The Dictionary

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KAMBASUDEN. Local ruler of Lower Nubia recorded in the inscription of the king of Meroe, Nastasen. The Meroitic king sent a force of archers against him and captured his ships, lands, and cattle. The text refers to places called Karatep and Talaudy; the precise locations of which are uncertain. The episode is rather obscure. Earlier Egyptologists identified Kambasuden with the Persian king Cambyses. This can be safely discounted as the burial of Nastasen has now been excavated and must date to the later fourth century BC. The identification of Kambasuden with Khabbash was favored by more scholars, but is also to be rejected. The Nastasen inscription makes it quite clear that Kambasuden was a local ruler: it is highly unlikely that any Egyptian pharaoh would have been in Nubia with herds of cattle. The idea (of Fritz Hintze) that Kambasuden represented a Meroitic transcription of Khabbash was fanciful.

KAMOSE (reigned c. 1555–1550 BC). Theban ruler of the 17th Dynasty. Kamose continued the war against the Hyksos rulers of the Delta that had been begun by his father, Tao. Events of the war are narrated in texts of the two Kamose Stelae and the Carnarvon Tablet No. 1. These also allude to a military campaign in Kush against the Kerma kingdom. Two fragments of the First Kamose Stela were discovered at Karnak in 1932 and 1935; the Second Stela was also discovered, intact, at Karnak. The Second Stela launches into the middle of a speech without any preamble and is clearly the continuation of another inscription. Although the two Kamose Stelae relate to the same events, they do not form a pair and another, now lost, monument is assumed to have existed as the prologue to the Second Stela. The text of the First Stela relates closely to that of the Carnarvon Tablet narrating the council of war, the announcement of the pharaoh’s decision to attack the Hyksos, and the storming of Nefrusy. The Second Stela records the advance northward to Avaris and the attack on the city, with references to the letter exchange between the Hyksos and Kushite rulers in which a pincer attack on Kamose is proposed. The text of Carnarvon Tablet No. 1 relates closely to that of the fragments of the First Stela, and it includes the council of war in which the pharaoh announces his intention of launching an attack on the Hyksos ruler of Avaris and the beginning of the conflict with activities in the region of Nefrusy in Middle Egypt. Kamose may have been killed in battle, as there was, apparently, a cessation of hostilities during the childhood of his successor, Ahmose I.

KARIMALA (ninth/eighth centuries BC). Kushite queen. Her name has also been read as Kadimalo and Katimala. Karimala left a large inscription on the facade of the temple in the fortress of Semna. The texts are very difficult to read but allude to rebellion or civil war in Nubia led by Makarasha, apparently against the unnamed king who was the husband of Karimala.

KARM ABU-GIRG (30°54′ N 29°56′ E). A site on the western edge of the Delta, about 20 kilometers south of Alexandria and 50 kilometers southeast of el-Gharbaniyat. Some monuments of Ramesses II were found here, and it is possible that the site was the location of a fortress, part of the chain extending along the coast as far as Zawiyet Umm el-Rakham, built as a defense against incursions of the Libyans.

KASHTA (reigned c. 750–736). King of Kush, who entered Upper Egypt and was recognized as pharaoh in Thebes. The details and chronology of the reign are obscure. It seems that Kashta succeeded Alara as king in Kush and had sufficient military and economic strength to invade Egypt. There are very few contemporary monuments that name him, although a fragment of a stela was discovered on the island of Abu (Elephantine). Most of the references to him are slightly later. The inscriptions of Piye, who appears to have been Kashta’s direct successor, make it clear that Thebes and Upper Egypt acknowledged him as king at his accession, and Kashta must therefore have brought the region under Kushite rule and installed a garrison there. At Thebes, Kashta installed his daughter Amenirdis as heiress to the politically significant religious office of God’s Wife of Amun, which was held by the Libyan princess Shepenwepet, daughter of Osorkon III.

