The 25th dynasty of Egypt parallels the Egyptian third intermediate period from 1070-635 BC. Piankhi, the king of Kush, better known as Piye, laid the foundations of the 25th dynasty in 823-c.
– 723 BCE in lower Egypt.
Egypt was under civil unrest with political instability throughout this time. The regional chieftains and elites were vying for power. As a Kushite king, Piye invaded Egypt from the south and ended the lower Egypt’s petty kingdoms.
The Conquests of the Kushite Empire
The Kush King Piye ruled upper Egypt and expanded to lower Egypt. He wrote about his conquests of lower Egypt in his ‘Stele of Victory’ where there is a record of his successes. In history, he is known as the royal who conquered all of Egypt and achieved the double kingship after careful planning by generations upon generations of Kushite.
The kingdom of Kush emerged from Sudan’s population near the mouth Barkal, between the third and fourth Nile cataracts. Piye’s army enjoyed great successes. They conquered an army near Heracleopolic in Middle Egypt. Took ahold of Hermopolis, which was the stronghold of Libyans. The army had previously been fighting the Libyans as they posed a threat to Upper Egypt, where the Kushites ruled.
Piye also received a submission from several other delta potentates and eventually, the 23rd Egyptian dynasty’s last representative. Slowly and gradually, the other local rulers also surrendered. The Libyan Chieftain, Tefnakhte, who had previously been a threat to the kingdom, also submitted to Piye’s rule.
However, after all of this, the king of Kush retired to his home at mount Barkal, where he spent the rest of his days and was buried there. He called himself the king of all lands and had a statue of himself erected where the god Amun, worshipped and revered by the Egyptians, was handing Piye the crowns of Egypt and Kush.
It was during Piye’s time when Egypt saw a revival of culture and the arts. State artisans were encouraged to emulate the New Kingdom artworks, funds were collected to restore the pyramids to their splendor and ancient temples throughout the empire.
Shabaka (ca. 712-702 BC)
Nubia was an ancient region in northeastern Africa extending from the Nile River valley eastward to the Red Sea (near the first cataract of upper Egypt). After the complete Egyptianization by the ruler, Piye, it was apparent that the Kushites considered themselves culturally superior to the Lower Egyptians. However, they remained peaceful with the Thebans due to their mutual love for the god Amun.
Following king Piye, his brother Shabaka moved the royal residence to Memphis in Upper Egypt. He is officially known as the ruler who founded the 25th dynasty of Egypt while King Piye laid out the foundations. He, too, promoted ancient Egypt’s culture like his brother and commissioned the reproduction of a lot of religious texts of earlier times.
During Shabak’s time, he was also faced with rebellion from Lower Egypt but promptly defeated them and established Kushite control throughout Lower Egypt to the Delta region.
Historians claim that this was a ‘dark time’ for Egyptians as the Nubian cultured supplanted traditional Egyptian values. However, there is no real evidence for this because by this time, the Kushite culture had already become Egyptianized, and the Kushite kings, both Piye and Shabaka, had admired Egyptian culture.
Thus, Egyptian policies were followed and respected. After Shabaka’s son, Haremakhet, was appointed the high priest of Amun Thebes, Shabaka himself ventured out on a journey to rebuild and restore buildings throughout the country, of course, heavily inspired by Egyptian history. The Kushite Dynasty is known for preserving Egyptian culture due to these kings’ efforts and those who preceded them.
After Shabako’s 14 years of ruling, he was succeeded by Shebitku, who held the throne until Taharka in 689 BC. Shabako and Shebitku are decidedly absent from the Assyrian and Hebrew records even though it is to be believed that during Shebitku’s rule, the empire was greatly defeated by the Assyrians.