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The results of a new study published in the journal PLOS ONE has called into question the traditional view of the rise to power of the Hyksos in Egypt.  The Ptolemaic priest, Manetheo, as quoted by Josephus, records the Hyksos rulers leading an invasion of Egypt and conquering the Nile Delta region. The new research suggests the Hyksos were immigrants, not invaders.  Scholars recently studied the tooth enamel from individuals found at the cemeteries of Tell el-Dab’a, the site of the ancient Hyksos capital of Avaris.  Using a mass spectrometer, they analyzed their teeth for strontium, a metal that enters the enamel primarily through food.  By comparing the levels of isotopes with those in the region’s soils and other artifacts along the Nile, they could judge where an individual grew up. The teem found that 24 of the 36 individuals who were buried at Avaris during the 350 years before the Hyksos rule were foreign born and came from a variety of origins, not one unified homeland. Similarly, data from the remains of an additional 35 people who were buried during the Hyksos period exhibited a similar pattern of immigration.  Moreover, 2/3 of the skeletons analyzed were women, not primarily male, as the researchers would have expected if the Hyksos arrived via a military invasion.  The authors of the study conclude, “This research supports the concept that the Hyksos were not an invading force occupying this city and the upper Nile Delta, but an internal group of people who gained power in a system with which they were already familiar.”


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