Sphinx of pharaoh Nepherites I in the Louvre Museum
|Reign||398–393 BC (29th Dynasty)|
|Died||393 BC |
King Nepherites I, or Nefaarud I, was an Egyptian pharaoh and founder of the Twenty-ninth dynasty of Egypt. Ruling during the Late Period, he was one of the country's last native rulers. Nepherites was a native of Mendes, where he also made his capital and burial place. He ruled Egypt from 398 BC to 393 BC.
The fact that Nepherites I bears the same Horus name as Psamtik I and the Gold Horus name of Ahmose II is thought to demonstrate that he wanted to associate his rule with an earlier 'golden age' of Egyptian history.
In foreign affairs, he resumed the policy of Egyptian intervention in the Middle East. He supported Sparta in its war against the Persians; the Spartans had conquered Cyprus and Rhodes and were attempting to extend their influence further east. Nepherites supplied the Spartans with 500,000 measures of grain and material for 100 triremes.
Building projects and monuments
There has been evidence of Nepherites's building work found in a number of locations across Egypt. A statue of him is known from Buto. Nepherites is attested in Middle and Upper Egypt by a chapel at Akoris and a naos at Sohag among other construction projects at Saqqara and Karnak.
Apart from a small number of ushabtis, the only known representation of Nepherites is a basalt sphinx, now located in the Louvre. The sphinx was known to have been brought to Europe as early as the 16th Century, having adorned a fountain at the Villa Borghese, Rome.
A tomb believed to be that of Nepherites was discovered by a joint team from the University of Toronto and the University of Washington in 1992-93. Possible ownership of the tomb was identified by the presence of a shabti bearing the name of Nepherites I; however, definitive proof has not been found. Although still containing funerary objects and a large limestone sarcophagus, the tomb was believed to have been destroyed by the Persians in 343 BC.
Ceramic vessels containing fish specimens and fish-covered stelae have been found on the site of Nepherites's funerary complex. The presence of the fish, often interpreted as votive offerings, could be an indication that the site was previously occupied by a temple of the fish-goddess Hatmehyt.
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