Shebitku donation stela, depicting the pharaoh making an offering to Horus of Phabaitos.
|Pharaoh of Egypt|
|Reign||707/706–690 BC, 25th dynasty|
Shebitku (or Shabatka) was the third king of the Twenty-fifth dynasty of Egypt who ruled from 707/706 BC-690 BC, according to Dan'el Kahn's most recent academic research of the Tang-i Var inscription. Shebitku was the nephew and successor of Shabaka. He was a son of Piye, the founder of this dynasty. Shebitku's prenomen or throne name, Djedkare, means "Enduring is the Soul of Re."
In 1999, an Egypt-Assyrian synchronism from the Great Inscription of Tang-i Var in Iran was re-discovered and re-analysed. Carved by Sargon II of Assyria (722-705 BC), the inscription dates to the period around 707/706 BC and reveals that it was Shebitku, king of Egypt, who extradited the rebel king Iamanni of Ashdod into Sargon's hands, rather than Shabaka as previously thought. The pertinent section of the inscription by Sargon II reads:
|“||"(19) I (scil. Sargon) plundered the city of Ashdod, Iamani, its king, feared [my weapons] and...He fled to the region of the land of Meluhha and lived (there) stealthfully (literally:like a thief). (20) Shapataku' (Shebitku) king of the land of Meluhha, heard of the mig[ht] of the gods Ashur, Nabu (and) Marduk which I had [demonstrated] over all lands...(21) He put (Iamani) in manacles and handcuffs...he had him brought captive into my presence."||”|
The Tang-i Var inscription dates to Sargon's 15th year between Nisan 707 BC to Adar 706 BC. This shows that Shebitku was ruling in Egypt by April 706 BC at the very latest, and perhaps as early as November 707 BC to allow some time for Iamanni's extradition and the recording of this deed in Sargon's inscription. A suggestion that Shebitku served as Shabaka's viceroy in Nubia and that Shebitku extradited Iamanni to Sargon II during the reign of king Shabaka has been rejected by the Egyptologist Karl Jansen-Winkeln in Ancient Egyptian Chronology (Handbook of Oriental Studies), which is the most updated publication on Egyptian chronology. As Jansen-Winkeln writes:
- "there has never been the slightest hint at any form of coregency of the Nubian kings of Dynasty 25. Had Shabaka been ruler of Egypt in the year 707/706 and Shebitku [was] his "viceroy" in Nubia, one would definitely expect that the opening of diplomatic relations with Assur as well as the capture and extradation of Yamanni would have been part of Shabaka's responsibility. Sargon can also be expected to have named the regent of Egypt and senior king, rather than the distant viceroy Shebitku [in Nubia]. If, on the other hand, Shebitku was already Shabaka's successor in 707/706 [BC], the reports of the Yamani affair become clearer and make more sense. It had hitherto been assumed that the Nubian king (Shabaka) handed over Yamani more or less immediatedly after his flight to Egypt. Now it appears...certain that Yamani was only turned over to the Assyrians a couple of years later (under Shebitku instead)."
Consequently, Shebitku's reign should be dated to c.707 or 706 BC (at the very latest) to 690 BC.
The alleged coregency of Shebitku
Turin Stela 1467, which depicts Shabaka and Shebitku seated together (with Shebitku behind Shabaka) facing two other individuals across an offering table, was once considered to be clear evidence for a royal co-regency between these two Nubian kings in William Murnane's 1977 book on Ancient Egyptian Coregencies. However, the Turin Museum has subsequently acknowledged the statue to be a forgery. Robert Morkot and Stephen Quirke who analysed the stela in a 2001 article, also confirmed that the object is a forgery which cannot be used to postulate a possible coregency between Shabaka and Shebitku.
Secondly, Shebitku's Year 3, 1st month of Shemu day 5 inscription in Nile Level Text Number 33 has been assumed to record a coregency between Shabaka and Shebitku among some scholars. This Nile text records Shebitku mentioning his appearing (xai) in Thebes as king in the temple of Amun at Karnak where "Amun gave him the crown with two uraei like Horus on the throne of Re" thereby legitimising his kingship. Jürgen von Beckerath argued in a GM 136 (1993) article that the inscription recorded both the official coronation of Shebitku and the very first appearance of the king himself in Egypt after comparing this inscription with Nile Level Text No.30 from Year 2 of Shebitku when Shabaka conquered all of Egypt. If correct, this would demonstrate that Shebitku had truly served as a coregent to Shabaka for 2 years.
Kenneth Kitchen, however, observes that the "verb xai (or appearance) applies to any official 'epiphany' or official manifestation of the king to his 'public appearances'." Kitchen also stresses that the period around the first month of Shemu days 1-5 marked the date of a Festival of Amun-Re at Karnak which is well attested during the New Kingdom Period, the 22nd Dynasty and through to the Ptolemaic period. Hence, in the third Year of Shebitku, this Feast to Amun evidently coincided with both the Inundation of the Nile and a personal visit by Shebitku to the Temple of Amun "but we have no warrant whatever for assuming that Shebitku...remained uncrowned for 2 whole years after his accession." William Murnane also endorsed this interpretation by noting that Shebitku's Year 3 Nile Text "need not refer to an accession or coronation at all. Rather, it seems simply to record an 'appearance' of Shebitku in the temple of Amun during his third year and to acknowledge the god's influence in securing his initial appearance as king." In other words, Shebitku was already king of Egypt and the purpose of his visit to Karnak was to receive and record for posterity the god Amun's official legitimization of his reign. Therefore, the evidence for a possible coregency between Shabaka and Shebitku is illusory at present.
