Osorkon IIOsorkon II Pendant bearing cartouche of Osorkon II Pharaohof EgyptReign872–837 BC, 22nd DynastyPredecessor Shoshenq IISuccessor Shoshenq IIIRoyal titularyPrenomen: Usermaatre Setepenamun
Usermaatre Setepenamun Osorkon II was a pharaoh of the Twenty-second Dynasty of Ancient Egypt and the son of Takelot I and Queen Kapes. He ruled Egypt around 872 BC to 837 BC from Tanis, the capital of this Dynasty. After succeeding his father, he was faced with the competing rule of his cousin, King Harsiese A, who controlled both Thebes and the Western Oasis of Egypt. Osorkon feared the serious challenge posed by Harsiese's kingship to his authority, but, when Harsiese conveniently died in 860 BC, Osorkon II ensured that this problem would not recur by appointing his own son Nimlot C as the High Priest of Amun at Thebes. His younger son Shoshenq was made the High Priest of Ptah in Memphis. In this period of Egypt's history, religious and political power were at their most inseparable.
According to a recent paper by Karl Jansen-Winkeln, king Harsiese A, and his son [..du] were only ordinary Priests of Amun, rather than High Priests of Amun, as was previously assumed. The inscription on the Koptos lid for [..du], Harsiese A's son, never once gives him the title of High Priest. demonstrates that the High Priest Harsiese who served is attested in statue CGC 42225 – which mentions this High Priest and is dated explicitly under Osorkon II – was, in fact, Harsiese B. The High Priest Harsiese B served Osorkon II in his final 3 years. This statue was dedicated by the Letter Writer to Pharaoh Hor IX, who was one of the most powerful men in his time. However, Hor IX almost certainly lived during the end of Osorkon II's reign since he features on Temple J in Karnak which was built late in this Pharaoh's reign, along with the serving High Priest Takelot F(the son of the High Priest Nimlot C and therefore, Osorkon II's grandson). Hor IX later served under both Shoshenq III, Pedubast I and Shoshenq VI. This means that the High Priest Harsiese mentioned on statue CGC 42225 must be the second Harsiese: Harsiese B.
- 1 Foreign policy and monumental program
- 2 Reign length
- 3 Marriages and children
- 4 Successor
- 5 Tomb
- 6 References
Foreign policy and monumental program
Despite his astuteness in dealings with matters at home, Osorkon was forced to be more aggressive on the international scene. The growing power of Assyria meant the latter's increased meddling in the affairs of Israel and Syria – territories well within Egypt's sphere of influence. In 853 BC, Osorkon's forces, in a coalition with those of Israel and Byblos, fought the army of Shalmaneser III at the Battle of Qarqar to a standstill thereby halting Assyrian expansion in Canaan, for a brief while.
Osorkon II devoted considerable resources into his building projects by adding to the temple of Bastet at Bubastis which featured a substantial new hall decorated with scenes depicting his Sed festival and images of his Queen Karomama. Mutemhat was another of his wives. Monumental construction was also performed at Thebes, Memphis, Tanis and Leontopolis. Osorkon II also built Temple J at Karnak during the final years of his reign, which was decorated by his then serving High Priest Takelot F(the future Takelot II). Takelot F was the son of the deceased High Priest Nimlot C and, thus, Osorkon II's grandson. Osorkon II was the last great Twenty-second Dynasty king of Tanis who ruled Egypt from the Delta to Upper Egypt because his successor, Shoshenq III lost effectively control of Middle and Upper Egypt in his 8th Year with the emergence of king Pedubast I at Thebes.
Osorkon II died around 837 BC and is buried in Tomb NRT I at Tanis. He is now believed to have reigned for more than 30 years, rather than just 25 years. The celebrations of his first Sed Jubilee was traditionally thought to have occurred in his 22nd Year but the Heb Sed date in his Great Temple of Bubastis is damaged and can be also be read as Year 30, as Edward Wente noted. The fact that this king's own grandson, Takelot F, served him as High Priest of Amun at Thebes–as the inscribed Walls of Temple J prove – supports the hypothesis of a longer reign for Osorkon II.
Recently, it has been demonstrated that Nile Quay Text No.14 (dated to Year 29 of an Usimare Setepenamun) belongs to Osorkon II on palaeographical grounds. This finding suggests that Osorkon II likely did celebrate his first Heb Sed in his 30th Year as was traditionally the case with other Libyan era Pharaohs such as Shoshenq III and Shoshenq V. In addition, a Year 22 stela from his reign preserves no mention of any Heb Sed celebrations in this year as would be expected, (see Von Beckerath).
