Scientists have analyzed teeth samples from Ancient Egypt. They now believe that a foreign dynasty, known as the Hyksos people, successfully conquered the Ancient Egyptian kingdom and for almost a century by peaceful means. The results show that the Hyksos dynasty married into power and so increased their influence gradually.
A Slow Invasion
It is believed that the Hyksos dynasty originated from somewhere in West Asia. Biological anthropologist Christina Stantis and her colleague Holger Schutkowski, both from Bournemouth University in Poole, England, have examined teeth from the remains of 71 individuals previously excavated at Tell el-Dab’a, the former Nile Valley Hyksos capital. They analyzed the strontium levels in the teeth because these show where people have lived. Strontium comes from eating local plants and animals and goes on to be absorbed into the bones.
The individuals in the study lived both before and during the rule of the Hyksos dynasty. This mysterious people group ruled Egypt around the period from 3,650 to 3,540 years ago. They were Egypt’s 15th dynasty.
The new findings reveal that the Hyksos dynasty grew in influence and power in Ancient Egypt because many women from their group married into royalty. This influx of immigrants, who were mainly females, might have occurred at Tell el-Dab’a just before the Hyksos took power. The owners of the elite graves that were excavated from just before the Hyksos began to rule were mainly women. Only a few were males. This skewed scenario supports the hypothesis that Hyksos women immigrated and married into the royal families of Egypt.
The findings were presented last month at the annual meeting of the American Association of Physical Anthropologists. The slow and peaceful conquest that the Hyksos carried out is remarkable even though some may not agree about the actual means by which this was carried out. Later Egyptian pharaohs described the Hyksos as invaders, but archaeologists are yet to find evidence of any battles between the two groups.