Hyksos

Hyksos

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The Hyksos were an Asiatic people who took over the eastern Nile Delta
Nile Delta
The Nile Delta is the delta formed in Northern Egypt where the Nile River spreads out and drains into the Mediterranean Sea. It is one of the world's largest river deltas—from Alexandria in the west to Port Said in the east, it covers some 240 km of Mediterranean coastline—and is a rich...

 during the twelfth dynasty
Twelfth dynasty of Egypt
The twelfth dynasty of ancient Egypt is often combined with Dynasties XI, XIII and XIV under the group title Middle Kingdom.-Rulers:Known rulers of the twelfth dynasty are as follows :...

, initiating the Second Intermediate Period of ancient Egypt
Ancient Egypt
Ancient Egypt was an ancient civilization of Northeastern Africa, concentrated along the lower reaches of the Nile River in what is now the modern country of Egypt. Egyptian civilization coalesced around 3150 BC with the political unification of Upper and Lower Egypt under the first pharaoh...

.

The Hyksos first appeared in Egypt during the eleventh dynasty
Eleventh dynasty of Egypt
The eleventh dynasty of ancient Egypt was one group of rulers, whose earlier members are grouped with the four preceding dynasties to form the First Intermediate Period, while the later members are considered part of the Middle Kingdom...

, began their climb to power in the thirteenth dynasty
Thirteenth dynasty of Egypt
The thirteenth dynasty of ancient Egypt is often combined with Dynasties XI, XII and XIV under the group title Middle Kingdom. Other writers separate it from these dynasties and join it to Dynasties XIV through XVII as part of the Second Intermediate Period...

, and came out of the second intermediate period in control of Avaris
Avaris
Avaris , capital of Egypt under the Hyksos , was located near modern Tell el-Dab'a in the northeastern region of the Nile Delta, at the juncture of the 8th, 14th, 19th and 20th Nomes...

 and the Delta. By the fifteenth dynasty
Fifteenth dynasty of Egypt
The Fifteenth, Sixteenth and Seventeenth Dynasties of ancient Egypt are often combined under the group title, Second Intermediate Period. The Fifteenth Dynasty dates approximately from 1650 to 1550 BC.-Rulers:...

, they ruled Lower Egypt
Lower Egypt
Lower Egypt is the northern-most section of Egypt. It refers to the fertile Nile Delta region, which stretches from the area between El-Aiyat and Zawyet Dahshur, south of modern-day Cairo, and the Mediterranean Sea....

, and at the end of the seventeenth dynasty
Seventeenth dynasty of Egypt
The Fifteenth, Sixteenth and Seventeenth Dynasties of ancient Egypt are often combined under the group title, Second Intermediate Period. The Seventeenth Dynasty dates approximately from 1580 to 1550 BC.-Rulers:...

, they were expelled.

Hyksos 15th dynasty


Traditionally, only the Fifteenth Dynasty rulers are called Hyksos. The Greek name "Hyksos" was coined by Manetho to identify the Fifteenth Dynasty of Asiatic rulers of northern Egypt. In Egyptian Hyksos means "ruler(s) of foreign countries", however, Manetho mistranslated Hyksos as "Shepherd Kings".

The Hyksos had Canaan
Canaan
Canaan is a historical region roughly corresponding to modern-day Israel, Palestine, Lebanon, and the western parts of Jordan...

ite names, as seen in those with names of Semitic deities such as Anath or Ba'al. They introduced new tools of warfare into Egypt, most notably the composite bow
Composite bow
A composite bow is a bow made from horn, wood, and sinew laminated together. The horn is on the belly, facing the archer, and sinew on the back of a wooden core. Sinew and horn will store more energy than wood for the same length of bow...

 and the horse-drawn chariot
Chariot
The chariot is a type of horse carriage used in both peace and war as the chief vehicle of many ancient peoples. Ox carts, proto-chariots, were built by the Proto-Indo-Europeans and also built in Mesopotamia as early as 3000 BC. The original horse chariot was a fast, light, open, two wheeled...

.

The known rulers for the Hyksos 15th dynasty
Fifteenth dynasty of Egypt
The Fifteenth, Sixteenth and Seventeenth Dynasties of ancient Egypt are often combined under the group title, Second Intermediate Period. The Fifteenth Dynasty dates approximately from 1650 to 1550 BC.-Rulers:...

 are:
Name Dates
Sakir-Har
Sakir-Har
The obscure Hyksos king, Sakir-Har, was discovered in a recently excavated door jamb from Tell el-Dab'a of Ancient Egypt by Manfred Bietak. His titulary appear on door jamb, Cairo TD-8316...

Named as an early Hyksos king on a door jamb found at Avaris
Avaris
Avaris , capital of Egypt under the Hyksos , was located near modern Tell el-Dab'a in the northeastern region of the Nile Delta, at the juncture of the 8th, 14th, 19th and 20th Nomes...

.
Regnal order uncertain.
Khyan
Khyan
Seuserenre Khyan, Khian or Khayan was reportedly the fourth king of the Hyksos Fifteenth dynasty of Egypt who ruled approximately c.1610-1580 BC The Danish Egyptologist, Kim Ryholt, who published an extensive catalogue of the monuments of all the numerous pharaohs of the Second Intermediate Period...

c. 1620 BC
Apophis c. 1580 BC to 1540 BC
Khamudi
Khamudi
Khamudi was the last pharaoh of the Hyksos fifteenth dynasty of Egypt, who came to power in the northern portion of Egypt...

c. 1540 BC to 1530 BC?