KASSITES. Ruling dynasty of Babylon (Shangar) in the Late Bronze Age, from circa 1595–1155 BC. The kings engaged in letter exchange, gift exchange, and diplomatic marriage with the pharaohs of the later 18th Dynasty, notably Amenhotep III and Akhenaten, documented by the Amarna Letters. The gifts exchanged included horses and chariots. Earlier scholarship claimed that the Kassites were another Indo-European horse-breeding aristocracy, like the Hurrians who conquered Mitanni, and that their conquest of Babylon was similarly linked to their military superiority in the use of the fast, two-wheeled chariot. As with the Hurrians, this idea is now rejected. The Kassites appear to have been a people of the Zagros mountains of western Iran, although they are attested in Babylonia in the Old Babylonian period (c. 1900–1600 BC).

KEBENET. A term for a type of ship. It derives from the Egyptian name for Byblos, Keben. The usage of the word in texts of Late Period date has caused controversy because some scholars understand kebenet to mean warships of a non-Egyptian type, identifying them as Greek triremes. The term is used in the text of a stela from Abu (Elephantine) of the reign of Ahmose II. The admiral Wedjahorresne carries, among other titles, that of Overseer of the kebenet-vessels of the King. It recurs in the canal stelae of Darius I and in several texts of Ptolemaic date. In one of these, the word was written with a detailed hieroglyphic sign showing a Hellenistic warship. However, kebenet also seems to refer to cargo vessels and might simply be a term specifying large sea-going ships rather than riverine vessels.

KERMA. Site south of the Third Cataract in Upper Nubia. Capital city of the kingdom of Kush. Kerma may have also embraced the site of (or later been named) Pnubs, on the island of Tabo. Archaeological evidence shows that the site was important from the time of the Egyptian Old Kingdom. Some scholars identify it with Yam, the destination of the expeditions of Harkhuf. As a trading partner the pharaohs of the 12th Dynasty probably supported it, but its power grew and the Kushite kings began to expand their control into Wawat. They captured and burned fortresses such as Semna and Buhen, later placing garrisons in them. The Kushite kings established trading relations with the Hyksos rulers of Avaris. Kamose and Ahmose I attempted to confront the power of Kush before attacking the Hyksos, first gaining control of Buhen and then founding a new fortress at Sai. Kerma was apparently burned at the time of the campaign of Thutmose I, although recent excavation shows that it was extensively rebuilt and remained an important center.

KHABBASH (reigned c. 338–335 BC). Last indigenous ruler of Egypt. Khabbash established himself as pharaoh opposing the power of Persia, probably at the beginning of the reign of Darius III (336–332 BC in Egypt). Little is known of the rebellion or the reign. Khabbash was apparently crowned at Memphis. Ptolemy I found it politic to acknowledge him as a legitimate pharaoh and confirm one of his decrees in his “Satrap Stela” and this remains the major historical source for the reign. Although principally concerned with land donations for the temple of Buto, it alludes to upheaval at the time of the invasion of Artaxerxes III and to a tour made by Khabbash to inspect the waterways of the western Delta to prevent attack by the Persian fleet. Khabbash was incorrectly identified in some earlier literature with the Lower Nubian ruler Kambasuden, who was defeated by the Meroitic king, Nastaseñ.

KHAFRE (reigned c. 2558–2532 BC). Pharaoh of the Fourth Dynasty, and builder of the Second Pyramid at Giza. A fragment of relief sculpture depicting a bound prisoner was reported from excavations in the pharaoh’s pyramid temple, but is inadequately published and its context unknown. Another fragment of relief, which probably comes from a private tomb at Giza of this reign, or that of Khufu, shows a group of five archers using self-bows. The arrows are detailed, showing the feathering and attachment to the butt. The archers wear the cross bands on the torso, which are typical of the military in the Old Kingdom. The fragment belongs to the earliest battle scenes to have survived.

KHARGA OASIS. The largest oasis in the Libyan Desert of Upper Egypt. It stands on the Darb el-Arba’in, the Forty Days Road, the major route for trans-Saharan trade in the medieval and early modern periods. Although it is unlikely that the full length of the Darb el-Arba’in was operational as far as Darfur and Kordofan in ancient times, there were connections with the Nile throughout Nubia.

