Necho (nēˈkō) [key], 609–593 B.C., king of ancient Egypt, 2d ruler of the XXVI dynasty, the son and successor of Psamtik and grandson of Necho, lord of Saïs. Necho took advantage of the confusion that followed the fall of Nineveh (612) to invade Palestine and Syria, both of which he took without difficulty. His real objective, however, was to reach Haran in time to assist the Assyrians who were under siege by the Babylonian king Nebuchadnezzar. King Josiah of Judah tried (609 B.C.) to stop him at Megiddo, but Josiah was defeated in battle and killed. Necho's failure to reach Haran resulted in the final defeat of Assyria. In 605, Necho fought with Nebuchadnezzar at Carchemish on the Euphrates and was thoroughly beaten. He fled to Egypt, where he remained for the rest of his life. He attempted to reexcavate the canal from the Nile to the Red Sea and also sent out a group of Phoenicians on a three-year expedition in which they were said to have circumnavigated Africa.
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