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Second Intermediate Period   1675-1553BC


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This period saw the decline of the past thirteenth and fourteenth dynasties and the great increase in number of the Asian population whom, bit by bit started to settle and spread in the whole land of Egypt. Through a number of fifty years, the Asians started to join force and with their new skills, like ironwork and mastery of horses, invade Egypt.

For the first time, the Egyptians found themselves under foreign rule- the HYKSOS. This rule was in the fifteenth and sixteenth dynasties. The rulers did not impose a foreign system of government and kept themselves to the existing Egyptian systems. They kept records in Egyptian script, using Egyptian royal titles and copying Egyptian styles on art.

 The first capital of the Hyksos was AVARIS, on the Delta shore, then they moved to Memphis. The Egyptians started resistance in Thebes around 1680BC, where a branch of the Thirteenth dynasty arose, which became the Seventeenth dynasty, existing simultaneously with the Hyksos dynasty for 100 years before war broke out on a large scale. It was AHMOSIS I, who broke the Hyksos, storming first Memphis and then Avaris. By then the Egyptian had learned the art of chariot warfare.

The Hyksos occupancy had psychological effect on the Egyptian for two main reasons: they had never been conquered and they were somewhat shamed by conquest by an opportunistic army of nomadic tribesmen.

Fifteenth, Sixteenth and Seventeenth Dynasties

The first king was SALATIS, he appears to have had total control of Lower and Upper Egypt. The Hyksos also had extended to Nubia. Salatis and his successors took over administrative and religious aspects of Egyptian life without any change.

The third Hyksos king, Apophis I, ceded some of his power to a branch of the family that was classified as the Sixteenth dynasty.




The Hyksos dynasty took its pharaonic responsibilities  seriously and encouraged buildings, the arts and crafts and literature. It was a considerable time of technical innovation.

The Hyksos brought Egypt the horse harness and the war chariots and their military improvements. In the south, an Egyptian dynasty emerged at theses, its founder was Rahotep. Under the Theban kings, Ta’a and his successors, Seqenenre and Kamose war broke between the two dynasties.

The Hyksos were being forced back on the Delta. Seqenenre and Kamose died in battle, but Kamose’s successor AHMOSIS I, completed the task and drove the Hyksos out of Egypt. He became the founder of the mighty eighteenth dynasty, the first in the New Kingdom.

New Kingdom   1552- 1070BC

It is the period of the Eighteenth to the Twentieth Dynasties. The New Kingdom, showed the resilience of the Egyptian institutions after the foreign rule of the Hyksos.

Under the succession of strong kings, Egypt was turned into the most powerful state in the world, its frontiers extending from Nubia to the Euphrates. Wealth poured in from the client kingdoms in the form of gold, luxury goods and slaves.

For the first time there was intermarriage between kings of Egypt and foreign princesses. This was a step in making way to international diplomacy.

The New Kingdom architecture was as ambitious as its foreign policy and reached a peak under RAMSES II. The final century of the new kingdom was of gradual decline and it ended by the division again of the kingdom into two. 

Eighteenth Dynasty   1552- 1314BC

The first king of this dynasty was AHMOSIS I. Having driven the Hyksos from Egypt, the king turned his attention southwards and regained Nubia from local rulers. He later took his forces into Palestine, where he captured the ports of the Phoenician coast, which were strategically placed for Egypt’s timber imports. Ahmosis married queen Nefertari and their son AMENOPHIS I, succeeded in 1526BC and continued the pushing outwards of Egypt’s frontiers.

He was later followed by THUTHMOSIS I , who was followed by his son THUTMOSIS II. This king had to fight down revolts in the occupied lands.

He died, leaving a six year old son and two daughters. The boy was THUTHMOSIS III, but the regency was carried on by his Aunt HATSHEPSUT, wife and half-sister to his father. Hatshepsut proclaimed herself pharaoh and assumed the full honors of the position.


After Hatshepsut, Thuthmosis III eventually ruled and became an extremely an active military ruler, the greatest general among the kings of Egypt.

The records of his victories are found on the walls of the KARNAK. Under Thuthmosis III the conquests of the Egyptians became more organized. He overcame a lot of enemy states and floated his army on rafts across the Euphrates to defeat the powerful Mitanni on their territory. Tribute was received from Babylon, from Assyria, from the Hatti and Mitanni kingdoms, from Crete and other Mediterranean islands. Within Africa he pushed farther south than any pharaoh before him.

He made his son, AMENOPHIS II, co-ruler in the year before his death. Amenophis II ruled 1425- 1401BC was a man of great physical stature and as warlike as his father, maintaining the empire with a ferocity untypical of the Egyptians. He was followed by Thuthmosis IV 1401-1390BC, who took a foreign princess as a wife, she was Mutemuya, daughter of the Mittannian king.

