The Dictionary

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DABENARTI. An island fortress in the Second Cataract standing opposite Mirgissa. The nature of the cataract here made landing difficult, and the fort was perhaps never completed. Alternatively, it might have been a temporary fort, for additional defense of Mirgissa in times of crisis.

DAKHLA OASIS. A large oasis in the Western Desert, connected by desert roads to the Oases of Farafra and Kharga and directly to the Nile Valley. There are archaeological remains from the Old Kingdom to the Roman period, although the major sites so far excavated belong mainly to these two phases. Although there was an Egyptian governor in the Old Kingdom, the population of Dakhla might have been largely Libyans. In the 19th Dynasty, the Libyans who were driven back by the army of Merenptah from Memphis, appear to have used the desert routes through the northern oases, Dakhla and Kharga, to reach the Nile Valley in Upper Egypt and Nubia.

DAPHNAE (TELL DAFANA). A fortress on the eastern border built by Psamtik I, close to Migdol and Pelusion. The Greek historian Herodotos states that it was built as a defense against the Arabs and Syrians and that it was a Persian garrison with Greek mercenaries in his time (mid-fifth century BC). The site of Tell Dafana (Tell Defenneh), on the Pelusiac branch of the Nile, was first excavated by W. M. Flinders Petrie, who interpreted the site using the literary evidence of Herodotos and also identified it with the biblical Tahpanhes. It was thereafter considered a typical Late Period fort, and other monuments with similar construction were also designated forts. The lowest level is a massive compartmented wall 450 × 200 meters and 17 meters thick. Inside this wall, the area is filled with cross walls creating a series of cells. This type of construction is found in the “Palace of Apries” at Memphis and at Naukratis. At Memphis, Barry Kemp proved that the cellular level was used to support a stone pavement. Similarly, the structure at Naukratis is probably the podium of a temple. The archaeological evidence at Tell Dafana included considerable quantities of Greek pottery, but there is no direct evidence of a Greek garrison. The pottery ends about 525 BC, the time of the invasion by Cambyses of Persia.

DAPUR. Town of north Syria, in the territory of Tunip. It was attacked by Ramesses II in his campaign of year 8. The attack is depicted in the reliefs of the Ramesseum, the pharaoh’s temple on the west bank at Thebes. Dapur is shown as a typical Syrian fortified city with a central citadel and other towers. Many of the walls are battlemented. The Egyptians are shown entering using scaling ladders. The defenders, many of whom are Hittites, use bows and throw missiles at the attackers. A figure, perhaps the ruler, burns incense as a sign of capitulation.

DARIUS I (reigned 522–486 BC). Great King of Persia and pharaoh of Egypt. Darius seized the Persian throne when Cambyses was in Egypt. This was followed by rebellions throughout the empire, perhaps including Egypt. This might have been the point when an Egyptian dynast, Pedubast III, tried to establish himself as pharaoh. Darius completed the canal connecting the Nile with the Red Sea that had been begun by Nekau II. In Kharga Oasis, he erected the small chapel that forms the nucleus of the temple in the fortress at Qasr el-Ghueida and presumably built the first fortress there. During the reign, the satrap, Aryandes, sent an expedition to Cyrenaica. In the last year of the reign of Darius there was a rebellion in Egypt, perhaps led by Psamtik IV, a Libyan ruler of the western Delta. This was suppressed by Xerxes.

DAY BOOKS. The Annals of Thutmose III refer to a record of the military activities during the siege of Megiddo, which was written on a leather roll and preserved in the temple of Amun at Karnak. It is clear from the inscribed version of the annals that they have been extracted from a more detailed source, and the leather roll may have been another extracted text. Both would have relied on a daily account detailing all aspects of the campaign, and presumably, the bureaucracy: distribution of rations, orders, officers, marches, scouting, booty, etc. The Semna Dispatches fall into the category of daily reports, although in the form of letters. The writing of the Day Books (perhaps compiled from numerous bureaucratic documents) was probably the responsibility of the Chief Army Scribes, such as, in the reign of Thutmose III, Tjanuni.

