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

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