The mural from the city of Auaris, which housed about 30, 000 inhabitants around 1750 BC. Photo:, in the public domain
Reading from the East, they attacked the country, destroyed cities and temples, and abducted women and children as slaves. In the third century BC, for example, the Egyptian historian Manetho described the Hyksos invasion in the pharaonic kingdom on the Nile. This people came from today's Syrian-Lebanese area and for about a century played a powerful role in the high culture of the Nile. But their takeover was not bloody expired - here Manetho was wrong with his report, which he wrote only more than a thousand years after the end of the rule of the Hyksos. The Asians had come rather than economic refugees into the country and had worked themselves up for centuries. It was the time around 2000 to 1800 BC. The Pharaonic Empire on the Nile suffered from an acute shortage of labor - a need that even human raids in Nubian black Africa could not cover. The constant flow of immigrants from the Syrian-Lebanese and the southern Palestinian area was just right. There were workers in search of a better livelihood. "The fleshpots of Egypt have always been curious, " explains Viennese archaeologist Manfred Bietak in
in the December issue of the magazine "bild der wissenschaft" the reasons for the wave of immigration.

The people who worked in the Eastern Nile Delta as farm laborers, cooks, servants, weavers, winegrowers or brewers, also brought their culture and religion to their new home: they cultivated their own style in building houses and in the making of ceramics, and they worshiped their deities. The archaeologist Manfred Bietak discovered the legacy of this culture during his excavations. He has been tracking the Hyksos since 1966 and has now discovered a temple in Upper Asiatic construction in Auaris, the capital of the Hyksos. The temple dates back to 1700 BC, but may not have been the first, Bietak suspects.

In addition to the ordinary workers, specialists from today's Lebanon increasingly came to the Nile around 1750 BC. Shipbuilders and sailors, sailmakers, soldiers and merchants. The immigrants established horses and chariots for warfare, thereby contributing to the military rearmament of the pharaonic empire. With its leadership, it went downhill for a while: in rapid succession, the rulers detached, so that the average reign was finally just over three years.

This power vacuum could exploit an elitist stratum of immigrants, who had already brought it to prosperity and prestige: they managed to seize control of smaller regions in the Nile Delta and finally control large parts of Egypt. Even in Upper Egypt, thirty kilometers south of Luxor, the rulers had men under arms. display

The center of this domain was Auaris, located in the east of the Nile Delta near the present provincial capital Faqus. With massive immigration, the population grew rapidly to 30, 000 people - "All Asians, " as Bietak believes. The powerhouse of these Hyksos kings, who soon also called themselves pharaohs, was a palace whose size is estimated to be 12, 000 square meters. Thus, the seat of government would have taken about the area of ​​today's Federal Chancellery in Berlin, as the archeology journalist Michael Zick writes in "Bild der wissenschaft". Although the excavators around Bietak have not yet discovered the representation rooms and the throne room, what has so far come to light proves that the architecture of the palace was entirely Middle Eastern and shows no Egyptian influences.

The sequence of all the names of these Asian Pharaohs is still uncertain, but it was probably six rulers who successively ascended the throne. The first significant pharaoh was Khajan, whose relations reached as far as Crete, Syria, and even Central Anatolia. The evidence of seal fragments and lids of stone dome with his name, which had gone as gifts from ruler house to ruler house. Chajan must have been enthusiastic about horses, the archaeologists assume: a five to ten-year-old mare was buried in his palace, bedded on his side. Also bounty in honor of the king should have been there.

The end of the Hyksos rulers came from the south: There, in the central Egyptian Thebes, ruled Egyptian kings who had lived for decades with the rulers in Auaris in peaceful coexistence and had been at least partially used by them. Around 1530 BC, one of the pharaohs, Kamose, renounced peaceful coexistence and went to war against the Asians. This first campaign failed, but Kamose successor Ahmose was more successful: With his army, he conquered Auaris, burned down the palace and drove out the ruling class.

The Asian population, however, was allowed to stay, because it was needed, built Ahmose and his successors, the city because of their favorable port but still to the hub for trade and conquests in the Middle East, reports Irene Forstner-Müller, the second excavation leader next to Bietak and newly appointed Head of the Austrian Archaeological Institute in Cairo. With the union of Thebes and the former Hyksos Empire, the "New Kingdom" emerged, which will later be associated with such illustrious names as Hatshepsut, Akhenaten, Nefertiti and Ramses II. The names of the former rulers of Asia, however, are and remain largely forgotten today.

ddp / - Ulrich Dewald

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