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Hyksos (hĭkˈsōs) [key] [Egyptian, = rulers of foreign lands], invaders of ancient Egypt, now substantiated as the XV–XVIII dynasties. They were a northwestern Semitic (Canaanite or Amorite) people who entered Egypt sometime between 1720 and 1710 B.C. and subdued the pharaohs of the Middle Kingdom. They used Avaris-Tanis in the Nile delta as their capital rather than the Egyptian capital of Thebes. Under their hegemony, which lasted over a century, they established a powerful kingdom that included Syria and Palestine, and maintained peace and prosperity in their territories. They introduced the horse-drawn chariot and the composite bow, and their successful conquests were furthered by a type of rectangular fortification of beaten earth used as a fortress; archaeologists have uncovered examples of these mounds at Jericho, Shechem, and Lachish. Their most important contribution was perhaps the introduction into Egypt of Canaanite deities and Asian artifacts, which were instrumental in abrogating the despotism and isolationism of the Old and Middle kingdoms. The Hyksos were crushed by Amasis I at the battle of Tanis in 1550 B.C.

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.

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