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Psamtik III

Egypt History - Egyptian Chapter Decoration


Psamtik III, also known as Psammetichus III, was the last pharaoh of the 26th Dynasty of ancient Egypt. His reign was short-lived, lasting from 526 to 525 BCE, and was marked by the Persian invasion led by Cambyses II. Psamtik III’s reign ended with Egypt becoming part of the Achaemenid Persian Empire. Here is an overview of Psamtik III and his reign:


  1. 26th Dynasty (Saite Period):

    • The 26th Dynasty, also known as the Saite Period, was a time of cultural renaissance and economic prosperity in Egypt, with the capital at Sais in the western Nile Delta.
    • This period followed the Third Intermediate Period and saw efforts to restore traditional Egyptian culture, strengthen the economy, and maintain political stability.
  2. Family and Lineage:

    • Psamtik III was the son of Amasis II (Ahmose II), who had been a successful and relatively long-reigning pharaoh known for his diplomatic and military achievements, including alliances with Greek city-states.

Reign of Psamtik III

  1. Accession to the Throne:

    • Psamtik III ascended to the throne after the death of his father, Amasis II, in 526 BCE. His reign began during a time of growing threats from the Persian Empire, which had already expanded significantly under Cyrus the Great and his successor Cambyses II.
  2. Persian Invasion:

    • In 525 BCE, shortly after Psamtik III became pharaoh, the Persian king Cambyses II launched an invasion of Egypt. The Persians had already established control over much of the Near East, and Egypt was one of the last remaining independent powers in the region.
    • The decisive battle between the Egyptian and Persian forces occurred at Pelusium, located in the eastern Nile Delta. The Persians, using superior military tactics and possibly psychological warfare involving cats (sacred animals to Egyptians), defeated the Egyptian army.
  3. Fall of Memphis:

    • Following the defeat at Pelusium, Cambyses II advanced towards Memphis, the capital of Egypt. Memphis fell to the Persians, and Psamtik III was captured.
    • The fall of Memphis marked the end of Egyptian resistance and the incorporation of Egypt into the Achaemenid Empire as a satrapy (province).

Aftermath and Legacy

  1. Captivity and Execution:

    • Psamtik III was initially treated with some respect by Cambyses II, but according to Greek historian Herodotus, he later attempted a rebellion against Persian rule.
    • Following this failed rebellion, Psamtik III was executed by the Persians, marking the definitive end of his reign and the 26th Dynasty.
  2. Persian Rule:

    • After the conquest, Cambyses II adopted the title of pharaoh and began the 27th Dynasty, also known as the First Persian Period in Egypt.
    • The Persians maintained a complex administration in Egypt, incorporating local customs and religions to a degree while also introducing their own systems of governance.
  3. Historical Significance:

    • Psamtik III’s brief reign is significant as it marks the end of native Egyptian rule until the Ptolemaic Dynasty, which began with the conquests of Alexander the Great in the late 4th century BCE.
    • His defeat and the subsequent Persian domination were pivotal events in the history of Egypt, leading to changes in administration, culture, and interactions with the wider world.
  4. Cultural Impact:

    • The Persian conquest brought an end to the Saite Renaissance, a period of cultural and artistic revival in Egypt. The Achaemenid rulers, however, continued to respect and support many aspects of Egyptian culture and religion.
    • The legacy of Psamtik III and the 26th Dynasty endured through the continued reverence for traditional Egyptian practices, even under foreign rule.


Psamtik III, the last pharaoh of the 26th Dynasty, ruled Egypt from 526 to 525 BCE. His reign was abruptly ended by the Persian invasion led by Cambyses II. Psamtik III's defeat at the Battle of Pelusium and the fall of Memphis marked the end of native Egyptian rule for several centuries. Despite his short reign, Psamtik III's legacy is significant for its role in the transition of Egypt into the Achaemenid Persian Empire, initiating the First Persian Period. His reign represents a critical moment in Egyptian history, highlighting the challenges faced by the last native rulers in the face of expanding foreign empires.

Twenty-Sixth Dynasty of Egypt (Saites)

Royal TitleNameReignDynasty
MencheperreNecho I672-664 BCESaite Dynasty (26th)
WahibraPsamtik I (Psammetichus I)664-610 BCESaite Dynasty (26th)
WehemibraNecho II610-595 BCESaite Dynasty (26th)
NeferibraPsamtik II (Psammetichus II)595-589 BCESaite Dynasty (26th)
Ha'a'ibraWahibra (Apries)589-567 BCESaite Dynasty (26th)
ChenibraAmose-si-Neith (Amasis II)570-526 BCESaite Dynasty (26th)
AnchkaenraPsamtik III (Psammetichus III)526-525 BCESaite Dynasty (26th)
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