The Dictionary

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RAKOTE. The name (Raqode in hieroglyphic, Rakote in Coptic, Rhakotis in Greek) of a coastal town, and perhaps fortress, in the western Delta standing on a spur of land between the Mediterranean Sea and Lake Mareotis. Rakote was the site chosen by Alexander the Great for his new city, Alexandria. No pre-Ptolemaic archaeological remains have been excavated here, but it is possible that Rakote formed part of Ramesses II’s defensive network along the edge of the western Delta and coast, including Alamein, el-Gharbaniyat, Karm Abu-Girg, and Zawiyet Umm el-Rakham.

RAMESSES II (reigned c. 1279–1212 BC). Pharaoh of the 19th Dynasty, son of Sety I with whom he was associated with many of the attributes of kingship (except his own regnal years). Ramesses was active in some of his father’s military campaigns and might have been solely in command of an expedition to Nubia. For a pharaoh whose monuments promote him as great warrior, there is remarkably little detail about many of the campaigns, and even the chronology of some is uncertain.

The first campaign Ramesses II led as pharaoh was in year 4. His army marched along the coast of Canaan and Lebanon to Irqata, returning via Byblos, Tyre, and the Nahr el-Kelb (north of Beirut). The following year, the pharaoh attempted to regain Qadesh on the Orontes and fought with the Hittites. Despite the inconclusive outcome of the battle, Ramesses celebrated his “victory” in temples throughout his kingdom and in a literary account known as the Poem of Pentawere. The campaigns of the following years were directed a little farther south, in Edom, Moab, and the Negeb, and there was no attempt to regain Qadesh. The expedition of year 8 ensured Egyptian control of the coastal cities of Tyre, Sidon, Beirut, and Byblos. In year 10, the pharaoh left a rock-cut stela at the Nahr el-Kelb, probably on the return from Tunip and Dapur.

Around year 18 or 20, the death of the Hittite king, Muwatalli, led to a change in relations between Egypt and her principal rival. In year 21, a peace treaty was agreed, recorded by two tablets in Babylonian cuneiform found at Hattusa (Bogazköy) and a stela at Karnak. Diplomatic correspondence between Ramesses II, his mother, chief wife, and crown prince, and members of the Hittite royal family reveal an easing of the situation. In year 34, Ramesses entered into a diplomatic marriage with the daughter of Hattusil.

The events and campaigns in western Asia are those most clearly documented, but there were also military actions on the western and southern frontiers. There is evidence for a string of fortresses along the coast from Alamein to Zawiyet Umm el Rakham, acting as a defense against the Libyans. No surviving inscriptions record military actions in this region. It is significant that the archaeological evidence suggests that these forts were in use for a limited period, and it is certain that Ramesses settled some Libyans in the eastern Delta, around Per-Bastet. It is quite possible that the Egyptians were unable to halt the eastward movements of Libyans, which continued to pose a problem in the reign of his son Merenptah.

The evidence from Nubia is equally sketchy. An early campaign, probably in the reign of Sety I, is recorded in the temple at Beit el-Wali. There was a rebellion by the most powerful of the southern Nubian states, Irem, around year 40. The military expedition sent to crush this was led by the viceroy and two of Ramesses’ sons.

RAMESSES III (reigned c. 1184–1153 BC). Pharaoh of the 20th Dynasty. His reign was marked by the invasions of the Sea Peoples and the Libyan Wars. The military expeditions of the reign are depicted in a cycle of reliefs in the pharaoh’s temple at Medinet Habu (Thebes). A relief showing a campaign in Syria includes the siege of Arzawa and of Tunip and the capture of an unnamed Syrian fortress. Because these are not mentioned in other texts, doubt has been cast on their veracity, some Egyptologists going as far as to state that they are copied from now lost reliefs of the reign of Merenptah. The archaeological evidence from western Asia shows that Ramesses III did re-establish Egyptian authority throughout Canaan. In consequence, the battle reliefs can be assumed to have some basis in historical reality. The reality of a Nubian campaign has also been doubted, and the reliefs recording it interpreted as either a piece of symbolism (to complete the universal conquests of the king), or as copied from an earlier pharaoh’s campaign. Although the Nubian reliefs are badly damaged, the specific locale, Irem, had been a persistent threat to the southern territory of the viceroy since the reign of Sety I and was to continue to be so. Therefore, some military action, even minor, seems quite plausible, if not likely.

