Piye in Tour Egypt
PIYE AND THE 25TH DYNASTY
BY JIMMY DUNN
Most references point to Piye as being the first ruler of the 25th Dynasty. Obviously, different references refer to him
under different names. We believe he ruled Kush (Nubia) from about 750 to 719 BC. Piankhi was his birth name. But in
various references, we see his birth name referred to as Piankhy, Piye, Piy and Piyi. However, some references point out
that his true name was Piye, and that this was wrongly read as Piankhi. His Throne Name was Men-kheper-re, meaning "The
Manifestation of Re Abides"). But this name too will vary, being also spelled Menkheperra. Of course, this king, as most
others, had several other names which are not generally provided.
Piye ascended the Nubian (Kushite) thrown (or at least its northern half) as the successor of Kashta, which explains why at
least one reference refers to Kashta as the founder of the 25th Dynasty. Kashta apparently had made some earlier advances
into Egypt. But it was Piye who, for the first time, consolidated the rulership of Nubia and Egypt.
From the earliest dynastic periods, Nubia was always a matter of conquest for the Egyptian pharaohs, and as such, much of
Nubia was often under the control of Egypt. At times, it was very much a part of Egypt, and the customs of Nubia were a
reflection of those in at least Upper Egypt. This perhaps explains Piye's seemingly strong emotional ties with Egypt, what
he considered to be part of his motherland, even though he was not from Egypt proper.
So at least towards the end of the Third Intermediate Period, when Egypt seems to have surrendered to chaos with four kings
claiming rule within Egypt, as well as a number of local chieftains exercising control, particularly in the Delta, Piye
decided to step in and fix Egypt's problems.
Kashta had a stele erected at the Elephantine Temple of Khnum (current day Aswan), but in the early ears of Piye's reign,
he extended his rule to Thebes itself. There, he had his sister, Amenirdis I, named as the successor of Shepenwepet I, who
had the title, "God's Wife of Amun". Shepenwepet I was the sister of Rudamun of the Theban 23rd Dynasty, and apparently
both Rudamun and Piye were recognized at Thebes at the same time. After the death of Rudamun, the Theban royal line seems
to have abandoned Thebes in favor of Hierakleopolis, where Peftjauawy-bast, the last king of his dynasty remained an ally
Soon, Piye was given a reason to intervene further north. Tefnakhte (a Lybian), the Prince of Western Egypt based in the
Delta city of Sais extended his control south by taking the city of Memphis, as well as the old Middle Kingdom of Itj-tawy
(Lisht). At first, Piye merely checked Tefnakhte's movement south with a pair of naval battles in Middle Egypt, though he
left the Saite rulers in control of the North.
However, after spending New Years in Nubia, Piye returned to Thebes in time for the great Opet Festival, and subsequently
set about taking the remainder of Egypt under his control. His troops moved north, capturing three towns, and killing one
of Tefnakhte's sons in the process. Soon, Piye attacked the city of Ashmunein which was ruled by Nimlot, once an ally of
Piye. Using wooden siege towers, the city fell after five months.
Further North, Hierakleopolis, ruled by Piye's loyal ally, King Peftjauawybast, had been threatened by Tefnakhte, but the
capture of Nimlot relieved the pressure on Hierakleopolis, and soon Piye had control of every major center south of
Memphis, as well as capturing another of Tefnakhte's sons.
The only real obstacle left for Piye was Memphis, the ancient capital of Egypt. While the city was heavily fortified and
defended, as well as the water of the Nile protecting its walls, Piye was able to use the masts of boats and ships in the
Memphite harbor to assault the city and scale the walls. In very short order, Memphis too was bought under his control.
It is said that his first act was to protect the temple of Ptah, and then to go there himself to be anointed and to
With the capture of Memphis, most of the Delta rulers soon yielded to the Kushite king. One notable exception was
Tefnakhte, who even went so far as to mount another, but unsuccessful campaign against Piye. Finally, he to submitted to
Piye's rule of Egypt, taking an oath of loyalty.
