How was Egypt before the arrival of Hyksos?

dreamregent

Ad Honorem
Feb 2013
4,342
Coastal Florida
It seem to me that Egypt was quite primitive before the Hyksos invasion :

-They didn't know how to use bronze
They didn't have boats (I mean those which could navigate on the sea)
- No elaborate weaponry
-No cattle culture
-No knowledge of elaborate trading or commercial exchange
-No real state with a real and centralized administration
-Primitive farming technology
...

Some people like talking about Egypt as a "cradle of civilisation" (I hate this word) even if the majority of it's innovation came from foreigners (Hyksos, Lybians, Ancient Greek/Romans). Did Hyksos bring "civilisation" to Egypt?
It seems to me that, if one is going to make sweeping statements of this sort, he should ensure such conclusions rest upon a solid foundation of evidence. The problem for you is that the extant body of evidence from AE is clearly more than sufficient to falsify just about everything you have to say. The only things which can't be falsified on a prima facie basis are where you engage in subjective comparisons which lack sufficient detail to support serious examination. For instance, what do the terms elaborate and primitive mean in this context? Exactly what are the practices of AE being compared to? I'd certainly stipulate that the AEs didn't have Wal-Mart but it's pretty comical to anyone who's studied the matter, even on a cursory level, when you claim the AEs didn't have extensive trading networks until the Hyksos arrived. Indeed, if Middle Kingdom art is considered, I'd argue the people who became the Hyksos largely followed these pre-existing trading networks to reach Egypt in the first place.

When it comes to the mere existence of things like bronze, boats, cattle culture and centralized administration, it's not even a question. In fact, we have extensive evidence demonstrating the AEs possessed all of these things long before the Hyksos were even thought of. Bronze may not have been the most popular metal early on but we certainly have examples of it which predate the arrival of the Hyksos. Also, it's not like people stopped using materials of previous metal ages just because we now think of a particular period as a bronze age or iron age. And I don't think anyone here is arguing that the AEs were primarily a seafaring nation but it's complete nonsense to claim travel by sea was unknown to them. Also, as others have mentioned, the pyramids didn't build themselves. In fact, we have ample evidence showing these monuments were products of a centralized state apparatus, everything from graffiti informing us of how onsite laborers were organized to actual written papyrus records detailing how stone was requisitioned by state officials and transported to the site. And, as for a lack of cattle culture, your claims are absurdly ridiculous. Again, as someone else mentioned, cattle were present long before the Egyptian state even existed. We also have numerous references to cattle demonstrating they were a highly prized commodity, in both religiopolitical and economic terms. Funnily enough, these records were often written in stone, quite literally. I mean, come on now! One of the registers on the Narmer Palette depicts the pharaoh as a raging bull knocking down the walls of an enemy city, not to mention the cattle motifs decorating the top of the palette. Heck, much of what we've been able to work out about the overall timeline and individual reign lengths are thanks to extant records which include cattle counts (e.g. the nth cattle count of so-and-so's reign).
 
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Larrey

Ad Honorem
Sep 2011
5,767
-No real state with a real and centralized administration
Others have been over this already, but this one is so patently wrong.

What's stunning about the ancient Egyptian civilization already from the outset is that it formed a unified, comprehensive state. We count the recorded history of this civilization precisely from that unification. The Egyptians also pioneered the concept of "motherland" for this geographically vast political entity unlike anything else around at the time.

Really the most striking difference between ancient Egypt from the get go, and other ancient civilizations, is that it wasn't based on geographically limited city-states, but was a vast unitary nation with a centralised administration. (The city state situation is of course usually not counted against the Mesopotamians, who had it.)

This was the most writing-obsessed, administratively consistent state you can imagine. The Egyptians were highly litigious as well, endlessly hauling each other into court to settle disputes. One of the more famous ancient Egyptian court cases (the records of which have survived) was a land property dispute in the New Kingdom, i.e. after the Hyksos period, that saw the court wade back through 500 years of files regarding this property to settle the claim of priority, all the way back to the Middle Kingdom, i.e. BEFORE the Hyksos invasion.

