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Stanley M. Burstein

The thirteen-year reign of Alexander III of Macedon fundamentally changed the political and cultural structure of western Asia and North Africa. The Persian Empire, whose rule had extended from the Mediterranean to the borders of India, disappeared and was replaced by a system of competing Macedonian-ruled kingdoms. As a result, the region’s center of gravity shifted westward from its ancient focus in Mesopotamia and southwestern Iran to the shores of the Mediterranean. Equally important, Greek became the language of government and Greek culture became the new elite culture throughout this vast region.

Writing the history of Alexander s brief but remarkable reign is difficult Primary sources are few Of the many accounts written by his contemporaries and the numerous documents issued by his government that once existed only fragments quoted by later writers and a few inscriptions survive Therefore historians depend for their reconstructions on five Greek and Latin biographies ...

Article

Duane W. Roller

Seleucid king of Syria (175–164 BCE), is an important figure in African history because of his involvement with Ptolemaic Egypt during the Sixth Syrian War of 170–168 BCE; although this was only a small portion of his career, it was nonetheless a significant moment in Egyptian history.

Antiochus was the youngest son of Antiochus III ruled 222 187 BCE His date of birth is not known but was around the end of the third century BCE Like many members of the royal families of the Hellenistic East he spent time in Rome in the 180s BCE officially as a hostage This was a typical procedure of the era but it allowed a growing closeness between the Roman elite and eastern royalty and laid the ground for eventual Roman control of all the eastern kingdoms When Antiochus III died in 187 BCE his successor was his son Seleukos IV the elder ...

Article

Salim Faraji

Kushite king of the Meroitic period was a contemporary of Egyptian pharaoh Ptolemy IV and the fifth successor of Arkamaniqo Ergamenes I who was most noted for leading the Kushite expansion and reoccupation of Lower Nubia in the years 205 186 BCE After Ptolemy II s ascent to power circa 274 BCE Ptolemaic Egypt gained control over the long disputed area of Lower Nubia and thereby provoked a retaliatory stance from Upper Egypt and the Meroitic Empire Based on surviving inscriptions it is clear that Arkamani styled himself as a restorer of Meroitic cultural traditions and political supremacy in Lower Nubia He achieved this primarily through two principal activities First he embarked upon an aggressive building campaign in which he continued and completed construction of temples at Philae Kalabsha and Dakka all located in Lower Nubia Second he provided military support to Upper Egyptian nationalists who launched an independence and ...

Article

Salim Faraji

whose name was translated as “Ergamenes” by contemporary Greeks, was a Kushite king who is considered the founder of the Meroitic period of ancient Nubian history. The transliteration of his name in ancient Egyptian is ir ka imn, which roughly translates as the “the active spirit of Amen.” Arkamaniqo lived during the second quarter of the third century BCE; this assertion is primarily based upon his identification by the Hellenistic historiographer Agatharchides of Cnidus, who wrote that the “Ethiopian king Ergamenes” was a contemporary of Ptolemy II. There are also epigraphic sources that attest to his existence and reign in Kush at his pyramid burial at Begarawiya near Meroe City. His name is in cartouches inscribed in the mortuary cult chapel of this royal superstructure.

Arkamaniqo s pyramid was the first royal burial site in the region of Meroe City this suggests that his rule represented a transitional period ...

Article

Gianfranco Fiaccadori

Christian king (negus) of Aksum, was contemporary to the Prophet Muhammad, who is said to have recited the ritual prayer (salat) for al-Asham upon his death. The original Ethiopic (Geez) form of his name is Elle Seham or, by approximative rendering of the latter’s pronunciation, Ille Tsiham. The Arabic Chronicle of al-Tabari (d. 923) gives the text of two letters allegedly exchanged between the Prophet and al-Asham(a), called here al-Najashi, from Ethiopic negasi, an alternative form of negus that became specific for the ruler of Aksum linked to the so-called first hijra (emigration). In and after 615 two streams of early followers of the Prophet, including such prominent Islamic figures as the later caliph ʿUthman ibn ʿAffan and Muhammad’s daughter Ruqaya, fled to al-Habasha (Abyssinia). They went possibly to Aksum, the Najashi’s capital city, named also Zar(a)f(a)r(a)ta by al ʿUmari d 1348 ...