The Hyksos kingdom was centered in the eastern Nile Delta
Nile Delta
The Nile Delta is the delta formed in Northern Egypt where the Nile River spreads out and drains into the Mediterranean Sea. It is one of the world's largest river deltas—from Alexandria in the west to Port Said in the east, it covers some 240 km of Mediterranean coastline—and is a rich...

 and Middle Egypt
Middle Egypt
Middle Egypt is the section of land between Lower Egypt and Upper Egypt, stretching upstream from Asyut in the south to Memphis in the north. At the time, Ancient Egypt was divided into Lower and Upper Egypt, though Middle Egypt was technically a subdivision of Upper Egypt. It was not until the...

 and was limited in size, never extending south into Upper Egypt
Upper Egypt
Upper Egypt is the strip of land, on both sides of the Nile valley, that extends from the cataract boundaries of modern-day Aswan north to the area between El-Ayait and Zawyet Dahshur . The northern section of Upper Egypt, between El-Ayait and Sohag is sometimes known as Middle Egypt...

, which was under the control of Theban
Thebes, Egypt
Thebes is the Greek name for a city in Ancient Egypt located about 800 km south of the Mediterranean, on the east bank of the river Nile within the modern city of Luxor. The Theban Necropolis is situated nearby on the west bank of the Nile.-History:...

-based rulers. Hyksos relations with the south seem, to have been mainly of a commercial nature, although Theban princes appear to have recognized the Hyksos rulers and may possibly have provided them with tribute
Tribute
A tribute is wealth, often in kind, that one party gives to another as a sign of respect or, as was often the case in historical contexts, of submission or allegiance. Various ancient states, which could be called suzerains, exacted tribute from areas they had conquered or threatened to conquer...

 for a period. The Hyksos Fifteenth Dynasty rulers established their capital and seat of government at Avaris
Avaris
Avaris , capital of Egypt under the Hyksos , was located near modern Tell el-Dab'a in the northeastern region of the Nile Delta, at the juncture of the 8th, 14th, 19th and 20th Nomes...

.
The rule of these kings overlaps with that of the native Egyptian pharaohs of the 16th
Sixteenth dynasty of Egypt
The sixteenth dynasty of ancient Egypt was a dynasty of pharaohs that ruled in Upper Egypt for 50 years during the Second Intermediate Period The sixteenth dynasty of ancient Egypt (notated Dynasty XVI) was a dynasty of pharaohs that ruled in Upper Egypt for 50 years during the Second Intermediate...

 and 17th dynasties
Seventeenth dynasty of Egypt
The Fifteenth, Sixteenth and Seventeenth Dynasties of ancient Egypt are often combined under the group title, Second Intermediate Period. The Seventeenth Dynasty dates approximately from 1580 to 1550 BC.-Rulers:...

 of Egypt, better known as the Second Intermediate Period
Second Intermediate Period of Egypt
The Second Intermediate Period marks a period when Ancient Egypt fell into disarray for a second time, between the end of the Middle Kingdom and the start of the New Kingdom...

. The first pharaoh of the 18th dynasty
Eighteenth dynasty of Egypt
The eighteenth dynasty of ancient Egypt is perhaps the best known of all the dynasties of ancient Egypt...

, Ahmose I
Ahmose I
Ahmose I was a pharaoh of ancient Egypt and the founder of the Eighteenth dynasty. He was a member of the Theban royal house, the son of pharaoh Tao II Seqenenre and brother of the last pharaoh of the Seventeenth dynasty, King Kamose...

, finally expelled the Hyksos from their last holdout at Sharuhen
Sharuhen
Sharuhen was an ancient town in the Negev Desert. Following the expulsion of the Hyksos from Egypt in the second half of the 16th century BCE, they fled to Sharuhen and fortified it...

 in Gaza
Gaza
Gaza , also referred to as Gaza City, is a Palestinian city in the Gaza Strip, with a population of about 450,000, making it the largest city in the Palestinian territories.Inhabited since at least the 15th century BC,...

 by the 16th year of his reign. Scholars have taken the increasing use of scarabs and the adoption of some Egyptian forms of art by the Fifteenth Dynasty Hyksos kings and their wide distribution as an indication of their becoming progressively Egyptianized. The Hyksos used Egyptian titles associated with traditional Egyptian kingship, and took the Egyptian god Seth
Set (mythology)
Set was in Ancient Egyptian religion, a god of the desert, storms, and foreigners. In later myths he was also the god of darkness, and chaos...

 to represent their own titulary deity. It appears, that Hyksos administration was accepted in most quarters, if not actually supported by many of their northern Egyptian subjects. In spite of the prosperity that the stable political situation brought to the land, the native Egyptians
Egyptians
Egyptians are nation an ethnic group made up of Mediterranean North Africans, the indigenous people of Egypt.Egyptian identity is closely tied to geography. The population of Egypt is concentrated in the lower Nile Valley, the small strip of cultivable land stretching from the First Cataract to...

 continued to view the Hyksos as non-Egyptian "invaders.", When they were eventually driven out of Egypt, all traces of their occupation were erased. No accounts survive recording the history of the period from the Hyksos perspective, only that of the native Egyptians who evicted the occupiers, in this case the rulers of the Eighteenth Dynasty who were the direct successor of the Theban Seventeenth Dynasty. It was the latter who started and led a sustained war against the Hyksos. Some think that the native kings from Thebes had an incentive to demonize the Asiatic rulers in the North, thus accounting for the destruction of their monuments. From this viewpoint the Hyksos dynasties represent superficially Egyptianized foreigners who were tolerated, but not truly accepted, by their Egyptian subjects. In contrast scholars such as John A. Wilson
John A. Wilson (Egyptologist)
John Albert Wilson was an American Egyptologist who was the Andrew MacLeish Distinguished Service Professor at the University of Chicago....

 found that the description of the Hyksos as overpowering, irreligious foreign rulers had support from other sources.

