Ancient History—Egypt: The New Kingdom 1. The Hyksos Invasion (ca. 1800-1570 BCE) 2.

The New Kingdom a) The Rise of Akhenaten and Atonism (1367-1350 BCE) b) Nefertiti and Tutankhamen --the familiar political and cultural patterns of ancient Egypt continued, more or less unchallenged and unchanged, for almost 16 centuries --indeed, between ca. 3200 and 1650 BCE, the people of the Nile lived according to a political cycle that was as regular as the yearly flooding of the great river --from his lavish royal courts at Thebes or Memphis, the serene, all-powerful monarch of Egypt continuouslyperpetually fostered the enviable peace and prosperity of his happy people --when one king died, there was wide-spread weeping and lamentation; a great, cathartic and ostentatious fuss was made over his burial and then, in his stead, another king would rise up to maintain and preserve the sacred ma’at 1. The Hyksos Invasion --however, while Egyptian civilization flourished behind its bulwark of sand and sea, momentous changes were taking place throughout the ancient Near East, changes that would leave their mark even on rich, insular Egypt --and these changes involved the enormous and remarkable migrations of various unsettled peoples of Mesopotamia and the Fertile Crescent, peoples who spoke, for the most part, a group of languages that we refer to as “Semitic”: as a category, this group can include: Babylonians, Akkadians, Phoenicians, Canaanites, Arabs, Ethiopians and Jews --we don’t know the precise origins of Semitic peoples; we know that by 1800 BCE they lived throughout Mesopotamia, Syria and Palestine, however, we can only guess at their earliest geographic origins --many scholars put these origins in the Arabian peninsula; they maintain that the ancestors of the Semites probably gathered on the banks of the Persian Gulf and spread out from there --according to various Mesopotamian and other sources, a number of nomadic Semites began to move throughout the Fertile Crescent around 1800 BCE --one group, a band of pastoralists known as the Hyksos, moved gradually from their Mesopotamian homeland into the area that we know as the Nile Delta --we’re not entirely sure how to translate the term “Hyksos”: it’s been translated variously as “Shepherd Kings,” “Rulers of Foreign Countries,” and “Kings of the Uplands” --they were also known as the Aamu, which could mean “People of the East” or “Asians”


--and while I’ve described their migration to Egypt as “gradual”, from the perspective of those who lived along the Nile it was anything but. --indeed, according to one Egyptian, a priest named Manetho: “A blast of God smote us; and unexpectedly from the regions of the East invaders of obscure race marched in confidence of victory against our land. By…force they easily overpowered the rulers of the land; then they burned our cities ruthlessly and razed to the ground the temples of the gods; they treated all the natives of Egypt with a cruel hostility -- massacring some and leading into slavery the wives and children of others .....” --while we have to take into consideration Menetho’s nationalistic tendencies and the possibility that he was exaggerating, it nevertheless seems clear that the Hyksos did in fact come as conquerors --very soon after their arrival, they established a capital at the town of Avaris, a port-city in the northeastern part of the Nile Delta --recently, archeologists have confirmed that Avaris was indeed occupied by a people who exhibited specifically non-Egyptian cultural traits. --for example, in the archeological strata that date from 3800 years ago, we find evidence of non-Egyptian occupation: the layout of the town and the configuration of the houses don’t conform to any known Egyptian patterns --as well, the way in which they buried their dead also seemed different --indeed, the Hyksos appear to have buried their dead inside the city walls (i.e., intermixed with the living community); this is a practice that was completely unknown to the Egyptians—as you know, they preferred to bury their dead in separate necropolises far outside the city walls of their communities --the physical evidence also confirms that over the next 2 centuries (i.e., between 1800 and 1600) the Hyksos began building other communities, gradually moving south toward Memphis at the apexalong the eastern edge of the Delta --and, once they occupied Memphis in about 1670 BCE, the Hyksos became the de facto rulers of large portions of the Egyptian world --for about 100 years, the Hyksos appear to have presided as kings over most of Lower Egypt and parts of the Upper Kingdom as wellthe lower reaches of the Nile --in fact, it’s been suggested that Hyksos’ rule over Egypt during the 17th and 16th centuries BCE provided the basis for the biblical story of Joseph --you might remember that Joseph is considered one of the most important and famous of all the Hebrew patriarchs; he is best most well known for his “coat of many colours” and his ability to interpret dreams --according to the bible, Joseph was the son of Hebrew parents, Jacob and Rachel --however, as a youth, he was stolen into bondage and sent as a slave into Egypt --before long, (according to the bible) the pharaoh recognized Joseph’s amazing interpretive abilities, and he sets him up as a sort of viceroy over Egypt


