The Online Encyclopedia and Dictionary







Kamose was the last king of the Theban Seventeenth Dynasty . He was the son of Sekenenra Tao II and the brother of Ahmose, founder of the Eighteenth Dynasty. His reign fell at the end of the Second Intermediate Period; it is uncertain when Kamose died, but reliable sources place his death around 1558 BC. His reign is important for the decisive military moves he made against the Hyksos, who had come to rule much of ancient Egypt.

Over the years, the independent native princes in Thebes seem to have reached 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. One text, Carnarvon Tablet I found in Thebes, relates the misgivings of Kamose's council of advisors when the king proposed moving against the Hyksos, whom he claimed were a humiliating stain upon the holy fabric of Egypt. The councillors clearly did not wish to risk disturbing the status quo:

"...we are at ease in our (part of) Egypt. Elephantine [at the ] is strong, and the middle (of the land) is with us as far as Cusae [near modern ]. The sleekest of their fields are plowed for us, and our cattle are pastured in the Delta. Emmer is sent for our pigs. Our cattle have not been taken away....He holds the land of the Asiatics; we hold Egypt..."

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 I 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 god. Kamose states his reasons for an attack on the Hyksos was nationalistic pride: in this same text he complains that he is hemmed in at Thebes between the Hyksos in the north and the Nubians of Kush in the south, each holding "his slice of Egypt, dividing up the land with me...My wish is to save Egypt and to smite the Asiatics!"

So it was that in his 3rd year on the throne Kamose embarked and sailed north from Thebes at the head of his army. He surprised and overran the southernmost garrison of the Hyksos at Nefrusy , just north of Cusae, then led his army as far north as the neighborhood of Avaris itself. Though the city was not taken, the fields around it were devastated by the Thebans.

A stele discovered at Thebes continues the account of the war from where the Carnarvon Tablet I ends. His followers capture a courier bearing a message from the Hyksos king Aa-woser-ra Apopi at Avaris to his ally the ruler of Kush, requesting his urgent support. Kamose promptly ordered a detachment of his troops to occupy the Bahriya Oasis in the Western Desert, which controlled the north-south desert route. Kamose, called "the Strong" in this text then sailed back up the Nile to Thebes for a joyous victory celebration after what was probably not much more than a surprise spoiling raid in force which caught the Hyksos off guard.

This Year 3 is the only one attested for Kamose, which may be the length of his reign. Donald Redford notes that Kamose's burial was very modest, in an unguilded coffin lacking even the royal uraeus.


  • Gardiner, Sir Alan. Egypt of the Pharaohs. Oxford: University Press, 1964, 1961.
  • James, T.G.H. "Egypt: From the Expulsion of the Hyksos to Amenophis I." Chapter VIII, Volume II of The Cambridge Ancient History Revised Edition. Cambridge: University Press, 1965.
  • Montet, Pierre. Eternal Egypt, translated from the French by Doreen Weightman. London, 1964
  • Pritchard, James B. (Editor). Ancient Near Eastern Texts Relating to the Old Testament (3rd edition). Princeton, 1969.
  • Redford, Donald B. History and Chronology of the Eighteenth Dynasty of Egypt: Seven Studies. Toronto, 1967.
Last updated: 08-20-2005 06:22:57
The contents of this article are licensed from under the GNU Free Documentation License. How to see transparent copy