The victory stela of King Psamtik II, 584 -525 BC.

  • _The victory stela of King Psamtik II is constructed of red granite and was discovered in 1964 at Shellal, near Assuan.16 The stela is also believed to be a duplicate of a previously discovered stela of Psamtik II found at Karnak.17 The stela records the Nubian campaign, believed to be a mission to erase the names of the Nubian rulers from Egyptian history.18 Other sources detailing the campaign can be found in the works of Herodotus, a fragmentary stela found in 1937 at Tanis and from graffiti on the colossi of Ramses II at Abu Simbel by Psamtik II‟s foreign mercenaries.19 Like the victory stela of King Piye, Psamtik II also gives dates of the account; „Year 3, 2d month of summer, day 10 under the majesty of Horus: Menekhib; King of Upper and Lower_
  • Egypt.‟20 This, however, is as far as the similarities go. Whilst Piye‟s stela was more informative and detailed of the events, Psamtik II‟s purely is a statement of victory; a victory that it appears was at the hands of his army and not that of his own. „His majesty was roaming the marshes at lake Neferibre …‟21 The stela describes the 13 14 Lichtheim 1980, 75. Lichtheim 1980, 76–9. 15 Lichtheim 1980, 67. 16 Lichtheim 1980, 84. 17 Lichtheim 1980, 84. 18 Lichtheim 1980, 84. 19 Lichtheim 1980, 84. 20 Lichtheim 1980, 85. 21 Lichtheim 1980, 85. 3 CLE114 638801 campaign as a success but that of a violent and gruesome nature. „“One waded in their blood as in water. Not one bound pair escaped of the 4,200 captives. A successful deed has been done!”‟22 Again whilst this appears historic in the events detailed, it is once again propagandistic. The destruction of Nubian monuments and the erasures of the Nubian rulers‟ names are evident of the conquest‟s success but at the same time one ponders why the southern border of Egypt did not extend further south of Elephantine if Psamtik II had destroyed the Nubians? One believes that since the Nubian power simply moved from Napata to Meroe, that the stela is written to portray Psamtik II as a warrior king, as a propagandistic text. This very much reflects that of the inscriptions of Ramses II depicting his „victory‟ over the Hittites at the battle of Qadesh. The inscriptions detailing the events of the battle of Qadesh are recorded in two accounts: the Bulletin and the Poem. 23 They are inscribed on the walls of many temples: Abydos, temple of Amon-Re at Karnak, Luxor, the Ramesseum, and Abu Simbel.24 The Poem is an epic poem written in the form of a narrative; a genre not found in Egypt.25 „The battle of Qadesh … is one of the most famous armed conflicts of antiquity, perhaps not so much because it was significantly different from earlier battles, but because Ramses, despite the fact that he was unable to achieve his goals, presented it at home as a huge victory described at large in lengthy compositions, which, in a propaganda campaign of unprecedented proportions, were carved on the walls of major temples.‟26 In the fifth year of Ramses II‟s reign,27 a campaign was led against the Hittite army. However, the accounts of the events are different from that of the actual events. Ramses‟ army was divided into four 22 23 Lichtheim 1980, 85. Lichtheim 1976, 57. 24 Grimal 1998, 253. 25 Lichtheim 1976, 58–9. 26 Van Dijk 2000, 297. 27 Lichtheim 1976, 57. 4 CLE114 638801 divisions; Amun, Re, Ptah and Seth.28 Ramses was led to believe that the Hittite army had retreated to „the land of Kaleb to the north of Tunip‟29 when in fact the army was awaiting the Egyptians at Qadesh.30 Ramses led the Amun division into battle, leaving behind the other divisions to catch up.31 The Re regiments was then attacked by a Hittite ambush and scattered, suffering incredible loss.32 When news got to Ramses, he engaged in battle with the Hittites and was later joined by the rest of his army.33 After suffering a great defeat, Ramses managed to reduce the Hittite army substantially. 34 However, there was no victor to the battle. Ramses rejected the offer of a peace offer but a truce was agreed, and Ramses returned to Egypt boasting a victory for Egypt.35 However, within the Bulletin, only a brief recollection of the Hittites‟ trap is mentioned, „“Where is he, the Foe from Khatti? I have heard he is in the land of Kaleb to the north of Tunip.” … “they stand equipped and ready to fight behind Kadesh the Old.”