Saturday, December 1, 2012

Assurbanipal Defeats Egypt

Assurbanipal, King of Assyria, left a written record of his battles in Egypt. Here are some extracts (as translated in Van De Mieroop, Marc. A History of the Ancient Near East, Oxford: Blackwell Publishing, 2005, pp. 239 - 40) along with some comments:

"Tarqu (Taharqa) the godless came out in order to take Egypt... He sent an army to kill, destroy and plunder against the people of Assyria who were in Egypt, my servants, whom Esarhaddon King of Assyria, my father, had entrusted with kingship there".

Note that Assurbanipal's father Esarhaddon installed a number of "servants" as "kings". This shows that Egypt at this time was politically divided, a situation that Assyria exploited to their advantage.

Assurbanipal then tells us that Taharqa raised an army and gave battle at Memphis. Taharqa was defeated and "boarded a ship to save his life. He left his camp, fled alone and entered the city of Ni (Thebes)".

We know from this incription that Assurbanipal did not personally command his armies as he mentions messangers coming to him with news of the victory.

At this point the former Assyrian vassals, who had sided with Taharqa, decided to submit once more to Assurbanipal. One of these former vassals, named Nikku (probably Nekau I) was mentioned in particular as having been established as a "king" by Esarhaddon. "Nikku" had joined against Assurbanipal, but the Assyrian King showed him mercy and re-established him as a "king" in the Nile delta.

Nekau met his fate, probably at the hands of the Kushites, who would shortly return to Egypt under their new King, Tanutamun. But Necho's son, Psamtek I, would expell the Assyrians and re-unite Egypt.

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