The 88th Annual Meeting of the American Association of Physical Anthropologists (2019)

Migration into Egypt during the Second Intermediate Period


Dept of Archaeology, Anthropology, and Forensic Sciences, Bournemouth University

March 29, 2019 9:30, CC Room 26 AB Add to calendar

A foreign dynasty, known as the Hyksos, ruled Egypt between c. 1638 –1530 BCE. Their origins are thought to be rooted in the Near East, which is supported by architectural features and grave accoutrements of Tell el-Dab’a /Avaris. In this former Hyksos capital in the Eastern Nile Delta, burial culture is characterized by a blend of Egyptian and Near Eastern elements. However, investigations are still ongoing as to where the Hyksos came from and how they rose to power.

The aim of this study is to elucidate the question of possible provenience. We present the results of strontium and oxygen isotope ratios of human tooth enamel (n = 71) from Tell el-Dab’a. Faunal bone samples from the site (n = 4) as well as nearby shell and geological samples serve as the local baseline.

An influx of non-locals can be observed in the pre-Hyksos period (12th-13th Dynasties) during the establishment of Tell el-Dab’a/Avaris, while the number of local individuals is larger during the Hyksos period. This is consistent with the supposition that, while the ruling class had Near Eastern origins, the Hyksos’ rise to power was not the result of an invasion, as popularly theorized, but an internal dominance and victory of a foreign elite. There is a preponderance of non-local females suggesting patrilocal residence. We discuss our findings against the current evidence of material culture and historiography, but more investigation remains in Near Eastern comparative sites to narrow our future search for the actual origins of the Hyksos.

This project receives funding from the European Research Council (ERC) under the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation program (grant agreement No 668640).