Saturday, December 31, 2011

The hyksos and others

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The Hyksos

During this time of weak and divided rule, a group of foreigners moved into the delta area from Palestine- Bradley

Egyptians called them Hikau-khoswet (rulers of foreign lands)

Hyksos were militarily stronger; fighting advantage came from the use of horse drawn war chariots, unfamiliar to the Egyptians. Provided greater mobility and striking power.

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Other military advantages included

Superior weapons such as bronze swords, scimitars and daggers

Powerful composite bows- far greater striking distance

Scaled armour and war helmets

Fortified camps

According to Wilson in the culture of ancient Egypt, the Hyksos invasion of Egypt was a great national humiliation.

Humiliation felt is reflected in the lack of contemporary official records

Different views

Later kings, eg- Manetho, an Egyptian priest in the third century BC, recorded that the Hyksos, ‘Burned our cities ruthlessly, razed to the ground the temples of the gods and treated all the natives with cruel hostility’

It appears that the Hyksos weren’t ruthless barbarians and uncouth savages described by later Egyptians writers.

The Hyksos kings appear to have

- Adopted the traditional titles of the kings and even used Egyptian names

- Included Egyptian officials in their administration

- Sponsored the production of typically Egyptian works of art

- Modelled their official religion on that of the Egyptians. Their Asiatic god, Baul, seems to have been assimilated with Seth, the Egyptian god of Avaris. The kings honoured Re by including him as part of their throne names. (Apophis took the throne name Aweserre)

- Introduced many new processes and products like; use of bronze rather than copper and the greater use of silver in works of art, improved methods of spinning and weaving using a lighter loom, new musical instruments like the lute, oboe and tambourine, olive and pomegranate trees.

The Hyksos’ occupation was the catalyst needed for the transformation of the Egyptian state- Bradley

For thousands of years the Egyptians, isolated in their fertile valley, had felt safe from the outside world but, with their conquest by the Hyksos, they lost once and for all their feelings of security- Bradley

Mercenary troops from Nubia, known as the Medjay, became indispensable to the Egyptian kings in their military campaigns over the next few centuries.

The first phase in the war of liberation

- pieces of evidence suggest that it might have been King Seqenenre Tao who first came into conflict with the Hyksos king Apophis

1. The head of the mummy of the King Seqenenre Tao is covered with wounds that suggest he died on the battlefield. There is a dagger wound behind one ear, his nose and cheek were smashed by a mace- like weapon and the bone above his forehead was apparently cut through with a battle-axe of Palestinian origin.

. A later folk story relates how king Apophis sent an insulting letter to Seqenenre Tao, complaining that the hippopotamuses of Thebes were keeping him awake in Avaris. What he meant by this is not known but it probably had some mythological connotation. The hippopotamus was an animal sacred to the god Seth whom Apophis worshipped.

King Kamose of Thebes

Kamose According to Wilson, the culture of ancient Egypt, successfully launched the war of revenge against the Hyksos.

From the fragments of two-stellae set up by King Kamose at Thebes, we know that he began a campaign against the Hyksos in the third year of his reign. At this time, Nubian princes, allied with the Hyksos, ruled Nubia that formerly had been a part of Egypt.

Resentment against the foreigners is apparent in the following extract.

Let me understand what this strength of mine is for! There is one prince in Avaris, another in Nubia, and here I sit associated with an Asiatic and a Negro1 Each man has his slice of this Egypt, dividing up the land with me. I cannot pass by him as far as Memphis, the waters of Egypt, but behold he has Hermopolis. No man can settle down, being despoiled by the demands of the Asiatics. I will grapple with him, so that I may cut open his belly… My wish is to save Egypt and to smite the Asiatics- Kamose

King Ahmose- the expulsion of the Hyksos

King Ahmose was cited by Manetho as the first ruler of the 18th dynasty and has been ‘hailed by posterity as the father of the new kingdom’- Lichtheim

King Ahmose’s regent was Queen Ahhotep

King Ahmose liberated Egypt from the Hyksos- Bradley

His military successes were recorded in the tomb biography of the marine ahmose, son of Ebana. He was from the town Nekheb (El-Kab). He took part in ahmose’s attack on the Hyksos stronghold of Avaris and accompanied the king on his campaigns into Palestine and Nubia.

