Dental analysis suggests Hyksos ‘invasion’ arose from outsiders marrying into power


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Archaeologists have found another confirmation that the Hyksos, who ruled ancient Egypt in 1650-1540 BC, did not conquer the country, but emigrated from the east. Apparently, Hyksos women married Egyptian nobles, and their descendants gradually expelled the local elite. The results of the research were presented at the 88th annual conference of the American Society of Physical Anthropology.

Dental analysis suggests Hyksos 'invasion' arose from outsiders marrying into power
View of excavations at Tell el-Dab’a/Avaris, the ancient capital of the Hyksos empire
[Credit: Bournemouth University]

The Hyksos were tribes (possibly of Semitic origin), which appeared in northern Egypt during the reign of the Pharaohs of the XIII dynasty, before 1650 BCE. Little is known about them, and what has reached us comes mainly from the works of historians that were written more than a thousand years after their disappearance, or from rare preserved sources from the era of the Egyptians’ struggle against them.

The Hyksos

Ancient historians represent the Hyksos hordes as invaders who seized part of the country. They brought with them new types of war chariots, swords, daggers, metal helmets, and shields. However, some modern historians and archaeologists believe that there was no military invasion, but rather a peaceful migration. There is very little evidence of war or battles that would have occurred in the territory of Egypt at that time. Proponents of this theory believe that the pharaohs of the 13th dynasty were weak rulers and could not prevent the emergence of large numbers of immigrants.

The Hyksos founded the 15th dynasty, which reigned in the northern and central part of the country. At the same time, southern Egypt came under the control of the Pharaohs of the XVI-XVII Dynasties. The last pharaohs of the seventeenth Dynasty began a war against the Hyksos, and in about 1540 BC they expelled the last of their kings from the country. After this, Ahmose I, who founded the XVIII Dynasty, became ruler of the country.

Dental analysis suggests Hyksos 'invasion' arose from outsiders marrying into power
Ahmose I depicted fighting back the Hyksos [Credit: WikiCommons]

The capital of the Hyksos state was the city of Avaris, located in the Nile Delta. It was inhabited from approximately 1780 until 1550 BC, until the moment when Ahmose expelled the Hyksos from the country and destroyed their capital.

Today Avaris is called Tel el Daba, and archaeological work has unearthed the tombs of the local elite, created in the style of Canaan, in which burial gifts have also been preserved.

Invasion by Marriage

Archaeologists Christina Stantis and Holger Schutkowski of Bournemouth University (United Kingdom) now suggest that women who married Egyptian nobles first appeared in eastern Egypt, and their descendants gradually expelled the local elite. Scientists analyzed strontium and oxygen isotopes in the remains of 71 people buried in Avaris. About half of them died before the appearance of the Hyksos in Egypt, and half during their rule.

From the ratio of oxygen isotopes and strontium in the teeth, one can determine from which area a person originated. As a baseline, scientists analyzed the proportions of isotopes in animal bones found in Tel al-Daba, as well as samples of local livestock and shells.

It turned out that of the 27 women who lived in Avaris shortly before the appearance of the Hyksos, 21 were not from the Nile Valley, but from other locations. At the same time, almost all the noble men who died at this time were local natives. Scientists believe their results confirm the scenario in which, shortly before the migration began, Hyksos women married members of the local elite.

Source: N+1 [April 13, 2019]



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