Last updated
in hieroglyphs
Lower Egypt-en.png
Map of ancient Lower Egypt showing Avaris
Egypt adm location map.svg
Archaeological site icon (red).svg
Shown within Egypt
Location Sharqia Governorate, Egypt
Region Lower Egypt
Coordinates 30°47′14.7″N31°49′16.9″E / 30.787417°N 31.821361°E / 30.787417; 31.821361

Avaris ( /ˈævərɪs/ ; Egyptian: ḥw.t wꜥr.t, sometimes transcribed Hut-waret in works for a popular audience, Greek : Αὔαρις, Auaris) [1] was the capital of Egypt under the Hyksos. It was located at modern Tell el-Dab'a in the northeastern region of the Nile Delta, at the juncture of the 8th, 14th, 19th and 20th Nomes. [2] As the main course of the Nile migrated eastward, its position at the hub of Egypt's delta emporia made it a major administrative capital of the Hyksos and other traders. [3] It was occupied from about 1783 to 1550 BC, or from the Thirteenth Dynasty of Egypt through the Second Intermediate Period of Egypt until its destruction by Ahmose I, the first Pharaoh of the Eighteenth dynasty. The name in the Egyptian language of the 2nd millennium BC was probably pronounced *Ḥaʔat-Wūrat 'Great House' and denotes the capital of an administrative division of the land. Today, the name Hawara survives, referring to the site at the entrance to Faiyum. Alternatively, Clement of Alexandria referred to the name of this city as "Athyria". [4]



Scarab bearing the name of the Hyksos King Apepi, now at the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston ScarabBearingNameOfApophis MuseumOfFineArtsBoston.png
Scarab bearing the name of the Hyksos King Apepi, now at the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston

In 1885, the Swiss Édouard Naville started the first excavations in the area around Tell-el-Daba. Between 1941 and 1942, Labib Habachi, an Egyptian Egyptologist first forwarded the idea that the site could be identified with Avaris. Between 1966 and 1969 and since 1975, the site has been excavated by the Austrian Archaeological Institute. [5] Using radar imaging technology, its scientists could identify in 2010 the outline of the city including streets, houses, a port, and a side arm of the River Nile passing through the city. [6]

The site at Tell el-Dab'a, covering an area of about 2 square kilometers, is in ruins today, but excavations have shown that, at one point, it was a well-developed center of trade with a busy harbour catering to over 300 ships during a trading season. [7] Artifacts excavated at a temple erected in the Hyksos period have produced goods from all over the Aegean world. The temple even has Minoan-like wall paintings that are similar to those found on Crete at the Palace of Knossos. A large mudbrick tomb has also been excavated to the west of the temple, where grave-goods, such as copper swords, have been found.

Towards the end of the Seventeenth Dynasty, Kamose, the last king of the Seventeenth Dynasty, besieged Avaris, but could not dislodge the Hyksos, who were finally expelled some 18 years later (c. 1550 BC) by Ahmose I, the founder of the Eighteenth Dynasty. [8] The Eighteenth Dynasty-based themselves in Thebes and Avaris was largely abandoned, its former citadel becoming the site first of enormous storage facilities, including numerous silos and then a military camp, until finally a new palatial compound of the 18th Dynasty was constructed on top of the camps and soldier graves. [5] Avaris was absorbed into the new city of Pi-Ramesses constructed by Ramesses II (1279–1213 BC) of the Nineteenth Dynasty when he moved the capital back to the Delta.

Urban Chronology

Amenemhet I (12th) planned a settlement, called Hutwaret located in the 19th Nome, circa 1930 BC. It was a small Egyptian town until about 1830 BC when it began to grow by immigration of Caananites (Levant Middle Brozne Age IIA) By 1800 BC it was a much larger trade colony under Egyptian control. Over the next 100 years immigration increased the size of the city. [9]

At about 1780 a temple to Set was built. The Canaanites living at Avaris considered the Egyptian god Set to be the Canaanite god Hadad. Both had dominion over the weather. [10]

Around 1700 BC a temple district to Canaanite Asherah and Egyptian Hathor was built in the eastern part of the city. From 1700 onward social stratification begins and an elite arise. [11]

In 1650 the Hyksos arrive and the city grows to 250 ha. It is believed that Avaris was the largest city in the world from 1670 to 1557 BC. A large citidel was built around 1550. [12]

Minoan connection

Fragment of a Minoan fresco found in Avaris, Egypt. This fresco is very similar to another fresco from Knossos, Crete. Minoan fresko avaris 2.png
Fragment of a Minoan fresco found in Avaris, Egypt. This fresco is very similar to another fresco from Knossos, Crete.