Most of the evidence from Kharga Oasis comes from the later historical phases, from the Libyan period onward. At the southern end of the oasis, the Roman fortress of el-Qasr controlled the road from the south, but that of Dush related to the routes to the Nile Valley and Edfu. The temple in the main town (Hibis) is of Persian date as is the small original chapel within the fortress of Qasr el-Ghueida, which dominates the southern access to the town. The many monuments of the Roman period include the great fortress of ed-Deir, built in the reign of Diocletian, which controlled the road across the desert plateau north of Hibis to Girga (ancient Tjeny). Another road north of Kharga ran directly to Asyut (201 kilometers) and could leave the depression through either of two passes, Ramlia or Yabsa. There are numerous wells and cultivated areas with many signs of Roman–Byzantine settlement in this part of the oasis. The road is guarded by the fort of Qasr el-Labeka and two smaller forts or watchtowers, Someira and el-Gib, situated about two kilometers apart. Although under Egyptian control for much of its history, Kharga Oasis might have been occupied by Libyans as much as Egyptians. During the problems at the end of the 20th Dynasty, there were certainly movements of Libyans through the other oases of the Western Desert, into Kharga and from there into the Nile Valley of Upper Egypt and Nubia.

KHASEKHEMWY (reigned c. 2600 BC). Last pharaoh of the Second Dynasty. Statues from Nekhen (Hierakonpolis) depict the king wearing the White Crown of Upper Egypt and have figures of fallen enemies carved around the bases. These are signified as “northerners” and the figure 47,209 is given. The evidence, obscure as it is, has suggested to some Egyptologists that there was some sort of major civil war during the reign, perhaps with a religious background involving followers of the gods Horus and Seth; others are more circumspect. An alternative interpretation regards this as an exaggerated record of action in north Sinai and Palestine. A fragmentary stela of the king suggests the subjection of Ta-Sety, which is a name for Nubia and for the first nome of Upper Egypt. Because of its similarities to the Shunet el-Zebib at Abydos, a large mud brick enclosure of this reign at Nekhen was suggested by early archaeologists to be a fortress, but is probably a temple enclosure.

KHEPESH. The sickle-shaped sword. Although it is similar in shape to the scimitar, the khepesh was heavier and sharp along its outer rather than inner edge. It was therefore used as a slashing or crushing weapon. The name derives from its resemblance to the stylized foreleg of an ox (the Egyptian word for which was khepesh). A good example of the weapon was found in the tomb of Tutankhamun. With a full length of 59.7 centimeters, the khepech, as well as its handle, is solid cast in bronze; the handle grips are of ebony. A smaller example, 40.6 centimeters long, is suggested to have been made for Tutankhamun as a child. It is also solid cast with attached wooden grips and has a sharp cutting blade. A number of other good examples survive. The khepesh is frequently seen being presented to the pharaoh by various deities, such as Amun, Re, and Monthu, and wielded by him over groups of foreign captives. The khepesh was in general use through western Asia and can be seen as part of the weaponry in the Asiatic tribute presented to Akhenaten in the tomb of Meryre II at Amarna.

KHEPRESH. The “Blue Crown” sometimes called (particularly in older literature) the “war crown” or helmet. Tall and bulbous, the khepresh is usually colored blue, but can also be shown yellow. It is covered with small centered circles, which have been interpreted as metal or faience disks attached to a cloth or leather body. It is often, but by no means always, worn in battle scenes, and is now recognized as a symbol of the pharaoh’s temporal rule and legitimacy.

KHMUNU. Important city in Middle Egypt, often referred to by its Greek name, Hermopolis, the modern el-Ashmunein. Relatively little is known of the city’s history, although it was an important religious center situated in an agriculturally rich part of the country. In the Second Intermediate Period, Khmunu was the southernmost city controlled by the Hyksos rulers of Avaris. The inscriptions of Kamose refer to an attack by the Theban prince and his army on the town or fort of Nefrusy, which was close to Khmunu.

In the reign of Takeloth II, the high priest of Amun and Crown Prince Osorkon was active in the city. Osorkon’s inscription is not explicit, but he states that he “cleansed” the city, an act that usually occurred after violent capture and bloodshed. This occurred while the prince was advancing south to crush a rebellion in Thebes. It therefore seems probable that Khmunu had sided with the Thebans.