Dan'el Kahn also carefully considered but rejected arguments against a division of the 25th dynasty kingdom under Shabaka's reign with Shabaka ruling in Lower and Upper Egypt and Shebitku, acting as Shabaka's junior coregent or viceroy, in Nubia in an important 2006 article. Kahn notes that there was always only one Nubian king ruling over all of the 25th dynasty's domain including both Egypt and Nubia and that problems of communication and control "did not hinder the kushite king to be the supreme ruler of this vast territory." Kahn stresses that the Great Triumphal stela of Piye indicates it took only 39 days to travel by boat from Napata to Thebes while the Nitocris Adoption stela shows that "the time to travel the distance between Memphis (or possibly Tanis) and Thebes by boat (c.700 km or more for Tanis) is 16 days."
During Shebitku's reign, there was initially a policy of conciliation with Assyria which was marked by the formal extradition of Iamanni back into Sargon II's hands. After Sargon II's death, however, Shebitku appears to have adopted a different policy by actively resisting any new Assyrian expansion into Canaan under Sargon's son and successor Sennacherib. A stela from Kawa relates that Shebitku asked his 'brothers', including Taharqa, to travel north to Thebes from Nubia. The Nubian army travelled along with Taharqa presumably to fight the Assyrians at the Battle of Eltekh in 701 BC. Another stela records that when Jerusalem was under attack by the Assyrians, the king of Kush marched against Sennacherib. Shebitku joined in the resistance against Sennacherib and an Egyptian army was sent to Palestine, led by Shebitku's brother, Prince Taharqa. Shebitku also completed the decoration of the Temple of Osiris Heqadjet in Thebes during his reign. The Temple had been constructed under Osorkon III. The decorations are notable for proving that Osorkon III's daughter, Shepenupet I was still the serving God's Wife of Amun at Karnak and had outlived her two brothers Takelot III and Rudamun by at least three full decades. In 690 BC, Shebitku died and was succeeded by Taharqa, his younger brother.
- R. Krauss and D.A. Warburton, "Chronological Table for the Dynastic Period" in Erik Hornung, Rolf Krauss & David Warburton (editors), Ancient Egyptian Chronology (Handbook of Oriental Studies), Brill, 2006. p.494
- Clayton, Peter A. Chronicle of the Pharaohs: The Reign-by-Reign Record of the Rulers and Dynasties of Ancient Egypt. Thames & Hudson. p.190. 2006. ISBN 0-500-28628-0
- Kahn, Dan'el. "The Inscription of Sargon II at Tang-i Var and the Chronology of Dynasty 25", Orientalia 70 (2001), pp.1-18
- Peter Clayton, Chronicle of the Pharaohs, Thames and Hudson Ltd, paperback 2006. p.190
- Grant Frame, "The Inscription of Sargon II at Tang-i Var," Orientalia Vol.68 (1999), pp.31-57 and pls. I-XVIII
- Robin Lane Fox, Travelling Heroes in the Epic Age of Homer, 2008:30, makes a case for Iamani to be simply "the Ionian Greek": "Ionian Greeks were sometimes written in cuneiform script as ia-am-na-a: could this usurping Iamani be a Greek? ...would Assyrian scribes be exact about the name of a lowly rebel?"
- Frame, p.40
- A. Fuchs, Die Inschriften Sargons II. aus Khorsabad (Gottingen 1994) pp.76 & 308
- Kahn, p.3
- Karl Jansen-Winkeln, "The Third Intermediate Period" in Erik Hornung, Rolf Krauss & David Warburton (editors), Ancient Egyptian Chronology (Handbook of Oriental Studies), Brill, 2006. pp.258-259
- William Murnane, Ancient Egyptian Coregencies, (SAOC 40: Chicago 1977), p.190
- R. Morkot and S. Quirke, "Inventing the 25th Dynasty: Turin stela 1467 and the construction of history", Begegnungen — Antike Kulturen im Niltal Festgabe für Erika Endesfelder, Karl-Heinz Priese, Walter Friedrich Reineke, Steffen Wenig (Leipzig 2001), pp.349–363
- L. Török, The Royal Crowns of Kush: A Study in Middle Nile Valley Regalia and Iconography in the 1st Millennia B. C. and A.D., Cambridge Monographs in African Archaeology 18 (Oxford 1987), p.4
- J. von Beckerath, "Die Nilstandsinschrift vom 3. Jahr Schebitkus am kai von Karnak," GM 136 (1993), pp. 7-9
- Kenneth A. Kitchen, The Third Intermediate Period in Egypt (1100–650 BC) [TIPE], 3rd edition, 1986, Warminster: Aris & Phillips Ltd, p.170
- Kitchen, TIPE, p.170
- Kitchen, TIPE, p.171
- Murnane, Coregencies, p.189
- Kahn, Dan'el., Divided Kingdom, Co-regency, or Sole Rule in the Kingdom(s) of Egypt-and-Kush?, Egypt and Levant 16 (2006), pp.275-291 online PDF
- Kahn, Egypt and Levant 16, p.290
- Kahn, Egypt and Levant 16, p.290 Kahn cites RA Caminos, The Nitocris Stela, JEA 50 (1964), pp.81-84 for the Nitocris stela evidence
|Pharaoh of Egypt
707/706 BC – 690 BC