Avaris, along with Tel Kabri in Israel and Alalakh in Syria, also has a record of Minoan civilization, which is otherwise quite rare in the Levant. Manfred Bietak, an Austrian archaeologist and the excavator of Tell Dab'a, has speculated that there was close contact with the rulers of Avaris, and that the large building featuring the frescoes allowed the Minoans to have a ritual life in Egypt. French archaeologist Yves Duhoux proposed the existence of a Minoan 'colony' on an island in the Nile delta. [13]

Related Research Articles

Thebes, Egypt Ancient Egyptian city

Thebes, known to the ancient Egyptians as Waset, was an ancient Egyptian city located along the Nile about 800 kilometers (500 mi) south of the Mediterranean. Its ruins lie within the modern Egyptian city of Luxor. Thebes was the main city of the fourth Upper Egyptian nome and was the capital of Egypt for long periods during the Middle Kingdom and New Kingdom eras. It was close to Nubia and the Eastern Desert, with its valuable mineral resources and trade routes. It was a cult center and the most venerated city of ancient Egypt during its heyday. The site of Thebes includes areas on both the eastern bank of the Nile, where the temples of Karnak and Luxor stand and where the city proper was situated; and the western bank, where a necropolis of large private and royal cemeteries and funerary complexes can be found.

Ahmose I Pharaoh of Ancient Egypt

Ahmose I was a pharaoh and founder of the Eighteenth Dynasty of Egypt. He was a member of the Theban royal house, the son of pharaoh Seqenenre Tao and brother of the last pharaoh of the Seventeenth dynasty, Kamose. During the reign of his father or grandfather, Thebes rebelled against the Hyksos, the rulers of Lower Egypt. When he was seven years old, his father was killed, and he was about ten when his brother died of unknown causes after reigning only three years. Ahmose I assumed the throne after the death of his brother, and upon coronation became known as nb-pḥtj-rꜥ "The Lord of Strength is Ra".

Hyksos Asian invaders of Egypt, established 15th dynasty

The Hyksos were a people of diverse origins, possibly from Western Asia, who settled in the eastern Nile Delta some time before 1650 BC. The arrival of the Hyksos led to the end of the Thirteenth Dynasty and initiated the Second Intermediate Period of Egypt. In the context of Ancient Egypt, the term "Asiatic" refers to people native to areas east of Egypt.

Ahmose, son of Ebana Ancient Egyptian soldier and warrior

Ahmose, son of Ebana, served in the Egyptian military under the pharaohs Ahmose I, Amenhotep I, and Thutmose I. His autobiography has survived and is intact on the wall of his tomb and has proven a valuable source of information on the late 17th Dynasty and the early 18th Dynasty of Egypt.

Manfred Bietak is an Austrian archaeologist. He is professor emeritus of Egyptology at the University of Vienna, working as the Principal investigator for an ERC Advanced Grant Project “The Hyksos Enigma” and Editor in Chief of the Journal “Egypt and the Levant” and of four series of the Austrian Academy of Sciences, Institute of Oriental and European Archaeology (2016–2020).

Kamose king of the Theban Seventeenth Dynasty

Kamose was the last king of the Theban Seventeenth Dynasty. He was possibly the son of Seqenenre Tao and Ahhotep I and the full brother of Ahmose I, founder of the Eighteenth Dynasty. His reign fell at the very end of the Second Intermediate Period. Kamose is usually ascribed a reign of three years, although some scholars now favor giving him a longer reign of approximately five years.

Seqenenre Tao pharaoh from the Seventeenth Dynasty of Ancient Egypt

Seqenenre Tao, called 'the Brave', ruled over the last of the local kingdoms of the Theban region of Egypt in the Seventeenth Dynasty during the Second Intermediate Period. He probably was the son and successor to Senakhtenre Ahmose and Queen Tetisheri. The dates of his reign are uncertain, but he may have risen to power in the decade ending in 1560 BC or in 1558 BC. With his queen, Ahhotep I, Seqenenre Tao fathered two pharaohs, Kamose, his immediate successor who was the last pharaoh of the seventeenth dynasty, and Ahmose I who, following a regency by his mother, was the first pharaoh of the eighteenth. Seqenenre Tao is credited with starting the opening moves in a war of revanchism against Hyksos incursions into Egypt, which saw the country completely liberated during the reign of his son Ahmose I.

The Seventeenth Dynasty of Egypt is classified as the third dynasty of the Second Intermediate Period of Egypt. The 17th Dynasty dates approximately from 1580 to 1550 BC. Its mainly Theban rulers are contemporary with the Hyksos of the Fifteenth Dynasty and succeed the Sixteenth Dynasty, which was also based in Thebes.

