Ankhefenmut adores the royal name of pharaoh Siamun in this doorway lintel.
|Reign||986–967 BC (21st Dynasty)|
|Predecessor||Osorkon the Elder|
Neterkheperre or Netjerkheperre-setepenamun Siamun was the sixth pharaoh of Egypt during the Twenty-first dynasty. He built extensively in Lower Egypt for a king of the Third Intermediate Period and is regarded as one of the most powerful rulers of this Dynasty after Psusennes I. Siamun's prenomen, Netjerkheperre-Setepenamun, means "Like a God is The Manifestation of Re, Chosen of Amun" while his name means 'son of Amun.'
Very little is known of the family relationships of Siamun. In 1999, Chris Bennett made a case for a Queen Karimala known from an inscription in the temple of Semna being the daughter of Osorkon the Elder. She is called both 'King's Daughter" and "King's Wife". Her name suggests she may have been Libyan, which would fit in with her being the daughter of Osorkon the Elder (Manetho's Osochor). Given the date of the inscription (a year 14), she might have been the queen of either king Siamun or king Psusennes II. Bennett prefers a marriage to Siamun, because in that case she could have taken over the position of Viceroy of Kush Neskhons as a religious figurehead in Nubia after the death of the latter in year 5 of king Siamun. What is more, a marriage to her might explain how Siamun, an Egyptian, judging by his nomen, came to succeed a clearly Libyan Osochor.
Siamun was erroneously credited with a reign of only 9 Years by Manetho, a figure which is now universally amended to 19 Years by all scholars on the basis of a Year 17 the first month of Shemu day [lost] inscription in fragment 3B, lines 3-5 dated to pharaoh Siamun from the Karnak Priestly Annals. It records the induction of Hori, son of Nespaneferhor into the Priesthood at Karnak. This date was a lunar Tepi Shemu feast day. Based on the calculation of this lunar Tepi Shemu feast, Year 17 of Siamun has been shown by the German Egyptologist Rolf Krauss to be equivalent to 970 BC. Hence, Siamun would have taken the throne about 16 years earlier in 986 BC. A stela dated to Siamun's Year 16 records a land-sale between some minor priests of Ptah at Memphis.
The Year 17 inscription is an important palaeographical development because it is the first time in Egyptian recorded history that the word pharaoh was employed as a title and linked directly to a king's royal name: as in Pharaoh Siamun here. Henceforth, references to Pharaoh Psusennes II (Siamun's successor), Pharaoh Shoshenq I, Pharaoh Osorkon I, and so forth become commonplace. Prior to Siamun's reign and all throughout the Middle and New Kingdom, the word pharaoh referred only to the office of the king.
According to the French Egyptologist Nicolas Grimal, Siamun doubled the size of the Temple of Amun at Tanis and initiated various works at the Temple of Horus at Mesen. He also built at Heliopolis and at Piramesse where a surviving stone block bears his name. Siamun constructed and dedicated a new temple to Amun at Memphis with 6 stone columns and doorways which bears his royal name. Finally, he bestowed numerous favours onto the Memphite Priests of Ptah. In Upper Egypt, he generally appears eponymously on a few Theban monuments although Siamun's High Priest of Amun at Thebes, Pinedjem II, organised the removal and re-burial of the New Kingdom royal mummies from the Valley of the Kings in several hidden mummy caches at Deir El-Bahari Tomb DB320 for protection from looting. These activities are dated from Year 1 to Year 10 of Siamun's reign.
One fragmentary but well known surviving triumphal relief scene from the Temple of Amun at Tanis depicts an Egyptian pharaoh smiting his enemies with a mace. The king's name is explicitly given as [(Neterkheperre Setepenamun) Siamun, beloved of Am(un)] in the relief and there can be no doubt that this person was Siamun as the eminent British Egyptologist, Kenneth Kitchen stresses in his book, On the Reliability of the Old Testament. Siamun appears here "in typical pose brandishing a mace to strike down prisoners(?) now lost at the right except for two arms and hands, one of which grasps a remarkable double-bladed ax by its socket." The writer observes that this double bladed axe or 'halbread' has a flared crescent shaped blade which is close in form to the Aegean influenced double axe but is quite distinct from the Palestinian/Canaanite double headed axe which has a different shape that resembles an X. Thus, Kitchen concludes Siamun's foes were the Philistines who were descendants of the Aegean based Sea Peoples and that Siamun was commemorating his recent victory over them at Gezer by depicting himself in a formal battle scene relief at the Temple in Tanis. More recently Paul S Ash has put forward a detailed argument that Siamun's relief portrays a fictitious battle. He points out that in Egyptian reliefs Philistines are never shown holding an axe, and that there is no archaeological evidence for Philistines using axes. He also argues that there is nothing in the relief to connect it with Philistia or the Levant.
