Egyptian Dynasties > Twenty-Sixth Dynasty of Egypt

Twenty-Sixth Dynasty of Egypt

Egypt History - Egyptian Chapter Decoration


The Twenty-Sixth Dynasty of Egypt, also written as the 26th Dynasty or Dynasty XXVI, was the last ethnic Egyptian ruled dynasty and was also known as the Saite Period due to the capital where the dynasty was centered around in Sais. The 26th Dynasty lasted from 664 BCE to 525 BCE and the ascension of the 26th Dynasty from the previous 25th Dynasty was due in part to the assistance of the Mesopotamian super-power Assyria. With the military assistance of the Assyrians the Egyptians were able to drive the Kushite Kingdom out of Egypt and back into Nubia.

The Twenty-Sixth Dynasty of Egypt, also known as the Saite Dynasty, was a period of resurgence and revitalization in ancient Egyptian history. Here's an overview:

  1. Duration and Context: The Twenty-Sixth Dynasty lasted from approximately 664 BCE to 525 BCE. It emerged in the aftermath of the Third Intermediate Period, a time of political fragmentation and foreign domination in Egypt. The Twenty-Sixth Dynasty marked a return to native Egyptian rule and the restoration of centralized authority.

  2. Libyan Conquest: The Twenty-Sixth Dynasty began with the conquest of Egypt by the Meshwesh, a Libyan tribe from the western desert. The Meshwesh established their capital at Sais in the eastern Nile Delta and founded the Twenty-Sixth Dynasty. The founder of the dynasty was likely Psamtik I.

  3. Reunification of Egypt: The rulers of the Twenty-Sixth Dynasty sought to reunify Egypt under native rule and assert Egyptian sovereignty over the entire country. They waged military campaigns to expel foreign powers, including the Assyrians and Nubians, and to consolidate control over strategic regions and trade routes.

  4. Cultural and Religious Policies: Despite being of Libyan origin, the rulers of the Twenty-Sixth Dynasty adopted many aspects of Egyptian culture and religion. They continued to worship Egyptian gods and goddesses and maintained the traditional administrative and religious institutions of Egypt. The period saw a revival of traditional religious practices and the construction of temples and monuments dedicated to the Egyptian gods.

  5. Art and Architecture: The Twenty-Sixth Dynasty witnessed a flourishing of art and architecture, with the construction of temples, palaces, and tombs throughout Egypt. The rulers of the dynasty patronized artistic endeavors and commissioned statues, reliefs, and other works of art to celebrate their reign and promote their divine status.

  6. Cultural Exchange: The Twenty-Sixth Dynasty saw increased contact and cultural exchange between Egypt and other civilizations in the ancient Near East, including the Greeks and Persians. Egyptian art, architecture, and religious beliefs influenced neighboring cultures, while Egyptian elites adopted foreign customs and practices.

  7. End of the Dynasty: The Twenty-Sixth Dynasty came to an end with the conquest of Egypt by the Persian king Cambyses II in 525 BCE. Cambyses II defeated the Egyptian forces at the Battle of Pelusium and brought Egypt under Persian control, marking the beginning of the Twenty-Seventh Dynasty and the First Persian Period.

In summary, the Twenty-Sixth Dynasty of Egypt represents a period of political resurgence, cultural revitalization, and artistic achievement. Its rulers, originating from the Libyan tribes, played a significant role in restoring Egyptian sovereignty and initiating a new era of prosperity and cultural flourishing in the late period of ancient Egyptian history.

26th Dynasty Kings

Late Period of Egypt



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