What’s the Story of Pharaoh in the Silver Casket?


French Egyptologist Pierre Montet and his team stumbled across the sarcophagus of Psusennes I while digging in the Nile Delta. Psusennes I was a Pharaoh of the 21st dynasty he lived during the 1047. The discovery of his tomb brought him to limelight just like Tutankhamun in the beginning of Second World War. Psusennes I was just among 70 other Pharaohs whose tombs were being searched for. But who was this Pharaoh found in a Silver Casket?

Pharaoh in the Silver Casket - Psusennes I

Psusennes I belonged to the Third Intermediate Period following the period of Ra Messes Pharaohs. The country was stricken by social and economic turbulence caused due to political decline. Kingdom of Egypt had been divided into the Southern and Northern regions. Though it was assumed to unite the people but none could rest in peace. Psusennes I was born during such a time. Egypt had not got any strong Pharaoh ever since the death of Ra Messes III. So Psusennes I wanted to emulate Ra Messes II. He was so much influenced by this ruler that he even had the name of Ra Messes II inscribed in his royal nameplates besides him. The city of Pi-Ra Messes began to suffer during his rule as the Nile had changed course and the dwellers had little access to water. So Psusennes I moved the city to a new location. It required monumental efforts to move a city and illustrates the just ruler Psusennes I was. In moder times the exact description of this rulers physical looks have been deciphered and it provides an idea of how determined Psusennes I was.

Portrait of Psusennes I

There are two interesting things about Psusennes I. Firstly, he ruled his part of the kingdom longer than any other Pharaoh had done. Secondly, his tomb was found intact and there were no signs of breach into the tomb.  Many robbers had dug up the adjacent graves lying in the neighbourhood but never touched Psusennes I tomb. When the tomb was discovered the Second World War made the world divert their interest elsewhere. It was only in the later years of 90’s and early 2000’s that Egyptologists started returning to the Nile delta and researching the tomb of Pseusennes I.

Location of Psusennes I tomb

There were certain things learnt about him after detailed research. He ruled from 1047 to 1002. He was the longest reigning Pharaoh to have been mentioned in Egypt’s history books. There was none stronger Pharaoh since Ra Messes III. Medical studies on the body of Psusennes I revealed that he had been suffering from teeth and back problems which caused him a lot of pain in his last years.

Psusennes I anklet

Though Psusennes I ascended the throne when Egypt was on a decline and had been divided into two regions but he ruled his kingdom with a sense of control and yet was a thoughtful ruler for 46 years. He was man of imaginations, ability and stamina, and no such ruler had come to the throne of Egypt for over a hundred years. His death ended the final chapter in Pre-dynastic times. Soon they were conquered by the Persians and later by the Greeks and Romans.

Psusennes I was the last Pharaoh of Egypt in true sense. People had high regards for him. The gold mask found on the head and shoulders of this great Pharaoh reflect Egypt’s past grandeur. He was placed in a silver casket instead of golden because it is learnt that Psusennes I liked silver over gold.

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