Name Shebitku Shebitku
Nieces Amenirdis II
Died 690 BC
|Reign 707/706–690 BC (25th dynasty)|
Similar People Taharqa, Shabaka, Piye, Kashta
Shebitku (also Shabataka or Shebitqo) was the second king of the Twenty-fifth Dynasty of Egypt who ruled from 714 BC-705 BC, according to the most recent academic research. He was a son of Piye, the founder of this dynasty. Shebitku's prenomen or throne name, Djedkare, means "Enduring is the Soul of Re." Shebitku's queen was Arty, who was a daughter of king Piye, according to a fragment of statue JE 49157 of the High Priest of Amun Haremakhet, son of Shabaka, found in the temple of the Goddess Mut in Karnak.
Shebitku's reign before Shabaka
Until recent times, Shebitku was placed within the 25th Dynasty between Shabaka and Taharqa. Although the possibility of a switch between the reigns of Shabaka and Shebitku had already been suggested before by Brunet and Baker had outlined nine reasons for the reversal, it was Michael Bányai in 2013 who first published in a mainstream journal many arguments in favor of such a relocation. After him, Frédéric Payraudeau and Gerard P. F. Broekman independently expanded the hypothesis. The archaeological evidence now in 2016/2017 firmly favours a Shebitku-Shabaka succession. Gerard Broekman's GM 251 (2017) paper shows that Shebitku reigned before Shabaka since the upper edge of Shabaka’s NLR #30 Year 2 Karnak quay inscription was carved over the left-hand side of the lower edge of Shebitku's NLR#33 Year 3 inscription. This can only mean that Shabaka ruled after Shebitku.
Critically, it was first pointed out by Baker and then later by Frederic Payraudeau who wrote in French that "the Divine Adoratrix ie. God's Wife of Amun Shepenupet I," the last Libyan Adoratrix, was still alive during the reign of Shebitku/Shabataqo because she is represented performing rites and is described as “living” in those parts of the Osiris-Héqadjet chapel built during his reign (wall and exterior of the gate) In the rest of the room it is Amenirdis I, Shabaka's sister), who is represented with the Adoratrix title and provided with a coronation name. The succession Shepenupet I - Amenirdis I as God's Wife of Amun or Divine Adoratrix thus took place during the reign of Shebitku. This detail in itself is sufficient to show that the reign of Shabaka cannot precede that of Shebitku.
The construction of the tomb of Shebitku (Ku. 18) resembles that of Piye (Ku. 17) while that of Shabaka (Ku. 15) is similar to that of Taharqa (Nu. 1) and Tantamani (Ku. 16). One of the strongest evidence that Shabaka ruled after Shebitku was demonstrated by the architectural features of the Kushite royal pyramids in El Kurru. Only in the pyramids of Piye (Ku 17) and Shebitku (Ku 18) are the burial-chambers open-cut structures with a corbelled roof, whereas fully tunnelled burial chamber substructures are found in the pyramids of Shabaka (Ku 15), Taharqa (Nu 1) and Tantamani (Ku 16), as well as with all subsequent royal pyramids in El Kurru and Nuri. The fully tunnelled and once decorated burial chamber of Shabaka's pyramid was clearly an architectural improvement since it was followed by Taharqa and all his successors. The pyramid design evidence also shows that Shabaka must have ruled after—and not before—Shebitku. This also favours a Shebitku-Shabaka succession in the 25th dynasty. In the Cairo CG 42204 of the High Priest of Amun, Haremakhet—son of Shabaka—calls himself as "king’s son of Shabaka, justified, who loves him, Sole Confidant of king Taharqa, justified, Director of the palace of the king of Upper and Lower Egypt Tanutamun/Tantamani, may he live for ever." However, as first noted by Baker, no mention of Haremakhet's service under Shebitku is made; even if Haremakhet was only a youth under Shebitku, this king's absence is strange since the intent of the statue's text was to render a chronological sequence of kings who reigned during Haremakhet's life, each of their names being accompanied by a reference to the relationship that existed between the king mentioned and Haremakhet. A possible explanation for Shebitku's omission from the statue of Haremakhet was that Shebitku was already dead when Haremaket was born under Shabaka.
Payraudeau notes that Shebitku’s shabtis are small (about 10 cm) and have a very brief inscription with only the king's birth name in a cartouche preceded by “the Osiris, king of Upper and Lower Egypt” and followed by mȝʿ-ḫrw. They are thus very close to those of Piye/Piankhy [42 – D. Dunham, (see footnote 39), plate 44.]. However, Shabaka's shabtis are larger (about 15–20 cm) with more developed inscriptions, including the quotation from the Book of the Dead, which is also present on those Taharqo, Tanouetamani and Senkamanisken." All this evidence also suggests that Shebitku ruled before Shabaka. Finally, as first pointed out by Baker, and then later by Payraudeau who observed that in the traditional Shebitku-Shabaka chronology, the time span between the reign of Taharqa and Shabaka seems to be excessively long. They both noted that Papyrus Louvre E 3328c from Year 2 or Year 6 of Taharqa mentions the sale of a slave by his owner who had bought him in Year 7 of Shabaka, that is 27 years earlier in the traditional chronology but if the reign of Shabaka is placed just before that of Taharqa (with no intervening reign of Shebitku), there is a gap of about 10 years which is much more credible.
