Ancient History & Civilisation



The most accessible account of the discovery of Tutankhamun’s tomb and the careers of the main protagonists is Nicholas Reeves, The Complete Tutankhamun. Carter’s own three-volume publication, The Tomb of Tut.ankh.Amen, also makes fascinating reading.

For the decipherment of hieroglyphics by Jean-François Champollion, an entertaining recent study is John Ray, The Rosetta Stone. The career of John Gardner Wilkinson is reconstructed from the entry in Warren Dawson and Eric Uphill, Who Was Who in Egyptology (pp. 305–307).

The book about Tutankhamun that I read at the age of six was Christiane Desroches Noblecourt, Tutankhamen. I have yet to track down my first encyclopedia that piqued my interest in hieroglyphics.


The literature on the Narmer Palette is extensive and varied. Besides the valuable original publication by James Quibell, “Slate Palette from Hierakonpolis,” among the more interesting recent discussions are Walter Fairservis, “A Revised View of the Na‘rmr Palette”; O. Goldwasser, “The Narmer Palette and the ‘Triumph of Metaphor’ ”; Christiana Köhler, “History or Ideology?”; Bruce Trigger, “The Narmer Palette in Cross-Cultural Perspective”; David Wengrow, “Rethinking ‘Cattle Cults’ in Early Egypt”; and Toby Wilkinson, “What a King Is This.” The last also argues that “Narmer” is unlikely to be the correct reading of the name; indeed, the catfish and chisel may not represent a name at all but rather an expression of royal authority. Ian Shaw’s Ancient Egypt: A Very Short Introduction (passim) and Barry Kemp’s Ancient Egypt: Anatomy of a Civilization (pp. 83–84) also present some original and important insights. Whitney Davis’s Masking the Blow is more controversial, though nonetheless stimulating.

Quibell and Green’s excavations at Nekhen are summarized in two slim reports, Hierakonpolis, I (by Quibell alone) and Hierakonpolis, II (by Quibell and Green); these are very usefully supplemented by Green’s field notebooks, kept in the Faculty of Asian and Middle Eastern Studies at the University of Cambridge. For an accessible and comprehensive overview of Nekhen and its archaeology, see the historical essay by Barbara Adams in her book Ancient Nekhen.

The important material from Nabta Playa has been well documented by the site’s excavators, Fred Wendorf and Romauld Schild. Especially useful are their articles “Nabta Playa and Its Role” and “Implications of Incipient Social Complexity.” The original announcement of the discovery of the “calendar circle” was made by J. Malville et al., “Megaliths and Neolithic Astronomy.”

By contrast, the rock art of the Eastern Desert has been known for a century or more. The most significant early reports are Arthur Weigall, Travels in the Upper Egyptian Deserts, and two volumes by Hans Winkler, Völker und Völkerbewegungen and Rock-Drawings of Southern Upper Egypt, vol. 1. Further discoveries have been documented by Walter Resch, “Neue Felsbilderfunde in der ägyptische Ostwüste”; Gerard Fuchs, “Petroglyphs in the Eastern Desert of Egypt” and “Rock Engravings in the Wadi el-Barramiya”; Pavel Červícˇek, Rock Pictures of Upper Egypt and Nubia; Sharon Herbert and Henry Wright, “Report on the 1987 University of Michigan/University of Assiut Expedition”; Susan and Donald Redford,“Graffiti and Petroglyphs”; David Rohl (ed.),The Followers of Horus; and Maggie and Mike Morrow (eds.), Desert RATS. The evidence is usefully summarized and interpreted in Toby Wilkinson, Genesis of the Pharaohs.

The subject of climatic change in prehistory, and its effects, has received much attention in recent years. See, for example, Kathryn Bard and Robert Carneiro, “Patterns of Predynastic Settlement”; Karl Butzer, “Desert Environments”; and Romauld Schild and Fred Wendorf, “Palaeo-ecologic and Palaeo-climatic Background to Socio-economic Changes.” For the closely related topic of prehistoric desert cultures and their influence on the rise of civilization in the Nile Valley, see W. McHugh, “Implications of a Decorated Predynastic Terracotta Model.” See also several of the papers in Renée Friedman (ed.), Egypt and Nubia, especially Colin Hope, “Early and Mid-Holocene Ceramics”; Deborah Darnell, “Gravel of the Desert”; and Renée Friedman and Joseph Hobbs, “A ‘Tasian’ Tomb.”

The best overview of the geology and topography of the Nile Valley is David Jeffreys, “The Nile Valley.” There are strong echoes of the ancient Egyptian creation myth, with its dark and watery abyss, in the Judaeo-Christian creation story: “darkness was upon the face of the deep” (Genesis 1:2). Ancient Egyptian creation myths are considered in detail by James Allen, Genesis in Egypt, and are summarized by Vincent Arieh Tobin, “Creation Myths.”

Badarian culture was first identified by Guy Brunton and Gertrude Caton-Thompson, The Badarian Civilisation, and Wendy Anderson, “Badarian Burials,” recognized the presence of social differentiation. The sequence of cultural development during the latter phases of the Predynastic Period has been extensively studied. Authoritative works include Kathryn Bard, From Farmers to Pharaohs; Béatrix Midant-Reynes, The Prehistory of Egypt; and Toby Wilkinson, State Formation in Egypt.

The significance of elite cemeteries for charting the later stages of political unification is discussed by Barry Kemp, Ancient Egypt (Chapter 2, especially pp. 73–92), and Toby Wilkinson, Early Dynastic Egypt (Chapter 2). “Political Unification,” also by Toby Wilkinson, presents a plausible reconstruction of events based on the archaeological evidence. The important new discovery of the Gebel Tjauti victory inscription is published by John and Deborah Darnell, “Opening the Narrow Doors of the Desert” andTheban Desert Road Survey. For tomb U-j at Abdju, the royal tomb designed to resemble a miniature palace, see the two volumes of final excavation reports by Günter Dreyer, Umm el-Qaab I, and Ulrich Hartung, Umm el-Qaab II. The evidence for warfare having played a decisive role in the final stages of unification is discussed by Marcelo Campagno, “In the Beginning Was the War.” See also Elizabeth Finkenstaedt, “Violence and Kingship.” For cranial injuries at predynastic Hierakonpolis, see Wendy Potter and Joseph Powell, “Big Headaches in the Predynastic.”

The surviving Nilometer on Elephantine dates to the Roman Period, but there must have been similar devices from the dawn of history, since the government kept records of the height of the Nile floods from early in the First Dynasty (see Toby Wilkinson, Royal Annals). Although more than a quarter century old, John Baines and Jaromír Málek, Atlas of Ancient Egypt, still offers the most accessible overview of the geography of the Nile Valley and delta.

  1. Herodotus, Book II, Chapter 5.

  2. Book of the Dead, Chapter 17, section 2.


Ancient Egyptian kingship has an extensive bibliography. For a good introduction, with further references, see Katja Goebs, “Kingship,” and David O’Connor and David Silverman (eds.), Ancient Egyptian Kingship. In the latter volume, John Baines, “Origins of Egyptian Kingship,” focuses on the early development of kingship ideology, as does Chapter 5 of Toby Wilkinson’s Early Dynastic Egypt.

The painted beaker from Abdju is published by Günter Dreyer et al., “Umm el-Qaab, Nachuntersuchungen im frühzeitlichen Königsfriedhof” (figures 12.1 and 13). The recently discovered sacred complex of tombs and halls near Nekhen is described by Renée Friedman, “New Tombs and New Thoughts” and “From Pillar to Post.” For the Painted Tomb (Tomb 100) at the same site, see H. Case and Joan Crowfoot Payne, “Tomb 100,” supplemented by Barry Kemp, “Photographs of the Decorated Tomb at Hierakonpolis.” The longevity of the smiting motif is considered by Emma Swan Hall, The Pharaoh Smites His Enemies. The iconography of the Battlefield Palette, Gebel Sheikh Suleiman inscription, and Narmer Palette are considered by Bernadette Menu, “L’émergence et la symbolique du pouvoir pharaonique,” Winifred Needler, “A Rock-Drawing on Gebel Sheikh Suliman,” and Toby Wilkinson, “What a King Is This.”

The most detailed discussion of the origins and early development of royal regalia is to be found in Toby Wilkinson, Early Dynastic Egypt (pp. 186–199). For the original publication of the wooden staff from el-Omari, see Fernand Debono and Bodil Mortensen,El Omari (plates 28 and 43.2). Günter Dreyer, “A Hundred Years at Abydos,” includes an excellent color photograph of the royal scepter from tomb U-j (the royal tomb at Abdju).

Palace-façade architecture and its supposed Mesopotamian origins have attracted much comment. Still useful are Henry Frankfort, “The Origin of Monumental Architecture,” and Werner Kaiser, “Zu Entwicklung und Vorformen”; the evidence is collated in Toby Wilkinson, Early Dynastic Egypt (pp. 224–229). The wider context of cultural interaction between Mesopotamia and Egypt in the late fourth millennium B.C. is addressed by Toby Wilkinson, “Uruk into Egypt,” and Ulrich Hartung, Umm el-Qaab II.

The best overview of ancient Egyptian royal titles is Stephen Quirke, Who Were the Pharaohs?, while Toby Wilkinson, Early Dynastic Egypt (pp. 200–208) charts the titles’ early development. The latter source (pp. 208–218) also discusses early royal ceremony, a subject dealt with at greater length by Alessandro Jiménez Serrano, Royal Festivals.

The Scorpion and Narmer mace heads are examined in detail by Krzysztof Ciakowicz, Les Têtes de Massues, and Nicholas Millet, “The Narmer Macehead”; for excellent photographs of both objects by Werner Forman, see Jaromír Málek, In the Shadow of the Pyramids (pp. 28 and 29). Liam McNamara is carrying out a thorough reinvestigation and reinterpretation of the Hierakonpolis temple/cult center; for his preliminary conclusions, see “The Revetted Mound at Hierakonpolis.” The observation about the severed genitals of Narmer’s enemies was first made by Vivian Davies and Renée Friedman, “The Narmer Palette: A Forgotten Member.” For Werner Forman’s photograph of the statue base of Netjerikhet, with the king trampling the common people underfoot, see Jaromír Málek, In the Shadow of the Pyramids (pp. 88–89).

The evidence for possible human sacrifice in early Egypt is discussed in Jean-Pierre Albert and Béatrix Midant-Reynes (eds.), Le sacrifice humain en Égypte ancienne, especially the contributions by Éric Crubézy and Béatrix Midant-Reynes, “Les sacrifices humains”; Michel Baud and Marc Étienne, “Le vanneau et le couteau”; and Bernadette Menu, “Mise à mort cérémonielle.” Useful summaries include Béatrix Midant-Reynes, “The Naqada Period” (p. 50); Kathryn Bard, “The Emergence of the Egyptian State” (p. 68); Jeffrey Spencer, Early Egypt (p. 79); and Toby Wilkinson, Early Dynastic Egypt (pp. 227 and 237). Recent evidence for scalping and decapitation at Nekhen is presented by Amy Maish, “Not Just Another Cut Throat”; Sean Dougherty, “A Little More off the Top”; and Xavier Droux, “Headless at Hierakonpolis.” The willing death of retainers to accompany their master into the afterlife is not as far-fetched as it may sound. As recently as 1989, a loyal servant of the Japanese emperor Hirohito committed suicide as soon as his monarch’s death was publicly announced. The pictorial evidence for human sacrifice in a cultic setting is presented by Toby Wilkinson, Early Dynastic Egypt (pp. 265–267).

The subsidiary burials surrounding the First Dynasty royal tombs and funerary enclosures at Abdju were published by Flinders Petrie, Royal Tombs of the First Dynasty, Royal Tombs of the Earliest Dynasties, and Tombs of the Courtiers. Recent fieldwork by the University of Pennsylvania Museum/Yale University/Institute of Fine Arts, New York University expedition has been reported online and by Matthew Adams, “Monuments of Egypt’s Early Kings at Abydos.” I am indebted to Professor Geoffrey Martin for information about the funerary stelae from the subsidiary burials at Abdju. The human retainers included dwarfs, trappers of wild game, and a butcher—an entourage redolent of English noble households in the Middle Ages. In a similar vein, the First Dynasty Egyptian kings evidently favored dogs as pets, but one ruler seems to have kept a hyena, while another was buried with donkeys, perhaps to transport his belongings into the next world (see Stine Rossel et al., “Domestication of the Donkey”).


The best discussions of the origins and early uses of writing in ancient Egypt are Kathryn Bard, “Origins of Egyptian Writing,” and John Ray, “The Emergence of Writing in Egypt.” Nicholas Postgate, Tao Wang, and Toby Wilkinson, “The Evidence for Early Writing,” compares the Egyptian evidence with early writing from Mesopotamia, Central America, and China. Günter Dreyer, Umm el-Qaab I, presents the new evidence from Abdju.

For the early Egyptian presence in southern Palestine, a useful collection of papers is brought together by Edwin van den Brink and Thomas Levy (eds.), Egypt and the Levant. An earlier article by Baruch Brandl, “Evidence for Egyptian Colonization,” is still useful, while the material from the crucial site of En Besor is presented by Ram Gophna, “The Contacts Between ‘En Besor Oasis, Southern Canaan, and Egypt,” and (with D. Gazit) “The First Dynasty Egyptian Residency at ‘En Besor.” The contrast between the reality of Egypt’s foreign relations and the institutionalized xenophobia is discussed by Toby Wilkinson, “Reality Versus Ideology.” After decades of misattribution, the second inscription at Gebel Sheikh Suleiman was correctly reinterpreted by William Murnane, “The Gebel Sheikh Suleiman Monument,” while Toby Wilkinson, Early Dynastic Egypt (pp. 175–179), charts the extirpation of the Nubian predynastic A-Group culture by the early Egyptians.

The latter work (Chapter 4) also includes the best treatment to date of early taxation and the workings of the Early Dynastic treasury. A comprehensive publication of the Palermo Stone and its associated fragments may be found in Toby Wilkinson, Royal Annals of Ancient Egypt. By the same author, Early Dynastic Egypt (pp. 75–78) is now the best source for the reign of Den and, at the end of the First Dynasty, the career of Merka (pp. 148–149). Bryan Emery excavated most of the major First Dynasty mastabas at North Saqqara, and his three-volume Great Tombs of the First Dynasty remains indispensable. He also published a separate account of the tomb of Hemaka, Excavations at Saqqara: The Tomb of Hemaka, and summarized his findings (with excellent architectural drawings but a now seriously outdated interpretation) in the popular Archaic Egypt.

The First Dynasty fortress on Abu is published by Martin Ziermann, Elephantine XVI, and its implications are discussed by Stephan Seidlmayer, “Town and State in the Early Old Kingdom.”

The history of the Second Dynasty has received less attention than the preceding or succeeding periods, because of the difficulties involved in interpreting the fragmentary evidence. The best summaries are Aidan Dodson, “The Mysterious 2nd Dynasty,” and Toby Wilkinson, Early Dynastic Egypt (pp. 82–94). For the cedarwood ships at Abdju, see David O’Connor, “The Earliest Royal Boat Graves” and “The Royal Boat Burials at Abydos”; the earliest bronze vessels in Egypt are published by Jeffrey Spencer, Early Egypt (p. 88). Evidence for the early timber trade with Kebny is provided by the recent discovery of coniferous veneers at a predynastic funerary complex at Hierakonpolis. See Renée Friedman, “Origins of Monumental Architecture.”

The Gisr el-Mudir has been the subject of recent survey and excavation by a team from the National Museums of Scotland. Their preliminary reports provide the most up-to-date information on this intriguing monument: Ian Mathieson and Ana Tavares, “Preliminary Report”; Elizabeth Bettles et al., National Museums of Scotland Saqqara Project Report 1995; and Ana Tavares, “The Saqqara Survey Project.”

The late Jean-Philippe Lauer dedicated his entire adult life to excavating and reconstructing the Step Pyramid complex of Netjerikhet, and his three-volume Fouilles à Saqqarah remains the unrivaled publication of this monument; his more popular Saqqara is more accessible to an English-speaking audience. The careers of Imhotep and other high officials at the court of Netjerikhet are examined in Toby Wilkinson, Lives of the Ancient Egyptians (nos. 5, 6, and 7).

For the small step pyramids of the late Third Dynasty, see the preliminary studies by Günter Dreyer and Werner Kaiser, “Zu den kleinen Stufenpyramiden,” and Günter Dreyer and Nabil Swelim, “Die kleine Stufenpyramide”; and the interpretations by Stephan Seidlmayer, “Town and State in the Early Old Kingdom,” and Toby Wilkinson, Early Dynastic Egypt (pp. 277–279).


The most comprehensive and up-to-date source (with an extensive bibliography) for the Great Pyramid is John Romer, The Great Pyramid. Mark Lehner, The Complete Pyramids, is essential for understanding Khufu’s pyramid as the apogee of a long tradition in ancient Egyptian funerary architecture. José-Ramón Pérez-Accino, “The Great Pyramid,” conveniently summarizes some of the more exotic theories concerning the construction of the Giza monument.

For social change at the beginning of the Fourth Dynasty, see Ann Macy Roth, “Social Change.” The entry on the Palermo Stone recording the foundation of royal estates by Sneferu is discussed in Toby Wilkinson, Royal Annals (p. 143), while Barry Kemp,Ancient Egypt (p. 166 and fig. 59), provides a useful discussion of the estates serving Sneferu’s mortuary cult. The results of recent excavations at Imu have been published by Robert Wenke, “Kom el-Hisn.”

Vivian Davies and Renée Friedman, Egypt (p. 74), give a lively account of the building problems at the Bent Pyramid. Calculation of construction rates and different theories about the length of Sneferu’s reign are addressed by Rainer Stadelmann, “Beiträge zur Geschichte des Alten Reiches,” and Rolf Krauss, “The Length of Sneferu’s Reign.”

The concentration of political power among a handful of royal relatives during the Fourth Dynasty is discussed by Nigel Strudwick, The Administration of Egypt in the Old Kingdom, and Michel Baud, La famille royale. For the careers of Hemiunu, Perniankhu, and Hetepheres, see Toby Wilkinson, Lives of the Ancient Egyptians (nos. 11, 12, and 9, respectively). Hetepheres’s bracelets are beautifully illustrated in the Metropolitan Museum of Art, Egyptian Art (pp. 216–217). The best summary of the Great Pyramid’s stellar orientation is Kate Spence, “Are the Pyramids Aligned with the Stars?,” while her two more specialist articles, “Ancient Egyptian Chronology” and “Astronomical Orientation of the Pyramids,” explain and defend her own theory that the Egyptians used two of the circumpolar stars.

The pyramid workforce is discussed in Mark Lehner, The Complete Pyramids, which also presents a summary of the material from Gerget Khufu; for a more detailed discussion of the latter, see Zahi Hawass, “The Workmen’s Community at Giza.” Mark Lehner’s publication “The Pyramid Age Settlement” is the definitive source for the pyramid town at south Giza, usefully supplemented by Nicholas Conard and Mark Lehner, “The 1988/1989 Excavation.” Richard Bussmann, “Siedlungen im Kontext der Pyramiden,” provides a useful synthesis of the evidence to date. For the burials of workers at Giza, see Zahi Hawass, “The Pyramid Builders,” and Vivian Davies and Renée Friedman, Egypt (pp. 85–87). The physical trauma suffered by the pyramid builders, as well as the medical intervention carried out to treat injuries, is discussed by F. Hussein et al., “Similarity of Treatment of Trauma.”