The most significant military encounters of the reign, and those given greatest prominence at Medinet Habu, were the Libyan Wars of years 5 and 11 and the battle with the Sea Peoples in year 8.

Ramesses III might have been assassinated in the “harem conspiracy,” which is documented from the records of subsequent trials. There is no evidence for a dynastic war, although had the plot achieved all of its goals, such a conflict might have broken out. Among those implicated in the conspiracy was the Chief of Bowmen of Kush, the head of the army in Nubia.

RAMESSES IV (reigned c. 1153–1147 BC). Pharaoh of the 20th Dynasty. Although no military actions are documented for the reign, the inscriptions carved in the Wadi Hammammat, in the eastern desert of Upper Egypt, are an important record of a quarrying expedition, detailing the numbers of people involved and the role of the army. The inscription of year 3 lists the members of the expedition sent to quarry stone, under the command of the high priest of Amun. These include numerous dignitaries and scribal staff and the deputy of the army, scribes of the army and of the deputy, various officers, 50 charioteers, 5,000 infantry, and 50 Madjoy. The whole totalled 8,362 persons. An additional 900 dead are recorded.

RAMESSES VI (reigned c. 1143–1136 BC). The archaeological evidence shows that the Egyptian empire in western Asia came to an abrupt end in this reign. There is evidence of destruction by fire at important garrison towns, such as Megiddo, Beth Shean, and Gaza. The destruction is often attributed to the Sea Peoples and the Philistines. A statue of the pharaoh shows him bringing a Libyan captive, and accompanied by his pet lion, possibly alluding to an action against the Libyans. There is some evidence for infiltration of the Nile Valley by Libyans, particularly in Upper Egypt, but it is unclear whether these were forceful.

RAMESSES IX (reigned c. 1126–1108 BC). A letter of the high priest of Amun addresses Nubian troops from Ikayta who are accompanying gold-washing teams in the Eastern Desert. It reports successes against the Shasu, who came from a place called Muqed on the Red Sea, and states that these Shasu had previously attacked “the land of Egypt,” presumably indicating the Nile Valley.

RAMESSES XI (reigned c. 1099–1069 BC). Last pharaoh of the 20th Dynasty. His reign saw the “suppression” of the high priest of Amun, Amenhotep, anarchy in Thebes, and ended with civil war in Egypt and Nubia. The viceroy of Kush, Panehesy, brought his troops to Thebes, where he restored order. Later, Panehesy led the army farther north into Middle Egypt, perhaps as far as the Delta. There are some indications that a battle took place. Panehesy eventually returned to Nubia and a new power is found in Thebes, the General Herihor, who also assumed the titles of high priest of Amun and viceroy of Kush. The appearance of Herihor in Thebes is marked by a new dating system for the reign, which now returns to year one of “the Renaissance,” equal to year 19. Following Herihor’s death, his successor as high priest and general, Paiankh, launched an attack against Panehesy. The army of Paiankh marched into Nubia and gained control of the fortress of Quban. Panehesy seems to have held Aniba. It might have been at this time that Qasr Ibrim was fortified. The outcome of the conflict is unknown. The return of Paiankh and his army to Thebes is recorded in the last year of Ramesses XI, but neither he nor Panehesy are attested afterward.

RAPHIA. Coastal town of Palestine, the Egyptian Repeh and Assyrian Rapikhu, between the Brook-of-Egypt (Rhinocolura, modern el-Arish: 36 kilometers) and Gaza (32 kilometers). Site of confrontations between Egyptian and invading armies. The first major recorded battle was that between the forces of Sargon II of Assyria and the Egyptian commander, Re’e. Later Assyrian invasions of Egypt went through the town, notably that of Esarhadddon in 671 BC, but this was without battle or attack. The army of Nebuchadnezzar II also passed through Raphia, having captured Gaza, before confronting the army of Nekau II at Migdol. The most significant battle at Raphia was that between the armies of Ptolemy IV and Antiochos III on 23 June 217 BC, during the Fourth Syrian War.

