Manetho Rehabilitated: A New Analysis of His Second Intermediate Period

Dyn. 
Eusebius 
Africanus 
Josephus 
XIII 
Diospolis 
Diospolis 
N.A. 
XIV 
Xois 
Xois 
N.A. 
XV 
Diospolis 
Hyksos

Hyksos

XVI 
Thebes 
Hyksos 
Hyksos 
XVII 
Hyksos

Hyksos + Thebes * 
N.A. 
* Eusebius gives Diospolis as the capitol of the
Thirteenth and Fifteenth Dynasties and Thebes as the capitol of the
Sixteenth Dynasty. Africanus divides the Seventeenth Dynasty between
Thebes and the Hyksos, but identifies the Theben capitol as
“Thebes or Diospolis.” Thebes and Diospolis are alternative
Greek names for the same city.
** The Armenian Version of Eusebius lists Aphophis
after Archles; the Syncellus Version places Aphophis before Archles.
Both versions have the same lengths of reign for all four kings.
Although the Fourteenth Dynasty is not described as a Hyksos dynasty, both sources agree that it was based in the northern delta city of Xois. It is usually thought of as either a Hyksos dynasty ruling concurrently with other Hyksos dynasties, or as a local northern dynasty subservient to a Hyksos dynasty. For simplicity of discussion, I will refer to the kings of Xois as Hyksos kings.
To focus on how far apart Africanus and Eusebius are, compare the former’s Fifteenth Dynasty with the latter’s Seventeenth Dynasty. It is clear that each is talking about the same group of kings but that they disagree as to how many kings belonged to the dynasty, how long these kings ruled, and how they fit in with respect to the other dynasties during the Second Intermediate Period. That Africanus himself was confused is evident from the fact that he describes the Seventeenth Dynasty as consisting of both Theban and Hyksos kings, assigning the same number of kings and years to both groups.
Unlike Africanus and Eusebius, Josephus does not refer to dynasties by number, nor does he list the kings in tabular form. In his excerpt from Manetho, he talks only of the Hyksos kings, naming six of them along with their lengths of reign. These reigns add up to 259 years and 8 months. Additionally, he says that these six kings were followed by additional Hyksos kings and that the total Hyksos reign was 511 years.
For purposes of comparison, I have aligned Josephus’s six kings with Africanus’s Fifteenth Dynasty. It is clear that the two kinglists are based on a similar source of information. The two sets of names are practically identical, although not in the same order, and in only one instance is there a disagreement over the length of reign. Josephus’s Apachnan has a reign of 36 years, and Africanus’s Pachnan has a reign of 61 years, a 25 year discrepancy. Therefore, Africanus has a 284 year duration for this dynasty as opposed to Josephus’s 259 years. The origin of this 25 year disagreement will be explained below.
Additionally, I have aligned Josephus’s 511 year summation line with Africanus’s Sixteenth Dynasty, which ruled 518 years. Although Africanus identifies this 518 year period as a separate dynasty, that the figure follows after the six kings suggests that it derives from a source similar to the one used by Josephus. Further below I will argue that Josephus’s 511 year sum is a corrupted transmission of “518.” For now it is worth noting that Africanus’s 518 years is exactly twice 259, the number of years Josephus gives to the six kings.
Table 2 depicts my solution to the problem of Manetho’s chronology. Column A shows three consecutive Theban dynasties, ruling respectively 69, 39, and 151 years. Column B shows two Hyksos dynasties ruling respectively 86 and 108 years. These dynastic figures, I propose, represent Manetho’s original dynastic chronology. In order to avoid confusion among the competing dynastic numbering schemes, I will refer to the three Theban dynasties as Thebes 1, Thebes 2, and Thebes 3, and to the two Hyksos dynasties as Hyksos 1 and Hyksos 2.

