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Tirhakah, Tirhaqah, Taharka, Manetho's Tarakos
Granite sphinx of Taharqa from Kawa in Sudan
Granite sphinx of Taharqa from Kawa in Sudan
Pharaoh of Egypt
Reign 690–664 BC,  25th dynasty
Predecessor Shebitku
Successor Tantamani
Consort(s) Takahatamun, Atahebasken, Naparaye, Tabekenamun[2]
Children Amenirdis II, Ushanhuru, Nesishutefnut
Father Piye
Mother Abar
Died 664 BC

Taharqa was a pharaoh of Egypt and a member of the Nubian or Twenty-fifth dynasty of Egypt. His reign can be dated from 690 BC to 664 BC. He was the son of Piye, the Nubian king of Napata who had first conquered Egypt; Taharqa was also the younger brother and successor of Shebitku.[3]

Kenneth Kitchen's book, The Third Intermediate Period in Egypt, provides a wealth of information about Taharqa and confirms that his reign lasted a minimum of 26 years.[4] This is based on the evidence from Serapeum stela Cat. 192 "which records that an Apis bull who was born and installed (4th month of Peret, day 9) in Year 26 of Taharqa died in Year 20 of Psammetichus I (4th month of Shomu, day 20) having lived 21 years. This would give Taharqa a reign of 26 years and a fraction, in 690-664 B.C."[5] Taharqa was the brother of Shebitku, the previous pharaoh of Egypt. Taharqa explicitly states in Kawa Stela V, line 15 that he succeeded Shebitku with this statement: "I received the Crown in Memphis after the Falcon (ie: Shebitku) flew to heaven."[6]

Scholars have identified him with Tirhakah, king of Ethiopia, who waged war against Sennacherib during the reign of King Hezekiah of Judah (2 Kings 19:9; Isaiah 37:9) and drove him from his intention of destroying Jerusalem and deporting its inhabitants—a critical action that, according to Henry T. Aubin, has shaped the Western world.[7] The events in the Biblical account are believed to have taken place in 701 BC, whereas Taharqa came to the throne some ten years later. A number of explanations have been proposed: one being that the title of king in the Biblical text refers to his future royal title, when at the time of this account he was likely only a military commander.

Taharqa indulged in rebuilding the temple at Kawa, across the Nile from present-day Dongola, which became a major center for the Nubian kings. He built at a number of other sites in Nubia, and carried out numerous restoration and building projects at the temple of Amun at Karnak—especially the First Court of Amun there—as well as at Medinet Habu.[8] He was described by the ancient Greek historian Strabo as being counted among the greatest military tacticians of the ancient world.[9]


Conflict with Assyria

It was during his reign that Egypt's enemy Assyria at last invaded Egypt. Esarhaddon led several campaigns against Taharqa, which he recorded on several monuments. His first attack in 677 BC, aimed to pacify Arab tribes around the Dead Sea, led him as far as the Brook of Egypt. Esarhaddon then proceeded to invade Egypt proper in Taharqa's 17th regnal year, after Esarhaddon had settled a revolt at Ashkelon. Taharqa defeated the Assyrians on that occasion. Three years later in 671 BC the Assyrian king captured and sacked Memphis, where he captured numerous members of the royal family. Taharqa fled to the south, and Esarhaddon reorganized the political structure in the north, establishing Necho I of the 26th dynasty as king at Sais. Upon Esarhaddon's return to Assyria he erected a victory stele, showing Taharqa's young Prince Ushankhuru in bondage.

Upon the Assyrian king's departure, however, Taharqa intrigued in the affairs of Lower Egypt, and fanned numerous revolts. Esarhaddon died enroute to Egypt, and it was left to his son and heir Ashurbanipal to once again invade Egypt. Ashurbanipal defeated Taharqa, who afterwards fled first to Thebes, then up the Nile into his native homeland—Nubia. Taharqa died there in 664 BC and was succeeded by his appointed successor Tantamani, a son of Shabaka. Taharqa was buried at Nuri.[10]


Will Smith is developing a film entitled The Last Pharaoh, which he will produce and star as Taharqa. Carl Franklin contributed to the script.[11] Randall Wallace was hired to rewrite in September 2008.[12]

See also


  1. ^ Clayton, Peter A. Chronicle of the Pharaohs: The Reign-by-Reign Record of the Rulers and Dynasties of Ancient Egypt. Thames & Hudson. p.190. 2006. ISBN 0-500-28628-0
  2. ^ Aidan Dodson & Dyan Hilton, The Complete Royal Families of Ancient Egypt, Thames & Hudson (2004) ISBN 0-500-05128-3, pp.234-6
  3. ^ Toby Wilkinson, The Thames and Hudson Dictionary of Ancient Egypt, Thames & Hudson, 2005. p.237
  4. ^ K.A. Kitchen, The Third Intermediate Period in Egypt (1100–650 BC), 3rd edition, 1996, Aris & Phillips Ltd,pp.380-391
  5. ^ Kitchen, p.161
  6. ^ Kitchen, p.167
  7. ^ Henry T. Aubin, The Rescue of Jerusalem, 2nd edition, 2003, Anchor Canada.
  8. ^ Wilkinson, p.237
  9. ^ Snowden, Before Color Prejudice: The Ancient View of Blacks. Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1983, pp.52
  10. ^ Why did Taharqa build his tomb at Nuri? Conference of Nubian Studies
  11. ^ "Will Smith set to conquer Egypt?". Jam Showbiz. 2008-03-23. Retrieved 2008-03-23.  
  12. ^ Michael Fleming (2008-09-08). "Will Smith puts on 'Pharaoh' hat". Variety. Retrieved 2008-09-08.  

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