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The Libyans in Egypt:

Resolving the Third Intermediate Period

© Martin Sieff

Central to solving the perplexing chronology of the Third Intermediate Period in Egypt is the dating of the Twenty-Second (Libyan) Dynasty. In "The Age of Mars" I argued for a "naturally stretched out" Bible chronology for the eighth century B.C. following Martin Antsey,[1] and for the identification of Uzziah-Azariah, king of Judah, with Arzu the Asiatic who ruled in Egypt between the Nineteenth and Twentieth Dynasties, an identification first made by Keith LeFlem.[2]

On my "Age of Mars" model, Menreptah reigned c.780-770 B.C. Menreptah's difficulties with the Libyans during his rule are well known. I suggest that the eclipse of the Nineteenth Dynasty is a convincing time for the triumph of the Libyans in Egypt. Allowing Manetho's 120 years for the Twenty-Second Dynasty would give approximate dates within my model of 780-660 B.C. Arie Dirkzwager, in his most valuable research on the period,[3] suggests that in Assurbanipal's annals (of the 667 B.C. uprising in Egypt) Putubisti of Tsa'nu and Susinqu of Pusiru are Petubastet of Tanis from Dynasty 23, and Shoshenq III of our Dynasty 22. This would agree well with my model.

In absolute dates I have seen little difference from Dirkzwager's pioneering work, and also—as will be seen—avail myself of Peter Van Der Veen's investigations. Both of these writers, however, like Philip Clapham, assume Edwin Thiele's biblical chronology as valid, with related dates for the Twentieth Dynasty yielding approximately 715-685 B.C. dates for Pharaoh Ramses III.[4] On my model, Ramses III reigned 750-720.

Can such dating for the Twentieth Dynasty, and for Uzziah and his successors in Judah, fit into a 780-660 placement for the Twenty-Second Dynasty? The Twenty-Second Dynasty is not devoid of cross-references with biblical and Assyrian history, tantalizing though they sometimes are. Let us see how well the pieces of the jigsaw fit.

The Coming of the Libyans

David Rohl[5] set us on excellent ground by identifying, from Josephus and Manetho, Hermaeus (59 years), Sethos (59 years), Rampses (66 years), and Amenophis (19 years) with Haremhab, Seti I, Ramses II (the coincidence with his attested 67 years of reign is striking), and Menreptah. Seti II is identified as Ramesses-Sethos, with his brother Harmais who rebelled against him as Amenmessa.

Menreptah's troubles with the Libyans during his reign were also complicated by the invasions of the Osarsiph, according to Manetho, who gathered 80,000 political exiles at Avaris, and were backed by a 200,000-strong army sent by the "shepherds" of Jerusalem. Menreptah fled to Ethiopia for thirteen years, while the rebels devastated Egypt's gods and temples and burned its cities. Keith LeFlem equates this event with Uzziah of Judah as Arzu, the gap between the Nineteenth and Twentieth Dynasties[6] described in the Great Harris Papyrus.

Shoshenq I

Shoshenq I was in many respects the most formidable of the Twenty-Second Dynasty rulers. Clapham, in his richly documented but confusingly argued study[7] equates him with the Pharaoh So to whom Hoshea, last king of the northern kingdom of Israel, paid tribute,[8] and Velikovsky himself claimed this identification.[9]

Dirkzwager,[10] however, identified So with Osorkon II, and—on my dating scheme—this fits, for Shoshenq I would have ruled c.780-760 B.C., while Hoshea belongs in the 727-718 time period.

Clapham's evidence for identifying Shoshenq I with So, to whom Hoshea King of Israel paid tribute, is the "great triumph scene" of Shoshenq at Karnak. In a dedication to Amun Shoshenq boasts: "When I made it as they tribute to the land of Palestine [Khuru] which had turned away from thee."

In contrast, I would suggest the Libyan Dynasty incursion be dated from within the reign of Menreptah, specifically, from where he first records his problems with the Libyans. After their eventual triumph over the Nineteenth Dynasty it would be understandable for Shoshenq I to count his reign-length from the establishment of his first bridgehead in the land of the Nile.