Bit hard to maintain ideas of Egypt not having proper administration before considering that. If anything it was staggeringly bureaucratic.
 
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Aug 2018
254
Italy
It seem to me that Egypt was quite primitive before the Hyksos invasion :

-They didn't know how to use bronze
They didn't have boats (I mean those which could navigate on the sea)
- No elaborate weaponry
-No cattle culture
-No knowledge of elaborate trading or commercial exchange
-No real state with a real and centralized administration
-Primitive farming technology
...

Some people like talking about Egypt as a "cradle of civilisation" (I hate this word) even if the majority of it's innovation came from foreigners (Hyksos, Lybians, Ancient Greek/Romans). Did Hyksos bring "civilisation" to Egypt?
All of this is wrong, and considering how huge the mistakes you made are it makes me think you know nothing about Ancient Egypt or are a troll:
"They didn't have boats"
This is completely wrong, one of the most commonly portrayed subjects in Egyptian art since at least the Naqqada period are boats. And there were clearly ships capable of navigating the sea considering that pharaoh Menthutotep III reigning from 2010 to 1998 BC sent a naval expedition to Punt which is in the Horn of Africa. But this is just an example of how far they could go, there are several texts referring to naval operations and even battles way before the Hyksos, the tomb of the noble Tefibi at Assyut has a fragmentary inscription describing a sea battle during the first intermediate period, pharaoh Khety I mentioned the fleet and naval operation, the list goes on.

"- No elaborate weaponry"
This is also wrong, the khopesh for instance was introduced in the third Millennium bc, centuries before the Hyksos invasions.
"No cattle culture"
Cattle culture? You mean they didn't have cattle? Cows were grown in Egypt since the Neolithic as proven by the finds of their bones since at least fifth Millennium bc in Egypt, you can find several representations of them in Egyptian art predating the Hyksos
"no knowledge of elaborate trading of commercial exchange"
Wrong again, they had well established trading relationship with Kush, the Levant, where Byblos was considered pretty much an outpost of theirs by the Pharaos, and as far as Punt as I've mentioned before. There's also material evidence of trade with Mesopotamia since before the Old Kingdom. Records from the early Old Kingdom describe the building of ships over 50m long, the construction of 60 barges for the king and the transportation of 40 ship-loads of cedar wood from Byblos in the Lebanon. Such figures confirm the size and extent of the Egyptian maritime capabilities at the start of the Pharaonic era

"-No real state with a real and centralized administration"
The Middle and Old Kingdom were both reals states with evident centralized administration. To say the truth evidence of statehood goes back to predynastic times around 3500 bc or earlier.

"primitive farming technology"
Not at all, irrigation and plows were used since way before the Hyksos, the plow is attested since the 3rd dynasty.
 
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Dan Howard

Ad Honorem
Aug 2014
4,766
Australia
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the earliest depictions of seagoing ships that provide information on Ancient Egyptian ship technologies are dated to the beginning of the 5th Dynasty during the Old Kingdom, c. 2500 BCE.
Fragmentary reliefs from King Sahura’s Temple depict a fleet of seagoing ships returning from an expedition, while the number of Syrians onboard suggests the ships had sailed the Mediterranean to Byblos or some other destination in Syria.86 Sahura’s ships were over 17.5m long, 4m wide, with a draught of approximately 1m and an average plank thickness of 10cm.87 The ships had either 14 or 16 oars for propulsion, six steering oars, a bipod mast for a trapezoid sail and an anchor. There were at least four ships in the fleet and each ship was crewed by approximately 20 people made up of Egyptians, Syrians and perhaps other maritime peoples.88 The seagoing ship hulls were long and slender with pointed ends, which provided greater stability in relatively high seas, while the hull strength was improved by using a girdle-truss. However a girdle-truss could not provide longitudinal strength to a seagoing ship, for that purpose a hogging-truss was required.89 Ancient Egyptian mariners developed a hogging-truss — a thick rope connecting the fore and aft parts of a ship to increase the vessel’s longitudinal strength — especially to overcome this problem.90 As such Sahura’s seagoing boats reveal the high level of sophistication of early Egyptian ship construction techniques.