The purpose and symbolism of pyramids has received an enormous amount of attention, and the bibliography is almost endless. A useful starting point is Kate Spence, “What Is a Pyramid For?” but the discussion in the current volume is based upon the author’s own unpublished research.

Ann Macy Roth, “The Meaning of Menial Labour,” explores the culture of servitude among Fourth Dynasty officials. The evidence for far-flung desert expeditions is presented by Rudolph Kuper and Frank Förster, “Khufu’s ‘Mefat’ Expeditions”; Ian Shaw, “Khafra’s Quarries”; and Ian Shaw and Tom Heldal, “Rescue Work in the Khafra Quarries.” New excavations at the pyramid of Djedefra are published by Michel Valloggia, “Radjedef’s Pyramid Complex,” and excavations in the associated necropolis are published by Michel Baud and Nadine Moeller, “A Fourth Dynasty Royal Necropolis.”

For the pyramids of Khafra and Menkaura, see, once again, Mark Lehner, The Complete Pyramids. Rainer Stadelmann, “The Great Sphinx of Giza,” has argued plausibly, on stylistic and topographical grounds, that the Sphinx was carved by Khufu; other scholars have suggested that it was carved in Khufu’s likeness, but by his eldest son, Djedefra—or even that it was recarved in the Fourth Dynasty from a lion-headed statue that had first been created in the First Dynasty. But Mark Lehner, “The Sphinx,” has made a more convincing case for the generally accepted attribution of the monument to the reign of Khafra, based upon the geological and architectural evidence, and his conclusions have been followed here. For the ivory statuette of Khufu, see, among others, Toby Wilkinson,Lives of the Ancient Egyptians (no. 10).

  1. Jaromír Málek, “The Old Kingdom,” p. 92.

  2. Herodotus, Book II, Chapters 124 and 127.


Userkaf’s sun temple was excavated and published by Herbert Ricke, Das Sonnenheiligtum des Königs Userkaf; the main elements and decoration of this and other Fifth and Sixth dynasty royal monuments are again usefully summarized in Mark Lehner, The Complete Pyramids.

For the administrative reforms at the beginning of the Fifth Dynasty, and later in the Old Kingdom, see Naguib Kanawati, Governmental Reforms, and Nigel Strudwick, The Administration of Egypt in the Old Kingdom. Christopher Eyre, “Weni’s Career,” offers a closely argued and penetrating analysis of political and administrative developments in the late Old Kingdom, as seen through the lens of one individual’s career. The standard work on so-called ranking titles is Klaus Baer, Rank and Title. Tombs of high officials in the Memphite area are discussed by Jaromír Málek, In the Shadow of the Pyramids, and the most famous examples are illustrated in Alberto Siliotti, Guide to the Pyramids of Egypt. The tomb of Mereruka is comprehensively and beautifully published in the immense two-volume work by Prentice Duell, The Mastaba of Mereruka.

The evidence for disease and deformity in ancient Egypt is presented by John Nunn in his book Ancient Egyptian Medicine and his article “Disease”; by Joyce Filer, Disease; and Eugen Strouhal, “Deformity.” Kent Weeks, “Medicine, Surgery, and Public Health,” provides a useful overview. The tomb of Ankhmahor at Saqqara shows a fowler in the marshes with a scrotal swelling that might be an inguinal hernia or a hydrocele, while the tomb of Mehu shows two men with umbilical hernias. See John Nunn,Ancient Egyptian Medicine, fig. 8.3.

For the lives and careers of Ptahshepses, Unas, Pepiankh of Meir, Mereruka, Weni, Harkhuf, and Pepi II, see Toby Wilkinson, Lives of the Ancient Egyptians (nos. 13–15 and 17–20). For the career of Weni and its wider context, see Christopher Eyre, “Weni’s Career”; Eyre argues that the rise of a provincial bureaucracy in the late Fifth and Sixth dynasties signals not the beginnings of local autonomy but quite the reverse, a growing penetration of the state into the affairs of the provinces. For the striking absence of temples dedicated to local gods in the Old Kingdom, see Jaromír Málek, In the Shadow of the Pyramids (p. 109).

The standard edition of the papyri from the mortuary temple of Neferirkara at Abusir is Paule Posener-Kriéger, Les archives du temple funéraire; Barry Kemp, Ancient Egypt (pp. 164–171), also has a useful discussion of some of the documents.

Raymond Faulkner, The Ancient Egyptian Pyramid Texts, and James Allen, The Ancient Egyptian Pyramid Texts, are the best complete translations of these early religious inscriptions. For the disposition of texts within the pyramid of Unas, see James Allen, “Reading a Pyramid,” and for the Cannibal Hymn in particular, see Christopher Eyre, The Cannibal Hymn. The famine scene from the causeway of Unas is illustrated in W. Stevenson Smith, The Art and Architecture of Ancient Egypt (p. 134, fig. 126).

The existence of an ephemeral king Userkara seems proven by the inscription published by Michel Baud and Vassil Dobrev, “De nouvelles annals.” See also Naguib Kanawati, “New Evidence on the Reign of Userkare?”; Naguib Kanawati et al., Excavations at Saqqara, vol. 1; and the accompanying illustration (plate 6) in vol. 2 of the same series by Ali el-Khouli and Naguib Kanawati.

Evidence for the conspiracies against the life of Pepi I is presented by Naguib Kanawati, “Deux conspirations.” The best discussion of Pepi I’s cult chapels remains Labib Habachi, Tell Basta. The ongoing French excavations at Ayn Asil are summarized by Georges Soukiassian et al., “La ville d’ ‘Ayn Asil.” For the close links between the central government in Memphis and the Dakhla Oasis, see Laure Pantalacci, “De Memphis à Balat”; and for the watch posts surrounding the Dakhla Oasis, see Olaf Kaper and Harco Willems, “Policing the Desert.”

The autobiographical inscriptions of Weni and Harkhuf are translated in Miriam Lichtheim, Ancient Egyptian Literature (vol. 1, pp. 18–27). Toby Wilkinson, “Egyptian Explorers,” is a convenient source for Harkhuf’s expeditions to Yam.

Numerous authors have discussed the causes for the collapse of the Old Kingdom. For two recent examples, see Renate Müller-Wollermann, Krisenfaktoren, and Ian Shaw, “The End of the Great Pyramid Age.” Various principal factors have been proposed, ranging from adverse climatic conditions to the rise of provincial officials and the progressive alienation of economic resources from the central government. While the last seems unconvincing, compelling evidence for the effect of low Niles at the end of the Sixth Dynasty is presented by James Harrell and Thomas Bown, “An Old Kingdom Basalt Quarry.”

  1. Pyramid Texts, Utterances 273–274.

  2. Weni, autobiographical inscription, lines 3–4.

  3. Ibid., lines 10–13.

  4. Ibid., lines 6–7.

  5. Ibid., lines 27–28.

  6. Harkhuf, tomb inscription, right of entrance, lines 8–9.

  7. Ibid., left of entrance, lines 4–5.

  8. Ibid., far right of façade, lines 6–7.

  9. Ibid., far right of façade, lines 15–22.


Although there are some good recent summaries of First Intermediate Period history, notably the articles “First Intermediate Period” by Detlef Franke and “The First Intermediate Period” by Stephan Seidlmayer, there is really no substitute for direct engagement with the primary sources, epigraphic and archaeological. Texts from the period are surprisingly abundant, but scattered and fragmentary. Essential anthologies include Jacques Jean Clère and Jacques Vandier, Textes de la Première Période Intermédiaire; Henry Fischer, Inscriptions from the Coptite Nome and Dendera in the Third Millennium B.C.; Miriam Lichtheim, Ancient Egyptian Autobiographies; and, especially, Wolfgang Schenkel, Memphis-Herakleopolis-Theben. Ludwig Morenz, “The First Intermediate Period,” has suggested that the period should be renamed the “Era of the Regions,” to reflect the high degree of political decentralization.

For a reevaluation of the end of the Sixth Dynasty, the identification of Neitiqerty as a male ruler, and the ephemeral kings of the Eighth Dynasty, see Kim Ryholt, “The Late Old Kingdom.” The pyramid of Ibi at Saqqara was published by Gustave Jéquier, La Pyramide d’Aba, and is summarized in Mark Lehner, The Complete Pyramids (p. 164). Hans Goedicke, Königliche Dokumente (pp. 163–225) and William Hayes, “Royal Decrees,” remain the standard editions of the Gebtu decrees, while Goedicke’s “A Cult Inventory” provides useful background information about the temple cult at Gebtu in the late Eighth Dynasty. If, as Goedicke (“A Cult Inventory,” pp. 74 and 82) has suggested, Gebtu was a garrison town in the late Old Kingdom, its nomarchs may have provided the Eighth Dynasty kings with military as well as moral support.

Little is known for certain about the Herakleopolitan dynasty; the meager evidence is summarized by Jürgen von Beckerath, “Die Dynastie der Herakleopoliten,” while Stephan Seidlmayer, “Zwei Anmerkungen,” helps to refine the chronology of the period. The dynasty’s rise to power by force may be suggested by the late Old Kingdom tombs at Hagarsa, near Akhmim in Middle Egypt, which seem to show evidence of military activity. See Naguib Kanawati, “Akhmim.” For the tomb of “King Khui” at Dara, see Barry Kemp, Ancient Egypt (pp. 338–339) and Stephan Seidlmayer, “The First Intermediate Period” (pp. 132–133). Dissent within the Herakleopolitan realm is discussed by Donald Spanel, “The First Intermediate Period.” For the inscriptions of Merer and Iti and their references to famine, see Miriam Lichtheim, Ancient Egyptian Literature (vol. 1, pp. 87–89). Famine as a leitmotif in First Intermediate Period autobiographies is discussed by Anrea Gnirs, “Biographies.” The life and times of Ankhtifi have been treated at length by, among others, Donald Spanel, “The Date of Ankhtifi,” and Stephan Seidlmayer, “The First Intermediate Period” (pp. 118–123). The military nature of the conflict between Ankhtifi and his rivals is reflected in the scenes of soldiers, both in the tomb of Ankhtifi himself and in that of his contemporary Setka, from Abu. See Jacques Vandier, Mo‘alla.

For the conference of nomarchs attended by Intef the Great’s representative, see Henry Fischer, Varia Nova (pp. 83–90). As well as Intef the Great, nomarch of Thebes, the overseer of his army was also named Intef. Intef the Great’s three successors were likewise named Intef (designated Intef I, II, and III, since they claimed royal titles); and one of the Thebans’ most loyal lieutenants, who served Intef II, III, and the next king, was another Intef (see John Bennett, “A New Interpretation”). A roll call of the Theban army must have been a confusing exercise! The tradition continued into the reign of Mentuhotep, when the king’s chief of police was also named Intef.

The Nubian mercenaries at Inerty were brought to scholarly attention by Henry Fischer, “The Nubian Mercenaries”; more recently, Sabine Kubisch, “Die Stelen der 1. Zwischenzeit,” has studied the epigraphy, iconography, and chronology of stelae from the same cemetery. For the hugely important discovery of Tjauti’s Western Desert inscription, and a thorough analysis of its significance for the early stages of Theban expansion, see John and Deborah Darnell, Theban Desert Road Survey.

The military achievements of Intef II are best traced in the inscriptions of his loyal lieutenants. The Theban annexation of the three southernmost nomes is described in the inscription of Hetepi of Elkab—see Gawdat Gabra, “Preliminary Report on the Stela ofHtpi.” For the inscription of Djemi, which alludes to the distribution of food aid in the conquered areas, see Hans Goedicke, “The Inscription of Dmi”; and for Djari, see Miriam Lichtheim, Ancient Egyptian Autobiographies (pp. 40–42). Accounts from the other side in the civil war are preserved in the tombs at Sauty. See Hellmut Brunner, Die Texte aus den Gräbern der Herakleopolitenzeit von Siut; and Donald Spanel, “Asyut” and “The Herakleopolitan Tombs.” The Herakleopolitan lament over the fate of Abdju appears in the literary work known as The Instruction for Merikara, believed to have been written by King Kheti for his son.

For impoverishment and serfdom in the First Intermediate Period, see Juan Carlos Moreno Garcia, “Acquisition de serfs.” The carefully calculated imagery used by Intef II in his letter to Khety is discussed by John Darnell, “The Message of King Wahankh Antef II.” The letter’s subtext is subtly symbolic. By accusing Khety of having “raised a storm” over the Thinite nome, Intef is equating him with Seth, the storm god and enemy of Horus; the implication is that Intef is the true Horus, and hence the legitimate king. The final stages of Intef II’s campaign are recorded on the stela of the overseer of scouts of Djari, and on the king’s own “dogs stela” inscribed in the last year of his reign. The funerary stela of Intef II and the stela of Tjetji are translated by Miriam Lichtheim, Ancient Egyptian Literature (vol. 1, pp. 94–96 and 90–93, respectively).

For the final phase in the civil war and the repressive policies of Mentuhotep, see Henry Fischer, “A God and a General” and “The Inscription of In-it.f”; and William Hayes, “Career of the Great Steward Henenu.” Scenes in the tomb of Kheti II at Sauty show soldiers marching in formation, holding their shields in preparation for battle, armed with fighting axes; yet, despite such evidence, Hans Goedicke, “The Unification of Egypt” (especially pp. 163–164), argues that the reunification was the result of peaceful negotiations, not of military conquest. His radical reinterpretation has not found general favor, but it illustrates the often slippery nature of the contemporary sources. Graffiti of the soldier Tjehemau at Abisko record Mentuhotep’s Nubian campaign; see John Darnell, “The Rock Inscriptions,” and “The Route of Eleventh Dynasty Expansion.”

Recent archaeological work in the cemetery at Herakleopolis is summarized by Maria del Carmen Pérez-Die, “The Ancient Necropolis at Ehnasya el-Medina.” The precise date of formal reunification is uncertain, but Mentuhotep had certainly adopted the title of reunifier by his thirty-ninth year on the throne. Mentuhotep’s change of Horus names and the implications of that change are discussed by Sir Alan Gardiner, “The First King Menthotpe”; the king’s deification is covered by Labib Habachi, “King Nebhepetre Menthuhotp,” and Gae Callender, “The Middle Kingdom Renaissance” (pp. 140–141). The trusted follower appointed by Mentuhotep II to be his personal representative in Herakleopolis was named Intef, son of Tjefi. The war grave (at Deir el-Bahri) was excavated and published by Herbert Winlock, The Slain Soldiers. Its alternative dating to the early Twelfth Dynasty, not followed here, is mentioned in Ronald Leprohon, “The Programmatic Use of the Royal Titulary.”

  1. William Hayes, “Royal Decrees,” p. 23.

  2. Merer, funerary stela, line 9.

  3. Iti, stela, columns 2–3, and 6.

  4. Ankhtifi, tomb inscription, section 10.

  5. Ibid., section 2.

  6. Intef, stela, line 2.

  7. Tjauti, false door, right-hand side.

  8. Ibid., desert inscription, line 2.

  9. Hetepi, funerary stela, line 5.

10. Djemi, funerary stela, columns 3–4.

11. Kheti I, tomb inscription, lines 7–8.

12. Djari, funerary stela, lines 3–4.

13. Intef II, funerary stela, lines 4–5.

14. Tjetji, funerary stela, lines 12–13.

15. Intef, funerary stela from Naga el-Deir, line 4.

16. Henenu, funerary stela, line 3.


The so-called democratization of the afterlife is critically appraised by Stephen Quirke in Werner Forman and Stephen Quirke, Hieroglyphs and the Afterlife, which also includes one of the best discussions of the Coffin Texts. The concept of original sin finds perhaps its earliest expression in the Coffin Texts (Spells 1130 and 1031), where Ra says, “I made every man like his fellow; and I did not command that they do wrong. / It is their hearts that disobey what I have said.” For the assumption of royal attributes, see also Paul John Fransden, “Bwt in the Body.” The Sixth Dynasty funerary texts from the Dakhla Oasis survived only as faint impressions on the plaster coating of Medunefer’s coffin. Whether they were originally painted on the outer walls of the coffin itself, or on a shroud that covered the coffin, is impossible to determine. Either way, the intention seems to have been to place the protective spells around Medunefer’s body.

The definitive study of Middle Kingdom coffins and the origins of the Coffin Texts is Harco Willems, Chests of Life. John Taylor, Egyptian Coffins, provides a useful and accessible summary; Death and the Afterlife by the same author offers a comprehensive introduction to all aspects of ancient Egyptian funerary beliefs, customs, and artifacts. The best translation and commentary on The Book of Two Ways is Leonard Lesko’s The Ancient Egyptian Book of Two Ways. Other useful discussions of this book and the other Coffin Texts include Stephen Quirke, Ancient Egyptian Religion; Leonard Lesko, “Coffin Texts”; and Harco Willems, “The Social and Ritual Context of a Mortuary Liturgy.” Richard Parkinson, Voices from Ancient Egypt, includes some extracts from the Coffin Texts in a modern English translation, while Adriaan de Buck, The Egyptian Coffin Texts, is the definitive hieroglyphic edition.

The nature of the ba is discussed most thoroughly in Louis Žabkar, A Study of the Ba Concept, while the evidence is usefully summarized by James Allen, “Ba.”

For the cult of Osiris, John Gwyn Griffiths’s article “Osiris” is of key importance, presenting the results of a lifetime’s scholarship. Richard Wilkinson, The Complete Gods and Goddesses (pp. 118–123), offers an overview of Osiris’s iconography, origins, and worship. Geraldine Pinch, Egyptian Myth, gives a brief but original interpretation of the Osiris myth. The Osiris mysteries at Abdju are discussed at some length in Toby Wilkinson, Lives of the Ancient Egyptians (no. 34), and Osirian festivals elsewhere in Egypt are discussed in Harco Willems, “The Social and Ritual Context of a Mortuary Liturgy.” William Kelly Simpson, The Terrace of the Great God, is the most comprehensive publication of the Middle Kingdom funerary monuments lining the sacred way at Abdju. Erik Hornung, “Some Remarks on the Inhabitants of the West,” dates the mortuary focus on the underworld to the reign of Senusret II, as reflected in the winding passageways beneath the king’s pyramid at Lahun.

The best recent investigation of regional and chronological differences in Middle Kingdom funerary customs is Janine Bourriau, “Patterns of Change.” Shabtis are discussed in most books on Egyptian burial practices, a reliable example being John Taylor, Death and the Afterlife. The evolution of the concept of a last judgment is brilliantly traced by Stephen Quirke, “Judgment of the Dead”; while Carol Andrews, Amulets, explains the significance of the heart scarab.

  1. Coffin Texts, Spell 467.

  2. Book of the Dead, Chapter 6.

  3. The Instruction for King Merikara, lines 55–57.

  4. Merer, funerary stela, line 7.

  5. Coffin Texts, Spell 452.

  6. Coffin Texts, Spell 338.

  7. Nebankh, heart scarab (translation by Stephen Quirke in Werner Forman and Stephen Quirke, Hieroglyphs and the Afterlife, p. 104).


