Piankhi same as Bible’s Tirhakah?

Published September 21, 2018 by amaic
Image result for piankhi



Damien F. Mackey



Now Sennacherib received a report that Tirhakah, the king of Cush,

was marching out to fight against him”.

2 Kings 19:9



As part of my effort to reform the later Egyptian dynastic history in my postgraduate thesis:


A Revised History of the Era of King Hezekiah




I had identified the long-reigning 25th (Kushite) dynasty pharaoh, Piankhi (or Piye) (c. 744-714 BC, conventional dating) with the biblical Tirhakah (or Taharko) (hopelessly mis-dated to c. 690-664 BC, conventional dating).

There is a scarab that seems to attest to this identification directly:



It is discussed in a most interesting article entitled by R. Clover, entitled “The Sabbath and Jubilee Cycle”, section Tirhakah Piankhi (commencing on p. 118):



I wrote about this on p. 384 of my thesis (Volume One):


Now Piye [Piankhi], conventionally considered to have been the first major 25th dynasty pharaoh, and whose beginning of reign (revised) must have been very close to 730 BC (given that he reigned for 31 years), and whose 21st year (Stele) fell during the reign of Tefnakht – had also adopted the name of Usermaatre. Thus Grimal: … “[Piankhy] identified himself with the two great rulers who were most represented in the Nubian monuments, Tuthmosis III and Ramesses II, and adopted each of their coronation names: Menkheperre and Usermaatra respectively”. In other words, Piye was an eclectic in regard to early Egyptian history; and this fact may provide us with a certain opportunity for manoeuvring, alter ego wise.

Fortunately we do not need to guess who Piye was, because there is a scarab that tells us

precisely that Snefer-Ra Piankhi was Tirhakah, much to the puzzlement of Petrie. …. It reads:


“King of Upper and Lower Egypt, Tirhakah, Son of Ra, Piankhi”.


Part Two:

25th (Ethiopian) Dynasty not clear cut




“… that is by no means the only problem with the current arrangement of the 25th dynasty. In fact there appears to be a significant problem in the case of virtually each … of its major kings”.


If Piankhi is really to be identified with Tirhakah as according to a piece of evidence referred to in Part One: https://www.academia.edu/37451966/Piankhi_same_as_Bibles_Tirhakah then – with Piankhi conventionally beginning in c. 744 BC, and Tirhakah conventionally ending in 664 BC – such a union will necessitate yet a further significant revision (no surprise there) of later Egyptian history. Whilst this would come as a surprise, though, for conventional historians, who generally consider the 25th dynasty to be rather secure, based upon the (as is thought) well-attested and accurate neo-Assyrian chronology, it would come as no surprise whatever to anyone who considers the conventional neo-Assyrian chronology to be in need of considerable reform.

Regarding the shakiness of the conventional reconstruction of even the supposedly “authentic history”

(Gardiner) of the 25th (Ethiopian) dynasty, I wrote in my postgraduate thesis (with inspiration from Peter James et al., Centuries of Darkness):


A Revised History of the Era of King Hezekiah




(Volume One, beginning on p. 373):


The Presumed ‘Ethiopians’


The conventional chronology offers a scenario entirely different from the one that I have just proposed for the era of the Fall of Samaria in c. 722 BC. But at least it gives us an ‘Ethiopian’ ruler for that era; though somewhat wrongly dated as I shall attempt to show: namely, Piye (c. 747-716 BC, conventional dates). Piye of the 25th Ethiopian dynasty is known from his detailed stele to have been at odds with the 24th dynasty pharaoh, Tefnakht (c. 727-716 BC, conventional dates). I discussed this particular scenario above (pp. 368-370), where I however rejected any such a view that would date Piye’s Stele (in his 21st year) to the approximate time of ‘So’, as is conventionally done. Instead, I argued for an era somewhat later (viz., Ashurbanipal’s, revised) for this document. We recall that the name of Piye’s northern opponent, Tefnakht, was included in the Annals of Ashurbanipal; apparently indicating that Piye continued to rule into a period significantly later than according to convention. “Here at last”, wrote Gardiner, with an apparent sigh of relief upon his introduction of the 25th dynasty,[1] “we are heartened by some resemblance to authentic history …”. Perhaps though, from a conventional perspective, he could not have been more wrong. The Tang-i Var inscription dated to Sargon II’s Year 15 (c. 707 BC), according to which Shebitku – not Shabaka as was long thought – was the 25th dynasty pharaoh who had dispatched the rebel Iatna-Iamani in chains to Sargon II, has brought new confusion. Here is the pertinent section of this document:[2]



… I (… Sargon) plundered the city of Ashdod, Iamani, its king, feared [my weapons] and …. he fled to the region of the land of Meluhha and lived (there) stealthfully (lit. like a thief) …. Shapataku’ (Shabatka) king of … Meluhha … put (Iamani) in manacles and handcuffs … he had him brought captive into my presence ….


