Egypt Ptolemaic (305-30 BCE)

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Saite Pharaoh head
Figure of Pataikos
Horus as a child
Ushabti figures
Amulet of Nefertem
Brooklyn Papyrus

Egyptian Dignitary 27th Dynasty
Darius I
Hakor Sphinx
Avenue of Sphinxes, Karnak
Wesirwer priest 30th Dynasty
Horus and Nectanebo II
Cippus of Horus stele
Artaxerxes III
Alexander the Great bust
Ptolemy 1 bust
Ptolemy II and Arsinoe II busts
Ptolemy III ‘Egyptian’ statue
Queen Berenice II mosaic
Ptolemy VI ring
Dog and skos mosaic
Rosetta Stone
Ptolemy VIII and Horus
Ptolemaic thureophoros soldier
Nile Mosaic of Palestrina
Ptolemy XII
Cleopatra VII – two busts
Cleopatra VII – coin
Cleopatra VII and Caesarion

LATE PERIOD (664-332 BCE):

Psamtik I (664-610); Necho II (610-595); Psamtik II (595-589);
Haaibre (589-570); Amasis II (570-526); Psamtik III (526-525)

This period was also termed the Twenty-Sixth Dynasty (664–525 BCE) is also known as the Saite Period named after the city of Sais the capital for this dynasty.

The second Necho II is considered most likely to be the pharaoh mentioned several times in several books of the Holy Bible.

Wahibre Haaibre the fourth pharaoh was unseated by Amasis II. Haiibre travelled to Babylon and returned with an army led by to regain his throne. He was defeated and probably killed. But this did lead to ongoing problems with the Persian king, Cambyses, who pushed Amasis out of Cyprus and, after Amasis had died, he invaded in 525 BCE and took Egypt for the Achaemenid Empire.


Image source: Wikimedia commons

The bust of a Saite pharaoh, so named because the capital for the 26th Dynasty kings was Sais.
This glazed faience (glazed ceramic ware) sculpture depicts the deity Pataikos (664–630 BCE). It is thought to be more naturalistic than the traditional Egyptian images. Pataikos is a bandy-legged dwarf used to protect the individual since the Sixth Dynasty. He is often shown stepping upon and grasping crocodiles, snakes, and scorpions. He regularly appeared on the same amulet as Bes, another dwarf-god, they were worn to ward off evil.
Image source: courses.lumenlearning.com

Image source: courses.lumenlearning.com

During this Late Period, Libyans and Persians alternated rule with native Egyptians. Their influence showed in the art of the time.
This sculpture depicts the god Horus as a child (664–332 BCE). Its form represents maintains the stance of Egyptian statuary, but has a fleshier body and the gesture of the right hand and arm is more pensive than was traditional..
These 18 x 5 cm ushabti figures, date from 570–526 BCE. They were moulded and baked. They are o show at the Archaeological Museum of Kraków
Image source: Wikimedia commons

Image source: Wikimedia commons

This glazed faience amulet depicts Nefertem. Originally the name was given to a lotus flower that rose from a blue water-lily in the primal waters. He was later considered as the son of the creator god Ptah. Nefertem is depicted as a beautiful young man having blue water-lily flowers around his head. This c525 BCE amulet is at the Cleveland Museum of Art, Ohio USA.
The image shows the ‘Brooklyn Papyrus’ it has a collection of medical and magical remedies for victims of snakebites based on snake type or symptoms. This Late Period/26th Dynasty document identifies that priests had a role in medical treatments.
Image source: courses.lumenlearning.com


This period encapsulates the 27th (515-404 BCE), 28th (404-389 BCE), 29th (389-380 BCE), 30th (380-343 BCE) and 31st (343-332 BCE) dynasties.

Cambyses II (525-522); Petubastis III (522-520); Darius I (522-486);
Xerxes I (486-465); Artabanus (465-464); Artaxerxes I (465-424);
Xerxes II (425-424); Sogdianus (424-423); Darius II (423-404)

In 525 BCE, Egypt was conquered by the Persians, and during the 27th Dynasty was a province, or satrapy, of the Achaemenid Empire. Cambyses II, the King of Persia, became pharaoh. Several native pharaohs did rebel against this subjugation Petubastis III in the 520s and Psamtik IV in the 480s BCE. A century later, under Darius II, the internal Persian struggles for imperial succession enabled Egypt to regain independence in 404 BCE, and a treaty with Athens enabled them to withstand invasion. The Achaemenids ruled Egypt again in the 31st Dynasty (343-332 BCE).

