Thursday, May 28, 2009

The Hyksos Rise to Power in Egypt (Part 2)

Determining exactly how the Hyksos came to power in Egypt is impossible, although two theories have been advanced. The first of these is that the Hyksos swarmed into the Nile delta with an all conquering army. Few Egyptologists now believe this theory to be true.

The second theory is more attractive in that it has a large body of evidence supporting it. This theory postulates a protracted infiltration of the delta by “Asiatics”. These “invaders” were gradually Egyptianized and began to fill local government positions. Eventually they came to control the government of the eastern delta and began spreading their power into Middle Egypt.

It can be proven that there were many Asiatics in the delta before the accession to power of the Hyksos and it can further be proven that they had some political power in Egypt prior to the start of the Fifteenth Dynasty. During the First Intermediate Period Asiatics swarmed into the delta[1] and early in Dynasty Twelve the Tale of Sinuhe mentions a fort built to keep these people out of Lower Egypt[2]. In the Dynasty Twelve tomb of Khnumhotep at Beni Hassan there is a painting of a group of Asiatics coming to trade with the Egyptians. These foreigners are clearly called “Hekaw Khasut” in the accompanying inscription[3]. Hayes mentions the existence of a large group of Asiatics in Egypt during the Thirteenth Dynasty. These foreigners were all slaves in the possession of one nobleman and it must be thought that if one nobleman had this many Asiatic slaves then there must have been a sizable amount of them in the country[4]. That not all Asiatics in Egypt were slaves at this point in history is indicated by the fact that a number of “Kings” of the Thirteenth Dynasty had Semitic names[5].

The Fifteenth Dynasty – The Hyksos “Empire”:
[1] Goedicke, H. Protocol of Neferyt (Baltimore: John Hopkins University Press, 1977), p. 33.

[2] Lichtheim, M. Ancient Egyptian Literature (Berkley: University of California Press, 1977 – 1981), vol 1, p. 224.

[3] Aldred, C. The Egyptians (New York: Fredrick A. Praeger, 1961), p. 123.

[4] Hayes, W. Papyrus, p. 99.

[5] Van Seeters, J. The Hyksos (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1966), p. 116.

No comments:

Post a Comment