The Second Intermediate Period: 1640-1550 BC

The Hyksos





   The large-scale immigration of foreigners into the Nile Valley during the Middle Kingdom eventually spelled the end of the Middle Kingdom in Egypt. These foreigners remained non-naturalized "Asiatics" in the land of the pharoahs; they established their own communities and lived by their own laws. Eventually, as their numbers increased, they threatened the power of the Egyptian monarchy itself and Egypt fell into disarray.

   This period, the Second Intermediate Period, saw Egypt ruled by foreign kings for almost a hundred years. These kings came from diverse backgrounds as groups of foreigners vied to dominate Egypt. In fact, it isn't fair to say that Egypt was under the control of a single monarch, but consisted largely of independent states under a variety of foreign kings. The Egyptians, ashamed and angered at the loss of their state, called these kings Heka-Khaswt, or "Rulers of the Foreign Lands." The Greeks later perverted this word to Hyksos.

   The Hyksos seem to have adopted Egyptian manners, laws, and theories of monarchy. As so often happened in the ancient world, the foreign conquerors adopted the ways of the conquered. But the Hyksos dream of becoming Egyptian died within a century. A ferocious Egyptian family from Luxor waged a brilliant and fierce set of wars with the Hyksos kings and finally drove them out of Egypt by 1550 BC. Amosis, the great general who finally drove out the Hyksos, then founded a new dynasty, the Eighteenth Dynasty, and ushered in the era of the New Kingdom.


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The New Kingdom: 1550-1070 BC


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1996, Richard Hooker
Updated 9-27-97