top of page

Lessons Plans from the Ancient Egypt: The Second Intermediate Period

The Second Intermediate Period, spanning from approximately 1650 to 1550 BC, stands as a significant chapter in the annals of ancient Egyptian history. During this era, Egypt underwent a profound transformation marked by foreign rule, cultural exchange, and technological advancements. Understanding the major events of this period sheds light on the complexities of ancient Egypt and its interactions with neighboring civilizations.

One of the pivotal events of the Second Intermediate Period was the invasion and subsequent foreign rule by the Hyksos, a group of Semitic people originating from the Levant region. The Hyksos established their capital at Avaris, located in the Nile Delta, and exerted control over large swathes of Lower Egypt. This period of Hyksos domination represented a departure from traditional Egyptian rule and marked a significant disruption in the country's political and social fabric.

The Hyksos rule had far-reaching implications for Egypt, both positive and negative. On one hand, the Hyksos introduced new military technologies and cultural influences that left a lasting impact on Egyptian society. Foremost among these innovations was the introduction of the horse-drawn chariot, a formidable weapon of war that revolutionized Egyptian military tactics. The Hyksos also brought with them advancements in bronze metallurgy, enhancing the Egyptians' ability to craft weapons and tools.

However, the Hyksos rule also brought about a period of political instability and social upheaval in Egypt. The native Egyptian rulers of the time found themselves marginalized and forced to contend with foreign overlords. The Hyksos' presence in Egypt challenged the traditional power structures and led to a period of fragmentation and uncertainty.

From a historical perspective, studying the Second Intermediate Period offers valuable insights into the dynamics of ancient geopolitics and cultural exchange. It highlights the complexities of interstate relations and the fluidity of power in the ancient world. Moreover, it underscores the resilience of Egyptian civilization in the face of external pressures and its ability to adapt and assimilate foreign influences.

By examining the events of the Second Intermediate Period, historians can gain a deeper understanding of the factors that shaped ancient Egypt's development and its interactions with neighboring civilizations. It serves as a reminder of the intricate tapestry of human history, where periods of turmoil and foreign domination often pave the way for cultural exchange and innovation. As such, the study of this period and events like it enriches our understanding of the past and provides valuable lessons for the present.

Global Events Around this Period

During the Second Intermediate Period, spanning roughly from 1650 to 1550 BC, while Egypt grappled with foreign rule by the Hyksos, significant events were unfolding in other parts of the world. This period witnessed the rise and fall of civilizations, military conflicts, and cultural developments that shaped the course of history in various regions.

Around 1650 BC, the Hyksos, a Semitic people originating from the Levant, began their rule over Egypt, marking a significant shift in power dynamics in the region. Meanwhile, in other parts of the world:

1.    Minoan Civilization (Crete): The Minoan civilization on the island of Crete was flourishing during this time. Known for its advanced culture, maritime trade, and distinctive art and architecture, the Minoans were active in the Aegean Sea region. Around 1600 BC, however, the Minoan civilization experienced a sudden decline, possibly due to natural disasters or invasions.

2.    Mycenaean Greece: In mainland Greece, the Mycenaean civilization was reaching its peak during the Second Intermediate Period. The Mycenaeans were renowned for their fortified palaces, extensive trade networks, and warrior culture. Around 1600 BC, they expanded their influence across the Aegean, establishing trade contacts with Egypt and the Near East.

3.    Hittite Empire (Anatolia): In Anatolia (modern-day Turkey), the Hittite Empire was emerging as a major power. By the mid-17th century BC, the Hittites had established themselves as a formidable force in the region, engaging in conflicts with neighboring kingdoms and establishing diplomatic relations with Egypt and Mesopotamia.

4.    Indus Valley Civilization (South Asia): In the Indian subcontinent, the Indus Valley Civilization was in its later stages during this period. Urban centers such as Mohenjo-Daro and Harappa had declined by around 1700 BC, possibly due to environmental factors or shifts in trade routes. However, smaller settlements in the region continued to thrive.

5.    Xia Dynasty (China): In ancient China, the Xia Dynasty is believed to have been in power during the Second Intermediate Period. While archaeological evidence for the Xia Dynasty remains elusive, Chinese historical texts suggest that it existed from around 2070 to 1600 BC, making it contemporaneous with the events in Egypt.

6.    Bronze Age Collapse: Towards the end of the Second Intermediate Period, around 1200 BC, the eastern Mediterranean witnessed a series of upheavals known as the Bronze Age Collapse. This period saw the collapse of several major civilizations, including the Hittites, Mycenaeans, and Minoans, leading to widespread chaos and migration.