The independent native rulers in Thebes do seem, however, to have reached a practical modus vivendi with the later Hyksos rulers. This included transit rights through Hyksos-controlled Middle and Lower Egypt
Lower Egypt
Lower Egypt is the northern-most section of Egypt. It refers to the fertile Nile Delta region, which stretches from the area between El-Aiyat and Zawyet Dahshur, south of modern-day Cairo, and the Mediterranean Sea....

 and pasturage rights in the fertile Delta. One text, the Carnarvon Tablet I, relates the misgivings of the Theban ruler’s council of advisors when Kamose
Kamose
Kamose was the last king of the Theban Seventeenth Dynasty. He was probably the son of Seqenenre Tao II and Ahhotep I and the full brother of Ahmose I, founder of the Eighteenth Dynasty. His reign fell at the very end of the Second Intermediate Period...

 proposed moving against the Hyksos, whom he claimed were a humiliating stain upon the holy land of Egypt. The councilors clearly did not wish to disturb the status quo:

Was there a Hyksos invasion?


Manetho
Manetho
Manetho was an Egyptian historian and priest from Sebennytos who lived during the Ptolemaic era, approximately during the 3rd century BC. Manetho wrote the Aegyptiaca...

's account, as recorded by Josephus, of the appearance of the Hyksos in Egypt describes it as an armed invasion by a horde of foreign barbarians who met little resistance and who subdued the country by military force. He records that the Hyksos burnt their cities, destroyed temples and led women and children into slavery.

It has been claimed, that new revolutionary methods of warfare ensured the Hyksos the ascendancy in their influx into the new emporia being established in Egypt's delta and at Thebes in support of the Red Sea trade. Herbert E. Winlock
Herbert E. Winlock
Herbert Eustis Winlock was an American Egyptologist employed with the Metropolitan Museum of Art during his entire Egyptological career...

 describes new military hardware, such as the composite bow
Composite bow
A composite bow is a bow made from horn, wood, and sinew laminated together. The horn is on the belly, facing the archer, and sinew on the back of a wooden core. Sinew and horn will store more energy than wood for the same length of bow...

, as well as the improved recurve bow
Recurve bow
In archery, the shape of the bow is usually taken to be the view from the side. It is the product of the complex relationship of material stresses, designed by a bowyer...

 and most importantly the horse-drawn war chariot
Chariot
The chariot is a type of horse carriage used in both peace and war as the chief vehicle of many ancient peoples. Ox carts, proto-chariots, were built by the Proto-Indo-Europeans and also built in Mesopotamia as early as 3000 BC. The original horse chariot was a fast, light, open, two wheeled...

, as well as improved arrowheads, various kinds of swords and daggers, a new type of shield, mailed shirts
Mail (armour)
Mail is a type of armour consisting of small metal rings linked together in a pattern to form a mesh.-History:Mail was a highly successful type of armour and was used by nearly every metalworking culture....

, and the metal helmet.

In the last decades the idea of a simple migration, with little or no violence involved, has gained support. Under this theory, the Egyptian rulers of 13th Dynasty
Thirteenth dynasty of Egypt
The thirteenth dynasty of ancient Egypt is often combined with Dynasties XI, XII and XIV under the group title Middle Kingdom. Other writers separate it from these dynasties and join it to Dynasties XIV through XVII as part of the Second Intermediate Period...

 were too weak to stop these new migrants from travelling to Egypt from Asia and were preoccupied by struggling to cope with domestic famine and plague. Even before that, Amenemhat III
Amenemhat III
Amenemhat III, also spelled Amenemhet III was a pharaoh of the Twelfth Dynasty of Egypt. He ruled from c.1860 BC to c.1814 BC, the latest known date being found in a papyrus dated to Regnal Year 46, I Akhet 22 of his rule. He is regarded as the greatest monarch of the Middle Kingdom...

 carried out extensive building works and mining and Gae Callender notes that "the large intake of Asiatics, which seems to have occurred partly in order to subsidize the extensive building work, may have encouraged the so-called Hyksos to settle in the Delta, thus leading eventually to the collapse of native Egyptian rule."

By around 1700 BC (just over a hundred years later), Egypt was fragmenting politically with local kingdoms springing up in the northeastern Delta area. One of these was that of King Nehesy, whose capital was at Avaris and he ruled over a population consisting largely of Syro-Palestinians who had settled in the area during the 12th Dynasty and who were probably mainly soldiers, sailors, shipbuilders and workmen. His dynasty was probably replaced by a West-Semitic speaking Syro-Palestinian dynasty that formed the basis of the later Hyksos kingdom, which was able to spread southwards because of the unstable political situation, aided by "an army, ships, and foreign connections."

