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The Libyans in Egypt

Resolving the Third Intermediate Period

Martin Sieff
Central to solving the perplexing chronology of the Third Intermediate Period in
Egypt is the dating of the Twenty-Second (Libyan !ynasty" In #The $ge of %ars# I
arg&ed for a #nat&rally stretched o&t# 'ible chronology for the eighth cent&ry '"C"
following %artin $ntsey()*+ and for the identification of ,--iah-$-ariah( .ing of
/&dah( with $r-& the $siatic who r&led in Egypt between the 0ineteenth and
Twentieth !ynasties( an identification first made by 1eith Le2lem")3+
4n my #$ge of %ars# model( %enreptah reigned c"567-557 '"C" %enreptah8s
diffic&lties with the Libyans d&ring his r&le are well .nown" I s&ggest that the eclipse
of the 0ineteenth !ynasty is a convincing time for the tri&mph of the Libyans in
Egypt" $llowing %anetho8s *37 years for the Twenty-Second !ynasty wo&ld give
approximate dates within my model of 567-997 '"C" $rie !ir.-wager( in his most
val&able research on the period():+ s&ggests that in $ss&rbanipal8s annals (of the 995
'"C" &prising in Egypt P&t&bisti of Tsa8n& and S&sin;& of P&sir& are Pet&bastet of
Tanis from !ynasty 3:( and Shoshen; III of o&r !ynasty 33" This wo&ld agree well
with my model"
In absol&te dates I have seen little difference from !ir.-wager8s pioneering wor.( and
also -- as will be seen -- avail myself of Peter <an !er <een8s investigations" 'oth of
these writers( however( li.e Philip Clapham( ass&me Edwin Thiele8s biblical
chronology as valid( with related dates for the Twentieth !ynasty yielding
approximately 5*=-96= '"C" dates for Pharaoh >amses III")?+ 4n my model( >amses
III reigned 5=7-537"
Can s&ch dating for the Twentieth !ynasty( and for ,--iah and his s&ccessors in
/&dah( fit into a 567-997 placement for the Twenty-Second !ynasty@ The Twenty-
Second !ynasty is not devoid of cross-references with biblical and $ssyrian history(
tantali-ing tho&gh they sometimes are" Let &s see how well the pieces of the Aigsaw
The Coming of the Libyans
!avid >ohl)=+ set &s on excellent gro&nd by identifying( from /oseph&s and %anetho(
Bermae&s (=C years( Sethos (=C years( >ampses (99 years( and $menophis (*C
years with Baremhab( Seti I( >amses II (the coincidence with his attested 95 years of
reign is and %enreptah" Seti II is identified as >amesses-Sethos( with his
brother Barmais who rebelled against him as $menmessa"
%enreptah8s tro&bles with the Libyans d&ring his reign were also complicated by the
invasions of the 4sarsiph( according to %anetho( who gathered 67(777 political exiles
at $varis( and were bac.ed by a 377(777-strong army sent by the #shepherds# of
/er&salem" %enreptah fled to Ethiopia for thirteen years( while the rebels devastated
Egypt8s gods and temples and b&rned its cities" 1eith Le2lem e;&ates this event with
,--iah of /&dah as $r-&( the gap between the 0ineteenth and Twentieth !ynasties)9+
described in the Dreat Barris Papyr&s"
Shoshenq I
Shoshen; I was in many respects the most formidable of the Twenty-Second !ynasty
r&lers" Clapham( in his richly doc&mented b&t conf&singly arg&ed st&dy)5+ e;&ates
him with the Pharaoh So to whom Boshea( last .ing of the northern .ingdom of
Israel( paid trib&te()6+ and <eli.ovs.y himself claimed this identification")C+
!ir.-wager()*7+ however( identified So with 4sor.on II( and -- on my dating scheme
-- this fits( for Shoshen; I wo&ld have r&led c"567-597 '"C"( while Boshea belongs in
the 535-5*6 time period"
Clapham8s evidence for identifying Shoshen; I with So( to whom Boshea 1ing of
Israel paid trib&te( is the #great tri&mph scene# of Shoshen; at 1arna." In a dedication
to $m&n Shoshen; boastsE #Fhen I made it as they trib&te to the land of Palestine
)1h&r&+ which had t&rned away from thee"#
In contrast( I wo&ld s&ggest the Libyan !ynasty inc&rsion be dated from within the
reign of %enreptah( specifically( from where he first records his problems with the
Libyans" $fter their event&al tri&mph over the 0ineteenth !ynasty it wo&ld be
&nderstandable for Shoshen; I to co&nt his reign-length from the establishment of his