These historic events provide context for understanding the broader geopolitical landscape during the Second Intermediate Period. While Egypt grappled with foreign domination and cultural exchange under the Hyksos, other civilizations were experiencing their own challenges and developments, shaping the course of history in the ancient world.

Important People During this Period

The Second Intermediate Period of ancient Egypt, spanning from approximately 1650 to 1550 BC, was a tumultuous time characterized by foreign rule and cultural exchange. During this period, Egypt faced significant challenges as it fell under the domination of the Hyksos, a Semitic people whose influence left a lasting impact on Egyptian society. Understanding the key figures of this era is crucial for comprehending the dynamics of power, the effects of foreign rule, and the subsequent resurgence of Egyptian authority.

1.    Hyksos Kings: The Hyksos rulers were the central figures of the Second Intermediate Period. While their individual names are not extensively documented, their collective impact on Egypt was profound. They established their capital at Avaris in the Nile Delta and introduced new military technologies, such as the horse and chariot, which transformed Egyptian warfare. The Hyksos' foreign rule disrupted the traditional order of Egyptian society and left a mark on its culture and governance.

2.    Kamose: Kamose, the last pharaoh of the Seventeenth Dynasty, played a pivotal role in the eventual expulsion of the Hyksos from Egypt. He initiated military campaigns to drive out the foreign invaders, launching attacks against Hyksos-controlled territories in the Nile Delta. Kamose's efforts laid the groundwork for the reunification of Egypt under the succeeding Eighteenth Dynasty.

3.    Ahmose I: Ahmose I, the younger brother of Kamose, continued the fight against the Hyksos and ultimately succeeded in expelling them from Egypt, marking the end of the Second Intermediate Period. He founded the Eighteenth Dynasty and ushered in the era known as the New Kingdom. Ahmose I's reign marked a significant turning point in Egyptian history, as it marked the restoration of native rule and the beginning of a period of military expansion and cultural flourishing.

Studying the lives and actions of these key figures during the Second Intermediate Period is essential for understanding the complexities of ancient Egyptian politics, society, and culture during this transformative era. Their decisions and actions shaped the course of Egyptian history, leading to the overthrow of foreign domination and the resurgence of Egyptian power. Additionally, examining the interactions between the Hyksos rulers and native Egyptian leaders sheds light on the processes of cultural exchange and adaptation that occurred during periods of foreign rule.

Life Lessons to Learning While Studying this Period

Studying historical events such as the Second Intermediate Period, marked by foreign rule in ancient Egypt by the Hyksos, offers valuable insights into life lessons and thought processes that resonate across time. While this period was characterized by political upheaval and cultural exchange, it also provides an opportunity to reflect on resilience, adaptation, and the complexities of intercultural interactions. Here are some life lessons and thought processes that can be gleaned from studying this event:

1.    Resilience in the Face of Adversity: The period of foreign rule by the Hyksos tested the resilience of the Egyptian people. Despite facing domination by a foreign power, the Egyptians persevered, resisted, and eventually overcame the Hyksos rule. This resilience in the face of adversity teaches us the importance of perseverance, determination, and resilience in overcoming challenges and obstacles in our own lives.

2.    Adaptation and Innovation: The Hyksos introduced new military technologies, such as the horse and chariot, to Egypt. This forced the Egyptians to adapt their military strategies and tactics to counter these advancements. The need to adapt to changing circumstances and innovate in response to new challenges is a crucial lesson that can be applied to various aspects of life, whether in personal or professional endeavors.

3.    Cultural Exchange and Diversity: The foreign rule of the Hyksos brought about cultural exchange and interaction between the Egyptians and the Semitic Hyksos. This period witnessed the blending of Egyptian and Hyksos cultural elements, leading to the enrichment and diversification of Egyptian society. Studying this aspect emphasizes the value of cultural diversity, tolerance, and understanding in fostering social cohesion and harmony in multicultural societies.

4.    The Dynamics of Power and Leadership: The rise and fall of the Hyksos and the subsequent reunification of Egypt under native rule highlight the complexities of power dynamics and leadership struggles. Examining the strategies employed by Egyptian leaders like Kamose and Ahmose I to reclaim authority sheds light on the qualities of effective leadership, strategic decision-making, and diplomatic maneuvers in times of crisis.

5.    Lessons from History: Studying the Second Intermediate Period serves as a reminder of the cyclical nature of history and the lessons it holds for the present and future. By understanding the causes and consequences of past events, we gain valuable insights into human behavior, societal dynamics, and the factors that shape the course of history. This encourages critical thinking, reflection, and informed decision-making in navigating contemporary challenges and shaping a better future.


