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Stele of the reign of Sekhem-ka-Ră, a king of the XIIIth dynasty, about B.C. 2000,
[Northern Egyptian Gallery, Bay 2, No. 277.]
Memorial cone of Sebek-hetep, a scribe, who fourished in the reign of
Sebek-em-sa-f, B.C. 2000. (Northern Egyptian Gallery, Bay 1, No. 280.]
The total of these years is 1,590 according to one reckoning and 1,290 according to another, but it is impossible to accept either, and we must therefore assume that the total of 1,590 or 1,290 years represents the length of the reigns of the kings at Thebes, and of those who ruled in the Delta. In fact it is clear that, except at rare intervals, between the XIIth and the XVIIIth dynasties a king of the North and a king of the South were always reigning at the same time in Egypt, and that neither was sufficiently strong to make himself master of the whole country. The evidence derived from the monuments seems to indicate that the power of the Theban kings declined steadily at the beginning of this period, and that, as it declined, the power of the nomad Semites from the east, who are known as Hyksos or Shepherds, increased until the end of the period, when the Theban kings became strong enough to make themselves masters of the whole country. The names of a considerable number of kings, who may be assumed to have reigned during the XIIIth and XIVth dynasties, are known from scarabs and larger monuments, but nothing is known of their reigns.
Of the monuments of the period in the British Museum may be specially noted : Red granite seated figure of Sekhemuatch-taui-Rā, a king of the XIIIth or XIVth dynasty. This is a fine piece of sculpture, and is unlike any other statue in the gallery. The body lacks the heaviness of the statues of the earlier period. On the throne are cut, in outline, figures of two lions placed back to back. Above them are the signs sa ankh offffo 7, i.e., the “fluid of life,” which the king derived from Rā, the Sun-god (see Plate XXVII ; Bay 1, No. 276). Of interest also are three stelae of private individuals, each of which mentions the name of a king, viz., Sekhem-ka-Rā (see Plate XXVIII), with the Horus name of Sānkh-taui (Bay 2, No. 277), Sebek-hetep, with the prenomen of Khā-nefer-Rá (Bay 5, No. 278), and Ab-åā (Bay 5, No. 279). To this period belongs the axe handle of Sekhem-uatch-taui-Rā (Sebek-hetep) a king (Table-case E, Third Egyptian Room, No. 104). To a somewhat later period belong the interesting memorial cone of the scribe Sebek-hetep, who flourished in the reign of Sebek-em-sa-f (see Plate XXIX), of the XIVth dynasty, a unique object (Bay I, No. 280), and the royal inscribed green stone scarab, with a human face, set in a gold plinth, which probabiy came from the tomb of this king at Thebes (Table-case J, Fourth Egyptian Room, No. 195). Of interest, too, are the royal stele of the littleknown king Ap-uat-em-sau-f (Bay 3, No. 281); the stele of Hetep-neteru and Tehuti-āa, which mentions another hitherto unknown king (Bay 4, No. 282); the stele of Ptah-sānkh, mentioning king Rā-Hetep (Bay 5, No. 283); and the slab from the temple of Osorkon II at Bubastis, inscribed with the name of Sekhem-khu-taui-Rā (Bay 23, No. 284).
Toa great many stelae of private individuals, who flourished between the XIIth and the XVIIIth dynasties, it is difficult to assign exact dates, for very few of them mention royal names, and the inscriptions cut on them afford no clue. Fine examples of the transition period of funerary sculpture, stelae, etc., are : Stele of Nebá, an inspector (Bay 1, No. 285); grey granite portrait figure of an official of Athribis (Bay 2, No. 288); granite figure of Nefer-åri, from Bubastis (Bay 2, No. 289); stele of Pai-Nehsi, the store keeper of the gold which came from the Sûdân (Bay 7, No. 299); stele of Antef-Aqer-änkh-khu (Bay 7, No. 30I); stole of Queen Mer-seker (Bay 9, No. 330).
The Hyksos. — Comparatively soon after the downfall of the XIIIth dynasty, the Delta and northern parts of Egypt were little by little occupied by a confederation of Semitic nomad tribes to whose leaders, on the authority of Flavius Josephus, the historian (who died about A.D. 100), the name of Hyksos or Shepherd Kings has been given. The word Hyksos is derived from two Egyptian
words Hequ-Shasu pa genyen
, ie, the
Shekhs or Governors of the Shasu,' or nomadic tribes of the Eastern Desert, Syria, etc. It is extremely unlikely that they fought for the possession of Egypt; and we may assume that they migrated into the Delta, and that, after a few generations, they found that their power and numbers were sufficiently great to enable them to assume the mastery of the whole country of Lower Egypt. The Hyksos, who had settled in the Delta, adopted, little by little, the manners and customs of the Egyptians; and at length their chiefs adopted the Egyptian language and religion, and assumed the titles of the old Pharaohs, and became to all intents and purposes Egyptian kings. They apparently worshipped several gods, the chief
The word Shasu means primarily “robber,” and Hm m y is the "land of the robber," i.e., the nomad desert man, who plundered caravans at every opportunity. Later, Shasu L A $ i, means merely “ pastoral desert tribes.”