The pharaohs of Sais, the Ionians and Carians
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The Nile delta

The pharaohs of Sais, the Ionians and Carians

    The ancestors of Psammetic I (656-609) had held positions of power at various locations in the Delta: Tefnakht II had been king of Athribis and Bubastis as a vassal of Shabaka (716-702), Nekhepsos cannot be placed, but Necho I (664-656) had ruled Sais and Memphis under Ashurbanipal. His son, Psammetic I, was forced by the other eleven kings of the dodecarchy to seek refuge in the marshes, according to Herodotus and Diodorus. He gained the support of the Isis priests at Buto, second only in importance to Amen at Thebes. With the help of Ionian and Carian pirates he deposed his rivals, among them Pakruru of Per-Seped who was defeated near the temple of Isis at Memphis or Momemphis according to the legend, and restored Egyptian unity.
    The great chiefs of the Meshwesh are no longer mentioned. The leading families lost their independent power and many found employment in the royal administration. The Carian and Ionian mercenaries received grants of land along the Pelusian arm of the Nile below Bubastis and near Lake Mareotis guarding the Libyan frontier.
    Now the Ionians and Carians occupied these portions of land for a long time, and they are towards the sea a little below the city of Bubastis, on that which is called the Pelusian mouth of the Nile.
Herodotus, Histories 2
Project Gutenberg
    The Libyans, who were thus replaced, migrated to Kush, when their services were no longer remunerated. Herodotus speaks of 240,000 warriors.
    The Egyptians then of whom I speak had served as outposts for three years and no one believed them from their guard; accordingly they took counsel together, and adopting a common plan they all in a body revolted from Psammetic and set out for Ethiopia.
Herodotus, Histories 2,30
Project Gutenberg
    Ahmose came to power as he put himself at the head of an army uprising. The Greeks under his command overcame those serving the deposed Wahibre (Apries) who was killed. To consolidate his reign he settled mercenaries at Memphis as his personal guard.
    Apries having heard this also, armed his foreign mercenaries and marched against the Egyptians: now he had about him Carian and Ionian mercenaries to the number of thirty thousand; and his royal palace was in the city of Sais, of great size and worthy to be seen. So Apries and his army were going against the Egyptians, and Amasis and those with him were going against the mercenaries; and both sides came to the city of Momemphis and were about to make trial of one another in fight.
Herodotus, Histories 2
Project Gutenberg
    Pirates and raiders were followed by merchants. Greek and Carian markets were to be found in Lower Egypt at Bubastis, Sais, Memphis, but also in Upper Egypt and the distant oases. Ahmose II concentrated them at Naukratis, on the most western arm of the Nile and gave the city many privileges. It was a free port with a virtual monopoly over the international trade, it had its own assembly and administration, land to build a prytaneum and temples on. The greatest of these buildings, the Hellenion, was built by a joint effort of the Ionians, Dorians and Aeolians. Like all overseas colonies, Naukratis kept in close contact with the homeland; e.g. they supported the reconstruction of the temple at Delphi with 20 mines of silver.


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January 2009
April 2003