Temples of the Ancient Egyptian 25th Dynasty
Mr Hironao Onishi
Saturday, 8 November 2003; 7:00-9:00pm
Keynes Hall, King's College
The Kushites of the 25th Dynasty built a series of temples and chapels in many parts of their double kingdom of Egypt and Nubia, which include many small-scale temples as well as major temples like B.500 at Gebel Barkal and Temple T at Kawa. The Kushite temples, both major and minor, tend to have been built on the sites where earlier temples, mainly of the New Kingdom dates, once stood. This fact itself may explain the Kushite strategy of building temples, and the numerousness of the Kushite temples/chapels probably indicates that religious monuments were as important for the Kushite state organisation as for the Egyptian one in their prime. Therefore, wherever in the country remains of Kushite religious monuments are found, the places could perhaps be regarded as some kind of centres (either national or regional) of the Kushite state organisation.
It seems to remain a mystery, however, how the Kushites of the 25th Dynasty managed to sustain such a widespread building programme in a relatively short period of time (about half a century between Shabaqo's re-conquest of Egypt in c.715 BC and the final retreat of Tanwetamani to their native land in c.663 BC), though many of their monuments were in fact built in Nubia. It would be even more remarkable if we assumed that most of those temples/chapels had been built by the middle of Taharqa's reign (c.675 BC), thenceforth the Kushites began to struggle with the Assyrians.
Those temples/chapels must have strengthened, in some way, the Kushite rule over their newly acquired land. Despite the fact that the Kushite rule was finally diminished by the Assyrians after mere 50 years, Egypt, as a state, seems to have regained the integrity and some of its cultural prosperity under the 25th Dynasty and much of it would probably have been attributed to the Kushite policy of rebuilding (or reviving) old temples/chapels.
Aspects of a number of minor Kushite temples, many traces of which have been found in various parts of Egypt and Nubia (including the Delta and the Western Oases), are mostly unknown to us. It seems to remain a mystery why and how the Kushites of the 25th Dynasty undertook such a widespread building programme during their short-lived sovereignty (just over half a century between Shabaqo's re-conquest of Egypt in c.715 BC and the final retreat of Tanwetamani to their native land in c.663 BC). Yet, it appears to have contributed, at least in part, to the cultural revival and prosperity under the 26th "Saite" Dynasty.
My research focuses on those minor temples that were probably built during the Kushite 25th Dynasty and attempts to reveal their possible roles in the Kushite state organisation. It will also give us an insight into the true nature of the Kushite rule over Egypt during the 25th Dynasty.