Siamun on a relief, from Memphis
|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 the 21st Dynasty after Psusennes I. Siamun's prenomen, Netjerkheperre-Setepenamun, means "Divine is The Manifestation of Ra, 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 is often identified with the last king of Manetho's 21st Dynasty, "Psinaches". This king is credited with a reign of only 9 Years, which subsequently had to be amended to 9 Years on the basis of an inscription from the Karnak Priestly Annals mentioning a Year 17 of king Siamun. However, there is no real basis for interpreting the name "Psinaches" as a corruption of the name Netjerkheperre-setepenamun Siamun. Recently, it has been suggested that Manetho's "Psinaches" might rather be a reference to king Tutkheperre Shoshenq as the direct successor of Manetho's Osorkon the Elder.
The highest attested yeardate for Siamun is a Year 17 the first month of Shemu day [lost], mentioned in fragment 3B, lines 3-5 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.
Although Siamun's original royal tomb has never been located, it has been proposed 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.
Siamun and Solomon
It has been suggested that Siamun was the unnamed pharaoh of the Bible who gave in marriage his daughter to king Solomon in order to seal an alliance between the two (1Kings 3:1), and later conquered Gezer and gave it to Solomon as well (1Kings 9:16). This identification is nowadays still supported by Kitchen, but has been challenged by other scholars such as Paul S. Ash and Mark W. Chavalas, with the latter stating that "it is impossible to conclude which Egyptian monarch ruled concurrently with David and Solomon".
Edward Lipiński suggested that "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." Lipiński also argued that the then-unfortified Gezer was destroyed late in the 10th century, and that its taker was most likely pharaoh Shoshenq I of the 22nd Dynasty.
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- 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
- Norbert Dautzenberg, On the identity of King Psinaches, GM 240 (2014), 115-118
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- Kitchen, TIPE, p.279
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- Kitchen, OROT, pp.109-110
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- 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.