Now, on my model the 770-760 B.C. period was the time of Uzziah-Azariah's occupation of the eastern delta, recalled by the Egyptians as Arzu. While Egyptian rebels, backed by Uzziah, struck from the east, the Libyans would have established themselves in Egypt from the west. Dirkzwager[11] suggested that "during the late years of Ramses II … a prominent role could have been played by Sheshonq I and Osorkon I." It is noteworthy, as Clapham himself remarks,[12] that Shoshenq I's great triumph scene at Karnak is so reminiscent of Menreptah's, also at Karnak. If Shoshenq began to reign during the eclipse of the Nineteenth Dynasty this "echo" assumes real significance. Dirkzwager too remarked: "I thought that after Menreptah we could suppose some room for a rising Libyan dynasty."[13] On Thiele's biblical chronology it would be difficult indeed to squeeze the Libyan Dynasty in; with our scheme, however, the "crowding" problem does not occur.

Where then does Shoshenq I's expedition into Palestine fit in biblical history, if he was not Pharaoh So? I have already discussed the evidence[14] for a twenty-two year "time of troubles" in the northern kingdom of Israel after the death of Jeroboam II (which I put at 781 B.C., following Antsey).[15] It was during the first part of this period that Menreptah's "Ysraal is desolate, his seed is not" victory-stela boast belongs.

With Shoshenq I following Menreptah, the scourge of the Libyans, he would certainly wish to exceed the achievements of his predecessor of the supplanted Nineteenth Dynasty. It is to this situation that the similarities of Menreptah's and Shoshenq I's victory scenes at Karnak are owed.

And just as the Libyans of the Twenty-Second Dynasty and the Judah of Uzziah-Azariah-Arzu shared common ground in their Nineteenth Dynasty enemy, so the Libyan pharaoh would also be at home campaigning against Israel, the northern rival of Judah, and the traditional ally of the Nineteenth Dynasty through the long reigns of Jeroboam II and Ramses II.[16]

Dirkzwager, in fact, placed Shoshenq I's Palestine expedition at 755 B.C.[17] Considering that the campaign is placed late in Shoshenq's reign, as Clapham has remarked,[18] this accords well with my placement.

Dirkzwager however followed the Thiele chronology. And Joshua Korbach protested[19] that Israel and Judah were then at the height of their power, under Uzziah and Jeroboam II. In Thiele's chronology this is perfectly true. But within the Antsey model, used as an outline by myself against the background of Velikovsky's fifteen-year Mars catastrophe cycle, Jeroboam II had died in 781 and Uzziah in 755, by which Judah had already long withdrawn from the delta. Korbach's objection, consequently, is easily met—the Shoshenq expedition would have struck the northern kingdom when it was still reeling from anarchy.

If Shoshenq campaigned at the start of Menahem's reign in Israel, which belongs c.759/758 on this model, then he may well have secured Menahem's position in return for tribute.

Hoshea, who started to prophesy in Jeroboam II's reign (therefore before 780 B.C.) but lived on to the siege of Samaria by Sargon c.720, when he was about 90 years old,[20] predicted a time when ‘all would be carried into Egypt:" as tribute.[21] On this model Hoshea's description belongs not to the time of Hoshea and So, after 727 B.C., but back in the time of Shoshenq I and Menahem, 30 years earlier.

Osorkon II as So

Dirkzwager suggests dates for the Twenty-Second Dynasty of Shoshenq I from 780, Osorkon I from 755, and Takelot from 730 B.C. With this I am in general agreement.

In 716 B.C. Sargon of Assyria received gifts from Shilkanni, an Egyptian Osorkon ruler. Clapham believed this to be Osorkon I,[22] but I follow Dirkzwager in identifying him as Osorkon II/Pharaoh So, with whom, c.725/724,[23] Hoshea of Israel conspired. As Dirkzwager remarked, the Osorkon—So derivation seems to be straightforward.