RAPHIA (BATTLE, 720 BC). In 720 BC, the king of Assyria, Sargon II, marched his army into Syria defeating the king of Hamath at Qarqar and recapturing Simirra, Damascus, and Samaria before moving south toward Gaza. The Egyptians had restored the ruler of Gaza, Khanunu, to his position. Now he engaged the Assyrian army in battle, with the aid of an Egyptian army under the command of Re’e. The Egyptian force was defeated, and Sargon claims to have taken Khanunu “with his own hand.” Khanunu was taken captive to Assyria, and Raphia was looted and “destroyed.” The Assyrians now controlled the Brook-of-Egypt and access to the Via Maris or Ways of Horus. They placed the region under the control of the local beduouin, probably Arabs.

RAPHIA (BATTLE, 217 BC). A battle of the Fourth Syrian War between the armies of Ptolemy IV and Antiochos III, on 22 June 217 BC. A detailed account of the battle is given in the histories of Polybius (although there are still differences over its interpretation). Ptolemy IV’s army arrived at the site of the battle after a forced march, which covered the 180 kilometers from Pelusion in five days, in order to arrive at a site that he considered favorable. He seems to have wanted to avoid the narrow Jiradi Pass, which is flanked by the sea dunes and desert sand, and which would have favored the Seleukid elephants and hindered the Egyptian infantry. The chosen site was suitable for him to use all of his troops.

The Egyptian infantry vastly outnumbered that of Antiochos, which was reduced because of events in the east of his empire. In cavalry numbers, the sides were almost equal: Ptolemy had 5,000 and Antiochos had 6,000. The Ptolemaic army altogether numbered 70,000. Besides the Greek infantry and cavalry were 20,000 native Egyptian troops under the command of Sosibios. Ptolemy’s other troops included Thracians and Galatians (Gauls), and Cretans. Antiochos had 62,000 infantry at his disposal, including 10,000 Nabataean Arabs. Both sides had a large number of elephants. The Seleukid elephants, numbering 102, were from India. The 73 Ptolemaic elephants were African and had been brought from Meroe or Ethiopia. This was the first time that the Ptolemaic army had used elephants. The Seleukid phalanx (heavy infantry) was posted in the center with the cavalry on the wings and light infantry on the flanks between the phalanx and cavalry. The right wing was the stronger, with an advance block of cavalry led by Antiochos himself. Ptolemy and his guard faced Antiochos directly. The Ptolemaic phalanx was numerically superior (45,000). It was placed in the center and formed a deeper line (perhaps 32 deep) than its Seleukid opponent.

Antiochos gained the first advantage when the 60 elephants on his right wing charged the 40 on Ptolemy’s left. Ptolemy’s wing gave way and Antiochos led a successful cavalry attack, which he pursued. Ptolemy successfully left his cavalry and returned to the field to personally lead a counterattack with the infantry. The Ptolemaic right wing successfully pushed through the Seleukid left. The Ptolemaic victory was probably caused in part to Antiochos’s absence from the field in pursuit of Ptolemy and his cavalry, not realizing that the king had managed to slip away. This success for the Egyptian troops (Machimoi) showed them their own power and after the return to Egypt, there was a prolonged rebellion.

RE. Solar god of Iunu (Heliopolis), usually depicted with a falcon head. He can be seen presenting weapons, usually the khepesh, to the pharaoh in temple reliefs. The name was combined with other gods such as Amun (as Amun-Re) or manifestations of the sun god (e.g., Re-Harakhty). The pharaoh was identified with Re-Harakhty in his manifestation as a sphinx, the celestial conqueror.

REBELLION, REVOLT. In ancient Egypt, “rebellion” was an act committed against the pharaoh, who represented divine rule on earth. Many records of military campaigns by pharaohs, particularly during the New Kingdom, are prefaced by the announcement of a rebellion and the pharaoh’s angry response to it (he is usually described as “raging like a leopard”). In actuality, the accession of a new pharaoh was a normal time for rebellion by subject rulers. This is true, not only of Egypt, but most ancient empires. The Assyrians constantly faced rebellion by their provinces, or vassal rulers. Sometimes these were actually coordinated: there is evidence for diplomatic contacts between the rebel king of Babylon and the king of Judah, so that distraction on one front assisted bids for independence on another. The death of the Great King of Persia was also frequently followed by the rebellion of many of the provinces of the empire, particularly those farthest from the center. Usually, a peace treaty was valid only for the lives of both parties, so when a pharaoh, or subject ruler, died, the treaty was no longer valid.