The respected German scholar Karl Jansen Winkeln also endorsed a Shebitku-Shabaka succession in a JEH 10 (2017) N.1 paper titled 'Beiträge zur Geschichte der Dritten Zwischenzeit’, Journal of Egyptian History 10 (2017), pp. 23–42 when he wrote a postscript stating “Im Gegensatz zu meinen Ausführungen auf dem  Kolloquium in Münster bin ich jetzt der Meinung, dass die (neue) Reihenfolge Schebitku—Schabako in der Tat richtig ist...” or ‘In contrast to my exposition at the  Munster colloquium, I am now of the opinion that the (new) succession Shebitku-Shabako is in fact correct…’
In 1999, an Egypt-Assyrian synchronism from the Great Inscription of Tang-i Var in Iran was re-discovered and re-analysed. Carved by Sargon II of Assyria (722-705 BC), the inscription dates to the period around 707/706 BC and reveals that it was Shebitku, king of Egypt, who extradited the rebel king Iamanni of Ashdod into Sargon's hands, rather than Shabaka as previously thought. The pertinent section of the inscription by Sargon II reads:
The Tang-i Var inscription dates to Sargon's 15th year between Nisan 707 BC to Adar 706 BC. This shows that Shebitku was ruling in Egypt by April 706 BC at the very latest, and perhaps as early as November 707 BC to allow some time for Iamanni's extradition and the recording of this deed in Sargon's inscription. A suggestion that Shebitku served as Shabaka's viceroy in Nubia and that Shebitku extradited Iamanni to Sargon II during the reign of king Shabaka has been rejected by the Egyptologist Karl Jansen-Winkeln in Ancient Egyptian Chronology (Handbook of Oriental Studies), which is the most updated publication on Egyptian chronology. As Jansen-Winkeln writes:"there has never been the slightest hint at any form of coregency of the Nubian kings of Dynasty 25. Had Shabaka been ruler of Egypt in the year 707/706 and Shebitku [was] his "viceroy" in Nubia, one would definitely expect that the opening of diplomatic relations with Assur as well as the capture and extradation of Yamanni would have been part of Shabaka's responsibility. Sargon can also be expected to have named the regent of Egypt and senior king, rather than the distant viceroy Shebitku [in Nubia]. If, on the other hand, Shebitku was already Shabaka's successor in 707/706 [BC], the reports of the Yamani affair become clearer and make more sense. It had hitherto been assumed that the Nubian king (Shabaka) handed over Yamani more or less immediately after his flight to Egypt. Now it appears...certain that Yamani was only turned over to the Assyrians a couple of years later (under Shebitku instead)."
The alleged coregency of Shebitku
Turin Stela 1467, which depicts Shabaka and Shebitku seated together (with Shebitku behind Shabaka) facing two other individuals across an offering table, was once considered to be clear evidence for a royal co-regency between these two Nubian kings in William J. Murnane's 1977 book on Ancient Egyptian Coregencies. However, the Turin Museum has subsequently acknowledged the statue to be a forgery. Robert Morkot and Stephen Quirke, who analysed the stela in a 2001 article, also confirmed that the object is a forgery which cannot be used to postulate a possible coregency between Shabaka and Shebitku.
Secondly, Shebitku's Year 3, 1st month of Shemu day 5 inscription in Nile Level Text Number 33 has been assumed to record a coregency between Shabaka and Shebitku among some scholars. This Nile text records Shebitku mentioning his appearing (xai) in Thebes as king in the temple of Amun at Karnak where "Amun gave him the crown with two uraei like Horus on the throne of Re" thereby legitimising his kingship. Jürgen von Beckerath argued in a GM 136 (1993) article that the inscription recorded both the official coronation of Shebitku and the very first appearance of the king himself in Egypt after comparing this inscription with Nile Level Text No.30 from Year 2 of Shebitku when Shabaka conquered all of Egypt. If correct, this would demonstrate that Shebitku had truly served as a coregent to Shabaka for 2 years.
Kenneth Kitchen, however, observes that the "verb xai (or appearance) applies to any official 'epiphany' or official manifestation of the king to his 'public appearances'." Kitchen also stresses that the period around the first month of Shemu days 1-5 marked the date of a Festival of Amun-Re at Karnak which is well attested during the New Kingdom Period, the 22nd Dynasty and through to the Ptolemaic period. Hence, in the third Year of Shebitku, this Feast to Amun evidently coincided with both the Inundation of the Nile and a personal visit by Shebitku to the Temple of Amun "but we have no warrant whatever for assuming that Shebitku...remained uncrowned for 2 whole years after his accession." William Murnane also endorsed this interpretation by noting that Shebitku's Year 3 Nile Text "need not refer to an accession or coronation at all. Rather, it seems simply to record an 'appearance' of Shebitku in the temple of Amun during his third year and to acknowledge the god's influence in securing his initial appearance as king." In other words, Shebitku was already king of Egypt and the purpose of his visit to Karnak was to receive and record for posterity the god Amun's official legitimization of his reign. Therefore, the evidence for a possible coregency between Shabaka and Shebitku is illusory at present.
Dan'el Kahn also carefully considered but rejected arguments against a division of the 25th dynasty kingdom under Shabaka's reign with Shabaka ruling in Lower and Upper Egypt and Shebitku, acting as Shabaka's junior coregent or viceroy, in Nubia in an important 2006 article. Kahn notes that there was always only one Nubian king ruling over all of the 25th dynasty's domain including both Egypt and Nubia and that problems of communication and control "did not hinder the kushite king to be the supreme ruler of this vast territory." Kahn stresses that the Great Triumphal stela of Piye indicates it took only 39 days to travel by boat from Napata to Thebes while the Nitocris Adoption Stela shows that "the time to travel the distance between Memphis (or possibly Tanis) and Thebes by boat (c.700 km or more for Tanis) is [only] 16 days."