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African Kingdoms

Ancient Egypt


Ancient Egypt (Late Period)

Ancient Egypt was formed essentially of a narrow valley that was bordered on either side by extensive deserts. With the River Nile running through it like a ribbon, it depended on these waters for its very life and also for its transportation. The annual floods would ensure another year of food stocks, and occasional dry spells could spell famine and death. The river also connected the Mediterranean to the lands beyond Egypt, lands which were barely understood at first but which crystallised over time into Nubia and Ethiopia.

One of the oldest known civilisations in human history, the rulers of Egypt were known as pharaohs (meaning 'Great House'). They left their highly distinctive mark in countless records, including royal inscriptions, and in pyramids and tombs. Many early records from outside of Egypt are Greek in origin, so in many cases the Greek version of names are shown in parenthesis. According to Egyptians prior to the Persian invasion, their land was kmt, transliterated as Kemet, meaning the 'black land', a reference to the rich, dark soil near the Nile. The people were the 'remetch en kemet', literally meaning 'people of the black land'.

The late period runs from 732 BC and the start of the Twenty-Fourth dynasty which presaged a period of Nubian rule, through the Assyrian invasion, the Achaemenid invasion and occupation, and the subsequent Greek occupation, until Egypt became a province of Rome in 30 BC. In between the various occupations and invasions, the country witnessed the last flowering of native Egyptian rule, although in a generally weakened state that was highly prone to internecine conflict and usurpation. More recently, some scholars have started the late period at 664 BC rather than 732 BC, the date for the last departure of an Assyrian army following two invasions. However, it seems more reasonable to include that invasion in the late period together with all the others rather than divide it away.

732 - 720 BC

Twenty-Fourth (Saite) Dynasty (Egypt)
718 - 712 BC

Egypt towards the end of the Third Intermediate period and the loss of its empire was in a state of barely-governed turmoil. A number of dynasties of Libyan origin ruled, giving this period its alternative name of the 'Libyan Period'. Theoretically, many of these relatively brief dynasties were rulers of all Egypt, but in practice their influence was limited to Lower Egypt nearer the Mediterranean. A series of Meshwesh Libyans ruled Egypt from circa 943 BC until 720 BC, principally as the Twenty-Second dynasty, probably ruling from Tanis. A separate group of Libyans known as the Libu also occupied the western Delta from Sais. Tefnakht of the Libu was probably more Egyptian than Libyan, and it was he who claimed pharaonic titles to found the dynasty.

A short-lived group of pharaohs who had their capital at Sais in the western Nile Delta, the dynasty came to a sudden end. The authority of the second pharaoh was recognised in much of the Delta, including Memphis, but Shabaka, the second king of the Twenty-Fifth Dynasty, attacked Sais, captured Bakenrenef and burned him alive.

732 - 725 BC

Tefnakht / Tefnakhte

Libu chieftain. Claimed pharaonic titles.

727 BC

Piye of the Nubian Twenty-Fifth dynasty deals with a crisis in his Egyptian domains when Tefnakhte of Twenty-Fourth dynasty Sais allies himself to Nimlot of Hermopolis to besiege Peftjauawybast of Herakleopolis, a Nubian ally. The Nubian king achieves total victory at Herakleopolis before going on to capture Hermopolis and Memphis, and receive the submission of Iuput II of Leontopolis, Osorkon IV of Tanis, Nimlot at Hermopolis.


Nimlot of Hermopolis


Peftjauawybast of Herakleopolis


Iuput II of Leontopolis


Osorkon IV of Tanis

725 - 720 BC

718 - 712 BC

Bakenrenef / Bocchoris of Sais

720 BC

712 BC

Egypt is conquered by Ethiopians/Nubians.

Twenty-Fifth (Ethiopian/Nubian) Dynasty (Egypt)
732 - 656 BC

Egypt towards the end of the Third Intermediate period and the loss of its empire was in a state of barely-governed turmoil. A number of dynasties of Libyan origin ruled, giving this period its alternative name of the 'Libyan Period'. Theoretically, many of these relatively brief dynasties were rulers of all Egypt, but in practice their influence was limited to Lower Egypt nearer the Mediterranean. A series of Meshwesh Libyans ruled Egypt from circa 943 BC until 720 BC, principally as the Twenty-Second dynasty, probably ruling from Tanis. A separate group of Libyans known as the Libu also occupied the western Delta from Sais.

While the short-lived Twenty-Fourth dynasty of pharaohs attempted to dominate from Sais close to the Mediterranean as a replacement for the Libyan dynasties, Nubians from the leading city state of Napata in the kingdom of Kush (now in northern Sudan, and with perhaps Ethiopian overlordship) chose this moment to invade Upper Egypt from the south. They swiftly began to take over Egypt under Piye (spelt Piankhi in older works), while the second of their pharaohs cleared the way for their complete rule of the country. Such control was probably indirect, with local Egyptians in charge of administration. From Taharqa's reign onwards, the kings of this dynasty were often driven back into Nubia, at first by the Assyrians, then by the pharaohs of the Twenty-Sixth dynasty. Their successors settled back in Nubia, where they re-established their Kushite kingdom at Napata.

(Information by Peter Kessler, with additional information from The Complete Royal Families of Ancient Egypt, Aidan Dodson & Dyan Hilton (Thames & Hudson Ltd, 2004), from History of the Ptolemaic Empire, GŁnther HŲlbl (Routledge, 2000), and from Genealogical considerations regarding the kings of the Twenty-Fifth Dynasty in Egypt, Gerard P F Broekman (GŲttinger Miszellen No 251, Seminar fŁr ńgyptologie und Koptologie, 2017).)

732 - 721 BC

Piye / Piankhi

King of Nubia (747-721 BC).

732 BC

While the short-lived Twenty-Fourth dynasty of pharaohs attempt to dominate Egypt from Sais close to the Mediterranean, Piye (spelt Piankhi in older works) and his Nubians choose this moment to invade Upper Egypt from the south. They swiftly begin to take over all of Egypt.

MeroŽ pyramids
Never quite as grandiose as the pyramids of Giza, the Nubian pyramids of MeroŽ contain the bodies of a large number of kings, although sadly most of the structures are in ruins

727 BC

Piye deals with a crisis in his Egyptian domains when Tefnakhte of Twenty-Fourth dynasty Sais allies himself to Nimlot of Hermopolis to besiege Peftjauawybast of Herakleopolis, a Nubian ally. The Nubian king achieves total victory at Herakleopolis before going on to capture Hermopolis and Memphis, and receive the submission of Iuput II of Leontopolis, Osorkon IV of Tanis, and Nimlot of Hermopolis.

721 - 707 BC

Shebitku / Sabataka

King of Nubia (721-707 BC).

721 BC

It is Shebitku as the second of Egypt's twenty-fifth dynasty Nubian pharaohs (not the third as was previously thought) who clears the way for their complete rule of the country. The petty kings of the Nile Delta are largely defeated, including Bakenrenef of Sais to terminate the Twenty-Fourth dynasty pharaohs. That control is probably indirect, with local Egyptians in charge of administration.

707 - 690 BC

Sabaka / Shabaka

King of Nubia (707-690 BC).

690 - 670 BC

Tirhaka / Taharqa

Nephew of Sabaka. King of Nubia. Briefly expelled.

671 - 669 BC

FeatureAfter Assyrian king Sennacherib has to deal with Tirhaka in battle, his son Esarhaddon invades Egypt in a series of three campaigns and captures the capital at Memphis. A number of the petty rulers of the Nile Delta region are made vassals. Assyrian control is weak, however, and by the time of the death of Esarhaddon, Taharqa manages to regain all of Egypt. (A small statue of him is on show in the UK - see feature link.)

