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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 (his highest attested regnal year), although some scholars now favor giving him a longer reign of approximately five years. [5]

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.

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.

Ahhotep I Queen consort of Egypt

Ahhotep I was an Ancient Egyptian queen who lived circa 1560–1530 BC, during the end of the Seventeenth Dynasty of Egypt. She was the daughter of Queen Tetisheri and Senakhtenre Ahmose, and was probably the sister, as well as the queen consort, of Pharaoh Seqenenre Tao ll. Ahhotep I had a long and influential life. She ruled as regent for her son Ahmose I for a time.


His reign is important for the decisive military initiatives he took against the Hyksos, who had come to rule much of Ancient Egypt. [6] His father had begun the initiatives and, quite possibly, lost his life in battle with the Hyksos. It is thought that his mother, as regent, continued the campaigns after the death of Kamose and that his full brother made the final conquest of them and united all of Egypt.

Hyksos Asian invaders of Egypt, established 15th dynasty 1650-1550 BC

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.

Ancient Egypt ancient civilization of Northeastern Africa

Ancient Egypt was a civilization of ancient North Africa, concentrated along the lower reaches of the Nile River in the place that is now the country Egypt. Ancient Egyptian civilization followed prehistoric Egypt and coalesced around 3100 BC with the political unification of Upper and Lower Egypt under Menes. The history of ancient Egypt occurred as a series of stable kingdoms, separated by periods of relative instability known as Intermediate Periods: the Old Kingdom of the Early Bronze Age, the Middle Kingdom of the Middle Bronze Age and the New Kingdom of the Late Bronze Age.


Casus Belli

Drawing of a scarab of Kamose by Flinders Petrie. WadjkheperreScarabPetrie.png
Drawing of a scarab of Kamose by Flinders Petrie.

Kamose was the final king in a succession of native Egyptian kings at Thebes. Originally, the Theban Seventeenth dynasty rulers were at peace with the Hyksos kingdom to their north prior to the reign of Seqenenre Tao. [8] They controlled Upper Egypt up to Elephantine and ruled Middle Egypt as far north as Cusae. [9] Kamose sought to extend his rule northward over all of Lower Egypt. This apparently was met with much opposition by his courtiers. It appears that at some point, these princes in Thebes had achieved a practical modus vivendi with the later Hyksos rulers, which included transit rights through Hyksos-controlled Middle and Lower Egypt and pasturage rights in the fertile Delta. [10] Kamose's records on the Carnarvon Tablet relate the misgivings of this king's council to the prospect of a war against the Hyksos:

Cusae City in Upper Egypt

Cusae was a city in Upper Egypt, known to the Ancient Egyptians as Qis or Kis. Today, the town is known as El Quseyya, and is located on the west bank of the Nile in the Asyut Governorate.

Middle Egypt is the section of land between Lower Egypt and Upper Egypt, stretching upstream from Asyut in the south to Memphis in the north. At the time, Ancient Egypt was divided into Lower and Upper Egypt, though Middle Egypt was technically a subdivision of Upper Egypt. It was not until the 19th century that archaeologists felt the need to divide Upper Egypt in two. As a result, they coined the term "Middle Egypt" for the stretch of river between Cairo and the Qena Bend. It was also associated with a region termed Heptanomis, generally as the district which separates the Thebaïd from the Delta.

Lower Egypt northernmost region of Egypt

Lower Egypt is the northernmost region of Egypt, which consists of the fertile Nile Delta, between Upper Egypt and the Mediterranean Sea — from El Aiyat, south of modern-day Cairo, and Dahshur. Historically, the Nile River split into seven branches of the delta in Lower Egypt. Lower Egypt was divided into nomes and began to advance as a civilization after 3600 BC. Today, it contains two major channels that flow through the delta of the Nile River.