While Osorkon II's precise reign length is unknown, some Egyptologists such as Von Beckerath – in his 1997 book Chronology of the Egyptian Pharaohs – and Aidan Dodson have suggested a range of between 38 to 39 years. However, these much higher figures are not verified by the current monumental evidence. Gerard Broekman gives Osorkon II a slightly shorter reign of 34 Years.
Marriages and children
Osorkon II is known to be the father of Tjesbastperu, Nimlot C--a High Priest of Amun at Thebes--and Shoshenq, a High Priest of Ptah at Memphis who died young in his father's reign. Nimlot C, in turn, would be the father of Takelot II who later ruled Upper Egypt at the same time that Shoshenq III ruled Lower Egypt.
David Aston has convincingly argued in a JEA 75 paper that Osorkon II was succeeded by Shoshenq III at Tanis rather than Takelot II Si-Ese as Kitchen assumed because none of Takelot II's monuments have been found in Lower Egypt where other genuine Tanite kings such as Osorkon II, Shoshenq III and even the short-lived Pami(at 6-7 Years) are mentioned on donation stelas, temple walls and/or annal documents. The only documents which mention a king Takelot in here such as a Royal Tomb at Tanis, a Year 9 donation stela from Bubastis and a heart scarab featuring the nomen 'Takelot Meryamun' — have now been attributed exclusively to king Takelot I. The English Egyptologist Aidan Dodson in his 1994 book, The Canopic Equipment of the Kings of Egypt, observes that Shoshenq III built "a dividing wall, with a double scene showing Osorkon II" and himself "each adoring an unnamed deity" in the antechamber of Osorkon II's tomb. Dodson concludes that while one may argue Shoshenq III erected the wall to hide Osorkon II's sarcophagus, it made no sense for Shoshenq to create such an elaborate relief if Takelot II had really intervened between him and Osorkon II at Tanis for 25 years unless Shoshenq III was Osorkon II's immediate successor. Shoshenq III must, hence, have wished to associate himself with his predecessor – Osorkon II. Consequently, the case for establishing Takelot II as a Twenty-second Dynasty king and successor to Osorkon II disappears, as Dodson writes. Other scholars such as Gerard Broekman and Karl Jansen-Winkeln have also strongly endorsed this position. Gerard Broekman writes in a recent 2005 GM article that "in light of the monumental and geneaological evidence," Aston's Chronology for the position of the 22nd Dynasty kings "is highly preferable" to Kitchen's chronology.
The French excavator, Pierre Montet discovered Osorkon II's thoroughly plundered royal tomb at Tanis on February 27, 1939. It revealed that Osorkon II was buried in a massive granite sarcophagus with a lid carved from a Ramesside era statue. Only some fragments of a Hawk-headed coffin and canopic jars remained in the robbed tomb to identify him.San el-Hagar
- ^  Osorkon (II) Usermaatre
- ^ Karl Jansen-Winkeln, "Historische Probleme Der 3. Zwischenzeit," JEA 81(1995), pp.129-149.
- ^ David Aston, "Takeloth II: A King of the Theban 23rd Dynasty?," JEA 75(1989), p.152
- ^ Edward Wente, Review of Kenneth Kitchen's The Third Intermediate Period in Egypt c.1100-650 BC, JNES 35(1976), pp.275-278
- ^ Gerard Broekman, "The Nile Level Records of the Twenty-Second and Twenty-Third Dynasties in Karnak," JEA 88(2002), pp.174-178
- ^ Jürgen von Beckerath, Chronologie des Pharaonischen Ägypten, MAS:Philipp von Zabern, (1997), p.98 & p.191
- ^ Aidan Dodson, A new King Shoshenq confirmed?, GM 137(1993), p.58
- ^ Gerard Broekman, 'The Reign of Takeloth II, a Controversial Matter,' GM 205(2005), pp.31 & 33
- ^ Nos ancêtres de l'Antiquité, 1991. Christian Settipani, p. 153 and 166
- ^ Aston, op. cit., pp.139-153
- ^ Aidan Dodson, "The Canopic Equipment of the Kings of Egypt," (Kegan Paul Intl: 1994), p.95
- ^ Dodson, op. cit., p.95
- ^ Gerard Broekman, 'The Reign of Takeloth II, a Controversial Matter,' GM 205(2005), pp.31
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