Thursday, May 26, 2011

Page 15: The Founding of the New Kingdom

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The founding of the New Kingdom was not only due to the leadership of the pharaoh, but also owed much to the bravery and initiative of individual soldiers in the Egyptian army. In fact, much of what we know about the wars of Kamose, Ahmose, Amunhotep I, and Thutmose I is contained in the autobiographical texts of marines buried at Elkab. One of the lengtheist and most detailed inscriptions belong to a soldier ho led a long and successful military career - Ahmose son of Ibana (his mother's name). During the rule of the pharaoh Ahmose, the soldier Ahmose succeeded his father, Baba, who had fought for the king Seqenenre, and went north with the ruler to take part in the attack on the Hyksos capital, Avaris. He served on the ships Savage Bull, Northerner, and Glorious Appearance in Memphis, and followed on food when the king rode out on his chariot (the reference to the chariot in his autobiography records the earliest thus far attested use of this vehicle by ancient Egyptians). After the fall of Avaris, Ahmose son of Ibana accompanied the victorious Theban army in its siege of Sharuhen.

Ahmose son of Ebana also campaigned in Nubia under the kings Ahmose, Amenhotep I, and Tuthmose I. Under Tuthmose I, Ahmose son of Ebana must have reached the site of the ancient Egyptian boundary stele at Hagar el-Merwa, between the Fourth and Fifth cataracts (about four hundred kilometers north of Khartoum, as the crow flies). Under the command of the same ruler, Ahmose son of Ibana fought the armies of Naharin (a name meaning "river land," at this time indicating the kingdom of Mitanni on the northern Euphrates) ini far northern Syria, and saw the erection of the ancient Egyptian victory stela on the Euphrates. This Egyptian soldier had stood at the northern and southern limits of the ancient Egyptian Empire, which he would have seen as the endges of the ordered world.

Ahmose son of Ebna owed much of his wide-ranging experience to the pharaoh Thutmose I, who shared neither the blood of his predecessors nor their relatively introverted and restrained vision for ancient Egypt's power. Tuthmos I roused the sleeping colossus that was early New Kingdom Egypt and established the foreign geographic goals towards which all of his militarily active successors would literally aim and shoot. Thutmose I reinaugurated the 18th Dynasty, and in terms of foreign policy, he was the true founder of the New Kingdom, establishing ancient EGyptian influence beyond the Fourth Cataract at Kurgus in the far south, and setting up his victory setela on the Euphrates in the equally distant north. In Nubia Tuthmose I further developed Nubian administration as a mirror of ancient Egypt's own. In Syria-Palestine he began what would become during the course of the 18th Dynasty a series of destabilizing campaigns that created a
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Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Page 14: The Founding of the New Kingdom

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action against the Hyksos economic base than they might have accomplished through a more direct military encourter with the main body of the Hyksos forces whose outcome might have been less certain.

Ahmose appears to have also understood that no enemy should be forced to fight to the death, for the desperate may well achieve what those who may safely flee would never dare. After entering the ancient capital of Memphis, soon to become the northern administrative city and the arsenal of militant New Kingdom Egypt, Ahmose captured Tjaru, at the far eastern fringe of the Nile Delta. Having thereby prevented a Hyksos espcape either up the Nile Valley into Middle Egypt or south into the Eastern Desert and the Red Sea littoral, and leaving open a narrow strip of the land south of the Mediterranean coast - a corridor northeast of Avaris - Ahmose then turned west and marched on Avaris itself. Presented with a difficult fight at Avaris or flight across the northern Sinai into southern Palestine, the remnants of the Hyksos soon chose the latter option, and ensconced themselves in their final redoubt, the fortified town of Sharuhen in southern Palestine (probably modern Tell el-Ajjul). After a siege of three years, Ahmose took the city, and the Hyksos disappear from history.

The destruction of the Hyksos as a military and economic power appears to have been the main and early-achieved goal of the late Seventeenth and early Eighteenth dynasties' military activity in the ancient Egyptian Delta and in Syria-Palestine. What more Ahmose may have accomplished or planned in western Asia is known to us. For the reign of Amunhotep I, a son of Ahmose, no definite evidence for Asiatic campaigning has emerged. With the accession of the third king of the Eighteenth Dynasty, Egyptian foreign policy changes. Whereas Ahmose and Amunhotep I were of the family of the late 17th Dynasty, Thutmose I and his chief queen were not royal before their accession; Ahmose Nefertari, the wife and sister of the pharaoh Ahmose, often appears with them in depictions, giving Thutmose I and his queen a connection with the early 18th Dynasty through iconography that they never had through blood.

The first two rulers of the 18th Dynasty shared not only the blood of the late 17th Dynasty kings; like those rulers, they appear to have shared the Middle Kingdom's approach to ancient Egypt's northern and southern frontiers. After the defeat of Kerma and the southern rebels, the early 18th Dynasty was content to maintain a southern border roughly equivalent to that of the Middle Kingdom. In the north, following the expulsion of the Hyksos from Sharuhen, the first rulers of the 18th Dynasty may have dispensed with even the razzias (plundering raids) of the Middle Kingdom.

Monday, May 23, 2011

Page 13: The Founding of the New Kingdom

The founder of the New Kingdom and the first pharaoh of the 18th Dynasty is Ahmose (1550-1525 B.C.E.), whose reign saw the expulsion of the Hyksos from the Delta and the reunification of Upper and Lower Egypt under the rule of a single pharaoh. However, the rulers of the late Seventeenth Dynasty and the first two kings of the Eighteenth Dynasty are in terms of family and foreign policy a unity. The pharaoh Senakhtenre and his queen Tetisheri appear to have begun the final phase of the Seventeenth Dynasty, during which the old Middle Kingdom system of titles was abandoned at Thebes, the royal women came to wield considerable temporal power, and Thebes initiated open hostilities against the Hyksos. The aggressive policies of the Theban rulers, faclitated by their control over the extensive road networks in the Western Desert, set in motion the events that would end the Second Intermediate Period. Senakhtenre's successor Seqenenre Tao II died in battle against the Hyksos, but his successor Kamose recaptured the Second Cataract in the south; in the north Kamose drove the Hyksos out of Middle Egypt, and ravaged their merchant fleet beneath the very walls of their capita, Avaris. Perhaps Kamose, too, died in battle, and his successor Ahmose, a son of Seqenenre Tao II, was probably quite young when he acceded to the throne.

Thebes tarried a while in her push against the Hyksos, but when Ahmose finally felt that the time had come, he attacked Avaris directly. The reason for the Theban delay following Kamose's harrowing of Avaris and destruction of the Hyksos fleet was probably to allow the Hyksos economy to corrode. Kamose appears to have damaged Hyksos merchant shipping during his limited naval assault on Avaris (for more on the Hyksos trade empire, see page 138). Like the Spartans at the Battle of Aegospotami (405 B.C.E), the ancient Egyptians achieved more in relatively indirect