Siamun; the little known Egyptian king who gave the Pharaoh title currency

Michael Eli Dokosi Mar 29, 2020 at 11:00am

March 29, 2020 at 11:00 am | History

Michael Eli Dokosi

Michael Eli Dokosi | Staff Writer

March 29, 2020 at 11:00 am | History

Siamun on a relief, from Memphis via Wikimedia Commons

One of the lesser known kings of ancient Egypt is Siamun from Kamite Dynasty 21 about 3000 years ago. Also known as Neterkheperre or Netjerkheperre-setepenamun Siamun, he was the sixth pharaoh of Egypt during the 21 dynasty.

He built extensively in Lower Egypt for a king of the Third Intermediate Period and was regarded as one of the most powerful rulers after Psusennes I. Siamun’s prenomen, Netjerkheperre-Setepenamun, means “Like a God is The Manifestation of Re, Chosen of Amun” while his name means ‘son  of Amun.’

Although initially said to have reigned for nine years by priest and historian Manetho, historians now agree that was erroneous as he is now credited with a reign of 19 years.

It is also with Siamun that an important paleographical development is observed when for the first time in Egyptian recorded history, the word pharaoh gets employed as a title and linked directly to a king’s royal name: as in Pharaoh Siamun here.

Henceforth, references to Pharaoh Psusennes II (Siamun’s successor), Pharaoh Shoshenq I, Pharaoh Osorkon I among others became common. Prior to Siamun’s reign and all throughout the Middle and New Kingdom, the word pharaoh referred only to the office of the king.

According to the French Egyptologist Nicolas Grimal, Siamun doubled the size of the Temple of Amun at Tanis and initiated various works at the Temple of Horus at Mesen. He also built at Heliopolis and at Piramesse where a surviving stone block bears his name. Siamun constructed and dedicated a new temple to Amun at Memphis with 6 stone columns and doorways which bears his royal name.

Finally, he bestowed numerous favors onto the Memphite Priests of Ptah. In Upper Egypt, he generally appears eponymously on a few Theban monuments also.

One fragmentary but well known surviving triumphal relief scene from the Temple of Amun at Tanis depicts an Egyptian pharaoh smiting his enemies with a mace. The king’s name is explicitly given as Neterkheperre Setepenamun) Siamun, beloved of Amun in the relief and there can be no doubt that this person was Siamun as the eminent British Egyptologist, Kenneth Kitchen stresses.

Under Siamun, Egypt embarked upon an active foreign policy.

Although Siamun’s original royal tomb has never been located, scholars believe that he is one of “two completely decayed mummies in the antechamber of NRT-III (Psusennes I’s tomb)” on the basis of ushabtis found on them which bore this king’s name. Siamun’s original tomb may have been inundated by the Nile which compelled a reburial of this king in Psusennes I’s tomb.

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