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Avaris, The Great House

Capital Cities

What: Capital of Ancient Egypt during the reign of the Hyksos

When: Established by the Hyksos in 1782/3BC to approx. 1550BC when it was captured by Pharaoh Ahmose I

Where: Lower Egypt Delta Region near the modern town of Tell el-Dab’a on a branch of the Nile used as a trade route which made it a strong contender for the location of a new Capital City

Known as: “The Great House”

Size: Grows to 250 hectares and was thought to have been the largest in the World from 1670-1557BC

After its capture: The Citadel was used as a storage facility with the city used as a Military Camp

Later History: Consumed into Pharaoh Ramses II’s Capital City of Pi Ramses in 19th Dynasty

What was in the City?

A Citadel where the leaders ruled Egypt from, so we can assume this included administrative
buildings for this purpose


Large Harbour which could hold over 300 ships at a time


Warehouses and shops


Mudbrick Tombs

The First Foreign Takeover


Archaeologists have 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 of the majority of Egypt during the Second Intermediate Period. Largely meaning that they were welcomed traders and immigrants rather than invaders. According to the Tombs located there, they were employed by the Egyptian State as shipbuilders and craftsmen, Soldier and Sailors. Could the “Hyksos invaders” have actually been a community of foreign immigrants who were born in Egypt but whose Ancestors were from the Levant area?

From records, Egyptologists have discovered that there was a line of impotent Pharaohs which led to the period known as the Second Intermediate Period. The settlers known as Hyksos had been trading and settling in the portside city of Avaris for some so when the power vacuum occurred, the probable Egypt born Hyksos were ideally implanted within the community to conquer a weakened state.

Their rule of Egypt lasted for over 200 years which may not be considered as a short-lived grab for power. Trade continued between the northern part of Egypt and the Southern City of Thebes which seemed to remain somewhat autonomous during the Hyksos period. Use of the Nile in both directions has been recorded for trading purposes. It is thought that Thebes may have paid their due, taxes and have been subordinate to Avaris but this cannot be totally confirmed.

The Hyksos rule drew to a close with the commencement of the New Kingdom Period. This saw their downfall and banishment from Egypt after Pharaoh Ahmose I reclaimed Egypt under the Egyptian Pharaohs.

There is no strong case, evidence wise, for a violent and destructive overthrow of Egyptian Pharaohs by the Hyksos when they stepped in to the power vacuum and the evidence that does exist appears to have been written by the Egyptians in the New Kingdom who wished to dismiss the period from their history and can be labelled as propaganda.


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