This means that Shebitku and Tirhakah must now be re-located upwards by at least a decade in relation to Sargon II. Perhaps nowhere does the conventional separation of Sargon II from Sennacherib show up as in this case. Yet even revisionist Rohl, as late as 2002, was ignoring the Tang-i Var evidence, dating Tirhakah’s first appearance, at the battle of Eltekeh, to 702 BC, an incredible “thirty-one years earlier” than his actual rule of 690-665 BC,[3] which is, however, about two decades too late. Thus he wrote:[4]


For five years the new king of Napata (ruling from Kush) had reigned in co-operation with his cousin Shabataka [Shebitku], king of Egypt (son of Shabaka). Then Taharka [Tirhakah] became sole 25th Dynasty ruler of both Kush and Egypt in his sixth regnal year following the death of Shabataka in 684 BC. There were other Libyan pharaohs in Egypt (such as Shoshenk V of Tanis and Rudamun of Thebes) but they were all subservient to the Kushite king.


The year 684 BC is far too late for the beginning of Tirhakah’s sole rule in relation to Shebitku and his known connection with Sargon II’s 15th year! And that is by no means the only problem with the current arrangement of the 25th dynasty. In fact there appears to be a significant problem in the case of virtually each one of its major kings. Regarding its first (according to convention) major ruler, Piye, for instance, Gardiner has written:[5]


It is strange … that Manetho makes no mention of the great Sudanese or Cushite warrior Pi‘ankhy who about 730 B.C. suddenly altered the entire complexion of Egyptian affairs. He was the son of a … Kashta … and apparently a brother of the Shabako [Shabaka] whom Manetho presents under the name Sabacōn.


And whilst, according to Herodotus, Shabaka (his Sabacos) reigned for some 50 years,[6] he has been reduced by the Egyptologists to a mere 15-year reign.[7] Furthermore:[8] “The absence of the names of Shabako and Shebitku from the Assyrian and Hebrew records is no less remarkable than the scarcity of their monuments in the lands over which they extended their sway”. These anomalies, coupled with the surprise data from the Iranian Tang-i Var inscription (which is in fact an Assyrian reference to Shebitku), suggest that there are deep problems right the way through the current arrangement of the 25th dynasty. I hope that I am now beginning to propose plausible solutions to at least some of these.



Piye’s chronology now heavily overlaps with the chronologies of Shebitku and Tirhakah. And soon I shall provide definite proof that Piye was in fact also the fascinating Tirhakah (= Shabaka) – a contemporary already of Sennacherib’s Third Campaign – the chronological problems peculiar to whom will be discussed in more detail chiefly in 7. below. There also I shall attempt to reconstruct in outline Tirhakah’s entire rule, now in relation to a much revised neo-Assyrian history.

And little wonder that the history of the 25th dynasty is confused, built as it is upon an apparently faulty archaeology and certainly a faulty neo-Assyrian based chronology. James’ chapter on the ‘Dark Age’ in Nubia[9] shows again – consistent with his evidence as discussed in the previous chapter (and consistent also with the epigraphical and art-historical evidence of Velikovsky and Professor Greenberg) – how the Sothic chronology of Egypt has yielded certain baffling anomalies in the archaeology of associated nations. I give here some relevant parts from James’ chapter:[10]


Having created a Dark Age in Nubia, it is not surprising that historians have treated the appearance of the Egyptianized ‘Kingdom of Kurru’ … [mid C9th BC] as a new beginning, largely unrelated to the end of the Viceregal period. So firmly entrenched has this idea become that Adams was forced to make the bizarre comment that ‘it took some time for the lesson of the pharaohs to sink in’.

…. Indeed, few writers considering the end of the viceregal administration and the rise of the Kingdom of Kurru discuss the Dark Age itself; most restrict themselves to a passing comment on the lack of evidence from this period. Accordingly, the sudden expansion of Kurru power in the second half of the 8th century BC has baffled Nubian archaeologists. As rulers of Egypt the Kushite kings became involved in the politics of the Near East, and their conflict with Assyria for the mastery of Palestine and Phoenicia ensured them a place in the biblical record.


