The Second Intermediate Period
c. 1700–1550 BC
The political situation in the Second Intermediate Period of Egypt (c. 1650 – c. 1550 BC).
The political situation in the Second Intermediate Period of Egypt (c. 1650 – c. 1550 BC).
Ancient Egyptian religion
Demonym(s)Egyptians and Hyksos
• c. 1701 – c. 1677 BC
Merneferre Ay (first)
• c. 1555 – c. 1550 BC
Kamose (last)
• approximately around the late 13th Dynasty
c. 1700
• The end of the 17th Dynasty of Egypt
1550 BC
Preceded by
Succeeded by
Middle Kingdom of Egypt
New Kingdom of Egypt

The Second Intermediate Period dates from 1700 to 1550 BC.[1]: 123  It marks a period when ancient Egypt was divided into smaller dynasties for a second time, between the end of the Middle Kingdom and the start of the New Kingdom. The Second Intermediate Period generally includes the 13th through to the 17th dynasties.[2]

It is best known as the period when the Hyksos people of West Asia established the 15th Dynasty and ruled from Avaris, which, according to Manetho's Aegyptiaca, was founded by a king by the name of Salitis.[3]

End of the Middle Kingdom

Main article: Twelfth Dynasty of Egypt

The 12th Dynasty of Egypt came to an end at the end of the 19th century BC with the death of queen Sobekneferu (1806–1802 BC).[4] Apparently she had no heirs, causing the 12th Dynasty to come to a sudden end, and, with it, the Golden Age of the Middle Kingdom; it was succeeded by the much weaker 13th Dynasty. Retaining the seat of the 12th Dynasty, the 13th Dynasty ruled from Itjtawy ("Seizer-of-the-Two-Lands") for most of its existence, switching to Thebes in the far south possibly since the reign of Merneferre Ay.

The Second Intermediate Period

The concept of a "Second Intermediate Period" originated in the twentieth century by Egyptologists from the United Kingdom, and includes the 13th through to the 17th dynasties.[5]

The 13th Dynasty

Main article: Thirteenth Dynasty of Egypt

Retaining the seat of the 12th dynasty, the 13th dynasty (c. 1773 – 1650 BC). Ruled from Itjtawy ("Seizer-of-the-Two-Lands") for most of its existence, switching to Thebes in the far south possibly in the reign of Merneferre Ay.[1]: 123  According to the Syncellus, all three sources of the translated king list of Africanus, Eusebius, and the Armenian of Eusebius state that the 13th dynasty had sixty kings that ruled and lived in Dioplus for roughly 453 years.[6] The first king was Sobekhotep I even though it was led to believe that the first two kings were the sons of Amenemhat IV.[7] Though the 13th dynasty may have controlled Upper Egypt, the 14th dynasty ruled Lower Egypt, and both houses agreed to co-exist with one another, allowing trade.[8] The kings of the dynasties may have had trouble with containing power within their dynasty, since the dating we have for the kings' reigns are short, with rulers seemingly being replaced in rapid fashion.[7] The eventual collapse of the 13th dynasty became an opening for two smaller dynasties to take control of the land.[7]

The 13th Dynasty is notable for the accession of king Khendjer (whose name Kim Ryholt interprets as Semitic). The 13th dynasty proved unable to hold on to the entire territory of Egypt however, and a provincial ruling family, located in the Nile Delta, broke away from the central authority to form the 14th Dynasty (contested rulers proposed by Ryholt as the first five rulers of the dynasty are commonly identified as being of Canaanite (Semitic) descent based on their names.[9] His conclusions about their chronological position within the period are contested in Ben Tor's study.[10] Other sources do not refer to the dynasty as foreign or Hyksos and they were not referred to as "rulers of foreign lands" or "shepherd kings" in kings lists.[11][12][13][14]).

The 14th Dynasty

Main article: Fourteenth Dynasty of Egypt

The 14th dynasty (c. 1700–1650 BC) was also ruling in Egypt around the time of the late 13th dynasty. While the 13th dynasty was ruling in Thebes, the 14th dynasty ruled in parts of Lower Egypt.[1]: 123  According to Syncellus, all three sources agree that the 14th dynasty had seventy-six kings and their court was located in Xois, now modern day Sakha, though they do provide to different numbers of years ruled, with the Africanus stating that the 13th dynasty reigned for 184 years while the Armenian version of the Eusebius stating that they reigned for 484 years. While the other Eusebius states the same as Africanus, but in another copy it states the same number as the Armenian version.[6][15]

The 14th dynasty saw great success during their early years, but it would apparently turn when kings would have start using prenomens that may be construed as giving signs of famine plaguing Egypt. Also being very similar to the 13th Dynasty with the late kings being replaced in a very rapid succession. The 14th dynasty was overthrown by the the Hyksos.[15]

The 15th Dynasty

Main article: Fifteenth Dynasty of Egypt

The 15th Dynasty (c.1650 to 1550 BC.)[1]: 123  of Egypt ruled from Avaris but did not control the entire land, leaving some of northern Upper Egypt under the control of both the Abydos Dynasty and the early 16th dynasty.[16] With the 16th dynasty being ruled not by the Hyksos themselves, but the Thebans. The names and order of their kings is uncertain. The Turin King list indicates that there were six Hyksos kings, with an obscure Khamudi listed as the final king of the 15th dynasty.[16]


Main article: Hyksos

The Hyksos name was translated by Josephus who was looking over the conveys of Manetho's court. The name translates into two different meanings, with the first being "Shepherd kings", and the second being as "Captive Shepherds".[17] It is up to debate on if the movement of the Hyksos was a military invasion or a mass migration of Asiatics from Palestine.[18][1]: 127–128  The Hyksos established their own dynasty in Egypt, the 15th Dynasty.

