mercenaries). He visited the Phoenicia in order to help the alliance of Tyre and Judah against Babylon.

Apries (589. – 570.)

Apries send aid to Palestine in order to help Judah uprising against Nabukadnezzar in 589. The Navy conquered Nebuchadnezzar, but the army was too weak. Rebellion was unsuccessful so after the second fall of Jerusalem in 586. most of the population was taken into Babylonian captivity. At that time the Libyans pressured the Dorian settlement Cyrene, Apries stands with Libya and sent the army to the Greek city. He was killed at Memphis.

Amasis II (Ahmose II) (570. – 526.)

He led the army, which Apries sent to Cyrene. After arriving in the city, Amasis raised rebellion against Apriesa and took over reign, and the two of them parallel ruled for two years. He married a woman from Cyrene, he made an alliance with Cyrene, and in that way he connected with the Greek cities. He refused to attack Nebuchadnezzar in 568. / 67.

Psametik III (526. – 525.)

He ruled at the time when the Persians conquered Lydia, Babylon, Cyprus, and Phoenicia. Psametik III probably undertook everything against the invasion, but against the Persians there was no defense (Battle at Pelusia). Greek mercenaries betrayed him. After the defeat, he was preparing the uprising against the Persians, but when Cambyses found out about his plans, Psametik committed suicide.