DEIR (KHARGA). A large and imposing Roman fort in the northern part of Kharga Oasis. It dates to the reign of Diocletian (284–305 AD). The fort controlled the access to the Oasis by roads from Sohag and Girga, considered the best and shortest route between Kharga and the Nile Valley (160 kilometers). These roads descend the escarpment near a spring of good water, controlled by the fort. Quantities of broken pottery indicate a Roman watering station on the plateau itself, but the water must have been taken from el-Deir. The fort is square, 73 × 73 meters. The walls are mostly of unburned brick, banded with burned red brick. They still stand around 10 meters in height and 3.60 meters thick, with circular towers at each corner and two semicircular towers on each side, and entrances on the north, east, and west sides. The interior of the fort is almost devoid of visible remains, except along the south side of the court, which has a series of brick rooms. The south wall is the best preserved and retains internal staircases leading to the parapet. At the center of the court was a well, apparently with a conduit to divert the overflow to cultivate the fields surrounding. A small temple of mud brick was later converted into a church. In design and construction the fort has strong similarities with others of the same period at Babylon, Dionysias, Tjaru, and Aswan.

DELTA. The Delta was created by the deposit of silt where the Nile left the confines of the limestone cliffs. Throughout much of the dynastic period, large tracts of the northern Delta were marshlands, with large sea lagoons. There were important ancient cities in the Delta, notably Sau (Sais) in the west and Per-Bastet (Bubastis) in the east. New cities were founded later. Of these, the most significant were the Hyksos capital of Avaris and close to it the new residence city of the 19th Dynasty pharaohs, Per-Ramesses and its port, Djanet (Tanis). The Greek trading center of Naukratis was built close to Sau in the reign of Psamtik I. The principal routes for armies, whether Egyptian leaving the region of Memphis or those invading, were those that followed the desert edges of the Delta. On the west, the route ran from Memphis to Kom Abu Billo, Kom el-Hisn, Kom Firin, Kom el Abqa’in, El-Barnugi, Nubariya, perhaps to Rakote (later Alexandria). In the east, it was protected by the network of forts from Pelusion to Tjaru, then toward the Wadi Tumilat, Heliopolis, and Babylon.

Most of the documented invasions of Egypt through the Delta were from the east. The kings of Assyria, Esarhaddon and Ashurbanipal, engaged with Egyptian forces between Tjaru and Memphis. The Assyrians also campaigned across the Delta to Sau. The king of Babylon, Nebuchadnezzar II, attempted an invasion in 601 BC, but was driven back. The armies of Persia entered Egypt through Pelusion, in the reign of Cambyses (525 BC), defeating Psamtik III. During the rebellion of Inaros (463–454 BC) against Persian rule, there was a battle at Papremis, followed by the siege of Inaros and the Athenian force at Prosopitis. There was conflict in the Delta when Nakhthorheb seized power, and there were further Persian invasions in the reigns of Artaxerxes II (373 BC) and Artaxerxes III (343 BC). The Macedonian adventurer, Amyntas, entered Egypt through Pelusion in 333 BC and was followed by Alexander the Great the following year. Ptolemy I confronted the army of Antigonos Monopthalmos in the eastern Delta in 306 BC, and there was another invasion by Antiochos IV of Syria (169/8 BC). The main disturbance in the Roman period was the rebellion of the Boukoloi (171 AD). Further invasions from the east came in the later Roman period, firstly the Palmyrene army of Zenobia, the Sasanid armies of Persia, and finally, the Arabs, led by ‘Amr Ibn-al ‘asî. The principal invasions of the western Delta were by the Libyans. The Delta figures in Hellenistic novels as a place where dissident groups, and brigands, sought refuge.

