25th Dynasty, Ancient Egypt (Ca.746 BC to 653BC )
Updated: Jun 28
The kings of Kush (which included Nubia) ruled all or part of Egypt from about 746 to 653 BC, and were known as the 25th Dynasty. This time period corresponds to Egypt's Third Intermediate Period (1070-653 BC). The Kushite kings of this time saw themselves as the bodily sons of the god Amun, and they wanted to reunite Amun's ancient original empire, which was divided into northern and southern halves by Egypt and Nubia.
Egypt's central authority was fragmented during the Third Intermediate Period of Egyptian history. Power struggled between regional chieftains and elites. Lower Egypt eventually gained a king, but priests of Amun controlled the larger Upper Egypt from Thebes. The Kushite kings, based in Napata, launched military campaigns throughout Egypt to put an end to civil strife and political unrest.
Sphinx of Taharqa, from 25th Dynasty temple at Kawa, November 12, 2006
Courtesy British Museum
From Napata and Thebes, the Kush king Piankye (or Piankhi), also known as Piye or Piya, ruled Upper Egypt and Nubia from 743 to 712 BC. The god Amun is depicted handing the crowns of Egypt and Kush to king Piye in one of the monuments associated with his reign. On stelae erected in Gebel Barkal's Temple of Amun, Piye declared himself king of Egypt and "of all lands." Piye's reign was marked by a renaissance of the New Kingdom's history, which began about 1200 BC. The monarchy revived the pyramid as a royal tomb style and poured funds and labor into comprehensive renovations of ancient temples throughout the empire, encouraging state artisans to research masterworks from the New Kingdoms.
Shabaqo (or Shabaka, ca. 712-702 BC), Piye's brother, relocated the royal residence to Memphis in Upper Egypt. Shabaqo encouraged ancient Egyptian culture by commissioning the reproduction of religious texts from earlier times, carrying on his brother's tradition. Shebitqo (ca. 702-690 BC) and Taharqa (690-664 BC) were later monarchs; Taharqa's reign was the most triumphant, with military successes extending Nubian rule to Libya and Phoenicia.
Taharqa, on the other hand, was unable to repel the attacking Assyrian military forces in Egypt, and he was forced to withdraw to Napata.
Egypt's intellectual and artistic origins were revived during the reign of the 25th Dynasty, which ruled for nearly a century. This admiration for New Kingdom culture was reflected in Nubia and Kush's art and religion.