Tuesday, August 18, 2009

The Political Situation in Egypt (a Review)

"The Political Situation in Egypt During the Second Intermediate Period" is a major study of the Second Intermediate Period and has become one of the most frequently cited works on the period in print.

Dr. K. Ryholt has put together a masterpiece of scholarly research. He has sorted through mounds of unclear and contradictory evidence to produce a comprehensive survey of one of the most obscure periods of Ancient Egyptian history. Many of his conclusions differ from those of previous scholars, but given the material archaeologists have to work with, this should come as no surprise.

Perhaps the most important new view Dr.Ryholt has of the period is his reconstruction of the Turin Canon, which is based in part on re-arranging some of the Papyrus' fragments based on the lining up of fibers within those fragments . He has concluded that the list of Pharaohs that many scholars (myself included) considered to be the Seventeenth Dynasty, are actually the Sixteenth Dynasty and that the Pharaohs of the Seventeenth Dynasty are not on the Turin Canon. This has led Dr. Ryholt to reconstruct the order of Kings in Dynasty 17 in a very different way than I have in this blog (see here for the first of a number of posts on this topic).

Another interesting conclusion made in this book is that Mayibre Sheshi, who is usually considered to be one of the six Hyksos Pharaohs of the Fifteenth Dynasty is actually a Pharaoh of the Fourteenth Dynasty. This claim is based on scarab sequencing. I have argued that using scarabs to reconstruct history is difficult, bordering on impossible and have not changed my viewpoint any. Hopefully more evidence will be found to prove or disprove this idea.

Dr. Ryholt has also included a full catalog of attestations of the kings of this period on various monuments. The bibliography is also quite good.

This work is a great addition to the bookshelf of anyone interested in the Second Intermediate Period.

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