In the late Libyan period, Khmunu gained its own pharaoh, Nimlot. The southern frontier of Nimlot’s kingdom was in the region of Tjeny (Girga), south of which was the territory of Thebes, controlled by the Kushite kings Kashta, and his successor, Piye, to whom Nimlot owed allegiance. Nimlot’s northern neighbor was the kingdom of Herakleopolis. When Tefnakht of Sau marched south with his coalition of Delta dynasts, Nimlot defected. Piye’s army under the command of his generals, Lemersekny and Purem, engaged the coalition somewhere in the vicinity of Khmunu. This might have been seen as a crucial battle by both sides because Nimlot, the pharaoh Iuput of Tent-remu, and pharaoh Osorkon of Per-Bastet were present with many of the Delta dynasts. The coalition was defeated; some of the dynasts were killed in battle, the army fled north, and Nimlot retreated into Khmunu. Piye now came in person to Egypt to finish the work his army had begun. Khmunu was put under extended siege, while parts of Piye’s army campaigned farther north. Eventually, through the intercession of Nimlot’s wife with the Kushite royal women, Piye accepted Nimlot’s surrender.

KHUFU (reigned c. 2589–2566 BC). Pharaoh of the Fourth Dynasty, and builder of the Great Pyramid at Giza. A fragment of relief depicting a group of five archers using self-bows has been attributed to this reign, or that of Khafre. The relief probably comes from a private tomb at Giza because the style differs from that of the royal pyramid complex. The relief is very detailed, showing the construction of the arrows. The archers are certainly soldiers rather than hunters because they wear the cross bands on the torso, which is characteristic in the Old Kingdom. The fragment is the earliest battle scene to have survived, but its context is unknown.

KHYAN (reigned c. 1590 BC). Hyksos ruler of Avaris in the eastern Delta. Because a number of objects carrying his name were found in widely scattered sites in the Aegean and western Asia (e.g., Knossos and Baghdad), it was suggested by some early Egyptologists that a “Hyksos Empire” had stretched over parts of the Aegean and into western Asia. This idea is now totally discredited.

KLEOPATRA II (c. 185–116 BC). Daughter of Ptolemy V and wife, first of her brother Ptolemy VI Philometor, then (from 145 BC) of her other brother Ptolemy VIII Euergetes II. Euergetes later married Kleopatra’s daughter by Philometor, Kleopatra III. In 132 BC, Kleopatra II began a dynastic war and was recognized as ruler in Thebes. She had support from certain elements in the population of Alexandria, notably the Jews. Euergetes II was expelled from Alexandria the following year, but had returned before 15 January 130 BC, and was preparing an expedition against Kleopatra. The civil war caused serious problems throughout the country. A native rebel, Harsiesis, took advantage and seized power in Thebes. Hermonthis (Armant) was the last stronghold in Upper Egypt to support Kleopatra. A form of reconciliation was reached and an amnesty decree (philanthropa) was announced by all three rulers in 118 BC. Following the death of Euergetes II in June 116 BC, Kleopatra II continued to rule alongside her daughter and Ptolemy IX Soter II, but Kleopatra II, too, is last documented in 116 BC.

KLEOPATRA III (c. 158–101 BC). Daughter of Ptolemy VI Philometor and Kleopatra II. She married her uncle Ptolemy VIII Euergetes II (by whom she already had a child). Her life was marked by dynastic wars, firstly with her mother, Kleopatra II, and later with her son, Ptolemy IX Soter II. Forcing him out of Egypt in favor of her younger son, Ptolemy X Alexander I, led ultimately to the Syrian War of 103–101 BC. Kleopatra III died shortly after her return from the campaign. She and Ptolemy X are last recorded together on 14 October 101, and by 26 October 101, the king was associated with Kleopatra Berenike III. Ancient sources say that Kleopatra was murdered by her son in order to gain the support of disaffected military officers, and perhaps because of her support of the Jews and desire not to upset the Jewish civilian population.

