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Hyksos Vs Egypt

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John the Kern View Drop Down

Joined: 08-Mar-2005
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  Quote John the Kern Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Topic: Hyksos Vs Egypt
    Posted: 18-Mar-2005 at 08:33
  IF the Pharoahs armies had had chariots and composite bows could they have resisted the Hykso invasion?
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vagabond View Drop Down

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  Quote vagabond Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 22-Mar-2005 at 00:40

It should be so easy as to answer this question in the form in which you present it.  The more I learn about the period, the more complicated the question becomes.  A short answer would be no - there were other political and social factors that were also at work.  Had the Hyksos invasion truly been an invasion of complete outsiders it might have faced more resistance and not have been as effective - but it was - to a large extent, an invasion from within.

The Hyksos conquest of Egypt was not as much a matter of one direct invasion based on superior military technology but exploitation of the political chaos and resultant weakness surrounding the rulers of the late Middle Kingdom allowing gradual expansion of the Hyksos controlled areas. Much has been made of the Hyksos use of the compound bow and chariot (I had even used this argument myself in the past), but most contemporary opinions seem to agree that this was much less a factor than the lack of organization on the part of their opponents in Memphis. Moving into the Delta around the middle of the 13th dynasty, the Hyksos gradually built a power base and eventually ruled Egypt during the Second Intermediate period, comprising the 15th dynasty (based in Avaris), which ran parallel to the native Egyptian 16th and 17th (based in Thebes) dynasties.

The Hyksos were a Semitic, nomadic people who inhabited primarily Lower Egypt, specifically the eastern Delta. The area around Avaris, was their center of influence. While often called an invasion, the Hyksos takeover of Egypt was not necessarily what we would think of in terms of violent takeover. There were already many Semitic peoples living in the area - perhaps brought in as slaves or prisoners by the Egyptians, and others migrating into the Northeast of Egypt and mingling with Semitic tribes already there. The Hyksos had perhaps by the time of their takeover become the majority population in parts of Lower Egypt, and used this advantage to take control of large portions of the Nile Valley. Having already lived in Egypt for hundreds of years, they ruled Egypt from ca 1650 BCE to ca 1550 BCE.

After coexisting with the Hyksos for a number of years, the 17th dynasty, centered in Thebes, a native Egyptian dynasty, began a gradual re-conquest of Egypt. Ahmose I, first pharaoh of the 18th dynasty, finished the liberation of Egypt and claims to have pursued the Hyksos beyond Gaza and into Palestine. It is quite possible that much of the Biblical mythology familiar to us as the stories of Joseph, Moses and the Exodus have their roots in this cultural struggle.

Hebrew historian Josepheus blames the Greek/Egyptian priest Manetho for the first incorrect use of the translation "Shepherd Kings", which has stuck with them through today. At that time they were called either hikau khausut - "rulers of foreign countries", shamu - "sand-dwellers" or simply Aamu - "Asiatic people".

For quick online reference:

Wiki has a good article on the Hyksos

And the following links to translations of some (almost) primary sources may help as well: (English translation of Kamose Inscription) (excerpt from the English translation of the Autobiography of Ahmose, son of Abana) (both English translations of Manetho on the Hyksos and Josephus quoting Manetho - original text is lost) (these last three a bit of fun from the Second Intermediate period - the Rhind papyrus is mathematics text, the Edwin Smith  a surgical treatise)

Edited by vagabond
In the time of your life, live - so that in that wonderous time you shall not add to the misery and sorrow of the world, but shall smile to the infinite delight and mystery of it. (Saroyan)
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