28th D – Amyrtaeus (404-389) ; 29th D – Nefaarud I (398-393); Psammuthes (393); Hakor (393-380); Nefeearud II (380); 30th D – Nectanebo (380-362); Teos (362-360); Nectanebo II (360-343); 31st – Artaxerxes III (343-338); Artaxerxes IV (338-336); Darius III (336-332); 

The 28th Dynasty (404-389 BCE) had just one native pharaoh, Amyrtaeus aka Psamtik V. He had led a rebellion against Darius II in 411 BCE. With the aid of Cretan mercenaries he managed to expel the Persians from Memphis in 405 BCE. Hoever there is no extant monument or inscription detailing his reign.

Amyrtaeus was defeated in battle by Nefaarud I (398-393 BCE), he was executed at Memphis and the 29th Dynasty were founded. Mendes became the capital. It was ended by the overthrow of Nefaarud. Psammuthes overcame the claim of Nefaarud’s son Muthis, but ruled for just a year (393 BCE), Hakor (393-380 BCE) claimed to be a grandson of Nefaarud and successfully overthrew Psammuthes. Hakor was succeeded by his son Nefaarud II (380 BCE), but he ruled for only four months before being removed (perhaps killed) by Nectanebo I, the son of a miltary official.

Nectanebo I (380-362 BCE) founded the 30th Dynasty, and moved the capital to Sebennytos. His reign respected the traditional religion and he attempted to bring Egypt closer to the gods by restoring monuments while defending it from the Achaemenid Empire. He rebuilt the Avenue of Sphinxes at Luxor, using his head for all 1,350 of them. His son Teos (362-360 BCE) became co-regent, but became unpopular for the taxes he levied to pay for the defence against the Persians. Nectanebo II (360-343 BCE) was his namesake’s grandson proved competent, he built and restored monuments and protected Egypt with a Greek alliance. But Artaxerxes III overthrew him in 343 BCE, he fled to Nubia. He was the last native-born pharaoh.

The 31st Dynasty is also known as the Second Egyptian Satrapy, founded by the persian Artaxerxes III after his reconquest of Egypt and finished with the battle-free conquest of Egypt by Alexander the Great and his Macedonian Empire. Egyptians welcomed Alexander as he would remove the Persian yoke. This was assisted by the Oracle of Amon identifying Alexander as the son of Amon.


This Twenty-seventh Dynasty bust of an Egyptian dignitary shows a necklace that shows it is from the Achaemenid Persian occupation.
Image course: courses.lumenlearning.com

Image source: Wikimedia commons

This damaged 2.5m greywacke statue is of Emperor Darius I the Great, Achaemenid Pharaoh of the Twenty-seventh Dynasty (522–486 BCE). It is at the National Museum of Iran, Tehran.
Sphinx of Hakor, the third king of the 29th Dynasty, dated to c385 BCE.
Image source: Wikimedia commons

Image source: kids.britannica.com

This Thirtieth Dynasty (380–342 BCE) schist head depicts the priest Wesirwer. It is 15 x 9 x 11cm and comes from Karnak. It is in the Brooklyn Museum, NY USA.
This Grand Avenue of Sphinxes once ran 2.7km all the way between Luxor and Karnak temples, the avenue was lined by 1,350 sphinxes. The original New Kingdom sphinxes needed replacing by the 4th C BCE.
The new painted sandstone sphinxes combined the body of a lion with the head of 30th Dynasty king Nectanebo I (380-363 BCE). Many bear the cartouche of other pharaohs, Cleopatra VII is one of them, it is suggested she visited them with Mark Anthony.

