Dynasty 31Late Period - Egypt Through Time - What is Ancient Egypt?
Egypt’s Late Period: 664 to 332 BC
26th to 31st Pharaonic Dynasties
The Assyrians invaded, driving out the Nubians and then left to deal with issues in their home country
A Pharaoh of Libyan heritage ruled for a short period of time before the Persians invaded and occupied Egypt twice
The second Persian Period of Egypt began in 343 BC when Egypt became a vassal state to the Persian Empire under the Pharaoh Artaxerxes III who defeated the last Egyptian Pharaoh Nectanebo II at the Battle of Pelusium.
This 31st Dynasty ended in 332 BC with the conquering of the whole Achaemenid Empire by Alexander the Great. The Dynasty consisted of 3 Persians Pharaohs who often left a Regent or Satrap in charge of Egypt in their absence, as they were usually elsewhere within their Empire.
The Pharaohs of Dynasty 31
Pharaoh Artaxerxes III, King of Persia
Pharaoh defeated the last Egyptian Pharaoh Nectanebo II at the Battle of Pelusium in 343 BC when Egypt became a vassal state to the Persian Empire once again and the 31st Dynasty commenced. Pharaoh was not tolerant to his conquered Egypt: he imposed high taxes, looted the Temples, stole religious books, looted much wealth from the Temples and the populace, destroyed the walls of cities, and persecuted any Egyptian who followed their traditional religion. All this was done to subjugate and supress Egypt and her peoples so they could never revolt against the Persian Empire again.
Once done, Pharaoh Artaxerxes III physically left Egypt and returned to his Capital of Persepolis, Egypt was now in the hands of a Regent called Pherendares. From his destruction, Persia gained a lot of wealth which Pharaoh used to renumerate the Army and Mercenaries who fought for him. Pharaoh died in September 338 BC when he was poisoned by a eunuch called Bagoas. He left his regally and politically weaker son Artaxerxes III, sometimes known as Arses, as King of Persia and Pharaoh of Egypt.
Pharaoh Artaxerxes III (Arses), King of Persia
He acceded to the Throne due to the support of the eunuch Bagoas as Pharaoh was not thought to be politically and regally weaker than his father and predecessor had been. An Egyptian named Khababash saw the weakness in the Persian’s rule and set himself up as the ruler of Upper Egypt.
Therefore, technically, Pharaoh ruled for less than 2 years, and only in Lower Egypt, as when he tried to remove himself from the eunuch’s influence by poisoning him, Pharaoh ended up succumbing to poison instead. His cousin Darius III who was willing to work with Bagoas then became King of Persia and de facto Pharaoh of Egypt.
Pharaoh Darius III, King of Persia
Pharaoh was a relative to the previous 2 Pharaohs and Kings of Persia but was not a direct relative. He was placed on the Throne by the Eunuch Bagoas who believed that he could control the King and the Throne. To start with Pharaoh took charge of Lower Egypt in 336 BC and regained control of Upper Egypt in 335 BC. Pharaoh Darius III encouraged the religion and culture of Egypt during his time of the Throne and there did not appear to be the unrest which had previously occurred during other Persian King’s reigns.
However, in between Pharaoh claiming Lower Egypt and re-joining it with Upper Egypt, it appears that Pharaoh had his own issues at home in Persia to deal with. The Eunuch Bagoas changed his opinion of Darius and decided that he was not as malleable as he would like. So, he again attempted poison which you may assume the Pharaoh was wise to this plan, especially considering the last 2 rulers were murdered by the same person in the same manner. Pharaoh swapped glasses with the eunuch during a toast and Bagoas drank his own poison and died.
Egypt remained as a vassal state to Persia until the Macedonian King Alexander, now known to history as Alexander the Great, invaded Asia Minor, first at the Battle of the Granicus in 334 BC, which Alexander won, and second at the Battle of Issus in 333 BC, which Alexander won. At this second battle Pharaoh Darius III was on the battlefield and seeing the defeat fled so rapidly that he did not stop to take anyone or anything with him.
Alexander captured the Persian Headquarters and Pharaoh’s family who were never returned as Darius refused to concede defeat and raised two more “armies” against the Macedonians. Pharaoh Darius III died by a sword wound in 332 BC and was buried by Alexander the great in the Royal Persian Tombs after a lavish funeral in Persepolis. This ended Dynasty 31 and the Late Period of Egypt. Her new Pharaoh was Alexander the Great who took over full control in 331 BC.