Josephus, quoting from the work of the historian Manetho, described more of an Egyptian assimilation to the corrupt ways of the emporia, followed by rebellion of those who wished to continue to live the life in Ma'at, than any kind of military struggle.

The ceramic evidence in the Memphis-Fayum region of Lower Egypt argues against the presence of new invading foreigners. Janine Bourriau's excavation in Memphis of ceramic material retrieved from Lisht and Dahshur
Dahshur
Dahshur , is a royal necropolis located in the desert on the west bank of the Nile approximately 40 kilometres south of Cairo...

 during the Second Intermediate Period shows a continuity of Middle Kingdom ceramic type wares throughout this era. She finds in them no evidence of intrusion of Hyksos-style wares. Bourriau's evidence strongly suggests that the traditional Egyptian view, long espoused by Manetho, that the Hyksos invaded and sacked the Memphite region and imposed their authority there, is fictitious.

Not until the beginning of the Theban wars of liberation during the 17th Dynasty are Theban wares again found in the Fayum-Memphis region. Some texts indicate that while the Hyksos controlled the Delta region administratively the Thebans were too busy mining gold and making money off the Red Sea trade to care. Lower Egypt and Thebes functioned autonomously and shared limited contact with each other.

Bourriau argues that Manetho's description of Hyksos rule is confirmed by the evidence in the Kamose texts that Kamose rejected vassal status, the strict control of the border at Cusae, the imposition of taxes on all Nile traffic and the existence of garrisons of Asiatics led by Egyptian commanders.

By the Thirteenth dynasty of Egypt
Thirteenth dynasty of Egypt
The thirteenth dynasty of ancient Egypt is often combined with Dynasties XI, XII and XIV under the group title Middle Kingdom. Other writers separate it from these dynasties and join it to Dynasties XIV through XVII as part of the Second Intermediate Period...

, the foreign warlords had taken the name of Pharaoh for themselves and then began to fight over it. Some argued there was no need to pay tribute homage or obedience to a weak king, and that began to cause problems.

Supporters of the peaceful takeover of Egypt claim that there is little evidence of battles or wars in general in this period. They also maintain that the chariot didn't play any relevant role, e.g. no traces of chariots have been found at the Hyksos capital of Avaris despite extensive excavation.

As the chariot became an important weapon of the nobles and kings of that period, it became a symbol of power throughout Eurasia
Eurasia
Eurasia is a continent or supercontinent comprising the traditional continents of Europe and Asia ; covering about 52,990,000 km2 or about 10.6% of the Earth's surface located primarily in the eastern and northern hemispheres...

, Mycenaean Greece
Mycenaean Greece
Mycenaean Greece was a cultural period of Bronze Age Greece taking its name from the archaeological site of Mycenae in northeastern Argolis, in the Peloponnese of southern Greece. Athens, Pylos, Thebes, and Tiryns are also important Mycenaean sites...

, India
India
India , officially the Republic of India , is a country in South Asia. It is the seventh-largest country by geographical area, the second-most populous country with over 1.2 billion people, and the most populous democracy in the world...

, Mesopotamia
Mesopotamia
Mesopotamia is a toponym for the area of the Tigris–Euphrates river system, largely corresponding to modern-day Iraq, northeastern Syria, southeastern Turkey and southwestern Iran.Widely considered to be the cradle of civilization, Bronze Age Mesopotamia included Sumer and the...

, Eastern Europe
Eastern Europe
Eastern Europe is the eastern part of Europe. The term has widely disparate geopolitical, geographical, cultural and socioeconomic readings, which makes it highly context-dependent and even volatile, and there are "almost as many definitions of Eastern Europe as there are scholars of the region"...

 and China
China
Chinese civilization may refer to:* China for more general discussion of the country.* Chinese culture* Greater China, the transnational community of ethnic Chinese.* History of China* Sinosphere, the area historically affected by Chinese culture...

. Kings were portrayed on chariots, went to war in chariots and were buried in chariots. Skill in the use of mathematics and well organized competent administration, the real power of the Hyksos, was less quickly appreciated by their rivals.

Under Seqenenre Tao (II)



The war against the Hyksos began in the closing years of the Seventeenth Dynasty at Thebes. Later New Kingdom literary tradition has brought one of these Theban kings, Seqenenre Tao (II)
Tao II the Brave
Seqenenre Tao II, , called The Brave, ruled over the last of the local kingdoms of the Theban region of Egypt in the Seventeenth Dynasty during the Second Intermediate Period. He probably was the son and successor to Senaktenre Tao I the Elder and Queen Tetisheri...

, into contact with his Hyksos contemporary in the north, Auserra Apophis
Apepi I
Apepi or Apophis was a ruler of Lower Egypt during the fifteenth dynasty and the end of the Second Intermediate Period that was dominated by this foreign dynasty of rulers called the Hyksos...

 (also known as Apepi or Apophis). The tradition took the form of a tale in which the Hyksos king Apopi sent a messenger to Seqenenre in Thebes to demand that the Theban sport of harpooning hippopotami be done away with; his excuse was that the noise of these beasts was such that he was unable to sleep in far-away Avaris
Avaris
Avaris , capital of Egypt under the Hyksos , was located near modern Tell el-Dab'a in the northeastern region of the Nile Delta, at the juncture of the 8th, 14th, 19th and 20th Nomes...

