Late Period, Ptolemies


One last flourish of Egyptian culture before the end of Egyptian born rulers. Long decline as part the various Empires of the late ancient world. Dynasty XXVI (664-525) – The Assyrians left Necho, a prince of Sais perhaps connected to the brief XXIVth Dynasty, in charge of Egypt. His son Psamtik I became the first of the XXVIth Dynasty rulers, with the capital at Sais. A revival of New Kingdom culture in an imitative manner, tombs at Sakkara and some rebuilding work at Thebes and Karnak. Struggles went on with Assyria’s successor, Babylon, mostly conducted with Greek mercenaries who had settled in the Delta in large numbers. The decline of Babylon left the last two rulers of the XXVIth, Amasis and Psamtik III, in relative peace.

Dynasty XXVII (525-404) The Persian conquest, first by Cambyses in 525 BC and then annexation into the Persian Empire.

Dynasties XXVIII – XXX (404-332) Feeble native Egyptian rulers struggled against the Persian Empire, including Nepherites’ treaty (XXIXth Dynasty) with the Spartans and other uses of the Greek states as a balance of power against the Persians. Nectanebo I, founder of the XXXth Dynasty, defeated a Persian invasion and bought Egypt 40 years of relative peace. The Persians re-conquered Egypt just before their own collapse in the face of Alexander’s war machine. Various Delta capitals, tombs at Sakkara, Tanis and Sais.


Egypt became a province of the Macedonian Empire after its conquest by Alexander. In 323, Alexander died and Ptolemy Lagus became the satrap of an increasingly independent Egypt. Ptolemy, taking the additional name Soter, “Saviour,” became king of Egypt in 305. Capital at Alexandria, new center of Egypto-Greek culture. Ptolemaic Dynasty attempted to unify the Two Lands by adopting Egyptian titles and religion, rebuilding and restoring the ancient temple sites, such as Dendera, Edfu Kom Ombo and Philae. Ptolemy V Epiphanes, whose decree is found on the Rosetta Stone, was a great benefactor to the Egyptian religion. By Ptolemy XII Auletes, Egypt had become dependent on Roman power. The Ptolemaic Dynasty ended with the death of Cleopatra and Caesarion in 30 BC.