Origins of The Hyksos - Hyksos 15th Dynasty

Hyksos 15th Dynasty

in hieroglyphs

The rule of these Hyksos kings overlaps with those of the native Egyptian pharaohs of the 16th and 17th dynasties of Egypt, better known as the Second Intermediate Period. The first pharaoh of the 18th dynasty, Ahmose I, finally expelled the Hyksos from their last holdout at Sharuhen in Gaza by the 16th year of his reign. Scholars have taken the increasing use of scarabs and the adoption of some Egyptian forms of art by the Fifteenth Dynasty Hyksos kings and their wide distribution as an indication of their becoming progressively Egyptianized. The Hyksos used Egyptian titles associated with traditional Egyptian kingship, and took Egyptian god Seth to represent their own titulary deity.

It would appear as though Hyksos administration was accepted in most quarters, if not actually supported by many of their northern Egyptian subjects. The flip side is that in spite of the prosperity that the stable political situation brought to the land, the native Egyptians continued to view the Hyksos as non-Egyptian "invaders." When they eventually were driven out of Egypt, all traces of their occupation were erased. There is no surviving accounts that record the history of the period from the Hyksos perspective, only that of the native Egyptians who evicted the occupiers, in this case the rulers of Eighteenth Dynasty who were the direct successor of the Theban Seventeenth Dynasty. It was the latter which started and led a sustained war against the Hyksos. Some think that the native kings from Thebes had an incentive to demonize the Asiatic rulers in the North, thus accounting for the destruction of their monuments. From this viewpoint the Hyksos dynasties represent superficially Egyptianized foreigners who were tolerated, but not truly accepted, by their Egyptian subjects. In contrast scholars such as John A. Wilson found that the description of the Hyksos as overpowering, irreligious foreign rulers had support from other sources.

The origin of the term "Hyksos" derives from the Egyptian expression heka khasewet ("rulers of foreign lands"), used in Egyptian texts such as the Turin King List to describe the rulers of neighbouring lands. This expression begins to appear as early as the late Old Kingdom in Egypt, referring to various Nubian chieftains, and as early as the Middle Kingdom, referring to the Semitic chieftains of Syria and Canaan.

The names, the order, and even the total number of the Fifteenth Dynasty rulers are not known with full certainty. The names appear in hieroglyphs on monuments and small objects such as jar lids and scarabs. In those instances in which Prenomen and Nomen do not occur together on the same object, there is no certainty that the names belong together as the two names of a single person. The Danish Egyptologist Kim Ryholt sums up the complex situation by stating that "there are only vague indications of the origin of the Fifteenth Dynasty" and concurring that the small number of surviving names of the Fifteenth Dynasty are "too few to allow for general conclusions" about the Hyksos' background in his 1997 study of the Second Intermediate Period. Furthermore, Ryholt stresses that:

"we also lack positive indications that any of the rulers of the Fifteenth Dynasty were related by blood, and, accordingly we could be dealing with a dynasty of mixed ethnic origin."

Manetho's history of Egypt is known only through the works of others, such as Against Apion by Flavius Josephus. These sources do not list the names of the six rulers in the same order. To complicate matters further, the spellings are so distorted that they are useless for chronological purposes; there is no close or obvious connection between the bulk of these names — Salitis, Beon or Bnon, Apachnan or Pachnan, Annas or Staan, Apophis, Assis or Archles — and the Egyptian names that appear on scarabs and other objects. The Turin king list affirms there were six Hyksos rulers, but only four of them are clearly attested as Hyksos kings from the surviving archaeological or textual records: 1. Sakir-Har, 2. Khyan, 3. Apophis and 4. Khamudi.

Khyan and Apophis are by far the best attested kings of this dynasty whereas Sakir-Har is attested by only a single door jamb from Avaris which bears his royal titulary. Khamudi is named as the last Hyksos king on a fragment from the Turin Canon. The hieroglyphic names of these Fifteenth Dynasty rulers exist on monuments, scarabs, and other objects

Two Hyksos pharaohs remain unknown. Many scholars have suggested they were Maaibre Sheshi, Aper-Anath, Samuqenu, Sekhaenre Yakbim or Meruserre Yaqub-Har (who are all attested by seals or scarabs in the Delta region) but thus far, all that is certain is that they were Asiatic kings in the Egypt's Delta region. They could be either the remaining two Hyksos kings or were members of the previous Fourteenth Dynasty at Xois.

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