Under Siamun, Egypt embarked upon an active foreign policy and he is most probably the Pharaoh who formed an alliance with the new ruler of Israel, King Solomon against the Philistines. Solomon, the son of David, had just assumed power around 971 or 970 BC which was certainly around the middle of Siamun's reign. As part of the arrangements within this Egyptian-Israelite alliance, the Egyptian king attacked and laid waste the Philistine city of Gezer in part to safeguard Egypt's commercial ties with Phoenicia—something which the Philistines were threatening—and also to take advantage of the Philistines' momentary weakness after King David's series of Biblical wars against their state. Solomon, for his part, was then permitted to permanently secure his kingdom's southern borders by occupying Gezer, which henceforth, remained a part of Ancient Israel. The alliance was consecrated by a royal marriage between Solomon and a daughter of the Egyptian king.
Identification with the destruction of Gezer
The only mention in the Bible of a Pharaoh who might be Siamun is "Pharaoh King of Egypt had come up and captured Gezer; he destroyed it by fire, killed the Canaanites who dwelt in the town, and gave it as dowry to his daughter, Solomon's wife. As shown above, Kenneth Kitchen believes that Siamun conquered Gezer and gave it to Solomon. Others such as Paul S. Ash and Mark W. Chavalas disagree, and Chavalas states that "it is impossible to conclude which Egyptian monarch ruled concurrently with David and Solomon". Professor Edward Lipinski argues that Gezer, then unfortified, was destroyed late in the 10th century (and thus not contemporary with Solomon) and that the most likely Pharaoh was Shoshenq I. "The attempt at relating the destruction of Gezer to the hypothetical relationship between Siamun and Solomon cannot be justified factually, since Siamun's death precedes Solomon's accession."
Although Siamun's original royal tomb has never been located, scholars believe that he is one of "two completely decayed mummies in the antechamber of NRT-III (Psusennes I's tomb)" on the basis of ushabtis found on them which bore this king's name. Siamun's original tomb may have been inundated by the Nile which compelled a reburial of this king in Psusennes I's tomb.
- Peter Clayton, Chronology of the Pharaohs, Thames & Hudson Ltd, 1994. p.174
-  21st Dynasty
- Chris Bennett, Queen Karimala, Daughter of Osochor? GM 173 (1999), pp.7-8
- Chris Bennett, Queen Karimala, Daughter of Osochor? GM 173 (1999), p.8
- K.A. Kitchen, The Third Intermediate Period in Egypt [TIPE] (1100–650 BC) 3rd ed., Warminster: Aris & Phillips Ltd, p.423
- Kitchen, TIPE, p.278
- Erik Hornung, Rolf Krauss & David Warburton (editors), Handbook of Ancient Egyptian Chronology (Handbook of Oriental Studies), Brill: 2006, p.474
- Hornung, Krauss & Warburton, op. cit., p.493
- Kitchen, TIPE, p.279
- Nicolas Grimal, A History of Ancient Egypt, Blackwell Books: 1992, pp.318
- Grimal, p.318
- Kitchen, TIPE, pp.422-423
- K.A. Kitchen, On the Reliability of the Old Testament [OROT], William B. Erdmans Publishing, 2003. p.109
- Kitchen, OROT, pp.109 & p.526
- Kitchen, OROT, pp.109-110
- Ash, Paul S (November 1999). David, Solomon and Egypt: A Reassessment (JSOT Supplement). Sheffield Academic Press. pp. 38–46. ISBN 978-1-84127-021-0.
- I Kings 9:16
- Chavalas, Mark W. (Spring 2001). "Review of David, Solomon and Egypt: A Reassessment by Paul S. Ash". Journal of Biblical Literature 120 (1): 152–152. doi:10.2307/3268603.
- Lipinski, Edward (2006). On the Skirts of Canaan in the Iron Age(Orientalia Lovaniensia Analecta). Leuven, Belgium: Peeters. pp. 96–97. ISBN 978-90-429-1798-9.
- Bill Manley (ed.), "The missing tombs of Tanis" in The Seventy Great Mysteries of Ancient Egypt, Thames & Hudson Ltd. p.97
- Manley, p.97