National Geographic : 1941 Oct
The Assyrians (and Others) Come Down Like a Wolf on the Fold IN 945 B. c., following 145 years' rule by the high priests of Amfin who composed the XXIst Dynasty, the throne of Egypt was seized by a Libyan soldier, named Sheshonlk. This pharaoh, the Biblical Shishak, was responsible for the sack of Jeru salem in 930 B. c. and the building of the first pylon and forecourt at El Karnak a few years later. His dynasty, the XXIInd, ruled a minimum of 200 years, but its later kings exercised only local authority in the north, the rest of the country having been taken over by the Ethio pian kings of Napata. The same con ditions prevailed during the short, feeble XXIIIrd and XXIVth Dy nasties. The pharaohs of the Ethiopian XXVth Dynasty passed most of the years 712-663 B. c. trying vainly to defend Egypt against the Assyrians, who invaded and ravaged the north ern part of the country almost at will. In our plate an Ethiopian queen of Egypt, Amun-dyek-het, whose hus band, the pharaoh Taharlka, has aban doned her and the rest of his family, stands before her Assyrian captor. The queen's crown is surmounted by the double plume, the lunar disk, and the cow's horns of the goddess IHat Hor. The necklace with bronze counterpoise, held in Amun-dyek het's right hand, is her insignia as priestess of Hat-Hor. When, at the end of this period, more important wars with Babylon and Elam had diverted the main force of the Assyrians from Egypt, Psam metik, an Egyptian prince of the Delta city of Sais, drove out their remaining garrisons and established a new native dynasty, the XXVIth. During the "Saite Period," so inau gurated, Egypt took on a new lease on life. Though its holdings in Syria and Palestine were lost to Nebuchad nezzar of Babylon, the country itself was not invaded, and for 138 years enjoyed some peace and prosperity. Trade was re-established with the rest of the eastern Mediterranean world and mutually beneficial rela tions were entered into with the ris ing country of Greece. Art, using as its models the outstanding works of bygone eras, enjoyed a splendid revival, many of the artistic produc tions of the Saite period ranking with the best that Egypt has to offer. The final blow to Egyptian in dependence was, however, not long in coming. In 525 B. c. the XXVIth Dynasty fell before the onslaughts of King Cambyses of Persia, and Egypt became a Persian province. It re mained so until, with the rest of the Near East, it was conquered by Alex ander the Great of Macedon. At Alexander's death in 332 B. c. a Macedonian general named Ptolemy was appointed governor of Egypt; and for almost 300 years the country was ruled by his descendants The last of the Ptolemies was Cleo patra VI. Ironically enough, this Greek woman has come to be the best known "Egyptian" queen in history. After her the Romans ruled Egypt for nearly 500 years. Then the Mos lems conquered it. Since A. D. 650, Egypt has been a key state in the Mo hammedan world. From 1517 to 1919 Turkey held it almost continuously. We leave the ancient Egyptians, well content if, in our pictures and in our story, we have portrayed them truly, not as a weird collection of mummy-making freaks, but as the very ordinary men and women they were-simple, hard working, cheerful, and, above all, thoroughly human.