669 - 664 BC

Tirhaka / Taharqa

Regained Egypt.

665 - 664 BC

Assyrian king Ashurbanipal re-invades Egypt, although he is delayed by a rebellion of the Nile Delta vassals. Using an army made up of units from Syro-Palestinian vassals such as Cyprus, Edom, Judah, Moab, and Phoenicia, the Kushites are expelled. One of the Nile Delta vassals, Neko, is reinstated and given special prominence. When Assyria's army departs, the new king of Nubia, Tantamani, returns to take control.

Ancient MeroŽ
The ruins of ancient MeroŽ lie in Upper Nubia, now within Sudan - in its day it was a wealthy metropolis that stretched along the east bank of the Nile

664 - 663 BC


King of Nubia (664-653 BC).

664 - 663 BC

One of Tantamani's first acts is to kill Neko, the Assyrian vassal and the forerunner of the Twenty-Sixth dynasty pharaohs. Within a year or so, however, the Assyrians themselves return with a major attack which reaches Thebes. Nubian influence in Egypt is brought to an end.

Twenty-Sixth (Saite) Dynasty (Egypt)
672 - 525 BC

FeatureThe Saite pharaohs of the twenty-sixth dynasty were the last natives to rule Egypt before the Persian conquest (although other native dynasties followed afterwards). They had their capital at the northern city of Sais, and also founded the city of Herakleion around this time (see feature link). The country had been invaded (again) by the Assyrian empire in 663 BC, which cleared out any lingering Nubian influence of the Twenty-Fifth dynasty and made it possible for this wholly Egyptian dynasty to arise and, soon afterwards, expel any remaining invaders.

FeatureFollowing the final fall of the Assyrian empire at the end of the seventh century BC, Saite Egypt (see feature link) attempted to reassert its former control in the Near East. Times had changed though. Egypt was not the near-unopposed great power it had once been and it found its forces being driven back by the Neo-Babylonians. They were prevented from entering Egypt itself, though, not quite strong enough to make that final push. However, the Persian empire swept away all before it, Babylonians and Egyptians alike. Their conquest of Egypt created the Twenty-Seventh dynasty, while a descendant of the twenty-sixth dynasty eventually led the battle for the liberation of Egypt in the form of the Twenty-Eighth dynasty.

(Information by Peter Kessler, with additional information from The Persian Empire, J M Cook (1983), from The Complete Royal Families of Ancient Egypt, Aidan Dodson & Dyan Hilton (Thames & Hudson Ltd, 2004), and from External Links: Encyclopaedia Iranica, and Livius, and Remnants of Egyptian fortress once conquered by Achaemenid Persians discovered (Tehran Times).)

672 - 663 BC

Neko / NechaŰ I (Nech / Checho)

Assyrian vassal. Killed by Tantamani of Kush.

672 - 525 BC

The pharaohs of the twenty-sixth dynasty reopen the Fifth Dynasty necropolis at Abu Sir to begin their own internments there. One of the first acts of Tantamani, final pharaoh of the Nubian Twenty-Fifth dynasty, is to kill Neko, an Assyrian vassal and the forerunner of the twenty-sixth dynasty pharaohs. Within a year or so, however, the Assyrians themselves return with a major attack which reaches Thebes.

Ruins of the eastern gate of Psamtik's fortress
The remains of a fortress which was probably built by Pharaoh Psamtik to secure Egypt's north-eastern border was uncovered in stages by archaeologists between 2008-2019 (click or tap on image to view full sized)

Nubian influence in Egypt is brought to an end with this act, while Assyrian influence is relatively brief and probably only in the north. Psamtik feels sufficiently strong to throw off any Assyrian vassalage he may be experiencing and declare himself pharaoh of all Egypt. Otherwise known as Psammetichus, he would seem to be a descendant of Bakenrenef (725-720 BC), the final pharaoh of the short-lived Twenty-Fourth dynasty.

663 - 603 BC

Psamtik / PsammÍtichos I

Son. Expelled the Syrians in 655 BC.

c.650 BC

A Jewish community has become established on the island of Elephantine in the middle of the Nile close to Aswan. Initially made up of settled mercenaries, it now appears to swell with an influx of Israelites probably leaving their homeland to escape the fervent paganism of their king, Manasseh. The enlarged population, living alongside Egyptians on the island, builds a temple matching that of Solomon's in dimensions and scale.

614 - 612 BC

Psamtik's Egypt is finally able to free itself fully from Assyrian control and influence, with the empire now a fast-fading power. Now Psamtik is able to pursue expansion into Syria where he can oppose the Babylonians.

610 - 595 BC

Neko / Necho II (Nech)

Son. Opposed Babylonia.

609 - 605 BC

Egypt is able to attempt to prevent the westward expansion of Babylonia, although Necho's forces are expelled from Syria in the process. A man of action, Necho personally leads two campaigns against the Babylonians, between 609-605 BC. Unfortunately towards the end of that period he comes up against the future Babylonian king, Nebuchadnezzar II, and all Egyptian advances are reversed. Babylonia seizes control of all Syrian territory, with Egypt barely able to maintain a presence in Canaan.

595 - 589 BC

Psamtik / Psammetichus II

Son. Ended Kushite interference in Egypt.

593 - 588 BC

Psamtik II sends an army south to fight the Kushites and the king of the Ethiopians. The attack is a serious one, heralding as it does a period of decline in Kushite records and a change of capital. As with all campaigns, however, there are deserters, and some of these remain in western Abyssinia to settle, according to Herodotus' Land of the Deserters.

589 - 570 BC

ApriÍs / Uaphris / Wahibre

Using Greek mercenaries, Babylonians are held off.

c.570 BC

The Libyans seek an alliance with Egypt in order to punish the flourishing and expanding Greek colony of Cyrene. The Egyptian troops who are sent by Pharaoh ApriÍs are wiped out by the Cyrenaeans at the Battle of the Well of Thestis, almost to a man due, according to Herodotus, to not taking the Greeks seriously as an opponent. The Greeks form an alliance with the successor of ApriÍs.

Painted wooden coffin for a man named Itineb
This painted wooden coffin was crafted for a man named Itineb who lived during the twenty-sixth dynasty or later, after 664 BC, and who came from Saqqara

570 - 526 BC

Amasis / Amhose / Ahmosi II

Died on the eve of the Persian invasion.

526 - 525 BC

Psamtik / Petubastis III

Son. Carried to Susa in chains.

525 - 524 BC

FeaturePsamtik III is defeated at the Battle of Pelusium and Egypt is conquered by the Persian empire under Cambyses. It becomes a vassal state (a burial just before this defeat is detailed - see feature link). Many Egyptian temples are destroyed, but Cambyses spares the Jewish Temple on Elephantine. However, it seems that Psamtik is not immediately captured. Instead he, or the bulk of his forces, seek refuge around the Dachla Oasis. Cambyses follows him with an army of 50,000 men and, according to Herodotus, the entire army disappears in the desert, presumably overcome by a sand storm (around 524 BC).

A highly favourable modern theory is that this story is created by Cambyses' successor to mask an embarrassing defeat. In this theory, Psamtik manages to reconquer a large part of Egypt and is crowned pharaoh in the capital, Memphis. It is Cambyses' successor in Persia, Darius I, who ends the Egyptian 'revolt' with a good deal of bloodshed two years after Cambyses' defeat, in 522 BC (or 521 BC).

Twenty-Seventh (Achaemenid) Dynasty / Persian Satraps of Mudrāya (Egypt)
Incorporating the Satraps of Libya, Lower Egypt, & Upper Egypt
525 - 404 BC

Egypt was conquered by the Persian empire under Cambyses in 525 BC and annexed as a great satrapy until 404 BC. This was not without a hiccup, as Cambyses was seemingly defeated by the now-rebel Twenty-Sixth dynasty pharaoh, Psamtik III, who enjoyed a brief period of resurgence before finally being crushed by Darius I.

