on 27 March 2015
In his previous works Amarna Sunset and Poison Legacy, Aidan Dodson explored the downfall of the Eighteenth and Nineteenth Dynasties; in this new volume he tackles the Third Intermediate Period, one of the more confusing eras in Egyptian history.
After stating where he stands with regards to the chronology debate (Dodson thanks the so-called “radicals” James, Morkot and Rohl for their stimulating discussion, but finds he cannot accept the assumptions on which their revised dating system is based), and his intent to provide the first new and accessible account of the period since Kitchen’s seminal work in 1973, Dodson begins with the reign of Rameses IX (c. 1126-1108 BC), which “was to mark a watershed in the history of Egypt”.
Following the fall of the Ramesside kings, control of Egypt became divided, with the Twenty-First Dynasty kings ruling the north from Tanis, and the High Priests of Amun running the south. Centralised control was restored temporarily with the rise of the house of Shoshenq (Twenty-Second Dynasty of Libyan origin), but the unified state had again disintegrated into civil strife from the middle of the dynasty, with local rulers taking independent power, and the rise of a line of rulers at Sais in the western Delta. Their expansion south at this time triggered the Nubian ruler Piye, already in control of Thebes, to march north and seize power, becoming the first of a line of Nubian pharaohs, the Twenty-Fifth Dynasty. The Assyrian-backed Twenty-Sixth Dynasty brought a new period of stability, marking the beginning of the Late Period, until the rise of the Persians c.525 BC.
Dodson untangles this complicated period, reassessing texts, art, monuments and archaeology to give a clear chronological survey of the key players (including Panedjem I, Herihor, Shoshenq I, Osorkon II, Taharqa, and the royal women who held the title ‘God’s Wife of Amen’ such as Amenirdis I). The book is certainly scholarly (extensive bibliography and notes with five appendices including chronological charts, family tree diagrams and a list of the cartouches and titularies of kings and principal God’s Wives of Amun), but it’s also an enjoyable read, supported by plenty of black-and-white photographs, diagrams and maps, and will help to bring a greater understanding and appreciation of this often obscure period of Pharaonic history to a much wider audience.
Review by ancientegyptmagazine dot com