Image source: memphis.edu

Image source: Wikimdeia commons


A greywacke statue of Nectanebo II, wearing nemes and uraeus, and standing before Horus. This is believed to be the only surviving annotated sculpture of the last pharaoh of the Thirtieth Dynasty, Nectanebo II (360–342 BCE). He was also the last native-born Pharaoh. It is hald by the Metropolitan Museum of Art,NY USA.
This greywacke stela, the ‘Cippus of Horus’, was commissioned by the priest Esatum to be set up in the public part of a temple. Below the central figure panel, the rows of hieroglyphs record thirteen magic spells to protect against poisonous bites and wounds and to cure the illnesses caused by them. A victim could recite or drink water that had been poured over the magic words and images on the stela. They also recount the mythic tale of Horus being cured by Thoth, the god of wisdom and writing. It is dated to 360-343 BCE and is held by the Metropolitan Museum NY USA.
Image source: metmuseum.org

This image is taken from the satrapal coinage of Cilicia (a fellow satrapy, centred on Tarsus) and shows Artaxerxes III (343-338 BCE) dressed as Pharaoh of Egypt,


Ptolemy I Soter (305-283); Ptolemy II Philadelphus (283-246); Ptolemy III (280-222);  Ptolemy IV (221-203 BCE);
Ptolemy V [and Cleopatra I] (203–181 BCE); Ptolemy VI (181–164 BCE);
Ptolemy VII (never reigned); Ptolemy VIII (170–163 and 145-116 BCE); Cleopatra II (131–127 BCE);
Cleopatra III (116-101 BCE); Ptolemy IX [and Cleopatra IV] (116-107 and 88-81 BCE);
Ptolemy X (107-88 BCE); Berenice III (81-80 BCE); Ptolemy XI (80 BCE);
Ptolemy XII [and Cleopatra V] (80-58 and 55-51 BCE);
Cleopatra V / Berenice IV and Cleopatra VI (58-55 BCE);
Cleopatra VII [and Ptolemy XIII, XIV and XV] (51-30 BCE); Arsinoe IV (48-47 BCE)

Alexander the Great’s army seized Egypt in c332 BCE. At Alexander’s death in 323 BCE he left satraps in charge of regions of his empire. Ptolemy, a Macedonian Greek, was allocated Egypt. In 305 BCE he declared himself Ptolemy 1, and added ‘Soler’ (meaning Saviour). He and his family ruled Egypt until the Roman conquest in 30 BCE. The males all took the name Ptolemy, the wives, usuallytheir sisters, were Arsinoe, Berenice or Cleopatra.


Image source: Wikimedia commons

Marble bust of Alexander the Great (aka Alexander III of Macedon) it is thought to come from Alexandria, Egypt and dated second to first century BCE. He succeeded his father, Philip II at the age of 20. By the age of thirty, he had created one of the largest empires of the ancient world, stretching from Greece to northwestern India. Undefeated in battle he is widely considered one of history’s most successful military commanders. He died at 32 years old, the cause is specultate to have been from acute pancreatitis, malaria, meningitis, spondylitis, typhoid fever or West Nile virus. His empire was divided among his coterie, each appointed as satrap to a region, Ptolemy, a Macedonian, was companion and historian to Alexander and was awarded Egypt.
Ptolemy I Soler (or Saviour) was hnded Egypt after Alexander’s death. He seized his body and took it to Mamphis and later to a tomb in Alexandria. He defeated Perdiccas, the royal regent of Philip III of Macedon and this solidified his control of Egypt. After a series of wars between Alexander’s successors, Ptolemy gained a claim to Judea in Syria, as well as of Cyprus and Cyrenaica. He also founded the Library of Alexandria. His third wife Berenice I was mother to Ptolemy II.
Image source: Wikimedia commons

Image source: Wikimedia commons

During Ptolemy II Philadelphus (or ‘friend of his siblings’) reign (283-246 BCE) the material and literary splendour of the Alexandrian court was at its height, for example he developed the Museum and Library of Alexandria. Ptolemy’s empire encompassed much of the Aegean and Levant, and he pursued an expansionist foreign policy with mixed success. Seleucid Empire in the First Syrian War (275-271 BCE) and extended Ptolemaic power into Cilicia and Caria, then lost most of this in the Second Syrian War (260-253 BCE). He vied with Macedonia for control of the Aegean,suffering setbacks.
The two marble busts are both said to be of his wife, Arsinoe II, the first using a traditional Egyptian style, the second a Hellenistic approach.
Egypt reached the zenith of Ptolemaic power during the reign of Ptolemy III Euergetes (or the Benefactor) (280-222 BCE). On taking the throne, Ptolemy married Berenice II, reigning queen of Cyrenaica, bringing her territory into the Ptolemaic realm. He fought the Third Syrian War (246-241 BCE), against the Seleucid empire and won, but an uprising in Egypt forced him to abandon the campaign and return home. s a result, Ptolemy worked closely with the Egyptian priestly elite, this was codified in the 238 BCE Canopus decree. Perhaps this Egyptian statue was one of his concessions?
Ptolemy’s fleet was defeated by the Macedonian Antigonids at the Battle of Andros (245 BCE). He continued financial support to mainland Greece for the rest of his reign in opposition of the Antigonids.