The Achaemenid kings of Persia were acknowledged as pharaohs in this era, forming a twenty-seventh dynasty although, in their administrative terminology, it was an official satrapy or province. According to the Behistun inscription of Darius the Great, it was called Mudrāya (or Mudraya without the accented letter), a Persian interpretation of the Akkadian 'Misir' (in various spellings - essentially meaning 'country' and adopted by Arabs in the form of 'Misr'). According to Egyptians themselves the land was kmt, transliterated as Kemet, meaning the 'black land', a reference to the rich, dark soil near the Nile. The people were the 'remetch en kemet', literally meaning 'people of the black land'.

FeatureDuring Cambyses' occupation of Egypt, as well as later during Alexander the Great's invasion, the capture of Memphis seemed to be enough to allow the whole country to be claimed as a conquered territory. Evidently the city served as the base for administration of the great satrapy at the senior level. The great satrapy comprised two minor satrapies, those of Lower Egypt and Upper Egypt which had provided the original twin kingdoms of Archaic Egypt. Upper Egypt was administered from Thebes. Among those satraps who are known is another prince of the Achaemenid dynasty in the person of Achaemenes, son of Darius the Great. (A priest and head of the royal court who must have served these occupiers was discovered in 1996 - see feature link, right.)

Gaining Egypt also meant gaining Cyprus, as it seems to have been under Egyptian control for the previous half century. In fact, Herodotus mentions the Cypriots submitting voluntarily and sending ships to aid Cambyses. The Libyans sent tokens of submission, as did the Greek cities of Barka and Cyrene. Arabāya around the oasis of Taymāʾ, which had belonged to the Babylonian empire, was only gained for Persia during Cambyses' Egyptian campaign and was added to the great satrapy of Egypt. Nubia was also added as a main satrapy under Egypt's oversight, although evidence of anything more than a partial incursion into that region is not available. In Egypt itself, Psamtik was allowed to retain much of his authority as satrap, but he dabbled in political intrigue and was quickly replaced by Aryandes.

(Information by Peter Kessler, with additional information from The Persian Empire, J M Cook (1983), from The Complete Royal Families of Ancient Egypt, Aidan Dodson & Dyan Hilton (Thames & Hudson Ltd, 2004), and from External Links: Encyclopaedia Iranica, and Livius.)

c.525 BC

Psamtik / Petubastis

Former Saite pharaoh of Egypt. Arrested and executed.

c.525 - 510? BC


Persian satrap of Egypt (& Arabāya?). Executed by Darius I.

522 BC

After dealing with a usurper at home, Darius the Great becomes the first official twenty-seventh Persian dynasty pharaoh of Egypt after the death of Cambyses, who appears to have spent much of the last years of his reign in Egypt. Darius also conquers Cyrene in Libya and exacts tribute from Nubia.

Darius the Great of Persia
The central relief of the North Stairs of the Apadana in Persepolis, now in the Archaeological Museum in Tehran, shows Darius I (the Great) on his royal throne (External Link: Creative Commons Licence 4.0 International)

c.500 BC

FeatureThe symbolic tomb of Osiris is laid beneath the pyramid of Khafre. It is surrounded by the remains of four pillars which are built in the shape of a hieroglyphic 'House of Osiris' (see feature link).

c.510 - 484? BC

Pharandates / Farnadata

Persian satrap of Egypt.

486 - 484 BC

All is not well in Egypt. Rebels from Nubia are a constant threat to caravans and barges, necessitating guards to be posted on the more important transports. In the autumn of 486 BC, Egypt revolts, an event that is known as the First Rebellion. The satrapy, previously happy with the rule of Darius, is far less so now in the twilight of his reign, with the burden of tribute and Persian exploitation seemingly increasing. With Darius dead at the end of 486 BC, it falls to his son, Xerxes to deal with the situation. Afterwards, Xerxes installs his brother, Achaemenes, as satrap.

484 - 460 BC

Achaemenes / Haxamanis

Son of Darius I. Persian satrap of Egypt. Killed.

460/459 BC

Achaemenes is killed at the Battle of Pampremis in 460 or 459 BC. His opponents are Inarus (or Inaros), son of a Psamtik (not necessarily the former Saite pharaoh), leader of the Second Rebellion in Egypt who has Athenian allies. Despite specific evidence, it is indeed generally assumed that Psamtik is a member of the dispossessed Saite dynasty. The Greek threat is finally ended in 454 BC when Megabyzus, former satrap of Ebir-nāri, arrives with a fresh army. Inarus is hauled off to Susa where he is reported to be crucified.

454? - 410s? BC

Sarsames / Arsames / Arshama

Persian satrap of Egypt. Faced rebellion from 411 BC.

410 BC

With Persian influence weakening in Upper Egypt, the Egyptians on Elephantine destroy the Jewish Temple, convinced the Jews have been collaborating with the occupying power. The Jewish community is forced to leave. It seems that they move to western Abyssinia, in Ethiopia, where they flourish.

Jewish temple ruins on Elephantine island in Egypt
The Jewish settlement on the island of Elephantine had been founded around 650 BC by Israelites who were escaping a period of unrest and discord in their own state and, living alongside a native population, they even built their own version of the Solomonic temple

404 BC

Amenirdisu, a descendant of the pharaohs of the Twenty-Sixth dynasty, seems to have been fighting a guerrilla war against the Persians from as early as 411 BC. Now, with the death of Darius II, Egypt is fully liberated from Persian rule by Amenirdisu, who now becomes the first (and only) Twenty-Eighth dynasty pharaoh.

Twenty-Eighth (Saite) Dynasty (Egypt)
404 - 398 BC

Egypt following the Persian invasion and its enforced Twenty-Seventh dynasty was a politically unstable state. The old ways had largely been destroyed, and civil war between rivals for the throne soon became an everyday occurrence. According to an account preserved on papyrus, Amenirdisu - Amyrteos of Mendes - was behind the short-lived Twenty-Eighth dynasty.

Amenirdisu (translated by later Greek writers as Amyrteos, or Amyrtaeus, or Amyrtaios) was a descendant of the Saite pharaohs of the Twenty-Sixth dynasty who had fought so valiantly to prevent the Persian invasion of their once-strong kingdom. As before, he had his capital at the now-traditional northern city of Sais, but he was in power for six short years before he was defeated in open battle, by a rival named Nepherites. He was later put to death at Memphis while Nepherites seized control as the first pharaoh of the Twenty-Ninth dynasty.

(Information by Peter Kessler, with additional information from The Complete Royal Families of Ancient Egypt, Aidan Dodson & Dyan Hilton (Thames & Hudson Ltd, 2004), from The Persian Empire, J M Cook (1983), and from External Links: Encyclopaedia Iranica, and Livius.)

404 - 398 BC

Amenirdisu / Amyrteos of Mendes

Related to the pharaohs of the Twenty-Sixth dynasty.

401 BC

Cyrus, Persian satrap of Asia Minor, attempts to revolt, mobilising an army and ten thousand Greek mercenaries to attack his brother the king. Defeat leads to his death in October 401 BC at the Battle of Cunaxa. Abrocomas, satrap of Ebir-nāri, having been assembling forces for a re-invasion of Egypt, marches to the assistance of Artaxerxes II. He arrives following the battle's conclusion but the extra manpower is no doubt ideal in handling mopping-up operations.