Even earlier Old Kingdom sea going ships, older than Sahura's, from the time of Userkaf:
1560038674585.png

1560038887876.png

Khufu's ship, more than 4,500 years old:

1560039398620.png

Middle Kingdom depiction of cattle:

1560039123809.png
 

specul8

Ad Honorem
Oct 2016
3,386
Australia
the earliest depictions of seagoing ships that provide information on Ancient Egyptian ship technologies are dated to the beginning of the 5th Dynasty during the Old Kingdom, c. 2500 BCE.
Fragmentary reliefs from King Sahura’s Temple depict a fleet of seagoing ships returning from an expedition, while the number of Syrians onboard suggests the ships had sailed the Mediterranean to Byblos or some other destination in Syria.86 Sahura’s ships were over 17.5m long, 4m wide, with a draught of approximately 1m and an average plank thickness of 10cm.87 The ships had either 14 or 16 oars for propulsion, six steering oars, a bipod mast for a trapezoid sail and an anchor. There were at least four ships in the fleet and each ship was crewed by approximately 20 people made up of Egyptians, Syrians and perhaps other maritime peoples.88 The seagoing ship hulls were long and slender with pointed ends, which provided greater stability in relatively high seas, while the hull strength was improved by using a girdle-truss. However a girdle-truss could not provide longitudinal strength to a seagoing ship, for that purpose a hogging-truss was required.89 Ancient Egyptian mariners developed a hogging-truss — a thick rope connecting the fore and aft parts of a ship to increase the vessel’s longitudinal strength — especially to overcome this problem.90 As such Sahura’s seagoing boats reveal the high level of sophistication of early Egyptian ship construction techniques.

Even earlier Old Kingdom sea going ships, older than Sahura's, from the time of Userkaf:
View attachment 20488

View attachment 20489

Khufu's ship, more than 4,500 years old:

View attachment 20491

Middle Kingdom depiction of cattle:

View attachment 20490

Amazing! And consider that they where tied together !

I watched a fascinating doco where they tried to repeat the process . Eventually they got a fairly accurate scaled down model in the water, but it leaked like a b. Between the planks, through the holes that the ropes passed to tie the planks together. But then, after a while when the wood and rope became sodden and saturated and swelled up the leaking stopped .

Also it was also a good method for transport and storage - a wayway to pull apart boats and store them, as found in the caves near Wadi el Jarf - the world's oldest harbor

" Egyptians carved deep caves, or galleries, in which they stored their boats ... "

The World's Oldest Papyrus and What It Can Tell Us About the Great Pyramids | History | Smithsonian

- and an examination on the supply and reuse of timber ;

Ship Timber and the Reuse of Wood in Ancient Egypt
 

Dan Howard

Ad Honorem
Aug 2014
4,766
Australia
- and an examination on the supply and reuse of timber ;

Ship Timber and the Reuse of Wood in Ancient Egypt
And this is why dendrochonology is only of limited use when trying to date an object. It only tells us when the tree was cut down, not when the wood was last used. Hardwoods can be recycled in various projects for centuries, which means that an object can be centuries younger than what a dendrochronological analysis would suggest.
 
Sep 2014
941
Texas
It seem to me that Egypt was quite primitive before the Hyksos invasion :

-They didn't know how to use bronze
They didn't have boats (I mean those which could navigate on the sea)
- No elaborate weaponry
-No cattle culture
-No knowledge of elaborate trading or commercial exchange
-No real state with a real and centralized administration
-Primitive farming technology
...

Some people like talking about Egypt as a "cradle of civilisation" (I hate this word) even if the majority of it's innovation came from foreigners (Hyksos, Lybians, Ancient Greek/Romans). Did Hyksos bring "civilisation" to Egypt?
1. bronze...true.
2. no boats....not true. They may have had some very good boats.
3. Spears did the job
4. no cattle? Not sure about that one.
5. No elaborate trading..they got their lapis lazula from Afghanistan. And they may have made trips to the British Isles
6. I can not comment on their administations...seemed OK to me.
7. Primitive farming that worked...add to that they outlasted the Hittites. Don't know if that is important or not.