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Taharqa's Supplication to Amun

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    Posted: 13-Mar-2012 at 10:15
The Assyrian conquest of Egypt

In late spring of 671 BC Esarhaddon mustered his troops in an attempt to conquer Egypt and defeat Taharqa once and for all. In the summer of 671 BC he invaded Egypt.  Three fierce pitched

th nd

battles were fought on the 3 , 16rd and 18th  day of the month of Du’uzu (Tammuz). On the 22 of the same month Memphis, Taharqa’s capital, was conquered and sacked. Taharqa was wounded five times by Esarhaddon’s arrows and fled 37, but his son and brothers were captured alive.  Esarhaddon entered Memphis in joy and sat on Taharqa’s [throne]. Taharqa’s gods and goddesses together with all the palace possessions, Taharqa’s queen and secondary wives and Ushanhuru, the Nubian crown prince (mâr ridûtîðu) were brought out of the city, counted as spoil and taken back to Assyria.38

After the cessation of fighting Esarhaddon appointed anew officials and administrators over the captured towns of (Lower) Egypt.  Some of these officials had Egyptian names and some had Assyrian names.39

Taharqa’s prayer concerning the conquest of Egypt

As we have seen, Taharqa’s inscription reflects the Egyptian dominion in the Levant (between March 673 and 671) and the loss of it. A closer look at this inscription reveals Taharqa’s view of the Assyrian conquest of Egypt in 671 and possibly in 667.  I have divided the text into paragraphs that deal with specific subjects.

The text is composed of an introduction (§ 1), 2 sets of 3 similar paragraphs, namely: § 5 (past promises and their realization), § 6 (Taharqa’s complaint) and § 7 (Taharqa’s request) are respectively similar in content with § 2 (Amun’s favors in the past), § 3 (Taharqa’s distress) and § 4 (Taharqa’s request).  § 8 and § 9 are an elaboration and deal with foreign affairs and Taharqa’s family’s safety. These requests are not mentioned in § 4. These paragraphs deal with the situation in Egypt in the past, in the present and what has to be done to correct the situation in th future. § 10 ends the prayer with a Glorification of Amun and the hope for a better future.

In the following pages I will give the transliteration, translation and comments on the relevant paragraphs.40

§ 1. Beginning of king’s speech

(3) x[r].f n sA.k mri.k nsw bity (  ) sA Ra ( ) Imn Ra nb nswt tA.wy [mry ...] i[wa] n Smaw mHw di anx nb DD wAs nb snb nb Aw ib nb mi ra Dt (4) [...] md.t mi aA.s

(3)…Thus he says, namely, your (i.e., Amun’s) son, whom you love, King of Upper and Lower Egypt, (empty cartouche), Son of Re (empty cartouche), [beloved of] Amun-Re, Lord of the thrones of the two lands, h[eir] of Upper and Lower Egypt, given all life, stability and all dominion, all health, all happiness like Re forever. (4) […] affair according to its importance.”

§ 2. Amun grants Taharqa with the rule over Egypt

di.k n.i Smaw mHw stp.k wi m Xnw.[sn di.]k Dd.w tA.wy.i is41 i.iri Imn ir pr aA n p(A) nty mri.f sw

“You gave me Upper and Lower Egypt, you chose me among [them and] you [caused] to be said: ‘(These are) my two lands, indeed’.  It is according to what he desires, that Amun makes a Pharaoh”.

Amun granted Taharqa rule over Egypt. He gave him Upper and Lower Egypt42 and caused the people of the land to recognize his sovereignty. By mentioning the fact that Amun chose Taharqa and bestowed favors upon him in the past, Taharqa intended to stress his divine legitimacy and expected for continuity in Amun’s deeds.

§ 3. The actual situation in Egypt: a description of Taharqa’s distress

43 44

di.k gm.i s Dd p(A) i di.k aq.f p[ ... ... ] rmT i wn bw rx.w s Hr.i

“You caused me to discover this, namely: He, the one, whom you have caused to enter […] men, who did not know it about me”.

However, the situation mentioned in § 2 did not last. Amun caused Taharqa to discover that whatever was promised and granted to him in § 2 changed.  Amun has given Taharqa the two lands and caused them to acknowledge his rule, but in par. 3 he caused someone to enter (name of place not preserved in the text),45 with people who did not know what Amun had ordained for Taharqa.46 According to the theological ideology presented in Taharqa’s prayer, it was Amun who caused the enemy to invade Egypt and desecrate places either as part of a plan to glorify Taharqa’s accomplishments47 or because Amun was angry with him.48

§ 4. Taharqa’s request

4950 51

(5) i [Imn ... ... ] i pA nty bw iri.f xAa tA i.iri.f iw.s n gs i Imn m [ ... ].k n-im.w iw.k ®)