Image source: Wikimedia commons

Image source: Wikimedia commons

This (rather scary!) wife of Ptolemy III and his co-ruler was Berenice II. She is depcited here as a personification of naval power. Dated 50 245-200 BCE it is at the Greco-Roman Museum of Alexandria.
Image of ring of Ptolemy VI Philometor (181–164 BCE), depicted with a pschent, the double crown of Ancient Egypt, ie as an Egyptian pharaoh. It is on show at the Louvre.
Image source: Wikimedia commons

Image source: Wikimedia commons

This mosiac of a dog and an askos wine vessel is dated 200-150 BCE and is held by the Roman Museum of Alexandria, Egypt.
[Ed’s note: no guessing where His Master’s Voice and Nipper the dog gained its inspiration.]
The ‘Rosetta Stone’ is a granodiorite stele inscribed with three versions of a decree issued in Memphis, Egypt in 196 BC during the reign ot King Ptolemy V Epiphanes.
Thought to have been origially in a temple in Sais.
The top and middle texts are in hieroglyphic and demotic ancient Egyptian scripts respectively, while the bottom is in Ancient Greek. The decree has only minor differences between the versions, so the Rosetta Stone helped to decipher both Egyptian scripts.
There were several earlier Ptolemaic decrees: the Decree of Alexandria in 243 BC, the Decree of Canopus in 238 BC, and the Memphis decree of Ptolemy IV, c. 218 BC. But the Rosetta Stone provided the Eureka moment.

Image source: Wikimedia commons

Image source: discoveringegypt.com

Image source: Wikimedia commons

Ptolemy VIII relief from the temple of Kom Ombo depicting him receiving the sed symbol (the tail of a wolf deity) from Horus.
A stele dated to the 2nd century BCe, showing a Ptolemaic thureophoros soldier of the Ptolemaic army. This was an infantry soldier who carried a large oval shield called a thyreos with a metal strip boss and a central spine.
Image source: Wikimedia commons

Image source: Wikimedia commons

The Nile Mosaic of Palestrina is a a late Hellenistic floor mosaic depicting the Nile in its passage from the Blue Nile to the Mediterranean. It spans 5.85 x 4.31m of a sanctuary-grotto in Palestrina, a town east of Rome. This is an illustration of Roman fascination with ancient Egyptian exoticism in the 1st c BCE. Nilotic landscapes had a long iconographic history in Egypt and the Aegean.
Ptolemy XII, father of Cleopatra VII, making offerings to the Egyptian Gods, in the Temple of Hathor in Dendera, Egypt
Image source: Wikimedia commons

Image source: Wikimedia commons

This top bust of Cleopatra VII is very clearly in a Roman style. It is from around the time of her visits to Rome in 46–44 BCE. It is on show at the Altes Museum, Berlin.
The other bust of Cleopatra VII, is dated 40–30 BCE, she has a ‘melon’ hairstyle and a Hellenistic royal diadem. It is on show at the Vatican Museums,
A coin depicting Cleopatra VII. She reigned as queen ‘philopator’ and pharaoh with a series of male co-regents from 51 to 30 BCE. She commited suicide at the age of 39.
Image source: Wikimedia commons

Image source: Wikimedia commons
Relief of Cleopatra VII and Caesarion, her son by Julius Caesar, and Caesar’s only biological son. Caesarion reigned as Ptolemy XV for only eighteen days. The relief is from Dendera Temple in Egypt.
This bust is of Caesarion.

Image source: Wikimedia commons

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