Abydos Dynasty

Main article: Abydos Dynasty

The Abydos Dynasty (c. 1640 to 1620 BC.)[19] may have been a short-lived local dynasty ruling over part of Upper Egypt during the Second Intermediate Period in Ancient Egypt and was contemporary with the 15th and 16th Dynasties. The Abydos Dynasty stayed pretty small with ruling over just Abydos or Thinis.[19] Very little is known about the Abydos Dynasty since it was a very short-lived dynasty. though we do have some king names that relate to the Abydos Dynasty but the names that appear in Turin king list, but it doesn't appear in any other sources. The dynasty tentatively includes four rulers: Wepwawetemsaf, Pantjeny, Snaaib, and Senebkay.[19] The Abydos Dynasty ceased when the Hyksos expanded into Upper Egypt.

The 16th Dynasty

Main article: Sixteenth Dynasty of Egypt

The 16th Dynasty (c. 1650-1580 BC) ruled the Theban region in Upper Egypt. Of the two chief versions of Manetho's Aegyptiaca, Dynasty XVI is described by the more reliable Africanus (supported by Syncellus) as "shepherd [hyksos] kings", but by Eusebius as Theban.[6] The continuing war against the 15th Dynasty dominated the short-lived 16th dynasty. The armies of the 15th Dynasty, winning town after town from their southern enemies, continually encroached on the 16th dynasty territory, eventually threatening and then conquering Thebes itself. Famine, which had plagued Upper Egypt during the late 13th dynasty and the 14th dynasty, also blighted the 16th dynasty, most evidently during and after the reign of Neferhotep III.The end of the 16th Dynasty came upon by the military pressure of the 15th Dynasty. With many attempts by the 15th Dynasty with evidence of Nebiryraw I's own personal seals being found in the Hyksos territory. sometime around 1580 BCE, the 16th Dynasty would end with King Khyan of the 15th Dynasty conquering the 16th Dynasty.[20]

The 17th Dynasty

Main article: Seventeenth Dynasty of Egypt

The 17th dynasty (c.1571-1540 BC)[21] was established by the Thebans quickly after the fall of the 16th Dynasty. The details of the overthrow of the Hyksos in Thebes are unclear.[21] Sources such as Africanus and Eusebius indicate that the 16th Dynasty comprised shepherd kings (like the 15th Dynasty), but also Theban kings too.[6] The 17th Dynasty would also see four different ruling families whose last king did not have a male heir to the throne. Subsequently, other powerful families established kings having short reigns.[21] The 17th Dynasty maintained a short-lived peace with the 15th Dynasty, which ended with the start of the reign of Seqenenre (c. 1549-1545 BC), who attacked the 15th Dynasty. King Kamose (c. 1545-1540 BC) continued the war against the 15th Dynasty and the Hyksos as a whole. Ahmose I would be the king to deal the final blow to the 15th Dynasty and would be the last king for the 17th Dynasty.[21]


At the end of the Second Intermediate period, the 18th Dynasty came to power in Egypt. The first king of the Eighteenth Dynasty, Ahmose, completed expulsion of the Hyksos from Egypt and consolidated his rule over the land. With that, Ahmose ushered in a new period of prosperity in Egypt, the New Kingdom.[22]


  1. ^ a b c d e Van de Mieroop, Marc (2021). A history of ancient Egypt. Chichester, West Sussex: Wiley-Blackwell. ISBN 978-1-119-62087-7. OCLC 1200833162.
  2. ^ Von Beckerath 1964, Ryholt 1997
  3. ^ "LacusCurtius • Manetho's History of Egypt — Book II".
  4. ^ Kim S. B. Ryholt, The Political Situation in Egypt during the Second Intermediate Period, c. 1800–1550 B.C., Museum Tusculanum Press, Carsten Niebuhr Institute Publications 20. 1997, p.185
  5. ^ Ilin-Tomich, Alexander. “Second Intermediate Period” (2016)
  6. ^ a b c d "LacusCurtius • Manetho's History of Egypt — Book II".
  7. ^ a b c "13th Dynasty (1783-1640) | the Ancient Egypt Site".
  8. ^ "14th Dynasty (1797-1640) | the Ancient Egypt Site".
  9. ^ Ryholt, Kim (1997). The Political Situation in Egypt during the Second Intermediate Period. Museum Tusculanum Press.
  10. ^ Bulletin of the American Schools of Oriental Research 315, 1999, pp.47-73.
  11. ^ Grimal, Nicolas (1994). A History of Ancient Egypt. Wiley-Blackwell (July 19, 1994). pp. 182–197.
  12. ^ "Hyksos". Britannica.
  13. ^ Shaw, Ian (2004). The Oxford History of Ancient Egypt. Oxford University Press. pp. 172–206.
  14. ^ Ilin-Tomich, Alexander (2016). "Second Intermediate Period". UCLA Encyclopedia of Egyptology: 1–21.
  15. ^ a b "14th Dynasty (1797-1640) | the Ancient Egypt Site".
  16. ^ a b "15th Dynasty (1640-1522) | the Ancient Egypt Site".
  17. ^ Ilin-Tomich, Alexander. “Second Intermediate Period” (2016).
  18. ^ "Hyksos | History, Kings, & Significance | Britannica". 2023-10-27. Retrieved 2023-11-27.
  19. ^ a b c "Abydos Dynasty (1640-1620) | the Ancient Egypt Site".
  20. ^ "16th Dynasty (1640-1580) | the Ancient Egypt Site".
  21. ^ a b c d "17th Dynasty (1571-1540) | the Ancient Egypt Site".
  22. ^ "17th Dynasty (1571-1540) | the Ancient Egypt Site".


Preceded byMiddle Kingdom Time Periods of Egypt 1650–1550 BC Succeeded byNew Kingdom