Monday, June 21, 2010

Radar maps Hyksos' capital

Remember the Hyksos? The foreign invaders who ruled Egypt for about 100 years? No one is sure who they were--a branch of Phoenician? Semites--Canaanites? Their ascendancy in Egypt took place 3500 years ago: 1664 to 1569 BC. In context, that's just before the dynasty that gave us Thutmose and Hatshepsut.

An Austrian team of archaeologists led by Irene Mueller used radar to map out the boundaries of the Hyksos principal city, Avaris. There are tons of stories on all the news networks, all saying exactly the same thing. I'm linking to this one on Heritage Key because it links best to a map--the only picture accompanying all those news stories. But Heritage Key's version of the map lets you zoom in.

So, the 2.6 sq. km. they've mapped out with magnetometric and resistivity surveys contain streets, temples, cemeteries, houses, and a possible port area (has the Nile changed course in that area in 3500 years? Probably, huh?). The Heritage Key article says that the most amazing find so far has been frescoes in a Minoan style, showing bull-leaping--similar to the artistic themes of Knossos on Crete.

It's not clear to me whether those frescoes are from the Hyksos palace, or from later, 18th-Dynasty Egyptian palaces that were built on the site--the current locale of Tel el-Dabaa. Or Tell  el Daba'.  A 2008 version of the ubiquitous map--with labels and more detail--is here.

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