. The real reason was probably that their main god was Seth
Set (mythology)
Set was in Ancient Egyptian religion, a god of the desert, storms, and foreigners. In later myths he was also the god of darkness, and chaos...

, who was represented as part man, part hippopotamus. Jan Assmann
Jan Assmann
Jan Assmann is a German Egyptologist who was born in Langelsheim.-Education and teaching:He went to school in Lübeck and Heidelberg before going on to study Egyptology, Classical Archeology and Greek Studies in Munich, Heidelberg, Paris and Göttingen...

 argues that because the Ancient Egyptians could never conceive of a "lonely" god lacking personality, Seth the desert god, who was worshipped exclusively according to the tale, represented a manifestation of evil. Perhaps the only historical information that can be gleaned from the tale is that Egypt was a divided land, the area of direct Hyksos control being in the north, but the whole of Egypt possibly paying tribute to the Hyksos kings.

Seqenenre participated in active diplomatic posturing, which probably consisted of more than simply exchanging insults with the Asiatic ruler in the North. He seems, to have led military skirmishes against the Hyksos, and judging by the vicious head wounds on his mummy
Mummy
A mummy is a body, human or animal, whose skin and organs have been preserved by either intentional or incidental exposure to chemicals, extreme coldness , very low humidity, or lack of air when bodies are submerged in bogs, so that the recovered body will not decay further if kept in cool and dry...

 in the Cairo Museum, he may have died during one of them. His son and successor, Wadjkheperra Kamose
Kamose
Kamose was the last king of the Theban Seventeenth Dynasty. He was probably the son of Seqenenre Tao II and Ahhotep I and the full brother of Ahmose I, founder of the Eighteenth Dynasty. His reign fell at the very end of the Second Intermediate Period...

, the last ruler of the Seventeenth Dynasty
Seventeenth dynasty of Egypt
The Fifteenth, Sixteenth and Seventeenth Dynasties of ancient Egypt are often combined under the group title, Second Intermediate Period. The Seventeenth Dynasty dates approximately from 1580 to 1550 BC.-Rulers:...

 at Thebes
Thebes, Egypt
Thebes is the Greek name for a city in Ancient Egypt located about 800 km south of the Mediterranean, on the east bank of the river Nile within the modern city of Luxor. The Theban Necropolis is situated nearby on the west bank of the Nile.-History:...

, is credited with the first significant victories in the Theban-led war against the Hyksos.

Under Kamose



Kamose sailed north from Thebes at the head of his army in his third regnal year. He surprised and overran the southernmost garrison of the Hyksos at Nefrusy, just north of Cusae [near modern Asyut], and Kamose then led his army as far north as the neighborhood of Avaris
Avaris
Avaris , capital of Egypt under the Hyksos , was located near modern Tell el-Dab'a in the northeastern region of the Nile Delta, at the juncture of the 8th, 14th, 19th and 20th Nomes...

 itself. Though the city was not taken, the fields around it were devastated by the Thebans. A second stele discovered at Thebes continues the account of the war broken off on the Carnarvon Tablet I, and mentions the interception and capture of a courier bearing a message from the Hyksos king Aawoserra Apophis at Avaris to his ally the ruler of Kush
Kingdom of Kush
The native name of the Kingdom was likely kaš, recorded in Egyptian as .The name Kash is probably connected to Cush in the Hebrew Bible , son of Ham ....

 (modern Sudan), requesting the latter's urgent support against the threat posed by Kamose's activities against both their kingdoms. Kamose promptly ordered a detachment of his troops to occupy the Bahriya Oasis in the Western Desert to control and block the desert route to the south. Kamose, called "the Strong," then sailed back up the Nile to Thebes for a joyous victory celebration, after what was probably not much more than a surprise spoiling raid in force that caught the Hyksos off guard. His Year 3 is the only date attested for Kamose and he may have died shortly after the battle from wounds.

By the end of the reign of Apophis
Apepi I
Apepi or Apophis was a ruler of Lower Egypt during the fifteenth dynasty and the end of the Second Intermediate Period that was dominated by this foreign dynasty of rulers called the Hyksos...

, perhaps the second last Hyksos kings of the Fifteenth Dynasty, the Hyksos had been routed from Middle Egypt and had retreated northward and regrouped in the vicinity of the entrance of the Fayyum at Atfih. This great Hyksos king had outlived his first Egyptian contemporary, Seqenenra Tao II, and was still on the throne (albeit of a much reduced kingdom) at the end of Kamose's reign. The last Hyksos ruler of the Fifteenth Dynasty, Khamudi, undoubtedly had a relatively short reign that fell within the first half of the reign of Ahmose
Ahmose I
Ahmose I was a pharaoh of ancient Egypt and the founder of the Eighteenth dynasty. He was a member of the Theban royal house, the son of pharaoh Tao II Seqenenre and brother of the last pharaoh of the Seventeenth dynasty, King Kamose...

, Kamose's successor and the founder of the Eighteenth Dynasty.,

Under Ahmose



Ahmose, who is regarded as the first king of the Eighteenth Dynasty may have been on the Theban throne for some time before he resumed the war against the Hyksos.

