Second Intermediate period

Written by Felgr Pavel on .

The Second Intermediate period is defined by Egypt dividing - Both lands disintegration. The residence in Lisht situated 32 kilometers to the south from Memphis (Mennefer) was left in the beginning of this period and the royal court and government seat were moved in Thebes (Waset). This period was ended when Ahmose, the king of Thebes (Waset), conquered the Hyksos' kings capital in Avaris in eastern delta.

Ahmose united Egypt again and it stayed united for another 400 years. The difference between these two events was about 150 years. The last Pharaoh, whose residence was in Lisht, was probably Merneferre Ai (around 1,695 - 1,685 BC). He was the last ruler of the 13th dynasty (according to the Turin King List) and left signs on sights in both the Upper and Lower Egypt. The conquest of Avaris we can date far more precisely, between eighteenth and twenty-second year of Ahmose's rule, which means the range 1,532 - 1,528 BC.

Too many written sources

The written sources are an extraordinary problem - not because of their lack, but because of their large number. Also information from the sources is big problem, because it is difficult to match them with archaeological proofs. They can be divided into 6 categories:

  • kings lists; the most detailed is a hieratic papyrus known as Turin Royal Canon (compiled of elder lists in Memphis (Mennefer) under Ramesses II rule)
  • Manetho's Aegyptiaca, history written in the third century BC, but only fragments were preserved from it, which were adopted by later chronicles
  • royal signs from that and also late period, written as "propaganda"
  • period private signs, especially "funerary biography"
  • administrative entries, public and private ones as well
  • literary and scientific texts, such as Papyrus Sallier I and the Rhind Mathematical Papyrus

These texts are always valued, but they also bring a lot of ambiguousness. The most significant were royal signs, but they were often lifted out of its original context. Most of Theban royal stelae were founded, destroyed or used again in later buildings. None of described stone elements were preserved in its original layer in monumental brick buildings of the Hyksos kings in Avaris.


The Second Intermediate period could be divided into two parts. The rulers probably succeeded in keeping the frontiers and ensuring the safety of the land in the first part (1,797 - 1,690 BC). But Semitic, Hurrian and Aryan nations penetrated into delta in the same period that was densely settled by the Asians. The Egyptians denoted them as heqa khasewet (foreign rulers), which was translated by the Greeks as the Hyksos. They settled in Avaris and made it their capital. This incursion happened around the reign of Neferhotepa I (around 1,720 BC). The second part of the Second Intermediate period started with the Hyksos' arrival.

According to Manetho the 15th dynasty was founded by the Hyksos king Sheshi (Salitis), who let crown himself in Memphis (Mennefer) around 1,650 BC, which was conquered by the Hyksos. The rulers of this dynasty mastered whole delta and they also mediately administered the middle Egypt. Thanks to their army and their alliance with Nubian commanders they also could watch the Upper Egypt and the rulers in Thebes (Waset). They enforced their traditions in the land, looted the temples, but they didn't spurn the Egyptian civilization. They adopted the titulary, Pharaoh's pomposity and hieroglyphic script as well. This civilization, which ruled for a period of two dynasties, left a significant heritage after itself - carriages, bronze weapons and supported development of the science.

Message from the Nile

  • History of Czech institution of egyptology

    The Czech egyptology founder is Frantisek Lexa, the author of up to now evaluated work about ancient Egypt magic and Demotic grammar. Seminar for egyptology started thanks to him in Faculty of Philosophy and Arts of Charles University in Prague in 1925. Two years later Lexa became the first regular professor of egyptology in then Czechoslovakia.

  • Abusir - outstation of Czech egyptology expedition

    Abusir is an archaeological locality in Egypt named after nearby recent village Abusir. It is situated on western Nile bank on the edge of Libyan tableland approximately 20 kilometers to the south-west of Cairo. The name of this locality is derived from ancient Egypt god Osiris, from Per Usir (Busiris), "(cult) place of Osiris" (Busiris in Greek).

  • Researches in Western desert

    Czech egyptology is successful in researching not only on pyramidal fields in Abusir recently, but also in supporting and organizing smaller expeditions into egyptian Western desert. Czech expedition has been working even in slowly evanescent oasis El-Hajez since 2003, which is situated about 400 km to the south-west from Cairo.

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