first bridgehead in the land of the 0ile"
0ow( on my model the 557-597 '"C" period was the time of ,--iah-$-ariah8s
occ&pation of the eastern delta( recalled by the Egyptians as $r-&" Fhile Egyptian
rebels( bac.ed by ,--iah( str&c. from the east( the Libyans wo&ld have established
themselves in Egypt from the west" !ir.-wager)**+ s&ggested that #d&ring the late
years of >amses II G a prominent role co&ld have been played by Sheshon; I and
4sor.on I"# It is noteworthy( as Clapham himself remar.s()*3+ that Shoshen; I8s great
tri&mph scene at 1arna. is so reminiscent of %enreptah8s( also at 1arna." If Shoshen;
began to reign d&ring the eclipse of the 0ineteenth !ynasty this #echo# ass&mes real
significance" !ir.-wager too remar.edE #I tho&ght that after %enreptah we co&ld
s&ppose some room for a rising Libyan dynasty"#)*:+ 4n Thiele8s biblical chronology
it wo&ld be diffic&lt indeed to s;&ee-e the Libyan !ynasty inH with o&r scheme(
however( the #crowding# problem does not occ&r"
Fhere then does Shoshen; I8s expedition into Palestine fit in biblical history( if he
was not Pharaoh So@ I have already disc&ssed the evidence)*?+ for a twenty-two year
#time of tro&bles# in the northern .ingdom of Israel after the death of /eroboam II
(which I p&t at 56* '"C"( following $ntsey")*=+ It was d&ring the first part of this
period that %enreptah8s #Israal is desolate( his seed is not# victory-stela boast
Fith Shoshen; I following %enreptah( the sco&rge of the Libyans( he wo&ld certainly
wish to exceed the achievements of his predecessor of the s&pplanted 0ineteenth
!ynasty" It is to this sit&ation that the similarities of %enreptah8s and Shoshen; I8s
victory scenes at 1arna. are owed"
$nd A&st as the Libyans of the Twenty-Second !ynasty and the /&dah of ,--iah-
$-ariah-$r-& shared common gro&nd in their 0ineteenth !ynasty enemy( so the
Libyan pharaoh wo&ld also be at home campaigning against Israel( the northern rival
of /&dah( and the traditional ally of the 0ineteenth !ynasty thro&gh the long reigns of
/eroboam II and >amses II")*9+
!ir.-wager( in fact( placed Shoshen; I8s Palestine expedition at 5== '"C")*5+
Considering that the campaign is placed late in Shoshen;8s reign( as Clapham has
remar.ed()*6+ this accords well with my placement"
!ir.-wager however followed the Thiele chronology" $nd /osh&a 1orbach
protested)*C+ that Israel and /&dah were then at the height of their power( &nder
,--iah and /eroboam II" In Thiele8s chronology this is perfectly tr&e" '&t within the
$ntsey model( &sed as an o&tline by myself against the bac.gro&nd of <eli.ovs.y8s
fifteen-year %ars catastrophe cycle( /eroboam II had died in 56* and ,--iah in 5==(
by which /&dah had already long withdrawn from the delta" 1orbach8s obAection(
conse;&ently( is easily met -- the Shoshen; expedition wo&ld have str&c. the northern
.ingdom when it was still reeling from anarchy"
If Shoshen; campaigned at the start of %enahem8s reign in Israel( which belongs
c"5=CJ5=6 on this model( then he may well have sec&red %enahem8s position in ret&rn
for trib&te"
Boshea( who started to prophesy in /eroboam II8s reign (therefore before 567 '"C"
b&t lived on to the siege of Samaria by Sargon c"537( when he was abo&t C7 years old(
)37+ predicted a time when Kall wo&ld be carried into EgyptE# as trib&te")3*+ 4n this
model Boshea8s description belongs not to the time of Boshea and So( after 535 '"C"(
b&t bac. in the time of Shoshen; I and %enahem( :7 years earlier"
Osoron II as So
!ir.-wager s&ggests dates for the Twenty-Second !ynasty of Shoshen; I from 567(
4sor.on I from 5==( and Ta.elot from 5:7 '"C" Fith this I am in general agreement"
In 5*9 '"C" Sargon of $ssyria received gifts from Shil.anni( an Egyptian 4sor.on
r&ler" Clapham believed this to be 4sor.on I()33+ b&t I follow !ir.-wager in
identifying him as 4sor.on IIJPharaoh So( with whom( c"53=J53?()3:+ Boshea of
Israel conspired" $s !ir.-wager remar.ed( the Osor.on -- So derivation seems to be
This identification is f&rther s&pported( as !ir.-wager noted()3?+ by the discovery of