KLEOPATRA VII PHILOPATOR (c. 69–30 BC). Daughter of Ptolemy XII. Following the death of her father, she ascended the throne with her brother Ptolemy XIII, but he soon ousted her and forced her to flee, first to Upper Egypt and then Syria. The events of the Roman Civil War now brought the two chief rivals to Egypt. The general Pompey was the first to land and was executed on the orders of Ptolemy. When Iulius Caesar arrived in Egypt in pursuit of Pompey, Ptolemy tried to gain favor by sending him the embalmed head. However, Caesar chose to support Kleopatra’s claims to joint rule. The result was the Alexandrian War, in which Ptolemy XIII was killed. The opposition at the Alexandrian court to Kleopatra seems to have been because of her pro-Roman sympathies. Caesar now installed Kleopatra and her younger brother, Ptolemy XIV, as joint rulers. Kleopatra had become Caesar’s mistress and bore him a son, Ptolemy XV Caesar (or Kaisarion). Caesar restored Cyprus to Kleopatra. She later joined Caesar in Rome and was there when he was assassinated in 44 BC.

Her later military activities were closely linked with those of her later husband, the Roman general and triumvir, and Caesar’s political heir, Marcus Antonius (Mark Antony). Kleopatra supplied troops for the invasion of Parthia. Antonius did not, however, grant all of Kleopatra’s territorial wishes, leaving Herod in control of Judea. The relationship with Antonius ultimately fuelled the conflict between him and Caesar’s other heir, Caius Octavius, later the emperor Augustus. This led to the civil war and confrontation of their forces at the battle of Aktion (31 BC). The following year, Octavius marched on Alexandria, which was captured. Antonius and Kleopatra committed suicide and Egypt became a Roman province.

KOR. Defended settlement of Middle Kingdom date at the foot of the Second Cataract in Nubia. On the west bank of the Nile, Kor stands 4.5 kilometers south of the fortress of Buhen, to which it was probably ancillary. It is north of the fortress of Mirgissa, and opposite Dorginarti. A large “administrative building” carefully oriented north–south might be a temporary royal palace used by a pharaoh on military campaign. The settlement was defended by an enclosure wall with rounded bastions and loopholes similar to the first outer enclosure at Buhen. It is probably early 12th Dynasty in date.

KOS, BATTLE OF (spring 255 BC). Naval battle in the Aegean that saw the Egyptian fleet of Ptolemy II, commanded by Patroklos, defeated by Antigonos Gonatas, King of Macedonia. This, with the sea battle near Ephesos, effectively marked the end of Egypt’s naval hegemony in the Aegean and eastern Mediterranean. The battle probably took place in spring 255 BC, late in the Second Syrian War, although some scholars have suggested that it was in 261 BC, toward the end of the Chremonidean War.

KROKODILOPOLIS (EL-RIZEIQAT). Small town in Upper Egypt south of Thebes. Military camps were established at Krokodilopolis and Pathyris after the rebellion of Haronnophris and Chaonnophris. That at Krokodilopolis was a hypaithron.


KUMMA. Small fortress at the head of the Second Cataract, standing on the east bank of the Nile opposite the larger fortress of Semna, with which it formed a unit, commanding the narrowest point on the river. Kumma was part of the defensive network at the southern border built by Senusret III. Kumma was roughly rectangular in plan, with outer walls of mud brick on masonry foundations, some six meters thick. There was a river-gate and main fortified entrance. Its accommodation suggests a garrison of between 40 and 100 men, but wall length suggests defense needs of between 175 and 350 men. Additional troops could have been sent over on a daily basis from Semna. Kumma was reoccupied during the New Kingdom and again in the reign of Taharqo.

KUSH. Kingdom in Upper Nubia. In the earliest records, Kush is, specifically, the name of the area around Kerma. By the New Kingdom, Kush was used as a general term for the whole of Nubia between the Second and Fourth Cataracts. This was divided into two parts; the northern, between the Second and Third Cataracts was the Egyptian province of Kush, under the control of the viceroy and his deputy (the idnu), with a fortress at Sai and later administrative centers at Soleb, Sesebi, and Amara; the region between the Third and Fourth Cataracts was probably left as a buffer zone, under the authority of the viceroy, the Overseer of Bowmen of Kush, and various local princes. Kush became an even more generalized name for the whole of Nubia south of the First Cataract and is found as such in Assyrian, Persian, and biblical texts.

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