Amasis II

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Amasis II (Ancient Greek: Ἄμασις) or Ahmose II was a pharaoh (570 BC - 526 BC) of the Twenty-sixth dynasty of Egypt, the successor of Apries at Sais. He was the last great ruler of Egypt before the Persian conquest.[2]

Contents

Life

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.[3] A revolt which broke out among native Egyptian soldiers gave him his opportunity to seize the throne. These troops, returning home from a disastrous military expedition to Cyrene in Libya, suspected that they had been betrayed in order that Apries, the reigning king, might rule more absolutely by means of his Greek mercenaries; many Egyptians fully sympathized with them. General Amasis, sent to meet them and quell the revolt, was proclaimed king by the rebels instead, and Apries, who had now to rely entirely on his mercenaries, was defeated. Apries was either taken prisoner in the ensuing conflict at Memphis before being eventually strangled and buried in his ancestral tomb at Sais, or fled to the Babylonians and was killed mounting an invasion of his native homeland in 567 BC with the aid of a Babylonian army. 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 (c.567 BC). Amasis then married Chedebnitjerbone II, one of the daughters of his predecessor Apries, in order to better legitimise his kingship.

Some information is known about the family origins of Amasis: his mother was a certain Tashereniset as a bust statue of this lady, which is today located in the British Museum, shows.[4] A stone block from Mehallet el-Kubra also establishes that his maternal grandmother—Tashereniset's mother—was a certain Tjenmutetj.[5]

Egypt's wealth

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 Egypt especially with splendid monolithic shrines and other monuments (his activity here is proved by existing remains). Amasis assigned the commercial colony of Naucratis on the Canopic branch of the Nile to the Greeks, and when the temple of Delphi was burnt, he contributed 1,000 talents to the rebuilding. He also married a Greek princess named Ladice daughter of King Battus III and made alliances with Polycrates of Samos and Croesus of Lydia.

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