The Accession of King Irikeamannote (Comments on Kawa IX, Col. 1-21)

Vinogradov А. К.

The «Great Inscription» of Irikeamannote in Temple T at Kawa is an invaluable source of data on political history of the Kushite kingdom (Ancient Sudan). Of particular interest is the description of the conditions under which this king came to power. At first sight this part of the record, as interpreted by M.F.L Macadam, the editor of the text, looks obscure. On the one hand, it is explicitely stated that Irikeamannote was raised by the «Host of His Majesty» in time of political chaos after the decease of his predecessor, king Talakhamani. The warriors came to his residence claiming they needed a «herdsman» in order to be able to repell the invasion of foreign plunderers and stated that their desire was «to present to him the throne [of this land]» (Col. 10). Moreover, there seems to be a hint in their words at Irikeamannote's genealogical right to the throne, although in the present context it sounds superfluous. It becomes difficult to understand what could have hindered the heir from assuming the throne automatically and what could have been the cause of the disorder in the country. Yet still more striking is Irikeamannote's allusion in Col. 21 to a «goodly wonder» performed for him by the god Amun about the time of his becoming king of Kush. Judging from the date, as reconstructed by Macadam, the «wonder» had happened 2-5 months before the «army» decided to raise Irikeamannote. Because of a parallel elsewhere Macadam interpreted this as a hint at his enthronement and concluded that he actually became king when his predecessor was still alive. The hypothesis that coregency was sometimes practised in Kush was first suggested in the research literature over a century ago, but until now it lacks convincing proofs. In all known cases the heir succeeded to the throne after the decease of the predecessor. It seems unlikely that there was a strict (if any) order of hereditary succession while there are good reasons to think that the royal office was, at least in principle, elective. In such historical context Irikeamannote's case looks extremely important. If, and when, correctly understood it could greatly contribute to our knowledge of the Ancient Sudanese political organization in general. Of particular importance is the philological aspect of the problem. It should be borne in mind that the «Great inscription» has damages and has in some places been reconstructed in Macadam's publication. A possibility to verify the text presented itself a few years ago when several unpublished copies of the «Great inscription» were found by the present writer in the Archive of the Griffith Institute in Oxford. The editor's reading, according to which Irikeamannote was «appointed» to be king «[while in the] womb [of] his [mother]», i.e. had genealogical right to the throne, was not corroborated. Much more likely the text merely refers to the god Amun's giving the throne to his «beloved bodily son» (lit. «the son of his body») which is a well known Egyptian rhetorical figure. Irikeamannote's allusion to the «wonder» performed by the god Amun was also reconsidered. While it may certainly imply his enthronement, the context of the passage is to be revised. Instead of a calendar date the text seems to refer to the 9th (and not the 19th, as Macadam read) day of Irikeamannote's reign. Something extraordinary may have happened on that day, which was considered as a good omen approving of the elect of «His Majesty's Host». Alternatively, Irikeamannote's election by the «army» might be meant here. This could indicate that it took place on the 9th day after his predecessor's death, i.e. on the day which, according to the rules of counting regnal years, already belonged to the successor's (in this case his own) reign. Thus, in a retrospective narrative (as is the case with the «Great inscription» recorded at least 1.5 years after the events), it could be paradoxically stated that Irikemannote became king on the 9th day of year 1 of his «appearance as king». No evidence of Irikeamannote's coregency with his predecessor Talakhamani can be found in the «Great inscription».