This identification is further supported, as Dirkzwager noted,[24] by the discovery of alabaster jars from Twenty-Second Dynasty pharaohs in a Phoenician cemetery at Cerro de San Cristobal (Almunecar), Spain. The cemetery has been dated to the late eighth and early seventh centuries (i.e. c.725-675 B.C.), and the pharaohs in question were Osorkon II, Shoshenq II, and Takelot II. In the conventional chronology these pharaohs belong in the ninth century. And even Korbach had to admit, in the face of Dirkzwager's argument,[25] that "The archaeological finds at this site to underline the need for such a revision of conventional chronology."

Placing Osorkon II in the c.725-715 period also positions him firmly in the Martian catastrophe period, on Velikovsky's model. And, sure enough, we have evidence of catastrophe in the form of exceptional Nile flooding during his rule. Velikovsky himself remarked on this.[26]

On the conventional time frame[27] (and assuming no calendar change), Osorkon's flood, conventionally dated at 876 B.C., belongs on July 31—a most unseasonable time for the Nile to be at its peak. Assuming a c.700 date for the flood (and a uniform calendar), Fermor back-calculates the Gregorian date as 19 June which, he concludes, would be a "sensationally early event."

On this model the flood occurred perhaps a quarter century before 700, and the earth axis shift in the time of Hezekiah, 710 B.C., had already shifted the calendar,[28] so that another date would have to be calculated. But it is striking how, even within uniformitarian assumptions (which Fermor fairly and accurately acknowledged), we face the evidence for a catastrophic event in Osorkon II's time.

Dirkzwager also notes another "perfect fit" for his 780-660 B.C. placement of the Twenty-Second Dynasty. Inscriptions of the kings of Byblos in Phoenicia were carved on statues of Shoshenq I (by King Abibaal) and on Osorkon I by King Elibaal. And Elibaal's son Shipitbaal is recorded as King Sibitti-bi'ili of Byblos in the annals of the Assyrian king Tiglath-Pileser III for 739 B.C.

Dirkzwager further points out, following Velikovsky,[29] how vases with Ramses II's name and other objects in Ramessid style were found in the tomb of King Ahiram of Tyre, who was probably succeeded, first, by his son Ittobaal, and then by Abibaal. In other words, a placement toward the middle of the eighth century, again supporting our positioning of the Twenty-Second Dynasty.

A Twenty-Second Dynasty Outline

It would appear, therefore, that the Libyan incursion into Egypt in the time of Menreptah was later regarded by the Libyan pharaohs as the beginning of their rule—as Dirkzwager has speculated.[30] Shoshenq I, eager to excel over the despised Menreptah, took tribute from the re-established kingdom of Israel, c.758 B.C., under Menahem. His victory stela at Karnak deliberately followed Menreptah's vainglorious style. And Shoshenq's choice of titles "To Unite the Two Lands" may well be interpreted by us as acknowledging the rule of the native Twentieth Dynasty under Setnakht at that time.

In the time of Ramses III, 750-720 B.C. on this chronology, the Libyan Dynasty may well have come off second best in the wars against the Peoples of the Sea. We may remark here that in Barry Fell's observations on the maritime capabilities of the Libyan pharaohs, whose long expeditions even reached America,[31] a Libyan-Palestinian/Phoenician association would be natural.

But in the closing years of Ramses III's reign the Libyan Dynasty's influence was again on the upswing, and Osorkon II/So received the advances of Hoshea, King of Israel.

In 720 B.C. Sargon of Assyria marched south to Gaza and Routed Hanno of Gaza, who was supported by the Egyptian army of the "turtan of Misri" (Egypt), one Sib'e. Kitchen claimed that Sib'e should be read Re'e (in the Akkadian) and Ria'a (in the Egyptian). Clapham thereupon assumed Sibe-Ria'a was Seti II, as a son of Ramses II in the Twenty-Second Dynasty period.[32] But on this model, he would have been Ramses III himself.