The Fourteenth Dynasty of Egypt was a series of rulers reigning during the Second Intermediate Period over the Nile Delta region of Egypt. It lasted between 75 and 155 years, depending on the scholar. The capital of the dynasty was probably Avaris. The 14th dynasty existed concurrently with the 13th dynasty based in Memphis. The rulers of the 14th dynasty are commonly identified by Egyptologists as being of Canaanite (Semitic) descent, owing to the distinct origins of the names of some of their kings and princes, like Ipqu, Yakbim, Qareh, or Yaqub-Har. Names in relation with Nubia are also recorded in two cases, king Nehesy and queen Tati.

Apepi (pharaoh) ruler of Lower Egypt during the fifteenth dynasty

Apepi or Apophis was a ruler of Lower Egypt during the fifteenth dynasty and the end of the Second Intermediate Period that was dominated by this foreign dynasty of rulers called the Hyksos. According to the Turin Canon of Kings, he ruled over the northern portion of Egypt for forty years. He ruled during the early half of the 16th century BC and outlived his southern rival, Kamose, but not Ahmose I. Although his reign only entailed northern Egypt, Apepi was dominant over most of Egypt during the early portion of his reign, and traded peacefully with the native Theban Seventeenth dynasty to the south.

Pi-Ramesses Capital of the ancient Egyptian 19th dynasty

Pi-Ramesses was the new capital built by the Nineteenth Dynasty Pharaoh Ramesses II at Qantir, near the old site of Avaris. The city had served as a summer palace under Seti I, and may have been founded by Ramesses I while he served under Horemheb.

Khamudi Egyptian pharaoh

Khamudi was the last Hyksos ruler of the Fifteenth Dynasty of Egypt. Khamudi came to power in 1534 BC or 1541 BC, ruling the northern portion of Egypt from his capital Avaris. His ultimate defeat at the hands of Ahmose I, after a short reign, marks the end of the Second Intermediate Period.

Sheshi Egyptian pharaoh

Maaibre Sheshi was a ruler of areas of Egypt during the Second Intermediate Period. The dynasty, chronological position, duration and extent of his reign are uncertain and subject to ongoing debate. The difficulty of identification is mirrored by problems in determining events from the end of the Middle Kingdom to the arrival of the Hyksos in Egypt. Nonetheless, Sheshi is, in terms of the number of artifacts attributed to him, the best-attested king of the period spanning the end of the Middle Kingdom and the Second Intermediate period; roughly from c. 1800 BC until 1550 BC. Hundreds of scaraboid seals bearing his name have been found throughout Canaan, Egypt, Nubia, and as far away as Carthage, where some were still in use 1500 years after his death.

Tell El-Daba Archaeological site in Egypt

Tell el-Dab'a is an archaeological site in the Nile delta region of Egypt where Avaris, the capital city of the Hyksos, once stood. Avaris was occupied by Asiatics from the end of the 12th through the 13th dynasty. The site is known primarily for its Minoan frescoes.

Nehesy Egyptian pharaoh

Nehesy Aasehre (Nehesi) was a ruler of Lower Egypt during the fragmented Second Intermediate Period. He is placed by most scholars into the early 14th Dynasty, as either the second or the sixth pharaoh of this dynasty. As such he is considered to have reigned for a short time c. 1705 BC and would have ruled from Avaris over the eastern Nile Delta. Recent evidence makes it possible that a second person with this name, a son of a Hyksos king, lived at a slightly later time during the late 15th Dynasty c. 1580 BC. It is possible that most of the artefacts attributed to the king Nehesy mentioned in the Turin canon, in fact belong to this Hyksos prince.

The Eighteenth Dynasty of Egypt is classified as the first dynasty of the New Kingdom of Egypt, the era in which ancient Egypt achieved the peak of its power. The Eighteenth Dynasty spanned the period from 1549/1550 to 1292 BC. This dynasty is also known as the Thutmosid Dynasty for the four pharaohs named Thutmose.

The Minoan wall paintings at Tell El-Dab'a are of particular interest to Egyptologists and archaeologists. They are of Minoan style, content, and technology, but there is uncertainty over the ethnic identity of the artists. The paintings depict images of bull-leaping, bull-grappling, griffins, and hunts. They were discovered by a team of archaeologists led by Manfred Bietak, in the palace district of the Thutmosid period at Tell el-Dab'a. The frescoes date to the Eighteenth dynasty of Egypt, most likely during the reigns of either the pharaohs Hatshepsut or Thutmose III, after being previously considered to belong to the late Second Intermediate Period. The paintings indicate an involvement of Egypt in international relations and cultural exchanges with the eastern Mediterranean either through marriage or exchange of gifts.

Shenshek Egyptian pharaoh

Shenshek was a ruler of some part of Egypt during the Second Intermediate Period, possibly during the 17th century BC, and likely belonging to the 14th Dynasty. As such he would have ruled from Avaris over the eastern Nile Delta and possibly over the western Delta as well. His chronological position and identity are unclear.