We recall that Gardiner had considered himself to be closer to the realm of true history when discussing the 25th dynasty. James though, whilst noting that such is the general view of scholars today, adds that this was not always so:[11]


Scholars can say that with the 25th Dynasty Egyptian history is once again on firm ground after the problems of interpreting the evidence for the preceding dynasties (21-24) of Libyan rule. But this confidence is relatively new. Earlier Egyptologists, notably Petrie, had profoundly different understandings of what was essentially the same evidence. The classical tradition has it that the Kushite king who conquered Egypt was Shabako, and, indeed, he is acknowledged as the first ruler of the Dynasty in the King List of Manetho …. However, because the massive Invasion Stela of Piye (or Piankhy) … unearthed by Auguste Mariette records his conquest of Egypt and the submission of the Delta dynasts, Piye is now accredited with the foundation of … the 25th Dynasty and it is assumed that Shabako’s invasion was later, and simply consolidated Kushite power.



Here James gives Gardiner’s very quote about Piye that I used on p. 374. He continues:[12]


A number of factors in the inscriptions of Piye, and the building activities in the Sudan which carry his name, created such difficulties that scholars, including Petrie and the brilliant German Egyptologist Richard Lepsius, thought that there were as many as three kings of this name; the earliest the conqueror of Egypt, and the others ruling after the 25th Dynasty withdrawal from Egypt …. Although Egyptology is doubtless correct to accept the existence of only one Piye, the material still presents a number of problems and focuses attention on a further question – the origins of the 25th Dynasty in Nubia.


I want to take just one more section of James’ discussion here, because he now goes on to consider the early Ethiopians in connection with the 20th dynasty. Here James, discussing the el-Kurru cemetery, concludes – right in line with my own thesis, in which the 20th and 25th dynasties partly overlap – that the 20th dynasty was much closer in time to the 25th than convention would have it:[13]


The Kurru cemetery was excavated by George Reisner, the founder of Nubian archaeology, on behalf of Harvard University and the Boston Museum of Fine Arts in 1918 and 1919 …. The latest burials were of those kings well-known from inscriptional evidence as the founders of Kushite power, Kashta and Piye (Piankhy), and as rulers over Egypt, Shabaqo, Shebitqo [Shebitku] and Tanwetamani [or Tantamani] …. The prime position in the site was dominated by a sequence of burials which Reisner attributed to five ancestral ‘generations’ ending with Alara. Allowing twenty years per generation and a base date for Alara of c. 760 BC, Reisner calculated the date of the commencement of the el-Kurru cemetery at about 860 BC. Reisner based his interpretation on the developmental nature of the graves in the cemetery, moving from simple tumuli to pyramids. This sequence is logical, and given the small number of tombs there seems to be no good reason to increase Reisner’s number of generations ….

However, some of the artefacts from the earliest of the ‘ancestral’ burials have recently been identified as 20th Dynasty (i.e. 12th-11th century BC) in date …. This material is, by its nature, unlikely to be ‘heirloom’ or acquired from rifled New Kingdom tombs. Some of the most significant is painted pottery which was clearly manufactured for the funeral ceremony and ritually broken at the time ….

It seems that this first generation must indeed be attributed to the later 20th Dynasty … However, the radiocarbon tests carried out on the material, admittedly insufficient and so far unpublished, would seem to fit Reisner’s calculated 9th-century BC date for the earliest graves …. The re-examination of the material from el-Kurru presents Nubian studies with a serious problem: either Reisner’s chronology (internal and exact) is correct, or the cemetery comprises two or more groups of graves, of different periods, having no relationship to each other.



It is impossible to have a compromise solution which spreads the ancestral burials over the 300 or so years from the late 20th Dynasty to the mid-8th century, because of the limited number of graves …. If Reisner’s interpretation is correct, then the 20th Dynasty finds were deposited in the 9th rather than the 11th century BC. Such a radical compression of the length of time from the end of the 20th Dynasty until the beginning of the 25th, whilst flying in the face of conventional Egyptology, removes the Nubian Dark Age at a single stroke. ….

[End of quotes]


The very close proximity of the Twentieth Egyptian Dynasty to the Twenty-Fifth Dynasty, as determined above, must now have some ‘ramifying’ ramifications for Ramses III as Ramses II, as according to my article:


New Revision for Ramses II




[1] Ibid, p. 335.

[2] Wikipedia’s Shebitku.

[3] The Lost Testament, p. 463.

[4] Ibid., footnote **.

[5] Op. cit., ibid.

[6] The Histories, II, pp. 137 & 140.

[7] Gardiner’s figure for example. Op. cit, p. 450.

[8] Ibid, p. 344.

[9] Centuries of Darkness, ch: “The Empty Years of Nubian History”.

[10] Ibid, p. 208.

[11] Ibid, p. 209.

[12] Ibid, pp. 209-210.

[13] Ibid, pp. 212-213.


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