The details of his military campaigns are taken from the account on the walls of the tomb of another Ahmose
Ahmose, son of Ebana
Ahmose, son of Ebana served in the Egyptian military under the pharaohs Tao II Seqenenre, Ahmose I, Amenhotep I, and Thutmose I. His autobiography has survived and is intact on the wall of his tomb and has proven a valuable source of information on the late 17th Dynasty and the early 18th Dynasty...

, a soldier from El-Kab, a town in southern Upper Egypt, whose father had served under Seqenenra Tao II
Tao II the Brave
Seqenenre Tao II, , called The Brave, ruled over the last of the local kingdoms of the Theban region of Egypt in the Seventeenth Dynasty during the Second Intermediate Period. He probably was the son and successor to Senaktenre Tao I the Elder and Queen Tetisheri...

, and whose family had long been nomarch
Nomarch
Nomarchs were the semi-feudal rulers of Ancient Egyptian provinces. Serving as provincial governors, they each held authority over one of the 42 nomes into which the country was divided. Both nome and nomarch are terms derived from the Greek nomos, meaning a province or district...

s of the districts. It seems, that several campaigns against the stronghold at Avaris
Avaris
Avaris , capital of Egypt under the Hyksos , was located near modern Tell el-Dab'a in the northeastern region of the Nile Delta, at the juncture of the 8th, 14th, 19th and 20th Nomes...

 were needed before the Hyksos were finally dislodged and driven from Lower Egypt. When this occurred is not known with certainty. Some authorities place the expulsion as early as Ahmose's fourth year, while Donald Redford, whose chronological structure has been adopted here, places it as late as the king's fifteenth year. The Ahmose who left the inscription states that he followed on foot as his King Ahmose rode to war in his chariot (the first mention of the use of the horse and chariot by the Egyptians); in the fighting around Avaris he captured prisoners and carried off several hands (as proof of slain enemies), which when reported to the royal herald resulted in his being awarded the "Gold of Valor" on three separate occasions. The actual fall of Avaris is only briefly mentioned:
"Then Avaris was despoiled. Then I carried off spoil from there: one man, three women, a total of four persons. Then his majesty gave them to me to be slaves."


After the fall of Avaris, the fleeing Hyksos were pursued by the Egyptian army across northern Sinai
Sinai Peninsula
The Sinai Peninsula or Sinai is a triangular peninsula in Egypt about in area. It is situated between the Mediterranean Sea to the north, and the Red Sea to the south, and is the only part of Egyptian territory located in Asia as opposed to Africa, effectively serving as a land bridge between two...

 and into southern Canaan
Canaan
Canaan is a historical region roughly corresponding to modern-day Israel, Palestine, Lebanon, and the western parts of Jordan...

. Here, in the Negev
Negev
The Negev is a desert and semidesert region of southern Israel. The Arabs, including the native Bedouin population of the region, refer to the desert as al-Naqab. The origin of the word Neghebh is from the Hebrew root denoting 'dry'...

 desert between Rafah
Rafah
Rafah , also known as Rafiah, is a Palestinian city in the southern Gaza Strip. Located south of Gaza, Rafah's population of 71,003 is overwhelmingly made up of Palestinian refugees. Rafah camp and Tall as-Sultan form separate localities. Rafah is the district capital of the Rafah Governorate...

 and Gaza
Gaza
Gaza , also referred to as Gaza City, is a Palestinian city in the Gaza Strip, with a population of about 450,000, making it the largest city in the Palestinian territories.Inhabited since at least the 15th century BC,...

, the fortified town of Sharuhen
Sharuhen
Sharuhen was an ancient town in the Negev Desert. Following the expulsion of the Hyksos from Egypt in the second half of the 16th century BCE, they fled to Sharuhen and fortified it...

 was reduced after, according to the soldier from El-Kab, a long three-year siege operation. How soon after the sack of Avaris this Asiatic campaign took place is uncertain. One can reasonably conclude that the thrust into southern Canaan probably followed the Hyksos’ eviction from Avaris fairly closely, but, given a period of protracted struggle before Avaris fell and possibly more than one season of campaigning before the Hyksos were shut up in Sharuhen
Sharuhen
Sharuhen was an ancient town in the Negev Desert. Following the expulsion of the Hyksos from Egypt in the second half of the 16th century BCE, they fled to Sharuhen and fortified it...

, the chronological sequence must remain uncertain.,

Later times


The Hyksos continued to play a role in Egyptian literature as a synonym for "Asiatic" down to Hellenistic times. The term was frequently evoked, against such groups as the Semites settled in Aswan or the Delta, and this may have led the Egyptian priest and historian Manetho
Manetho
Manetho was an Egyptian historian and priest from Sebennytos who lived during the Ptolemaic era, approximately during the 3rd century BC. Manetho wrote the Aegyptiaca...

 to identify the coming of the Hyksos with the sojourn in Egypt of Joseph and his brothers, and led to some authors identifying the expulsion of the Hyksos with the Exodus
The Exodus
The Exodus is the story of the departure of the Israelites from ancient Egypt described in the Hebrew Bible.Narrowly defined, the term refers only to the departure from Egypt described in the Book of Exodus; more widely, it takes in the subsequent law-givings and wanderings in the wilderness...

. It may also indicate that the "expulsion" of the Hyksos reported in the Egyptian records mainly refers to the expulsion of the Semitic rulers and military/political elite and does not indicate a mass expulsion of the lower classes who, in the Ancient World, were traditionally exploited by their conquerors rather than expelled or massacred.