Yanassi Hyksos prince

Yanassi was a prince during the 15th Dynasty of Egypt. He was the eldest king's son of the Hyksos pharaoh Khyan and this title suggests that he was the crown prince, designated to be his successor. Nevertheless, Khyan was succeeded by Apophis who, for this reason, is believed to have been an usurper.

Many naval bases were located in and around Egypt in the ancient times of this world. The particular naval base of Peru-nefer was one of the bases established in the Eighteenth Dynasty of the New Kingdom of Egypt. Perunefer is, according to Manfred Biatek, identified with Tell el-Daba/ Ezbet Helmy. Support for this theory comes from excavations and digs that were conducted around the area the naval base was believed to be. The pharaohs believed to be responsible for this 18th dynasty naval base are Tuthmosis III and Amenhotep II, located near the Nile Delta|delta]]. According to Labib Habachi's research, Perunefer was located at Tell el-Daba and Qantir, which he identified with Avaris/Piramesse. These identifications were proved by the excavations of the Austrian Institute and the Pelizaeus Museum, Hildesheim respectively. Although this information is provided, no Eighteenth Dynasty remains were missing from the site. When military installations were made from the Eighteenth Dynasty, evidence was found in Perunefer's favor. Detailed work from Tuthmosis III and Amenhotep II were found in the form of paintings. These paintings were later to be known as the Minoan wall paintings. Along with these recent discoveries, two large harbor basins were found. Jean-Phiippe Goiran and Hervé Tronchère were the paleogeographers who found the evidence of the two harbours. These two men were specialists in the study of ancient harbours, and had access via the canals to the harbours. According to their evidence, they make the assumption that Perunefer accommodated hundreds of ships in the eighteenth dynasty. The first harbour was hard to date, but early evidence pointed to the time of Horemheb. Horemheb created a project to build a wall which covered access to the canal which was examined. The second harbor was just beside a recently discovered Hyksos palace, probably belonging to Khyan, which hints at its date. It was found in a strange spot of the Nile channel, which was believed to have a seasonal lake from time to time. On the stela of King Kamos of the Seventeenth Dynasty, he mentions destroying hundreds of ships in a large basin, which leads us to believe that our second harbor of Perunefer would be located here.


  1. Holladay, John S. Jr. (1997) "The Eastern Nile Delta During the Hyksos and Pre-Hyksos Periods: Toward a Systemic/Socioeconomic Understanding", in Eliezer D. Oren (1997). The Hyksos: new historical and archaeological perspectives. University Museum, University of Pennsylvania. pp. 183–252. ISBN   978-0-924171-46-8.
  2. Baines and Malek "Atlas of Ancient Egypt" p 15 nome list and map, p 167 enlarged map of the delta.
  3. Michael Grant (2005). The rise of the Greeks. Barnes & Noble Books. ISBN   978-0-7607-7000-9.
  4. 'And his remarks are to the following effect: Amosis, who lived in the time of the Argive Inachus, overthrew Athyria, as Ptolemy of Mendes [via Manetho] relates in his Chronology.' -- Clement of Alexandria 1.22
  5. 1 2 "Tell el-Dab'a - History". Tell el-Dab'a-Homepage. Archived from the original on 26 June 2010. Retrieved 2010-06-21.
  6. "Ancient Egyptian city located in Nile Delta by radar". BBC News. 2010-06-21.
  7. Booth, C. (2005). The Hyksos Period in Egypt. Shire. p. 40. ISBN   9780747806387 . Retrieved 2016-02-03.
  8. Some claim that Kamose and Ahmose were the same person and that, after the capture of Avaris and the expulsion of the Hyksos made the founding of the Eighteenth dynasty of Egypt possible, Kamose changed his name (see discussion in Baines and Ma'lek)
  9. Bietak, M. Tell el-Dabca http://www.auaris.at/html/history_en.html . Retrieved 30 November 2019.Missing or empty |title= (help)
  10. Bietak, M. Tell el-Dabca http://www.auaris.at/html/history_en.html . Retrieved 30 November 2019.Missing or empty |title= (help)
  11. Bietak, M. Tell el-Dabca http://www.auaris.at/html/history_en.html . Retrieved 30 November 2019.Missing or empty |title= (help)
  12. Bietak, M. Tell el-Dabca http://www.auaris.at/html/history_en.html . Retrieved 30 November 2019.Missing or empty |title= (help)
  13. Duhoux, Yves (2003). Des minoens en Egypte? "Keftiou" et "les îles au milieu du Grand vert". Liège: Univ. Press. ISBN   90-429-1261-8.


Preceded by
Capital of Egypt
1785 BC - 1580 BC
Succeeded by

Coordinates: 30°47′15″N31°49′17″E / 30.787419°N 31.821367°E / 30.787419; 31.821367 (Avaris (Hatwaret, Rowaty, Tell ed-Dab'a))