During the period of the Egyptian Empire in western Asia, in the New Kingdom, there were frequent “rebellions” by vassal rulers and city-states, particularly those that were in north Syria and were on the periphery of the kingdoms of Mitanni and the Hittites. Notable among these was Qadesh, which occupied a strategic position and was constantly changing allegiance. In Nubia, too, it was generally the territories on the periphery, such as Irem and Miu, that rebelled. One rebellion, in the reign of Merenptah, was apparently meant to have been coordinated with the Libyan invasion, indicating close contacts between vassal rulers.

There are hardly any indications of rebellion or revolt against any pharaoh by the Egyptian people, but this is because of the nature of the evidence. Most opposition to pharaohs was probably palace-centered, and took the form of dynastic war. Although there is evidence for conflict between different region of Egypt, notably in the Intermediate Periods, these are also motivated by elite factions, rather than being civil war in the true sense. Even later, revolts and rebellions focused around specific disaffected (or ambitious) individuals and groups, rather than being large-scale politically and philosophically motivated uprisings.

Although the rekhyt people generally were one of the groups that the pharaoh had to control, there is relatively little evidence for rebellions by named individuals within Egypt. This is certainly a manifestation of Egyptian ideology. One of the few instances is the record of the rebels Aata (who might have been a Nubian local ruler) and Tetian, who opposed Ahmose I. In this case, Teti-an might represent a faction opposed to the Theban attempts to reunite Egypt. Presumably, much opposition was suppressed violently and left unrecorded.

Some pharaohs are known to have come to power as a result of rebellion against the reigning monarch, and there were probably more than we actually have evidence for. Inevitably, the victor became “legitimate” ruler, and most of our evidence comes from non-Egyptian late sources. The only well-documented earlier instance is that of Amenmesses, apparently a son of Sety II, who seized power following the death of Merenptah and reigned for several years. This might have been concurrently with his father, but confined to Upper Egypt. Sheshonq I probably used force to gain the throne because he is still referred to by his Libyan title at Thebes in his second year. Ahmose II was proclaimed pharaoh by the army in a rebellion against Wahibre. Ahmose might have been a member of the royal family. Persian rule in Egypt saw many rebellions in which local dynasts assumed Egyptian royal style: Pedubast III (in the reign of Darius I), Psamtik IV and his son Inaros, Amyrtaios. The 28th and 29th Dynasties were a period when rival dynasts aspired to the throne, and violence frequently accompanied the accession. Dynastic problems persisted throughout the 30th Dynasty when Nekhthorheb was proclaimed as ruler by his father, the brother of the reigning pharaoh, Djedhor. They were frequent in the later Ptolemaic period, in the reigns of the queens Kleopatra II, Kleopatra III, and Kleopatra VII, and their associated kings.

Self-interest played a large part in many rebellions. The rebellion of Nimlot, ruler of Khmunu, against Piye was prompted by the approach of a large coalition army of Libyan rulers, while Piye was far away in Kush. Similarly, in the later years of Kushite rule in Egypt, the Libyan dynasts of the Delta yielded to the Assyrians when their armies entered Egypt, but submitted to Taharqo and Tanwetamani when they regained control.

A sense of nationalism did develop in the Persian and Ptolemaic periods and manifested itself in the rebellions of Thebes and Upper Egypt under Chaonnophris, Haronnophris, and Harsiesis. Anti-Roman feeling played a significant part in the Alexandrian War. Religious differences fueled the rebellion of the Boukoloi, led by the priest Isidoros, and the Jewish revolt. Conflicts between Greeks and Jews led to civil disturbances and riots in Alexandria throughout the period of Roman rule. The city, for long, the most important in the eastern Mediterranean, was also the center for generals and officials aspiring to the imperial purple. The emperor Vespasian was proclaimed in the city by the Prefect Iulius Alexander, but the attempts of Avidius Cassius, Iulius Aemilianus, “Firmus,” and of Domitius Domitianus and Aurelius Achilleus (in the reign of Diocletian) all failed.

REKHYT. A term used for the people of Egypt, represented by the lapwing. It is possible that in the Predynastic or Early Dynastic Period, rekhyt signified a population of the Delta, or Libyans. The mace head of king Scorpion shows dead lapwings hanging from standards surmounted by the emblems of the nomes (districts).