With the chaos at the end of the 19th Dynasty, the first pharaohs of the 20th Dynasty in the Elephantine Stele and the Harris Papyrus re-invigorated an anti-Hyksos stance to strengthen their nativist reaction towards the Asiatic settlers of the north, who may, again have been expelled from the country. Setnakht, the founder of the 20th Dynasty, records in a Year 2 stela from Elephantine that he defeated and expelled a large force of Asiatics who had invaded Egypt during the chaos between the end of Twosret
Twosret
Queen Twosret was the last known ruler and the final Pharaoh of the Nineteenth Dynasty.She is recorded in Manetho's Epitome as a certain Thuoris, who in Homer is called Polybus, husband of Alcandara, and in whose time Troy was taken. She was said to have ruled Egypt for seven years, but this...

's reign and the beginning of the 20th dynasty and captured much of their stolen gold and silver booty.

The story of the Hyksos was known to the Greeks, who attempted to identify it within their own mythology with the expulsion of Belus (Baal
Baal
Baʿal is a Northwest Semitic title and honorific meaning "master" or "lord" that is used for various gods who were patrons of cities in the Levant and Asia Minor, cognate to Akkadian Bēlu...

?) and the daughters of Danaos, associated with the origin of the Argive dynasty.

Origins of the Hyksos



There are various hypotheses as to the Hyksos ethnic identity. Most archeologists describe the Hyksos as multi-ethnic, to include all of the peoples who occupied the emporia of the delta. Some were warlords seeking employment by the Egyptians as mercenaries. Some were unemployed agricultural workers looking for work helping produce food and resorting to banditry, theft and other crimes when they did not get it. Some were skilled tradesmen, professionals, doctors, lawyers, scribes, priests, diplomats, accountants. Some were merchants importing raw materials: timber from Byblos, semi-precious stones from as far away as Afghanistan, tin, copper, bronze, medicines for the doctors, perfumes for the wigmakers, bitumen, natron, linen, frankincense and myrrh for the mummification industry at Karnak or exporting grain and beer to as far away as Greece.

The origin of the term "Hyksos" derives from the Egyptian expression heka khasewet ("rulers of foreign lands"), used in Egyptian texts such as the Turin King List
Turin King List
The Turin King List, also known as the Turin Royal Canon, is a hieratic papyrus thought to date from the reign of Ramesses II, now in the Museo Egizio at Turin...

 to describe the rulers of neighbouring lands. This expression begins to appear as early as the late Old Kingdom
Old Kingdom
Old Kingdom is the name given to the period in the 3rd millennium BC when Egypt attained its first continuous peak of civilization in complexity and achievement – the first of three so-called "Kingdom" periods, which mark the high points of civilization in the lower Nile Valley .The term itself was...

 in Egypt, referring to various Nubian chieftains, and as early as the Middle Kingdom
Middle Kingdom of Egypt
The Middle Kingdom of Egypt is the period in the history of ancient Egypt stretching from the establishment of the Eleventh Dynasty to the end of the Fourteenth Dynasty, between 2055 BC and 1650 BC, although some writers include the Thirteenth and Fourteenth dynasties in the Second Intermediate...

, referring to the Semitic
Semitic
In linguistics and ethnology, Semitic was first used to refer to a language family of largely Middle Eastern origin, now called the Semitic languages...

 chieftains of Syria
Syria
Syria , officially the Syrian Arab Republic , is a country in Western Asia, bordering Lebanon and the Mediterranean Sea to the West, Turkey to the north, Iraq to the east, Jordan to the south, and Israel to the southwest....

 and Canaan
Canaan
Canaan is a historical region roughly corresponding to modern-day Israel, Palestine, Lebanon, and the western parts of Jordan...

.

The German Egyptologist Wolfgang Helck
Wolfgang Helck
Hans Wolfgang Helck was a German Egyptologist, considered one of the most important Egyptologists of the 20th century. From 1956 until his retirement in 1979 he was a Professor at the University of Hamburg...

 once argued that the Hyksos were part of massive and widespread Hurrian
Hurrians
The Hurrians were a people of the Ancient Near East who lived in Northern Mesopotamia and adjacent regions during the Bronze Age.The largest and most influential Hurrian nation was the kingdom of Mitanni. The population of the Hittite Empire in Anatolia to a large part consisted of Hurrians, and...

 and Indo-Aryan
Indo-Aryans
Indo-Aryan is an ethno-linguistic term referring to the wide collection of peoples united as native speakers of the Indo-Aryan branch of the Indo-Iranian family of Indo-European languages...

 migrations into the Near East
Near East
The Near East is a geographical term that covers different countries for geographers, archeologists, and historians, on the one hand, and for political scientists, economists, and journalists, on the other...

. According to Helck, the Hyksos were Hurrians
Hurrians
The Hurrians were a people of the Ancient Near East who lived in Northern Mesopotamia and adjacent regions during the Bronze Age.The largest and most influential Hurrian nation was the kingdom of Mitanni. The population of the Hittite Empire in Anatolia to a large part consisted of Hurrians, and...

 and part of a Hurrian empire that, he claimed, extended over much of Western Asia at this period. Most scholars have rejected this theory and Helck himself has now abandoned this hypothesis in a 1993 article.

