Shoshenq

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For the fictitious Maine state prison, see Shawshank.

Shoshenq (also commonly spelled Sheshonq, Sheshonk, Shoshenk) is the name given in English transcription to a number of Egyptian pharaohs of Libyan origin who ruled during the Third Intermediate Period.

22nd Dynasty

A number of other kings named "Shoshenq" have been proposed as well, though their acceptance by Egyptologists is varied. The only certainly attested king in this category is Shoshenq VI who was Pedubast I's successor at Thebes. His royal name was 'Usermaatre Meryamun Shoshenq.' Shoshenq VI's Year 4 and Year 6 are attested in an inscription at the Temple of Monthu at Karnak and in Nile Quay Text No.25 respectively. In addition to the various kings named Shoshenq, there were important state officials including High Priests bearing the same name from the Third Intermediate Period to the Ptolemaic Period. One of the most important of these people was the High Priest of Amun Shoshenq C, son of Osorkon I, who served in office during his father's reign at Thebes.

The Renderings of Shoshenq in English[edit]

Because vowels are not generally written in the ancient Egyptian language, the exact pronunciation of this name has caused some amount of controversy, and it is common to see both Shoshenq and Sheshonq used in English-language publications. There is, however, some evidence indicating that Shoshenq is preferable.

First of all, it must be stated that the name "Shoshenq" originates in an ancient Libyco-Berber language, perhaps related to the Numidian Berber language used during the time of the Roman Empire. Unfortunately, unlike some other Libyan rulers of Ancient Egypt, there is no name in the corpus of Old Libyco-Berber text that might be an equivalent to the Egyptian rendering of the name.

In the ancient Egyptian language, the name was generally written (with variants):

SA
SA
n
q

Egyptologists conventionally transliterate this as ššnq. In ancient Egyptian texts, writings without the [n] and/or (less commonly) the [q] are not uncommon. For example, the name is recorded in the Neo-Assyrian dialect of Akkadian as šusanqu and susinqu, indicating an initial rounded vowel. It is generally considered that the evidence suggests rendering it as "Sheshonq" should be avoided, in favour of "Shoshenq". See also Kitchen [1996], §58, note 356.

The writings of Manetho, as recorded by the Byzantine historians Sextus Julius Africanus, Eusebius of Caesarea, and George Syncellus use two general forms (with variations depending on the manuscript). Africanus spells the name Σεσωγχις [Sesōnkhis], while Eusebius (as quoted by George Syncellus) uses Σεσογχωσις [Sesonkhōsis]. The alteration in the vowels [o] and [e] is probably due to metathesis.

Sources[edit]

  • Dodson, Aidan M. 1995. “Rise & Fall of The House of Shoshenq: The Libyan Centuries of Egyptian History.” KMT: A Modern Journal of Ancient Egypt 6 (3):52–67.
  • Von Beckerath, J. [1997]. Chronologie des Pharaonischen Ägypten, Mainz: Philip Von Zabern.