After conquering Egypt, Piye simply went home to Nubia, and to our knowledge, never again returned to Egypt. He is
portrayed as a ruler who did not glory in the smiting of his adversaries, as did other kings, but rather preferred treaties
and alliances. He left the rule of the country largely in the hands of his vassals, but recorded his victories on a stela
(called the Victory Stela, now in the Egyptian Museum) at Napata. He left few monuments in Egypt, other than an expansion
of the Temple of Amun at Thebes (current day Luxor). Later, Tefnakhte would again claim kingdom and as the founder of the
24th Dynasty, rule at least the western Delta. However, later successors to Piye would consolidate their control over
Egypt, at least for a time.
Upon Piye's death, he was buried at El-Kurru, where he erected a small pyramid resembling the tall, narrow structures that
had been built above many private tombs of Egypt's New Kingdom.
Piye in Wikipedia
Piye, (Arabic: بعنخي) (whose name was once transliterated as Piankhi the Nubian) (d. 721 BC) was a Kushite king and founder of
the Twenty-fifth dynasty of Egypt who ruled Egypt from the city of Napata, located deep in Nubia, Sudan. His predecessor as king of
Kush, Kashta, almost certainly exercised a strong degree of influence over Thebes prior to Piye's accession because Kashta managed
to have his daughter, Amenirdis I, adopted as the Heiress to the serving God's Wife of Amun, Shepenupet I, before the end of his
Piye was the son of Kashta and Pebatjma. He is known to have had three or four wives. Abar was the mother of his successor Taharqa.
Further wives are Tabiry, Peksater and probably Khensa.
Piye was the father of King Taharqa and the God's Wife of Amun Shepenwepet II. A daughter named Qalhata would later marry King
Shabaka, she was the mother of king Tanutamun and probably of King Shabataka as well.
Three of his daughters - Tabekenamun, Naparaye and Takahatenamun - married their brother Taharqa. Another daughter, Arty, married
Piye had two further sons named Har and Khaliut.
Piye's Conquest of Egypt -
As ruler of Nubia and Upper Egypt, Piye took advantage of the squabbling of Egypt's rulers by expanding Nubia's power beyond Thebes
into Lower Egypt. In reaction to this, Tefnakht of Sais formed a coalition between the local kings of the Delta Region and enticed
Piye's nominal ally-king Nimlot of Hermopolis-to defect to his side. Tefnakht then sent his coalition army south and besieged
Herakleopolis where its king Peftjaubast and the local Nubian commanders appealed to Piye for help. Piye reacted quickly to this
crisis in his Year 20 by assembling an army to invade Middle and Lower Egypt and visited Thebes in time for the great Opet Festival
which proves he effectively controlled Upper Egypt by this time. His military feats are chronicled in the Victory stela at Gebel
Piye viewed his campaign as a Holy War, commanding his soldiers to cleanse themselves ritually before beginning battle. He himself
offered sacrifices to the great god Amun.
Piye then marched north and achieved complete victory at Herakleopolis, conquering the cities of Hermopolis and Memphis among
others, and received the submission of the kings of the Nile Delta including Iuput II of Leontopolis, Osorkon IV of Tanis and his
former ally Nimlot at Hermopolis. Hermopolis fell to the Nubian king after a siege lasting five months. Tefnakht took refuge in an
island in the Delta and formally conceded defeat in a letter to the Nubian king but refused to personally pay homage to the Kushite
ruler. Satisfied with his triumph, Piye proceeded to sail south to Thebes and returned to his homeland in Nubia never to return to
Egypt. Despite Piye's successful campaign into the Delta, his authority only extended northward from Thebes up to the western desert
oases and Herakleopolis where Peftjaubastet ruled as a Nubian vassal king. The local kings of Lower Egypt especially Tefnakht were
essentially free to do what they wanted without Piye's oversight. It was Shabaka, Piye's successor, who later rectified this
unsatisfactory situation by attacking Sais and defeating Tefnakht's successor Bakenranef at Sais, in his second regnal year.
