Archaeologists in the Nile Delta discovered 37 rare tombs in Egypt dating to the time of the Hyksos period (1650 to 1500 BC). In the same area, they found 73 tombs dating back even earlier to before the first Egyptian Pharaohs 5,000 years ago.
The older tombs are from the Buto period, beginning in 3300 BC, and the Naqada III period, taking place immediately before Egypt’s first dynasty in 3100 BC, reports Aljazeera.
Among the tombs, the researchers found scarabs made of semi-precious stones. However, the ornate burials that we’ve come to expect from Egypt’s Pharaohs are not seen. Instead, the Buto tombs are oval pits with corpses in a fetal position. Their heads point west.
On the other hand, the Hyksos tombs are more rectangular. Inside, they laid the bodies in a more extended position with their heads also facing west.
Thus, the two cultures blended similarities but also had differences in customs. The Hyksos wore long multicolored clothes according to ancient artwork, while Egyptians tended to wear white.
Who Were the Hyksos?
During the Hyksos period, immigrants from Western Asia and the Near East rose to power, ending the Middle Kingdom. For 100 years, the Hyksos dynasty ruled the Nile Delta until 1530 B.C.
Today, written records of these mysterious people are scarce, and it’s not clear how they came to power. According to the pharaohs, the Hyksos were foreign invaders who took over by force. However, now some historians suspect that wasn’t true. Instead, the Hyksos were Egyptian-born from an immigrant community. Thus, they lived in the area for generations before taking power.
When the pharaohs lost control, the Hyksos led an uprising.
Possibly, the pharaohs spread propaganda about the Hyksos as invaders rather than admit they had simply lost control. According to Science, skeletal evidence suggests Egypt welcomed immigrants like the Hyksos for hundreds of years, and there isn’t evidence of a power struggle or military campaign.
See more from Study of Antiquity and the Middle Ages:
Inventors of the Alphabet?
According to Egyptologist Orly Goldwasser at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, the Hyksos may have invented the alphabet.
Goldwasser believes that Egyptian hieroglyphics inspired alphabets used today.
“The invention of the alphabet altered, in the long run, the lives of millions of people for millennia. It was not invented by learned scribes in schools, however. It was the child of a few great minds—perhaps one—who lived among the Canaanites working in the turquoise mines of Sinai. Egyptian hieroglyphs, however, made this invention possible. Through the invention of the alphabet, the long-lost ancient Egyptian hieroglyphs secretively live within our own script to this day,” wrote the researchers.
Inspiration for Exodus and the Sphinx?
According to Science, the Hyksos may have also inspired the biblical story of Exodus.
“The Hyksos ruled for 100 years, and then the pharaohs recaptured their territory. Researchers have speculated that the pharaonic forces banished the Hyksos rulers to southwest Asia—and that the punishment may have helped inspire Exodus, the biblical story in which the Israelites left Egypt and, eventually, reached the promised land in southwest Asia,” wrote Colin Barras.
Thus, these mysterious people may have had an enormous impact on world culture. The discovery of Hyksos tombs may shed more light on important transitions in ancient Egypt.
Below, see more from Ancient Architects, discussing how the Pharaoh Ahmose I defeated the Hyksos. Also, the video shows a Hyksos Sphinx and one with a lion head inscribed by a Hyksos ruler. Could it be evidence that the Great Sphinx of Egypt originally had a different appearance until it was recarved by the pharaohs?
Featured image: Screenshots via YouTube