52 53

sDm.w n.i mtw.k [ … (6) ... md.t (?) b]in.t m iri di.t aq.i r md.t iw msd.k s p(A) [ ... ... ] m

54 55

iri di.t iri.i pA ntt ms[d.k s  (7) ... ... ] m di.k xri-r-m [in]k (r) ntt ink  pAy.k Sri iw ntk i [wTt xp]r.t nbt mn nk.t iw [ ... (8) ... ] Xnw n Imn nAy

“Oh, (5) [Amun … ]. Oh, You who did not abandon what he has created, while it is half realized.  Oh Amun, don’t [ … … ] with them. You shall hear them for me,56 and you shall [turn back (?) (6) the e]vil (words?).  Do not let me enter an affair that you hate. […].  Do not let me do what [you h]ate [… (7) …] from you together with me.  I am your little child, while it is you [who begot?] all [that comes into be]ing. 57 There is nothing which […] (8) [… …].  It is the residence of Amun.”58

Taharqa’s request is construed in the imperative mode.  Amun is addressed as a god who finishes what he has started.  Thus, Taharqa demanded continuity in Amun’s deeds.  Amun has given Taharqa the rule over Egypt and Taharqa’s wish is that the people who did not know Amun and entered his realm would recognize his legitimacy and his divinely decreed sovereignty over Egypt. Taharqa asked Amun to prevent him from doing things, which Amun detests.  He claimed that something was taken (?) from Amun’s hand together with his.59   In these sentences Amun is described as an omnipotent creator god, a father who has to take care of his child, Taharqa, and protect him from getting into danger.  Furthermore, the close relationship Between Taharqa and Amun stresses the identity of cause between god’s affairs and those of the king. Amun acts on behalf of Taharqa.

§ 5. Amun’s promises before Taharqa assumed kingship and their realization

60 61

sr.k n.i nn iw di.t xa.i [ ... (9) ... ] @apy aA n pAy.i hAw iAw n.i tA pt iw.s n (= m) aD iw.s aSA (10) [m Hw ... ]

“Before you crowned me you have foretold these to me: (9) [ … ] a great inundation in my time. The sky was extended for me, being thick and abundant (10) [with rain].”

Taharqa reflected on past events and reminded Amun of the wonders, which he foretold him before his crowning and bestowed upon him during his reign. In Kawa V Taharqa recorded the wonders that happened in his sixth regnal year. The text mentions an abundant inundation in Upper and Lower Egypt and rainfall in Nubia.62

§ 6. Taharqa’s complaint: The actual situation in Egypt is not as promised

[ ... ... n]n ink sw iwn(A)y63

“[ … ]It does not belong to me.”64

Taharqa complained that the areas, which enjoyed abundant rain and inundation [i. e. Egypt

65 66

and perhaps parts of Nubia (?) ], are not in Taharqa’s control (anymore). Consequently, Taharqa expected that Amun would come to his aid at the present in the same manner as he did in the past when he proclaimed these wonders and caused them to happen.

§ 7. An elaboration of Taharqa’s request to regain control over Egypt and its population

imi st Xr.i Dr.w [iw] (11) [ ... ... ] nw r.f [...r I]mn ntf pA i.iri nf[r  ] (12) [ ... n]Hm wi r Snw nHm wi r mdt bin.t nb imi Dd.w r-r.[i ... (13) ...] t Hnqt kA.w Apd.w iw HAty.i nDm imi fAi.i n.k nkt nb n pA ntt p[A ... (14) ... ] mri iri67 pA nty bw-pw pr aA nb iri.f iw.i m di.k n bAk iw.k (r) Sna

n.i nA [ ... ] (15) [ ... ] mn pA nty iw.f amD.w

“Place them all under me … (11) [… … which (?) lo]ok at him [with respect (?)] to A]mun. It is he who does well, [... (12)…] save me from pain,68 save me from every evil word, let them say about [me (?) … (13) …] bread, beer, oxen, birds, my heart being sweet.  Cause me to carry to you anything of that which [… (14) …] loves (?).  Do what no Pharaoh has (ever) done, while I am with you as servant.  You will repel for me the […]69 (15). There is no one who will keep them away.”

Taharqa, again, forwarded a request in the imperative mood.  He asked Amun, his patron god, to enable him to repel the intruders and regain control over the lost territories of Egypt (and Kush?) and their people, and renew their loyalty towards him.  Taharqa also requested to repulse evil for him. One of the reasons for being in an evil state is Amun’s disfavor towards Taharqa. Taharqa inquired if the evil state, in which he is, was caused by his neglect of the cult of Amun, and he immediately proposed to offer and bring to Amun anything, which may change the evil state.70 He asked Amun to act as Pharaoh71 (evidently, a task too great for Taharqa to perform at the moment) and to show loyalty as Amun’s servant.

