Shoshenq I
Shoshenq i
Dynasty 22nd Dynasty
Golden Horus
Burial Place

Hedjkheperre Setepenre Shoshenq I (Egyptian ššnq), also known as Sheshonk or Sheshonq I (for discussion of the spelling, see Shoshenq), was a Meshwesh Libyan king of Egypt and founder of the Twenty-second Dynasty. Shoshenq I was the son of Nimlot A, Great Chief of the Meshwesh, and Tentshepeh A. The majority of archaeologists and Egyptologists, including Kenneth Kitchen and Aidan Dodson, believe he is mentioned in the Hebrew Bible as שׁישׁק Šîšaq (transliterated as Shishaq and Shishak) though this identification has been questioned by David Rohl, Peter James, and other adherents of the so-called New Chronology.


The conventional dates for his reign as established by Kenneth Kitchen are 945 BC – 924 BC but his time-line could be revised downwards by a few years to c.944-923 BC or c.943-922 BC since he may well have lived for up to 2 to 3 Years after his successful 925 BC campaign against Israel and Judah rather than Kitchen's estimate of only 1 Year. As Edward Wente of the University of Chicago noted on page 276 of his JNES 35(1976) Book Review of Kitchen's study of the Third Intermediate Period, there is "no certainty" that Shoshenq's 925 BC campaign terminated just prior to this king's death. The English Egyptologist, Morris Bierbrier also dated Shoshenq I's accession "between 945-940 BC" in his seminal 1975 book concerning the geneaologies of Egyptian officials who served during the late New Kingdom and Third Intermediate Period.[1] Bierbrier based his opinion on Biblical evidence collated by W. Albright in a BASOR 130 paper. This development would also account for the mostly unfinished state of decorations of Shoshenq's building projects at the Great Temple of Karnak where only scenes of the king's Palestinian military campaign are fully carved. Building materials would first have had to be extracted and architectural planning performed for his great monumental projects here. Such activities usually took up to a year to complete before work was even begun. This would imply that Shoshenq I likely lived for a slightly longer period in excess of one year after his 925 BC campaign and that his 945 BC accession date could be lowered slightly to 944 or 943 BC. In addition, the Monthly fractions of the reigns of the previous seven Pharaohs of the 21st Dynasty may total up to a Year since Manetho's Epitome merely records their individual reigns at a set number of 'X' Years and completely ignores the monthly figures. Such an adjustment would also have the effect of shifting Shoshenq I's accession date forward in time from 945 BC.

Origins and Family

Prior to his reign, Shoshenq I had been the Commander-in-Chief of the Egyptian Army, and chief advisor to his predecessor Psusennes II, as well as the father-in-law of Psusennes' daughter Maatkare. He also held his father's title of Great Chief of the Ma or Meshwesh. His ancestors were Libyans who had settled in Egypt during the late New Kingdom, probably at Herakleopolis Magna, though Manetho claims Shoshenq himself came from Bubastis, a claim for which no supporting physical evidence has yet been discovered. Significantly, his Libyan uncle Osorkon the Elder had already served on the throne for at least six years in the preceding 21st Dynasty; hence, Shoshenq I's rise to power was not wholly unexpected. As king, Shoshenq chose his eldest son, Osorkon to succeed him as Osorkon I and consolidated his authority over Egypt through marriage alliances and appointments. He designated his second son, Iuput, as the High Priest of Amun at Thebes, Governor of Upper Egypt, and Commander of the Army. Another son, Nimlot, was given prominent positions in the military.

Foreign policy

He pursued an aggressive foreign policy in the adjacent territories of the Middle East, towards the end of his reign. This is attested, in part, by the discovery of a statue base bearing his name from the Lebanese city of Byblos, part of a monumental stela from Megiddo bearing his name, and a list of cities in the region comprising Syria, Philistia, Phoenicia, and the Kingdom of Israel, among various topographical lists inscribed on the walls of temples of Amun at al-Hibah and Karnak. The fragment of the stela bearing his cartouche from Megiddo has been interpreted as a monument Shoshenq erected there to celebrate his victory. Some of these conquered cities include Ancient Israelite fortresses such as Megiddo, Taanach and Shehchem which speaks to the speed and power of the Pharaoh's forces as they fought and pillaged their way through Israel and threatened Jerusalem.