Although few syntheses of the Twelfth Dynasty have been published, the specialist literature on the period is extensive, and it is therefore necessary to return to these works and original sources. The inscriptions left by Mentuhotep IV’s expeditions to the Wadi Hammamat were published by J. Couyat and Pierre Montet, Les inscriptions hiéroglyphiques, although their translations are now out of date. The Eleventh Dynasty royal court was modeled on the court of a provincial governor, with a treasurer and steward taking prominence over other officials. See Wolfram Grajetski, The Middle Kingdom (especially pp. 21 and 90).

For the end of the Eleventh Dynasty and possible reasons behind the apparent civil strife, see John Darnell, “The Route of Eleventh Dynasty Expansion into Nubia.” The Hatnub inscriptions, a key source for the internal politics of the early Twelfth Dynasty, were published by Rudolf Anthes, Die Felseninschriften von Hatnub, and have been carefully studied by Harco Willems, “The Nomarchs of the Hare Nome.” Further evidence for dissent at the same period is discussed by William Kelly Simpson, “Studies in the Twelfth Egyptian Dynasty.” Dorothea Arnold, “Amenemhat I” (p. 20), suggests that the location of Itj-tawy may have been chosen because it was within the “greater Memphite” capital zone, while affording easy access to the Fayum, an area that had begun to be developed in the early Twelfth Dynasty.

The Horus names of Amenemhat I and his successors are analyzed by Ronald Leprohon, “The Programmatic Use of the Royal Titulary.” For Kay’s surveillance mission into the Western Desert, see Rudolf Anthes, “Eine Polizeistreife.” The important stela of Nesumontu, which alludes to an insurgency against the regime, is published in William Kelly Simpson, The Terrace of the Great God, plate 14, and discussed by Dorothea Arnold, “Amenemhat I” (pp. 18–19). For the inscription of Khnumhotep I from Beni Hasan, see Percy Newberry, Beni Hasan. Alan Schulman, “The Battle Scenes of the Middle Kingdom,” discusses the scenes of warfare from this and neighboring tombs.

The results of recent excavations at the Twelfth Dynasty temple at Ipetsut are published by Guillaume Charloux, “The Middle Kingdom Temple of Amun at Karnak.” The construction of Amenemhat I’s pyramid is most usefully summarized in Mark Lehner, The Complete Pyramids (pp. 168–169). The pyramids of the last two Twelfth Dynasty rulers, Amenemhat IV and Sobekneferu, have not been positively identified, but it is likely that each of the monarchs at least started work on a pyramid complex. For the frontier zone along the northeastern delta and the Walls of the Ruler, see Stephen Quirke, “Frontier or Border?”

The inscriptions published by Zbyneˇk Žába, The Rock Inscriptions of Lower Nubia, constitute the primary evidence for local kings in lower Nubia at the beginning of the Twelfth Dynasty and for the Egyptian military response to their threat. Wolfram Grajetski,The Middle Kingdom (pp. 27–28 and 31), summarizes the current consensus. For the chronological position of the Nubian rulers and their relationship with Egypt, see Robert Morkot, The Black Pharaohs (pp. 54–55) and “Kingship and Kinship in the Empire of Kush.” If we are to believe Mentuhotep II’s claim to have annexed Wawat (lower Nubia) to Upper Egypt, then Egyptian control must have been lost again during the ineffective reigns of Mentuhotep’s two successors. The name of the Nubian king Intef raises the possibility that he was a direct descendant of the Egyptian Eleventh Dynasty, and as such was a focus of dissent for those opposed to Amenemhat’s usurpation of the throne. Barry Kemp, “Old Kingdom, Middle Kingdom and Second Intermediate Period” (pp. 168–169), suggested that the Nubian inscriptions might date to the very end of the Middle Kingdom and represent quasi-autonomous rulers of Egyptian fortified towns abandoned by the central government, but a dating to the early Twelfth Dynasty makes best sense of the evidence.

For the fortress of Buhen, see W. Bryan Emery, H. S. Smith, and A. Millard, The Fortress of Buhen, and Barry Kemp, Ancient Egypt: Anatomy of a Civilization (pp. 231–235). Until its submergence under the waters of Lake Nasser, Buhen was extremely well preserved and stood comparison with the castles of the Middle Ages; its loss is one of the saddest in the annals of Egyptian archaeology. The forts of Ikkur and Quban, two of the earliest to be built by Senusret I, were deliberately located on either side of the Nile, at the entrance to the Wadi Allaqi. Not only did this wadi lead directly to the ore-rich mountains of the Eastern Desert, but it had also provided the main route for Nubian infiltration into Egypt in earlier periods. Economic exploitation and national security were two sides of the same coin. Stephen Quirke, “State and Labour in the Middle Kingdom,” discusses the nature of the “compound” attested in Middle Kingdom sources.

Scholars in favor of a ten-year co-regency between Amenemhat I and his son include William Kelly Simpson, “The Single-Dated Monuments of Sesostris I”; Wolgang Helck, “Mitregenschaft”; William Murnane, Ancient Egyptian Coregencies (pp. 2–5 and 245–253); and Detlef Franke, “Zur Chronologie des Mittleren Reiches.” Claude Obsomer has argued against this (though he is something of a lone voice) in “La date de Nésou-Montou” and Sésostris Ier. The description of Amenemhat I’s assassination is taken from the literary text The Instruction of Amenemhat I for His Son, most usefully translated by Miriam Lichtheim, Ancient Egyptian Literature (vol. 1, pp. 135–139). Senusret I’s chosen Horus name, “[long] live the renaissance,” could not have expressed his intentions more clearly. See Ronald Leprohon, “The Programmatic Use of the Royal Titulary.”

The classic discussion about propagandist literature in the Middle Kingdom is Georges Posener, Littérature et politique. Richard Parkinson, “Teachings, Discourses and Tales,” The Tale of Sinuhe and Other, and Voices from Ancient Egypt, provide important translations and commentaries on the key texts, as does Miriam Lichtheim, Ancient Egyptian Literature (vol. 1). The dates of these propagandist texts are still subject to considerable debate. The Complaints of Khakheperraseneb cannot predate the reign of Senusret II (since Senusret’s throne name, Khakheperra, forms part of the name of the protagonist), and could well be a little later. The Admonitions of Ipuwer has been dated to the Thirteenth Dynasty, but this is by no means certain. For a full discussion of the texts and their likely dates, see Richard Parkinson, “Teachings, Discourses and Tales.”

For the expedition to the oases under Senusret I, see Heinrich Schäfer, “Ein Zug nach der grossen Oase.” The inscriptions in the temple at Djerty/Tod describing civil unrest and Senusret I’s response are translated and discussed by Christophe Barbotin and Jacques Jean Clère, “L’inscription de Sésostris Ier à Tôd,” and Donald Redford, “The Tod Inscription of Senwosret I.” Senusret’s jubilee pavilion (the “white chapel”) at Ipetsut is published by Pierre Lacau and H. Chevrier, Une chapelle de Sésostris Ier à Karnak.For the first phase of Nubian fortresses, built in the reign of Senusret I, see Barry Kemp, “Old Kingdom, Middle Kingdom and Second Intermediate Period” (pp. 130–131).

The Djerty treasure was excavated and published by Fernand Bisson de la Roque et al., Le Trésor de Tôd. For translations and commentaries of the annals of Amenemhat II, and discussion of his foreign campaigns, see Sami Farag, “Une inscription Memphite”; Hartwig Altenmüller and Ahmed Moussa, “Die Inschrift Amenemhets II”; and Ezra Marcus, “Amenemhet II and the Sea.” The arguments for the identification of Iwa and Iasy as Ura and Cyprus, respectively, are adduced by Wolfgang Helck, “Ein Ausgreifen des Mittleren Reiches”; C. Eder, Die ägyptischen Motive (p. 191); Joachim Quack, “Kft3w and ’I3ssy”; and Kenneth Kitchen, “Some Thoughts on Egypt, the Aegean and Beyond.” The location of Ura directly opposite the northern tip of the island lends credence to the island’s identification as Cyprus. Louise Steel, “Egypt and the Mediterranean World,” provides an up-to-date summary of Middle Kingdom activity in the eastern Mediterranean. The best discussion of Kahun and Middle Kingdom town planning in general is Barry Kemp, Ancient Egypt: Anatomy of a Civilization (pp. 211–221 and 221–231, respectively).

For the end of the nomarchs under Senusret III, see Detlef Franke, “The Career of Khnumhotep III”; the tombs of viziers in the court cemetery have recently been published by Dieter Arnold, “Two New Mastabas of the Twelfth Dynasty.” In the case of Khnumhotep III, he left his province to become high steward and vizier—two of the highest offices in the land. Excavations are ongoing at Senusret III’s pyramid town at Abdju. For detailed archaeological reports, see Josef Wegner, “The Town of Wah-sut at South Abydos” and “Excavations at the Town,” with a convenient summary in “A Middle Kingdom Town at South Abydos.”

The second cataract forts are brilliantly analyzed by Barry Kemp, “Large Middle Kingdom Granary Buildings” and Ancient Egypt: Anatomy of a Civilization (pp. 236–242), and by Stuart Tyson Smith, “Askut and the Role of the Second Cataract Forts.” The relay stations were located at Uronarti, Shalfak, Askut, Mushid, Gemai, Mirgissa, and on the rock of Abu Sir. For the ideological and political factors behind their construction, see Kate Spence, “Royal Walling Projects.” Paul Smither, “The Semnah Despatches,” remains the only detailed publication of these essential documents. Recent discoveries relating to the kingdom of Kush have been reported by Thomas Maugh, “Ancient Kush Rivaled Egypt.” The Semna boundary stela is published in facsimile and translation by Richard Parkinson, Voices from Ancient Egypt (pp. 43–46).

Janine Bourriau, Pharaohs and Mortals, and Felicitas Polz, “Die Bildnisse Sesostris’ III. und Amenemhets III,” discuss the distinctive royal sculpture of the later Twelfth Dynasty. The reign of Amenemhat III is conveniently summarized by Gae Callender, “The Middle Kingdom Renaissance.” Manfred Bietak, “Egypt and the Levant,” discusses the evolving relationship between Egypt and Kebny, and the role of Asiatics in the Sinai mining expeditions. The invention of an alphabetic script by Asiatic patrolmen in Egyptian service is published by John Darnell et al., Two Early Alphabetic Inscriptions, and G. J. Hamilton, The Origins of the West Semitic Alphabet, and summarized by John Darnell, “The Deserts.”

For the brief reigns of Amenemhat IV and Sobekneferu and their relationship with Amenemhat III, see Aidan Dodson and Dyan Hilton, The Complete Royal Families (p. 95).

  1. Mentuhotep IV, Wadi Hammamat inscription, lines 10–11.

  2. Hatnub inscriptions, no. 24, lines 7–8.

  3. Kay, funerary stela, lines 4–5.

  4. Khnumhotep I, biographical inscription, line 5.

  5. The Instruction of Amenemhat I for His Son, section III.

  6. Intefiqer, Wadi el-Girgawi inscription, lines 6–11.

  7. The Instruction of Amenemhat I for His Son, sections I–II.

  8. The Prophecies of Neferti, lines 57–67.

  9. The Tale of Sinuhe, lines 165–168.

10. The Loyalist Instruction, section 2, lines 1–6.

11. Dediqu, stela inscription, lines 6–7.

12. Cycle of Hymns to Senusret III, lines 16–21.

13. Semna Dispatch from Serra East (translation by Paul Smither, “The Semnah Despatches,” no. 4).

14. Senusret III, Semna stela, line 10.

15. Ibid., lines 14–16.

16. Ibid., lines 20–21.


The most comprehensive recent study of the Second Intermediate Period is Kim Ryholt’s magisterial The Political Situation in Egypt During the Second Intermediate Period. However, many of his conclusions, notably the date of the Fourteenth Dynasty secession, are not yet widely accepted. The more conventional chronology, as presented, for example, by Janine Bourriau, “The Second Intermediate Period,” Detlef Franke, “The Late Middle Kingdom,” and David O’Connor, “The Hyksos Period,” is followed here. Despite the arguments of Detlef Franke to the contrary, Ryholt’s identification of a separate Abdju dynasty seems to make good sense of the meager evidence, and has been followed here. Ryholt’s work remains the best compilation of sources for the Thirteenth to Seventeenth dynasties.

For the fortress at Tjaru, see Mohamed Abd el-Maksoud, Tell Hebua. Georges Posener, “Les asiatiques en Égypte,” presents some of the textual evidence for Asiatics in Egyptian society during the late Middle Kingdom. Asiatic immigration into the delta during this period, and the site of Hutwaret in all its phases, are discussed by Manfred Bietak, “Egypt and the Levant”; while his articles “Dab‘a, Tell ed-” and “The Center of Hyksos Rule” present the results of ongoing excavations at Hutwaret, including the statue of an Asiatic official and the ring bezel naming an “overseer of Retjenu.” (The translation is offered by Geoffrey Martin, “The Toponym Retjenu.”)

Stephen Quirke’s “Royal Power in the 13th Dynasty” is by far the best treatment of a difficult subject. Aidan Dodson, “The Tombs of the Kings,” discusses the evidence for the royal tombs of the period. For the career of Sobekhotep III, see Toby Wilkinson,Lives of the Ancient Egyptians (no. 37). King Nehesy of the Fourteenth Dynasty is the subject of Manfred Bietak, “Zum Königreich des ‘3-zh-R‘ Nehesi.” Nehesy is attested both at Tell el-Hebua and at Tell el-Muqdam, which guarded the approach to the Wadi Tumilat. Kim Ryholt, The Political Situation, dates the secession of the northeastern delta to the reign of Sobekneferu, making the so-called Fourteenth Dynasty of Nehesy entirely coeval with the Thirteenth Dynasty. However, such an early date is difficult to reconcile with the continuation of the Thirteenth Dynasty’s trading relationship with Kebny and has not met with general acceptance. I have followed instead the consensus view, that the rupture took place late in the Thirteenth Dynasty, after the reigns of Sobekhotep IV and Merneferra Ay.

For the channel bringing freshwater into the royal citadel at Hutwaret, see Josef Dorner, “A Late Hyksos Water-Supply System.” Initially sixteen feet thick, the citadel’s wall was strengethened at a later date, perhaps at the outbreak of hostilities with the Thebans. The Abdju dynasty and the Theban Sixteenth Dynasty are treated at length in Kim Ryholt, The Political Situation; the pathetic stela of King Wepwawetemsaf, one of the members of the short-lived Abdju dynasty, is published by Janine Bourriau,Pharaohs and Mortals (catalogue no. 58, pp. 72–73). The monuments of Sobekhotep VIII, Neferhotep III, and King Mentuhotepi, together with all the important texts from the Second Intermediate Period, including private inscriptions from Buhen, are translated and discussed by Donald Redford, “Textual Sources for the Hyksos Period.” Another invaluable source is Wolfgang Helck, Historisch-Biographische Texte. For a more detailed publication of two of the Buhen stelae, see Torgny Säve-Söderbergh, “A Buhen Stela.” For the detailed publication of the stela of Mentuhotepi, see Pascal Vernus, “La stèle du pharaon Mntw-htpi.” Kim Ryholt, The Political Situation, makes a convincing case for a temporary conquest of Thebes by Hyksos forces, although this has been refuted by Detlef Franke, “The Late Middle Kingdom.”

For the establishment of Theban garrisons at Gebtu and Abdju in the early Seventeenth Dynasty, see Detlef Franke, “An Important Family at Abydos,” and Steven Snape, “Statues and Soldiers at Abydos.” The Seventeenth Dynasty pyramid complex of Nubkheperra Intef has been excavated and published by Daniel Polz, “The Pyramid Complex of Nubkheperre Intef,” with further details supplied by Lisa Giddy, “Digging Diary 2001.” For the historical significance of the Seventeenth Dynasty, see Daniel Polz,Der Beginn des Neuen Reiches. Vivian Davies, “Sobeknakht of Elkab” and “Egypt and Nubia,” presents and discusses the newly discovered inscription describing the Kushite invasion of Upper Egypt. For Seqenenra Taa’s campaign headquarters, see Peter Lacovara, “Deir el-Ballas.” The life and death of Taa are discussed by Toby Wilkinson, Lives of the Ancient Egyptians (no. 39), while Kamose’s lament is taken from the Carnarvon tablet, published by Alan Gardiner, “The Defeat of the Hyksos by Kamose.”

  1. Neferhotep III, Karnak inscription, line 6.

  2. Ibid.

  3. Mentuhotepi, Karnak stela, line 10 (cf. Donald Redford, “Textual Sources,” p. 28, note 75).

  4. Ibid., line 5.

  5. Ibid., line 4.

  6. Ka, funerary stela, lines 6–7.

  7. Soped-her, funerary stela, line 9.

  8. Rahotep, Coptos stela, line 3.

  9. Intef V, Coptos stela, lines 5–7.

10. Sobeknakht, autobiographical inscription, opening lines.

11. Atu, scribal palette, lines 2–3.

12. Ibid., line 4.

13. Carnarvon Tablet no. 1, lines 3–4.


The most detailed source for Kamose’s military activities against the Hyksos is his group of three stelae, set up at Ipetsut. For key editions, see Alan Gardiner, “The Defeat of the Hyksos by Kamose,” and Labib Habachi, The Second Stela of Kamose. Harry and Alexandrina Smith, “A Reconsideration of the Kamose Texts,” give a carefully argued interpretation of the sequence of events. Frédéric Colin, “Kamose et les Hyksos dans l’oasis de Djesdjes,” presents the evidence for Hyksos influence in the Bahariya Oasis during the Second Intermediate Period. The policy of Kamose and his immediate successors in Nubia is discussed by Dominique Valbelle, “Egyptians on the Middle Nile.”

A convenient translation of the autobiographical tomb inscription of Ahmose, son of Abana, is supplied by Miriam Lichtheim, Ancient Egyptian Literature (vol. 2, pp. 12–15). For this Ahmose’s career, and that of his near contemporary Ahmose-Pennekhbet, see Toby Wilkinson, Lives of the Ancient Egyptians (nos. 41 and 42). See also Wolfgang Helck, “Ahmose Pennechbet.” The most comprehensive treatment of King Ahmose’s battles is Claude Vandersleyen, Les guerres d’Amosis, and the relevant section in his bookL’Égypte et la vallée du Nil. The significance of Sharuhen for the Hyksos is discussed by Eliezer Oren, “The ‘Kingdom of Sharuhen’ and the Hyksos Kingdom.” The early Eighteenth Dynasty’s policy of “defensive imperialism” has been expertly analyzed by J. J. Shirley, “The Beginning of the Empire.” For the monuments of Ahmose and Amenhotep I on Shaat Island, see Francis Geus, “Sai.” The insurgencies of Aata the Nubian and Tetian are referred to, briefly, in the autobiography of Ahmose, son of Abana. The tempest stela is published by Claude Vandersleyen, “Une tempête sous le règne d’Amosis” and “Deux nouveaux fragments,” with an English translation by Donald Redford, “Textual Sources for the Hyksos Period.” Some scholars have linked the natural disaster described on the tempest stela with the massive volcanic eruption on the Aegean island of Thera, known to have taken place at around the same time; see, for example, Karen Foster and Robert Ritner, “Texts, Storms, and the Thera Eruption.” Others, however—most recently Malcolm Wiener and James Allen, “Separate Lives”—have put forward a convincing rebuttal of this theory, interpreting the disaster as a “monsoon-generated Nile flood.” The flood hypothesis is followed here.

