A recently published study questions this ancient theory based on isotopic analyzes performed on individuals buried in the Tell el-Dab’a cemetery, the ancient Avaris, capital of the Hyksos.
One of the most deeply rooted ideas among researchers about ancient Egypt is the one that advocates that during the Second Intermediate Period (1759-1539 BC), a time of great political instability, a group of people from the Near East, known as the Hyksos, invaded the Nile delta and their leaders ruled as pharaohs, founding the Fifteenth Dynasty (around 1530 BC), until they were expelled from Egypt by Ahmose, founder Theban king of the Eighteenth Dynasty (1539-1292 BC).
Now, a study conducted by researchers at Bournemouth University, in Dorset (England), led by Chris Stantis and published in the journal Plos One, seems to dismantle this hypothesis.
The Hyksos: Rulers of foreign lands
The study states that although the pharaohs of the 15th dynasty were indeed Hyksos, they were not an invading people, but rather a minority ethnic group (in fact, the study suggests that the proportion of native people in the Delta was higher than foreigners), from the Near East, which had been present in the region for generations.
According to the researchers, the Hyksos “were a people with non-Egyptian characteristics as can be seen in the types of ceramics, burial customs, ornaments, weapons and details of their domestic and cult architecture.”
Archaeologists have studied the finds made at the Tell el-Dab’a site, 120 kilometers northeast of Cairo. Here the city of Avaris was located in 1885, which was the capital of the Hyksos kings in the eastern Delta, as well as several necropolises.
The analysis of the strontium isotopes of the teeth of 75 individuals buried there concludes that there was an “influx of non-local people” in that area during the Twelfth (1939-1760 BC) and Thirteenth (1759-1630 BC) dynasties, while it had place the construction of the city.
“Archaeological chemistry, specifically isotopic analysis, shows us first-generation migration during a time of great cultural transformations in ancient Egypt.
Instead of the old invasion theories, we see more people, especially women, migrating to Egypt before Hyksos rule, suggesting economic and cultural changes leading to foreign rule rather than violence, “he stated. Chris Stantis.
In Egypt for Generations
When Champollion deciphered the hieroglyphs in the 19th century, the texts that scholars were able to translate also did not provide much more information about these foreign Rulers.
In fact, many royal lists are incomplete or have been destroyed, and many later pharaohs linked the Hyksos (most possibly due to their non-Egyptian status) “with disorder and chaos,” say the researchers.
Until now, this invasion had been believed, especially as a result of the texts written by the Ptolemaic priest Manetho, who for centuries was the only known source of information about that dark stage in ancient Egyptian history.
According to Manetho, the Hyksos took advantage of the weakness of the country to invade it, which they achieved thanks to their military superiority (they used bronze weapons, compound bows and war chariots). But Manetho lived twelve centuries after these events took place.
“The archaeological evidence also does not support Manetho’s narrative about this ethnic group as the leader of an invading force, that they spread from the northeast to rule as Egypt’s first foreign dynasty; instead, it is suggested that those who became Hyksos rulers were descended from Asians who had been living in Egypt for generations,” the study concludes.