However, Kamose's presentation here may be propaganda designed to embellish his reputation since his predecessor, Seqenenre Tao, had already been engaged in conflict with the Hyksos only to fall in battle. Kamose sought to regain by force what he thought was his by right, namely the kingship of Lower and Upper Egypt. [10] The king thus responds to his council:

There is no evidence to support Pierre Montet's assertion that Kamose's move against the Hyksos was sponsored by the priesthood of Amun as an attack against the Seth-worshippers in the north (i.e., a religious motive for the war of liberation). The Carnarvon Tablet does state that Kamose went north to attack the Hyksos by the command of Amun, but this is simple hyperbole, common to virtually all royal inscriptions of Egyptian history, and should not be understood as the specific command from this deity. Kamose states his reasons for an attack on the Hyksos was nationalistic pride. He was also likely merely continuing the aggressive military policies of his immediate predecessor, Seqenenre.

Amun is a major ancient Egyptian deity who appears as a member of the Hermopolitan Ogdoad. Amun was attested from the Old Kingdom together with his wife Amaunet. With the 11th dynasty, Amun rose to the position of patron deity of Thebes by replacing Montu.

Hyperbole is the use of exaggeration as a rhetorical device or figure of speech. In rhetoric, it is also sometimes known as auxesis. In poetry and oratory, it emphasizes, evokes strong feelings, and creates strong impressions. As a figure of speech, it is usually not meant to be taken literally.

Northern Campaign

In Kamose's third year, he embarked on his military campaign against the Hyksos by sailing north out of Thebes on the Nile. He first reached Nefrusy, which was just north of Cusae and was manned by an Egyptian garrison loyal to the Hyksos. [12] A detachment of Medjay troops attacked the garrison and overran it. [12] The Carnavon Tablet recounted this much of the campaign, but breaks off there. Nonetheless, Kamose's military strategy probably can be inferred. As Kamose moved north, he could easily take small villages and wipe out small Hyksos garrisons, but if a city resisted, he could cut it off from the rest of the Hyksos kingdom simply by taking over the city directly to the north. This kind of tactic probably allowed him to travel very quickly up the Nile. [13] A second stele also found in Thebes, continues Kamose's narrative again with an attack on Avaris. Because it does not mention Memphis or other major cities to the north, it has long been suspected that Kamose never did attack Avaris, but instead recorded what he intended to do. [12] Kim Ryholt recently has argued that Kamose probably never advanced farther than the Anpu or Cynopolis Nome in Middle Egypt (around the Faiyum and the city of Saka) and did not enter either the Nile Delta, nor Lower Egypt proper. [14]

Nile River in Africa and the longest river in the world

The Nile is a major north-flowing river in northeastern Africa, and is the longest river in Africa and the disputed longest river in the world, as the Brazilian government claims that the Amazon River is longer than the Nile. The Nile, which is about 6,650 km (4,130 mi) long, is an "international" river as its drainage basin covers eleven countries, namely, Tanzania, Uganda, Rwanda, Burundi, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Kenya, Ethiopia, Eritrea, South Sudan, Republic of the Sudan and Egypt. In particular, the Nile is the primary water source of Egypt and Sudan.

Avaris Archaeological site in Egypt

Avaris 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. 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. 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".

Memphis, Egypt Ancient capital of Inebu-hedj, Egypt

Memphis was the ancient capital of Inebu-hedj, the first nome of Lower Egypt. Its ruins are located near the town of Mit Rahina, 20 km (12 mi) south of Giza.

Kamose's second stela which records his victory against the Hyksos (Luxor Museum). 2e-stele-Kamose.jpg
Kamose's second stela which records his victory against the Hyksos (Luxor Museum).