‟36 The biggest piece of propagandistic text appears dominantly in both inscriptions is Ramses, with the power of the gods, single-handedly defeated the Hittite army, „His majesty slaughtered them in their places; they sprawled before his horses; and his majesty was alone, none other with him.‟37 The Poem even states, „My majesty paused in valor and victory, having felled hundred thousands by my strong arm.‟38 Throughout the Bulletin, Ramses never states any other name other than that of his own. For instance, the Hittite King Muwatalli is only ever referred to as „the Foe of Khatti.‟39 This is a literary technique to immortalise Ramses‟ name within his victory inscriptions but in a sense 28 29 Lichtheim 1976, 57. Lichtheim 1976, 60. 30 Lichtheim 1976, 61. 31 Van Dijk 2000, 298. 32 Van Dijk 2000, 298. 33 Van Dijk 2000, 298. 34 Van Dijk 2000, 298. 35 Van Dijk 2000, 298. 36 Lichtheim 1976, 61. 37 Lichtheim 1976, 62. 38 Lichtheim 1976, 70. 39 Lichtheim 1976, 61. 5 CLE114 638801 removes Muwatalli‟s name from historical records. Ramses even claims victory within the Poem, stating that Muwatalli presents Khatti to him, „As for the land of Egypt and the land of Khatti, they are your servant, under your feet.‟40 This is very much a propagandistic text. Whilst there is still historical evidence to support the events that occurred, Ramses has emphasised his role and the events which took place in order to portray a victory as opposed to a near military defeat. The adoption stela of Ankhnesneferibre, constructed out of alabaster, was discovered in 1904 at Karnak.41 Ankhnesneferibre was a god‟s wife of Amun who held office from 584 BC to 525 BC.42 The stela records the adoption of Ankhnesneferibre to Nitocris, daughter of Psamtik II, and hence her subsequent entitlement to the title of god‟s wife of Amun. 43 The stela details Ankhnesneferibre‟s birth and parentage as well as her assent to her role.44 „Year I, third month of Shomu, day 29 under the majesty of the Horus Menekh-ib, the Two Ladies User-aa, the Horus of Gold Snefer-tawy, the King of Upper and Lower Egypt Neferibre, the son of Re Psammetichus, given life.‟45 It details her father‟s death and brother‟s assent to the throne, „Then his son was caused to appear on his throne, the Horus Wah-ib, the Two Ladies Neb-khepesh, the Horus of Gold, Sewadj-tawy, the King of Upper and Lower Egypt, Haaibre, the son of Re, Wahibre, may he live‟46 as well as the death of Nitocris.47 Manuelian, according to Leahy, states that he includes this text among the „Saite secular royal‟ inscriptions.48 Because of the purely factual basis of this stela it is a great way to forge comparison between that of propagandistic and historical inscriptions. With the adoption 40 41 Lichtheim 1976, 71. Leahy 1996, 145–7. 42 Grimal 1998, 361. 43 Leahy 1996, 145. 44 Leahy 1996, 148. 45 Leahy 1996, 148. 46 Leahy 1996, 148. 47 Leahy 1996, 148. 48 Leahy 1996, 154. 6 CLE114 638801 stela, only facts, chronology of dates and references to names are ever mentioned, there is no need to emphasis the event being transcribed as it does not need to be seen as favourable propaganda but purely as a record. Whereas with the victory stelae and propagandistic campaigns, they felt the need to emphasis their events to make them appear better rulers. In comparison, propagandistic texts can be used to reconstruct history as they do contain factual information, such as dates and names allowing Egyptologists to link people with time periods and the extent of their rules at that moment of time, but one has to read with precision as they are manipulated and biased and not entirely factual. Whereas, documents like that of the adoption stela is far better evidence for reconstructing historical events as it contains nothing but factual records and are therefore more historically accurate. 7 CLE114 638801 Bibliography Grimal, N. 1998. A History of Ancient Egypt. London: Blackwell Publishing, 250–7, 361. Leahy, A. 1996. The Journal of Egyptian Archaeology, Vol. 82, Egypt Exploration Society, 145–156. Lichtheim, M., 1976, Ancient Egyptian Literature : The New Kingdom, vol. II, University of California Press, 57–72. Lichtheim, M., 1980, Ancient Egyptian Literature : The Late Period, vol. III, University of California Press, 66–80, 84–6. Van Dijk, J., 2000. The Armana Period and the later New Kingdom. In Shaw, I. (ed.) The Oxford History of Ancient Egypt. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 297–8. Word Count: 1973 8