Ramses III in the Age of the Libyans

Here I will follow Peter Van Der Veen's challenging points.[33] He brings out how Ramses III's army was led by "The first charioteer of his majesty Pre-hir-wen-hef, and the king's scribe and overseer of horses, prince Amon-hir-khopshef." Alongside the "Marjannu" charioteers of Ramses III's army, we may compare the horses and chariots of Egypt described by the Prophet Isaiah[34] in a context I have already argued belongs to the conditions of Ramses III's reign in the 720's, when the Twentieth Dynasty was riding high on the prestige of having defeated the Sea Peoples, but with a strength which, as Isaiah saw, was only adequate for defensive holding actions in the decline of Egyptian power.

Van Der Veen[35] compares Ramesses and Sethosis in the Manetho extract used by Josephus (Against Apion) to Ramses III. The Manetho pair had a naval force and destroyed those who met them at sea, just as Ramses III defeated the Peoples of the Sea. They led an expedition against Cyprus, and there is suggestive evidence that Ramses III's fleet raided that island.[36] This Sethosis campaigned against Phoenicia, the Assyrians, and the Medes. Ramses III fought against Tyre, Sidon, and the Philistines, and even against "Amor" which, Van Der Veen suggests, may have been an archaic term for Assyria.

Sethosis and Ramses had "an army of horses," which fits perfectly the might of Ramses III's chariot arm, also recorded by Isaiah. As Van Der Veen concludes, "It is likely that the Egyptian army of this time was famous for its powerful force of chariots."[37]

Decline and Fall of the Twentieth Dynasty

The Assyrian king Sennacherib, in his defeat of the Egyptian army, proudly boasted that he "personally captured alive the Egyptian charioteers with their princes and the charioteers of the king of Ethiopia."

This is a startling parallel to Josephus' report that after Sennacherib's army was destroyed at Jerusalem, Tirhaka, King of Ethiopia, and an (unnamed) pharaoh both escaped from his camp. With my 750-720 B.C. dates for Ramses III, and 710 for the destruction of the Assyrian army at Jerusalem,[38] I have identified this pharaoh as Ramses IV, an identification strongly supported by the star maps of his tomb. Michael Reade associates these with the Sennacherib catastrophe event when the sundial of Hezekiah regressed 10 degrees.[39]

Ramses IV died shortly afterward. The later Twentieth Dynasty rulers, the later Ramessides, were feeble and ineffectual. More and more, it was the Ethiopian Twenty-Fifth Dynasty, equipped with iron military technology, as the Assyrians were, far in advance of Egypt's weaponry,[40] who were the power in the land. But the great days of the Twenty-Second Dynasty had also passed. Presumably mauled in Ramses III's campaigns, they continued to hold local rule in their cities, but as the record of Shoshenq III—as we take it—in Assur-bani-pal's list indicates, it was simply one further line of princes aspiring to a long-past glory.

We may also note that Sennacherib in his great campaign recorded on the Taylor prism, described his meeting with the kings (plural) of Egypt. As Dirkzwager concludes, "The use of the plural squares with our conclusion that Libyans and Ramessids (and perhaps other dynasties) reigned simultaneously." It should be added that Dirkzwager assumes a 702 B.C. date for this event, whereas, following Antsey, I would place it at 710.

As I have previously remarked,[41] the Prophet Isaiah had clearly foreseen a situation when the Egyptians would be divided against themselves, brother against brother, with different rulers in different cities.[42] And it is here, in the 710-650 period that the twilight of the Twenty-First Dynasty belongs.

The Twenty-First Dynasty—Twilight of Egypt

Michael Jones has clearly noted that the Twenty-First Dynasty most definitely follows immediately after the Twentieth.[43] It was the time when the children and grandchildren of the very workmen who had produced the Nineteenth and Twentieth Dynasty tombs in the Valley of the Kings now plundered these same vaults in a period of upheaval.[44] It was the age of the scribe Wen-Amon, a minor priestly ruler, whose humiliating journey to Byblos in search of wood for the sacred Amon-Ra boat showed all too clearly how low Egyptian prestige had sun.[45]

Yet we also find a Wen-Amon in Assur-bani-pal's list of princelings who rebelled against Egypt in 667 B.C. I follow Dirkzwager[46] in viewing him as the same hapless traveler of Byblos fame.

