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The Late Period of ancient Egypt refers to the last flowering of native Egyptian rulers after the Third Intermediate Period in the 26th Saite Dynasty founded by Psamtik I, but includes the time of Achaemenid Persian rule over Egypt after the conquest by Cambyses II in 525 BC as well. The Late Period existed from 664 BC until 332 BC, following a period of foreign rule by the Nubian 25th dynasty and beginning with a short period of Neo-Assyrian suzerainty, with Psamtik I initially ruling as their vassal. The period ended with the conquests of the Persian Empire by Alexander the Great and establishment of the Ptolemaic dynasty by his general Ptolemy I Soter, one of the Hellenistic diadochi from Macedon in northern Greece. With the Macedonian Greek conquest in the latter half of the 4th century BC, the age of Hellenistic Egypt began.

Late Period of ancient Egypt

c. 664 BC – c. 332 BC
Egypt in the 6th century BC (in purple).
Egypt in the 6th century BC (in purple).
CapitalSais, Mendes, Sebennytos
Common languagesAncient Egyptian
Ancient Egyptian religion
• Established
c. 664 BC 
• Disestablished
 c. 332 BC
Preceded by
Succeeded by
Third Intermediate Period of Egypt
Ptolemaic Egypt
Argead Dynasty
Today part of Egypt

Libyans and Persians alternated rule with native Egyptians, but traditional conventions continued in the arts.[1]



26th DynastyEdit

The Twenty-Sixth Dynasty, also known as the Saite Dynasty after Sais, reigned from 672 to 525 BC, and consisted of six pharaohs. Canal construction from the Nile to the Red Sea began.

One major contribution from the Late Period of ancient Egypt was the Brooklyn Papyrus. This was a medical papyrus with a collection of medical and magical remedies for victims of snakebites based on snake type or symptoms.[2]

Artwork during this time was representative of animal cults and animal mummies. This image shows the god Pataikos wearing a scarab beetle on his head, supporting two human-headed birds on his shoulders, holding a snake in each hand, and standing atop crocodiles.[1]

According to Jeremiah, during this time many Jews came to Egypt, fleeing after the destruction of the First Temple in Jerusalem by the Babylonians (586 BC). Jeremiah and other Jewish refugees arrived in Lower Egypt, notably in Migdol, Tahpanhes and Memphis. Some refugees also settled at Elephantine and other settlements in Upper Egypt.[3][4] Jeremiah mentions pharaoh Apries as Hophra,[5] whose reign came to a violent end in 570 BC. Historians have disputed the accuracy of these events.

27th DynastyEdit

The First Achaemenid Period (525–404 BC) saw Egypt conquered by an expansive Achaemenid Empire under Cambyses. A total of eight pharaohs from this dynasty ruled over Egypt.

The initial period of Achaemenid Persian occupation when Egypt (Old Persian: 𐎸𐎭𐎼𐎠𐎹 Mudrāya) became a satrapy, known today as the Twenty-seventh Dynasty of Egypt.

28th–30th DynastiesEdit

The Twenty-Eighth Dynasty consisted of a single king, Amyrtaeus, prince of Sais, who rebelled against the Persians. He left no monuments with his name. This dynasty reigned for six years, from 404 BC–398 BC.

The Twenty-Ninth Dynasty ruled from Mendes, for the period from 398 to 380 BC.

The Thirtieth Dynasty took their art style from the Twenty-Sixth Dynasty. A series of three pharaohs ruled from 380 BC until their final defeat in 343 BC led to the re-occupation by the Persians. The final ruler of this dynasty, and the final native ruler of Egypt until nearly 2,300 years later, was Nectanebo II.

31st DynastyEdit

There was a Second Achaemenid Period of the Thirty-First Dynasty (343–332 BC), and consisted of four pharaohs: Artaxerxes III (343–338 BC), Artaxerxes IV (338–336 BC), Khababash (338–335 BC), and Darius III (336–332 BC).



  • Bleiberg, Edward; Barbash, Yekaterina; Bruno, Lisa (2013). Soulful Creatures: Animal Mummies in Ancient Egypt. Brooklyn Museum. p. 151. ISBN 9781907804274.
  • Roberto B. Gozzoli: The Writing of History in Ancient Egypt During the First Millennium BCE (ca. 1070–180 BCE). Trend and Perspectives, London 2006, ISBN 0-9550256-3-X
  • Lloyd, Alan B. 2000. "The Oxford History of Ancient Egypt, edited by Ian Shaw". Oxford and New York: Oxford University Press. 369–394
  • Quirke, Stephen. 1996 "Who were the Pharaohs?", New York: Dover Publications. 71–74
Primary sources