Battle of Cunaxa
The Battle of Cunaxa saw the end of just one in a number of internal Persian revolts that often involved thousands of troops on either side, but it and the campaign that surrounded it saved Egypt from the imminent threat of invasion

400 BC

Correspondence between the Jews at Elephantine and Jerusalem fully ceases by this point. With Persian influence having been removed from Upper Egypt in 410 BC, the Egyptians on Elephantine had taken the opportunity of destroying the Jewish Temple, convinced that the Jews had been collaborating with the occupying power. The Jewish community seemingly moves to western Abyssinia, in Ethiopia, where it flourishes.

Twenty-Ninth (Saite) Dynasty (Egypt)
398 - 380 BC

Egypt following the Persian invasion and its enforced Twenty-Seventh dynasty was a politically unstable state. The old ways had largely been destroyed, and civil war between rivals for the throne was almost an everyday occurrence. According to an account preserved on papyrus, Nefaaryd founded the Twenty-Ninth dynasty by defeating Amyrtaeus of the short-lived Twenty-Eighth dynasty in open battle, and later put him to death at Memphis. Nepherites made his capital at Mendes rather than the traditional location of Sais (although the dynasty still bears this label).

On the death of Nepherites, two rival factions fought for the throne: one behind his son Muthis (who may have been PsammŻthis), and the other supporting the usurper Psammuthes who may instead have been fighting the rightful ruler, AchŰris - the records are highly uncertain and a little contradictory. Although PsammŻthis was successful, he only managed to reign for a year before he too was overthrown. Egypt remained no less unstable.

(Information by Peter Kessler, with additional information from The Complete Royal Families of Ancient Egypt, Aidan Dodson & Dyan Hilton (Thames & Hudson Ltd, 2004), from The Persian Empire, J M Cook (1983), from Manetho: History of Egypt, Leonardo Paolo Lovari (2018), and from External Links: Encyclopaedia Iranica, and Livius.)

398 - 393 BC

Nefaarud I / Nepherites / NepheritÍs I

General? Defeated Twenty-Eighth dynasty.

393 BC

Muthis / Muthes

Son. Supposedly defeated by his rival, PsammŻthis.

393 BC

The precise identity of 'Muthis' is very uncertain, mainly due to the minimal historical record that covers his brief reign. The name is a Hellenised version of an Egyptian name, and may only be a scrap of one, with 'muthes' also being the second syllable of the name of his successor, Psamuthes. Possibly they are one and the same.

A sphinx of Nepherites (I) of Egypt
This basalt sphinx of Nepherites (I), first pharaoh of the Late Period Twenty-Ninth dynasty of Egypt, now resides in the Louvre in Paris

393 BC

PsammŻthis / Psamuthes

Usurper or same person as Muthis?

393 - 380 BC

AchŰris / Hakor / Hagar

Usurper, but possibly from the same house.

389 - 387 BC

Abrocomas, satrap of Ebir-nāri, joins two Persian army commanders - Pharnabazus (not to be confused with Pharnabazus II of Phrygia) and Tithraustes - in the attempted reconquest of Egypt. Their efforts meet with little success as the Egyptians have relearned how to defend their country, stabilised somewhat during the thirteen years on the throne by AchŰris.

380 BC

Nefaarud II of Sebennytus

Son. Reigned 4 months. Overthrown.

380 BC

A very brief reign ends in usurpation, possibly due to Nefaarud becoming involved in the struggles of Salamis and its king, Evagoras. Instead he is defeated at home by Nekhtnebef, who quickly founds his own Thirtieth dynasty.

Thirtieth (Saite) Dynasty (Egypt)
380 - 343 BC

Egypt following the Persian invasion and its enforced Twenty-Seventh dynasty was a politically unstable state. The old ways had largely been destroyed, and civil war between rivals for the throne was almost an everyday occurrence. Thankfully the thirtieth dynasty managed to induce some internal stability, lasting nearly twice as long as the preceding Twenty-Ninth dynasty.

It was started when Nekhtnebef deposed Nefaarud of Sebennytus, the last member of the preceding dynasty who had only just seized the throne himself. But then Nekhtnebef had to spend much of his reign defending the country from further Persian incursions. The recent spate of usurpations did nothing to make that task any easier, and the state was unable to launch anything like a full-scale rebuilding process.

(Information by Peter Kessler, with additional information from The Complete Royal Families of Ancient Egypt, Aidan Dodson & Dyan Hilton (Thames & Hudson Ltd, 2004), from The Persian Empire, J M Cook (1983), and from External Links: Encyclopaedia Iranica, and Livius.)

380 - 362 BC

Nekhtnebef / Nectanebos I

Son of an important military officer.

362 - 360 BC

TakhŰs / Taos / Tachos

Son. Regent (c.365-362). Overthrown.

362 BC

Ariobarzanus, satrap of Phrygia, and Datames, satrap of Khilakku and Katpatuka, are in revolt against Persian King Artaxerxes II. Autophradates, satrap of Sparda, has been ordered to suppress the rebellion and he has already managed to expel Ariobarzanes from the greater part of his satrapy. Now Sparta, and also Pharaoh TakhŰs, send substantial help to the rebels. Two years later, in 360 BC, Ariobarzanes is betrayed by his son, Mithridates, and is executed.

Archers of the Royal Guard of Darious
These archers of Darius' Royal Guard were on display in the Hall of Artaxerxes II, whose continued efforts to break a long-running rebellion against him involved attempts to re-invade Egypt

360 BC

TakhŰs is about to be formally enthroned roughly two years after succeeding his father, when his own brother launches a coup. Tjahapimu seizes the throne and installs his own son as Pharaoh Nekhtharehbe. TakhŰs flees to the city of his enemies at Susa, before being dragged back to Egypt in chains.

360 - 343 BC

Nekhtharehbe / Nectanebos II

Usurper. End of native rule.

343 BC

Nekhtharehbe becomes overconfident about his successes in protecting Egypt from Persian attack. After sixteen years of such success he takes command of the mixed Greek-Libyan-Egyptian army in person. This proves to be a mistake as he bolts for Memphis when a division of his Greek mercenaries are defeated by a surprise landing by Persian mercenaries. His army, and then one by one his cities all come to terms with the Persians and Egypt is again an occupied territory under the Thirty-First dynasty Persians.

Thirty-First (Achaemenid) Dynasty / Persian Satraps of Mudrāya (Egypt)
343 - 332 BC

After regaining independence under the Twenty-Eighth dynasty's native pharaoh, Egypt was briefly re-conquered in 343 BC by the Persian empire under the bloodthirsty Artaxerxes III, marking the end of over three thousand years of mostly native rule. The process of reconquering Egypt started in 374 BC but by now the Egyptians knew how to defend themselves and this campaign failed. Diodorus describes the process of reconquest but is not clear on specific details. There may have been several campaigns involved in this process, seemingly so catastrophic in their outcome as to incur universal ridicule from Persia's citizens and subjects. The situation grew so bad that even the Levant rebelled briefly.

Once back in place, the Persian kings ruled in absentia as the thirty-first dynasty through their appointed satrap. They did little more than exploit Egypt's vast grain reserves and tax its people. They also showed relatively little respect for the ancient traditions and were deeply unpopular. In fact the disaffected Egyptians' rebelled so often that parts of the country remained virtually independent.

(Information by Peter Kessler, with additional information from The Persian Empire, J M Cook (1983), and from External Links: Alexander in Egypt, Alan M Fildes & Dr Joann Fletcher, and Diodorus of Sicily at the Library of World History (dead link).)

343 - ? BC


Persian satrap of Egypt.

343 - 336 BC

The Persians rule Egypt direct from the centre of their empire. For the last two of these years they only have power in Lower Egypt. Upper Egypt has rebelled - if it had even been properly conquered in the first place. From 338 BC it is ruled by Khabbabash who opposes Satrap Pherendates.