This model also fits Velikovsky's compelling evidence for placing Psusennes I of the Twenty-First Dynasty after a Shoshenq (probably Shoshenq II) of the Twenty-Second. On this model the Twenty-First Dynasty does indeed come directly after the main body of the Twenty-Second Dynasty, and is contemporaneous with the last decades of it.

Clapham notes[47] that Velikovsky also mentions the mummy of a ruler of the Twenty-First Dynasty who "reappears in the genealogy of the Memphite priest Hor-Pasen (Pasenhor) of the Twenty-Second Dynasty period, indicating once more that the Twenty-First and Twenty-Second Dynasties were in part contemporaneous."

Unravelling the Dynasties

As Dirkzwager has also noted,[48] Bocchoris, the "one man dynasty"—the Twenty-Fourth, and Putibisti of Tanis in the Twenty-Third Dynasty, also appear in Assur-bani-pal's account of the 667 B.C. rising against him. This correlation gives us a peg on which to hand the Twenty-Third and Twenty-Fourth Dynasties. Again, let us note the contrast with Clapham,[49] who identifies Bocchoris with Arzu and places him at 717 B.C. In my scheme Bocchoris belongs 40 years later, and Arzu as Uzziah over 50 years before Clapham's date.

This model also invalidates Donovan Courville's wherein the Twenty-Second Dynasty was Assyrian in origin, and established by Assur-bani-pal.[50] Far from the last great Assyrian tyrant founding the Twenty-Second Dynasty, on this model he ended it.

My model also invalidates the original Glasgow scheme of things for the Third Intermediate Period, whereby the Twenty-Second Dynasty was placed c.620-400 B.C., but there should be at least no argument over that, as the Glasgow school leaders themselves, recognizing the impossibility of this solution, have retreated to their James-Rohl model, which gives up Velikovsky's Hatshepsut-Solomon, Thutmose III-Shishak, and El Amarna-House of Ahab correlations entirely.[51] On my model all these correlations still hold.

I will further remark here that the Twenty-First Dynasty may be seen to have continued down alongside the Twenty-Sixth Saite Dynasty. Thus, in answer to Korbach[52] there is no difficulty in finding references to Twenty-Second, Twenty-Third, and Twenty-Fourth Dynasty rulers in the Serapeum, before the reign of Psamteq I. Obviously, Amyrtaeus (463-454) and Nef'awi-rudj (399-393) belong to a later date, and have no connection with the Twenty-First Dynasty. It is not surprising therefore to find no references to them in the activities of Si-Amon, at the end of the Twenty-First Dynasty.

To a large degree, as has been seen, I draw heavily on Arie Dirkzwager's work. To a lesser degree, Peter Van Der Veen's research has also proved of value. It should be re-emphasized, however, that both writers, in their previous works, remain within the parameters of Edwin Thiele's chronology, which I regard as unworkable. I follow Dirkzwager's absolute dates for the Twenty-Second Dynasty, 780-660 B.C. (approximately), but not his biblical and Nineteenth-Twentieth Dynasty chronologies relative to it. The Third Intermediate models of Velikovsky, Glasgow, Courville, James-Rohl, and Clapham are all rejected.

I have no doubt this will not be the last word on an immensely complex subject; it would be presumptive indeed to make such a claim. But I stand by the conviction that Dirkzwager's Twenty-Second Dynasty dates, the Uzziah-Arzu equation of LeFlem, the inscriptional evidence of Assur-bani-pal in 667 B.C. as related to Twenty-First, Twenty-Third, and Twenty-Fourth Dynasty rulers, the biblical record, and the Antsey biblical chronology as developed here, are the necessary pillars on which to build a lasting solution to this most complicated and mysterious of the chronological problems of ancient Egypt.