Here are some vocabulary words that students may encounter while learning about the Second Intermediate Period:

1.    Hyksos: Refers to the Semitic people who ruled Egypt during the Second Intermediate Period. They established their capital at Avaris in the Nile Delta.

2.    Foreign Rule: The governance of a country or territory by individuals or groups who are not native to that land.

3.    Semitic: Relating to or denoting a group of languages that includes Hebrew, Arabic, Aramaic, and other languages spoken in the Middle East.

4.    Capital: The city or town that functions as the seat of government and administrative center of a country or region.

5.    Nile Delta: The fertile triangular region formed by the Nile River as it divides into branches before flowing into the Mediterranean Sea.

6.    Military Technologies: Equipment, weapons, and tactics used in warfare to achieve strategic and tactical objectives.

7.    Chariot: A two-wheeled horse-drawn vehicle used in ancient warfare and racing, typically with a driver and one or more passengers.

8.    Cultural Influences: The impact or effect that one culture has on another, resulting in changes in customs, beliefs, language, art, and other aspects of society.

9.    Rebellion: An act of resistance or defiance against authority or control, often involving organized opposition to ruling powers.

10. Assimilation: The process by which individuals or groups adopt the cultural traits, norms, and practices of another culture.

11. Dynasty: A succession of rulers from the same family or line, typically in a monarchy or empire.

12. Fragmentation: The division or breaking up of a larger entity into smaller parts, often resulting in political or social disunity.

13. Conquest: The act of conquering or gaining control over a territory or people through military force or political maneuvering.

14. Resistance: The refusal to accept or comply with something, often in the context of opposing an occupying or controlling force.

15. Sovereignty: Supreme power or authority over a territory or political entity, typically exercised by a government or ruling monarch.

These vocabulary words are essential for students to understand key concepts and events related to the Second Intermediate Period in ancient Egyptian history.

Activities to do with your Students

Here are some activities that teachers or parents can use to help students learn about the Second Intermediate Period:

  1. Timeline Creation (Recommended ages: 8-14): Provide students with a timeline template covering the Second Intermediate Period. Encourage students to research and identify key events, rulers, and developments during this period, including the rise and fall of the Hyksos dynasty, major battles, and cultural exchanges. Have students create a visual timeline, marking important dates and events. They can include illustrations or brief descriptions to accompany each entry. This activity helps students develop their research skills and gain a chronological understanding of historical events.

  1. Hyksos Rule Debate (Recommended ages: 10-16): Divide students into small groups, assigning each group a specific perspective: pro-Hyksos or anti-Hyksos. Provide students with resources presenting arguments from both sides regarding the impact of Hyksos rule on ancient Egypt. Encourage students to research and prepare arguments supporting their assigned perspective. Hold a debate session where groups present their arguments and engage in respectful discussion and rebuttal. This activity fosters critical thinking skills, encourages research and analysis, and promotes oral communication and debate skills.

  1. Artifact Analysis (Recommended ages: 8-12): Introduce students to images or replicas of artifacts from the Second Intermediate Period, such as weapons, pottery, jewelry, and chariot parts. Provide guiding questions to help students analyze each artifact, such as: What materials were used to create this artifact? What does this artifact tell us about daily life, technology, or culture during the Second Intermediate Period? How might this artifact reflect the influence of the Hyksos or interactions between different cultures? Encourage students to discuss their observations and interpretations in small groups or as a class. This activity promotes observation skills, critical thinking, and cultural understanding through the analysis of primary sources.

  1. Role-Playing Activity: Hyksos Invasion (Recommended ages: 10-16): Divide students into groups representing different factions involved in the Hyksos invasion of Egypt, such as the Hyksos invaders, Egyptian rulers, military leaders, and common people. Provide background information on the political, social, and economic conditions in Egypt before and during the Hyksos invasion. Assign roles to students within each group and provide them with specific goals and motivations based on historical context. Have students engage in role-playing scenarios, such as diplomatic negotiations, military strategies, or daily life during the invasion. After the role-play, facilitate a debriefing session where students reflect on the experience and discuss the challenges and decisions faced by each faction. This activity encourages empathy, historical empathy, teamwork, and critical thinking as students immerse themselves in the perspectives of different historical actors.

These activities provide engaging opportunities for students to explore and understand the complexities of the Second Intermediate Period, including the impact of Hyksos rule on ancient Egypt and the broader cultural exchanges and developments of the time.

8 views0 comments


bottom of page