Week 5- The Hyksos in Egypt

Something that I found interesting in this week’s lectures was the fact that Hyksos could basically, peacefully invade Egypt (according to the lecture, “Second Intermediate Period”). It is mentioned in the lecture that they immigrated from their home land, which makes me wonder if life in their native land had become too difficult, or if their population was just expanding so quickly that they needed more room. One thing that must have worked in their favor was the fact that they didn’t attempt to push their own views, and non-Egyptian culture on the natives, but adapted to a lot of Egyptian styles. Of course, the fact that the Hyksos were on good terms with the Nubians must not have sat too well with the Egyptians, and considering the position the Egyptians could find themselves in, with the Hyksos occupying the north, and the Nubians in the south, it seems like that would have given the Egyptians some concern about these new immigrants in their country. Yet the fact that the Hyksos were allowed to immigrate into Egypt make me wonder if perhaps, the Egyptians weren’t guarding their borders very well, or if they just didn’t have the ability to protect their country against foreigners. Either that or maybe they just weren’t very good at thinking about the long-term consequences of having these people occupy such a large part of their country.

It’s also interesting that the Hyksos could levy taxes against the Thebans living in Upper Egypt. It seems like a pretty brazen move to make a decision like that in a country where you’re not even in charge. It makes me wonder how (and how quickly), the Hyksos were able to establish any kind of domain or control in the land they immigrated to. It also sounds like the Hyksos had a good plan of subtly invading a country, and then, gradually trying to take it over.

4 thoughts on “Week 5- The Hyksos in Egypt

  1. Your blog is very interesting as well. I didn’t think to consider why the Hyksos left their own homeland. Maybe they did have a plan to overtake the land with the Nubians after getting in good with the Egyptians. This is a good strategy on the Hyksos part. The Egyptians could have realized this after the fact also which explains why they didn’t oppose the Hyksos emergence in the first place. You make a good point questioning if the Egyptians were even capable of protecting their land because during that time they were having rough times politically. I believe the sharing of views benefited both cultures though. The Egyptians economy stabilized and the Hyksos adopted their styles. Seeing that the Hyksos adopted the Egyptian styles hints at the fact that they were not to fond of their own practices, which ties back into the question of Why did they abandon their homeland? Their peaceful invasion could mean that they either strategically put this plan together because they were in desperate need of shelter and land. Besides their ideas for stabilizing the Egyptian economy nothing was mentioned about them having goods substantial for survival or gaining capital. Maybe their native land had become too difficult and they sought refuge on Egyptian land.

  2. I also found the Hyskos to be quite interesting, and surprising as I had never heard of them before. I thought the way that they “peacefully invaded” was pretty interesting and I also wondered if and/or how the Hyksos were able to establish control in other places they had emigrated to. Was it standard practice for them to do in other places what they had done in Egypt? I think that maybe the political situation in Egypt at the time, perhaps along with the possibility that the Hyskos were just predisposed to more peaceful interaction with the people in the areas they occupied, rather than to wage violence against them, lended itself to the way things turned out (a diffusion and mixture of population, culture, etc.) I took a quick look at the Wikipedia entry for “Hyskos” and there are a few things in there that could explain why things occurred in the way they did. First, the name Hyskos used to describe all foreign peoples who occupied the delta area, and not a discrete group of immigrants with a common shared identity. I think this explains a lot. The Hyskos weren’t in any position to stage any kind of organized invasion because they weren’t really an organized group, and the Egyptians probably weren’t able to resist them for the same reason.

  3. I also found the Hyksos invasion of Egypt very interesting. It is fascinating that they were the first foreign rulers of Egypt. Egypt has been so powerful until this period to stop foreign invasions from occupying their land, and then the Hyksos rise up in power and take control, peaceful as you said. I agree that the Hyksos rise to power lies with the Egyptians inability to protect their country against foreign invaders. This is most likely because of political instability, and weak pharaohs that were ever decreasing in power. The pharaohs had so many other problems to deal with, maintaining their own rule for one; they did not have time to pay attention to the rise in foreigners. The Hyksos were able to maintain power in Lower Egypt was because as you said they did not push their old customs on the Egyptians and instead adopted Egyptian styles and titles, in a way becoming egyptianized. It was very clever on the Hyksos to do this, if they did push their old beliefs and customs on the Egyptians they would have been ousted long before they were. Their peaceful and gradual takeover of Egypt is interesting because most invasions are quicker and more violent.

  4. According to Kathryn Bard in her textbook, An Introduction to the Archaeology of Ancient Egypt, the Semetic speaking ethnic group called the Hyksos which controlled northern Egypt in the Second Intermediate Period had not entered Egypt as a colonizing force, but rather via various roles such as workers, nomadic peoples traveling with their herds, prisoners of war or even traders. Although there were internal pressures contributing to the political fragmentation of the Middle Kingdom Egypt, outside pressure is also noted in the form of this foreign force.

    There is material evidence of a Hyksos presence first in the Eastern Delta as early as the 13th Dynasty which then spread to the entirety of Lower Egypt, coalescing in the burials and structures at Avaris or Tell el-Dab’a. By the 15th Dynasty this area was designated the capital and a center for the Hyksos kings, which was under their control until the 18th Dynasty, when the area returned to Egyptian rule.

    I agree with you that the Hyksos had a successful adaptation of ruling a part of Egypt by not pushing their views onto others. Although the Hyksos did not change their personal names, they incorporated the use of Egyptian style scarabs and sealings in hieroglyphics, as well as Egyptian titles for their own officials (Bard, 2007). According to the video lecture for week 6, the Hyksos people were not intent on suppressing the Egyptian people to conform to their culture but however wanted to adapt themselves to Egyptian society.

    You are also right that the Egyptians must have felt very uncomfortable with the fact that the Hyksos were allies with the Nubians. Overall I don’t think it was that the Egyptians could not defend their borders against foreigners, but that they did not expect a peaceful ethnic immigrant group to become rulers of such a large chunk of Egyptian land. It also seems likely that the Hyksos did not intend to rule any significant part of Egypt when the immigrations had started as early as the latter part of the Old Kingdom.

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