For Ahmose’s monuments at Abdju, see Stephen Harvey, “Monuments of Ahmose at Abydos” and “New Evidence at Abydos.” Joyce Tyldesley, Chronicle of the Queens of Egypt, discusses the role of Tetisheri and her monument at Abdju. The Ipetsut stela listing the dignities of Ahhotep and the donation stela installing Ahmose-Nefertari as god’s wife are both published by Andrea Klug, Königlichen Stelen. For golden flies as military decorations, see Susanne Petschel and Martin von Falck, Pharao siegt immer(catalogue nos. 77–80). Scholars dispute whether there were one or two king’s wives of the late Seventeenth or early Eighteenth Dynasty named Ahhotep. For the latter view, see, for example, Catharine Roehrig (ed.), Hatshepsut (p. 7). The first view, favored by Aidan Dodson and Dyan Hilton, The Complete Royal Families (pp. 125, 126, and 128), is followed here. There is similar disagreement about the attribution of the golden flies. Hence, while Ann Macy Roth, “Models of Authority,” states that the flies belonged to “Ahhotep I,” regarded as the wife of Seqenenra but not a direct ancestor of King Ahmose, William Stevenson Smith, The Art and Architecture of Ancient Egypt (pp. 220–221), implies that the flies were part of the burial equipment of King Ahmose’s mother. The simplest interpretation is that there was only one senior woman named Ahhotep (daughter of Senakhtenra, sister-wife of Seqenenra, and mother of Ahmose), to whom the golden flies, dagger, and axe belonged.

Jean Vercoutter, “Les Haou-nebout,” is the unsurpassed discussion of the problematic term “Hau-nebut.” For the Minoan-inspired burial equipment of Ahhotep, see, among other publications, W. Stevenson Smith, The Art and Architecture of Ancient Egypt (pp. 220–221). The dagger blade is decorated with the motif of a lion chasing a calf in a rocky landscape, while the axe bears a crested griffin; both objects are inlaid using the niello technique, foreign to Egypt. The Hutwaret frescoes and their implications are discussed in detail by their excavator, Manfred Bietak, in “The Center of Hyksos Rule”; by Manfred Bietak and Nannó Marinatos, “The Minoan Paintings of Avaris”; and by various contributors to Vivian Davies and Louise Schofield (eds.), Egypt, the Aegean and the Levant.Most recently, the frescoes have been dated by Manfred Bietak, “Egypt and the Aegean,” to the reign of Hatshepsut, rather than earlier in the Eighteenth Dynasty. Bietak seems to base this new dating largely on the circumstantial evidence, namely that “it is during the joint reign of Thutmose III and Hatshepsut … that delegations of Keftiu [inhabitants of Crete] are first represented” in Egyptian tombs. However, the strong Minoan connections displayed in the grave goods of Ahmose’s mother, Ahhotep, argue for an earlier alliance between the Egyptian royal family and the Minoans, and hence for an earlier dating of the Minoan frescoes at Hutwaret. The archaeological evidence from the palace complex at Hutwaret, notably the pottery, would support a date earlier in the Eighteenth Dynasty than the reign of Hatshepsut (Manfred Bietak, “Egypt and the Aegean,” p. 79). The heir, Prince Ahmose, whose birth may have prompted Ahmose-Nefertari’s rise to prominence, would not, in fact, succeed to the throne—he predeceased his father, and it was therefore a younger son, Amenhotep (I), who became the next king. For the office of god’s wife of Amun, see Michel Gitton, Les divines épouses de la 18e dynastie.

For a readable and authoritative description of living conditions in New Kingdom Thebes, T.G.H. James, Pharaoh’s People (Chapter 8), remains the most convenient source. The monuments of Amenhotep I at Ipetsut are discussed by Gun Björkman, Kings at Karnak, and reconstructed by Catherine Graindorge and Philippe Martinez, “Karnak avant Karnak.” More than eight hundred blocks and five hundred fragments survive from Amenhotep I’s temple, dismantled and reused in later royal constructions. Sadly, nothing remains of the buildings themselves, except for his alabaster chapel, painstakingly reconstructed in the Karnak Open Air Museum. For the king’s other building projects in and around Thebes, see Franz-Jürgen Schmitz, Amenophis I, and Betsy Bryan, “The 18th Dynasty Before the Amarna Period.” Very little is known about the early history of Deir el-Medina, but for a summary, see Frank Yurco, “Deir el-Medina.” Aidan Dodson, “The Lost Tomb of Amenhotep I,” discusses the mystery of the tomb’s whereabouts and the most likely candidates for the king’s final resting place.

  1. Carnarvon Tablet no. 1, line 4.

  2. Ibid., lines 10–11.

  3. Ibid., lines 14–15.

  4. Kamose, victory stela from Thebes, lines 19–24.

  5. Ibid., lines 10–11.

  6. Ibid., lines 13–14.

  7. Ibid., lines 8–9.

  8. Ahmose, son of Abana, tomb inscription, lines 13–14.

  9. Ahmose, Karnak stela, line 13.

10. Ahmose, son of Abana, tomb inscription, line 23.

11. Ahmose, Tempest stela, line 21.

12. Ahmose, Tetisheri stela, lines 13–14.

13. Ahmose, Karnak stela, lines 24–27.

14. Ahmose, Tura limestone quarry inscription, lines 5–6.


The obscure family background of Thutmose I is discussed by Aidan Dodson and Dyan Hilton, The Complete Royal Families, p. 128. The background to the beginning of Thutmose I’s reign is discussed by Claude Vandersleyen, L’Égypte et la vallée du Nil (pp. 247–248). The best recent synopsis of his Nubian campaign is Vivian Davies, “Egypt and Nubia: Conflict with the Kingdom of Kush,” together with Vivian Davies and Renée Friedman, Egypt, pp. 129–131. The Hagar el-Merwa inscriptions were published in an early study by A. J. Arkell, “Varia Sudanica,” and have been the subject of a recent reappraisal by Vivian Davies, “Kurgus 2000,” “Kurgus 2002,” and “The Rock Inscriptions at Kurgus.”

Contemporary evidence for the Asiatic campaign of Thutmose I is extremely scarce but is conveniently summarized by John Darnell and Colleen Manassa, Tut-ankhamun’s Armies, pp. 139–141. An important source is a brief reference in the autobiographical tomb inscription of Ahmose, son of Abana (Kurt Sethe, Urkunden IV, p. 9, lines 8–10). Undated inscriptions from Ipetsut may record aspects of Thutmose I’s Asiatic conquests. See Donald Redford, “A Gate Inscription from Karnak.” For the kingdom of Mittani, see Gernot Wilhelm, “The Kingdom of Mitanni,” and Michael Astour, “Mitanni,” plus the references therein. Betsy Bryan, “The Egyptian Perspective on Mittani,” charts relations between the two kingdoms during the Eighteenth Dynasty.

The brief reign of Thutmose II has been studied most carefully by Luc Gabolde, “La chronologie du règne de Thoutmosis II.”

For the regency of Hatshepsut and her progressive self-elevation from god’s wife to regent to king, see many of the contributions in Catharine Roehrig (ed.), Hatshepsut, especially Ann Macy Roth, “Models of Authority,” and Peter Dorman, “Hatshepsut: Princess to Queen to Co-Ruler.” Peter Dorman, “The Early Reign of Thutmose III,” presents a novel explanation for the co-regency. The precipitating factor that led Hatshepsut to declare herself king is unclear. If not the death of Thutmose III’s mother, Isis, the death of Hatshepsut’s own mother, Ahmose, may have been the spur. If Queen Ahmose was seen as the last link with the early Eighteenth Dynasty royal family, her demise may have forced Hatshepsut’s hand, effectively forcing her to claim the kingship in order to defend the legitimacy of her rule.

The tension between male and female personae apparent in Hatshepsut’s statuary and inscriptions is discussed by Ann Macy Roth, “Models of Authority,” and Cathleen Keller, “The Statuary of Hatshepsut.” For Hatshepsut’s building works, especially at Ipetsut, see Cathleen Keller, “The Joint Reign of Hatshepsut and Thutmose III” and “The Royal Court.” A more popular account of Hatshepsut’s regency and reign is Joyce Tyldesley, Hatchepsut: The Female Pharaoh, while John Ray, Reflections of Osiris (pp. 40–59), provides a lively and provocative account.

The temple of Hatshepsut at Deir el-Bahri is the subject of numerous publications. Among the best recent treatments are Dieter Arnold, “Djeser-djeseru,” and Ann Macy Roth, “Hatshepsut’s Mortuary Temple.” Dorothea Arnold, “The Destruction of the Statues of Hatshepsut,” gives an idea of the sumptuous decoration of the temple during Hatshepsut’s co-regency. Senenmut’s career has been analyzed in detail by Peter Dorman, The Monuments of Senenmut and “The Royal Steward, Senenmut”; also useful are Catharine Roehrig, “Senenmut,” and Cathleen Keller, “The Statuary of Senenmut.”

The most comprehensive recent study of the reign of Thutmose III is Eric Cline and David O’Connor (eds.), Thutmose III: A New Biography. Two excellent and detailed studies of the Battle of Megiddo, the king’s other Asiatic campaigns, and their impact in the Near East are Donald Redford, The Wars in Syria and Palestine, and its summary, “The Northern Wars of Thutmose III.” These are supplemented by Claude Vandersleyen, L’Égypt et la vallée du Nil (pp. 295–306), and James Allen, “After Hatshepsut: The Military Campaigns of Thutmose III.” The strategic location of Megiddo is explained in Michael Roaf, Cultural Atlas (p. 133). The political background to the Megiddo campaign is discussed by William Murnane, “Rhetorical History?,” while Christine Lilyquist, “Egypt and the Near East,” enumerates the booty captured by the Egyptian forces after their victory. For the growing importance of foreigners in Egypt in the middle Eighteenth Dynasty, see Diamantis Panagiotopoulos, “Foreigners in Egypt.” The tomb and treasure of the three foreign concubines of Thutmose III have been published in extenso by Christine Lilyquist, The Tomb of Three Foreign Wives. The burial of the three princesses may date to early in Thutmose III’s sole reign, although many of the objects in the tomb were gifts from the king to the three women during his co-regency with Hatshepsut. The women must therefore have made the journey to Egypt before the Battle of Megiddo, trailblazers for a phenomenon that would later become a feature of the Egyptian royal court.

The foundation of Pnubs and Thutmose III’s policy in Nubia is discussed by Vivian Davies, “Egypt and Nubia: Conflict with the Kingdom of Kush.”

  1. Ahmose, son of Abana, tomb inscription, line 30.

  2. Thutmose I, Tombos victory inscription, lines 7–8.

  3. Ibid., lines 11–12.

  4. Thutmose I, Abydos stela, line 21.

  5. Ahmose, son of Abana, tomb inscription, line 36.

  6. Ibid., line 37.

  7. Ineni, tomb inscription, lines 16–17.

  8. Hatshepsut, Karnak obelisk inscription, line 15.

  9. Ibid., lines 8–32.

10. Senenmut, Karnak statue inscription, line 26.

11. Thutmose III, Megiddo inscription from Karnak, line 8.

12. Ibid., line 84.

13. Ibid., line 86.

14. Ibid., line 94.

15. Thutmose III, obelisk inscription, left side.

16. Ibid., right side.


The structure of the administration in the Eighteenth Dynasty is discussed by Peter Der Manuelian, Studies in the Reign of Amenophis II, and Betsy Bryan, “Administration in the Reign of Thutmose III.”

Evidence for the career of Menkheperraseneb can be found in the texts and reliefs from his tomb—see James Breasted, Ancient Records, vol. 2, pp. 772–776, and Norman and Nina de Garis Davies, The Tomb of Menkheperraseneb, respectively. Toby Wilkinson,Lives of the Ancient Egyptians (no. 46), offers a useful summary.

At least two earlier generations of Rekhmira’s family had held the vizierate. His grandfather Ahmose had been vizier under Hatshepsut, his uncle Useramun during the co-regency of Hatshepsut and Thutmose III. Rekhmira’s responsibilities as vizier are described in the texts from his tomb, published by James Breasted, Ancient Records, vol. 2, pp. 663–762, with analysis and discussion by G.P.F. van den Boorn, The Duties of the Vizier. Convenient digests include Peter Dorman, “Rekhmire,” and Toby Wilkinson, Lives of the Ancient Egyptians (no. 47).

Primary material relating to Sennefer and his brother has been published by Ricardo Caminos, “Papyrus Berlin 10463”; Howard Carter, “Report upon the Tomb of Sen-nefer”; and Philippe Virey, “La tombe des vignes.” For summaries, see William Kelly Simpson, “Sennefer,” and Toby Wilkinson, Lives of the Ancient Egyptians (no. 51).

Qenamun’s tomb was published by Norman de Garis Davies, The Tomb of Ken-Amun; his career is reconstructed by Toby Wilkinson, Lives of the Ancient Egyptians (no. 49).

Rosalind and Jac. Janssen, Growing Up in Ancient Egypt, offer a reliable picture of education in ancient Egypt, while Joann Fletcher, Egypt’s Sun King, pp. 24–27, deals specifically with the education of a prince.

Amenhotep II’s sporting prowess, and other aspects of his reign, are discussed at length by Peter Der Manuelian, Studies in the Reign of Amenophis II. His mummy is that of an exceptionally tall and strongly built man. For his campaigns in the Near East, see Betsy Bryan, “The 18th Dynasty Before the Amarna Period,” and Bill Manley, The Penguin Historical Atlas, pp. 72–73. The growing importance of the sun cult and solar symbolism during the reigns of Amenhotep II and Thutmose IV are analyzed in detail by Betsy Bryan in “Antecedents to Amenhotep III,” The Reign of Thutmose IV, and “Thutmose IV.”

  1. Rekhmira, biographical inscription, line 3.

  2. Installation of the vizier, from the tomb inscription of Rekhmira, line 15.

  3. Sennefer, tomb inscription, burial chamber (section C.4: Urkunden IV, p. 1426, line 18).

  4. Ibid., sarcophagus chamber (section B.6–7: Urkunden IV, p. 1427, line 8).

  5. Sennefer, letter (translation by Ricardo Caminos, “Papyrus Berlin 10463”).

  6. Qenamun, tomb inscription (scene of the young Amenhotep II on his nurse’s lap: Urkunden IV, p. 1395, line 14).

  7. Norman de Garis Davies, The Tomb of Ken-Amun, pp. 10–16. The translations are typical of the 1930s milieu in which Davies was working, but they are no less appropriate to the hierarchical and sycophantic world of ancient Egypt.

  8. Qenamun, tomb inscription (scene of the young Amenhotep II on his nurse’s lap: Urkunden IV, p. 1395, line 15).

  9. Satire of the Trades, section 2e.

10. Ibid., sections 21h–i, 22a,e.

11. Miscellanies (quoted in Rosalind and Jac. Janssen, Growing Up in Ancient Egypt, Chapter 6).

12. Min, tomb inscription, archery scene, lines 8–9.

13. Amenhotep II, Great Sphinx stela, line 11.

14. Amenhotep II, Medamud inscription, line 2.

15. Amenhotep II, Great Sphinx stela, line 19.

16. Ibid., line 24.

17. Amenhotep II, Memphis stela, line 28.

18. Ibid., line 29.


Two recent volumes of studies are indispensable for understanding the reign of Amenhotep III. They are Arielle Kozloff et al., Egypt’s Dazzling Sun, and David O’Connor and Eric H. Cline (eds.), Amenhotep III: Perspectives on His Reign. Joann Fletcher,Egypt’s Sun King, offers an accessible and sumptuously illustrated chronology of Amenhotep’s life and reign. All three publications include discussions of the commemorative scarabs. (The bull hunt scarab in particular is published in Arielle Kozloff et al.,Egypt’s Dazzling Sun, p. 70.) Altogether, Amenhotep III issued five different commemorative scarabs; although they are explicitly dated by their content to between the second and eleventh years of his reign, it is possible that they were issued at one and the same time, to highlight the main achievements of his first decade on the throne. The form and material of the scarabs prefigure Amenhotep’s later obsession with solar symbolism: the ancient Egyptian name for glazed material was tjehenet (“dazzling”), while the scarab represented Khepri, the god of the rising sun.

For Amenhotep III’s extensive temple construction projects, see especially Arielle Kozloff et al., Egypt’s Dazzling Sun, Chapter 4, and Raymond Johnson, “Monuments and Monumental Art.” It has been suggested that the statues of Sekhmet from the Mut complex were originally installed in Amenhotep III’s mortuary temple on the west bank, only later being moved across the river. However, the close theological association of the two goddesses (Sekhmet and Mut) makes it equally possible that the statues were intended for the Mut complex from the outset. New discoveries of colossal sculpture from the king’s mortuary temple at Kom el-Hetan are presented by Hourig Sourouzian, “New Colossal Statues.”

Foreign relations, including the significance of the Aegean place-names, are treated at length by James Weinstein et al., “The World Abroad.” A fragmentary papyrus from Amarna, which may depict Mycenaean soldiers serving in the Egyptian army of the late Eighteenth Dynasty, is published by Louise Schofield and Richard Parkinson in “Of Helmets and Heretics” and (authors reversed) “Akhenaten’s Army?” The most thorough and accessible edition of the Amarna Letters is William Moran, The Amarna Letters;Raymond Cohen and Raymond Westbrook’s Amarna Diplomacy offers a range of scholarly studies on international relations as reflected in the diplomatic correspondence. Samuel Meier, “Diplomacy and International Marriages,” discusses the marriages between the great powers attested in the Amarna Letters.

The seminal study of Luxor Temple and its significance in royal theology is Lanny Bell, “Luxor Temple and the Cult of the Royal Ka.” Also useful is Richard Wilkinson, The Complete Temples (pp. 95–98), and Barry Kemp, Ancient Egypt (2nd ed., pp. 261–273); the latter offers a good summary of the Opet Festival and a discussion of the divine birth scene. For the recently discovered statue of Amenhotep III as “foremost of all the living kas” and “dazzling orb of all lands,” see Arielle Kozloff et al., Egypt’s Dazzling Sun, pp. 132–135. The colorful names of Amenhotep III’s concubines are analyzed by Nicholas Millet, “Some Canopic Inscriptions.”

Amenhotep III’s sed festivals are discussed by Barry Kemp, Ancient Egypt (2nd ed., pp. 276–281). On the occasion of Amenhotep’s second sed festival in the thirty-fourth year of his reign, the western harbor was enlarged to nearly double its original size; plans for a third phase of expansion were apparently never realized. For the First Dynasty palette apparently consulted by the king’s researchers, see Bernard Bothmer, “A New Fragment of an Old Palette.” The most accessible publication of the palaces at Malkata and their decoration is William Stevenson Smith, The Art and Architecture of Ancient Egypt, Chapter 15. Arielle Kozloff, “The Decorative and Funerary Arts,” offers a detailed study of glassmaking at Malkata and elsewhere during the reign of Amenhotep III, with excellent illustrations. Texts and scenes describing Amenhotep III’s first and third sed festivals feature prominently in the tomb of Tiye’s steward Kheruef, published by the Epigraphic Survey, The Tomb of Kheruef. The eastern harbor, excavated as a complement to the western “Birket Habu,” is clearly marked (labeled “hippodrome”) on the map of Thebes from the Napoleonic Déscription de l’Égypte (vol. II, plate I, titled “Thèbes: plan général de la portion de la vallée du Nil qui comprend les ruines”), published by Charles Gillispie and Michel Dewachter, Monuments of Egypt.

