Egyptian Dynasties > Twenty-Fifth Dynasty of Egypt

Twenty-Fifth Dynasty of Egypt

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The Twenty-Fifth Dynasty of Egypt, also spelled the 25th Dynasty or XXV Dynasty was a series of foreign rulers from the Kushite Empire out of the land of Nubia. The Dynasty was part of the Third Intermediate Period of Egypt which saw characteristic foreign ruler over the civilization of Egypt. The 25th Dynasty reigned between 760 BCE and 656 BCE following the invasion of Egypt by Kush under the ruler Kashta.

Despite not having as much significance in the eyes of historians, the rule of the Kushite rulers over Egypt had great implications for the future. The Kushite leaders were able to unify Upper and Lower Egypt once again and the 25th Dynasty was responsible for creating the largest Egyptian empire since the New Kingdom of Egypt. As the Kushite Empire pushed further and further north and eventually into Mesopotamia soon they came into contact with the Neo-Assyrian Empire.

The Kushite rulers were unsuccessful in their attacks against Assyria during the reigns of Sargon II and Sennacherib. Following the attempted invasion of Assyria the successive leaders of Assyria named Esarhaddon and Ashurbanipal managed to conquer and subdue the Nubian rulers of Egypt and install the 26th Dynasty and end the Third Intermediate Period and bring about the Late Period of Egypt.

Despite being foreign rulers over Egypt they were able to bring about a golden age in Egyptian culture including maintaining previous religions customs, traditions and rituals as well as building their own Pyramids and keeping previous Egyptian temples. While most of the Kushite pyramids were built in modern day Sudan (Nubia) and slightly different than previous models, it was the largest and most widespread periods of pyramid construction since the Middle Kingdom of Egypt. Overall the Kushite rule over Egypt is one of the least explored areas of history and also one of the most interesting in terms of cultural diffusion and interaction.

25th Dynasty Kings

The period starting with Kashta and ending with Malonaqen is sometimes called the Napatan Period. The later Kings from the twenty-fifth dynasty ruled over Napata, Meroe, and Egypt. The seat of government and the royal palace were in Napata during this period, while Meroe was a provincial city. The kings and queens were buried in El-Kurru and Nuri.

Alara, the first known Nubian king and predecessor of Kashta was not a 25th dynasty king since he did not control any region of Egypt during his reign. While Piye is viewed as the founder of the 25th dynasty, some publications may include Kashta who already controlled some parts of Upper Egypt. A stela of his was found at Elephantine and Kashta likely exercised some influence at Thebes (although he did not control it) since he held enough sway to have his daughter Amenirdis I adopted as the next Divine Adoratrice of Amun there.


The twenty-fifth dynasty originated in Kush, or (Nubia), which is presently in Northern Sudan. The city-state of Napata was the spiritual capital and it was from there that Piye (spelled Piankhi or Piankhy in older works) invaded and took control of Egypt. Piye personally led the attack on Egypt and recorded his victory in a lengthy hieroglyphic filled stele called the "Stele of Victory." Piye revived one of the greatest features of the Old and Middle Kingdoms, pyramid construction. An energetic builder, he constructed the oldest known pyramid at the royal burial site of El-Kurru and expanded the Temple of Amun at Jebel Barkal.

Although Manetho does not mention the first king, Piye, mainstream Egyptologists consider him the first Pharaoh of the 25th dynasty. Manetho also does not mention the last king, Tantamani, although inscriptions exist to attest to the existence of both Piye and Tantamani. Piye made various unsuccessful attempts to extend Egyptian influence in the Near East, then controlled from Mesopotamia by the Semitic Assyrian Empire. In 720 BC he sent an army in support a rebellion against Assyria in Philistia and Gaza, however Piye was defeated by Sargon II, and the rebellion failed.


See Shabaka.

Shabaka conquered the entire Nile valley, including Upper and Lower Egypt, around 710 BC. Shabaka had Bocchoris of the preceding Sais dynasty burned to death for resisting him. After conquering Lower Egypt, Shabaka transferred the capital to Memphis. Shabaka restored the great Egyptian monuments and returned Egypt to a theocratic monarchy by becoming the first priest of Amon. In addition, Shabaka is known for creating a well-preserved example of Memphite theology by inscribing an old religious papyrus into the Shabaka Stone. Shabaka supported an uprising against the Assyrians in the Israelite city of Ashdod, however he and his allies were defeated by Sargon II.


See Shebitku.


Recent research by Dan'el Kahn suggests that Shebitku was king of Egypt by 707/706 BC. This is based on evidence from an inscription of the Assyrian king Sargon II, which was found in Persia (then a colony of Assyria) and dated to 706 BC. This inscription calls Shebitku the king of Meluhha, and states that he sent back to Assyria a rebel named Iamanni in handcuffs. Kahn's arguments have been widely accepted by many Egyptologists including Rolf Krauss, and Aidan Dodson and other scholars at the SCIEM 2000 (Synchronisation of Civilisations of the Eastern Mediterranean in the Second Millennium B.C.) project with the notable exception of Kenneth Kitchen and Manfred Bietak at present.


See Taharqa.

Taharqa ushered in one of Ancient Egypt's greatest periods of renaissance. He ruled as Pharaoh from Memphis, but constructed great works throughout the Nile Valley, including works at Jebel Barkal, Kawa, and Karnak.[13] At Karnak, the Sacred Lake structures, the kiosk in the first court, and the colonnades at the temple entrance are all owed to Taharqa and Mentuemhet. Taharqa built the largest pyramid in the Nubian region at Nuri (near El-Kurru).


See Tantamani.

His successor, Tantamani, also made a failed attempt to regain Egypt from the Assyrian Empire. He invaded the far south and defeated a native Egyptian prince named Necho, a vassal ruler of Ashurbanipal, taking Thebes in the process. The Assyrians, based in the north, then sent a large army southwards. Tantamani was routed and fled back to Nubia, and the Assyrian army sacked Thebes to such an extent that it never truly recovered. A native Egyptian ruler, Psamtik I, was placed on the throne, as a vassal of Ashurbanipal of Assyria; he was the first ruler of the Twenty-Sixth Dynasty.

In 656 BC, Psamtik I peacefully took control of rebellious Thebes and effectively unified all of Egypt, though it remained subject to Assyria until the Assyrian Empire began to tear itself apart with a brutal series of internal civil wars in the 620's BC. Tantamani and the Nubians were never again to pose a threat to either Assyria or Egypt. However, upon his death, Tantamani was buried with full honours in the royal cemetery of El-Kurru, upstream from the Kushite capital of Napata.

The Twenty-fifth Dynasty ruled for a little more than one hundred years. The successors of the Twenty-fifth Dynasty settled back in their Nubian homeland, where they established a kingdom at Napata (656 - 590 BC), then, later, at Meroë (590 BC - 4th century AD).

King NameHorus-NameReignConsort
KashtaMaatre760-752 BCEQueen Pebatjma
PiyeMenkheperre Usermaatre752–721 BCEQueen Tabiry
Queen Abar
Queen Khensa
Queen Peksater
ShabakaNeferkare721–707 BCEQueen Qalhata
Queen Mesbat
Queen Tabekenamun
ShebitkuDjedkare707–690 BCEQueen Arty
TaharqaKhunefertumre690–664 BCEQueen Takahatenamun
Queen Atakhebasken
Queen Naparaye
Queen Tabekenamun
TantamaniBakare664–656 BCEQueen Piankharty
Queen [..]salka
Queen Malaqaye

See full Egyptian King List

Third Intermediate Period of Egypt


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