Tablet of stone

Aurššbanipal, Gyges, Psamtik I, and International Relations in the Seventh-Century BC Near East

1:00pm - 2:00pm / Thursday 25th February 2021
Type: Seminar / Category: Department
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This seminar will be lead by John Rogers from Swansea University,

The Neo-Assyrian royal inscriptions (Prism A, ii 114-115; c.644-642) of Aššurbanipal (668-631) famously speak of the Lydian king Gyges (c.680-c.644/3/2) bringing gifts to the Assyrian ruler’s court, only later to trust in his own strength and aid Psamtik I of Egypt (664-610), ‘who had cast off the yoke of my lordly majesty’. This mistaken trust was, according to the Assyrian text, the cause of Gyges’ death at the hands of Cimmerian invaders in c.644/3/2.

This short episode is a key source for seventh-century BC political developments: Gyges’ engagement with Assyria gives contemporary hints to the foreign policy of the first Mermnad king of Lydia whose history is shrouded in mythology, and the apparent overthrowing of the yoke forms a central authority in many accounts of the reunification of Egypt under Psamtik I.

However, in using this text scholarship has for the most part focussed on the implications in Egypt, to the detriment of illuminating the wider Near-Eastern political climate. Therefore, this working paper presents a hypothesis that focusses this narrative away from an Egyptian context to a Lydian context, speaking more of the historical Gyges, and proposes a different explanation of Psamtik I’s foreign policy towards Assyria in reunifying Egypt.