  1. Amenhotep III, bull-hunt scarab.

  2. Amenhotep III, Kom el-Hetan stela, line 2.

  3. Amarna Letters, EA17 (translation by William Moran, The Amarna Letters).

  4. Ibid., EA19 (translation by William Moran, The Amarna Letters).

  5. Amenhotep III, marriage scarab.

  6. Amarna Letters, EA22 (translation by William Moran, The Amarna Letters).

  7. Ibid., EA1 (translation by William Moran, The Amarna Letters).

  8. Amenhotep III, Kom el-Hetan stela, lines 11–12.

  9. Amenhotep III, divine birth inscription, Luxor Temple, section 4, lines 2–4.

10. Ibid., section 5, lines 1–2.

11. Ibid., section 5, lines 3–5.

12. Kheruef, tomb inscription, plate 28.

13. Ibid.


As befits the period of ancient Egyptian history most written about, the reign of Akhenaten and its aftermath have generated a vast bibliography. References up to the end of the 1980s are gathered together in Geoffrey Martin, A Bibliography of the Amarna Period and Its Aftermath. For more recent scholarship, the bibliography in Rita Freed et al. (eds.), Pharaohs of the Sun, is a good starting point. Rita Freed, “Introduction,” provides a useful summary of the main points of interest and the outstanding questions arising from the period. For a thoughtful and provocative recent appraisal, see also John Darnell and Colleen Manassa, Tutankhamun’s Armies (Chapter 2). The key inscriptions from the period are published in hieroglyphs by Maj Sandman, Texts from the Time of Akhenaten(abbreviated elsewhere as Texts), and in translation by William Murnane, Texts from the Amarna Period.

The most penetrating accounts of Akhenaten himself are Cyril Aldred, Akhe-naten, King of Egypt; Donald Redford, Akhenaten, the Heretic King; and Nicholas Reeves, Akhenaten: Egypt’s False Prophet. The last two, as their titles suggest, take a rather negative view of their subject and his religious revolution. For the reception and co-option of Akhenaten in modern times, Dominic Montserrat, Akhenaten, is exemplary and highly readable.

For the letter from the king of Alashiya to Amenhotep IV at his accession, see Timothy Kendall, “Foreign Relations.” Amenhotep IV’s constructions at Karnak are in the course of excavation, with the latest results presented in editions of the Akhe-naten Temple Project Newsletter. For a convenient summary by the project director, see Donald Redford, “The Beginning of the Heresy.” The eerie statuary from Gempaaten is illustrated in Rita Freed et al., Pharaohs of the Sun. Bak, chief sculptor during the early years of Akhenaten’s reign, makes it clear that he was instructed in the new style by the king himself—see Toby Wilkinson, Lives of the Ancient Egyptians (no. 59). For the celebration and significance of Amenhotep IV’s sed festival at Karnak, see Jocelyn Gohary, The Akhenaten Sed-Festival; William Murnane, Texts from the Amarna Period (p. 5); and John Darnell and Colleen Manassa, Tutankhamun’s Armies (pp. 25–27).

It has been suggested (John Darnell and Colleen Manassa, Tutankhamun’s Armies, pp. 37–40) that the proximity of Khmun (classical Hermopolis) was a key factor in the location of Akhetaten because the Hermopolitan creation myth chimed with Akhenaten’s religious emphasis. However, it was the creation myth of Iunu (which gave prominence to the triad of creator gods Atum, Shu, and Tefnut) that took center stage in Akhenaten’s early doctrine, and Akhenaten himself was adamant that Akhetaten was chosen because it “did not belong to a god nor a goddess.” The boundary stelae at Akhetaten are published by William Murnane and Charles Van Siclen, The Boundary Stelae of Akhenaten. The discovery of a sixteenth stela is reported by Barry Kemp, “Discovery: A New Boundary Stela.” Recent excavations in the main quarry at Akhetaten are described by James Harrell, “Ancient Quarries near Amarna.”

For the best accounts of the foundation and layout of the city, and for a description of the principal ceremonial buildings, see Barry Kemp, Ancient Egypt (1st ed., Chapter 7); Peter Lacovara, “The City of Amarna”; Michael Mallinson, “The Sacred Landscape”; Barry Kemp and Salvatore Garfi, A Survey of the Ancient City; and Barry Kemp, “Resuming the Amarna Survey.” Barry Kemp, “The Amarna Story,” summarizes the significance of Akhenaten’s city as an archaeological site. For the North Riverside Palace (the main royal residence) and associated buildings, see Michael Jones, “Appendix 1: The North City,” while Kate Spence, “The North Palace at Amarna,” presents the results of recent work at this important complex. Ian Shaw, “Balustrades, Stairs and Altars,” discusses the distinctive architecture of the Aten cult. Barry Kemp, “The Kom el-Nana Enclosure,” is a good introduction to the outlying royal buildings at the edges of Akhetaten. There was also a workmen’s village (Akhetaten’s equivalent of the Place of Truth) on the low desert behind the city, for the workers employed on the construction of the royal tomb—and a “stone village,” even farther out, the purpose of which remains obscure. See Barry Kemp, “Notes from the Field: The Stone Village.”

Akhenaten’s radical theology forms a major topic of discussion in all books about the period. John Baines (“How Far Can One Distinguish Between Religion and Politics in Ancient Egypt?”) has argued that Akhenaten’s doctrine may have been one of monolatry rather than monotheism. For most of the king’s subjects, however, such a difference would have been purely academic. Other useful analyses include John Foster, “The New Religion,” and Raymond Johnson, “The Setting: History, Religion, and Art.” The prayers to Osiris and Anubis early in Akhenaten’s reign are found in the tomb of Parennefer at Thebes; see Susan Redford, “Two Field Seasons.” The inanimate representation of the Aten, and its consequent relegation to the top of scenes, wittingly or unwittingly directed attention to the figures of Akhenaten, his wife, and his daughters standing below, underlining their godlike status in the new religion; see William Murnane, Texts from the Amarna Period, p. 13. Major temples of the Aten were built at Memphis, Heliopolis, and Kawa in upper Nubia, as well as at Akhetaten, while the temple of Amun at Sesebi, in Nubia, was converted to the Aten cult early in Akhenaten’s reign.

For the career of Meryra, high priest of the Aten, see Norman de Garis Davies, The Rock Tombs of El Amarna (Part I), and Toby Wilkinson, Lives of the Ancient Egyptians (no. 58). A convenient translation of the Great Hymn to the Aten is in Miriam Lichtheim,Ancient Egyptian Literature (vol. 2, pp. 96–100). David Silverman, “The Spoken and Written Word,” discusses the use of vernacular language in Akhenaten’s religious compositions.

The lives of the poor at Akhetaten have been revealed by recent excavations in the South Tombs cemetery. See Barry Kemp, “Notes from the Field: Lives of the Have-Nots,” “Halfway Through the Amarna Season,” “How Were Things Made?,” and “The Quality of Life”; and Jerry Rose, “Amarna Lives.” For the continued observance of traditional cults, see Rita Freed et al. (eds.), Pharaohs of the Sun (catalogue nos. 179–181, 183–185). Peter Der Manuelian, “Administering Akhenaten’s Egypt,” discusses the likely reaction in the country at large to the proscription of the old deities; for a particular example see Maarten Raven, “The Tomb of Meryneith.”

Nefertiti has spawned almost as great a bibliography as her husband. One of the best recent analyses of her role in the art and religion of the Amarna Period is Rita Freed, “Art in the Service of Religion and the State.” For the monumental statuary of Akhenaten and Nefertiti, see Kristin Thompson, “Amarna Statuary Fragments.” Salima Ikram’s analysis of household shrines, “Domestic Shrines,” is the standard article on this important aspect of Akhenaten’s religion. Barry Kemp published the chapel of the king’s statue inAncient Egypt (1st ed., pp. 283–285). For the tombs of officials, see Norman de Garis Davies, The Rock Tombs of El Amarna. Also, Gwil Owen, “The Amarna Courtiers’ Tombs,” has some excellent color photographs.

For possible dissent during the reign of Akhenaten and the security response, see John Darnell and Colleen Manassa, Tutankhamun’s Armies, pp. 189–196. The career of Mahu, chief of police, is profiled by Toby Wilkinson, Lives of the Ancient Egyptians (no. 60), based upon the scenes and texts in Mahu’s tomb, for which see Norman de Garis Davies, The Rock Tombs of El Amarna (Part IV). For foreigners in Akhenaten’s bodyguard, see John Darnell and Colleen Manassa, Tutankhamun’s Armies (pp. 191–193, fig. 25), and Rita Freed et al. (eds.), Pharaohs of the Sun (catalogue no. 114). William Murnane, “Imperial Egypt” (p. 109), argues against the foreign extraction of figures such as Aper-El, Pentu, and Tutu. The reception of foreign tribute in the twelfth year of Akhenaten’s reign is depicted in the tombs of Meryra II and Huya, published by Norman de Garis Davies, The Rock Tombs of El Amarna (Parts II and III).

The royal tomb at Akhetaten, with scenes of mourning at the death of Meketaten, was published by Geoffrey Martin, The Royal Tomb; for recent work at the site, see Marc Gabolde and Amanda Dunsmore, “The Royal Necropolis at Tell el-Amarna.” Sue D’Auria, “Preparing for Eternity,” discusses the afterlife in Akhenaten’s theology. Several shabtis of Akhenaten are published in Rita Freed et al. (eds.), Pharaohs of the Sun (catalogue nos. 219–222).

The identity of Akhenaten’s co-regent Neferneferuaten and his ephemeral successor Smenkhkara is one of the most hotly debated questions in Egyptology, with the fragmentary evidence allowing for several plausible solutions. For thorough discussions see any of the books on the Amarna Period listed above, together with Nicholas Reeves, “The Royal Family,” and Aidan Dodson, “Why Did Nefertiti Disappear?” (although Dodson has since revised his conclusions). Neferneferuaten’s throne name appears in both masculine and feminine versions (recalling Hatshepsut a century earlier) and is accompanied on occasions by the phrase “effective for her husband,” both of which make it certain that the new co-regent was a woman. Some scholars identify Neferneferuaten as Meritaten, Akhenaten’s eldest daughter, but the correspondence of the name to the first element of Nefertiti’s name argues strongly for the identification followed here. Moreover, Neferneferuaten adopts the epithets “beloved of Neferkheperura, sole one of Ra” and “beloved of sole one of Ra, Akhe-naten,” both of which point to Nefertiti rather than her daughter. William Murnane, Texts from the Amarna Period (p. 10), provides further support for this consensus view. The fact that Smenkhkara had the same throne name (Ankhkheperura) as his predecessor Neferneferuaten points heavily in the direction of “Smenkhkara” being yet another name for Nefertiti.

The restoration of traditional cults under Tutankhamun is discussed by William Murnane, “The Return to Orthodoxy.” For an overview of Tutankhamun’s reign, see Nicholas Reeves, The Complete Tutankhamun; John Darnell and Colleen Manassa,Tutankhamun’s Armies; and Toby Wilkinson, Lives of the Ancient Egyptians (nos. 61–65). For the events surrounding the death of Tutankhamun and his widow’s desperate appeal to the Hittite king, see Trevor Bryce, “The Death of Niphururiya,” who also provides conclusive proof that the widow in question was Ankhesenamun, not Nefertiti. Despite the continuing speculation over the cause of Tutankhamun’s death, a CT scan of his mummy in 2002 showed no signs of violence.

  1. Amarna Letters, EA34 (translation by William Moran, The Amarna Letters).

  2. Amarna Letters, EA147 (translation by William Moran, The Amarna Letters).

  3. Akhenaten, earlier foundation inscription, stela K, line 19.

  4. Ibid., stela X, line 15.

  5. Ibid., line 20.

  6. Kevin Nance, “The Dark Side of King Tut.” The quote refers to imagery from the reign of Tutankhamun, but the description is equally applicable to his father.

  7. Meryra I, tomb inscription (south wall, west side).

  8. John Foster, “The New Religion,” p. 99.

  9. Great Hymn to the Aten, lines 2–11.

10. Ibid., lines 12–13.

11. Akhenaten, later foundation inscription, line 4.

12. Tutu, tomb inscription, west wall, south side, lower part, lines 26–27.

13. Mahu, tomb inscription, front wall, south side.

14. Ibid.

15. Huya, tomb inscription, west wall.

16. Amarna Letters, EA16 (translation by William Moran, The Amarna Letters).

17. Tutankhamun, restoration stela, lines 5–9.

18. Ibid., lines 4–5.

19. The Deeds of Suppiluliuma (translation after Hans Güterbock, “The Deeds of Suppiluliuma,” pp. 94–95).

20. Ibid.


A work of fundamental importance for understanding the role of the army in New Kingdom society is Andrea Gnirs, Militär und Gesellschaft, while the classic account of army organization remains Alan Schulman, Military Rank, Title and Organization. For army life, weaponry, and military tactics, see John Darnell and Colleen Manassa, Tutankhamun’s Armies. Metal helmets were introduced during the New Kingdom but were not commonplace. The identification of Perunefer with Hutwaret is advocated by Manfred Bietak, “The Tuthmoside Stronghold of Perunefer.” For an alternative view, that Perunefer was at Memphis, see David Jeffreys, “Perunefer.” The scene showing Egyptian soldiers leaving the battlefield with enemy hands skewered on spears is illustrated in Donald Redford (ed.), The Akhenaten Temple Project (plate 14, no. 3).

The key source for the career of Horemheb, as high official and king, is Robert Hari, Horemheb et la reine Moutnedjmet. Allan Philips, “Horemheb,” discusses an important piece of evidence that suggests, for the Ramesside kings at least, Horemheb was regarded as the founder of their royal house, not the last king of the previous (Eighteenth) dynasty. When it came to the future of the Aten cult, Horemheb may have hedged his bets. There is evidence to suggest that he dedicated two pieces of furniture in the Great Aten Temple at Akhetaten while smashing statues of Akhe-naten set up in the same building, thus honoring the Aten as a god (now one of many) while persecuting the memory of the Aten’s chief proponent. Horemheb’s private tomb, which sheds important light on his military and civilian activities during the reign of Tutankhamun, has been published by Geoffrey Martin, The Memphite Tomb of Horemheb. For the likely course of events surrounding the murder of Zannanza and the succession of Ay, see Trevor Bryce, “The Death of Niphururiya.” Convenient translations of the coronation inscription and the edict of Horemheb are to be found in William Murnane, Texts from the Amarna Period.

The meager evidence for the preroyal career and succession of Ramesses I is gathered together by Daniel Polz, “Die Särge des (Pa-)Ramessu,” while Alain-Pierre Zivie, “Ramses I,” summarizes what is known of the king’s brief reign. Wolfgang Helck, “Probleme der Königsfolge,” deals with the general question of royal succession at the end of the Eighteenth and beginning of the Nineteenth dynasties.

For the temple of Seti I at Abdju, see A. M. Calverley and M. F. Broome, The Temple of King Sethos I at Abydos. The Nauri Decree is discussed in detail by Francis Llewellyn Griffith, “The Abydos Decree of Seti I at Nauri.” For Seti I’s sepulchre at Thebes, see Erik Hornung, The Tomb of Seti I, with a useful summary in Nicholas Reeves and Richard H. Wilkinson, The Complete Valley of the Kings (pp. 136–139).

Seti I’s Asiatic wars are documented in a series of reliefs at Ipetsut, analyzed by William Murnane, The Road to Kadesh, which is also a good source for the development of Egyptian-Hittite relations, the expansion of the Hittite Kindgom, the role of vassal rulers such as Abdi-Ashirta and Aziru of Amurru, and the role of the mysterious Mehy in the reign of Seti I. For the last, see also William Murnane, “The Kingship of the Nineteenth Dynasty.” For the view that Seti I may originally have designated Mehy as his heir, see William Murnane, The Road to Kadesh (pp. 163–175); an alternative view is proposed by Morris Bierbrier, “Elements of Stability and Instability.”

  1. Horemheb, coronation inscription, lines 4–5.

  2. Ibid., line 25.

  3. Horemheb, edict, preamble, lines 9–10.

  4. Ibid., section 9, line 4.

  5. Ibid., line 6.

  6. Ibid., lines 8–9.

  7. Ibid., preamble, line 8.

  8. Seti I, Nauri Decree, lines 89–93.

  9. Seti I, Kanais temple inscription, text B, lines 1–2.

10. Ibid., line 6.


As befits his monumental legacy, Ramesses II has been the subject of countless studies, scholarly and popular. The classic text, by the world expert on Ramesside inscriptions, is Kenneth Kitchen, Pharaoh Triumphant, supplemented by two accessible summaries, “Pharaoh Ramesses II and His Times” and “Ramesses II.” For a good recent account and interpretation of the Battle of Kadesh, see Anthony Spalinger, War in Ancient Egypt. The site of Kadesh itself is described by its excavator, Peter Parr, “Nebi Mend, Tell.” For Hittite battle tactics and the role of the Hittite chariotry, see J. G. Macqueen, The Hittites. William Murnane, “The Kingship of the Nineteenth Dynasty,” explores the propaganda value of Ramesses II’s accounts of the battle and the reasons for him giving them such prominence on his monuments.

For Ramesses’s extensive building projects, a useful summary is Bernadette Menu, Ramesses the Great. Gloria Rosati, “The Temple of Ramesses II at El-Sheikh Ibada,” publishes the results of recent fieldwork close to Amarna. Ramesside work at Ipetsut and Luxor, together with the Ramesseum, is discussed by William Stevenson Smith, The Art and Architecture of Ancient Egypt. The most convenient summary of the temples at Abu Simbel is Lisa Heidorn, “Abu Simbel.” For the capacity of the Ramesseum granaries, see Barry Kemp, Ancient Egypt (1st ed., fig. 69).

The location of Per-Ramesses offered easy access to the Near East by sea and land, and was ideal as a campaign headquarters. Our knowledge of the city is growing all the time, thanks to ongoing excavations by a German team. For the latest results, see Josef Dorner, “Die Topographie von Piramesse”; Edgar Pusch, “Towards a Map of Piramesse”; and Edgar Pusch, Helmut Becker, and Jörg Fassbinder, “Wohnen und Leben.” A reconstruction of the city based upon the ancient sources is presented by Eric Uphill,Egyptian Towns and Cities. For industrial installations and workshops at Per-Ramesses, see Thilo Rehren and Edgar Pusch, “Glass and Glass-making.” The bronze foundries are discussed by Edgar Pusch, “Recent Work at Northern Piramesse,” and by Edgar Pusch and Anja Herold, “Qantir/Pi-Ramesses.” For the chariotry stables, see Edgar Pusch, “ ‘Pi-Ramesse-geliebt-von-Amun,’ ” and David Aston and Edgar Pusch, “The Pottery from the Royal Horse Stud.” The location of the biblical Pithom is confirmed by John Holladay, “Pithom,” while the problem of the Exodus is conveniently addressed by John Bimson, “The Israelite Exodus.”