Modern scholarship usually assumes that the Hyksos were likely Semites who came from the Levant
Levant
The Levant or ) is the geographic region and culture zone of the "eastern Mediterranean littoral between Anatolia and Egypt" . The Levant includes most of modern Lebanon, Syria, Jordan, Israel, the Palestinian territories, and sometimes parts of Turkey and Iraq, and corresponds roughly to the...

. Kamose
Kamose
Kamose was the last king of the Theban Seventeenth Dynasty. He was probably the son of Seqenenre Tao II and Ahhotep I and the full brother of Ahmose I, founder of the Eighteenth Dynasty. His reign fell at the very end of the Second Intermediate Period...

, the last king of the Theban 17th Dynasty, refers to Apophis as a "Chieftain of Retjenu (i.e., Canaan)" in a stela that implies a Canaanite background for this Hyksos king: this is the strongest evidence for a Canaanite background for the Hyksos. Khyan's name "has generally been interpreted as Amorite "Hayanu" (reading h-ya-a-n) which the Egyptian form represents perfectly, and this is in all likelihood the correct interpretation." Ryholt furthermore observes the name Hayanu is recorded in the Assyrian king-lists for a "remote ancestor" of Shamshi-Adad I
Shamshi-Adad I
Shamshi-Adad I Shamshi-Adad I Shamshi-Adad I (fl. late 18th century BC (short chronology) was an Assyrian king. He rose to prominence when he carved out an empire encompassing much of Mesopotamia, Syria and Asia Minor...

 (c. 1800 BC) of Assyria, which suggests that it had been used for centuries prior to Khyan's own reign.

The issue of Sakir-Har's name, one of the three earliest 15th Dynasty kings, also leans towards a West Semitic or Canaanite origin for the Hyksos rulers—if not the Hyksos peoples themselves. As Ryholt notes, the name Sakir-Har:
As to a Hyksos “conquest”, some archaeologists depict the Hyksos as “northern hordes . . . sweeping through Palestine and Egypt in swift chariots”. Yet, others refer to a ‘creeping conquest’, that is, a gradual infiltration of migrating nomads or seminomads who either slowly took over control of the country piecemeal or by a swift coup d’etat put themselves at the head of the existing government. In The World of the Past (1963, p. 444), archeologist Jacquetta Hawkes
Jacquetta Hawkes
Jacquetta Hawkes was a British archaeologist.Born Jessie Jacquetta Hopkins, the daughter of Nobel Prize-winning scientist, Sir Frederick Gowland Hopkins, she married first Christopher Hawkes, then an Assistant Keeper at the British Museum, in 1933. From 1953, she was married to J. B. Priestley...

 states: “It is no longer thought that the Hyksos rulers... represent the invasion of a conquering horde of Asiatics... they were wandering groups of Semites who had long come to Egypt for trade and other peaceful purposes.” However, this view still makes it difficult to explain how “wandering groups” could have gained control of Egypt, especially since the twelfth dynasty, prior to this period, is considered to have brought the country to a peak of power.

Josephus


In his Against Apion
Against Apion
Against Apion was a polemical work written by Flavius Josephus as a defense of Judaism as a classical religion and philosophy, stressing its antiquity against what he perceived as more recent traditions of the Greeks.-Text:Against Apion 1:8 also defines which books he viewed as being in the Jewish...

, the 1st-century CE historian Josephus Flavius
Josephus
Titus Flavius Josephus , also called Joseph ben Matityahu , was a 1st-century Romano-Jewish historian and hagiographer of priestly and royal ancestry who recorded Jewish history, with special emphasis on the 1st century AD and the First Jewish–Roman War, which resulted in the Destruction of...

 debates the synchronism between the Biblical account of the Exodus
The Exodus
The Exodus is the story of the departure of the Israelites from ancient Egypt described in the Hebrew Bible.Narrowly defined, the term refers only to the departure from Egypt described in the Book of Exodus; more widely, it takes in the subsequent law-givings and wanderings in the wilderness...

 of the Israelites from Egypt, and two Exodus-like events that the Egyptian historian Manetho
Manetho
Manetho was an Egyptian historian and priest from Sebennytos who lived during the Ptolemaic era, approximately during the 3rd century BC. Manetho wrote the Aegyptiaca...

 apparently mentions. It is difficult to distinguish between what Manetho himself recounted, and how Josephus or Apion interpret him. Josephus identifies the Israelite Exodus with the first exodus mentioned by Manetho, when some 480,000 Hyksos "shepherd kings" (also referred to as just 'shepherds', as 'kings' and as 'captive shepherds' in his discussion of Manetho) left Egypt for Jerusalem. The mention of "Hyksos" identifies this first exodus with the Hyksos period (16th century BC).

Josephus records the earliest account of the false but understandable etymology that the Greek phrase Hyksos stood for the Egyptian phrase Hekw Shasu
Shasu
Shasu is an Egyptian word for pastoral nomads who appeared in the Levant and Arabia from the fifteenth century BCE all the way to the Third Intermediate Period. The name evolved from a transliteration of the Egyptian word š3sw, meaning "those who move on foot", into the term for Bedouin-type...

meaning the Bedouin
Bedouin
The Bedouin are a part of a predominantly desert-dwelling Arab ethnic group traditionally divided into tribes or clans, known in Arabic as ..-Etymology:...

-like Shepherd Kings, which scholars have only recently shown means "rulers of foreign lands."

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