--well, the story is quite long and involved, and I don’t have time to go into all of the details (if you’re interested see Genesis, chapters 37-39) --what is important here is the fact that historians and biblical scholars think the Joseph narrative contains elements of a much bigger story: the arrival of a Semitic people in Egypt, a Semitic people who would go on to have an extraordinarily long relationship with the indigenous people of the region --before moving on to a discussion of the New Kingdom, we might want to talk a little bit about I might offer a few comments on how the Hyksos people managed to subdue the great armies of the Pharaoh --indeed, when we think of the Egyptians, we often think about the might and power of the Egyptian army --however, in their relationship with the Hyksos, the Egyptians were at a decided disadvantage --and it was allit seems that it was entirely a matter of superior technology on the part of the invading Semites --like many other Semitic confederaciespeople, the Hyksos were amongst the earliest to experiment with new forms of metal working --in fact, scholars think it was they whoand so, they brought the secret of making bronze with them into Egypt into Egypt the secret of making bronze --what is bronze? --iIt’ is the alloy you get by mixing copper with tin --this mixture is much stronger than copper alone, and with it, the Hyksos had a tremendous technological advantage: 1) bronze tools made the Hyksos much better farmers than the Egyptians: their ploughs and hoes and rakes were much sharper and more durable than traditional Egyptian farm implements 2) as well, bronze technology gave the Hyksos an advantage on the battlefield: not only did they use bronze offensively in their weapons (i.e., spears, swords, arrow-tips), they also incorporated bronze into their armour: this gave them a defensive edge as well --thus, when they met the armies of the pharaoh on the battlefield, the Hyksos troops were better able to inflict death and injury (and better able to absorb wounding strikes from Egyptian swords and arrows) --the Hyksos also appear to have had other military advantages: 1) it appears that they were amongst the first to use horse-drawn chariots: --chariots were developed because at this early stage in the horse’s domesticationevelopment, it was too light and too fragile to couldn’t bear the weight of a fully n armoured-clad warrior --; chariots gave the Hyksos a battlefield mobility that was unavailable to the Egyptians; and because they were usually manned by two warriors, one could concentrate on steering while the other concentrated on firing a weapon