alabaster Aars from Twenty-Second !ynasty pharaohs in a Phoenician cemetery at
Cerro de San Cristobal ($lm&necar( Spain" The cemetery has been dated to the late
eighth and early seventh cent&ries (i"e" c"53=-95= '"C"( and the pharaohs in ;&estion
were 4sor.on II( Shoshen; II( and Ta.elot II" In the conventional chronology these
pharaohs belong in the ninth cent&ry" $nd even 1orbach had to admit( in the face of
!ir.-wager8s arg&ment()3=+ that #The archaeological finds at this site to &nderline the
need for s&ch a revision of conventional chronology"#
Placing 4sor.on II in the c"53=-5*= period also positions him firmly in the %artian
catastrophe period( on <eli.ovs.y8s model" $nd( s&re eno&gh( we have evidence of
catastrophe in the form of exceptional 0ile flooding d&ring his r&le" <eli.ovs.y
himself remar.ed on this")39+
4n the conventional time frame)35+ (and ass&ming no calendar change( 4sor.on8s
flood( conventionally dated at 659 '"C"( belongs on /&ly :* -- a most &nseasonable
time for the 0ile to be at its pea." $ss&ming a c"577 date for the flood (and a &niform
calendar( 2ermor bac.-calc&lates the Dregorian date as *C /&ne which( he concl&des(
wo&ld be a #sensationally early event"#
4n this model the flood occ&rred perhaps a ;&arter cent&ry before 577( and the earth
axis shift in the time of Be-e.iah( 5*7 '"C"( had already shifted the calendar()36+ so
that another date wo&ld have to be calc&lated" '&t it is how( even within
&niformitarian ass&mptions (which 2ermor fairly and acc&rately ac.nowledged( we
face the evidence for a catastrophic event in 4sor.on II8s time"
!ir.-wager also notes another #perfect fit# for his 567-997 '"C" placement of the
Twenty-Second !ynasty" Inscriptions of the .ings of 'yblos in Phoenicia were carved
on stat&es of Shoshen; I (by 1ing $bibaal and on 4sor.on I by 1ing Elibaal" $nd
Elibaal8s son Shipitbaal is recorded as 1ing Sibitti-bi8ili of 'yblos in the annals of the
$ssyrian .ing Tiglath-Pileser III for 5:C '"C"
!ir.-wager f&rther points o&t( following <eli.ovs.y()3C+ how vases with >amses II8s
name and other obAects in >amessid style were fo&nd in the tomb of 1ing $hiram of
Tyre( who was probably s&cceeded( first( by his son Ittobaal( and then by $bibaal" In
other words( a placement toward the middle of the eighth cent&ry( again s&pporting
o&r positioning of the Twenty-Second !ynasty"
! T"enty#Se$ond %ynasty O&tline
It wo&ld appear( therefore( that the Libyan inc&rsion into Egypt in the time of
%enreptah was later regarded by the Libyan pharaohs as the beginning of their r&le --
as !ir.-wager has spec&lated"):7+ Shoshen; I( eager to excel over the despised
%enreptah( too. trib&te from the re-established .ingdom of Israel( c"5=6 '"C"( &nder
%enahem" Bis victory stela at 1arna. deliberately followed %enreptah8s vainglorio&s
style" $nd Shoshen;8s choice of titles #To ,nite the Two Lands# may well be
interpreted by &s as ac.nowledging the r&le of the native Twentieth !ynasty &nder at that time"
In the time of >amses III( 5=7-537 '"C" on this chronology( the Libyan !ynasty may
well have come off second best in the wars against the Peoples of the Sea" Fe may
remar. here that in 'arry 2ell8s observations on the maritime capabilities of the
Libyan pharaohs( whose long expeditions even reached $merica():*+ a Libyan-
PalestinianJPhoenician association wo&ld be nat&ral"
'&t in the closing years of >amses III8s reign the Libyan !ynasty8s infl&ence was
again on the &pswing( and 4sor.on IIJSo received the advances of Boshea( 1ing of
In 537 '"C" Sargon of $ssyria marched so&th to Da-a and >o&ted Banno of Da-a(
who was s&pported by the Egyptian army of the #t&rtan of %isri# (Egypt( one Sib8e"
1itchen claimed that Sib8e sho&ld be read >e8e (in the $..adian and >ia8a (in the
Egyptian" Clapham there&pon ass&med Sibe->ia8a was Seti II( as a son of >amses II
in the Twenty-Second !ynasty period"):3+ '&t on this model( he wo&ld have been
>amses III himself"
Ramses III in the !ge of the Libyans
Bere I will follow Peter <an !er <een8s challenging points")::+ Be brings o&t how
