- Amasis II
Caption=A fragmentary statue head of Amasis II
He Who Embraces the Heart of Re Forever [Clayton, Peter A. Chronicle of the Pharaohs: The Reign-by-Reign Record of the Rulers and Dynasties of Ancient Egypt. Thames & Hudson. p195. 2006. ISBN 0-500-28628-0]
The Moon is Born, Son of Neith [Clayton, Peter A. Chronicle of the Pharaohs: The Reign-by-Reign Record of the Rulers and Dynasties of Ancient Egypt. Thames & Hudson. p195. 2006. ISBN 0-500-28628-0]
Amasis II (also Ahmose II) was a
pharaoh(570 BC - 526 BC) of the Twenty-sixth dynasty of Egypt, the successor of Apries. His capital was at Sais. He was the last great ruler of Egypt before the Persian conquest.
Most of our information about him is derived from
Herodotus(2.161ff) and can only be imperfectly verified by monumental evidence. According to the Greek historian, he was of common origins. A revolt of the native soldiers gave him his opportunity. These troops, returning home from a disastrous expedition to Cyrene, suspected that they had been betrayed in order that Apries, the reigning king, might rule more absolutely by means of his mercenaries, and their friends in Egypt fully sympathized with them. Amasis, sent to meet them and quell the revolt, was proclaimed king by the rebels, and Apries, who had now to rely entirely on his mercenaries, was defeated and taken prisoner in the ensuing conflict at Memphis; the usurpertreated the captive prince with great leniency, but was eventually persuaded to give him up to the people, by whom he was strangled and buried in his ancestral tomb at Sais. An inscription confirms the struggle between the native Egyptian and the foreign soldiery, and proves that Apries was killed and honourably buried in the third year of Amasis. Amasis then married Chedebnitjerbone II, one of the daughters of his predecessor Apries, in order to better legitimise his kingship.
Although Amasis thus appears first as champion of the disparaged native, he had the good sense to cultivate the friendship of the Greek world, and brought Egypt into closer touch with it than ever before. Herodotus relates that under his prudent administration, Egypt reached a new level of wealth; Amasis adorned the temples of
Lower Egyptespecially with splendid monolithic shrines and other monuments (his activity here is proved by existing remains). Amasis assigned the commercial colony of Naucratison the Canopic branch of the Nileto the Greeks, and when the temple of Delphiwas burnt, he contributed 1,000 talents to the rebuilding. He also married a Greek princess named Ladice daughter of King Battus III (see Battus) and made alliances with Polycratesof Samos and Croesusof Lydia.
Under Amasis or Ahmose II, Egypt's agricultural based economy reached its zenith. Herodotus who visted Egypt less than a century after Amasis II's death writes that:
His kingdom consisted probably of Egypt only, as far as the
First Cataract, but to this he added Cyprus, and his influence was great in Cyrene. In his fourth year (c.567 BC), Amasis was able to defeat a Babylonian invasion of Egypt Nebuchadrezzar II; henceforth, the Babylonians experienced sufficient difficulties controlling their empire that they were forced to abandon future attacks against Amasis. [Alan B. Lloyd, 'The Late Period' in The Oxford History of Ancient Egypt (ed. Ian Shaw), Oxford Univ. Press 2002 paperback, pp.381-82] However, Amasis was later faced with a more formidable enemy with the rise of Persia under Cyrus who ascended to the throne in 559 BC; his final years were preoccupied by the threat of the impending Persian onslaught against Egypt. [Ibid., p.382] With great strategic skill, Cyrus had destroyed Lydia in 546 BC and finally defeated the Babylonians in 538 BC which left Amasis with no major Near Eastern allies to counter Persia's increasing military might. [Ibid., p.382] Amasis reacted by cultivated closer ties with the Greek states to counter the future Persian invasion into Egypt but was fortunate to have died in 526 BC shortly before the Persians attacked. [Ibid., p.382] The final assault instead fell upon his son Psamtik III, whom the Persians defeated in 525 BC after a reign of only six months. [The New Encyclopaedia Brittanica: Micropaedia, Vol.9 15th edition, 2003. p.756]
Tomb and desecration
Amasis II died in 526 BC. He was buried at the royal necropolis of Sais, and while his tomb was never discovered, Herodotus describes it for us:
Herodotus also relates the desecration of Ahmose II/Amasis' mummy when the Persian king Cambyses conquered Egypt and thus ended the 26th Saite dynasty:
*W. M. Flinders Petrie, "History", vol. iii.
James Henry Breasted, "History and Historical Documents", vol. iv. p. 509
Gaston Maspero, "Les Empires"
* "Nos ancêtres de l'Antiquité", 1991,
Christian Settipani, p. 161
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