Wednesday, February 11, 2009

The Seventeenth Dynasty (Part 8)

Davies has concluded that the statue of Kamose from Mallawi is a forgery (Davies, p. 31), but this still leaves three more monuments from his reign to discuss. These three monuments are all texts describing Kamose’s war against the Hyksos. The Carnarvon Tablet was the first of these to be found, but the information it contains is also contained in the larger texts (The First Kamose Stela and the Second Kamose Stela) and the following discussion is limited to the texts of the two stelae.

The first Kamose stela is the only dated monument known from Kamose’s reign, but that date (year three) was clearly inserted after the original carving of this document (Habachi, p. 47). The text mentions Kamose’s campaign against the Hyksos vassals at Nefrusi (Habachi, p. 47), a city which might have been located near present day Ashmunien (Habachi, p. p. 51). It begins with a conference between Kamose and his council of nobles. The nobles suggest that Kamose not attack the Hyksos ruler Apopis, saying that, “Men till for us the finest of their (the Hyksos) land; our cattle are in the papyrus marshes… our cattle are not taken away…” (Habachi, p. 78). This has been reasonably interpreted as meaning that at the beginning of the reign of Kamose there was some sort of agreement between the Hyksos and the Thebans permitting the Thebans to graze their cattle in the fertile Nile Delta. This statement has also been interpreted to mean that prior to the reign of Kamose there was no fighting of any real importance between the Hyksos and the Upper Egyptians and that Sekenenre could not, therefore, have died in battle with the Hyksos (see the discussion above of Sekenenre’s mummy). As noted earlier, this passage does not rule out the possibility of a conflict between Sekenenre and the Hyksos. Such a conflict could have taken place and been temporarily “settled” upon the accession of Kamose, before erupting into a final war of independence during the third year of Kamose’s reign.

Kamose refused to take the timid advice of his council and declared that he would fight the Asiatic invaders in the north. The stela then describes the sack of Nefrusi and reveals the interesting fact that the Egyptians of that area remained loyal to Apopis instead of switching to Kamose’s side (Habachi, p. 48). The first stela breaks off at this point.

The second stela picks up the narrative sometime after the premature end of the first stela. How much of the story is lost by the breakage of the first stela is unclear, but at the beginning of the second stela Kamose has already advanced all the way to Avaris. Apopis has one last card to play against Kamose. The Hyksos ruler sent a messenger southwards by way of the oases in the Libyan Desert, in an attempt to get the King of Kush (in what is now the Sudan) to attack Kamose from behind. But Kamose, “… captured his message beyond the oasis going southward to Kush…” (Habachi, p. 49) and foiled Apopis’ plot. The second stela also reveals that Kamose had conducted a campaign against Kush, probably sometime during the period of time covered by the lost portion of the first stela. Kamose must have advanced at least as far as Toshka during this campaign as there are two graffiti there from his reign (Habachi, p. 52). The stela of Emhab lends further credence to the belief that this campaign took place in year three of Kamose’s reign. This text tells of Emhab fighting in a campaign in Kush during year three of an unnamed King, who, according to the stela, fought from Avaris to Kush (Habachi, p. 57).

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