--as a further advantage, because the Egyptians hadn’t used the horse for military or agricultural purposes, many soldiers were afraid of the animals and fled the field whenever the chariots approached their defensive lines 2) the Hyksos also developed the composite bow at a very early date. As the name implies, composite bows are made of various laminates: in this case, the Hyksos combined wood and horn to produce a bow that was far more powerful than a bow made from a single piece of wood. A trained archer could launch an arrow much further with a composite bow than with simple bow --so, while the Hyksos were in many respects culturally-backward when compared to the Egyptians, their superior agricultural and military these technologies allowed them Hyksos to utterly dominate the armies of the Pharaohs. --wWith bronze weapons, chariots and the new arrow-launching technology, there was no way that the Egyptians could hope to mount a serious battlefield challenge to the Semitic newcomers --gradually, however, it appears that the Hyksos were absorbed by the dominant culture of the Egyptian people --the seductive rhythms of the Nile seized the Hyksos, and before long, they too had come came to worship Ra and Osiris and Isis and all the other gods of the Egyptian pantheon --before long, they too began to measured the flood, learned to write in hieroglyphs and contributed to the venerateion of the pharaoh 2. The New Kingdom --and as the Hyksos were being lulled into the eternal cycles of the river, another process was under way in the south --here, a group of ambitious new rulers began pushing against the Hyksos and their political stronghold in the north --by ca. 1572 BCE, these rulersy had captured Thebes, by ca. 1570 BCE they had pushed the Hyksos out of the Nile Delta, and by the mid 1560s BCE they had extended their rule to include parts of Nubia and Sudan in the south, and Palestine and Syria in the northeast --this dynasty of pharaohs, known to history as the Eighteenth and Nineteenth Dynasties would ultimately include some of the most remarkable kings of the Egyptian world --for example, this is the era of Akhenaten and his wife Nefertiti --it is the era of Tutankhamen (i.e., King Tut) --it is the era of Ramses the Great (i.e., some scholars think this is the pharaoh of the biblical story of Moses) --so, with the expulsion of the Hyksos, we see the beginning of a vigorous, expansive period in the history of the Egyptian people --it’s a period known to history as the New Kingdom, and in many respects, it represents the blazing noon-day of Nile Valley civilization


--I say this because it was a period when a series of audacious warrior-pharaohs greatly extended the wealth, power and prestige of Egypt --and it differed from earlier periods in two very important respects: 1) a conscious program of imperialism; 2) widespread use of slave labour (for the first time in Egyptian history) --one of the most extraordinary and remarkable of the New Kingdom kingspharaohs was a pharaoh who began his life as Amenhotep IV, but who is better known to history as Akhenaten, (who ruled between 1367 and 1350 BCE) --let me tell you a little about him Akhenaten --the Pharaoh Akhenaten was known as the Heretic King --despite the fact that he would become one of the most intriguing and important pharaohs in the entire history of the Egyptian people, Akhenaten began his life as something of an All indications are that as a child Akhenaten was a family outcast --the reasons for this are a little unclear, though apparently it had something to do with his fragile health .--based on an examination of his mummified remains (as well as artistic depictions of him), s Scientists believe that are studying the fact that Akhenaten suffered from a relatively rare genetic disorder disease called Marfan Syndrome, a conditiongenetic defect that damages the body's connective tissue. --sSymptoms include a series of irregularities such as: a very, short torso, a long head, (as well as elongated neck, arms, hand and feet), pronounced collarbones, a pot belly, heavy thighs, and poor muscle tone. --tThose who inherit it are often unusually tall and are likely to have weakened aortas that can rupture without warning. --those who suffer from the condition tend toThey can die at an early age. If Akhnaton had the disease each of his daughters had a 50-50 change of inheriting it. That is why his daughters are shown with similar symptoms. --so, perhaps because of this unfortunate malady, very few expectations were placed on the young prince, and, for the most part, he appears to have beenAkhenaten was the son of Amenhotep III and Queen Tiy, a descendent of a Hebrew tribe. The largest statue in the Cairo Museum shows Amenhotep III and his family. He and Queen Tiy (pronounced 'Tee') had four daughters and two sons. Akhenaten's brother, Tutmoses was later named high priest of Memphis. The other son, Amenhotep IV (Later to take the name Akhenaten) seemed to be ignored by the rest of the family. --indeed, hHe never appeared in any royal portraits; he and was never taken to public events; he. He never received no honors; he was never mentioned on monuments and he