A 
B 
C 
D 


THEBES 
HYKSOS 
SUM LINE 
DOUBLECOUNT 
COMMENT 
1 
DYN. XIII 

69 Years 

A1 = M’s Dyn. XIII 
2 
DYN. XVI 
DYN. XIV 
125 Years 
250 Years 
A2 = M’s Dyn. XVI 
3 
DYN. XVII 
DYN. XV 
259 Years 
518 Years 
A3 = M’s Dyn. XVII 
4 
190 Years 
194 Years 


A4 = E’s Dyn. XVI 
5 


453 Years 

C5 = E’s Dyn. XIII 
Eusebius Summary
Dyn. XIII = Sum of all five dynasties.
Dyn. XIV = Sum of Manetho’s Dyn. XIV and Dyn. XV.
(“194” years corrupted to “184” years.)
Dyn. XV = Doublecount of Manetho’s Dyn. XIV and
Dyn. XVI.
Dyn. XVI = Sum of Manetho’s Dyn. XVI and Dyn. XVII.
Dyn. XVII = Manetho’s Dyn. XV, the Great Hyksos Dynasty.
Africanus Summary
Dyn. XIII = Sum of all five dynasties.
Dyn. XIV = Sum of Manetho’s Dyn. XIV and Dyn. XV.
(“194” years corrupted to “184” years.)
Dyn. XV = Sum of Manetho’s Dyn. XV and Dyn. XVII
plus 25 years from the reign of Ahmose.
Dyn. XVI = Doublecount of Manetho’s Dyn. XV and
Dyn. XVII.
Dyn. XVII = Manetho’s Dyn. XVII.
Josephus Summary Great Hyksos Dynasty = Sum of Dyn. XV and Dyn. XVII All Hyksos kings = Sum of Dyn. XV. and Dyn. XVII, plus sum lines. (Total of 518 miscopied as 511.)
Surrounding the proposed figures for Manetho’s dynastic lengths of reign, in Columns C and D and in Rows 4 and 5, are a series of summations. These summations demonstrate the ways in which Manetho’s redactors misread his work.
The figures in Row 3 are based on a logical analysis of the three Manetho sources. The balance of the solution relies on two assumptions. The first is that Manetho terminated the Thirteenth Dynasty at the point where the first Hyksos dynasty came to power; therefore, Thebes 2 and Hyksos 1 have the same starting date. The second is that the figure of 184 years that Africanus and Eusebius assign to the Fourteenth Dynasty is a corruption of “194.”
The figures in Column C are obtained by adding together the number of years ruled by the dynasties listed in Columns A and B. The dynasties represented by Cells A2B2 and A3B3, although ruling concurrently, would have been listed consecutively in the original kinglist. The figures in row D, obtained by adding together Columns A, B, and C, represent the result of adding together the lengths of reign for each king in the indicated dynasties and the lines of summation for each of the indicated dynasties.
The figures in Row 4 are obtained by adding together the number of years in the two preceding dynasties. The figures in Row 5 are obtained by adding together the figures in Rows 1, 2, and 3. Cell 5A is the sum of all three Theban dynasties. Cell 5C is the sum of all five dynasties, both Theban and Hyksos.
By convention, the six kings named by Josephus and Africanus are referred to as the Great Hyksos Dynasty, and it is this dynasty that is thought to have been expelled by King Ahmose, founder of the Eighteenth Dynasty. However, the lengths of reign assigned to these kings are wildly inaccurate. Fortunately, a reference in the Turin Canon of Kings helps put this dynasty in chronological perspective.
TC 10:21 records “[Total, chieftains of] a foreign country, 6, they made 108 years.” (2) Because of the reference to six foreign chiefs, this entry in the Turin Canon is identified as a reference to the Great Hyksos Dynasty. After that entry the Turin Canon lists several additional king names, but they are for Theban kings. Unfortunately, much of the papyrus is damaged or missing. We should also note that the final expulsion of the Great Hyksos Dynasty occurred about four years into the Eighteenth Dynasty.
On the basis of the Turin Canon scholars generally accept that the Great Hyksos Dynasty lasted about 108 years. Both Josephus and Africanus, therefore, contain two major errors in their chronologies. First, the lengths of reign assigned to these six kings, adding up to 259 years (or 284 years), are too long. Second, since the six kings of the Great Hyksos Dynasty were the last of the Hyksos rulers, there couldn’t be an additional group of Hyksos kings following after them. Using the Turin Canon as a model, any additional kings following after the six Hyksos kings would have been Thebans. Both writers, or, more probably, their sources, must have seen the sequence of Hyksos Kings followed by Theban kings as a single dynastic grouping.
Turn now to Eusebius’s Seventeenth Dynasty. He has four kings ruling 103 years. Although he is two kings and five years short, he is remarkably close to what is indicated in the Turin Canon for the six foreign kings. Eusebius’s fourth and last king is Aphophis. Africanus makes him the sixth king, but Josephus agrees that he was number four.