Ramesses’s campaigns in Syria-Palestine after the Battle of Kadesh are charted by Kenneth Kitchen, Pharaoh Triumphant. The most up-to-date works on the Hittite Kingdom, and specifically the rise and fall of Urhi-Teshup and the reign of Hattusili III, are Trevor Bryce, The Kingdom of the Hittites, and Theo van den Hout, “Khattushili III, King of the Hittites.” The primary publication of the correspondence between the Egyptian and Hittite courts is Elmar Edel, Die ägyptisch-hethitische Korrespondenz, with a useful summary by Ogden Goelet, “Ramesses-Hattusilis Correspondence.” A cuneiform tablet from Per-Ramesses that may be part of this diplomatic correspondence was published by Patricia Spencer, “Digging Diary 2003” (pp. 26–27). For details of the royal citadel at Hattusa and the layout of the Hittite capital, see J. G. Macqueen, The Hittites. The recent discovery of a Ramesside royal palace in the northern Sinai, perhaps used by diplomatic brides on their way to Egypt, is published by Dominique Valbelle and François Leclère, “Tell Abyad.”

For Libyan links with the Mediterranean and the fortresses built by Ramesses II to defend his Libyan frontier, see Steven Snape, “Ramesses II’s Forgotten Frontier.” Colleen Manassa, The Great Karnak Inscription of Merneptah, offers a magisterial account of the Libyan invasion in the fifth year of Merenptah’s reign, together with discussions of Mery’s strategy, the Battle of Perirer itself, and Merenptah’s wider response to the threat posed by the Sea Peoples. The various peoples who made up the mercenary force fighting alongside Mery are listed in the Egyptian account as Akawash (perhaps to be equated with Homer’s Achaeans), Turesh (who may have given their name to the Tyrrhenian region of Italy), Lukka (Lycians), Sherden (after whom Sardinia may have been named), and Shekelesh (who may have given their name to Sicily). For the identity of the Sea Peoples, a convenient summary is Anthony Leahy, “Sea Peoples.” Robert Drews, The End of the Bronze Age, argues for the critical importance of advanced military technology in the military success of the Sea Peoples.

  1. Ramesses II, Battle of Kadesh “poem,” line 56.

  2. Ramesses II, treaty with the Hittites (Karnak version), lines 9–10.

  3. Ramesses II, first Hittite marriage inscription, line 34. (“Your Majesty’s border” appears only in the Karnak version of the text; the Abu Simbel version gives “His Majesty’s border.”)

  4. Merenptah, great Karnak inscription, line 13.


For the disputed succession following the death of Merenptah, see Aidan Dodson and Dyan Hilton, The Complete Royal Families (pp. 176–177); Nicholas Reeves and Richard Wilkinson, The Complete Valley of the Kings (pp. 150–158); and two articles by Aidan Dodson, “Amenmesse” and “Messuy, Amada, and Amenmesse.” Dodson argues that Amenmesse is to be equated with Messuy, viceroy of Nubia under Merenptah. If this is true, Amenmesse would have had a political power base, considerable economic resources, and the Nubian garrisons to support his claim to the throne. For an alternate view, see Frank Yurco, “Was Amenmesse the Viceroy of Kush, Messuwy?” Dodson further suggests that Amenmesse seized power in the area south of the Fayum after Seti-Merenptah had already come to the throne, but the majority of scholars argue that he seized the kingship immediately upon the death of Merenptah. I have followed the majority view.

The reign of Siptah is discussed by Cyril Aldred, “The Parentage of King Siptah.” The career of Chancellor Bay is discussed by Pierre Grandet, “L’exécution du chancelier Bay,” and Toby Wilkinson, Lives of the Ancient Egyptians (no. 77).

The primary source for the beginning of the Twentieth Dynasty is the stela of Sethnakht from Abu, published by Rosemarie Drenkhahn, Die Elephantine-Stele des Sethnacht, and which is further analyzed by Donald Redford, “Egypt and Western Asia in the Late New Kingdom,” and Stephan Seidlmayer, “Epigraphische Bemerkungen zur Stele des Sethnachte.” The stela of Bakenkhonsu, discovered at Karnak in 2006 but not yet fully published, provides the highest known regnal year for Sethnakht, namely a “year four.” It also refers to civil disturbances in Thebes that resulted in damage to statues inside the temple of Amun-Ra at Ipetsut. See Mansour Boraik, “Re-writing Egypt’s History.” Although not certain, Sethnakht’s geographical origins are suggested by the fact that, under his son Ramesses III, several men from Bast were promoted to high office; it is tempting to see them as childhood friends of Ramesses III, from the same region of the eastern delta.

The best treatment of Ramesses III’s reign, with full references to primary sources, is Pierre Grandet, Ramsès III, with a convenient summary by the same author in his article “Ramesses III.” For the great battle against the Sea Peoples in the eighth year of the king’s reign, see, inter alia, Nancy Sandars, The Sea Peoples, and Eliezer Oren (ed.), The Sea Peoples and Their World, especially David O’Connor, “The Sea Peoples and the Egyptian Sources.” Many attempts have been made to identify the origins of the various groups of Sea Peoples, based upon their distinctive names. For example, the Tjeker (Teucrians) have been associated with the region around Troy and the Weshesh with the city itself, on the assumption that “Weshesh” is an Egyptian corruption of Wilusa/Ilios, the ancient name of Troy. The Denyen have been identified with the Danaoi or mainland Greeks, but are perhaps more likely to have originated in southeastern Turkey or northernmost Syria. If the Peleset originally came from Anatolia as well, they are better known for their subsequent settlement along the coast of the southern Near East, where they became known as the Philistines (and gave their name to modern Palestine). The origins of the Shekelesh are obscure, but it seems likely that later groups of them settled in the western Mediterranean, giving their name to the island of Sicily. If we look beyond names to the military technology of the Sea Peoples, the design of their ships suggests connections with the Mycenaean world but also connections further afield with the Bronze Age Urnfield culture of central Europe (see Shelley Wachsmann, “To the Sea of the Philistines”). The complex origins of the Sea Peoples are discussed by Philip Betancourt, “The Aegean and the Origin of the Sea Peoples,” Shelley Wachsmann, “To the Sea of the Philistines,” and Louise Steel, “The ‘Sea Peoples’: Raiders or Refugees?” The Sea Peoples’ ultimate destiny is explored by Lucia Vagnetti, “Western Mediterranean Overview.” Itamar Singer, “New Evidence on the End of the Hittite Empire,” presents vivid evidence for the devastation wrought by the Sea Peoples throughout the eastern Mediterranean.

The reliefs from the mortuary temple of Ramesses III, including the famous scenes depicting the battle against the Sea Peoples, are published by the Epigraphic Survey, Medinet Habu. For the inspection of temples in year fifteen of Ramesses III’s reign; for Ramesses III’s building projects; and for the expeditions to Sinai, Timna, and Punt, see Pierre Grandet, Ramsès III. The foreign mining expeditions are described in the Great Harris Papyrus (P. Harris I: 77.8–78.1 and 14a.7–8).

The primary publication of the Turin Strike Papyrus, a contemporary account of the strikes by the necropolis workmen, remains William Edgerton, “The Strikes in Ramesses III’s Twenty-ninth Year.” Pierre Grandet, Ramsès III, gives a useful narrative account (in French). For the original texts, see Kenneth Kitchen, Ramesside Inscriptions (vol. V, pp. 529–530, 542; vol. VII, pp. 300–302).

For the harem conspiracy and the tribunal set up to investigate it, see Adriaan de Buck, “The Judicial Papyrus of Turin.” The use of black magic by the conspirators is disputed by Hans Goedicke, “Was Magic Used in the Harem Conspiracy,” but the evidence of the contemporary papyri seems clear.

  1. Bay, Gebel el-Silsila inscription, lines 8–9.

  2. Ostracon O.IFAO 1864, recto, line 3.

  3. Great Harris Papyrus I, 75, 4.

  4. Sethnakht, Elephantine stela, line 15.

  5. Ibid., line 4.

  6. Ibid., line 5.

  7. RS 20.238 (translation after Michael Astour, “New Evidence on the Last Days of Ugarit,” p. 255).

  8. Ramesses III, great inscription of year eight, Medinet Habu, lines 16–17.

  9. Ibid., lines 16–18.

10. Ibid., lines 20–21.

11. Robert Drews, The End of the Bronze Age, p. 3.

12. Ramesses III, Turin Strike Papyrus, recto 1, line 2.

13. Ibid., recto 2, lines 2–5.

14. Ibid., lines 14–15.

15. Ibid., lines 15–17.

16. Ramesses III, harem scenes, Medinet Habu.

17. Ramesses III, Turin Judicial Papyrus, 4:2.

18. Ibid., 3:2.


A vivid, if bleak, picture of peasant life in ancient Egypt is painted by Ricardo Caminos, “Peasants,” in stark contrast to the rose-tinted descriptions of other authors. A Tale of Woe by the same author offers a translation and commentary on the tale of Wermai from the late New Kingdom. For the institution of corvée labor, see Kathlyn Cooney, “Labour,” and Christopher Eyre, “Work and the Organisation of Work in the New Kingdom.” For the high death rate on mining expeditions, see John Baines, “Society, Morality, and Religious Practice” (pp. 136–137). The reign and monuments of Ramesses IV, including the Wadi Hammamat expedition and the Abdju inscription, are discussed in detail by A. J. Peden, The Reign of Ramesses IV. The tomb of Ramesses IV is notable chiefly for its sarcophagus. At ten and a half feet in length and seven feet high, it is the largest ever used in the Valley of the Kings. But it, too, was finished in haste.

Despite a relative abundance of documentation, the late Twentieth Dynasty remains one of the least-known periods of ancient Egyptian history, certainly in terms of political developments. For a good summary, see Kenneth Kitchen, “Ramses V–XI.” The Turin Indictment Papyrus, detailing the misdeeds of Khnumnakht, is discussed by A. J. Peden, The Reign of Ramesses IV (pp. 69–72), and by Pierre Grandet, Ramsès III (pp. 218–219).

The survey of landholdings in Middle Egypt commissioned by Ramesses V is known today as the Wilbour Papyrus. The standard edition is Alan Gardiner, The Wilbour Papyrus, while Ogden Goelet, “Wilbour Papyrus,” offers a helpful summary of the document’s salient features. For the mummy of Ramesses V, see John Harris and Edward Wente, An X-Ray Atlas of the Royal Mummies. Useful discussions of the titulary and monuments of Ramesses VI include Kenneth Kitchen, “The Titularies of the Ramesside Kings,” and Amin Amer, “Reflections on the Reign of Ramesses VI.” A papyrus from the late Ramesside Period refers to “the year of the hyenas” as a euphemism for famine. For the Libyan incursions at Thebes, see A. J. Peden, The Reign of Ramesses IV (pp. 20–22). The last evidence for Egyptian contact with its former territories in the Near East is a statue base from Megiddo inscribed with the name of Ramesses VI. The career of Ramessesnakht is traced in Toby Wilkinson, Lives of the Ancient Egyptians (no. 79).

The tomb robberies of the late Twentieth Dynasty have been discussed by many authors. The essential edition of the original papyrus accounts is Eric Peet, The Great Tomb-Robberies. Among other helpful accounts are Cyril Aldred, “More Light on the Ramesside Tomb Robberies,” and Ogden Goelet, “Tomb Robbery Papyri.”

For the transition between the end of the Ramesside Period and the succeeding Libyan Dynasties, a useful account (though now superseded in several important respects) is Andrzej Niwinski, “Le passage de la XXe à la XXIIe dynastie.” The chronology of Ramesses XI’s reign, including the suppression and restoration of the high priest Amenhotep, the civil war between the forces of Panehsy and Paiankh, and the proclamation of the renaissance, is a hotly debated topic with two broad schools of thought. The traditional interpretation, which places Herihor before Paiankh, is presented by Kenneth Kitchen, The Third Intermediate Period in Egypt. The radical revision, placing Paiankh before Herihor, was originally proposed by Karl Jansen-Winkeln, “Das Ende des Neuen Reiches,” and has been taken up by authors such as Jacobus van Dijk, “The Amarna Period” (p. 302), and John Taylor, “Nodjmet, Payankh and Herihor.” Despite being refuted in detail by several scholars, notably Jürgen von Beckerath, “Zur Chronologie der XXI. Dynastie,” the revision has much to recommend it and has been followed here.

The letters between Paiankh and Nodjmet are translated in Edward Wente, Letters from Ancient Egypt. For the systematic plunder of the royal necropolis, which started under Paiankh, see Karl Jansen-Winkeln, “Die Plünderung der Königsgräber des Neuen Reiches.” John Taylor, “Nodjmet, Payankh and Herihor,” proposes a prominent role for Nodjmet in the succession from Paiankh to Herihor, and from the Twentieth Dynasty to the Twenty-first Dynasty. The abandonment of Per-Ramesses and the foundation of a new capital at Djanet (classical Tanis) are discussed by Geoffrey Graham, “Tanis.”

  1. Ricardo A. Caminos, “Peasants,” p. 24.

  2. Ibid., p. 20.

  3. Ramesses IV, Wadi Hammamat inscription of year three, line 6.

  4. Ramesses IV, great Abydos stela, line 21.

  5. Ramesses IV, second Abydos stela, line 35.

  6. Merenptah, Libyan inscription, line 22.

  7. Papyrus Amherst, p. 2, lines 3–7.

  8. Papyrus BM 10052, p. 8, lines 19–20.

  9. Ibid., p. 5, lines 8–9.

10. Late Ramesside Letters, no. 35 (translated by Edward Wente, Letters from Ancient Egypt, pp. 183–184).

11. Late Ramesside Letters, no. 28.


The best introduction to the so-called Libyan Period in Egypt (traditionally the Twenty-second to Twenty-fourth dynasties) is Anthony Leahy, “The Libyan Period in Egypt,” together with the volume of essays Libya and Egypt, edited by the same author. A good introduction to the chronology and rulers of the Twenty-first Dynasty is Kenneth Kitchen, The Third Intermediate Period (pp. 255–286), while his article “The Arrival of the Libyans in Late New Kingdom Egypt” discusses the background to Libyan settlement in Egypt during the late Ramesside Period.

The extent of Libyan influence in the Twenty-first Dynasty is still hotly disputed. Karl Jansen-Winkeln, “Der Beginn der libyschen Herrschaft in Ägypten,” makes a strong case and his thesis has been largely followed here. However, the alternate view (that the Libyan character really becomes apparent only with the reign of Shoshenq I) is equally strongly held. For discussion of the arguments, see Anthony Leahy, “The Libyan Period in Egypt,” and John Taylor, “The Third Intermediate Period.” Despite their Egyptian names, there is strong circumstantial evidence to suggest that Paiankh and Herihor were both of Libyan origin. An inscription from the largely Libyan cemetery of the Third Intermediate Period at Herakleopolis has been plausibly connected with Paiankh, and he is known to have had a base in the town that was the heartland of Libyan settlement in Middle Egypt. At least two of Herihor’s sons were given Libyan names, and this would have been surprising at the time if there had been no Libyan blood in the family.

A Libyan origin is also likely for the ruler of Lower Egypt at the end of Ramesses XI’s reign. The existence of a private statuette naming a “great chief of the Ma Nesbanebdjedet” (Jean Yoyotte, “Les principautés du Delta,” p. 127 and plate III) suggests that this name was common among the Libyan population of the delta, and thus helps to reinforce the Libyan identification of the king of the same name. Nesbanebdjedet, “the king, the ram lord of Djedet,” is more commonly known by the Greek form of his name, Smendes, but the original Egyptian version better conjures up the labored formulations beloved of the Libyan Twenty-first Dynasty kings. Likewise Pasebakhaenniut, which is usually rendered in its Greek form, Psusennes.

For the undisputed Libyan character of the Twenty-second Dynasty, see, most recently, Eva Lange, “Legitimation und Herrschaft.” The importance of genealogies is analyzed by Lisa Montagno Leahy and Anthony Leahy, “The Genealogy of a Priestly Family from Heliopolis.” There are numerous examples of throne names being recycled for generations: Pasebakhaenniut I and Osorkon the Elder shared almost identical throne names; Shoshenq I copied the throne name of Nesbanebdjedet, and Takelot I, Takelot II, and Shoshenq IV followed suit; Osorkon II copied the throne-name of Amenemope, as did Padibastet I, Osorkon III, and Rudamun; Shoshenq III copied the throne name of Ramesses II, and Pamay followed suit; Peftjauawybast copied the throne name of Amenemnisu, but had to omit the epithet Heqawaset (“ruler of Thebes”) since he had abandoned the city in the face of Kushite expansion. For the change in the conception of the tomb, especially at Thebes, see Takao Kikuchi, “Die thebanische Nekropole der 21. Dynastie.”

The classic publications of Djanet and its royal tombs are by the site’s principal excavator, Jean Yoyotte; especially useful are “Tanis” and “The Royal Necropolis of Tanis and Its Treasures.” For the career of Wendjebaendjedet, see Toby Wilkinson, Lives of the Ancient Egyptians (no. 84). For details about the systematic robbery of the Theban royal tombs in the early Twenty-first Dynasty, I am indebted to R. J. Demarée, “The Final Episode of the Deir el-Medina Community.” A further useful discussion of the subject is Nicholas Reeves and Richard Wilkinson, The Complete Valley of the Kings (pp. 190–207), who pay particular attention to the caches of royal mummies. The mummies reinterred in the tomb of a Seventeenth Dynasty queen were finally removed to the family vault of the Theban high priest Pinedjem II, high in the cliffs above Deir el-Bahri, in the reign of Shoshenq I.

The notion of a “theocratic” government is analyzed in detail by Karl Jansen-Winkeln, “Die thebanische ‘Gottesstaat.’ ” For a key text that has been described as “the credo of the theocracy,” see Pascal Vernus, “Choix de textes” (no. 1, pp. 103–104). Jean-Marie Kruchten, Les annales des prêtres de Karnak, discusses the role of oracles and gives an account of the dispute between two factions of priests at Ipetsut in the time of Pinedjem II. The classic study of the role of women in the Theban priesthood is Saphinaz-Amal Naguib, Le clergé féminin d’Amon.

For the Libyan fortresses in Middle Egypt and the defensive outlook of Twenty-first Dynasty society, John Taylor, “The Third Intermediate Period,” provides a useful starting point. The Theban revolt in the reign of Nesbanebdjedet is discussed by Aidan Dodson, “Third Intermediate Period.” The original source for this episode is the Banishment Stela, published by Jürgen von Beckerath, “Die ‘Stele der Verbannten,’ ” with further useful observations by Kenneth Kitchen, The Third Intermediate Period (pp. 261–262). The fortresses built by Menkheperra were at Gesy (modern Qus), Inerty (Gebelein), and Djeba (Edfu).

John Taylor, “The Third Intermediate Period,” discusses the decline of royal power in the Twenty-first Dynasty; and Miriam Lichtheim, Ancient Egyptian Literature (vol. 2, pp. 224–230), provides a convenient translation of the Report of Wenamun, while the journey itself is reconstructed and its implications commented upon by Bill Manley, The Penguin Historical Atlas of Ancient Egypt (pp. 98–99). The text has traditionally been dated to the renaissance era of Ramesses XI’s reign, but recent scholarship has convincingly argued for a date after the death of Ramesses XI, in the reign of his immediate successor. See, above all, Karl Jansen-Winkeln, “Das Ende des Neuen Reiches,” together with Ad Thijs, “In Search of King Herihor” (p. 79). Thijs dates the text to the “reign” of the high priest Pinedjem I, arguing that he preceded Herihor as ruler of Thebes, but this particular point seems unlikely. For the likely marriage of Siamun’s daughter to Solomon, see Kenneth Kitchen, The Third Intermediate Period (p. 280).