DEN (reigned c. 2985 BC). Pharaoh of the First Dynasty. An ivory label from Abydos shows Den smiting an Asiatic enemy with a mace, the text refers to “the first time of smiting of the east.” This might be the same as the “smiting of the Troglodytes” recorded on the Palermo Stone as the second year of a 14-year cycle of an unnamed ruler. The “Asiatics” could refer to the Eastern Desert, to Sinai or to Palestine.

DEPORTATION. The forcible removal of an entire, or a significant proportion, of the population of a conquered town or state to be resettled in another region of an empire. Deportation was frequently used in their campaigns in Babylonia and western Asia by the rulers of Assyria, notably Sennacherib, Esarhaddon, and Ashurbanipal. Deportation could serve several purposes: it could remove “disruptive” elements, but more significantly, it could provide labor, particularly skilled labor, in other parts of the empire. The Assyrians certainly removed some groups from Egypt, including members of the reigning Kushite royal family. The use of deportation by the Egyptians is less well documented, but there are references to the Apiru being sent from Canaan to Kush and Canaanites from Gezer to Thebes. Interpretation of some Egyptian texts is made more difficult by the kingship ideology that claimed the pharaoh’s power could turn the world upside down, thereby removing Asiatics to Nubia and Libyans to Asia.

DESERT. Egypt is surrounded by desert and the defense of its borders on south, west, and east was a response to that. The Western, Libyan, Desert has areas of rocky plateau and sand dunes, with a string of oases running from Bahariya in the north, through Farafra, to Dakhla, and Kharga. Excavations at Dakhla have found a fortress of Old Kingdom date, but the evidence of most of the other forts in Kharga is far later, dating from the Persian to Roman and Byzantine periods. Kharga controlled the desert road from Nubia later called the Darb el-Arba’in, the “Forty Days Road.” From Bahariya, a string of smaller oases connected with Siwa.

The Eastern Desert is more mountainous and was a major source of stone and minerals. There is abundant evidence in Upper Egypt for quarrying expeditions to the Wadi Hammamat and use of the routes to the Red Sea ports. There are over 60 small Roman forts in the southern parts of the Eastern Desert, protecting the roads to the principal ports of Myos Hormos (now identified with Quseir el-Qadim, rather than Abu Sha’ar, as earlier scholars thought) and Berenike, and the quarries at Mons Porphyrites and Mons Claudianus. There has been less survey work in the northern parts of the Eastern Desert, but the Via Hadriana, running from Antinoöpolis in Middle Egypt to the Red Sea, must have been protected in a similar way as the southern routes. These small forts provided protected watering places (hydreumata) and resting places for the trading caravans, as well as being bases for policing operations. They also played an important role in the quarrying and mining activities of the region. In southern Upper Egypt and Nubia, Egypt had an ambivalent relationship with the people who lived in the Eastern Desert, the Madjoy and later the Blemmyes.

Until recently, it was assumed that desert travel was more limited in ancient times, and that very long desert journeys did not become usual until the introduction of the camel. Long desert journeys can be made using donkeys, but these require much more baggage and water. In the Sixth Dynasty, Harkhuf certainly used a desert route, and donkey caravan, to travel to southern Nubia. Recently discovered rock inscriptions in the Theban region attest a desert road of Middle Kingdom date. The desert patrol of Kamose captured a Hyksos messenger traveling to the ruler of Kush. Meroitic texts show that the desert roads between the Fourth Cataract and Lower Nubia were being used, and rock inscriptions to the east of Buhen attest a desert road of the 18th Dynasty. Desert patrol guards are well attested from the Ptolemaic and Roman periods by papyri from the Fayum. Fortresses and watchtowers controlled the access to the Nile Valley and the Oases from the desert. In Kharga Oasis, the fortress of Dush controlled the desert road between the south of the oasis and Edfu, and Deir controlled the road from the north of the oasis to Girga (ancient Tjeny).