He was succeeded by his son Osorkon I after a reign of 21 Years. According to Aidan Dodson's 1994 book, "The Canopic Equipment of the King's of Egypt," no trace has yet been found of Shoshenq I tomb. The sole funerary object which can be linked to Shoshenq I is a canopic chest of unknown provenance which was donated to the Ägyptisches Museum Berlin (ÄMB 11000) by Julius Isaac in 1891.[2] This may perhaps indicate that his tomb was looted in antiquity but this hypothesis cannot be proven at present. Egyptologists differ over the location of Sheshonq I's burial and speculate that he may have been buried somewhere in Tanis--perhaps in one of the Anonymous royal tombs here--or in Bubastis. However, Troy Sagrillo in a GM 205 (2005) paper observes that "there are only a bare handful of inscribed blocks from Tanis which may possibly name the king (ie: Shoshenq I) and none of these come from an in situ building complex contemporary with his reign."[3] Hence, it is more probable that Shoshenq was buried in another city in the Egyptian Delta. Sagrillo offers a specific location for Shoshenq's burial: the Ptah temple enclosure of Memphis. He notes that this king built "fairly widely in the area, undoubtedly including a pylon and forecourt at the Ptah temple (Kitchen, TIPE 1996, pp.149-150)...It is, therefore, not completely improbable that he (ie: Shoshenq I) built his tomb in the region. The funerary cult surrounding his 'House of Millions of Years of Shoshenq, Beloved of Amun' was functioning several generations after its establishment at the temple (Ibrahem Aly Sayed 1996, p.14). The 'House of Millions of Years of Shoshenq, Beloved of Amun' was probably the forecourt and pylon of the Ptah temple which, if the royal necropoleis at Tanis, Saïs, and Mendes are taken as models, could very well have contained a royal burial within it or the temenos." </ref>Sagrillo, op. cit., p.100</ref> Sagrillo concludes by observing that if Shoshenq I's burial place was located at Memphis, "it would go far in explaining why this king's funerary cult lasted for some time at the site after his death." (Sagrillo, GM 205, p.100)

While Shoshenq's tomb is currently unknown, the burial of one of his prominent state officials at Thebes, the Third Prophet of Amun Djedptahiufankh, was discovered intact in Tomb DB320 in the 19th Century. Inscriptions on Djedptahiufankh's Mummy bandages show that he died in or after Year 11 of this king. His Mummy was discovered to contain various gold bracellets, amulets and precious carnelian objects and give a small hint of the vast treasures which would have adorned Shoshenq I's tomb. Shoshenq II's prenomen, Heqakheperre, means "The Manifestation of Re rules."

External links


  1. M. Bierbrier, The Late New Kingdom in Egypt (c.1300-664 BC), Aris & Philips Ltd (1975), p.111
  2. Aidan Dodson, The Canopic Equipment of the Kings of Egypt, Kegan Paul Intl, (1994), pp.83-84
  3. T.L. Sagrillo, "The Mummy of Shoshenq I Re-discovered?," GM 205(2005), p.99


  • M. Bierbrier, The Late New Kingdom in Egypt (c.1300-664 BC), Aris & Philips Ltd, (1975)
  • Aidan Dodson, The Canopic Equipment of the Kings of Egypt, Kegan Paul Intl, (1994)
  • T.L. Sagrillo, "The Mummy of Shoshenq I Re-discovered?," GM 205 (2005), pp.95-102

Preceded by:
Osorkon I
Pharaoh of Egypt
Twenty-second Dynasty
Succeeded by:
Psusennes II
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