The reassertion of Egyptian sovereignty under the last indigenous dynasties:
Dynasties 28 to 30
The last national dynasties:
While Cyrus the Younger and Artaxerxes II were fighting over the Persian throne, Amyrtaios (404-399)
organized a revolt in the marshes which spread to the whole delta.
While they were fighting for their independence, Egyptian troops fought for Artaxerxes II at Cunaxa in Babylonia,
where Cyrus the Younger fell.
In 401 Amyrtaios' rule was recognized in Upper Egypt as well.
In 379 Nectanebo I (Nakhtnebef) usurped the throne. He lost the support of Chabrias, who was recalled
to Athens in order to strengthen a temporary state of peace between the Athenians and the Persians.
The satrap Pharnabazos prepared for war by striking large amounts of coins at Tarsus.
The first Persian attack was halted by the fortresses in the delta. Pharnabazos gathered an army
of 200,000 Asiatics and 20,000 Greeks in Acre (Northern Palestine) and put the Athenian Iphikrates in
charge. By going around the fortress of Pelusium they arrived at Memphis (in 374), where the Greeks and Persians
fell out, giving Nectanebo time to reinforce the garrison. The rising Nile forced the attackers to
Pharnabazos was succeeded by the satrap of Cappadocia, Datames.
This setback was a signal for a general uprising in Asia. The "revolt of the satraps" kept Artaxerxes occupied during the next fifteen years. Nectanebo used this period of quiet to start great construction projects at Bubastis, Edfu, Karnak, Abydos and Memphis. Still, the king reserved the majority of the taxes for the defense of the country. He administered the wealth of the temples himself, which led the chroniclers to reproach him of having forgotten the gods the moment he thought of attaining the kingship, i.e. the moment of the issuing of the decree of Naukratis, which gave the temple of Neith the right to the taxes raised by the treasury.
Takhos (Djedhor), Nectanebo's son, continued a vigorous foreign policy during his two
year reign. The Athenian Chabrias returned with his mercenaries in 360 BCE, as did the Spartan king
Agesilas with 10,000 soldiers. 80,000 Egyptians are recruited and 200 triremes manned. Takhos himself
reserved for himself the position of supreme commander. He followed Chabrias' advice to finance his army by
confiscating the temple goods. 90% of the temples' income was diverted, some temples were closed and
the personnel of the others reduced. Taxes were raised to a maximum and drachmas struck in order to
pay the Greeks, who wouldn't accept any other remuneration.
Nectanebo II (359-343) put down a popular revolt with the assistance of Agesilas. Shortly after,
the Spartan, aged 84, left the service of the pharaoh to return to his hometown rewarded with 250 talents.
He died at Kyrene and his embalmed corpse was buried with royal honours at Sparta. In 351 a Persian attack
was repulsed with the help of the Athenian Diophantes and the Spartan Lamias. The Phoenician revolt
following this Persian debacle was supported by Nectanebo. He sent Tennes, king of Sidon, 4000 Greek mercenaries.
But Tennes under pressure from the Persians, betrayed his city and delivered it into the hands of
Artaxerxes III who had it burned (344).
Artaxerxes razed fortifications, desecrated temples and plundered the treasury. He appointed
Pherendares as satrap of Egypt and returned to Babylon laden with treasures.
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|Nectanebo II by Jona Lendering|
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