Author: Roger Forshaw

This volume discusses the history, culture and social conditions of one of the less well-known periods of ancient Egypt, the Saite or 26th Dynasty (664–525 BC). In the 660s BC Egypt was a politically fragmented and occupied country. This is an account of how Psamtek I, a local ruler from Sais in northern Egypt, declared independence from its overlord, the Assyrian Empire, and within ten years brought about the reunification of the country after almost four hundred years of disunity and periods of foreign domination. Over the next century and a half, the Saite rulers were able to achieve stability and preserve Egypt’s independence as a sovereign state against powerful foreign adversaries. Central government was established, a complex financial administration was developed and Egypt’s military forces were reorganised. The Saites successfully promoted foreign trade, peoples from different countries settled in Egypt and Egypt recovered a prominent role in the Mediterranean world. There were innovations in culture, religion and technology, and Egypt became prosperous. This era was a high-achieving one and is often neglected in the literature devoted to ancient Egypt. Egypt of the Saite Pharaohs, 664–525 BC reveals the dynamic nature of the period, the astuteness of the Saite rulers and their considerable achievements in the political, economic, administrative and cultural spheres.

Setting the scene
Roger Forshaw

end of the New Kingdom and concluded with the restoration of centralised authority, and the reunification of Egypt by Psamtek I, usually accepted as the first ruler of the 26th Dynasty.  egypt of the saite pharaohs I  Political turmoil Monarchy and administration The Third Intermediate Period is typically considered to commence with the death of Ramesses XI at the end of the 20th Dynasty.2 The power of Egypt and the authority of the later Ramesside rulers had been diminishing for a number of years. During the height of the New Kingdom, foreign trade, tribute and

in Egypt of the Saite pharaohs, 664–525 BC
Nekau II and Psamtek II
Roger Forshaw

Harran, an engagement in which Nekau was defeated and forced to withdraw west of the Euphrates.1 A year later Nekau was back campaigning in Syria–Palestine, and he returned to Harran to challenge the Babylonians and their Median allies once again. On the march through Judah at Megiddo he encountered Josiah, the ruler of Judah, and in a confrontation that ensued Josiah was killed. The circumstances of Josiah’s death are described in II Kings (23.29–30): ‘In his days, Pharaoh Nekau king of Egypt went up to the king of Assyria to the river Euphrates, King Josiah went to

in Egypt of the Saite pharaohs, 664–525 BC
The last Saite ruler, Psamtek III
Roger Forshaw

not possess. Herodotus (III, 19) claims that, although Cambyses was the creator and organiser of the fledgling Persian navy, naval power on the whole was dependent on the Phoenicians. It would appear that, although the Persians did build a large number of triremes and trained crews to man them, initially they may have been dependent on Phoenician expertise and experienced foreign sailors and oarsmen.6   egypt of the saite pharaohs Towards the end of the Saite Period, evidence would suggest that Egypt itself had a sizeable naval force which would have

in Egypt of the Saite pharaohs, 664–525 BC
Foreign relations and internal reforms
Roger Forshaw

, and additionally documented are ‘both men and women from every district of the west’. Diodorus (I, 66.12) comments that some of the disaffected Delta leaders, who had fled when Psamtek took control of Lower Egypt, may have joined the invading forces.  egypt of the saite pharaohs The tone and structure of the text inscribed on the stela, resembles those seen some five hundred years earlier when Merenptah and Ramesses III faced the earlier invasions from western groups.4 The stela describes how Psamtek had to call upon all his nome leaders to provide troops

in Egypt of the Saite pharaohs, 664–525 BC
Roger Forshaw

th Dynasty. The dynasty and its pharaohs are also referred to as ‘Napatan’ from the city of Napata, which was located near the Fourth Cataract of the Nile, one of the Kushite kingdom’s principal cities. There was always a close relationship between Egypt and its southern neighbour, Nubia. In the Early Dynastic and Old Kingdom periods, Egypt ruthlessly exploited Nubia in pursuit of mining and trading profits. During the Middle Kingdom, in response to increasing Nubian hostility, Egypt built a series of fortresses along the Nile to protect its trade in the economic

in Egypt of the Saite pharaohs, 664–525 BC
Civil war to prosperity
Roger Forshaw

of the Pharaoh had come out of Egypt; and when the Babylonians who were besieging Jerusalem heard news of them, they withdrew from Jerusalem’. haaibra versus ahmose ii Josephus, writing some centuries later, stated that the Egyptians came with a large force:5 ‘But when the Egyptian king heard of the plight of his ally Sacchias (i.e. Zedekiah) he raised a large force and came to Judea to the siege’. It is difficult to determine what sources Josephus may have been citing, and he may merely have been interpreting Jeremiah 37.5 and 11.6 The size of the force Egypt

in Egypt of the Saite pharaohs, 664–525 BC
Roger Forshaw

regular performance of rites and the supply of provisions for the deceased. Animal cults which underwent a considerable degree of development and proliferation during the Saite era flourished. They now required additional staff and mummification facilities to meet the increased demand, suggesting that the cults were now available to greater numbers of people. The changes in landownership associated with the increase in commercial activity and   egypt of the saite pharaohs agricultural output helped to boost the economy and enlarge the tax base, and brought

in Egypt of the Saite pharaohs, 664–525 BC
Reunification of Egypt
Roger Forshaw

puzzling. It would therefore seem that more importance was attached to her role as the mother of the future God’s Wife of Amun than   egypt of the saite pharaohs to her responsibilities at the court at Sais.8 Possibly Mehytenweskhet’s journey to Thebes may have originally been intended to be of short duration but she may have died there at a relatively young age. She may not even have been the biological mother of Nekau, but there again she does carry the title ‘Great Royal Wife’ and no other wife is attested for Psamtek. Obstacles to reunification Although the

in Egypt of the Saite pharaohs, 664–525 BC
Abstract only
Sam Rohdie

Between 1926 and 1970, Hawks made 22 films, one of which was in Cinemascope: The Land of the Pharaohs (1955). Cinemascope, like depth of field, sequence shots, lengthy tracks, pans and the use of the zoom reduces the need for editing. Rather than fragmenting space, space can be left

in Montage