Second Intermediate PeriodEgypt Through Time - What is Ancient Egypt?
Second Intermediate Period 1650 BC to 1550 BC
13th and 17th Pharaonic Dynasties
The Capital City during much of the 13th Dynasty remained at Itjtawy in the North. This Dynasty has never been thought of or regarded as secure or formidable as its predecessor but there are no clear indications as to when its deterioration commenced.
Records remain clearly intact for those Pharaohs who were as strong as their predecessors but for many others their reigns are sketchy at best, some may have only lasted a number of months. The weakness of these rulers extended to their governments and the nomarchs and other governing forces began to emerge in the absence of strong leadership and governance from the Pharaoh.
Viziership during this time was handed down within families, many of whom were taking advantage of a lack of consistency in the Royal line to exploit the kingdom for their own best interests.
With this gradual decline two main sources of alternative powers were formed: the Hyksos formed the 15th Dynasty in the Northern Delta Area of Egypt with their capital at Avaris; and the Theban Rulers who formed the 16th and later 17th Dynasty in the South of Egypt with their capital at Thebes.
The Hyksos were accused by the later Egyptian Dynasties of creating the First Foreign Takeover of Egypt. Although Archaeologists have more recently discovered through research and isotype analysis of the Hyksos remains that there was a larger community of Hyksos living in the Nile Delta for some time before they took control. Largely meaning that they were welcomed traders and immigrants rather than invaders.
What changed? How did the Egyptian Pharaohs regain power?
In Thebes, Pharaoh Seqenenre Tao II and his Sister Wife, Queen Ahhotep rule. The Pharaoh commenced his reign by living up to the meaning of his name: “He Who Strikes Life Re”. To push back the Hyksos rule and enliven his own to more than just the Theban area, diplomatic relations between the two sets of Pharaohs broke down.
Finally, he was allegedly provoked in to battle by Hyksos Ruler Apopis who claimed that Theban resident Hippos were disturbing his sleep. Now, this anecdote must be understood with a large amount of trepidation as there are approx. 645km between the two cities!
As Pharaoh marched to meet the Hyksos Ruler in battle, Queen Mother Tetisheri took on the role as Regent for her son. Pharaoh Seqenenre Tao II died probably because of one of these battles or at the very least from the wounds that he had sustained. The war could not be ignored, paused, or abandoned without catastrophic consequences for the Theban Royal Family so now Queen Mother Ahhotep I took to the battle ground as Royal Commander.
The Royal Mother and Daughter combination acted as co-Regents until Pharaoh Kamose, and Crown Prince Ahmose became of age and joined the battlefield. The Battles continued unabated, and these had a high human cost, including, after only 3 years of reign, Pharaoh Kamose, who is believed to have died in battle. Crown Prince Ahmose inherited the Crown making him Pharaoh Ahmose I who is given the title as creator of the 18th Dynasty, taking the country out of the Second Intermediate Period when he defeated, and swiftly banished, the Hyksos.
Whilst Pharaoh was winning the war which had consumed his father and his brother, Ahhotep and Tetisheri strengthened the new Pharaoh’s early reign in the roles of Regents and ensuring that the Theban Court was kept in check. Egypt was at last reclaimed under the Egyptian Pharaohs.
During these disagreements and wars, it is considered that the arts, the architecture and the literature of Egypt suffered and much which has remained intact is of a lower quality than had previously been available.