Sabaces coin
Coins which were issued during the period of office of the second Thirty-First dynasty satrap, Sabaces, are apparently very rare, with this example not having stood the test of time that well

338 - 335 BC


Leader of a Nubian revolt in Upper Egypt.

336 - 335 BC

King Nastasen of MeroŽ records on an inscription the fact that he has defeated one 'Kmbswdn' somewhere north of MeroŽ. This has occasionally been equated with the Persian king, Cambyses II, but his death in 522 BC makes this impossible. Nastasen speaks as if his opponent's territory could be overrun, which would hardly be true of lands within the Achaemenid empire. However, Khabbabash, leader of the Nubian revolt in Egypt, has claimed Upper Egypt, which may make him a perfect candidate. The revolt of Khabbabash is ended by 335 BC (because he has been defeated from behind, by MeroŽ?), and Upper Egypt is returned to Persian control.

? - 333 BC

Sabaces / Sabakes

Persian satrap of Egypt. Died at Issus.

333 BC

Sabaces joins Darius III at the Battle at Issus against the Macedonian Greeks. Although outnumbered two-to-one, the Greeks are victorious. Darius flees eastwards but Sabaces is killed. Alexander the Great now leads his army towards Egypt rather than the heart of the empire at Persis.

333 - 332 BC


Persian satrap of Egypt.

? - 332 BC


Persian satrap of Upper Egypt?

332 BC

Alexander the Great's forces arrive in Egypt in October 332 BC. With Satrap Mazaces having no means of defending the region now that Darius III had fled eastwards, he simply hands over the satrapy intact, without a fight, and it now falls under the control of the Greek empire. The city of Alexandria is founded by Alexander and Mazaces is reappointed to the post of satrap.

Argead Dynasty in Egypt
332 - 305 BC

The Argead were the ruling family and founders of Macedonia who reached their greatest extent under Alexander the Great and his two successors before the kingdom broke up into several Hellenic sections. Following Alexander's conquest of central and eastern Persia in 331-328 BC, the Greek empire ruled the region until Alexander's death in 323 BC and the subsequent regency period which ended in 310 BC. Alexander's successors held no real power, being mere figureheads for the generals who really held control of Alexander's empire. Following that latter period and during the course of several wars, Egypt was left in the hands of the wily General Ptolemy from 305 BC, founder of the Ptolemaic dynasty.

(Information by Peter Kessler, with additional information from A Dictionary of Greek and Roman Biography and Mythology, William Smith (London, 1873), from Anabasis Alexandri, Arrian of Nicomedia, and from External Link: Encyclopaedia Iranica.)

332 - 323 BC

Alexander III the Great

King of Macedonia. Conquered Persia.

323 - 317 BC

Philip III Arrhidaeus

Feeble-minded half-brother of Alexander the Great.

317 - 310 BC

Alexander IV of Macedonia

Infant son of Alexander the Great and Roxana.

332 - ? BC


Satrap of Egypt. Formerly the Persian satrap.

332 BC

What happens to Mazaces after 332 BC is unknown. It is possible that he continues as satrap of Egypt until Ptolemy takes over the role in 323 BC. It is also possible that he is deposed by the avaricious Cleomenes of Naucratis, nomarch of the Arabian district of Egypt to the east. Cleomenes certainly establishes an expansion of his governance to include Egypt and, by 323 BC is so dominant that he is put to death by Ptolemy.

Map of Central Asia & Eastern Mediterranean 334-323 BC
The route of Alexander's ongoing campaigns are shown in this map, with them leading him from Europe to Egypt, into Persia, and across the vastness of eastern Iran as far as the Pamir mountain range (click or tap on map to view full sized)

? - 323 BC

Cleomenes of Naucratis

Satrap of Arabian Egypt. Soon dominant over all of Egypt?

323 - 305 BC

Ptolemy I Soter I ('Saviour')

Satrap of Egypt. Became pharaoh in 305 BC.

316 - 305 BC

The Wars of the Diadochi decide how Alexander the Great's empire is carved up between his generals, but the period is very confused, especially in the east. These provinces appear to be invaded and controlled by the Antigonids for a period. Egypt, however, is firmly and safely in the hands of General Ptolemy. From his base he launches several campaigns which help to decide the outcome of the various wars. These wars rumble on until the end of the century, but Ptolemy is already firmly established in Ptolemaic Egypt.

Hellenic Epoch / Ptolemaic Dynasty of Egypt
305 - 30 BC

The Ptolemaic dynasty was an Hellenistic royal family which ruled in Egypt and Cyrene for nearly three hundred years. Ptolemy, the Macedonian son of a nobleman called Lagus and one of Alexander the Great's closest generals, was accepted as satrap of Egypt (which included Judah) after Alexander's death in 323 BC. Apparently he understood the fragile nature of the empire and opted for a single, defendable part of it rather than voluntarily take part in the squabble to control it all. The unity of Alexander's great empire quickly fragmented as the generals competed with each other for more power and territory. When Antigonus (of Greater Phrygia) proclaimed himself king in 306 BC, all the other surviving generals matched his proclamation, confirming the dismantling of the empire into regional domains. Ptolemy later had the epithet 'Soter' (saviour) added to his name, and gained Cyprus and Phoenicia in 301 BC.

The Egyptians soon accepted the Ptolemies as the successors to the pharaohs of an independent Egypt. The process was greatly helped by Ptolemy's respect for and understanding of Egyptian tradition, not that he wasn't capable of ignoring anything that didn't suit his purposes. They were sometimes opposed by native uprisings, however, and even respect for Egyptian culture couldn't entirely remove the vague taint of their being foreigners. Thanks to the name of Ptolemy Soter's father, the dynasty was also known as the Lagides. It was characterised by complicated political in-fighting between various claimants, with two or more of them often sharing power. The Ptolemies were also well known for their somewhat incestuous familial relationships, with many of those claimants often being related through birth or marriage (or both!). When they weren't fighting each other, more complicated political and actual warfare often took place with and against the other Greek kingdoms and empires across much of the ancient world, until all of them were diminished by the constant strife and Rome had overtaken them in terms of power and influence.

(Information by Peter Kessler, with additional information from Jewish War & Jewish Antiquities, Flavius Josephus, from Arsinoe of Egypt and Macedon: A Royal Life, Elizabeth Donnelly Carney (Oxford University Press, 2013), from The Marshals of Alexander's Empire, Waldemar Heckel, from Revised Chronology for the Late Seleucids at Antioch, O Hoover, from The Histories, Polybius, from History of the Ptolemaic Empire, GŁnther HŲlbl (Routledge, 2000), from Chronicle of the Queens of Egypt, Joyce Tyldesley (Thames & Hudson, 2006), from The Complete Royal Families of Ancient Egypt, Aidan Dodson & Dyan Hilton (Thames & Hudson, 2004), and from External Links: Encyclopśdia Britannica, and Appian's History of Rome: The Syrian Wars at Livius.org, and Diodorus of Sicily at the Library of World History, and Ancient Egypt: Ptolemies, and University of Leicester, and Listverse, and Virtual Religion: Into His Own, and The Great Revolt of The Egyptians (205-186 BC), Willy Clarysse (Full text via the Internet Archive).)

305 - 285 BC

Ptolemy I Soter I ('Saviour')

General in Alexander's Greek army. Abdicated. Died 283 BC.

? - 285 BC

Berenice / Berenike I

Second wife and co-ruler. Died 279-265 BC.

305 - 285 BC

Generally avoiding the sometimes chaotic warfare of the Wars of the Diadochi, Ptolemy Soter instead concentrates largely on internal Egyptian achievements. He transfers his seat from Memphis to Alexandria, which is still under construction. A royal palace, the Serapis temple, and the musaeum (the temple of muses) are all built, along with a large library in which is gradually concentrated a magnificent collection of Greek literature. The new city of Ptolemaida Hermiu is founded in Upper Egypt, and the canal between the Nile and the Red Sea is restored. In the last years of his reign he oversees the construction of the famous lighthouse of Alexandria on the island of Pharos in front of Alexandria's harbour.