RESHEP. God originating in Syria, who was introduced into Egypt in the 18th Dynasty. He is usually shown wielding an axe or mace. In Egyptian depictions, he still wears the Syrian style of beard, but with the Egyptian white crown with a gazelle head attached at the front and long streamers. He is referred to on the “Sphinx Stela” of Amenhotep II recording the pharaoh’s exploits as a prince and formulating the militaristic ethos of the period. In the record of the Libyan War of his year 5, Ramesses III describes his chariot-warriors as “powerful as Reshep.”

RETABA, TELL EL-. Ramesside fortress in the Wadi Tumilat.

RETENU. A term found from the Middle Kingdom onward for Syria–Palestine. It is specified as Upper Retenu, a region covering northern Palestine (Canaan), and the later kingdoms of Israel and Judah, and Lower Retenu, Syria. In Egyptian (and English transcriptions), the name can appear as both Retenu and Retjenu.

REWARD. Reward was given on the field of battle and after a campaign. Reward could take the form of gold jewelry (gold flies being specifically mentioned), slaves (people captured during the campaign), captured chariots and other military equipment, and land. The autobiographical inscriptions of the 18th Dynasty, notably that of Ahmose son of Ebana, provide good evidence for the practice. Ahmose son of Ebana fought in the Nubian campaigns of Ahmose I, Amenhotep I, and Thutmose I, from which he records bringing eight hands of slain enemies. He also took male and female captives, some of whom were given to him, others were exchanged. When he captured a chariot, horse, and soldier, he gave them to Thutmose I and was rewarded for it with gold. It is significant that the pharaoh kept the chariot, as they were probably still quite rare in Egypt at this time. Ahmose was rewarded with gold on seven occasions. As for slaves, he was given a total of 19 captives: one male from Avaris, eight persons (sex unspecified) presumably Nubians (five were in exchange for two warriors captured). Of the specified women captives, three were from Avaris, two were Asiatic, four Nubian (two were in exchange for two male captives given to the pharaoh). He was also given five arurae of land in his home town of Nekheb. A text in the tomb of an official named Mose, of the reign of Ramesses II, records a lengthy legal dispute arising among the descendants of another soldier who had been granted land by Ahmose I.

The Wilbour Papyrus provides evidence for veterans settled with small landholdings in Middle Egypt in the 20th Dynasty. The policy of settling veterans continued into Ptolemaic and Roman times, especially in the Fayum, where Greek cleruchs and Egyptian machimoi were given land. Ramesside battle scenes (e.g., Qadesh; and the scenes at Medinet Habu of Ramesses III’s wars against the Libyans) depict scribes making multiple records of the severed hands and phalli of the defeated. This not only provided an accurate record of the slain, but was no doubt also related to the distribution of rewards.

RHINOCOLURA. The Greek name (in some sources Rhinocorura) for the modem town of el-Arish, at the end of the Wadi el-Arish in north Sinai. Rhinocolura stood on the Ways of Horus and is probably the same as the town of the Brook-of-Egypt that marked the frontier between Egypt and the empire of Assyria, and later Egypt and Babylonia.

ROME. Although Rome had long-standing economic contacts with Ptolemaic Egypt, it did not become actively involved in its politics until the reign of Ptolemy VI. When the Seleukid king, Antiochos IV, invaded Egypt, the government appealed to Rome to intervene on behalf of the young king Ptolemy VI, which it eventually did. With expanding Roman interests in the eastern Mediterranean and almost constant dynastic wars in Egypt, the two powers were drawn ever closer. The first Roman force to enter Egypt was that of the Roman legate of Syria, Aulus Gabinius, who reinstated Ptolemy XII Auletes. On this occasion, the cavalry was under the command of Marcus Antonius. A Roman force, called the Gabinians, was left in Alexandria and played a significant role in later events. The Roman Civil War brought Iulius Caesar to Egypt with an army. His support of Kleopatra VII against her brother, Ptolemy XIII, resulted in the Alexandrian War. The later phases of the Roman Civil War, and Kleopatra’s association with Marcus Antonius, led to further conflict, culminating in the battle of Aktion and the fall of Egypt to Augustus. Egypt then became a province of the Roman Empire and was placed under the rule of a prefect.

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