Mutemuya was the mother of AMENOPHIS III 1390- 1352BC. Unlike his predecessors, he pursued a life of luxury and leisure in the most powerful court that Egypt had ever known. He married a commoner, TIY, who was given the new title of great royal wife.

It was at this time that the cult of ATEN, the one sole God, rather than that of AMUN, began to grow especially in the court circles.

With the reign of AMENOPHIS IV ruled 1352- 1338BC, the royal break to Aten was made complete. The king changed his name to AKHENATEN and moved the capital from Thebes to a new site, EL-AMARNA, where he had a city built that he called Akhetaten, with a vast temple to Aten at its centre.

Akhenaten’s obsession with religion led him to ignore the fact that the empire was under serious threat. Most of the Asian empire was felling apart. Akhenaten and his wife NEFERTITI, had no son, although several daughters. His immediate two successors were legitimized by marrying royal daughters.

The second of these was TUTANKHATEN. His name was altered to TUTANKHAMUN by the priests of Amun- Ra at Thebes. His fame is due to the fact that his tomb, uniquely, was discovered intact in the 20th century.

He was an ineffectual and short-lived ruler. Authority lay with the priesthood and with the army leader, HOREMHEB, who regained much of the territory lost in Asia. After Tutankhamun’s early death, Horemheb assumed the throne 1323-1295BC.

He was a member of provincial nobility, he held the frontier at the Lebanon and restored internal order. He left no son, and by pre-arrangement, on his death the kinship passed to another general RAMESES I, the first king of the Nineteenth dynasty.


Nineteenth Dynasty 1295-1188BC.

The first king was RAMESES I (1295-1294BC), already an elderly man when he assumed the kingship. He was probably of Hyksos descent and was succeeded after two years by his son, SETHOS I (1294-1279BC). Early in his reign he was challenged by a powerful alliance of Amorites and Aramaeans with the prince of Hamath. He sent three separate armies and defeated all three opponents before they could combine.

He was a great builder. The temple of Osiris at Abydos dates from his reign, and he continued the building at Karnak that his father had started. His tomb is in the Valley of the Kings.

His son, RAMESES II (1270-1212BC), was called ‘the great’ because of his monuments rather than his performance as a ruler, although both were formidable. He completed the great Hypostyle Hall at Karnak, had temples built in Sudan, set up many buildings in Thebes and also rebuilt the city of Tanis, from where his family had originated.

In his reign there was direct confrontation with the Hittite empire. There was a long and hard battle at Kadesh, beyond the Orontes river, in which the Egyptians fought back bravely after a surprise attack and which ended in victory, won by the king himself after gathering his broken troops.

After that and in order to defeat any foreign rivals, the Egyptians and the Hittites made a peace treaty, the earliest of which a written record exists. This was to last for 50 years, and the Hittite king paid a state visit to Egypt, bringing his daughter to be Rameses’s bride.

Rameses died aged a hundred years, and his son, Meneptah (1212- 1202BC), faced a rapidly deteriorating international situation. To the east and north the old order was crumbling. There were revolts in Palestine, which he put down. The Hitties were in famine, and he sent them a supply of corn. From the west came the double threat of the Libyans, and the People of the sea. T hey invaded Egypt and attacked Memphis, bur Meneptah drove them away. Already an old man he died after a short reign, leaving a complicated succession problem. With no clear successor, there was a series of short reigns during some twelve years, and the state fell in disarray.



Twentieth Dynasty 1188- 1069BC

 The first king was Sethnakhte (1188- 1186BC), he reimposed a firm central rule after the collapse of the Nineteenth dynasty. His son, RAMESES III (1186-1154BC), was another pharaoh of great ability. Internal reforms were made, defining the status and rights of every member of the community. Trading expeditions went out, mining was resumed and a great building programme was launched. The long process of building the temple at Karnak continued, and Rameses III also built at Thebes and set up his own great temple at Medinet-Habu. All this was achieved against a state of almost permanent warefare. The Libyans attacked again and were repulsed again. The People of the sea attempted a direct invasion by sea and land, and a great sea battle was fought off the Delta, with archers firing from the ships and the vessels then ramming the enemy.

After that a period of peace ensued, but Rameses III’s reign was troubled by a plot, that appears to have involved a numerous numbers of officials, to manipulate the succession. The plot was discovered and everyone accused were punished.

The Twentieth dynasty continued under a further eight Rameses in a state of steady decline. With a lack of firm central government, civil unrest grew.




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