wasn’t even allowed to enter the royal priesthood at Thebes (a traditional destination for younger sons of the pharaoh). --iIt was as if the gods God Amun had desertedexcluded him. --in fact, he had only one champion, one ally, during his long and lonely childhood: this was his mother Queen Tiy, who happened to be a descendant of the Hebrew people --in fact, it was largely through her influence that when the old pharaoh died, Akhenaten managed to secure the Egyptian throne for himself --given his previous pariah (or outcast) status, this was a rather amazing turn of events, and the situation became even more astounding as Akhenaten consolidated his hold on the imperial throne --I say this because soon after his ascent to the Egyptian throne, it seems that Akhenaten underwent some kind of profound spiritual, or psychological, transformation --he claimed that he had received a powerful vision from some heavenly source --in this vision, he saw the disc of the sun shining brightly between two mountains --he interpreted this vision as a divine revelation --he announced that the previously obscure god Aton was trying to communicate with him (Aton is regularly depicted in Egyptian art as a solar disc) --after further visions, Akhenaten declared, much to the consternation and amazement of the Egyptian priests and the ruling class, that Aton was the one, true god --he claimed that the other gods (i.e., Ra, Osiris, Hawthor, Isis, Horus and all the others) were, in fact, demons and that they should be avoided at all costs --then, he sent stonemasons up and down the length of the Nile with orders to chisel out the names and images of all the other gods from every inscription they could find --the special target of his purge was the great temple at Thebes, from whose priesthood he had been excluded so many years before --he shut down the Theban temple, and then ordered the closure or destruction of every traditional cult site in Egypt --he diverted the revenues of the temples to the royal coffers and then seized all their property --in a campaign of righteous anger and vengeance, he tried to overturn the 2000 year old religious foundations of Egyptian culture and implant monotheism in a culture that had no monotheistic tradition He was rejected by the world for some unknown reason. He was never shown with his family nor mentioned on monuments. Yet his mother favored him. --he even established a fabulous new capital and dedicated it to Aton --this was the city of Akhetaten, on the eastern bank of the Nile, about half-way between Memphis and Thebes --here, he adopted a radically new architectural and artistic program, one that he intended to be pleasing to his god --he ordered that all paintings of the royal family should be naturalistic, they should depict the pharaohs as mortals, not as gods themselves


--the new paintings contrasted sharply with the rigid postures and overly-dignified poses of traditional Egyptian art --similarly, in terms of his architectural program, he instructed that royal buildings and monuments should not seek to glorify the royal family; instead, they should conform to the principles of his new religion, one which has been called Atonism by modern scholars --and while it was largely the product of Akhenaten’s self-conscious attempt to utterly transform the religious orientation of Egyptian culture, it seems that Atonism soon acquired a large, devout following --we have evidence that it penetrated the popular mind; especially in the popular songs and hymns that were written to Aten: O living Aten, creator of life, You rise in splendour on the horizon of heaven! When you have dawned in the eastern horizon, You fill every land with your beauty. You are lovely, great, radiant, And high over every land; Thy rays embrace the lands, To the limit of all that you have made. Being the true Ra, you reach the limits of the earth, You bend them for your beloved son; And though you are far away, your rays are on earth, And though you are in men’s faces, no one knows thy going. --well…Akhenaten’s revolutionary movement didn’t endure for very long after his death, and soon after he was placed in his royal mausoleum, the tide of reaction began --the capital was moved back to Thebes, the traditional priesthoods and sacred colleges were reopened, revenues began to flow back in to the coffers of the great temples --and before long, a new band of stonecutters were sent out to erase the name of Aton from the various monuments of the Egyptian world --a few scraps of the cult of Aton remained, but by and large, Egypt returned to the Old Ways and the Old Beliefs --the experiment in monotheism was over Queen Nefertiti --before finishing this section on the New Kingdom, I should probably say a few words about Akhenaten’s primary wife, Queen Nefertiti --the name Nefertiti means, “The beautiful one has arrived,” and indeed, since the time of her reign more than 3000 years ago, she has been considered one of the most alluring women of the ancient world --surviving images of Nefertiti seem to convey an elegance and poise that are quite disarming