  1. Ramesses III, Deir el-Medina stela, line 3.

  2. Ibid., lines 3–4.

  3. Late Ramesside Letters, no. 28 (translation by Vivian Davies and Renée Friedman, Egypt, p. 149).

  4. Hymn to Amun—the “credo of the theocracy.”

  5. Menkheperra, Banishment Stela, line 6.

  6. Late Ramesside Letters, no. 21 (translation by Edward Wente, Letters from Ancient Egypt, p. 183).

  7. 1 Kings 9:16 (revised standard version).


For the accession of Shoshenq I and the historical problems surrounding the reign of Pasebakhaenniut II, see Aidan Dodson, “The Transition Between the 21st and 22nd Dynasties Revisited.” It is noteworthy, and typical of the shifting sands of Third Intermediate Period history, that Dodson’s previous interpretation of events at the end of the Twenty-first Dynasty (presented in “Psusennes II and Shoshenq I”) has been completely overturned by a single new discovery, that of a hitherto unknown inscribed fragment from Ipetsut (Frédéric Payraudeau, “Des nouvelles annales sacerdotales”). For Shoshenq’s reign and accomplishments, see Anthony Leahy, “Abydos in the Libyan Period” (p. 174), and Kenneth Kitchen, “Sheshonq I.” Shoshenq had royal connections of his own, before his marriage to Pasebakhaenniut II’s daughter. His uncle, Osorkon the Elder (975–970), had ruled briefly as king at Djanet.

The course of Shoshenq I’s Palestinian campaign has been reconstructed by Kenneth Kitchen, The Third Intermediate Period (pp. 432–447), based upon the inscription on the so-called Bubastite Portal at Ipetsut, published by the Epigraphic Survey, Reliefs and Inscriptions at Karnak III. For a convenient cartographic representation of the campaign, see Bill Manley, The Penguin Historical Atlas of Ancient Egypt (pp. 102–103). The biblical account of “King Shishak” is difficult to reconcile with the Egyptian record of Shoshenq’s campaign on two scores. First, Jerusalem is absent from the Ipetsut list of captured and defeated towns—although a portion of the inscription is missing. Second, most of the conquests listed at Ipetsut are in Israel, not Judah. John Bimson, “Who Was King Shishak of Egypt?,” provides a useful discussion of the difficulties in accommodating the two sources. As a result of these discrepancies, there is a growing (if somewhat desperate) view that Shoshenq I must have mounted at least two campaigns in the Near East, one recorded at Ipetsut, the other in the Bible. Shoshenq I’s son and grandson were Osorkon I (925–890) and Takelot I (890–874), respectively.

There is as yet no consensus on the precise relationship between the various dynasties and collateral branches of the royal family during the ninth and eighth centuries, although the weight of scholarly opinion seems to be forming around the broad picture suggested by David Aston and John Taylor, “The Family of Takeloth II,” and Karl Jansen-Winkeln, “Historische Probleme der 3. Zwischenzeit.” It should be noted that the existence of a “Theban Twenty-third Dynasty,” founded by Takelot II and running concurrently with the Twenty-second Dynasty at Bast, has been refuted by the doyen of Third Intermediate Period studies, Kenneth Kitchen (The Third Intermediate Period, pp. xxviii–xxxiv); but the theory makes best sense of the fragmentary and confusing evidence, and has been followed here. For detailed family trees and a discussion of the relationships between the various rulers and dynasties, The Complete Royal Families (pp. 210–231) by Aidan Dodson and Dyan Hilton is invaluable.

The buildings of Osorkon II at Bast are published by Édouard Naville, The Festival Hall of Osorkon II, and discussed in summary by Charles van Siclen, “Tell Basta.” Pascal Vernus, “Choix de textes” (no. 8, p. 109), publishes the funeral lament for Osorkon II by one of his generals. For the kingship of Harsiese and the declaration of Theban independence during the reign of Osorkon II, see Karl Jansen-Winkeln, “Historische Probleme der 3. Zwischenzeit,” and David Aston, “Takeloth II.” Both articles are essential to an understanding of the complex chronology of events relating to Prince Osorkon; particularly useful is Karl Jansen-Winkeln’s table 1. The primary publication of the prince’s travails is Ricardo Caminos, The Chronicle of Prince Osorkon. Gerald Broekman, “The Chronicle of Prince Osorkon,” offers a recent analysis and commentary.

The history of Nubia during the first part of the Third Intermediate Period remains extremely obscure. One of the best recent studies is John Darnell, The Inscription of Queen Katimala (especially pp. 55–63). For the tombs of the early chieftains at el-Kurru, see Timothy Kendall, “The Origin of the Napatan State”; Lisa Heidorn, “Historical Implications”; and a convenient summary by David O’Connor, Ancient Nubia (pp. 66–69). Kashta is attested in contemporary inscriptions as far north as Elephantine; if Amenirdis was installed as the future god’s wife of Amun not by her brother (Piankhi) but by her father (Kashta), as was the usual practice, Kashta’s authority must have extended as far as Thebes. Timothy Kendall, “Kings of the Sacred Mountain” and “Egypt and Nubia” (pp. 409–412), offers up-to-date discussions of the theology associated with the holy mountain of Gebel Barkal. Kendall’s suggestion (“Egypt and Nubia,” p. 412) that Theban émigrés may have helped to “convert” the Kushite rulers to fundamentalist Amunism seems unnecessary, given the evidence for militant religious fervor among the Nubian elite as early as the tenth century, as demonstrated by the Katimala inscription (John Darnell, The Inscription of Queen Katimala, pp. 62–63). Timothy Kendall, “Jebel Barkal,” discusses the history of the temples at this important site.

For a long time, the name of Piankhi was rendered as “Piye,” but a recent analysis has suggested that “Piankhi” is more accurate. See Claude Rilly, “Une nouvelle interprétation du nom royal Piankhy.” For the likelihood of an agreement between Rudamun and Piankhi and friendly relations between the two dynasties, see David Aston and John Taylor, “The Family of Takeloth II.” Piankhi’s sister Amenirdis was subsequently adopted as Shepenwepet’s successor, thus ensuring that a Kushite would eventually become god’s wife of Amun.

Iuput II’s writ, or at least his influence, seems to have stretched beyond the immediate vicinity of Taremu and as far as Per-Wadjet, in the western delta, judging from the bracelets bearing his name that have recently been excavated at the site. See Ulrich Hartung, “Recent Investigations.” The intense political fragmentation of Egypt by 730 and the difficulties of interpretation surrounding rulers such as Iuput II are discussed by Anthony Leahy, “Abydos in the Libyan Period” (Appendix, pp. 177–195), and Patricia and Jeffrey Spencer, “Notes on Late Libyan Egypt.” The classic study remains Jean Yoyotte, “Les principautés du Delta.” The best original source for the period, and for Piankhi’s campaign, is the king’s own victory stela, published in full by Nicolas Grimal, La stèle triomphale. The four kings shown doing obeisance at the top of the stela are Nimlot and Peftjauawybast from Upper Egypt, and Osorkon IV and Iuput II from Lower Egypt. At the time of Piankhi’s campaign, Shepenwepet I (the daughter of Prince Osorkon) may still have been the incumbent god’s wife of Amun at Thebes; sometime in the 750s, Kashta had installed his daughter (Amenirdis I) as the future god’s wife; Piankhi followed suit after his campaign of 728.

For Piankhi’s palace at Napata, see Timothy Kendall, “The Napatan Palace.” The Kushites’ predilection for horses is discussed by László Török, “Iconography and Mentality” (pp. 195–197), while evidence that the predilection predates the rise of Piankhi’s dynasty is presented by Irene Liverani, “Hillat el-Arab.” A fragmentary victory relief of Piankhi at Gebel Barkal gives particular prominence to the horses he received in tribute from various Egyptian dynasts. See Timothy Kendall, “Kings of the Sacred Mountain” (p. 164, fig. 28).

  1. 1 Kings 14.

  2. 2 Chr. 12:4–5.

  3. 1 Kings 14:25–26.

  4. Chronicle of Prince Osorkon, Text A, line 24 (the translations of this text are by Ricardo A. Caminos, The Chronicle of Prince Osorkon).

  5. Ibid., line 30.

  6. Ibid., line 36.

  7. Ibid., line 36.

  8. Ibid., line 53.

  9. Ibid., line 53.

10. Ibid., text B, line 7.

11. Ibid., line 11.

12. Priestly annals at Karnak, fragment 7, line 3.

13. Piankhi, victory stela, line 19.

14. Ibid., line 3.

15. Ibid.

16. Ibid., line 12.

17. Ibid.

18. Ibid., line 14.

19. Ibid., line 32.

20. Ibid., lines 62–67.

21. Ibid., line 78.

22. Ibid., line 85.

23. Ibid., line 86.

24. Ibid., line 106.

25. Ibid., lines 113–114.

26. Ibid., lines 127–128.


An invaluable starting point for the history of the Kushite Period in Egypt is the collection of contemporary texts, published in transliteration and translation by Tormod Eide et al. (eds.), Fontes Historiae Nubiorum. The faïence goblet of Bakenrenef is illustrated and discussed in detail by Günther Hölbl, Beziehungen der ägyptischen Kultur zu Altitalien (vol. 1, pp. 81–94, and vol. 2, plates 28–30). For the reign of Shabaqo and the imposition of Kushite rule in Lower Egypt, see the two articles “Shabaqa” and “Twenty-fifth Dynasty” by Kenneth Kitchen.

The career of Harwa is charted by Toby Wilkinson, Lives of the Ancient Egyptians (no. 87); for details of Harwa’s tomb and the shabti with royal attributes, see Francesco Tiraditti, “Three Years of Research in the Tomb of Harwa.” The inscription on one of his statues is published by Miriam Lichtheim, Ancient Egyptian Literature (vol. 3, pp. 24–28). The persistence of political structures in the delta throughout the Kushite Period is discussed by Kenneth Kitchen, The Third Intermediate Period (pp. 395–398). An important new study of the same phenomenon is Olivier Perdu, “La chefferie de Sébennytos.”

For the general character of Kushite rule, see Jean Leclant, “Kuschitenherrschaft,” plus references. The archaizing trends in Kushite art are discussed by John Taylor, “The Third Intermediate Period” (pp. 350–352 and 354–362), and Gay Robins, The Art of Ancient Egypt (pp. 210–229). Barry Kemp, Ancient Egypt (1st ed., pp. 26–27), offers an incisive analysis of the Memphite Theology. The text itself (treated as a genuine work of the Old Kingdom or earlier) is published by Miriam Lichtheim, Ancient Egyptian Literature (vol. 1, pp. 51–57). For Kushite statuary, see Edna Russmann, Egyptian Sculpture (pp. 164–175), and Charles Bonnet and Dominique Valbelle, The Nubian Pharaohs. Anthony Leahy, “Royal Iconography and Dynastic Change,” examines one particular aspect of Kushite art, namely the cap crown. The reign of Taharqo is discussed by Jean Leclant, “Taharqa,” and Donald Redford, “Taharqa.” Taharqo’s Near Eastern campaigns, dated to around 670, can be deduced from donation lists in the temple at Kawa. For the importance of the king’s mother in African societies, see Jean Leclant, “Kuschitenherrschaft,” and E. Y. Kor-mysheva, “Remarks on the Position of the King’s Mother in Kush.”

A convenient source for the history of the Assyrian Empire is John Haywood, The Penguin Historical Atlas of Ancient Civilizations (pp. 38–39 and 46–47). Dan’el Kahn, “The Assyrian Invasions of Egypt,” offers a broad overview of relations between the two countries, with reference to ancient sources. For the diplomatic policy of Shabaqo toward Assyria, see Grant Frame, “The Inscription of Sargon II at Tang-i Var.” The Assyrian royal annals, included in James Pritchard (ed.), Ancient Near Eastern Texts, give a vivid, if heavily biased, eyewitness account of the invasions by Esarhaddon and Ashurbanipal. For a reconstruction of the Battle of Eltekeh, based on contemporary accounts, see Kenneth Kitchen, The Third Intermediate Period (pp. 384–385). An inscription of Esarhaddon that may relate to the plunder of Memphis and the seizure of Kushite royal crowns is published by W. G. Lambert, “Booty from Egypt?” The reference to a rebellion in the southern provinces after the Assyrian invasion of 667–666 is from an inscription of Montuemhat in the Mut temple at Ipetsut. For Taharqo’s battles against the Assyrians, see Charles Bonnet and Dominique Valbelle, The Nubian Pharaohs (pp. 142–149), while the same authors (pp. 150–154) discuss the brief reign of Tanutamun (including his dream stela) and Psamtek I’s takeover. Francis Breyer, Tanutamani, offers the fullest discussion yet of the last Kushite pharaoh. For the two obelisks seized by the Assyrians during the sack of Thebes in 664, see Christiane Desroches Noblecourt, “Deux grands obélisques.”

Good introductions to the history of the Saite (Twenty-sixth) Dynasty are Kenneth Kitchen, The Third Intermediate Period (pp. 399–408); John Ray, “Late Period: An Overview”; and Anthony Spalinger, “Late Period: Twenty-sixth Dynasty.” For a rather pessimistic assessment of Saite rule, see Anthony Spalinger, “The Concept of the Monarchy During the Saite Epoch.” The extraordinary career of Montuemhat is discussed by Barry Kemp, Ancient Egypt (2nd ed., pp. 346–348 and 372), and Toby Wilkinson,Lives of the Ancient Egyptians (no. 88). For Montuemhat’s Kushite wife, see Edna Russmann, “Mentuemhat’s Kushite Wife.”

The primary source for the adoption of Nitiqret is the commemorative stela from Ipetsut, published by Ricardo Caminos, “The Nitocris Adoption Stela.” For her journey to Thebes and the role of Sematawytefnakht, see Toby Wilkinson, Lives of the Ancient Egyptians (nos. 90 and 91). Psamtek I’s subsequent Theban policy is analyzed by H. De Meulenaere, “La statue du général Djed-ptah-iouf-ankh.” For the Nubian campaign of Psamtek II, see Charles Bonnet and Dominique Valbelle, The Nubian Pharaohs (pp. 164–171). Jean Yoyotte, “Le martelage des noms royaux éthiopiens,” marshals the evidence for Psamtek II’s policy of persecution against the monuments of the Kushite kings.

The background to Babylonian involvement in Egypt is discussed by Dan’el Kahn, “Some Remarks on the Foreign Policy of Psammetichus II,” while John Haywood, The Penguin Historical Atlas of Ancient Civilizations (pp. 48–49), offers a convenient source for the main developments. For the unsuccessful campaigns of Nekau II against Babylonian expansion in the Near East, see Kenneth Kitchen, The Third Intermediate Period (p. 407). Alan Lloyd, “Apries,” refers to the pro-Greek policy of Wahibra. A magisterial analysis of the events surrounding the accession of Ahmose II is Anthony Leahy, “The Earliest Dated Monument of Amasis”; while John Ray, “Amasis,” offers a lively and readable account of the pharaoh’s pragmatic approach to foreign and domestic policy. For the Greek city of Naukratis, see Barry Kemp, Ancient Egypt (2nd ed., pp. 366–370), and John Boardman, The Greeks Overseas (Chapter 4).

  1. Shabaqo, commemorative scarab.

  2. Harwa, statue inscription (translation by Miriam Lichtheim, Ancient Egyptian Literature, vol. 3, p. 26).

  3. Taharqo, Kawa stela of year six, line 9.

  4. Ibid., line 7.

  5. Ibid., lines 11–12.

  6. Ibid., lines 16–18.

  7. Taharqo, desert stela, lines 12–15.

  8. Annals of Esarhaddon (the translations of this text are by James Pritchard, Ancient Near Eastern Texts, p. 293).

  9. Ibid.

10. Annals of Ashurbanipal (the translations of this text are by James Pritchard, Ancient Near Eastern Texts, pp. 294–295).

11. Ibid.

12. Tanutamun, dream stela, lines 16–17.

13. Ibid., line 25. The echoes of Kamose’s account of his battles against the Hyksos were no doubt deliberate, intended to cast Tanutamun in the same role of national savior.

14. Ibid., lines 41–42.

15. Annals of Ashurbanipal.

16. Ibid.

17. Psamtek II, Shellal stela, column 9.


The Persian Period (or, strictly speaking, the two Persian periods) is one of the most fascinating eras in ancient Egyptian history, yet has received scant attention from Egyptologists. Still the best introduction, and a vital compendium of hieroglyphic sources for the period, is Georges Posener, La première domination perse. For administrative purposes, Egypt was joined with the oases and Cyrenaica to form the sixth satrapy of the Persian Empire. For the various (Egyptian and Persian) royal names attested from the period, see Jürgen von Beckerath, Handbuch der ägyptischen Königsnamen. Leo Depuydt, “Regnal Years and Civil Calendar,” brings much needed clarity to the chronology of the period. Heavily reliant on Greek sources (which have largely been eschewed by the present author), but nonetheless authoritative, is Friedrich Kienitz, Die politische Geschichte Ägyptens. A readable account of life in the Persian Period, as reflected in the Petition of Petiese, is John Ray, Reflections of Osiris (Chapter 6). Anthony Leahy, “The Adoption of Ankhnesneferibre” (p. 164), touches on the fate of the last god’s wife of Amun and the extraordinary longevity of Psamtek I’s family. The picture of Cambyses that emerges from the Egyptian sources is in stark contrast to accounts of his reign by Greek historians, who gave him very bad press.

The inscriptions of Khnemibra in the Wadi Hammamat are published by Georges Posener, La première domination perse (pp. 98–116); the same work (pp. 1–26) provides the definitive publication of the autobiographical inscription of Wedjahorresnet. Further useful discussions of Wedjahorresnet’s career are Alan Lloyd, “The Inscription of Udjahorresnet”; Ladislav Bare?, Abusir IV; and Toby Wilkinson, Lives of the Ancient Egyptians (no. 93). The activities of Nesmahes at Taremu are put into context by Carol Redmount and Renée Friedman, “Tell el Muqdam.”

For the sources of materials and craftsmen employed in the construction of Darius I’s palace at Susa, see Paul Cartledge, Alexander the Great (pp. 39–40). The outstanding work on the nature of Persian rule in Egypt (and the Egyptian reaction against it) is John Ray, “Egypt: Dependence and Independence.” The Persian frontier post on Dorginarti is discussed by Lisa Heidorn, “The Persian Claim to Kush,” and the contemporary fortress at Tell el-Herr in the Sinai by Dominique Valbelle, “A First Persian Period Fortress.” Barry Kemp, Ancient Egypt (2nd ed., pp. 361–363), provides a thoughtful analysis of the Suez Canal stelae of Darius I; for the original publication, see Georges Posener, La première domination perse (pp. 48–87) (for the hieroglyphic text) and V. Scheil, “Documents et arguments” (for the cuneiform text). The date of construction can be established quite precisely. From the list of satrapies on the stelae, the canal must have been built after Darius’s conquest of Sind in 518 but before his Scythian campaign of 513.

