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The Enigma of the Hyksos

Periodic Reporting for period 4 - Hyksos Enigma (The Enigma of the Hyksos)

Reporting period: 2020-07-01 to 2021-06-30

This project sought to fill an important gap in World History, the so-called Hyksos Period. The aim was to identify the origin, the ethnical background, and the reasons for migration to Egypt, the rise to power, the way of domination, and the cause of collapse of the reign of the Western Asiatic population, which caused the Hyksos rule in Egypt and its impact on the Egyptian culture of the New Kingdom and on the Ancient Near East.
The methods to achieve this objective were applied in 8 research tracks (RT). Besides critical historical and onomastic research (RT1), the causes of migration in the Near East were assessed in RT2. The Middle Bronze Age Culture as assessed in the Eastern Nile Delta was to be closely defined and compared with the cultural matrix of regions in the northern and southern Levant (RT3). The focus there was on comparative studies on architecture, burial customs, technology transfer and material culture. A study of comparative settlement patterns (RT4) in the Delta and the Near East should reveal the town development and the takeover of building strategies from the Near East to the Delta. Cultural interference studies (RT5) showed the early arrest of the acculturation process and the impact of the Hyksos heritage on the new Kingdom. The breakdown of the Hyksos economy and resources which may have caused their downfall were explored statistically by evaluation of the imports (RT6). Our partner, Bournemouth University, embarked on aDNA and strontium isotope analyses on human and animal remains from Tell el-Dab’a and resources from Lebanon and Syria and were able to show the volume and changes of immigration from the Near East to Egypt in pre-Hyksos and Hyksos periods (RT7-8). Most of the objectives were achieved. Results on a wider basis in the scientific branch (RT 7-8) were hampered by the restrictions of the Egyptian antiquities law on human remains but we were lucky to have had the opportunity to work with Museum resources. Importance for society: The results of ‘The Hyksos Enigma’ are, however, most important for elucidating a white patch in the mainstream of human history and to enlarge the perspective of the history of human migration and its effects on the host countries. The outcomes of the research of this project are so numerous, that this will not only influence writing history but also will lead to future projects. Beyond the state of the art is the achievement to track the origin of the 14th Dynasty to the royal house of Byblos and the inspiration contacts of the elite to northern Syria and Mesopotamia. Completely unexpected is the origin of the Hyksos from Asiatic communities in the Memphitic area. Absolutely unknown is the takeover of artificial irrigation and the Near Eastern weighing system in Egypt, comparable to the introduction of a new monetary system. The fact that much more females immigrated than males gives rise to comparison with present day bride preferences from the original homelands.
Our group was able to disseminate the results in 3 well attended workshops at the ASOR conferences in San Antonio, Boston and the 11th ICAANE Conference in Munich. The final Project Conference December 2019 took place at the Austrian Academy in Vienna. The proceedings and research monographs to be published in substantial volumes of our series ‘The Enigma of the Hyksos’, besides numerous articles in peer reviewed journals and science papers.
Team Vienna worked on the research tracks 1-6, the bio-archaeological team in Bournemouth on the remaining areas 7-8; all employed researchers generated within the time frame of their individual employments, a great number of assessments, comparative studies and related analyses which led to peer-reviewed articles and also monographs. A selection of their exploitation of results as publications follows: The PhD Students Nina Maaranen and Silvia Gómez-Senovilla, the Post-Docs Anna-Latifa Mourad, Silvia Prell, Elisa Priglinger, Christina Stantis and Sarah Vilain attended workshops, presented lectures/papers, which were published in ‘The Enigma of the Hyksos Volume I, ASOR Conference Boston 2017 - ICAANE Conference Munich 2018 – Collected Papers’, also ‘A Stranger in the House – the Crossroads III. Proceedings of an International Conference on Foreigners in Ancient Egyptian and Near Eastern Societies of the Bronze Age held in Prague, September 10−13’, (Crossroads III Conference). The BU Team, Chris Stantis, Arwa Kharobi, Nina Maaranen and Holger Schutkowski collaborated with the Vienna Team and other scientists, ‘Multi-isotopic study of diet and mobility in the northeastern Nile Delta’, in Archaeological and Anthropological Sciences (2021) 13: 105.
Beyond the state of the art results have already quite clearly emerged. The concept of religion and its architecture have their roots in northernmost Syria and even more so in Mesopotamia. This region seems to be the spiritual homeland of the elite of the Hyksos rule in Egypt. The same results seem to be produced by the study of the equid burials in Egypt and the Levant.
Visit to Lab in Cairo
Visit Cairo Academy
Key Note lecture ICAANE 2016 proj.launch
ICAANE 2016_Matthiae_Pinnock_Bietak_Margueron