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Egypt: History - Dynasty XXVIII (Twenty-eighth Dynasty)


Twenty-eighth Dynasty


The forty years ending with the death of Darius II in 404 BC are a complete blank so far as Egypt is concerned. It is only amid the stirring events attending the accession of Artaxerxes II that she re-enters upon the Middle Eastern stage. Manetho ends at this point his Dyn. XXVII of Persian rulers. He makes his TWENTY-EIGHTH DYNASTY consist of a single king Amyrtaeus of Sais, presumably a kinsman of the Amyrtaeus who carried on the struggle of Inaros after the latter's capture by his enemies. The Greek historians makes only one doubtful allusion to the new Pharaoh, Diodorus (xiv. 35), who is here responsible, mistakenly calling him 'Psammetichus, a descendant of the (famous) Psammetichus. The episode in question tells how after the battle of Cynaxa (401 BC), where the insurgent prince Cyrus was defeated and killed, his friend the Memphite admiral Tamos, whom he had appointed governor of Ionia, fled to Egypt to escape the vengeance of Artaxerxes II's satrap Tissaphernes, taking all his ships with him; but Amyrtaeus, if it was he whom Diodorus referred to as Psammetichus, put Tamos to death. According to a later Egyptian tradition Amyrtaeus in some way offended against the dictates of Law, with the consequence that his son was not suffered to succeed him. The conviction that earthly prosperity and righteous conduct are inexorably bound up together finds expression in the curious and cryptic papyrus passing the inexact name 'The Demotic Chronicle'. That is the papyrus from which we learned about Cambyses' withdrawal of grants to the Egyptian temples and about Darius's command that the laws of the country should be in recorded in writing. It is however, the composition on the recto with which we have hear to deal. This is a strange farrago of calendrical data, festivals, and geographical references which would have no value or meaning for us without the interpretations or prophecies accompanying each item. These are of great historic interest in as much as they include two absolutely correct sequences of the kings 'who came after Medes' (i.e. after the Persians) from Amyrtaeus down to Teos, the second king of Manetho's Dyn XXX. The oracular text thus claiming to find a relation of cause and effect between virtuous conduct and successful life on earth is believed to have been a priestly product of the second century BC Manetho allots to Amyrtaeus a reign of six years, which is probably correct since the Aramaic papyri from Elephantine include a promise of the repayment of a debt dating from his fifth year. Apart from a letter from the same source quoting his name in close proximity to that of Nepherites, his immediate successor, there exists no further reference to him, and he has left no monuments. We are in the dark alike as to how he came by his throne and as to how he lost it .


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Last Updated: June 20th, 2011

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