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Late Period
(664 - 332 BC)
26th Dynasty 27th Dynasty 28th Dynasty
29th Dynasty 30th Dynasty 31st Dynasty
26th Dynasty
(664 - 525 BC)
Assyrians then adopted an overlordship policy with Egypt. Ashurbanipal had appointed Nekau I (a.k.a Necho I) as king of Sais and Psamtik I, Nekau's son, as king of Athribis (both cities are in Delta).
After Nekau's death, Psamtik I (a.k.a. Psammetichus I) (r. 664 - 610) was confirmed to rule Egypt by Assyrians.

Assyrians invade Egypt
Typical art style of Assyrians
image 2004 ©
Psamtik's era was a start of a renewed prosperity in Egypt.
He could unite Egypt and free it from Assyrians, after which he took Sais as his capital. Psamtik reigned as king for half a century in which Egypt restored stability and great deal of its past wealth. Now art and architecture have good environment to flourish once again. Economy also regained its heydays.

Now Assyria's collapse was very close due to internal problems. Psamtik realized that some rival civilizations like those of Babylonians, Medes and Scythians could be more dangerous to Egypt than the Assyrians themselves. So he decided to help the Assyrians but it was too late as the Babylonian army captured Nineveh, Capital of Assyria in 612.

In Egypt Nekau II (Necho II) (r. 610 - 595) succeeded his father Psamtik I. He marched to meet the Babylonian army but was blocked by the Judah kingdom's army led by Josiah. Josiah was defeated and killed in the battle at Megiddo, as narrated by the bible (Nekau is called nechoh here):

"[28] Now the rest of the acts of Josiah, and all that he did, are they not written in the book of the chronicles of the kings of Judah?
[29] In his days Pharaoh-nechoh king of Egypt went up against the king of Assyria to the river Euphrates: and king Josiah went against him; and he slew him at Megiddo, when he had seen him.
[30] And his servants carried him in a chariot dead from Megiddo, and brought him to Jerusalem, and buried him in his own sepulchre. And the people of the land took Jehoahaz the son of Josiah, and anointed him, and made him king in his father's stead.
[31] Jehoahaz was twenty and three years old when he began to reign; and he reigned three months in Jerusalem. And his mother's name was Hamutal, the daughter of Jeremiah of Libnah.
[32] And he did that which was evil in the sight of the LORD, according to all that his fathers had done.
[33] And Pharaoh-nechoh put him in bands at Riblah in the land of Hamath, that he might not reign in Jerusalem; and put the land to a tribute of an hundred talents of silver, and a talent of gold.
[34] And Pharaoh-nechoh made Eliakim the son of Josiah king in the room of Josiah his father, and turned his name to Jehoiakim, and took Jehoahaz away: and he came to Egypt, and died there.
[35] And Jehoiakim gave the silver and the gold to Pharaoh; but he taxed the land to give the money according to the commandment of Pharaoh: he exacted the silver and the gold of the people of the land, of every one according to his taxation, to give it unto Pharaoh-nechoh.
[36] Jehoiakim was twenty and five years old when he began to reign; and he reigned eleven years in Jerusalem. And his mother's name was Zebudah, the daughter of Pedaiah of Rumah.
[37] And he did that which was evil in the sight of the LORD, according to all that his fathers had done." (2Kgs.23: 28-37)

Nekau met the Babylonians and defeated them but few years later he met them again and lost ground before them in 605 BC. Nekau, thereinafter, decided to return to Egypt and consider seriously upgrading his army and so he reinforced his fleet in the Mediterranean Sea:

"And the king of Egypt came not again any more out of his land: for the king of Babylon had taken from the river of Egypt unto the river Euphrates all that pertained to the king of Egypt." (2Kgs.24: 7)

One of his biggest achievements is the canal he dug to link between the Nile and the Red Sea.
Nekau's son, Psamtik II (Psammetichus II) (r. 595 - 589) succeeded him and ruled for 6 years. He marched in NubiaWhat does it mean? as far as the third cataractWhat does it mean?.
Psamtik II's son, Wahibre (Apries), succeeded him and maintained the same policies of his father especially towards Palestine.
Wahibre (r. 589 - 570) was deeply involved in wars in Phoenicia. He supported Jerusalem against Babylonia but the former was seized in 587 BC. Wahibre received Jews who fled to Egypt.

Locally, the society was on the verge of unrest, as foreign mercenaries were granted special privileges at the expense of Egyptians. The army needed to be untied under a strong leadership to face different dangers. An army general called Ahmose II (Amasis) was chosen for this task.
A civil war erupted between Wahibre who was aided by Greek mercenaries and Ahmose II aided by the army. Wahibre died in the insurrection and Ahmose II rose in his place.
Ahmose II (r. 570 - 526), in attempts to contain the interracial conflicts, developed a special trade zone of Greek nature in Naukratis in the Delta to segregate them from people. He also forged trade with the Mediterranean nations, especially with the Greeks.

While on the eastern front there were Babylonian activities, a new power rose from Persia. The Persians carried out wars against Greeks. They were eyeing then targeting Egypt.
At that time King Psamtik III (Psammetichus) (r. 526 - 525) ascended the Egyptian throne and shortly after his takeover found himself facing the Persian attack.
He was defeated at Pelusium at the eastern gateway of Egypt and so he fled to Memphis where he was captured and moved to the Persian capital, Susa. It is said that he was well treated there but anyway he finally committed suicide.

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