Academic journal article The Journal of the American Oriental Society

The Egyptian Eastern Border Region in Assyrian Sources

Academic journal article The Journal of the American Oriental Society

The Egyptian Eastern Border Region in Assyrian Sources

Article excerpt

The Assyrian accounts of the Egyptian expeditions of Esarhaddon in 673 and 671 B.C. and of those of Assurbanipal in 667 and 663 mention some toponyms that can be located in the Egyptian eastern border region.(1) The Assyrian army passed by or waged war near these localities, or the new authorities installed their own officials or confirmed the local kings in their function.

In the early spring of 673 the Assyrian king Esarhaddon attacked Egypt, but his army was beaten.(2) No geographical details are known about this expedition. In the spring of 671 the invasion succeeded. Esarhaddon crossed the Brook of Egypt and marched from Raphia across the northern Sinai into Egypt, but his exact itinerary is not clear.(3) He apparently crossed the Egyptian border, bypassed a town called Magdali and then reached Ishupri, somewhere in the eastern Delta, where he won a first battle. A second battle was fought somewhere between Ishupri and Memphis. He defeated the Egyptian army for a third time probably near Memphis and finally captured the city itself. Before leaving the country Esarhaddon appointed officials in several cities and confirmed local kinglets in their position, including Necho of Memphis and Sais, Sarruludari of Si nu (Tanis), Pisanhuru of Nathu (Natho), Pakruru of Pisaptu (Pr-Spdw), []au of Hathiribi (Athribis), and Nahke of Hininsi (Herakleous Polis magna), so controlling the Delta and the northern part of Middle Egypt. This list of Egyptian kinglets is preserved in Prism C, while the elaborate list of Prism A is probably a combination of the list of kings appointed by Esarhaddon in 671 and another list of kings appointed by Assurbanipal after the revolt of 667. At least twelve cities acquired new Assyrian names, but only Kar-belmatati and Limir-isak-Assur can be identified, respectively, as Sais and Athribis; of the other ten places only Kar-Baniti is known from other sources.

Possibly because of problems with Necho and Sarruludari, Esarhaddon was forced to return to Egypt in 669, but he fell ill on the journey and died in the autumn of that year.(4) Esarhaddon was succeeded by Assurbanipal and the Ethiopian king Taharqa took advantage of the situation to invade Lower Egypt. Probably in 667 Assurbanipal's troops marched as far as the town of Kar-Baniti.(5) Taharqa sent out his troops from Memphis, but they were defeated in an open battle. He was pursued south by the Assyrian army and by some Egyptian allies, including apparently Pisanhuru of Natho. In the meantime Necho of Sais, Sarruludari of Tanis, Pakruru of Pr-Spdw, and perhaps some other kinglets, plotted with Taharqa against the Assyrians. The conspiracy was discovered and the Assyrian army slaughtered the inhabitants of Sais, Bintiti (Mendes), and Tanis. Sarruludari and Necho were arrested and brought to Nineveh. In at least nineteen cities, ranging from the Delta to Thebes, Assurbanipal installed local kings as his governors. Necho was forgiven and reinstated in Sais, while his son Nabushezibanni (Psammetichos I) was installed in Athribis. In 664 the Ethiopian king Tanoutamon, who had succeeded Taharqa, invaded Egypt and overcame the Delta kinglets in a battle. Necho was probably slain there and, according to the Egyptian stele of Tanoutamon, it was P -qrr (Pakruru) of Pr-Spdw who was the spokesman of the kinglets at their surrender. The Assyrians invaded Egypt again, drove the Ethiopians from Memphis and Thebes and sacked this city about 663.6

Of the many Egyptian toponyms mentioned in the Assyrian sources of this period only Tanis and Pr-Spdw, perhaps Magdali, and probably also the unidentified Ishupri and Kar-Baniti are situated in the eastern Delta. Despite several attempts at identification, Tcharou (Sile) or Pelousion are not mentioned in the Assyrian documents and no urban occupation is known in the northern Sinai in the early seventh century.


The Esarhaddon Chronicle mentions an expedition to Sa-amie (uruSa-[amile. …

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