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Ancient Egypt - Pharaoh Psammetichus I

Updated: Feb 10, 2021


After Necho I was killed during the Nubian campaign to free Egypt from the Assyrians, the rule passed to Necho's son, Psammetichus I. He begins the 26th Dynasty during which the kings ruled from the city of Sais. Psammetichus I was also recognized by the Assyrians as king and tasked him with not only controlling the unruly princes and petty kings of the Delta, but also with controlling the power center at Thebes. The latter proved to be easier than anticipated.

The great noble Mentuemhet was still a major player in Thebes and he allied himself with Psammetichus' daughter, Princess Nitocris I. Back in 656 BC, Psammetichus had dispatched a large naval fleet to Thebes and compelled the existing God's Wife of Amun to adopt his daughter as her heiress. The current holder, Shepenwepet II, along with Amenirdis II, both adopted Princess Nitocris I who would hold this office for the next 70 years.

The secular and religious ties held the state together while Psammetichus turned his attention to the Delta and the local princes who opposed his reunification of Egypt. He conscripted a great army, bringing in mercenaries from the Mediterranean world, many of them Greeks and Carians. Psammetichus I's reign of over 50 years experienced a return to stability and the old religious values. Outside influences, both artistic and trade, came into the country as never before. There was also a great Renaissance in indigenous traditions that returned to Middle and Old Kingdom forms of art.

In 653 BC, Psammetichus took advantage of Assyria's internal problems and quietly detached his kingdom from Assyria while keeping friendly relations. The gradual Assyrian collapse was, however, leaving a dangerous power vacuum among the Babylonians, the Medes, and the Scythians. The Babylonian king, Nabopolassar created havoc in 629-627 BC, advancing as far as southern Palestine before he was finally held back. Psammetichus, realizing the potential danger for Egypt of an Assyrian collapse, actually assisted Assyria against the Babylonians in 616 BC, but was unable to save the capital city.


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