The Third Intermediate Period begins with the death of Ramesses XI, the last pharaoh of the New Kingdom, and runs until the the beginning of the Late Period. The exact start of the Late Period is much debated, but agreed by many to be the beginning of the Twenty-Sixth Dynasty.
The Third Intermediate Period is generally characterised as a period of political instability and economic decline. However, although foreign rulers held sway over the country for much of the time, the period was still relatively stable. There was an influx of immigrants from Asia, Libya, and Nubia which permanently affected social, religious, and funerary practices.
Egypt became more inward looking and suffered a notable reduction in power and influence. It is notoriously difficult to establish a secure historical framework for the period, and records such as the Kings Lists do not cover dynasties 21 to 25, leading Egyptologist to fall back on fragmentary records and excerpts from Manetho.
Pahensy, the Viceroy of Kush, waged a civil war which resulted in the loss of Nubia and the all important gold mines. The pharaohs of the late Twentieth Dynasty were already losing their grip over the powerful city of Thebes and following the death of Ramesses XI the priests of Thebes set themselves up as independent rulers of Upper Egypt.
The Twenty-First Dynasty ruled from the city of Tanis in the delta but only really held sway over Lower Egypt. The division may not have been as marked as it appears now, however, as there were close family ties between the Twenty-First Dynasty kings and the High Priests of Thebes.
The Twenty-Second Dynasty was founded by Sheshonq I, of Libyan origin. He reunited the two lands and for around two centuries there was peace and stability. He is considered by many to be the Biblical Pharaoh Shishak who sacked Jerusalem during the reign of Rehoboam. However, the power of the provincial ruler grew as centralised authority waned.
Harsiese, the High Priest of Thebes, declared himself king and during the rule of Takelot II a separate ruling family, the Twenty-Third dynasty, was established in the eastern delta. The two dynasties ruled concurrently for around ninety years. The two factions continued to vie for power until Osorkon B asserted his control and founded a dynasty of Libyan rulers in Upper Egypt. This dynasty only survived until the death of Rudamun, after which the rulers of powerful city states rose to prominence.
The Twenty-Fourth dynasty kings comprises only two kings Tefnakht and Bakenrenef. They were of Libyan origin and ruled from Sais. However, the Nubian ruler Piye launched an expedition to restrain Tefnakht and seems to have taken Thebes with little difficulty before returning home. His successor Shabata launched a further invasion and this time Egypt was annexed to Kush. He and his successors constituted the twenty-fifth dynasty. They managed a large and powerful empire and built and rebuilt many temples.
When they sought to expand their power in the Levant they challenged the power of the Assyrians who responded by invading Egypt. The first invasion was repelled, but their second attempt was successful and Taharqa was forced to flee Egypt leaving his wife and son in the hands of the enemy.
The Assyrians withdrew leaving vassals to rule in their stead and Tanutamani managed to reassert Nubian control of Egypt. The Assyrians responded in force, sacking Thebes and sending the Nubians packing. Thus ended Nubian control and the Third Intermediate Period.
Psamtik of Sais, founder of the Twenty-sixth dynasty, was one of the regional rulers left in charge by the Assyrians. He would eventually force the invaders out of Egypt and reunite the country, inaugurating the Late Period.
High Priests Thebes
(O.C. 1080 – 945 B.C)
- Herihor Siamun (Hemnetjertepyenamun)
Pinedjem I (Khakheperre Setepenamun)
- Menkheperre (Hemnetjertepyenamun)
- Pinedjem II (Khakheperre Setepenamun)
- Psusennes III
Dynasty Twenty One; Tanis
(O.C. 1069 – 945)
- Smendes I Nesbanebdjed (Hedjkheperre Setepenre)
- Amenemnisu (Neferkare)
- Psusennes I Pasebanebdjed (Hedjkheperre Setepenre)
- Amenemope (Usermaatre Meryamun Setepenamun)
- Osorkson the Elder (AaKheperre Setepenre)
- Siamun (Netjerkheperre Setepenamun)
- Psusennes I Pasebakhenniut (Titkheperure)
Dynasty Twenty Two;
(O.C. 945 – 712 B.C)
- Sheshonq I Meryamun (Hedjkheperre Setepenre)
- Osorkson I Meryamun (Sekhemkheperre)
- Sheshonq I Meryamun (Heqakheperre)
- Takelot I Meryamun (Usermaatre Setepenre)
- Osorkson II Meryamun (Usermaatre Setepenamun)
- Takelot II Meryamun (Hedjkheperre Setepenre)
- Sheshonq III Meryamun (Usermaatre Setepenre)
- Pami (Usermaatre Setepenre)
- Sheshonq V (Aakheperre)
- Osorkson IV (Setepenamun)
Dynasty Twenty Three
(O.C. 818 – 712)
- Harsiese (Meryamun Hedjkheperre Setepenre)
- Pedibastet Meryamun (Usermaatre Setepenre)
- Sheshonq IV (Usermaatre Meryamun)
- Osorkson III (Usermaatre Setepenamun)
- Takelot III (Usermaatre)
- Rudamon (Usermaatre Setepenamun)
Local Ruler in Thebes
- Menkheperre Ini
Dynasty Twenty Four
(O.C. 727 – 715 B.C)
- Tefnakht (Shepsesre)
- Bakenrenef Wahkare (Bocchoris)
Dynasty Twenty Five
(O.C. 747 – 656 B.C)
- Shabata (Neferkare)
- Shebitu (Djedkare)
- Taharqa (Nefertemkhure)
- Tanutamani (Bakare)
Copyright J Hill 2015