top of page

Ancient Egypt - Pharaoh Psammetichus II

Updated: Feb 10, 2021


Psammetichus II would rule for only six years. During that time he led an expedition into Nubia in 592 B.C., marching as far south as the Third Cataract. This was the first confrontation between Egypt and Nubia since the reign of Tanutamun and was likely initiated to destroy any future aspirations the Nubians may have had to reconquer Egypt.

The Egyptian army advanced to Kerma and the capital city of Napata in a series of fierce battles, where they looted its temples and destroyed the royal Kushite statues. As a result, the Nubians decided to shift their capital further south from Napata to the city of Meroe. Curiously, Psammetichus II did not capitalize on his victory. His troops retreated back to the First Cataract, and Elephantine continued to be the southern border of Egypt.

During this campaign south to Nubia, his soldiers carved an inscription on the leg of the colossal statue of Ramesses II at Abu Simbel.

'When King Psammetichus II came to Elephantine, this was written by those

who sailed with Psammetichus, son of Theocles... Those who spoke foreign

languages were led by Potasimto, the Egyptians by Amasis.'

An expedition was launched the following year in 591 B.C. into Southern Palestine in support of Zedekiah who had decided to revolt against Babylonian rule. This failed and resulted in a two year siege of Jerusalem by Nebuchadnezzar II. The Biblical Babylonian exile began when the city fell in 587 B.C.

A side note to consider... Many people don't know this, but Egypt was probably the most important in terms of preserving the Jewish faith. Much of Judaism in Europe and America may be derived from Jews who immigrated to Egypt during this time. There were three centers of Judaism after the Babylonian Captivity:

1) The nobles – literate class who were sent to Babylon. Many of these people later convert to Islam centuries later.

2) The poor left behind – many are later killed and persecuted by the Romans.

3) The group that escapes to Egypt, specifically to Elephantine Island.

Egypt was a polytheist state, one that would gladly allow the Jews to worship and follow their religion in peace. After the conquest by Rome, Egypt would continue to be a safe haven for Jews even into the Islamic times.

The Temple-House of Psammetichus II

Psammetichus II was a prolific builder during his brief reign. He constructed the temple-house at the el-Kharga Oasis for the gods Amun, Mut, Khonsu with significant installations for the cult of Osiris. The 19.5 x 26 meter temple was originally situated on the bank of an ancient lake which has now disappeared. The temple consisted of a hypostyle hall with two by two papyrus capital columns, a hall of offerings, three sanctuaries in the rear section of the temple, and a chapel at the side of the sanctuaries for the cult of Psammetichus II. A massive sandstone gateway through an outer enclosure wall was constructed during the Ptolemaic and Roman periods. Many inscriptions and decrees were carved on the gateway involving a wide variety of topics, such as taxation, inheritance, the court system, and the rights of women, with the earliest text dating to 49 A.D.

Psammetichus II constructed a pair of obelisks more than 71 feet high for the temple of Heliopolis. The first Emperor of Rome, Octavian Augustus, had one of the obelisks, now known as the Obelisk of Montecitorio, brought to Rome in 10 B.C.. It had probably been thrown down during the Persian invasion in 525 B.C.