Article

Ira Spar

was a king of Assyria (668-628 BCE) and conqueror of Egpyt. Between 745 and 705 BCE, Assyria became a conquering imperial power. During the reign of Tiglath-Pileser III (744–727 BCE), Assyria seized control of Babylon to the south, invaded Urartu to the north, conquered parts of northern and southern Syria, and developed alliances that extended its influence to the borders of Egypt. Following Tiglath-Pileser’s death, his successors—Sargon, Sennacherib, Esarhaddon, and Ashurbanipal—strived to consolidate and maintain this empire.

By the end of the eighth century BCE Egyptian hostility to Assyria led to its support of revolts against Assyrian clients in Palestine causing Esarhaddon Ashurbanipal s father to invade Egypt in 671 BCE and defeat the Twenty Fifth Dynasty Egyptian pharaoh Taharqa 690 664 BCE who came from Napata in Nubia called Kush by the Egyptians and Meluhha by the Assyrians After three battles Assyrian forces captured Taharqa s capital city Memphis ...

Article

Aspelta  

Jean Revez

king of Kush, was the fourth Nubian ruler of the Napatan Period, a period of time spanning about four centuries (c. seventh–third BCE) during which Ancient Kush (a region covering more or less actual Sudan), which had previously ruled over pharaonic Egypt for more than a century during the Twenty-Fifth Egyptian Dynasty, became independent from its northern neighbor. Aspelta ruled probably at some point during the first half of the sixth century BCE, when Napata, a city located near the fourth cataract of the Nile, was the capital of the land.

Although his reign is fairly well documented in comparison with other contemporary Nubian kings its exact length can only be postulated Textual evidence shows that he reigned for at least three years but historians have traditionally assigned him a reign covering more than two decades He was at least still alive at around 593 BCE when the Egyptian army ...

Article

Duane W. Roller

king of Mauretania (c. 120–80 BCE), was the first powerful king of Mauretania, the vast region of northwest Africa including everything west of the Muluccha River. The earliest known event of his career is his involvement with the Greek adventurer Eudoxus of Cyzicus, who, after an attempt to circumnavigate Africa, was shipwrecked on the Atlantic coast of Mauretania and ended up at Bocchus’ capital, Volubilis, probably around 115 BC. Although Eudoxus requested financing for further expeditions, Bocchus was not interested in exposing his kingdom to Greek adventurism and planned to exile Eudoxus to an island (perhaps one of the Canaries), but he escaped to the Roman city of Tingis.

In 112 BCE war broke out between Rome and Jugurtha the claimant to the Numidian throne the territory just east of Bocchus dominions Bocchus attempted to remain neutral but was drawn into the war when refugees began showing up at his ...

Article

Duane W. Roller

king of Mauretania (ruled c. 64–33 BCE), a direct descendant (perhaps grandson) of the famous Bocchus I, inherited the eastern portion of the kingdom of Mauretania from his father Sosus around 64 BCE. A cousin (perhaps brother), Bogudes II, ruled western Mauretania from Volubilis. The earliest evidence for the reign of Bocchus II is the arrival in Mauretania of a dispossessed Roman P. Sittius, an investor in African grain who ended up the scapegoat for irregularities in the commodities market, standing trial twice, on one occasion being defended by Cicero. He fled to the court of Bocchus (who had been one of his suppliers of grain) in 63 BCE and became a military commander for the king.

Aside from this glimpse little is known about the the king s early career At some time he mounted an expedition along the Atlantic coast returning with giant reeds and asparagus the former ...

Article

Wolfgang Hahn

king of Aksum, who adopted Christianity, is one of the very few Aksumite rulers who is attested by several authentic, independent sources: monumental inscriptions set up in the capital that announce his victories; coins struck in gold, silver (partially gilt), and copper in huge quantities, of which hundreds are known today; and, as a diplomatic document, a copy of a letter, probably written in 356 by the Roman emperor Constantius II and addressed to Ezana and his co-regent, on the subject of missionary policies. All other literary sources—including the details of the report on Ethiopia’s conversion to Christianity by Frumentius, an emissary of St. Athanasius, the patriarch of Alexandria, in Rufinus’ Church History (written c. 402)—are legendary, as is the tradition of the Ethiopian church based on this story.