DESHASHEH. A cemetery site to the south of Herakleopolis (Ihnasya el-Medina) in northern Middle Egypt. The tomb of Inti of the late Fifth or Sixth Dynasty contains one of the few Old Kingdom scenes of battle. It shows an attack on a walled town, apparently occupied by Asiatics. The town is schematic, being the conventional oval cartouche shape used for names of foreign places, with semicircular bastions indicated. The attacking Egyptian force is using a wheeled scaling ladder to ascend the walls, while sappers mine the walls with pointed stakes. Inside the town, two men are shown listening for signs of the sappers. Outside the walls, hand-to-hand combat with axes takes place. The whole scene has a close parallel in the roughly contemporary tomb of Kaemheset at Saqqara.

DIADOCHOI. The successors of Alexander the Great. On Alexander’s death at Babylon in 323 BC, his generals acknowledged his infant son, Alexander IV, and his half-brother, Philip Arrhidaios, as kings, but partitioned the empire among themselves. At first, the generals assumed the Persian style “satrap” as provincial governors. There were numerous political and marriage alliances between the diadochoi, but breaking of political alliance was usually accompanied by divorce, itself leading to dynastic rivalries later. The principal figures in the period from 323 BC to the battle of Ipsos in 301 BC were: Perdikkas, Antigonos I Monophthalmos, Antipater, Kassander, Lysimachos, Ptolemy I, and Seleukos I. Ptolemy I seized Egypt, taking Alexander’s body with him.

In the First War of the Diadochoi (321/20 BC), Ptolemy I faced an invasion by Perdikkas. The settlement of Triparadeisos Antipatros confirmed Ptolemy’s hold on Egypt. In the Second War (319–315 BC), Ptolemy annexed Coele Syria, which he lost in the Third War (314–311 BC), although he acquired Cyprus. The main threat to Ptolemy I’s control of Egypt came from Antigonos I Monophthalmos and his son Demetrios. Ptolemy and Seleukos I jointly defeated Demetrios at the battle of Gaza in 312 BC. Another peace was agreed in 311 BC, but Antigonos and Demetrios attempted another invasion of Egypt in 306 BC, which Ptolemy was able to resist. Following the lead of Antigonos the generals now began to assume royal titles, Ptolemy being crowned in 304 BC. Coele Syria was regained by Ptolemy in the Fourth War of the Diadochoi (303–301 BC), which culminated in the battle of Ipsos (301 BC). Ptolemy was not present at the battle, and in the peace treaty that followed all of Syria was granted to Seleukos, but for personal reasons, he accepted Ptolemy’s rule over Coele Syria; this was to lead to the constant friction between Ptolemies and Seleukids in the Syrian Wars.

DIOCLETIAN (reigned 284–305 AD). Roman emperor. In Egypt, the reign of Diocletian is marked by the rebellion of Domitius Domitianus and Aurelius Achilleus (297 AD), involving a long siege of Alexandria. Diocletian was present in person. He then extensively reorganized the administration of Egypt. Diocletian was responsible for important changes on the southern frontier in Lower Nubia, where the Blemmyes had been a persistent problem, although Aurelian had gained some victories over them. The frontier was now removed from Maharraqa to Aswan, where a fortress was built at the head of the First Cataract. A number of other fortresses can be attributed to the reign of Diocletian: the rebuilding of Babylon, Dionysias, Tjaru, and el-Deir in Kharga Oasis. The fort at Abu Sha’ar on the Red Sea coast of the Eastern Desert is now known to date from this period.

DIONYSIAS. Fortress at the far western end of the Fayum, the modern site of Qasr Qarun. Built in the third century AD, perhaps about 260 AD, although often assigned to the reign of Diocletian. The fortress is brick-built, measuring 94.4 meters × 80 meters, with square towers at each corner and in the middle of the west side, and semicircular towers on the south and east sides. Semicircular towers also flanked the main gate on the north side. This gate opened onto a colonnaded street leading to a building with an apsidal end. There were single cells lining the north, east, and west walls.

