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23rd Dynasty

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Dynasties of Ancient Egypt
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Protodynastic Period
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First Intermediate Period
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11th (Thebes only)
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11th (All Egypt)
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Alexander the Great
Ptolemaic Dynasty


The Twenty-third Dynasty of ancient Egypt was a separate regime of Meshwesh Libyan Pharaoh's, who ruled ancient Egypt. This dynasty is often considered part of the Third Intermediate Period.

There is much debate surrounding this dynasty, which may have been situated at Herakleopolis Magna, Hermopolis Magna, and Thebes but monuments from their reign show that they controlled Upper Egypt in parallel with the Twenty-second Dynasty shortly before the death of Osorkon II. A shortlist of the kings of this dynasty include:

Twenty-Third Dynasty
Name Dates Notes
Takelot II 840 BC – 815 BC Takelot II Si-Ese Meryamun was not a member of the Tanis based 22nd Dynasty and did not succeed Osorkon II at Tanis. Instead, Takelot II ruled Middle and Upper Egypt concurrently with the Twenty-Second Dynasty king Shoshenq III, who controlled Lower Egypt. Takelot II was likely the High Priest Takelot F, son of Nimlot C, who is attested in office during the final years of Osorkon II at Karnak Temple J. Takelot II sporadically controlled Thebes during the last 14 Years of his reign. He faced a revolt here in Year 11 of his reign. The revolt was suppressed by his son, the Crown Prince Osorkon B, who appointed himself as the new High Priest of Amun there. Later, in his Year 15, a second major rebellion resulted in his loss of control over this great city. This precipitated a prolonged civil war which is documented in his son's famous Chronicle document. Takelot II died in his 25th Year which is equivalent to Year 22 of Shoshenq III.
Pedubast I 829 BC – 804 BC His accession as king at Thebes in Year 11 of Takelot II sparked a prolonged civil war between his faction and the forces of king Takelot II/Crown Prince Osorkon B.
Shoshenq VI 804 BC – 798 BC He succeeded Pedubast I at Thebes and ruled Upper Egypt for 6 years. He was defeated and expelled from power by the High Priest Osorkon B, son of Takelot II in Year 39 of Shoshenq III.
Osorkon III Uncertain Osorkon III Si-Ese Meryamun was the famous High Priest of Amun and Crown Prince Osorkon B, son of Takelot II. He documented his various deeds in the Chronicle of Prince Osorkon on the Temple Walls at Karnak prior to his kingship when he was involved in a civil war which lasted for 27 long years against Pedubast I and Shoshenq VI. One donation stela, which was discovered in 1983 from Tihna el-Gebel (ancient Akoris), establishes that he was a Theban High Priest. Osorkon III, thus, was almost certainly Prince Osorkon B, who defeated his father's opponents at Thebes in Year 39 of Shoshenq III. He likely died in his 80's after a reign of 28 Years in Middle and Upper Egypt, which may explain why he appointed his son Takelot as his coregent in his final 5 years. Osorkon III is attested by numerous donation stelas and stone blocks from Herakleopolis through to Thebes and is thought to have been a contemporary of the Lower Egypt Twenty-Second Dynasty kings, Shoshenq IV, Pami, and Shoshenq V. Osorkon III's coregency with Takelot III is the last attested royal coregency in Ancient Egyptian history.
Takelot III Uncertain Takelot III Si-Ese Meryamun was Osorkon III's eldest son, junior coregent and successor. He served as a High Priest of Amun at Thebes and was thought to have ruled Egypt for only 7 Years. Recently, however, Frederic Payraudeau, in a GM 198(2004) pp.79-90 paper, has identified Takelot III as the Anonymous Year 19 Egyptian Pharaoh at Wadi Gasus rather than Iuput II, in Kenneth Kitchen's 3rd edition of the Third Intermediate Period. (pp.543-544 & 581) Frederic's argument is based on palaeographical, chronological and geneaological evidence from Papyrus Berlin 3048, which is dated to Year 14 of a king Takelot Si-Ese Meryamun.(ie: either Takelot II or III.) Takelot III served the first 5 Years of his reign as the junior coregent to his father according to the evidence from Nile Quay Text No.14, which equates Year 28 of Osorkon III to Year 5 of Takelot III. He succeeded his father as king in the following Year.In addition, Drs. Olaf Kaper and Robert Demarée have now stated that Takelot III's Year 13 is attested on a hieratic stela, which was discovered at the Dakhla Desert Oasis in early 2005 by a University of Columbia archaeological expedition. The stela was initially thought to name Harsiese A--in the preliminary expedition report below--due to the similarity between Takelot III's epithet Si-Ese('Son of Isis') and king Har[siese]'s name. This document has been published in JEOL 39 and was dedicated by the Chief of the Shamin Libyans, Nes-Djehuti, who is also attested in the Smaller Dakhla Oasis stela. The latter stela dates to Year 24 of Piye. (cf. Jac Janssen, JEA 54(1968) pp.166-71) Hence, Takelot III and Piye were close contemporaries and are strong candidates for the unknown Year 19(Egyptian) and Year 12(Nubian) kings attested at Wadi Gasus.
  • Excavations at Ahmeida 2005
  • KA Kitchen, The Third Intermediate Period in Egypt(c.1100-650 BC), 3rd ed. (Warminster: 1996), pp.543-544 & 581
  • Frédéric Payraudeau, "Le règne de Takélot III et les débuts de la domination Koushite," GM 198(2004) pp.79-90.
  • O. Kaper and R. Demarée, "A Donation Stela in the Name of Takeloth III from Amheida, Dakhleh Oasis," JEOL 39 (2005), pp.19-37[1]
Rudamun Uncertain Rudamun is a poorly attested king of this Dynasty according to Kenneth Kitchen's book on The Third Intermediate Period in Egypt. His reign is thought to have lasted perhaps Years at most due to the few contemporary documents known from his reign which include a small amount of work done on the Temple of Osiris Heqadjet, several stone blocks from Medinet Habu, a single vase and 2 fragments of a statuette at Hermopolis. He was the younger son of Osorkon III, and Takelot III's brother. Rudamun preserved the unity of his father's large kingdom from Herakleopolis to Thebes during his reign; however, soon after his death, this kingdom quickly fragmented into three local city states under rulers such as Peftjaubast of Herakleopolis, Nimlot at Hermopolis, and Ini at Thebes. Peftjaubast was the son-in-law of Rudamun.
Ini Uncertain Ini Si-Ese Meryamun was Rudamun's successor at Thebes but was not a member of his predecessor's 23rd Dynasty. He only controlled Thebes during his reign. His Fifth Year is attested in a graffito carved on the roof of the Temple of Khons.

Further reading

  • H. Jacquet Gordon, "Deux graffiti d'époque libyenne sur le toit du Temple de Khonsu à Karnak" in Hommages à la memoire de Serge Sauneron, 1927-1976 (Cairo: 1979), pp.169-74.
  • K.A. Kitchen, The Third Intermediate Period in Egypt (c.1100--650 BC), 3rd ed., Warminster: 1996

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