According to the second stele, after moving north of Nefrusy, Kamose's soldiers captured a courier bearing a message from the Hyksos king Awoserre Apopi at Avaris to his ally, the ruler of Kush, requesting the latter's urgent support against Kamose. Kamose promptly ordered a detachment of his troops to occupy and destroy the Bahariya Oasis in the western desert, which controlled the north-south desert route. Kamose, called "the Strong" in this text, ordered this action to protect his rearguard. Kamose then sailed southward, back up the Nile to Thebes, for a joyous victory celebration after his military success against the Hyksos in pushing the boundaries of his kingdom northward from Cusae past Hermopolis through to Sako, which now formed the new frontier between the seventeenth dynasty of Thebes and the fifteenth dynasty Hyksos state. [15]

Ryholt notes that Kamose never claims in his second stela to attack anything in Avaris itself, only "anything belonging to Avaris (nkt hwt-w'rt, direct genitive) i.e., the spoil [of war] which his army has carried off" as lines 7-8 and 15 of Kamose's stela—the only references to Avaris here—demonstrate:

Line 7-8: I placed the brave guard-flotilla to patrol as far as the desert-edge with the remainder (of the fleet) behind it, as if a kite were preying upon the territory of Avaris.

Line 15: I have not overlooked anything belonging to Avaris, because it (the area which Kamose was plundering) is empty. [16]

The Second Stela of Kamose is well known for recounting that a Hyksos messenger was captured with a letter from Apophis—appealing for aid from the king of Kush against Kamose—while travelling through the western desert roads to Nubia. The final evidence that this king's military activities affected only the Cynopolite nome, and not the city of Avaris itself, is the fact that when Kamose returned the letter to Apophis, he dispatched it to Atfih which is about a hundred miles south of Avaris. Atfih, hence, formed either the new border or a no-man's land between the now shrunken Hyksos kingdom and Kamose's expanding seventeenth dynasty state. Furthermore, Kamose states in his second stele that his intention in returning the letter was for the Hyksos messenger to inform Apophis of the Theban king's victories "in the area of Cynopolis which used to be in his possession." [17] This information confirms that Kamose confined his activities to this Egyptian nome and never approached the city of Avaris itself in his Year 3.

First Nubian Campaign

Kamose is known to have campaigned against the Kushites prior to his third year since the Hyksos king directly appeals to his Kushite counterpart to attack his Theban rival and avenge the damage which Kamose had inflicted upon both their states. It is unlikely that Kamose had the resources to simultaneously defeat the Kushites to the south and then inflict a serious setback on the Hyksos to the north in just one year over a front-line that extended over several hundred kilometres. [18]

Length of reign

Illustration of a votive barque attributed to Kamose. VotiveBarqueOfKamose.png
Illustration of a votive barque attributed to Kamose.

His Year 3 is the only attested date for Kamose and was once thought to signal the end of his reign. However, it now appears certain that Kamose reigned for one or two more years beyond this date because he initiated a second campaign against the Nubians. Evidence that Kamose had started a first campaign against the Kushites is affirmed by the contents of Apophis' captured letter where the Hyksos king's plea for aid from the king of Kush is recounted in Kamose's Year 3 Second stela:

Two separate rock-inscriptions found at Arminna and Toshka, deep in Nubia, give the prenomen and nomen of Kamose and Ahmose side by side and were inscribed at the same timelikely by the same draughtsmanaccording to the epigraphic data. [6] In both inscriptions "the names of Ahmose follow directly below those of Kamose and each king is given the epithet di-ˁnḫ, Given Life, which was normally used only of ruling kings. This indicates that both Kamose and Ahmose were ruling when the inscriptions were cut and consequently that they were coregents. [6] Since Kamose's name was recorded first, he would have been the senior coregent. However, no mention or reference to Ahmose as king appears in Kamose's Year 3 stela which indirectly records Kamose's first campaign against the Nubians; this can only mean that Kamose appointed the young Ahmose as his junior coregent sometime after his third year prior to launching a second military campaign against the Nubians. [20] As a result, Kamose's second Nubian campaign must have occurred in his Year 4 or 5. The target of Kamose's second Nubian campaign may have been the fortress at Buhen which the Nubians had recaptured from Kamose's forces since a stela bearing his cartouche was deliberately erased and there is fire damage in the fort itself. [21]

A slightly longer reign of five years for Kamose has now been estimated by Ryholt and this ruler's timeline has been dated from 1554 BC to 1549 BC to take into account a one year period of coregency between Ahmose and Kamose. [22] Donald Redford notes that Kamose was buried very modestly, in an ungilded stock coffin which lacked even a royal uraeus. [23] This may imply that the king died before he had enough time to complete his burial equipment presumably because he was engaged in warfare with his Kushite and Hyksos neighbours.