The fascinating story of the Persian water engineers of the Kharga Oasis is told by Michel Wuttmann, “Ayn Manawir.” For evidence of intermarriage between Egyptians and Persians, see Ian Mathieson et al., “A Stela of the Persian Period.” The inscription of Ariyawrata in the Wadi Hammamat also records this Persian official’s adopted Egyptian nickname, Djedher. See Georges Posener, La première domination perse (pp. 127–128).

The numerous revolts against Persian rule in the fifth and fourth centuries receive considerable attention in Greek accounts (for obvious reasons), but there are few contemporary Egyptian sources. Ongoing excavations at Ayn Manawir have brought to light an important archive of demotic contracts that seem to corroborate the account of Herodotus on a number of points. See Michel Chauveau, “The Demotic Ostraca of Ayn Manawir.” The Jewish community at Abu and the destruction of the temple of Yahweh in 410 are discussed by Bezalel Porten, The Elephantine Papyri, and Boulos Ayad Ayad, “From the Archive of Ananiah Son of Azariah.”

The purge of Egyptians from positions of authority under Xerxes I can be deduced from the fact that the papyri from Elephantine, dating to his reign and those of his two successors Artaxerxes I and Darius II mention no Egyptians in prominent positions.

For the troubled and tortuous history of the Twenty-ninth Dynasty (Nayfaurud and his successors), see Claude Traunecker, “Essai sur l’histoire de la XXIXe dynastie,” and John Ray, “Psammuthis and Hakoris.”

Paul Cartledge, Agesilaos and the Crisis of Sparta, charts the relations between the Spartan king and his Egyptian contemporaries. The rise of the Thirtieth Dynasty is analyzed by H. De Meulenaere, “La famille royale des Nectanébo”; the Naukratis stela of Nakhtnebef is published by Adolf Erman and Ulrich Wilcken, “Die Naukratisstele,” and translated by Miriam Lichtheim, Ancient Egyptian Literature (vol. 3, pp. 86–89). John Ray, “Late Period: Thirtieth Dynasty,” provides a convenient historical summary of the reigns of Nakhtnebef, Djedher, and Nakhthorheb. For the career of Wennefer, see F. von Känel, “Les mésaventures du conjurateur de Serket,” and Toby Wilkinson, Lives of the Ancient Egyptians (no. 94). The life and times of Nakhthorheb are examined by John Ray, Reflections of Osiris (Chapter 7), and Toby Wilkinson, Lives of the Ancient Egyptians (no. 95).

The phenomenon of animal cults in Late Period Egypt has spawned much discussion. Among the best recent analyses is Barry Kemp, Ancient Egypt (2nd ed., pp. 373–381), while the fundamental publication is Dieter Kessler, Die heiligen Tiere. Kessler looks in particular at the connections between sacred animals and the royal cult. Harry Smith, A Visit to Ancient Egypt, is a very readable account of the sacred animal necropolis at Saqqara. For the ibis galleries at Tuna el-Gebel (the necropolis serving ancient Khmun), see Dieter Kessler and Abd el-Halim Nur el-Din, “Inside the Ibis Galleries.” One of Nakhthorheb’s best preserved temple buildings is published by Neal Spencer, “The Great Naos of Nekhthorheb.” The burial of animals to demarcate sacred enclosures at early predynastic Nekhen was reported by Renée Friedman, “Origins of Monumental Architecture.”

The stela of Sematawytefnakht, eyewitness of the second Persian conquest, is published by Miriam Lichtheim, Ancient Egyptian Literature (vol. 3, pp. 41–44), with additional studies by Paul Tresson, “La stèle de Naples,” and Jacques Jean Clère, “Une statuette du fils aîné du roi Nectanebô.” Sematawytefnakht’s career is summarized by Toby Wilkinson, Lives of the Ancient Egyptians (no. 96). For the activities of Padiusir at Khmun, see Miriam Lichtheim, Ancient Egyptian Literature (vol. 3, pp. 44–54), and Toby Wilkinson, Lives of the Ancient Egyptians (no. 97). The best discussions of the ephemeral reign of Khababash are Friedrich Kienitz, Die politische Geschichte Ägyptens (pp. 185–189); Anthony Spalinger, “The Reign of King Chabbash”; and Robert Morkot, “Khababash, the Guerilla King.” Alexander’s Persian campaign and his conquest of Egypt are analyzed by Paul Cartledge, Alexander the Great. (For the significance of the visit to Siwa, see pp. 265–270.)

  1. Wedjahorresnet, statue inscription, left side of the statue’s garment.

  2. Ibid., under the right arm.

  3. Ibid., under the left arm.

  4. Ibid., left side of naos base.

  5. Ahmose, Serapeum stela, lines 4–5.

  6. Darius I, Suez Canal stela, cuneiform text (after the French translation by V. Scheil, “Documents et arguments”).

  7. Tom Holland, Persian Fire, back cover.

  8. Nakhtnebef, Hermopolis stela.

  9. Nakhtnebef, Naukratis stela, lines 2–3.

10. Ibid., line 3.

11. H. F. Lyte, “Abide with Me” (hymn).

12. Inscription from the sacred animal necropolis at Saqqara (translation by Harry Smith, A Visit to Ancient Egypt, p. 43).

13. Padiusir, tomb inscription (translation by Miriam Lichtheim, Ancient Egyptian Literature, vol. 3, p. 46).

14. Ptolemy (I), Satrap stela, line 8.

15. Arrian, Anabasis (quoted by Paul Cartledge, Alexander the Great, p. 268).


There is as yet no detailed account of Alexander the Great’s time in Egypt, nor of his lasting impact on the country he visited so briefly. Surveys of the Ptolemaic Period generally begin with Alexander, and Günther Hölbl’s A History of the Ptolemaic Empire is as good an introduction as any. For the notice by Peukestas, see E. G. Turner, “A Commander-in-Chief’s Order from Saqqâra.”

The career of Ptolemy I is summarized by Toby Wilkinson, Lives of the Ancient Egyptians (no. 98). A full discussion of the Wars of the Successors, the Syrian Wars, the expansion of the Ptolemaic Empire, and the procession of Ptolemy II can be found in Günther Hölbl, A History of the Ptolemaic Empire. For recent archaeological work at Berenike Panchrysos, see Angelo and Alfredo Castiglioni, “Discovering Berenice Panchrysos.”

The foundation and layout of Alexandria are discussed by Jean-Yves Empereur, Alexandria Rediscovered, and John Ray, “Alexandria.” The Satrap Stela, dated to 311, confirms that Ptolemy had adopted Alexandria as his new capital by this date. The ancient Egyptian name for Alexandria was Ra-qed (Rakhotis in its Greek form). Modern reconstructions of the city’s ancient appearance owe much to the description given by Strabo in the first decade of Roman rule, summarized in Alan Bowman, Egypt After the Pharaohs. Underwater archaeology in recent years has discovered many of the statues and monuments that once adorned the palace quarters, together with blocks from the Pharos lighthouse. See Jean-Yves Empereur, “Alexandria: The Underwater Site near Qaitbay Fort” and “Raising Statues and Blocks from the Sea at Alexandria.” The recognition that the Egyptian name for Alexandria, Rakhotis (Ra-qed), is in fact a euphemism meaning “building site,” was made by Michel Chauveau, L’Égypte au temps de Cléopâtre (p. 77); see also Mark Depauw, “Alexandria.” For a discussion of the intellectuals who studied in Alexandria under the early Ptolemies, see Alan Bowman, Egypt After the Pharaohs. A convenient source for the Great Library and the Pharos is Jean-Yves Empereur,Alexandria: Past, Present and Future.

Roger Bagnall, “Greeks and Egyptians: Ethnicity, Status, and Culture,” provides a recent stimulating discussion of the cultural and ethnic divide between Greek and Egyptian communities in Ptolemaic Egypt. In the earlier Ptolemaic Period, there were in fact three distinct systems of law running in parallel: one for Greeks, one for Egyptians, and a third system to arbitrate between the two communities. The lives of the Greek inhabitants and immigrants are analyzed in detail by Naphtali Lewis, Greeks in Ptolemaic Egypt.For the structure of the administration and the city of Memphis in the Ptolemaic Period, Dorothy Thompson, Memphis Under the Ptolemies, is an unrivaled source. The main features of the cult of Serapis are summarized by Richard Wilkinson, The Complete Gods and Goddesses (pp. 127–128). Many works have been written about the Ptolemaic ruler cult; among the most useful is Jan Quaegebeur, “The Egyptian Clergy and the Cult of the Ptolemaic Dynasty.”

The economic exploitation of Egypt under Ptolemaic rule is the subject of J. G. Manning’s magisterial Land and Power in Ptolemaic Egypt. For the role of the village scribe, as attested in the correspondence of one such from Kerkeosiris, see A.M.F.W. Verhoogt,Menches, Komogrammateus of Kerkeosiris.

The story of Ptolemy IV addressing his troops through an interpreter before the Battle of Raphia is recounted by Polybius.

Brian McGing, “Revolt Egyptian Style,” offers a detailed overview of the native rebellions of the third to first centuries. The Theban revolt of 206–186 is discussed in greater detail by Günther Hölbl, A History of the Ptolemaic Empire (pp. 153–159), and Willy Clarysse, “Notes de prosopographie thébaine.” For a full publication and analysis of all the contemporary documents, see P. W. Pestman, “Haronnophris and Chaonnophris.” An inscription at Philae suggests that Ankhwennefer may have been the son of Horwennefer. John Ray, The Rosetta Stone, charts the background to the less well-known delta rebellion of Ptolemy V’s reign (centered on a town that was also called Lykopolis in Greek [Shekan in Egyptian]). The Rosetta Stone also provides an up-to-date translation of the demotic text of the Rosetta Stone (pp. 164–170). For the aftermath of the insurrections and the imposition of military rule in Upper Egypt, see K. Vandorpe, “City of Many a Gate, Harbour for Many a Rebel.”

The incessant internecine fighting within the royal family, Egypt’s growing involvement with Rome, and the history of the later Ptolemies are all discussed in detail by Günther Hölbl, A History of the Ptolemaic Empire (pp. 181–231). Ptolemy VIII’s first wife (and full sister) was Cleopatra II; her daughter, his second wife, was Cleopatra III.

The inscription on the sarcophagus lid of the royal scribe Wennefer is published in translation by Miriam Lichtheim, Ancient Egyptian Literature (vol. 3, pp. 54–58). Cleopatra’s birth is dated to the end of 70 or the beginning of 69 by some authors (for example, Günther Hölbl, A History of the Ptolemaic Empire) and, more precisely, to early 69 by others (for example, Susan Walker and Peter Higgs [eds.], Cleopatra of Egypt: From History to Myth). In any case, late 70 and early 69 in modern reckoning fell within the same year in the ancient Egyptian calendar.

Scholars dispute the parentage and ancestry, and therefore the ethnicity, of Cleopatra. While Andrew Meadows, “Sins of the Fathers” (p. 23), argues that she was the daughter of Ptolemy XII and his full sister (Cleopatra V)—a view of which Robert Bianchi, “Cleopatra VII,” is certain—W. Huss, “Die Herkunft der Kleopatra,” has cast doubts on the identity of Cleopatra’s mother. Sally-Ann Ashton, Cleopatra and Egypt (p. 1), admits that Cleopatra may have been only “part Egyptian,” her foreign blood coming if not through her mother then through her grandmother, a concubine of Ptolemy IX’s.

  1. Sematawytefnakht, stela inscription (translation by Miriam Lichtheim, Ancient Egyptian Literature, vol. 3, pp. 42–43).

  2. Temple of Horus at Edfu, innermost rooms.

  3. Wennefer, sarcophagus lid inscription (translation by Miriam Lichtheim, Ancient Egyptian Literature, vol. 3, pp. 54–58).

  4. Ibid.


For the high priests of Ptah during the Ptolemaic Period, and especially the last two holders of that office, Pasherenptah and Imhotep, see Jan Quaegebeur, “Contribution à la prosopographie des prêtres memphites,” and E.A.E. Reymond and J.W.B. Barns, “Alexandria and Memphis.” Reymond’s thesis, that Pasherenptah was related to the Ptolemaic royal family (and was Cleopatra’s second cousin) is not widely accepted and has not been followed here. The funerary stela of Pasherenptah is published in Susan Walker and Peter Higgs (eds.), Cleopatra of Egypt (catalogue no. 192). The reign of Ptolemy XII, including his exile in Rome, is charted in detail by Günther Hölbl, A History of the Ptolemaic Empire, and Andrew Meadows, “Sins of the Fathers.” The evidence that Cleopatra may have accompanied her father to Rome in 57 is discussed by Guy Weill Goudchaux, “Cleopatra’s Subtle Religious Strategy” (p. 131), based on another scholar’s interpretation of a Greek inscription.

The history, construction, and decoration of the temple of Hathor at Iunet are analyzed by Jan Quaegebeur, “Cléopâtre VII et le temple de Dendara.” The solar eclipse of March 7, 51, presaging Ptolemy XII’s death, is thought to be depicted in the roof shrines of the temple. The famous zodiac ceiling, now in the Louvre, shows the positions of the constellations in 50, the first year of Cleopatra’s sole reign.

The myriad books on the life, loves, and death of Cleopatra would fill a small library. Two recent studies, Diana Preston’s Cleopatra and Antony and Joann Fletcher’s Cleopatra the Great, by a historian and an Egyptologist respectively, illustrate our unending fascination for the last queen of Egypt. One of the better treatments, with a focus on the Egyptian evidence, is Sally-Ann Ashton, Cleopatra and Egypt. Evidence that Palestine stayed loyal to Cleopatra after she was driven out of Egypt comes in the form of coins minted in Ashkelon, bearing her portrait, and dated to 49–48. See Susan Walker and Peter Higgs (eds.), Cleopatra of Egypt (catalogue no. 220). The story of Cleopatra being smuggled in to see Julius Caesar has been often told; the method varies, according to the author, from a bed-linen sack to a carpet.

The question of Cleopatra’s physical appearance is discussed at length by Guy Weill Goudchaux, “Was Cleopatra Beautiful?” It has been suggested that her coin portraits showing her with a long aquiline nose and a pointed chin may have been produced in conscious emulation of Roman portraiture, in a gesture of respect for Julius Caesar. If so, her actual physiognomy may have been somewhat less pronounced, as indicated by some of her statuary. See Susan Walker and Peter Higgs (eds.), Cleopatra of Egypt(catalogue nos. 160–164). For the coins minted in Cyprus to celebrate the birth of Caesarion, see Susan Walker and Peter Higgs (eds.), Cleopatra of Egypt (catalogue no. 186).

The birth of Imhotep is recounted on the stela of his mother, Taimhotep, published in Susan Walker and Peter Higgs (eds.), Cleopatra of Egypt (catalogue no. 193), and translated by Miriam Lichtheim, Ancient Egyptian Literature (vol. 3, pp. 59–65). For Cleopatra’s activities at native Egyptian shrines, see Sally-Ann Ashton, Cleopatra and Egypt (pp. 88–101). A stela showing a male pharaoh in traditional guise but with an inscription naming Cleopatra suggests that she was regarded as a fully legitimate ruler by at least some of her countrymen. Again, see Susan Walker and Peter Higgs (eds.), Cleopatra of Egypt (catalogue no. 154). The assertion that Cleopatra could speak Egyptian is from Plutarch, Life of Antony, 27.4–5.

For the debasement of silver coinage and the use of bronze during Cleopatra’s reign, see Susan Walker and Peter Higgs (eds.), Cleopatra of Egypt (p. 177). The Donations of Alexandria were described in detail by Plutarch in his Life of Antony (Chapter 54).

The tax decree favoring Canidius is published in Susan Walker and Peter Higgs (eds.), Cleopatra of Egypt (catalogue no. 188); some authors question the identification of Cleopatra’s own handwriting (see Sally-Ann Ashton, Cleopatra and Egypt, p. 76). For the Gebtu contract, see Susan Walker and Peter Higgs (eds.), Cleopatra of Egypt (catalogue no. 173). The manner of Cleopatra’s demise is discussed, inter alia, by J. Gwyn Griffiths, “The Death of Cleopatra VII”; Griffiths refutes any deliberate religious symbolism in death by snakebite. For the numerous afterlives of Cleopatra, Lucy Hughes-Hallett, Cleopatra, is incomparable.

The phrase “ankh djet” is enclosed within Ptolemy XV’s second cartouche, carved in front of his crown on the rear wall of the Dendera temple; it is clearly visible in the photograph (fig. 3.2) in Susan Walker and Peter Higgs (eds.), Cleopatra of Egypt (p. 138), and in the drawings of Dendera published in the Napoleonic Description de l’Égypte (Charles Gillispie and Michel Dewachter [eds.], Monuments of Egypt [A. vol. IV, plate 28.12]).

  1. Pasherenptah, funerary stela (translation by E.A.E. Reymond and J.W.B. Barns, “Alexandria and Memphis,” p. 13).

  2. Caesar, The Alexandrian War, Chapter 33 (quoted by Andrew Meadows, “Sins of the Fathers,” p. 25).

  3. Taimhotep, funerary stela, lines 8–9 (translation by Miriam Lichtheim, Ancient Egyptian Literature, vol. 3, p. 63).

  4. Ibid., lines 13–14 (translation by Miriam Lichtheim, Ancient Egyptian Literature, vol. 3, p. 63).

  5. Ibid., lines 15–16 (translation by Carol Andrews in Susan Walker and Peter Higgs [eds.], Cleopatra of Egypt, p. 186).

  6. Plutarch, Life of Antony, Chapter 85 (quoted by Andrew Meadows, “Sins of the Fathers,” p. 31).


The character of Roman rule in Egypt, including the country’s economic exploitation, is well described by David Peacock, “The Roman Period.” For the quarries of Mons Claudianus that supplied the Roman Forum, see David Peacock, Rome in the Desert; and for Mons Porphyrites, see David Peacock and Valerie Maxfield, “On the Trail of Imperial Porphyry.” The evidence for Roman trade with India via the Red Sea is presented by Steven Sidebotham and Willemina Wendrich, “Berenike.”

The Napoleonic expedition to Egypt is discussed in detail by Charles Gillispie and Michel Dewachter (eds.), Monuments of Egypt (“Historical Introduction,” pp. 1–29), and in summary by John Ray, The Rosetta Stone (Chapter 2).

The recent literature on Egyptomania—the Western fascination with ancient Egyptian culture—is extensive. The standard work is James Curl, The Egyptian Revival, while Richard Fazzini and Mary McKercher’s “Egyptomania” offers a thoughtful and accessible summary. Jean-Marcel Humbert, Michael Pantazzi, and Christiane Ziegler, Egyptomania, provides the catalogue of a landmark exhibition, with superb illustrations. A good recent discussion of Egyptian influences in imperial Rome is Carla Alfano, “Egyptian Influences in Italy.”

For the many afterlives of Akhenaten, Dominic Montserrat, Akhenaten, is incomparable as well as highly entertaining. The myriad ways in which the modern world appropriates ancient Egyptian culture are analyzed in Sally MacDonald and Michael Rice (eds.),Consuming Ancient Egypt.

  1. Samuel Taylor Coleridge, Recollections.

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