Ezana s place within the sequence of Aksumite kings most of which are known only from coins can be firmly established ...

Article

Guido M. Berndt

king of the Vandals and Alans was the son of Godagisil d 406 king of the Hasding Vandals and of an unknown concubine Geiseric also spelled as Gaiseric or Genseric this is a Germanic name most likely meaning Spear king ruled his people for almost fifty years and was one of the most powerful men of late antiquity Born into the noble family of the Hasdings in 428 he succeeded his half brother Gundiric who himself had come to power after their father s death twenty two years before Presumably Geiseric was born in 389 at a point in time when the Vandals were still dwelling outside the Roman Empire The Vandals crossed the Rhine in 406 407 passed through and plundered the provinces of Gaul reached Spain in the autumn of 409 and settled there for the next twenty years After the violent death of Gundiric Geiseric became king ...

Article

Wlodzimierz Godlewski

king of Makuria (a kingdom located in present-day Sudan and Egypt), was the son of Zacharias III, and was commonly known as Georgios. Georgios was crowned king of Makuria in 835, but prior to the death of his father in 856, he acted as coregent with Zacharias. The father was called “Augustus,” and the son “Caesar.” In 835–836 Georgios visited the caliph al-Mutasim in Baghdad and successfully renegotiated a bilateral agreement (baqt), which had originally been negotiated in 652 in Dongola between Qalidurut, king of Makuria, and Ibn Sarh Abdullahi, governor of Egypt. On the way to Baghdad Georgios met Joseph, bishop of Alexandria, and in Baghdad, Dionysius, bishop of Antioch.

The period of Zacharias s and Georgios s joint regency resulted in further consolidation of the Byzantine tradition in the kingdom of Makuria Two exceptional buildings the Throne Hall and a monumental commemorative building called ...

Article

Jean Revez

king of Kush, ruled over the Kingdom of Kush, an independent territory that embraced more or less modern-day Sudan from the middle of the eighth century BCE onward. Harsiotef probably lived near the beginning of the fourth century BCE, when Napata, a city located near the fourth cataract of the Nile, was the capital of ancient Nubia. It had previously been the center of a larger state that comprised Pharaonic Egypt for more than a century (c. 760–656 BCE). Textual evidence shows that Harsiotef reigned for at least thirty-five years, as reported in the Annals of Harsiotef. How much longer he ruled beyond this point is unknown, but this date nevertheless makes Harsiotef the longest-ruling king in Kushite history.

By far the most important document of his reign is the aforementioned Annals an inscription made up of 161 lines engraved on all four sides of a 215 cm × 70 ...

Article

Joyce Tyldesley

Egyptian ruler (c. 1473–1458 BCE), was the eldest daughter of Thutmose I, the third king of the New Kingdom Eighteenth Dynasty, and the consort of her half-brother Thutmose II. Following her husband’s untimely death, she acted as guardian for her stepson Thutmose III, before claiming the throne as a female pharaoh, ruling alongside and completely dominating the young Thutmose. Her reign saw more than twenty years of internal peace, foreign exploration, and monument building. But after her death, her monuments were destroyed and usurped and her rule was omitted from Egypt’s official King Lists.

After a long and successful career as a general Thutmose I was adopted by the heirless king Amenhotep I He may have been a descendant of a collateral branch of the royal family but Thutmose never names his birth father It has been suggested that his consort Queen Ahmose may have been either a daughter or ...

Article

Duane W. Roller

king of Numidia 88 62 50 BCE was a nephew of the famous Jugurtha and the next to last king of Numidia His father Gauda r 105 88 BCE left his kingdom to his sons Masteabar and Hiempsal II but the former is obscure and ended up ruling little more that a petty principality Hiempsal inherited most of the traditional territory of Numidia south and west of Carthage and was recognized by the Romans as a friendly king This was perhaps the work of C Marius near the end of a long career that had included much involvement in African affairs The recent attacks by Jugurtha had focused Roman interest on Numidia and for as long as this independent kingdom lasted the Romans were to be greatly involved in it There were numerous Italians generally merchants and traders living in Numidia and the collapsing political situation in Rome also meant ...

