King Piankhy of Nubia watched his tribute of gold, cattle, slaves and fighting men floating down the Nile to his overlord, Osorkon III, king of Egypt.
For more than 1,800 years his country had been dominated by Egypt, which drew from it much of her gold and most of her fighting men. Now he decided that when tribute was next due he was going to be the receiver not the giver.
During his 25-years on the throne, he had been strengthening his power. With his renowned warriors, who had won most of Egypt's battles for her, he was going to march until he reached the mouth of the Nile. King Osorkon and his viceroy, the High Priest of Thebes, would both lick the dust from his feet, and he would return to his capital, Napata, loaded with wealth as no Nubian ruler had ever possessed before. This was in the eight century B.C.
His plans ready, King Piankhy started out on the conquest of the world's then mightiest power. His fleet and transports were so numerous that they stretched for miles down the river. As he advanced, he captured all the small towns, sacrificing to the gods of Nubia on their altars, until at last he arrived at the first fortress, Hermopolis.
This he besieged and pressed so vigorously that the city was soon at his mercy. The ruler, Namlot, offered to surrender and sent many gifts including even his crown to win Piankhy's favor; but nothing availed until Namlot sent his Queen to plead with Piankhy's women.
Piankhy then consented to listen. Throwing himself prostrate at the conqueror's feet, Namlot cried, "Be appeased, Horus, lord of the palace, it is thy might which has done it. I am one of the king's slaves paying impost into the treasury."To Piankhy he presented silver, gold, lapis lazuli, malachite, bronze, and costly stones. He filled Piankhy's treasury with the tribute, and gave him magnificent horse and a sistrum of gold lapis lazuli.
With his mighty fleet, Piankhy captured every city until he came to Memphis, which was strongly fortified with high walls, a large garrison, and an abundance of food and supplies. Landing on the north side of the city, Piankhy, though surprised at the strength of the place, devised a clever plan of assault. Seeing that the high walls on the west of the city had been recently raised higher, he reasoned that the east side, naturally protected by waters was probably being neglected. In the harbor ships floated so high that their bow ropes were fastened to the houses of the city. Piankhy, therefore, sent his fleet against the harbor and speedily captured all shipping; then, taking command in person, he rapidly ranged the captured craft together with his own fleet along the eastern walls. This furnished a footing for his assaulting lines, which he immediately sent over the ramparts, capturing the city before the western defenses could get into action. Tefnakhte, the commander, surrendered humbly.
Thus Piankhy won mastery of all the region around Memphis and continued his triumphant march toward Heliopolis; toward the temple of the great god Amen-Ra: toward the palace Osorkon. When he reached Heliopolis, King Osorkon and all the lords of the Delta, fifteen in number, surrendered without resistance.
By entering into the Holy of Holies of the Sun-God, Piankhy symbolized his mastery of Egypt. Ethiopia had become mistress of the then known-world!
This done, Piankhy sailed for his home in the south, his ships "laden with silver, gold, copper, clothing, and everything of the Northland; every product of Syria and all the sweet woods of God's land. His majesty sailed up-stream with glad heart, the shores on either side were jubilating. West and East singing: 'Oh, mighty ruler Piankhy, thou comest having gained the dominion of the North...Thou art unto eternity, thy might endureth, O Ruler, beloved of Egypt.'"