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.

Roger Forshaw

considerable achievements in the political, economic, administrative and cultural spheres. The Saite Dynasty was a time of no mean achievement, with Egypt preserving its independence as a sovereign state against powerful foreign adversaries. Significantly, the Saite Period was the last noteworthy and relatively enduring period of native Egyptian rule, and, other than the short-lived 30th Dynasty, was the last major resurgence of indigenous rulers on the throne of Egypt for some two and a half millennia. It was not until AD 1952 following the Egyptian Revolution that native

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

the ancient world and was to influence later writers.32  egypt of the saite pharaohs  End of the Saite Dynasty According to Herodotus (III, 14–15) Psamtek III’s son was executed along with many other Egyptians, but Psamtek III himself was initially spared. Later when he was apprehended for fomenting rebellion among the native Egyptians, he was sentenced to death and reputedly chose to commit suicide by drinking bull’s blood.33 However, Psamtek cannot have killed himself in this fashion, as bull’s blood is not poisonous, and although not pleasant it is

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

have replaced the vizier, although there were different sentis responsible for various parts of the country. Among the duties of this officiant was that of being responsible for economic documentation or registration of people and objects, possibly for tax purposes. The senti was assisted by local agents throughout the country.91 Horkheby, who held the position of senti during the reign of Ahmose II, is mentioned on the stela of Hor, his great-grandson.92 An administrative official and close adviser to the king during the latter part of the Saite Dynasty carried the

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

1 Political turmoil and ‘Libyan’ settlers: setting the scene Histories of eras before the Saite Dynasty (26th Dynasty) in ancient Egypt have been largely based on Egyptian evidence, in spite of its inherent distortions and biases, as this has been the only major source available. With the Saite Period there is for the first time a much broader range of archaeological and written evidence from outside the borders of the country as well as the traditional Egyptian sources. The Assyrian prisms, Babylonian and Persian sources and the accounts of the Classical

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

court of the tomb. These stylistic differences in decoration allowing a 25th or 26th Dynasty date to be determined is also represented by significant changes in the decorative programme, suggesting that a later extension was added to the tomb when the Saite Dynasty took control.131 The sculpture of the Saite Period was generally of very high quality and was marked by the use of fine-grain hard stone such as schist and diorite. The sculpture favours smooth surfaces that almost create the impression of softness even in hard stones.132 There was a change in the canon of

in Egypt of the Saite pharaohs, 664–525 BC