Reign Length -
Piye adopted two throne names: Usimare and Sneferre during his reign and was much more passionate (in common with many kings of
Nubia) about the worship of the god Amun. He revitalised the moribund Great Temple of Amun at Gebel Barkal, first built under
Thutmose III of the New Kingdom by employing numerous sculptors and stone masons from Egypt to renew the temple. He was once thought
to have also used the throne name 'Menkheperre' ("the Manifestation of Ra abides") but this prenomen has now been recognised as
belonging to a local Theban king named Ini instead who was a contemporary of Piye. Piye's Highest known Date was long thought to be
the Year 24 III Akhet day 10 date mentioned in the "Smaller Dakhla Stela" (Ashmolean Museum No.1894) from his reign. This sandstone
stela measures 81.5 cm by 39.5 cm and was discovered from the Sutekh temple at Mut al-Kharib in the Western Desert Oasis town of
Dakhla, according to a JEA 54(1968) article by Jac Janssen. However, in early 2006, the Tomb of the Southern Vizier Padiamonet, son
of Pamiu, was discovered in the third Upper Terrace of Queen Hatshepsut's mortuary Temple at Deir El-Bahari by the Polish Mission
for the Centre of Mediterranean Archaeology. It was carved approximately 8 metres into the rock face of the temple cliff in an area
where several other Third Intermediate Period and Late Period burials have also been discovered. According to this article in the
Polish news site Nauka w Polsce (Science & Scholarship in Poland), Padiamonet's tomb contains a burial inscription which is dated to
Year 27 of Piye. Dr. Zbigniew Szafrański, Director of the Polish Mission, states regarding the find:
" The tomb had been plundered. We don't know whether in antiquity or in more recent times; however we have found fragments of
the mummy. On the basis of the inscriptions found in the tomb we suspect that buried there was the vizier Padiamonet who died in the
27th Year of the rule of the Pharaoh Piankhi (Piye) from the 25th Dynasty. "
Szafrański further notes that the Mummy cartonnage (a cover in which the mummy is placed) found in Padiamonet's burial chamber
featured "beautiful, ornate, colourful pictures [in which] you can read in hieroglyphs the name of the Vizier. It is also visible on
the fragments of the [mummy] bandages."
The Great Temple at Gebel Barkal contains carved relief scenes depicting Piye celebrating a Heb Sed Festival but there is some doubt
among scholars as to whether it portrayed a genuine Sed Feast or was merely Anticipatory. Under the latter scenario, Piye would have
planned to hold a Jubilee Festival in this Temple in his 30th Year-hence his recruitment of Egypt's Artisans to decorate it-but died
before this event took place.
While Piye's precise reign length is still unknown, this new find and his subsequently higher Year 27 date affirms the traditional
view that Piye lived into his Year 30 and celebrated his Jubilee that year. Kenneth Kitchen in his book, The Third Intermediate
Period in Egypt, has suggested a reign of 31 years for Piye based on the Year 7 donation stela of a certain Shepsesre Tefnakht whom
he viewed as Piye's opponent. However, this stela is now believed to refer instead to a second later Saite king called Tefnakht II
from the late Nubian era because it is almost similar in style and format to a newly revealed donation stela-from a private
collection-which is dated to Year 2 of Necho I's reign. (This new document was analysed by Olivier Perdu in CRAIBL 2002) Hence, no
reliance can be placed on the Year 8 stela of Shepsesre Tefnakht to determine Piye's reign length. However, Dr Szafrański's recent
discovery suggests that the Gebel Barkal Heb Sed scenes are genuine and supports the conventional view that Piye enjoyed a reign of
roughly three full decades. More recently, in the February 2008 issue of National Geographic, Robert Draper wrote that Piye ruled
for 35 years and invaded all of Egypt in his 20th regnal year in about 730 BC; however, no archaeological source gives Piye a
reign of more than 31 years at present.
Piye was buried in a pyramid (the first pharaoh to receive such an entombment in more than 500 years) alongside his four favorite
horses at el-Kurru near Gebel Barkal, a site that would come to be occupied by the tombs of several later members of the dynasty.