DIPLOMATIC MARRIAGE. This was often used to seal a peace treaty. It is best documented in Egypt in the later 18th and early 19th Dynasties by the Amarna Letters and the Marriage Stela of Ramesses II. The Amarna Letters show that there were elaborate protocols to be observed. At this time the pharaoh claimed never to send his daughters to marry foreign rulers, as a way of emphasizing his position as the first among equals of the Great Kings. It was also necessary to write several times, before a daughter of a ruler would be granted. The letters also reveal that, like peace treaties, the death of a ruler required a new marriage to be contracted between allies. So when Shuttarna II of Mitanni died, negotiations were opened for the marriage of Amenhotep III with her niece, the daughter of the new king, Tushratta.

The Hittites adopted a different policy to Egypt and sent daughters on the condition that the princess became principal wife and queen, and that the son of the marriage would become king, thereby extending Hittite power. The unusual request of Ankhesenamun for a Hittite prince to become her husband, on the death of Tutankhamun, was greeted with disbelief by the Hittite king. Some factions at the Egyptian court also opposed it, as the prince was murdered on his way to Egypt, an action that led to the reopening of hostilities between the two powers. Ramesses II eventually sealed his peace treaty with the Hittites by marriage.

There is evidence for similar dynastic marriages later. In the Third Intermediate Period, the Libyan and Kushite pharaohs established alliances with other ruling families and the elite. Ahmose II married Ladike of Cyrene, and another Greek marriage is attested for the 30th Dynasty, although the lady’s origins are unknown. The numerous alliances of the Ptolemies, Seleukids, and others of Alexander the Great’s successors (diadochoi) usually resulted in civil war and dynastic war.

DIVISION (ARMY). The largest unit of the army, comprising 5,000+ men. There were, by the time of Ramesses II, four divisions, named after the state triad of Egypt, Amun, Ptah, and Re with an additional one named after Seth.

DJAHY. Territory of western Asia that occurs frequently in records of the 18th Dynasty. It is north of Retenu and perhaps to be identified with the coast of Lebanon, including important centers such as Tyre, Sidon, Byblos, and Sumur. It was the focus of Egyptian military activity and as such appears in the autobiographical inscription of Ahmose-pen-Nekhbet and the Annals of Thutmose III. Ramesses III states that he made his frontier against the “Sea Peoples” in Djahy, although here the use is possibly archaic.

DJEDHOR (reigned 361–360 BC). Pharaoh of the 30th Dynasty, son of Nakhtnebef. The name is also found in literature as Teos, or Tachos, from its Greek form, and Djeho. Djedhor wanted to take advantage of rebellions against the king of Persia, Artaxerxes II, and prepared a campaign into Palestine. In addition to the Egyptian force, he had a large army of Greek mercenaries, commanded by Agesilaos II, king of Sparta, and a fleet from Athens, commanded by Chabrias. Djedhor imposed heavy taxes to pay for this army. They made some successes in Palestine, and Djedhor wished to advance farther into Syria. This led to a disagreement with Agesilaos, who then supported the rebellion of Djedhor’s nephew, Nekhthorheb. Djedhor fled to Persia and died in exile.

DJER (reigned c. 3050 BC). Pharaoh of the First Dynasty. A rock inscription at Gebel Sheikh Suleiman in Nubia has generally been understood as a record of military activities by Djer. The archaeological evidence for the end of the Nubian “A-Group” culture has been reassessed in recent years and seems to indicate that the powerful Nubian kingdom based upon Qustul came to a sudden end around the time of Djer.

