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Second Intermediate Period

By Levi Clancy for Student Reader on

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Egypt's central government weakened, allowing Asiatic kings based in the eastern Delta to seize power of Lower Egypt and set up an independent regime in ~1650 BC. These Asiatic kings were known as the Hyksos, based on the Egyptian phrase meaning rulers of foreign lands. Hyksos power grew over all of Egypt but was based in Avaris (modern Tell el-Dab'a) and never directly controlled Thebes.

The Hyksos strove to accommodate native customs and beliefs, contrary to their modern reputation of violence. The brought innovations to Egypt, including the horse and chariot. The Hyksos was met with resistance by the Seventeenth Dynasty, a new family of Theban rulers whose last king, Kamose, sacked Avaris; the Hyksos were finally defeated and expelled from Egypt under the reign of Kamose's brother, Amosis, who founded the New Kingdom.

Military garrisons in the south become increasingly independent
• In the late 13th dynasty the southern fortresses are overrun by the Kerma culture
• At around the same time the capital moves from Memphis to Thebes


2nd Intermediate Era

1785-1552 BC

Dynasty XV

1773-1580 BC

The reign of Hyksos kings from the Delta at Avaris.

Dynasty XVI

1650-1580 BC

Theban rulers contemporary with the Hyksos kings.

Dynasty XVII

1580-1550 BC

Nubkheperra Intef VII

Sobekemsaf II

Seqenenra Tao II

~1560 BC

Wadjkheperra Kamose

1555-1550 BC



Founder of the New Kingdom.

Major finds of the Second Intermediate Period of Egypt


Quartzite statue of Ankrekhu

Dyn 12, 1850 BC


This statue has strong Middle Kingdom elements: the deceased is seated and wrapped in a cloak; he looks serious and has large ears; and his wig is conventional. The folds of the drapery are carefully carved, with attention given to the fringed edge. (British Museum)

Statue of Senebtyfy

Dyn 13, 1750 BC

This private statue is of quartzite; the use of quartzite for private statuary began in the Middle Kingdom. Senebtyfy is shown as overweight, a sign of prosperity. The long kilt high on his chest and the khat bag wig are those of a high official; it is characteristic of Middle Kingdom dignitaries and officials. Horizontal stripes indicate patterning in the fabric, a rare feature in statuary. (British Museum).

Stela of King Wepwawetemsaf

Dyn 13, 1750 BC


Limestone. Stick figure drawing showing onset of recension. First time that the king is shown with the god. He's a king-non-king. The king is also depicted with proportions similar to those found in private stelae of the time. (British Museum)

Apotropaic Ivory Wand

Dyn 13, 1750 BC


The depictions on this knife encompass a range of protective images related to childbirth. There is an early version of the god Bes; a pregnant hippopotamus with a knife, the god Taweret; lions; the scarab of rebirth; and other protective demons. Bes is one of the few gods always shown facing forward; here, he is very hung, has an aggressive face and is not as dwarf-like as usual. Though not prominent on this example, frogs are oftentimes on these types of objects because hekka is the Egyptian word or magic and also frog/tadpole. This wand would have been used perhaps to draw a protective circle around a woman giving birth, and broken either before being placed in the tomb or while in use to shed negative energy. (British Museum)

Wooden Rishi Coffin

Dyn 17, 1600 BC


Very poorly carved face and a blocky shape, with paint in the 'Rishi' feather pattern. (British Museum)

Limestone stela of Senbi

Dyn 13, 1700 BC

Round-topped funerary stele incised on a rectangular slab, its shape being delimited by a narrow band. The prenomen of king Amenemmes III inside a cartouche is shown at the center of the round top between the mummiform Osiris on the right and the jackal-god Wepwawet on the left. Below the round top are three lines of hieroglyphs. At the center of the stele, the funerary meal of Senbi is shown. The deceased sits on an elegant stool, inhaling the scent of a lotus flower. His parents sit to the right of the pile of offerings. On the lower part of the stele, four pairs of kneeling persons are represented as they take possession of piles of funerary offerings. This is part of a growing trend of familial scenes. (British Museum and Archaeological Museum Florence.)

Minoan Style Paintings

Dyn 17, 1550 BC

Tel el Daba, Avaris

Egyptian Museum.

Limestone Statue of Siamun

Dyn 17, 1550 BC

This archaizing statue recalls Dynasty 5/6 styles, even including the archaic bob wig. (Metropolitan)

Statue of King Sobekemsaf I

Dyn 17, 1550 BC

Karnak, Thebes

Red granite. Extremely high and very pinched waist. Seated. (British Museum)

Relief of King Sobekemsaf I

Dyn 17, 1500 BC


Tomb of Intef

Dyn 17

Dra Abu el Naga, Thebes

Rock-cut tomb with pyramid superstructure.


Hamiton 2007, xxiii