Ancient Egypt / Third Intermediate Period /
This dynasty was ruled from Tanis in Lower Egypt, but Egypt was effectively a divided country during this era.
The north was ruled by the kings, the Middle and Upper Egypt was under the effective control of the High Priests of Amon at Thebes. He was even the commander of the army of the whole country.
The dividing line between Tanite and Theban Egypt appears to have been at the site of Teudjoi, south of the entrance to the oasis of Fayoum.
The political fragmentation between north and south predates the dynasty, Egypt had been divided for along period during the reign of Ramses 11, the last king of the 20th Dynasty. His period had been one of hard civil wars between the king and the High Priest of Amon in Thebes.
Much of strength of the Theban office was established by chief general Herihor, while Piankh established a hereditary priestly and military dynasty. This regional dynasty would be replaced by the family of Osorkon the Elder, who was of Meshwesh Libyan origin. From this, would eventually emerge the 22nd Dynasty of the whole of Egypt.
Between the kings at Tanis and the effective rulers in Thebes, the situation was stable, without confrontations. As a matter of fact, Theban documents were dated according ot the kings of Tanis. There were close family links between Tanis and Thebes.
The links were so stong that in 959, the Theban high priest became king in Tanis: Psusennes 2. He is considered the last ruler of the 21st; the change into the 22nd Dynasty was undramatic, coming from his own family: Its 2nd ruler, Osorkon 1, was Psusennes 2's son.
There appears to have been a Libyan element in the ruling classes both in Thebes and Tanis. Eventually, with the next dynasty, the 22nd, the Libyans emerged as the rulers of Egypt.
Egypt of this time was largely a theocracy, and political power was vested in the god Amon himself. The kings of Tanis built an enormous temple dedicated to him, as well as large temples to other central Theban gods, where even the layout resembled that of the temples at Karnak. In the case of King Psusennes 1 he was also a high priest of Amon.
Royal burials of this period often reused artefacts of fresh graves, causing the available material limited for modern researchers. Yet, this is an indicator of relative poverty of the society, and perhaps even of weak social structures (lack of respect of the recently deceased). Perhaps because of impatience of the kings of a new capital,perhaps because of economic shortcomings, perhaps because of cultural and technological decline; Tanis was largely built from material taken from other sites, especially the town of Piramesse together with other sites in the Nile Delta.
On foreign fronts, the federation of the Philistines served as a buffer for the emerging kingdom of Israel. During the reign of Israeli king Solomon, Egypt chose diplomatic methods of keeping up good relations, marrying Egyptian princesses and offering territory as dowry. This indicates, more than anything, Egyptian economic and military weakness.
Confused? Try to find a good place to start learning about Ancient Egypt in
Where to begin?