The tomb has invaluable information on the defeat and expulsion of the Hyksos.

According to this source, King ahmose conducted a series of campaigns against the Hyksos capital, before it eventually fell to his troops. Ahmose then drove the Hyksos out of Egypt and campaigned in southern Palestine as far as the city of Sharuhen.

According to Breasted, he is believed to have laid siege to the city for approximately six years, after which it was destroyed. � ‘Pharaoh besieged Sharuhen, and in the 6th year his majesty took it’- David, the ancient Egyptians.

The tomb inscriptions of Ahmose Pen-Nekhbet, another El-Kab noble in the service of king Ahmose, indicate that after the siege of Sharuhen, the king pushed the Hyksos further north into Syria.

After the successes of defeating the Hyksos then defeating the ruling prince in Nubia the king was ‘joyous with the might of victory, for he had conquered Southerners and Northerners’-Hayes

By expelling the Hyksos Ahmose ended over a century of foreign rule in Egypt and took the first step towards restoring unity and peace to the country. Once again Egypt was ruled by one strong pharaoh- Bradley

In return for his military victories, Ahmose dedicated many splendid gifts to the god Amun-Re. A stela found at Karnak provides details of the

‘Offering tables of gold, jars of pink granite filled with ointment’- Hayes

An ebony harp, silver sphinxes, a cedar barge and other precious items presented to the Theban god.

Ahmose also added cedar and limestone features to the temple of Amun-Re at Karnak and Luxor as well as to the temple of ptah at Memphis.

King Ahmose and his queen/sister, built her a chapel at Abydos as part of his cenotaph complex-Bradley

This was to honour his grandmother, Tetisheri. ‘Because he so greatly loved her, beyond anything’- Breasted

This complex comprised of a temple and pyramid, a small temple dedicated to his wife, Ahmose Nefertari, his grandmother’s shrine, rock-cut cenotaph and a set of terraces built against the desert cliffs. Recent excavations have located fragments decorated with battle scenes- ‘bridled horses, once harnessed to chariots, arches firing bows and Asiatics, with their characteristics beards and long-sleeved garments, fallen in battle’-Breasted.

These fragments show the earliest known representation of horses in Egypt and almost certainly depict the expulsion of the Hyksos.

Queen Ahmose Nefertari

King Ahmose was married to his sister Queen Ahmose Nefertari.

It is believed that they had 6 or 7 children. Amenhotep was the eventual successor.

‘Of all the queens of the new kingdom, Ahmose Nefertari had the greatest religious status. This was associated with the rise to pre-eminence of the god Amun-Re at the time of her husband’s reign’-Bradley

Stela found at Karnak- that early in her life she had been granted the title of second prophet of Amun. Her husband then further honoured Nefertari with the title God’s Wife of Amun. The title carried with it enormous status.

She was assisted by high-ranking women known as the superior of the harem and adorer of the god and a group of court women (chantresses and musicians) who formed part of the harem of Amun.

The significance of the Hyksos occupation and the war of liberation

…The Hyksos domination provided the Egyptians with the incentive and the means towards world expansion and so laid the foundations and to a great extent determined the character of the new kingdom, or, as it is often called the Empire- Breasted

The Hyksos occupation of Egypt had undermined the Egyptians’ false sense of security and feelings of superiority and introduced them to new religious beliefs, artistic styles and processes that influenced their way of life and culture.

By adopting the foreigners’ war chariot and bronze weapons, the native rulers of Thebes were able to free Egypt. Once liberated, the Egyptians took steps to ensure the safety of their country from future invasion, by campaigning beyond the borders of Egypt into Palestine and Nubia. These were the first steps taken towards establishing an empire. -Bradley

Egypt was no longer isolated and before long began to play ‘a full part in the developments of the eastern Mediterranean’-Breasted

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