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2nd Intermediate Period

Thebes - The Places

The Theban Pharaohs Versus the Hyksos Pharaohs

As told to us by the biased records left by the conquerors of history, the Second Intermediate Period was due to the invasion and takeover of the Hyksos Peoples. They are accused of creating the First Foreign Takeover of Egypt.

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 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. This created what we know today as the 15th Dynasty.

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, where the Egyptian Pharaoh’s 16th and 17th Theban Pharaohs settled. 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 communicated in a friendly manner with the Hyksos. While they remained subordinate to the now Capital City of Avaris, but this cannot be totally confirmed.

 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”. In an effort to push back the Hyksos rule and enliven his own to more than just the Theban area, diplomatic relations between the 2 sets of Pharaohs broke down. Finally, he was allegedly provoked in to battle by Hyksos Pharaoh 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!

Beaded Bracelet of Queen Ahhotep

As Pharaoh marched to meet the Hyksos Pharaohs in battle, Queen Mother Tetisheri took on the role as Regent for her son. This role could have been passed to Pharaoh’s and Queen Ahhotep’s mother because Queen Ahhotep was pregnant with one of the couple’s children or because the Queen accompanied her husband on to the Battle grounds.

Pharaoh Seqenenre Tao II died probably as a result of one of these battles or at the very least from the wounds that he had sustained. His Mummy reflects a violet death with 3 axe wounds, a sharp implement wound (probably a sword or spear thrust), and a crushing blow. His Mummy was then embalmed in a perfunctory manner and not with the care which was usually due a Pharaoh, enhancing the case that the Pharaoh died on the battle field or within the battle camp.

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. This is evident from the accolades that her son gave her on a Stela:

“She is the one who has accomplished the rites and taken care of Egypt . . . . . She has looked after her soldiers, she has guarded her, she has brought back her fugitives and collected together her deserters, she has pacified Upper Egypt and expelled her rebels” 

During this period, the Theban Court was handled by Ahhotep’s mother, Tetisheri, who acted as temporary Regent of young Pharaoh Kamose in Ahhotep’s absence. The Royal Mother and Daughter combination acted as co-Regents until Pharaoh Kamose and Crown Prince Ahmose became of age and joined the battlefield. At this juncture, Queen Mother Ahhotep I, now took over from her mother, Tetisheri, as Regent of the Theban based Court.

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 created with the commencement of the 18th Dynasty of Ancient Egypt, taking the country out of the 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 Egypt under the Egyptian Pharaohs.           

For more information about the Hyksos, their rule and their Capital City of Avaris, click here


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