Ptolemy I coin
Shown here is an Hellenic-era Egyptian coin which displays the head of Ptolemy I, Greek founder of Egypt's Ptolemaic dynasty following the death of Alexander the Great

285 - 246 BC

Ptolemy II Philadelphus (Turamaya)

Son. 'Philadelphus' means 'sibling-lover'.

284/1 - c.274 BC

ArsinoŽ / Arsinoe I

Daughter of Lysimachus of Lysimacheia. Wife and co-ruler.

281 BC

Ptolemy Ceraunus is the elder brother of Ptolemy Philadelphus (or to be more accurate, half-brother, by Ptolemy Soter's first wife). He becomes King Ptolemy II of Macedonia and Lysimacheia after marrying his half-sister and the widow of Lysimachus, ArsinoŽ (II). Then he kills two of ArsinoŽ's sons for conspiring against him (as had their mother), and ArsinoŽ flees to Egypt for protection with her full brother, Ptolemy Philadelphus. When in Egypt, it would appear to be ArsinoŽ II who frames ArsinoŽ I with plotting against Ptolemy Philadelphus. ArsinoŽ I is divorced and banished and Ptolemy marries his sister instead, establishing a tradition of incestuous pharaonic relationships.

277 - 270 BC

ArsinoŽ / Arsinoe II

Widow of Lysimachus of Thrace. Sister-wife of Ptolemy II.

c.276 - 250 BC

Magas, governor of Cyrene, after several attempts following the death of his stepfather (Ptolemy Soter), crowns himself king. In 274 BC he attacks Egypt, but has to call off his planned invasion thanks to a revolt of the native Libyan Marmaridae. The remainder of Magas' rule is concerned with maintaining his kingdom's independence, but following his death, Cyrene is almost immediately captured by Ptolemy Philadelphus.

267 - 261 BC

Egypt backs a coalition of Greek city states in the Chremonidean War which include Athens and Sparta, who are fighting for the restoration of their independence from Macedonian influence. They are aided by Ptolemy Philadelphus, who is naturally threatened not only by Antigonus' apparently peaceful rule of Greece, but by his friendship with the Seleucid empire. He temporarily loses control of most of the Greek city states to the south but, by 263 BC, has worn down both Athens and Sparta. Order is temporarily restored in Greece.

261 - 256 BC

The interference by Ptolemy Philadelphus continues in Greece, triggering the Second Syrian War. Antigonus II of Macedonia and Antiochus II of the Seleucid empire team up to combine their attacks. Egypt loses ground in Anatolia and Phoenicia, and is forced to cede lands which include its ally, the city of Miletus.

246 - 222 BC

Ptolemy III Euergetes ('Do-Gooder')

Son of Ptolemy II & ArsinoŽ I.

246 - 240 BC

Ptolemy Euergetes declares war on Seleucus II of the Seleucid empire and enjoys a great deal of success on campaign as a continuation of the Third Syrian War. Following major victories in battle he briefly occupies Antioch and also Babylon. Secure away from the coastal regions, Seleucus is distracted by his domineering mother, who forces him to accept his younger brother, Antiochus Hierax, as a co-regent and governor of regions in Anatolia. Antiochus immediately declares the independence of Antioch, and Seleucus has to sue for peace with Ptolemy in 241 BC. Egypt gains more Seleucid territory along Syria's northern coast (including Seleucia Pieria), and around this time or the following year, 240 BC, Lycia comes under Ptolemaic control.

Ptolemy III Euergetes
Ptolemy Euergetes increased Egyptian imperial borders at the expense of Seleucid Syria, something that few of his successors were ever able to manage

244/3 - 221 BC

Berenice / Berenike II

Dau of Magas of Cyrene. Wife and co-ruler. Murdered.

221 - 203 BC

Ptolemy IV Philopator

Son and matricide. Died.

220 - 204 BC

ArsinoŽ / Arsinoe III

Sister-wife and co-ruler. Murdered as soon as Ptolemy died.

219 - 217 BC

The Fourth Syrian War involves Antiochus III of the Seleucid empire fighting Ptolemy Philopator for control of their mutual border. Antiochus recaptures Seleucia Pieria, Tyre, and other important Phoenician cities and their Mediterranean ports, but is fought to a draw at Raphia on Syria's southernmost edge. The subsequent peace treaty sees all the gains other than Seleucia Pieria relinquished.

205 BC

Ptolemy's arming of Egyptians for his Syrian campaign has had an alarming and unforeseen effect. Suddenly (although probably after a few years of increasing rebellion from around 207 BC) Upper Egypt founds its own independent pharaonic kingdom. Two pharaohs command the breakaway region for around two decades. The first is Hugronaphor, known by an astonishing number of variations, including Harmachis, Haronnophris, Herwennefer, Horwennefer, Hurganophor, and Hyrgonaphor - the latter being Greek). He may be of Nubian origin.

205 - c.197 BC


Rebel pharaoh of Upper Egypt. Dead by 197 BC.

203 - 180 BC

Ptolemy V Epiphanes

Son of Ptolemy IV. Acceded aged 5.

200 - 195 BC

To achieve his part of a treaty with Philip V of Macedonia that is designed to carve up Egypt's colonial possessions, Antiochus III of the Seleucid empire invades Coele Syria. This triggers the Fifth Syrian War and sees Ptolemaic General Scopas defeated at Panion near the source of the River Jordan in 200 BC. This gains Antiochus control of Palestine and Phoenicia. The campaign ends in a peace deal in 195 BC which gains for Antiochus permanent possession after a century of fighting of southern Syria (which includes Idumaea, while Ammon breaks away from the empire), and also of Egyptian territories in Anatolia (which include Lycia). In return Antiochus gives his daughter, Cleopatra, in marriage to Ptolemy Epiphanes, which is now little more than a Seleucid protectorate.

c.199 - 185 BC

Ankhmakis / Chaonnophris

Rebel pharaoh of Upper Egypt. Dead by 197 BC.

193 - 176 BC

Cleopatra I

Wife of Ptolemy V. Regent for Ptolemy VI until he matured.

c.185 BC

Ankhmakis has succeeded Hugronaphor as the native pharaoh of Upper Egypt, and has managed to seize as much as eighty percent of the entire land of Egypt, primarily through guerrilla warfare (the Greeks would record military battles, but these are conspicuous by their absence). However, around 186-185 BC, Ankhmakis is finally captured. Ptolemy's General Komanos (Conanus in Greek) takes him, apparently with the help or contrivance of the priestly caste.

Ptolemaic Egyptians
While Ptolemy Soter was careful to encourage good relations with the native Egyptians, some of his successors were not quite so interested in what the natives thought, and growing tensions finally erupted in a country-wide insurgency from about 205 BC

180 - 164 BC

Ptolemy VI Philometor

Son. Lost true power to Ptolemy VIII. Restored 163 BC.

173 - 164 BC

Cleopatra II

Sister-wife. Later co-regent (163 BC). m Ptolemy VIII (142 BC).

170 - 169 BC

During the recent usurpation period within the Seleucid empire, Egyptian had taken advantage by laying claim to Coele Syria, Palestine, and Phoenicia. Both parties had appealed for help to Rome, showing how degraded their own sense of authority has become. The situation is not resolved by 170 BC so Antiochus mounts a pre-emptive attack on Egypt, triggering the Sixth Syrian War (170-168 BC). Pelusium is taken after the first battle and much of Egypt is occupied in 169 BC, apart from Alexandria. Rather than attempt to depose the child-king Ptolemy Philometor and anger Rome, Antiochus installs himself as his guardian or regent.