>amses III8s army was led by #The first charioteer of his maAesty Pre-hir-wen-hef( and
the .ing8s scribe and overseer of horses( prince $mon-hir-.hopshef"# $longside the
#%arAann&# charioteers of >amses III8s army( we may compare the horses and chariots
of Egypt described by the Prophet Isaiah):?+ in a context I have already arg&ed
belongs to the conditions of >amses III8s reign in the 5378s( when the Twentieth
!ynasty was riding high on the prestige of having defeated the Sea Peoples( b&t with
a strength which( as Isaiah saw( was only ade;&ate for defensive holding actions in the
decline of Egyptian power"
<an !er <een):=+ compares >amesses and Sethosis in the %anetho extract &sed by
/oseph&s (Against Apion to >amses III" The %anetho pair had a naval force and
destroyed those who met them at sea( A&st as >amses III defeated the Peoples of the
Sea" They led an expedition against Cypr&s( and there is s&ggestive evidence that
>amses III8s fleet raided that island"):9+ This Sethosis campaigned against Phoenicia(
the $ssyrians( and the %edes" >amses III fo&ght against Tyre( Sidon( and the
Philistines( and even against #$mor# which( <an !er <een s&ggests( may have been
an archaic term for $ssyria"
Sethosis and >amses had #an army of horses(# which fits perfectly the might of
>amses III8s chariot arm( also recorded by Isaiah" $s <an !er <een concl&des( #It is
li.ely that the Egyptian army of this time was famo&s for its powerf&l force of
%e$line and 'all of the T"entieth %ynasty
The $ssyrian .ing Sennacherib( in his defeat of the Egyptian army( pro&dly boasted
that he #personally capt&red alive the Egyptian charioteers with their princes and the
charioteers of the .ing of Ethiopia"#
This is a startling parallel to /oseph&s8 report that after Sennacherib8s army was
destroyed at /er&salem( Tirha.a( 1ing of Ethiopia( and an (&nnamed pharaoh both
escaped from his camp" Fith my 5=7-537 '"C" dates for >amses III( and 5*7 for the
destr&ction of the $ssyrian army at /er&salem():6+ I have identified this pharaoh as
>amses I<( an identification strongly s&pported by the star maps of his tomb" %ichael
>eade associates these with the Sennacherib catastrophe event when the s&ndial of
Be-e.iah regressed *7 degrees"):C+
>amses I< died shortly afterward" The later Twentieth !ynasty r&lers( the later
>amessides( were feeble and ineffect&al" %ore and more( it was the Ethiopian
Twenty-2ifth !ynasty( e;&ipped with iron military technology( as the $ssyrians were(
far in advance of Egypt8s weaponry()?7+ who were the power in the land" '&t the great
days of the Twenty-Second !ynasty had also passed" Pres&mably ma&led in >amses
III8s campaigns( they contin&ed to hold local r&le in their cities( b&t as the record of
Shoshen; III -- as we ta.e it -- in $ss&r-bani-pal8s list indicates( it was simply one
f&rther line of princes aspiring to a long-past glory"
Fe may also note that Sennacherib in his great campaign recorded on the Taylor
prism( described his meeting with the .ings (pl&ral of Egypt" $s !ir.-wager
concl&des( #The &se of the pl&ral s;&ares with o&r concl&sion that Libyans and
>amessids (and perhaps other dynasties reigned sim&ltaneo&sly"# It sho&ld be added
that !ir.-wager ass&mes a 573 '"C" date for this event( whereas( following $ntsey( I
wo&ld place it at 5*7"
$s I have previo&sly remar.ed()?*+ the Prophet Isaiah had clearly foreseen a sit&ation
when the Egyptians wo&ld be divided against themselves( brother against brother(
with different r&lers in different cities")?3+ $nd it is here( in the 5*7-9=7 period that
the twilight of the Twenty-2irst !ynasty belongs"
The T"enty#'irst %ynasty ## T"ilight of Egypt
%ichael /ones has clearly noted that the Twenty-2irst !ynasty most definitely follows
immediately after the Twentieth")?:+ It was the time when the children and
grandchildren of the very who had prod&ced the 0ineteenth and Twentieth
!ynasty tombs in the <alley of the 1ings now pl&ndered these same va&lts in a period
of &pheaval")??+ It was the age of the scribe Fen-$mon( a minor priestly r&ler( whose