§ 8. Restoring foreign affairs

i Imn pA i.iri.i72  n pA tA nHsy i.di [ ... (16)... ... ] imi iri.i sw n pAy.k inw n pA tA n #Arw I. amD r-r.k

“Oh Amun, what I did in the land of Nubia,73 let [ … (16) … … ], let me do it with your tribute (inw) of Khor (Syria-Palestine) which has been turned aside from you.”

Only after asking Amun to help him gain power over the lost parts of Egypt, Taharqa wished to be able to restore the lost tribute of #Arw (Syria-Palestine).  This is the first time in the text that Taharqa refers to Egypt’s relations with its neighbors.  The tribute from the Levant had been lost either between 677 and March 673 as Vernus and Spalinger have postulated,74 or after 671.

§ 9. Guarding Taharqa’s family

i Imn (17) [... ... nAy.(?)]i Hmwt imi anx nAy.i Xrd.w amD n.i pA mwt r.w nHm wi r-r [... (18) ... ...] n r.w mtw.k pna.w r DADA.w Ha.w75

“Oh Amun, (17) [… … m]y wives, let my children live.  Keep death away from them for me.  Save me from [… (18) … evil words(?)] of their mouths,76 and turn them over (the evil words?) back on them.”77

This paragraph embodies an additional key theme enabling us to date this text, whose significance both Spalinger and Vernus overlooked in their treatment of the text.78  A fragmentary cuneiform tablet (K 8692) informs us about a campaign against a ruler and land that were not preserved in the text.  Lines 22-23 provide the key to the problem:

(22) aSSâtîðu mârçSu u mârât[iSu] (23) [Sa] kîma SâSûma kîma ittê salmu Sîrûðu[nu]

(22) “His wives, his sons and [his] daughters (23) [who]se bodies like his, have skins as black as asphalt (he counted as booty)” 79.

According to the various inscriptions it can be assumed that § 9 deals with the sack of Memphis by the Assyrian king and the capture of Taharqa’s women, concubines, relatives, and most important, Taharqa’s crown prince Ushanhuru. 83 Taharqa petitions Amun to safeguard his family, which have been taken captive.84

§ 10. Glorifying Amun and future hope

Hry i.iri di anx pAy.f bAk i[ ... (19) ... ] iw nb sp sn i Imn mn  pA nty iw.f wAH n.k sHn ntkpA ntt wAH [ (20) sHn ... ... ] pA nty iw.k Dd n.i m Sm n-im.k sp sn iw.i Sm tA [ ... (21) ... ] i Imn mn iri.t bin.t n tA md.t  i.iri.k pA nty [ ... ]

“It is the master who causes his servant to live [… (19) …] all. Oh Amun, there is no one who gives you orders. It is you that gives (20)  [orders …].  That which you say to me: “Go forth, go forth”, I shall go forth [… (21)…].  Oh Amun, there is no evildoing in the affair, that you have done which […].”

Taharqa glorified Amun, showed absolute loyalty and hoped for a better future relying on the guidance of Amun.  Vernus and Spalinger date this inscription to a period before the Assyrian setback of 673, and thus give an optimistic outlook to this inscription.  According to their dating, Taharqa would in a few months repel the Assyrians and delay their conquest of Egypt by two years.

Unfortunately, the pain and despair demonstrated in the beginning of the text would accompany Taharqa until his death. The counterattack, so anxiously anticipated by both scholars (and by Taharqa as well) had already occurred and did not save Egypt from Assyrian conquest. After praying to Amun for delivery, setting up this stela and seeing the Assyrians defy Amun’s decree, Taharqa realized that he could not avenge Amun’s desecration and his own defeat.85   He deserted the dynastic family necropolis at El-Kurru and built his tomb, imitating the form of the Osireion at Abydos, at Nuri.  Taharqa’s tomb is situated East-Northeast from Gebel Barkal. Looking from Gebel Barkal eastwards at the beginning of the New Year, the sun rose directly over the summit of Taharqa’s pyramid.  This would ensure that Taharqa would be reborn as Osiris, who was slain by Seth, and that his heir the living king, the embodiment of Horus, would avenge his defeat. Unfortunately, but even his dying wish was not carried out by his successors.86

Department of Jewish Studies, Haifa University

Thought this was interesting...The Loyalty he had was somewhat poetic. This should be made into an epic or something. Hopefully they will portray this in Will Smiths Movie when he plays King Taharqa Wink

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  Quote Nick1986 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 23-Mar-2012 at 20:58
That looks like an Egyptian cobra on Taharqua's crown. Are those ear-flaps on the sides, or did he have a beard?
Me Grimlock not nice Dino! Me bash brains!
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  Quote Fula Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 05-Apr-2012 at 08:04
I doubt he had a beard most sudanese people dont...
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