171 - 163 BC

Ptolemy VIII Euergetes II Psychon

Brother. Co-regent. Proclaimed pharaoh by the Alexandrians.

169 - 168 BC

While Antiochus IV of the Seleucids refuses to support Perseus of Macedonia in the Third Macedonian War, urged on by the citizens of Alexandria, the siblings of Ptolemy Philometor - Ptolemy Euergetes and Cleopatra II - form a rival government. Ptolemy Philometor joins them and the war is reignited. Early in 168 BC, Antiochus captures Cyprus from them and re-invades Egypt, but the defeat of Perseus allows Rome to order Antiochus out of Egypt. Humiliated, he does so, but maintains his territorial holdings outside of Egypt.

163 BC

Upon being deprived of the throne following his brief usurpation of it, Ptolemy Euergetes claims the throne of Cyrene with Roman backing. He retains this throne throughout the rest of his life, even during two further periods of rule in Egypt. Ptolemy Philometor regains his throne in Egypt and again co-rules with his sister-wife, Cleopatra II.

163 - 145 BC

Ptolemy VI Philometor

Restored. Died in unknown circumstances.

163 - 145 BC

Cleopatra II

Co-regent again. Married Ptolemy VIII after the death of VI.

145 BC

The unexpected death of Ptolemy Philometor prompts his sister-wife, Cleopatra II, to proclaim their son as his successor as although Ptolemy Neos Philometor is something of a mystery figure. He does seem to be a co-regent but the title may be honorary only, without him exercising any actual power. Ptolemy Euergetes Psychon soon regains the throne for himself, and agrees to power-share with Cleopatra II as his co-regent (his epithet 'psychon' means 'fat'). He and Cleopatra are married in 142 BC, while he also marries Cleopatra III as soon as she is of marriageable age.

Ptolemy VIII Euergetes II Psychon
Thought to be the remains of a statue of Ptolemy Euergetes II Psychon ('the fat'), three times pharaoh of Egypt, the family likeness is hard to argue against

145 - 131 BC

Ptolemy VIII Euergetes II Psychon


145 - 144 BC

Ptolemy VII Neos Philometor

Son of Cleopatra II. Proclaimed co-ruler by his mother.

145 - 127 BC

Cleopatra II

Cousin-wife of Ptolemy VIII. Led revolt against him in 131 BC.

142 - 131 BC

Cleopatra III

Niece-stepdaughter-second-wife of Ptolemy VIII.

132 - 131 BC

Cleopatra II makes the most of an Alexandrine revolt against her cousin-husband, Ptolemy Euergetes. he and Cleopatra III flee to Cyprus while she is left in sole command in Egypt. Ptolemy Memphitis is the son of both parties, named after the location of his birth. He is proclaimed pharaoh by Cleopatra II. Ptolemy Euergetes still manages to have him killed and cut into quarters, with the remains being sent to Cleopatra. Civil war ensues, along with a general collapse of central government.

131 - 127 BC

Cleopatra II

Sole ruler with decreasing power.

131 BC

Ptolemy Memphitis

Son. Proclaimed by Cleopatra II. Killed by Ptolemy VIII.

129 - 128 BC

Ptolemy Euergetes has seized all of Egypt except Alexandria, which remains loyal to Cleopatra until its fall in 126 BC. In 128 BC, Seleucid ruler Demetrius attempts to intervene in the Egyptian civil war, supporting Cleopatra II, mother of his first wife, Cleopatra Thea, but he is defeated near Pelusium. Cleopatra Thea herself succeeds Demetrius as the Seleucid ruler, serving as regent for her son, Seleucus V.

129 - 116 BC

Ptolemy VIII Euergetes II Psychon

Restored in opposition to Cleopatra II. Senior ruler in 126 BC.

127 - 116 BC

Cleopatra III

Restored with Ptolemy VIII. Senior ruler in 116 BC.

124 - 116 BC

Cleopatra II

Reconciled with Ptolemy VIII. Co-ruler. Died of natural causes.

116 BC

The death of Ptolemy Euergetes ends a highly eventful and unsettled period of Ptolemaic history in Egypt. His nominated successors are Cleopatra III and one of her sons, with the choice of which of them being hers. She prefers the younger of them, Alexander, but the Alexandrines want Philometer Soter, current governor of Cyprus. She reluctantly complies, and Philometer becomes Ptolemy IX, while Alexander takes his place on Cyprus.

116 - 101 BC

Cleopatra III

Former co-ruler. Now senior pharaoh. Murdered by Ptolemy X.

116 - 110 BC

Ptolemy IX Soter II Lathyros

Son of Ptolemy VII. Co-ruler.

116 - 115 BC

Cleopatra IV

Briefly m to Ptolemy IX, ejected by Cleopatra III. Killed 112 BC.

115 - 110 BC

Cleopatra (V) Selene I

Replacement sister-wife to Ptolemy IX.

115 - 113 BC

Antiochus IX, a son of Cleopatra Thea and her marriage to Antiochus VII, attempts to seize the Seleucid throne. He gains an army in 115 BC when he marries Cleopatra IV, who has just learned that her husband, Ptolemy Soter, has divorced her. He revolts against his half-brother, occupying southern Syria. In 112 BC Antiochus VIII defeats his opponents, and Cleopatra IV is captured and killed. However, later in the same year Antioch is again in the hands of Antiochus VIII. Both Seleucid rulers now find allies (or further allies) in Egypt, with Antiochus VIII being joined by Ptolemy Alexander, governor of Cyprus, and Antiochus IX being supported by Ptolemy Soter Lathyros.

Egyptian art
The Ptolemies may have been viewed by some native Egyptians as foreigners, but they certainly went wholeheartedly into the costumes and styles of Egyptian nobility

111 - 104 BC

The Seleucid civil war continues through 111-109 BC, with a sideshow taking place when Antiochus IX and Ptolemy Soter become involved in supporting the Samarians against the Hasmonaean leader, John Hyrcanus of Judea, until Rome intervenes on the side of the Jews and against Antiochus IX and the Samarians (of the former northern Jewish kingdom of Samaria).

Having tired of him, in 110 BC, Cleopatra III deposes and expels Ptolemy Soter in favour of her preferred co-ruler, Alexander, as Ptolemy X Alexander I. He seemingly remains governor of Cyprus at the same time, which is useful as he is deposed in 109 BC by Cleopatra who continues the merry-go-round of favourites. Ptolemy Lathyros' current sister-wife, Cleopatra Selene, is sometimes referred to as Cleopatra V, but not universally (thereby placing all subsequent numbering for Cleopatras into some confusion). She may marry his successor in 110 BC, although this is not certain.

110 - 109 BC

Ptolemy X Alexander I

Son of Ptolemy IX. Also governor of Cyprus. Expelled.

109 - 107 BC

Ptolemy IX Soter II Lathyros

Restored by Cleopatra III. Expelled by her.

107 - 101 BC

Ptolemy X Alexander I

Restored by Cleopatra III. Seized throne and killed her.

103 BC

Seleucid King Antiochus VIII marries Cleopatra Selene (daughter of Egypt's Ptolemy Euergetes Psychon). His civil war has largely dimmed by now, and he himself dies of natural causes in 96 BC. In order to finalise the last act of the civil war, his wife marries Antiochus IX.

101 - 88 BC

Ptolemy X Alexander I

Now sole ruler. Killed in battle.

88 - 81 BC

Ptolemy IX Soter II Lathyros

Restored as sole ruler. Died.

81 - 80 BC

Berenice / Berenike III

Dau. Former niece-wife of Ptolemy X. Murdered by Ptolemy XI.

80 BC

Ptolemy XI Alexander II

Young son of Ptolemy X Alexander. Installed by Sulla. Lynched.