h&miliating Ao&rney to 'yblos in search of wood for the sacred $mon->a boat showed
all too clearly how low Egyptian prestige had s&n")?=+
Iet we also find a Fen-$mon in $ss&r-bani-pal8s list of princelings who rebelled
against Egypt in 995 '"C" I follow !ir.-wager)?9+ in viewing him as the same
hapless traveler of 'yblos fame"
This model also fits <eli.ovs.y8s compelling evidence for placing Ps&sennes I of the
Twenty-2irst !ynasty after a Shoshen; (probably Shoshen; II of the Twenty-Second"
4n this model the Twenty-2irst !ynasty does indeed come directly after the main
body of the Twenty-Second !ynasty( and is contemporaneo&s with the last decades of
Clapham notes)?5+ that <eli.ovs.y also mentions the m&mmy of a r&ler of the
Twenty-2irst !ynasty who #reappears in the genealogy of the %emphite priest Bor-
Pasen (Pasenhor of the Twenty-Second !ynasty period( indicating once more that the
Twenty-2irst and Twenty-Second !ynasties were in part contemporaneo&s"#
(nravelling the %ynasties
$s !ir.-wager has also noted()?6+ 'occhoris( the #one man dynasty# -- the Twenty-
2o&rth( and P&tibisti of Tanis in the Twenty-Third !ynasty( also appear in $ss&r-bani-
pal8s acco&nt of the 995 '"C" rising against him" This correlation gives &s a peg on
which to hand the Twenty-Third and Twenty-2o&rth !ynasties" $gain( let &s note the
contrast with Clapham()?C+ who identifies 'occhoris with $r-& and places him at 5*5
'"C" In my scheme 'occhoris belongs ?7 years later( and $r-& as ,--iah over =7
years before Clapham8s date"
This model also invalidates !onovan Co&rville8s wherein the Twenty-Second !ynasty
was $ssyrian in origin( and established by $ss&r-bani-pal")=7+ 2ar from the last great
$ssyrian tyrant fo&nding the Twenty-Second !ynasty( on this model he ended it"
%y model also invalidates the original Dlasgow scheme of things for the Third
Intermediate Period( whereby the Twenty-Second !ynasty was placed c"937-?77
'"C"( b&t there sho&ld be at least no arg&ment over that( as the Dlasgow school
leaders themselves( recogni-ing the impossibility of this sol&tion( have retreated to
their /ames->ohl model( which gives &p <eli.ovs.y8s Batsheps&t-Solomon( Th&tmose
III-Shisha.( and El $marna-Bo&se of $hab correlations entirely")=*+ 4n my model all
these correlations still hold"
I will f&rther remar. here that the Twenty-2irst !ynasty may be seen to have
contin&ed down alongside the Twenty-Sixth Saite !ynasty" Th&s( in answer to
1orbach)=3+ there is no diffic&lty in finding references to Twenty-Second( Twenty-
Third( and Twenty-2o&rth !ynasty r&lers in the Serape&m( before the reign of
Psamte; I" 4bvio&sly( $myrtae&s (?9:-?=? and 0ef8awi-r&dA (:CC-:C: belong to a
later date( and have no connection with the Twenty-2irst !ynasty" It is not s&rprising
therefore to find no references to them in the activities of Si-$mon( at the end of the
Twenty-2irst !ynasty"
To a large degree( as has been seen( I draw heavily on $rie !ir.-wager8s wor." To a
lesser degree( Peter <an !er <een8s research has also proved of val&e" It sho&ld be re-
emphasi-ed( however( that both writers( in their previo&s wor.s( remain within the
parameters of Edwin Thiele8s chronology( which I regard as &" I follow
!ir.-wager8s absol&te dates for the Twenty-Second !ynasty( 567-997 '"C"
(approximately( b&t not his biblical and 0ineteenth-Twentieth !ynasty chronologies
relative to it" The Third Intermediate models of <eli.ovs.y( Dlasgow( Co&rville(
/ames->ohl( and Clapham are all reAected"
I have no do&bt this will not be the last word on an immensely complex s&bAectH it
wo&ld be pres&mptive indeed to ma.e s&ch a claim" '&t I stand by the conviction that
!ir.-wager8s Twenty-Second !ynasty dates( the ,--iah-$r-& e;&ation of Le2lem(
the inscriptional evidence of $ss&r-bani-pal in 995 '"C" as related to Twenty-2irst(
Twenty-Third( and Twenty-2o&rth !ynasty r&lers( the biblical record( and the $ntsey
biblical chronology as developed here( are the necessary pillars on which to b&ild a
lasting sol&tion to this most complicated and mysterio&s of the chronological
problems of ancient Egypt"