Article

Juba I  

Duane W. Roller

was the Hellenized (that is, Greek-influenced) king of Numidia, the North African region south and west of Carthage. He was descended from a famous line of indigenous kings, which included Massinissa, his great-great-grandfather, and Jurgurtha, his great-uncle. By the time of Juba I, Numidia had had a long history of involvement with Carthaginian and Roman politics, with a veneer of Hellenization.

Juba first appears in the historical record in 63 BCE when he visited Rome as the agent of his father King Hiempsal II because Roman expansionism had begun to affect Numidia In 146 BCE the Romans had defeated Carthage and had provincialized its territory although some Carthaginian lands had also been given to the Numidian kingdom Yet in the intervening eighty years Roman interests especially mercantile and agricultural ones had encroached on Numidia It was important to King Hiempsal to be closely involved in Rome s activities and thus ...

Article

Juba II  

Duane W. Roller

king of Mauretania, was a significant political leader and scholar of the Augustan period, who ruled a wide area of northwestern Africa as a king allied to Rome, and as “rex literatissimus (most learned king)” (Lucius Ampelius, Liber memorialis 38.1) was responsible for a large number of literary works.

He was the heir to the Numidian throne, a distinguished indigenous monarchy of North Africa (his ancestors included Massinissa and Jugurtha), but when his father Juba I committed suicide in 46 BC after defeat by Julius Caesar, as part of the Roman civil war, Juba II, who was only an infant at the time, saw his inheritance provincialized. He was brought to Rome by Caesar and entered the household of Caesar’s grand-niece Octavia, where he lived for twenty years, an intimate of the developing Roman imperial family. Eventually he became a Roman citizen.

In the 30s BCE his talents as ...

Article

John Marincola

Numidian king, was the son of Mastabanal and grandson of Massinissa (238–148 BCE). Massinissa became an important ally of the Romans in the final years of their struggle against Carthage and Hannibal (Second Punic War, 218–201 BCE), assisting them in the capture of Syphax, the king of the Masaesyli and a Carthaginian ally. He was rewarded by the Romans with all of the cities and territories he had taken by force, and after his death the kingdom passed ultimately to his son Micipsa, the uncle of Jugurtha (Mastabanal and a third brother, Gulussa, having died by disease). Micipsa adopted Jugurtha and raised him together with his own children, Adherbal and Hiempsal.

Jugurtha hampered by the stigma that he was illegitimate his mother whose name is unknown had been a concubine was nevertheless a young man of great gifts so much so that his nervous uncle tried to get rid of ...

Article

David C. Conrad

ruler of the West African Soso Empire in present-day Mali, was a central iconic figure in the Sunjata epic. In this story, Kanté is described as a “sorcerer king” and is credited with the acquisition of Mande musical instruments and conquest of pre-Malian Mande chiefdoms. His sister Kosiya Kanté was the mother of Fakoli Koroma, who is claimed as an ancestor by most Mande endogamous blacksmith lineages.

Our knowledge of Sumanguru also known as Sumaworo Sumamuru Sumawolo and other similar names comes almost entirely from oral tradition although his ephemeral kingdom is historical and it is reasonable to assume the existence of the ruler on which this legendary character is based Moreover in the Mande worldview Sumanguru plays a pivotal role in events affecting key historical ancestors and leading up to the founding of the Mali Empire The existence of Sumanguru s kingdom is acknowledged in the Arabic sources including ...

Article

Kashta  

A. K. Vinogradov

one of the earliest rulers of the Kushite kingdom (Ancient Sudan) attested in written sources. His reign is conventionally dated to the end of the first half of the eighth century BCE. Kashta’s personal name is usually considered as Meroitic and is supposedly interpreted as “the Kushite” (from “Kush/Kash,” one of the main appellations of the country), but due to the peculiarities of its writing and in view of some semantic parallels, its rendering as the Egyptian appellative “the Secret/Inaccessible Bull” or “(My) Spirit/Double (is) Secret” seems preferable.

The written attestations of Kashta are rather numerous about fifty and a few of them are on objects that are alleged to be his personal belongings Nevertheless definitive information about him is still more deficient than that about his semi mythological predecessor Alara so that most of the historical considerations in his regard are mere guesswork From indirect genealogical data it is ...