The mummy of Kamose is mentioned in the Abbott Papyrus, which records an investigation into tomb robberies during the reign of Ramesses IX, about 400 years after Ahmose's interment. While his tomb was mentioned as being "in a good state", [24] it is clear that his mummy was moved at some point afterward, as it was discovered in 1857 at Dra' Abu el-Naga', seemingly deliberately hidden in a pile of debris. The painted and stuccoed coffin was uncovered by early Egyptologists Auguste Mariette and Heinrich Brugsch, who noted that the mummy was in very poor shape. Buried with the mummy was a gold and silver dagger, amulets, a scarab, a bronze mirror, and a pectoral in the shape of a cartouche bearing the name of his successor and brother, Ahmose. [25]

The coffin remains in Egypt, while the dagger is in Brussels and the pectoral and mirror are in the Louvre, Paris. The name of the pharaoh inscribed on the coffin was only recognized fifty years after the original discovery, by which time the mummy, which had been left with the pile of debris on which it was found, was almost certainly long lost. [25]

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  1. Shaw, Ian, ed. (2000). The Oxford History of Ancient Egypt . Oxford University Press. p. 481. ISBN   0-19-815034-2.
  2. 1 2 Peter Clayton: Chronicle of the Pharaohs, Thames and Hudson Ltd, paperback 2006. p.94
  3. Friedrich Wilhelm von Bissing: Ein thebanischer Grabfund aus dem Anfang des Neuen Reiches. Tafel 4 (8)
  4. Claude Vandersleyen: L'Egypte et la vallée du Nil. Tome 2: De la fin de l'Ancien Empire à la fin du Nouvel Empire.Paris 1995, S. 195
  5. Kim SB Ryholt, The Political Situation in Egypt during the Second Intermediate Period, Carsten Niebuhr Institute Publications, Museum Tusculanum Press, 1997, p.273. ISBN   87-7289-421-0
  6. 1 2 3 Ryholt, p.273
  7. Flinders Petrie: Scarabs and cylinders with names (1917), available copyright-free here, pl. XXIII
  8. Grimal, Nicolas. A History of Ancient Egypt. p.189. Librairie Arthéme Fayard, 1988.
  9. James, T.G.H. Egypt: From the Expulsion of the Hyksos to Amenophis I. in The Cambridge Ancient History, vol. 2, part 1, ed. Edwards, I.E.S, et al. p. 290. Cambridge University Press, 1965.
  10. 1 2 "Cambridge 2:1 290"
  11. 1 2 Gardiner, Sir Alan. Egypt of the Pharaohs, 1961, reprint Oxford University Press, 1979, p.166
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  13. Spalinger, Anthony J. War in Ancient Egypt. , Blackwell Publishing, 2005, p.3.
  14. Ryholt, pp.172-175
  15. Ryholt, pp.173-175
  16. Ryholt, pp.173-174
  17. Ryholt, p.172
  18. Ryholt, pp.182-83
  19. Ryholt, p.181
  20. Ryholt, p.274
  21. Ryholt, pp.181-182
  22. Ryholt, p.204
  23. Redford, Donald B. History and Chronology of the Eighteenth Dynasty of Egypt: Seven Studies. Toronto, 1967
  24. "The Abbott Papyrus". reshafim.org.il. Retrieved 2007-01-04.
  25. 1 2 Brier, Bob. Egyptian Mummies. p.259-260. William Morrow and Company, Inc. 1994. ISBN   0-688-10272-7


Preceded by
Seqenenre Tao
Pharaoh of Egypt
Seventeenth Dynasty
Succeeded by
Ahmose I