The Hyksos, literally “Shepherd Kings,” were a group of tribal Canaanite tribes who somehow migrated to Egypt. These races were Israeli in origin, and whether they invaded or just moved in, historians hold divided opinions on that. However, they unanimously agree that from 1650 BC to around 1550 BC, Egypt was ruled by dynasties that were not essentially native Egyptians.
Those kings, mostly Semitic in origin, and superior to the then Egyptian techniques of warfare, moved in with a host of cutting edge technology (body armors, chariots, spears, etc), but almost subdued the subtle and the elegant Pre-Hyksos Art of the Egyptians. Hyksos, in its basic character, was a more primitive form of art, to say the least. It was the art of the hunter-gatherer, as opposed to the “avant garde” Egyptian motifs of yesteryears.
Although the Hyksos used Egyptians artisans, their art was enormously rudimentary. Pottery, painting, and, especially, architectures fell prey to this primitive wave. In fact, when they moved in, the Pyramids were already half a century old. The Hyksos Art however, was way behind the finesse of Pyramidal architecture, even at that point of time. Clay figurines of this period, called the “Second Intermediate Period,” demonstrated an utter disregard to form, proportion, and color. That the Hyksos were different from Egyptians could not have had any more clinching evidence than these sculptures. The temples of Hyksos were crude, and mostly mud baked, as compared to the superior stone temples of the Egyptians.
Almost after a hundred years of reign, the Hyksos Kings were finally driven out by Ahmose-I, who ushered in the era, the “New Kingdom” (1550-1070 BC). In this period, the entire Egypt was united under a single Pharaoh and the Hyksos were untraceable on the Egyptian territory. New brands of dedicated artisans, termed as, “Servants in the place of Truth,” were appointed to decorate the tombs of the kings of this era. Magnificent rock tombs of the Pharaohs became the landmarks of this golden era of Egyptian Art and architecture.
Although Thebes remained the cultural heart of this “New Kingdom,” these artisans built a set of exquisite tombs, at a place now known as Deir el-Medina. Recognition to the individual artist names, an uncommon practice in the ancient societies, became famous norm in this regime. For instance, from the old records it has been established that an artist named “Khonsu,” was the master architect of a majority of royal tombs. Most art-loving monarchs of Egypt namely, Thutmose, Nefertiti, and Tutankhamen belonged to this era, which, in a way, was a period of Egyptian Renaissance. In this melee of re-birth of Egypt, most evidences of Hyksos Art were either destroyed or chiseled out. This stands as an unfortunate reminder of the vengefulness from the most subtle of the artists of the ancient era, the Egyptians.