80 BC

Sole ruler of Egypt and former consort of Ptolemy Alexander I between 107-88 BC, Berenice III is forced to marry her nephew, Ptolemy Alexander II, and then is murdered on his orders just nineteen days later. Installed by Sulla of Rome, Ptolemy Alexander II himself rules for just eighty days before being lynched to death by his subjects for killing the popular Berenice.

Berenice III
Berenice III became sole ruler of Egypt upon the death of natural causes of her father, Ptolemy Lathyros, but just a year or so later she was forced to marry her nephew, shortly before being murdered by him

To ensure continuity of succession and also civil order, Egyptian nobles invite two of Ptolemy Lathyros' illegitimate sons to return from exile in Pontus. The eldest takes the throne as Ptolemy Auletes while the younger (seemingly) becomes king of Cyprus rather than governor (all that is now left of Egypt's former empire). The succession is even more important than usual because Ptolemy Alexander II has willed Egypt to Rome, although the Senate is unwilling to take it on.

80 - 58 BC

Ptolemy XII Neo Dyonysus, Auletes

Illegitimate son of Ptolemy IX. A weak ruler. Driven out.

? - 57 BC

Cleopatra V (VI) Tryphaena

(Half(?)-)sister-wife and co-ruler. Mother of Berenice IV.

? - 58 BC

Cleopatra VI (VII)

Daughter & co-ruler. Quite possibly Cleopatra Tryphaena herself.

58 BC

Ptolemy of Cyprus has made the mistake of angering Rome by not gaining its confirmation of his position as king and also by not aiding Publius Clodius Pulcher when he is captured by Cilician pirates. Pulcher becomes tribune in 58 BC, and uses Roman law to drive out Ptolemy and create a Roman province from Cyprus. Ptolemy refuses to submit despite being completely unprepared to resist a Roman invasion, and instead commits suicide. Back in Egypt, the lack of response by Ptolemy's brother encourages a popular revolt which drives him out.

58 - 55 BC

Berenice / Berenike IV

Dau of Ptolemy XII. Senior ruler (sole ruler from 57 BC). Killed.

58 - 57 BC

Cleopatra V (VI) Tryphaena

Mother (or possibly sister) and co-ruler. Died.

55 BC

Ptolemy Auletes regains his throne by paying Pompey's supporter in Rome, Aulus Gabinius, to lead a force which defeats Egypt's frontier forces, marches on Alexandria, and captures the city when the guards surrender without a fight. One of his first acts is to have Berenice and her supporters executed. The core of Gabinius' men, two thousand of them, remain in Alexandria as the Gabiniani, ensuring the pharaoh's security but also ensuring that he remains loyal to Rome and compliant with its wishes.

55 - 51 BC

Ptolemy XII Neo Dyonysus, Auletes

Restored. Shared power briefly with daughter. Died.

51 - 30 BC

Cleopatra VII (VIII) Thea Philopator

Daughter and senior ruler. Suicided.

51 - 47 BC

Ptolemy XIII Dionysus

Brother. Often in dispute with Cleopatra. Drowned.

49 - 48 BC

Civil war erupts between Julius Caesar and Pompey as the former crosses the Rubicon. Rome's various allies and subject peoples take sides, including the Getae who side with Pompey. Defeated at the Battle of Pharsalus in 48 BC, Pompey flees to Cleopatra VII, but Ptolemy XIII has him executed. The Ptolemies have been engaged in their own civil war as Cleopatra and Ptolemy enjoy one of their frequent falling outs. Having followed Pompey to Alexandria, Julius Caesar attempts to reconcile the two. Ptolemy besieges both him and Cleopatra at the royal palace.

48 - 47 BC

ArsinoŽ / Arsinoe IV

Sister. Sided with Ptolemy XIII in opposition to Cleopatra VII.

47 BC

Reinforcements arrive in the form of Mithradates of Pergamum. Caesar leaves a small garrison in Alexandria and hurries with the rest of his own 4,000 men to join him at the Nile delta. By this time Ptolemy has been joined by another sister, ArsinoŽ, and the two engage Caesar at the Battle of the Nile. Heavy fighting follows for a time, until the Egyptians break and flee. Ptolemy is reported to be drowned when his vessel capsizes. ArsinoŽ is captured and sent to the Temple of Artemis in Ephesus (Anatolia). Caesar remains in Cleopatra's company for a further two months and she twice visits him in Italy, in 46 BC and 44 BC.

47 - 44 BC

Ptolemy XIV Philopator

Brother-husband of Cleopatra VII. Murdered.

44 BC

With Julius Caesar having been assassinated, Cleopatra tries and fails to have their son, Caesarion, named as his successor. Instead, she returns home and has Ptolemy XIV murdered so that Caesarion can take his place as her co-ruler.

Julius Caesar and Cleopatra VIII
The last independent Hellenic ruler of ancient Egypt, Cleopatra VIII is perhaps one of history's best-known figures, thanks to her involvement in Rome's affairs in the lead up to the formation of the empire, and her two great romantic match-ups, with Julius Caesar and Marc Antony

44 - 30 BC

Ptolemy XV Caesarion

Son of Cleopatra VII & Julius Caesar. Murdered.

41 BC

The ongoing power struggle in Rome between Marcus Antonius (Marc Antony) and Octavian has led Cleopatra to side against Octavian, Caesar's heir in preference to her own son. She meets Marc Anthony at Tarsos in 41 BC and the two embark on an affair which eventually produces three children. On Cleopatra's instigation, Antony also has ArsinoŽ IV murdered on the steps of the Temple of Artemis. The act outrages and scandalises Roman society.

32 - 31 BC

The agreement regulating the Roman Triumvirate has expired, and in the political manoeuvring that follows Octavian gains and reads out Antony's will in public. It shows that his heart belongs to Cleopatra and Egypt, thereby making it clear to most Romans that Antony could never be one of them. The Senate declares war, and Octavian and Antony clash on 2 September 31 BC at the naval Battle of Actium, off the western coast of Greece. Antony is defeated as Cleopatra departs with the surviving fleet and he commits suicide.

Alexander Helios

Twins of Cleopatra VII & Marcus Antonius. Cleopatra is a short-lived ruler of Cyrene. Both allowed to live after 30 BC.

Cleopatra Selene II

30? BC

Ptolemy Philadelphus

Brother. Died en route to Rome?

30 BC

Octavian invades Egypt and Cleopatra, fearing captivity and humiliation in Rome, commits suicide. Egypt and Libya become Roman provinces. Sixteen year-old Ptolemy Caesarion, the son of Julius Caesar, is presumably killed on the orders of the soon-to-be emperor of Rome. His half-siblings, the three children of Cleopatra and Marc Antony, are shipped off to Rome to be adopted, generously, by Octavia Minor, Antony's former wife. Ptolemy Philadelphus is not mentioned in Rome, suggesting that the young boy may not survive the sea voyage. Cleopatra Selene is eventually married of to the Berber King Juba II of Mauritania.

30 BC - AD 639

FeatureWhile mummies of Egyptian dignitaries are being entombed at Bawiti between 30-1 BC (see feature link), Egypt is being reorganised as a Roman province, becoming a highly important grain supplier to the new Roman empire. The Sinai peninsula remains to be conquered by Emperor Trajan.

The country is generally at peace (something that could not be said for the rule of the Ptolemies), but uprisings against Roman rule are experienced in AD 292 or 293. Another uprising in 296 is led by Domitius Domitianus, a would-be emperor. He dies in December 297 and Egypt is divided into several provinces which eventually fall under the control of the Eastern Roman empire. In 639 Egypt is conquered by the Islamic empire, and Islamic Egypt is controlled directly by the caliphate.