People - Ancient Egypt: Shepsesre Tefnakht I
THIRD INTERMEDIATE PERIOD 24th Dynasty (725-720) The capital moves from Tanis to Libyan, to Nubia, to Thebes, to SAIS, and then back to
Nubia and Thebes.
Shepsesre Tefnakht I in Tour Egypt
Tefnakht was the first king of the Twenty-fourth Dynasty. In the Piankhy stela, he is called the "chief of
the West," "chief of Me," and "chief of Sais." He also gives himself titles as prophets and royal titles. It
is thought that his vigorous expansionist activity was the cause of an invasion from the south.
Tefnakht in Wikipedia
Shepsesre Tefnakht (in Greek known as Tnephachthos), was a Libyan-descended prince of Saïs, Great Chief of the Meshwesh and Great
Chief of the Libu, and founder of the relatively short Twenty-fourth dynasty of Egypt. He is thought to have reigned roughly 732
BCE - 725 BCE or 7 years. He first began his career as the "Great Chief of the West" and Prince of Saïs, and was a late
contemporary of the final of the 22nd dynasty: Shoshenq V. Tefnakht I was actually the second ruler of Saïs; he was preceded by
Osorkon C, who is attested by several documents mentioning him as this city's Chief of the Ma and Army Leader, according to
Kenneth Kitchen. A recently discovered statue dedicated by Tefnakht to Amun-Re reveals important details about his personal
origins. The statue's text states that Tefnakht was the son of a Gemnefsutkapu and the grandson of Basa, a priest of Amun near
Sais. Consequently, Tefnakht was not descended from a line of Chiefs of the Ma and Libu tribes but rather came from a family of
priests. Tefnakht's royal name, Shepsesre, translates as "Noble like Re" in Egyptian.
Tefnakht erected two donation stelas in Years 36 and 38 of Shoshenq V as a Prince at Saïs. His Year 38 stela from Buto is
significant not only because Tefnakht employs the rather boastful epithet of "Great Chief of the entire land" but due to its list
of his religious titles as prophet of Neith, Edjo and the Lady of Imay. This reflects his control over Sais, Buto to the north
and Kom el-Hish to the southwest even prior to the end of the 22nd Dynasty—with the death of Shoshenq V—and reflects Tefnakht's
political base in the Western Delta region of Egypt. The 22nd Dynasty was politically fragmenting even prior to the death of
Shoshenq V. Tefnakht established his capital at Sais, and formed an alliance with other minor kings of the Delta region in order
to conquer Middle and Upper Egypt, which was under the sway of the Nubian king Piye. He was able to capture and unify many of the
cities of the Delta region, thus making Tefnakht considerably more powerful than any of his predecessors in either the 22nd or
Tefnakht was not a member of the Tanite based 22nd Dynasty of Egypt since Tanis is located in the Eastern Delta whereas his local
city of Sais was situated in the Western Delta closer to Libya. His modest title 'Great chief of the West' also hints at a non-
royal background. Prior to assuming the title of "Great Chief of the West", Tefnakht managed to extend his control southward,
capturing the city of Memphis and besieging the city of Herakleopolis, which was an ally of the Kushite king Piye of Nubia. This
caused him to face considerable opposition from Piye, especially after Nimlot, the local ruler of Hermopolis defected from Piye's
sphere of influence, to his side. A pair of naval engagements in Middle Egypt soon checked any further advances by Tefnakht's
coalition into Piye's territories, and Memphis was soon recaptured by Piye. After further campaigns, Tefnakht's allies surrendered
to Piye and Tefnakht soon found himself isolated. He finally dispatched a letter formally submitting his loyalty and swearing his
loyalty to Piye. Tefnakht, however, was the only Lower Egyptian king to not see Piye face to face. These details are recounted in
the Great Victory stela of Piye which this Nubian ruler erected on the New Year's Day of his 21st regnal year. Shortly afterwards,
Piye returned home to Nubia at Gebel Barkal, and never returned to Lower Egypt again.
Despite this setback, Tefnakht was left alone as the local prince of his region. He managed, over time, to soon reestablish his
kingdom's control in the Delta region from the political vacuum which resulted after Piye's departure from this region. It is
generally believed that prince Tefnakht officially proclaimed himself as king Shepsesre Tefnakht I and adopted a royal title—
sometime after Piye's departure from Lower Egypt. His successor at Sais was Bakenranef.
While most scholars such as Kenneth Kitchen have equated that Manetho's Tefnakht was the king Shepsesre Tefnakht II of Sais who is
attested by the Year 8 Athens donation stela, a recent article by Olivier Perdu has suggested that this Tefnakht was rather
Tefnakht II, a much later king of Sais who ruled during the Nubian 25th Dynasty. In his paper, Perdu published a newly discovered
stela dating from the second year of Necho I's reign, which he contends is similar in style, text and content to the Year 8 stela
of Shepsesre Tefnakht. Perdu, thus, infers that that these two kings of Sais—Necho I and Tefnakht II—were close contemporaries.
However his arguments are not currently accepted by scholars who believe that the Year 8 Athens stela of king Shepsesre Tefnakht
likely belongs to Tefnakht I rather than a hypothethical Tefnakht II who would then have assumed power in 685 BC at Sais—early
during the reign of Taharqa, one of the most powerful Nubian rulers of Egypt. Unlike Necho I, neither of this king's presumed
Saite royal predecessors, a certain Nekauba and Tefnakht II, are monumentally attested in Lower Egypt. Hence, the latter two kings
who appear in the records of Manetho's Epitome may well be fictitious. Moreover, it is improbable that Taharqa would have
tolerated the existence of a rival line of kings at Sais during the first half of his reign when he exercised full control over
Memphis and the Delta region.
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