ART FROM ANCIENT LANDS

 

ART FROM ANCIENT LANDS

 

 

 

 

 

26th Dynasty Bronze Sculpture of Pharaoh Apriès - X.0113
Origin: Egypt
Circa: 589 BC to 570 BC
Dimensions: 6" (15.2cm) high
Collection: Egyptian
Style: 26th Dynasty
Medium: Bronze

The 26th Dynasty, also known as the Saite Period, is traditionally placed by scholars at the end of the Third Intermediate Period or at the beginning of the Late Dynastic Period. In either case, the Saite Period rose from the ashes of a decentralized Egyptian state that had been ravaged by foreign occupation. Supported by the assistance of a powerful family centered in the Delta town of Sais, the Assyrians finally drove the Nubians out of Egypt. At the close of this campaign, Ashurbanipal’s kingdom was at the height of its power; however, due to civil strife back east, he was forced to withdraw his forces from Egypt. Psamtik I, a member of the family from Sais, seized this opportunity to assert his authority over the entire Nile Valley and found his own dynasty, the 26th of Egyptian history. Known as the Saite Period due to the importance of the capital city Sais, the 26th Dynasty, like many before it, sought to emulate the artistic styles of past pharaohs in order to bolster their own claims to power and legitimize their authority.

The Saite Pharaoh Haa-ib-re, meaning "Jubilant is the Heart of Re Forever," is better known by his Greek name Apries. He succeeded his father, Psamtik II in February of 589 B.C., and ruled Egypt until his defeat at the hands of Amasis in 570 B.C. Some sources suggest that Apries was the Biblical Hophra. The famed historian Herodutus claimed that the wife of Apries was called Nitetis. As all Egyptian pharaohs felt was their duty, he built temples to glorify the deities in locations such as Athribis (Tell Atrib), in the Bahariya Oasis, at Memphis and Sais. On the military front, he was plagued with a number of problems at home and abroad. Apries vigorously confronted the Chaldaean problem that had plagued his predecessors. Although the Egyptians scored early successes under an alliance with Phoenician cities and Zedekiah of Judah, this campaign ended in disaster and possibly caused an invasion of Egypt in the late 580’s. However, Apries did mount some efficient campaigns against Cyprus and Phonenicia between 574 and 570 B.C. Although a mutiny launched by an important military garrison of native Egyptian troops stationed at Elephantine had been successfully suppressed, it set a dangerous precedant.

Apries sent another army of native Egyptians to help Libya in their battle against the Greek city of Cyrene. They were badly beaten and Apris was blamed for this disastrous defeat. For sometime, the Greek mercenaries under the pharaoh’s command had been treated considerably better than the native Egyptian army(the machimoi). Tensions that had been bubbling under the surface finally erupted upon the survivor's return to Egypt when a confrontation between the machimoi and the mercenaries resulted in civil war. When Apries sent his general Amasis (Ahmose II) to put down the revolt, he turned against the pharaoh and assumed the leadership of the rebel army. At this point, history becomes a bit fuzzy as several accounts vary. However, it is clear that the Greek mercenaries met the rebellious Egyptian army in battle at a location called Momemphis around January or February of 570 B.C. Apries’ army was defeated and forced to retreat. Eventually, Amasis caught up to him and Apries was killed. Yet in death, he was treated with respect by the new king and his remains were transported to Sais, where he was buried with full royal honors.

Although small bronze sculptures depicting kings in kneeling poses first appeared in the Middle Kingdom, a noticeably greater number of such bronzes were created during the Third Intermediate Period (1070-712 B.C.). This phenomenon suggests an increased focus on the pharaoh’s subordinate relationship to the gods, perhaps reflecting the evolution of religious philosophies. This sculpture depicts a king kneeling in an offering pose with his open hands held just above his knees. He is festooned in the traditional royal regalia, including a pleated kilt secured into place by a broad belt, beaded armbands, and a broad beaded collar. A stripped cloth nemes headdress crowns his head (the same type immortalized in the gold bust of Tutankhamen) featuring a fragmented Uraeus cobra. His wide face has been expertly rendered with engraved details such as the tapering eyebrows. A cartouche has been inscribed onto the upper portion of his left arm, identifying him as Apriès (early XXVI dynasty, circa 589-570 BC). While bronze representation of this little-known king are extremely rare, there exists another bronze statuette in the name of this king now in the collection of the Museum of Cairo (CGC 38245). - (X.0113)

 

 

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