People - Ancient Egypt: Siamun
THIRD INTERMEDIATE PERIOD 21st Dynasty (978-959) Northern King. The capital moves from Tanis to Libyan, to Nubia, to
Thebes, to SAIS, and then back to Nubia and Thebes.
Siamun in Tour Egypt
Siamun is listed as the sixth king of the Twenty-first Dynasty. Very little is known about his reign except that he is the
one who sealed up the great Der el-Bahri cache. He is believed to have reigned for seventeen years.
Siamun in Wikipedia
Neterkheperre or Netjerkheperre-setepenamun Siamun was the sixth pharaoh of Egypt during the Twenty-
first dynasty. He built extensively in Lower Egypt for a king of the Third Intermediate Period and
is regarded as one of the most powerful rulers of this Dynasty after Psusennes I. Siamun's prenomen,
Netjerkheperre-Setepenamun, means "Like a God is The Manifestation of Re, Chosen of Amun" while
his name means 'son of Amun.'
Siamun was erroneously credited with a reign of only 9 Years by Manetho, a figure which is now
universally amended to 19 Years by all scholars on the basis of a Year 17 I Shemu day [lost]
inscription in fragment 3B, lines 3-5 dated to Siamun from the Karnak Priestly Annals. It records
the induction of Hori, son of Nespaneferhor into the Priesthood at Karnak. This date was a lunar
Tepi Shemu feast day. Based on the calculation of this lunar Tepi Shemu feast, Year 17 of Siamun has
been shown by the German Egyptologist Rolf Krauss to be equivalent to 970 BC. Hence, Siamun would
have taken the throne about 16 years earlier in 986 BC. A stela dated to Siamun's Year 16 records
a land-sale between some minor priests of Ptah at Memphis.
The Year 17 inscription is an important palaeographical development because it is the first time in
Egyptian recorded history that the word pharaoh was employed as a title and linked directly to a
king's royal name—as in Pharaoh Siamun here. Henceforth, references to Pharaoh Psusennes (Psusennes
II here), Pharaoh Shoshenq, Pharaoh Osorkon and so forth become commonplace. Prior to Siamun's reign
and all throughout the Middle and New Kingdom, the word pharaoh referred only to the office of the
According to the French Egyptologist Nicolas Grimal, Siamun doubled the size of the Temple of Amun
at Tanis and initiated various works at the Temple of Horus at Mesen. He also built at Heliopolis
and at Piramesse where a surviving stone block bears his name. Siamun constructed and dedicated a
new temple to Amun at Memphis with 6 stone columns and doorways which bears his royal name. Finally,
he bestowed numerous favours onto the Memphite Priests of Ptah. In Upper Egypt, he generally appears
eponymously on a few Theban monuments although Siamun's High Priest of Amun at Thebes, Pinedjem II,
organised the removal and re-burial of the New Kingdom royal mummies from the Valley of the Kings in
several hidden mummy caches at Deir El-Bahari Tomb DB320 for protection from looting. These
activities are dated from Year 1 to Year 10 of Siamun's reign.
One fragmentary but well known surviving triumphal relief scene from the Temple of Amun at Tanis
depicts an Egyptian pharaoh smiting his enemies with a mace. The king's name is explicitly given as
[(Neterkheperre Setepenamun) Siamun, beloved of Am(un)] in the relief and there can be no doubt that
this person was Siamun as the eminent British Egyptologist, Kenneth Kitchen stresses in his book, On
the Reliability of the Old Testament. Siamun appears here "in typical pose brandishing a mace to
strike down prisoners(?) now lost at the right except for two arms and hands, one of which grasps a
remarkable double-bladed ax by its socket." The writer observes that this double bladed axe or
'halbread' has a flared crescent shaped blade which is close in form to the Aegean influenced double
axe but is quite distinct from the Palestinian/Canaanite double headed axe which has a different
shape that resembles an X. Thus, Kitchen concludes Siamun's foes were the Philistines who were
descendants of the Aegean based Sea Peoples and that Siamun was commemorating his recent victory
over them at Gezer by depicting himself in a formal battle scene relief at the Temple in Tanis. More
recently Paul S Ash has put forward a detailed argument that Siamun's relief portrays a fictitious
battle. He points out that in Egyptian reliefs Philistines are never shown holding an axe, and that
there is no archaeological evidence for Philistines using axes. He also argues that there is nothing
in the relief to connect it with Philistia or the Levant.
Under Siamun, Egypt embarked upon an active foreign policy and he is most probably the Pharaoh who
formed an alliance with the new ruler of Israel, King Solomon against the Philistines. Solomon, the
son of David, had just assumed power around 971 or 970 BCE which was certainly around the middle of
Siamun's reign. As part of the arrangements within this Egyptian-Israelite alliance, the Egyptian
king attacked and laid waste the Philistine city of Gezer in part to safeguard Egypt's commercial
ties with Phoenicia—something which the Philistines were threatening—and also to take advantage of
the Philistines' momentary weakness after King David's series of Biblical wars against their state.
Solomon, for his part, was then permitted to permanently secure his kingdom's southern borders by
occupying Gezer, which henceforth, remained a part of Ancient Israel. The alliance was consecrated
by a royal marriage between Solomon and a daughter of the Egyptian king.
Identification with the destruction of Gezer
Further information: Sack of Gezer
The only mention in the Bible of a Pharaoh who might be Siamun is "Pharaoh King of Egypt had come up
and captured Gezer; he destroyed it by fire, killed the Canaanites who dwelt in the town, and gave
it as dowry to his daughter, Solomon's wife. As shown above, Kenneth Kitchen believes that
Siamun conquered Gezer and gave it to Solomon. Others such as Paul S Ash and Mark W. Chavalas
disagree, and Chavalas states that "it is impossible to conclude which Egyptian monarch ruled
concurrently with David and Solomon". Professor Edward Lipinski argues that Gezer, then
unfortified, was destroyed late in the 10th century (and thus not contemporary with Solomon) and
that the most likely Pharaoh was Shoshenq I. "The attempt at relating the destruction of Gezer to
the hypothetical relationship between Siamun and Solomon cannot be justified factually, since
Siamun's death precedes Solomon's accession."
Although Siamun's original royal tomb has never been located, scholars believe that he is one of
"two completely decayed mummies in the antechamber of NRT-III (Psusennes I's tomb)" on the basis of
ushabtis found on them which bore this king's name. Siamun's original tomb may have been
inundated by the Nile which compelled a reburial of this king in Psusennes I's tomb.
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