Statue pedestal of Osorkon II, Dyn. 22

Statue pedestal of Osorkon II, Dyn. 22
Period:Egypt, 3rd Intermediate Period, Dynasty 22, Osorkon II/Usermaatre-Setepenamun
Dating:874 BC–850 BC
Physical:20.2cm. (7.9 in.) -

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Links to others from Dynasty 22

Bronze of a king as Osiris, Dyn. 22
Bronze statuette of Bastet, Dyn. 22
Canopic chest of Rw-Bastet, Dyn. 22
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Pin finial, Goddess Bastet, Dyn. 22
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Shawabti of Sheshonq II (?) Dyn. 22, 890 BC
Shawabti of Sheshonq II (?) Dyn. 22, 890 BC
Shawabti of Sheshonq II (?) Dyn. 22, 890 BC
Shawabti of Sheshonq II (?) Dyn. 22, 890 BC

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  This is a bronze pedestal for a statue of King Osorkon II of Dynasty 22. Although we do not have the statue itself (which may be anonymously waiting in another collection), the exquisite calligraphy of the hieroglyphic text on this pedestal makes it a work of art on its own.

The text suggests that this piece may have been created for his jubilee (heb-sed or sed festival) at Bubastis in the year 22 of his reign (852 BC), two years before his death.

A simplified version of the circumstance, titulary and cartouches reads:

Third jubilee ‘heb sed’, for ‘horus’ King of Upper and Lower Egypt ‘n-sw-bit’, the Master the Lord , ‘wser-maat-ra-setep-en-amun’, son of the sun ‘sa-ra’, Osorkon son of Bastet beloved of Amun ‘wsr-kn-sa-bas’tt-mry-imn’.

The second cartouche handling the birth name of this King reads “… w3-s-er-kn-bas’tt-mry-imn and without any doubt this cartouche in the Great Temple of Bubastis belongs to the King Osorkon II ” (Gauthier 1912:III,339).

The British Museum has a “Relief of Osorkon II and Queen Karomama I from the great red granite hall the king built at Bubastis to celebrate his heb sed” (Clayton 1994:187).

Osorkon II
By the time Osorkon II (874-850) acceded to the throne, the policy of appointing family members to regional high-level positions that had worked so well for his great grandfather Sheshonq I, had started to backfire. Already, his predecessor Takelot I had come to regret having installed his own son Iuwelot as High Priest of Thebes. Iuwelot had increasingly disregarded Takelot’s authority and expanded his own sphere northward all the way to Herakleopolis.

Osorkon II unwittingly furthered his father’s mistake by appointing his cousin Hariese to the High Priest position. Like Osorkon II, Hariese was a grandchild of Osorkon I, and therefore was just as direct an heir to the throne as Osorkon II. An ambitious man, Hariese went even further than his predecessor Iuwelot. In year 4 of Osorkon II’s reign, he proclaimed himself King of Upper Egypt, choosing the Horus Name ‘powerful bull crowned at Thebes.’ Although this cumulation of titles (high priest and king) did not give him any more practical power than he already had, it set up a dangerous precedent which was to haunt future kings of Dynasty 22.

When Hariese died ten years later, Osorkon immediately had him replaced with his son Nimlot who had proven his allegiance and contained Thebes’ ambitions when commanding the Herakleopolis garrison. Further nominations of his offspring, some of whom—such as his ten year old son Hornakht—must have been straw men, restored the power base of Osorkon II, who reigned another ten years with greater control of his country.

Although he only ruled over part of the kingdom for much of his reign, Osorkon II’s twenty four years of reign did leave an impression on Egypt. He was the first Egyptian king in a long time to celebrate his sed festival (royal jubilee). This momentous occasion, celebrated at the temple of Bastet at Bubastis, is recorded in the red granite of the festival court, where Osorkon II and his queen Karomama II are depicted in exquisite relief. Osorkon also built at Memphis, Tanis, Thebes, and Leontopolis.

In foreign policy, Egypt’s continued alliance with Byblos was called upon in 853 BC to help Hamath, Damascus and Israel successfully repel an Assyrian advance through Syria.

Osorkon II died in 850 BC, the last of the powerful Kings of his dynasty. His succession proved troublesome, and the kingdom soon again became decentralized.

Bibliography (for this item)

Bleeker, C. J.
1967 Egyptian Festivals; Enactments of Religious Renewal. E. J. Brill, Leiden, Netherlands.

Clayton, Peter A.
1994 Chronicle of the Pharaohs: The Reign-by-Reign Record of the Rulers and Dynasties of Ancient Egypt. Thames and Hudson, London, UK. (186-187)

Gauthier, Henri
1912 Le livre des rois d’Egypte. Tome 3: de la XIXe à la XXIVe dynastie. Institut Français d’Archeologie Orientale, Cairo, Egypt. ((III) 339)

Grimal, Nicolas
1988 Histoire de l’Egypte ancienne. Fayard, Paris, France. (392-393)

Matouk, Fouad S.
1971 Corpus du scarabé égyptien. Tome 1: Les scarabés royaux. Fouad Matouk, Beyrut, Lebanon.

Quirke, Stephen
1990 Who Were the Pharaohs? A History of their Names with a List of Cartouches. Dover Publications, New York, NY. (68)

Russmann, Edna R.
2001 Eternal Egypt: Masterworks of Ancient Art from the British Museum. University of California Press, Berkeley. (214-215)

Shaw, Ian, and Paul Nicholson
1995 The Dictionary of Ancient Egypt. British Museum Press, London, United Kingdom. (215)

Bibliography (on Osorkon II)

Clayton, Peter A.
1994 Chronicle of the Pharaohs: The Reign-by-Reign Record of the Rulers and Dynasties of Ancient Egypt. Thames and Hudson, London, UK.

Grimal, Nicolas
1994 A History of Ancient Egypt (Reprint of the 1994 edition, translated by Ian Shaw). Blackwell, Oxford, United Kingdom.

Shaw, Ian
2000 The Oxford History of Ancient Egypt. Oxford University Press, Oxford, United Kingdom.

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