The Sequence of Dynasties

With the close of the Amarna period we have reached, according to our revised scheme, the latter part of the ninth century. The eighth century and the beginning of the seventh were the periods of Libyan and Ethiopian dynasties in Egypt. The conventional scheme assigns the Amarna period to the earlier part of the fourteenth century and has the Nineteenth Dynasty, that of Seti and Ramses II, and the Twentieth Dynasty, that of Ramses III, the last great emperor of Egypt, succeed before the Libyans and Ethiopians ruled Egypt.

The transition of power from the Eighteenth to the Nineteenth Dynasty is regarded as an obscure period of Egyptian history. The circumstances under which the Nineteenth Dynasty was established are said to be unknown. This Dynasty is one of the most famous successions of pharaohs—Ramses I, Seti I, Ramses II, and Merneptah. Still another name is preserved, that of Haremhab. He belonged neither to the Eighteenth nor to the Nineteenth Dynasty; he was not a descendant of Akhnaton, nor was he an ancestor of the Ramessides. He is supposed to have ruled Egypt during an interregnum. It is not apparent why he was “chosen to be king” and to administer Egypt. Nothing is known of his end. The idea so often expressed that Haremhab was a successor of Ay is baseless. We shall encounter Haremhab later in this volume—but he lived one hundred and fifty years after Ay.

On the pages to follow I shall endeavor to show that the Libyan and Ethiopian dyansties followed closely the Eighteenth Dynasty and preceded the Nineteenth and the Twentieth. This result of the present reconstruction is probably the most unexpected of all. Yet in Peoples of the Sea (1977) the time of Ramses III and with him the entire Twentieth Dynasty have already been shown to belong into the fourth century; and the volume Ramses II and His Time (1978) has carried the task of identifying the Nineteenth Dynasty as synonymous with the Twenty-sixth, that of Necho I, Psammetichus, Necho II, and Apries.

The so-called Nineteenth Dynasty will be found to have been displaced not only by the five hundred and forty years of error in the dating of the Eighteenth Dynasty, but also by an additional one hundred and seventy years—the duration of the Libyan and Ethiopian dominations over Egypt: and the total error will be found reaching the huge figure of seven hundred years.

Since the pharaohs of these dynasties waged wars and maintained peaceful relations with the kingdoms and peoples of the north, the transfer of these Egyptian dynasties to a time much more recent carries an enormous tide into the histories of the entire ancient East, including Asia Minor and Greece.

The evidence of the present volume will lead us to the conclusion that the Libyan Dyansty that superseded the Eighteenth started not about -945, but more than a century later: the Libyan Dynasty has been allotted a longer span of time than it actually occupied. In the chapter dealing with the sack of the Temple of Jerusalem, it was demonstrated that the biblical Shishak, its plunderer, was Thutmose III of the Eighteenth Dynasty, and the objects of his loot, depicted on the bas relief at Karnak, were identified as the vessels, utensils, and furniture of the Temple. His heir Amenhotep II was identified as the Biblical Zerah who invaded Palestine in the days of King Asa at the beginning of the ninth century. Thus they could not have been the Libyan kings Shoshenk and Osorkon. These Libyans reigned later, and the entire duration of that dynasty was shorter than is conventionally assumed.

But we shall also show that Osorkon could not have reigned in the beginning of the ninth century and that Shoshenk could not have been the biblical Shishak because he was the Biblical Pharaoh So referred to in the Scriptures during the closing days of Samaria, in the time of King Hezekiah.

The Libyan Dynasty endured for about one hundred and twenty years and the Ethiopian rule for close to fifty years, the latter being repeatedly interrupted by Assyrian conquests of Egypt. Thus in our view the only Dynasty correctly placed in the conventional scheme is the Ethiopian.

With one period, namely the Ethiopian, torn out of a dislocated order of events and kept in its proper place in time, it happened that causes became consequences and consequences changed to causes, and descendants became ancestors, turning progenitors into offspring.

Before we shall deal with the major problem of identifying the historical time of the origin of the Nineteenth Dynasty, we shall be concerned in a few of the following sections with a comparatively minor re-adjustment—returning Shoshenk and Osorkon of the Libyan Dynasty from the tenth and ninth centuries to their proper places in the eighth century.