Ancient Egypt / Third Intermediate Period /
This dynasty was of Meshwesh Libyan descent and was founded by Shoshenq 1 in the middle of the 10th century BCE. Upon the time when they established themselves as Egyptian rulers, they ruled from Bubastis or Tanis in the Nile Delta.
The shift towards this dynasty began 15 years prior, when Theban High Priest became king from Tanis, Psusennes 2. Although Shoshenq 1 most probably was not a relative of his, the second ruler was, his son, Osorkon 1. This suggests a smooth shift between the 21st and the 22nd Dynasties.
The dynasty's Libyan leaders kept their foreign names and identity, but otherwise they did not separate themselves from Egyptian culture. Libyan rulers adjusted to Egyptian royal traditions, partly to seek legitimacy from the predominantly Egyptian population, but also because of their own fascination of the higher culture. A reflection of their attitude towards Egyptian culture, Osorkon 2 revived the Heb-Sed-festival, which they staged in Bubastis.
Their administration was military in nature, instead of being an effective bureaucracy. Provincial governors were military commanders, fortresses were built around all major settlements, administering what came close to being a feudalistic structures. During this dynasty, there was far less importance placed upon the position of the king. Material show that the he often was ranked to the same level as local rulers. Few ritual acts were any longer reserved for the king alone. This may both show that the understanding of the king had changed, but also that the king was not strong enough to exercise more power. The administrative structures may well have resulted in rural areas and the deserts being out of effective royal control.
Through intermarriage, the Tanite rulers tried to create an alliance with the High Priests of Thebes.
Egypt made advancements into foreign lands during this dynasty, for the first in a long time. Troops were sent by King Sheshonq 1 into the Levant, achieving only to plunder Jerusalem; no permament presence was established. Egypt's western regions came several times under attack by the Libyan people of Peywed.
For somewhat like the first 70 years, Lower and Upper Egypt were a united country, but during the reign of Osorkon 2, Thebes gained independence for a period of 10 years, ca. 870-860. In the 860, the High Priest of Amon at Thebes, Harsiese, declared himself king.
During the reign of the next king, Takelot 2, civil war broke out in Thebes, and in 818 Pedubastis 1 declared his dominions in Upper Egypt independent, thereby beginning what is called the 23rd Dynasty, a state structure that would last about 60 years.
Other regional centres also gradually became stronger, and eventually several local rulers declared themselves kings. At the most, around 730, Egypt was divided into 6 kingdoms.
In the middle of the 9th century, the Cushite king made his daughter a leading priestly figure in Thebes, trying to bypass the High Priest. Only a few years later, the Cushites were able to establish full control of the region, thereby founding the 25th Dynasty.
The counting of kings Osorkon causes confusion at times, as there is one before Osorkon 1: Osorkon the Elder of the 21st Dynasty. Some lists make "the Elder" the 1st, moving later Osorkons one step ahead. Moreover, there is no Osorkon in the list of 22nd Dynasty kings between the 2nd and the 4th. Rather, the Osorkon of the 23rd Dynasty is then ranked the 3rd.
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