Tuesday, June 23, 2009

The Six Hyksos "Great Kings"

Many years ago (1987 to be exact), I wrote a couple of papers on Egypt's Second Intermediate Period. In one of them, I made a half-hearted attempt to identify the six Hyksos "Great Kings". I include the relevant section of the paper below. I my next post, I will retract part of what I wrote many years ago in light of new evidence that has become available.

The Six “Great Kings” of the Hyksos:

It is difficult to determine exactly who the six Hyksos “Great Kings” were. Manetho claims that the Sixteenth Dynasty was comprised of Hyksos Pharaohs, but this is impossible as the Kamose Stela proves that Kamose (of Dynasty Seventeen) and Apopis (of Dynasty Fifteen) were contemporaries[1]. Furthermore, the Turin Canon clearly states that there were six Hyksos Kings[2]. The usual explanation for Manetho’s Sixteenth Dynasty is that Manetho somehow got a list of HyksosPrincelings” and came to the conclusion that they were Pharaohs in a separate dynasty[3]. In view of the almost total lack of evidence for this period it must be admitted that no better idea is available.

Going on the assumption that there were only six Hyksos Pharaohs and that they comprised the Fifteenth Dynasty we next turn to the question of exactly who those six Kings were. Manetho’s version of the names of these King’s is too garbled to be of any real use, and will be ignored for the most part in the following discussion.

The Inscribed monuments show that Apopis must have been one of the six Kings in question and that he must have been either the last of the six or next to the last (this is proven by the Kamose Stela, which clearly shows that Apopis is a contemporary of Kamose). Khian is certainly one of the six as well, but it cannot be stated for certain who the other four were.

Attempts to clear this matter up have been made by several scholars in the past. Olga Tufnell, in her analysis of the scarabs of the period[4], is one of the persons who have tried to shed light on this topic. A detailed analysis of her work is impossible here, but a summary of her results is in order.

First of all, she concludes that the only “Kings” who must be included in Dynasty Fifteen for sure are Khian, Apopis and Khamudy, There are no scarabs or other monuments of Khamudy; Manetho provides the only evidence for his existence when he claims that Khamudy was the (short-lived) successor of Apopis[5].

Secondly, she separates a list of “Kings” who are represented by a greater amount of “evidence” than the others. She includes on this list: Khian, Meruserre Yakubher, Mayebre Sheshi, Kauserre Amu, Sekhaenre Ykbmw, Nebuserre Y’mw, Ahetepre, Apopis and Khamudy. The remaining three Pharaohs could be any three persons on this list, or even from a list of lesser know individuals.

Thirdly, and most importantly, she has created a relative chronology of the Kings in question, which is not contradicted by any other historical source. This chronology indicates that Khian must be one of the earliest Kings of the period, while Apopis must be at the end. Most scholars accept Mayebre Sheshi as one of the Hyksos Kings[6] and, if her chronology is accurate, he must rule after Khian and before Apopis[7]. There is no way to prove who the remaining two Hyksos rulers were, but the present author is inclined to follow von Beckerath and, very tentatively, suggest Yakubher and Sekhaenre[8], as these two have left behind a larger number of scarabs than other candidates. Taking all of this in to consideration, I would suggest that the six “Great Kings” of the Hyksos, in the order that they ruled, were Meruserre Yakubher, Khian, Mayebre Sheshi, Sekhaenre, Apopis and Khamudy.

[1] Hibachi, p. 31 and passim.

[2] Gardiner, pp. 149-50.

[3] Trigger, p. 158.

[4] Tufnell, O. Studies on Scarab Seals, vol II, (Warminster: Aris & Phillips, lt., 1984).

[5] Tufnell, p. 172.

[6] Tufnell, p. 162.

[7] Tufnell, p. 168, fig. 29.

[8] Von Beckerath, p. 32 and Tufnell, p. 162 and sources quoted therein.

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