DODEKASCHOINOS. Greek term for Lower Nubia from the Egyptian border at the First Cataract as far as Maharraqa (Hiera Sykaminos). It might, under a different name, have become an administrative district attached to Upper Egypt as early as the 21st or 26th Dynasty. There is evidence from the fortress of Dorginarti that the Persian kings were defending parts of Lower Nubia. The term dodekaschoinos is first found in the Ptolemaic period. The district was extended to become the Triakontaschoinos but, following disputes with Meroe, reduced again. Although largely occupied by Nubians and Meroite settlers, it remained under the control of Roman Egypt until the reign of Diocletian, when, because of problems with the Blemmyes, the frontier was redrawn at the First Cataract. A network of watchtowers extended from Lower Nubia, via Aswan, to Edfu and across the Eastern Desert.

DORGINARTI. Island fortress in the Second Cataract near Mirgissa, Dabenarti, and Meinarti. Originally thought to date to the Middle Kingdom or later New Kingdom, a reassessment of the archaeological material by Lisa Heidorn indicates it is of the 26th Dynasty-Persian period. The fort, roughly triangular in shape, was approximately 80 meters by 50 meters. Its walls, up to 8.0 meters thick, were surrounded by a glacis and protected by buttresses. It is difficult to place the fortress into its historical context. Psamtik II launched a military attack on the heart of the Kushite kingdom in 593 BC, and the Persian king Cambyses is reputed to have campaigned in Lower Nubia. There is also evidence for trading relations between Egypt and Kush. It is possible that Dorginarti had both an economic and defensive role in the sixth-fifth centuries BC.

DRILL. The evidence of various papyri (notably the Anastasi papyri) claims that ordinary conscript troops were beaten into shape, whereas that for the elite corps details athletic and skilled training in weapons. The Anastasi papyri and similar documents are prejudiced sources in that they emphasize the benefits of being a member of the elite and the hardships of lower ranks. Nevertheless, there was doubtless coercion and brutality in the training of recruits.

The inscription on the Sphinx Stela of Amenhotep II, from Giza, details his skill as a prince and epitomizes the military ethos of the elite of this period. The few detailed records of schooling for officials in the New Kingdom shows that from perhaps the age of four or five, they learned scribal skills, but then from the age of about eight they went to the “stables.” Here, scribal skills would have been continued, alongside the techniques of horsemanship and chariotry, and archery. Amenhotep II also refers to rowing and running. The scenes show soldiers engaged in drill exercises in the tomb of Tjanuni at Thebes and Ipuia at Saqqara.

DYNASTIC WARS. As most of the surviving Egyptian “historical” documents were written by the victors, there is, hardly surprisingly, little indication of opposition. The Story of Sinuhe and the Instruction of Amenemhat I both indicate that Amenemhat I was murdered in some sort of palace conspiracy. The clearest evidence for later dynastic turmoil is the conflict on the death of Merenptah between the appointed Crown Prince Sety II, and Amenmesse, who appears to have been a member of the royal family (possibly Sety II’s own son). The “Harem conspiracy” against Ramesses III, which might have been partly successful, suggests that there was perhaps more private opposition to rulers than open rebellion. Although it is dangerous to generalize based on such limited evidence, the small, closed, and powerful elite, the palace environment and analogies with other similar societies, such as Assyria, makes it highly likely that there was considerably more dynastic strife than we have documented evidence for. The elite doubtless formed factions promoting the interests of different groups, notably when it came to the choice of royal wives.

Palace-based conspiracy was a feature of the Ptolemaic period: notably with the murder of Ptolemy IV. The strife between Ptolemy VIII Euergetes II and Kleopatra II led to a full-scale civil war with military action throughout the country, itself allowing an Egyptian rebel pharaoh, Harsiesis, to be proclaimed in Thebes. This prolonged turmoil had disastrous effects on the agricultural economy of the country, with land granted to cleruchs being left uncultivated. The feud between Kleopatra III and her son Ptolemy IX Soter II, whom she deposed, led to the Syrian War of 103–101 BC, which overlapped with a Seleukid dynastic war involving her daughters, who were married to the rival Syrian rulers. There was further dynastic conflict between Ptolemy XI, Alexander II, and Kleopatra Berenike III, and between Kleopatra VII and her brothers and sisters.

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