--of course, she was much more than just a good-looking woman --unfortunately, we don’t know much about her childhood, and the earliest data at our disposal comes from the period after she had married Akhenaten --from the outset, it seems, she supported her husband’s beliefs and sought to help him in his quest to transform Egypt into a monotheistic society --to that end she changed her name to Neferneferuaten-Nefertiti, which means: “The Aten is radiance of radiance [as] the beautiful one has come.” --new research confirms that Nefertiti was probably one of Egypt’s most powerful queens --she is frequently depicted wearing the royal crown of the pharaoh as well as in scenes of battle. --Egyptologists speculate that because Akhenaten was born with so many crippling deformities, Queen Nefertiti probably exercised a large measure of control over the events of the kingdom, and that she might even have been a sort of “co-pharaoh” with her husband --the evidence for this: 1) her name frequently appears alongside her husband’s on royal documents 2) there are actually far more images of Nefertiti than there are images of Akhenaten 3) she was buried in a tomb of royal scale --whatever her initial status might have been, it appears that she might have met a sad end --very soon after the death of Akhenaten, she disappears from the historical record --historians think a variety of things might have happened to her: 1) she might have died 2) she might have fallen out of favor with her husband and been sent into some form of exile 3) she might have fallen out of favor with the next generation of rulers (i.e., after her husband’s death, during the period when the old cults were being restored, perhaps Nefertiti had few royal allies on whom she could rely) --complicating matters is the fact that her body was never found --it’s thought that friends or allies might have brought her body to the “Valley of the Kings” soon after her death as a way of preventing overly-zealous reformers from desecrating her grave --if this is the case, there is the tantalizing prospect that one day, Egyptologists might find her mortal remains Conclusion --well, the New Kingdom survived the deaths of Akhenaten and Nefertiti by more than 3 centuries --however, by about 1000 BCE, Egypt began a long, steady process of decline --it succumbed to disintegration from within and to attacks from without


--so, from about the turn of the first millennium BCE, Egypt was ruled, for the most part, by foreign dynasties or foreign peoples: Libya, Mesopotamia, Persia, Greece, Rome --there were intervals between these periods of foreign domination, during which the Egyptians tried to recapture the creative spirit of earlier times --however, this spirit always seemed to elude them --after more than 2000 years of vibrancy and vitality, the Egyptian world descended into decay, marginalization and irrelevance --and, in its last few centuries, it became a shell of what it had previously been In 1352 BC. Akhenaten ascended the throne, succeeding his father Amenhotep III who had died. Akhenaten was just a teenager at the time, but it was the desire of Queen Tiy that he rule. In some version of the story, it is written that father and son shared the throne briefly. Akhenaten's reign lasted 16 years. This was a difficult time in Egyptian history. Many scholars maintain that Akhenaten was responsible for this decline, but evidence suggests that it had already started. Akhenaten is principally famous for his religious reforms, where the polytheism of Egypt was to be supplanted by monotheism centered around Aten, the god of the solar disc. This was possibly a move to lessen the political power of the Priests. Now the Pharaoh, not the priesthood, was the sole link between the people and Aten which effectively ended the power of the various temples. Akhenaten built a temple to his god Aten immediately outside the east gate of the temple of Amun at Karnak, but clearly the coexistence of the two cults could not last. He therefore proscribed the cult of Amun, closed the god's temples, took over the revenues. He then sent his officials around to destroy Amun's statues and to desecrate the worship sites. These actions were so contrary to the traditional that opposition arose against him. The estates of the great temples of Thebes, Memphis and Heliopolis reverted to the throne. Corruption grew out of the mismanagement of such large levies. It was said that one day Akhenaten had a vision wherein he saw a sun disc between two mountains. He felt that God was guiding him to make change. He was shown the God, Aten, as the Sun Disk - the Light. He felt guided by Aten to build a city between the two mountains. In the sixth year of his reign Akhenaten rejected the Gods of Thebes. They were never part of his childhood anyway since he had been shunned as a child. Akhenaten had declared for the first time in recorded history that there was only one God - the concept of monotheism. Overnight he turned 2,000 years of Egyptian religious upside down..