We know that the Theban king who preceded Ahmose was Kamose, and he was on the throne probably no more than five years. (3) During some unknown year of Kamose’s reign, Aphophis was also on the throne. (4) This leaves only the balance of Kamose’s reign, and four additional years in which Hyksos kings could have served, a total period of 4 to 8 years. Eusebius’s Seventeenth Dynasty, therefore, terminates at just about the point where Ahmose ascends the throne, ending the Hyksos dynasty with the start of the Eighteenth Dynasty rather than with the expulsion of the Hyksos four years later.
Not only does Eusebius’s Seventeenth Dynasty accurately correspond to the Turin Canon’s six foreign chiefs ruling 108 years, he makes these Hyksos kings the last of the Hyksos rulers, as required by the historical record. That Eusebius could have accidentally stumbled into such a neat correlation is just too difficult to accept, and the agreement strongly suggests that the original Manetho must have had an accurate account of these six kings along with their lengths of reign. How then did Josephus and Africanus come to diverge so widely from what Manetho wrote?
If we restore Eusebius’s Seventeenth Dynasty to its full 108 years, and place it alongside Africanus’s Seventeenth Dynasty, ruling 151 years, the answer becomes apparent. Adding the Africanus and Eusebius figures together gives a sum of 259 years, exactly the number of years that Josephus erroneously assigns to the six Hyksos kings. Furthermore, twice 259 is exactly 518, the number of years Africanus assigns to his Sixteenth Dynasty.
What these numbers suggest is that there was a sequence of kings, Hyksos first, ruling 108 years, and then Thebans, ruling 151 years. Eusebius’s Seventeenth Dynasty represents one part of the list; Africanus’s Seventeenth Dynasty represents the other part. As to the erroneous lengths of reign assigned to the six kings at the head of the list, I suspect that one of Manetho’s redactors, in adding up the total number of years ruled by both the Hyksos and Theban kings, placed subtotals into the margin. These subtotals were mistakenly thought to be the lengths of reign for the first six kings. That is why the Josephus total for the six kings adds up to 259 years instead of 108 years.
Africanus’s source made a further error. The Africanus total for all six kings adds up to 284 years, 25 more than the Josephus total. The entire discrepancy is accounted for by the length of reign for a single king, Apachnan. Josephus has 36 years, Africanus 61 years.
This error is due to the fact that immediately following the Theban kings of the Seventeenth Dynasty are the Theban kings of the Eighteenth Dynasty, and the first king in that list was Ahmose, who, according to both Josephus and Eusebius, ruled for 25 years. Coincidentally, Africanus omits Ahmose’s length of reign from his Eighteenth Dynasty kinglist, although he lists the reigns for all the other kings in that dynasty. (5) Africanus’s source must have attached Ahmose’s 25 years to the sum of years for the previous group of kings.
This error is quite understandable since Ahmose is narratively linked to his predecessor Kamose. Kamose began the war against the Hyksos and Ahmose finished it. It is only reasonable that some redactors may have thought that they belonged to the same dynasty. That the 25 years is added on to the reign of a single king reinforces my suspicion that the erroneously large lengths of reign were the result of confusing subtotals in the margin with actual lengths of reign.
In addition to the sequential list of Hyksos and Theban kings, Manetho’s kinglist, like the Turin Canon, would have included lines of summation indicating how long each dynasty lasted. I suggest that both Josephus’s source and Africanus’s source read the lines of summation as descriptions of additional kings belonging to the combined HyksosTheban list. Thus, in determining the total duration of what they mistakenly thought to be a single dynasty, they added up the lengths of reign for both the six Hyksos kings and the group of Theban kings, and to this added the two accompanying lines of summation, getting a grand total of 518 years instead of 259 years. In Africanus, 518 is mistakenly thought to be the length of reign for the dynasty that followed after the six Hyksos kings. In Josephus, the 518, I suggest, was erroneously transcribed as 511, and given as the total length of reign for the Hyksos.
Summarizing briefly, Africanus’s Dyn. XV and Eusebius’s Dyn. XVII each correspond to Hyksos 2. Africanus’s Dyn. XVI never existed. And, Africanus’s Dyn. XVII, ruling 151 years, corresponds to Thebes 3. In the conventional numbering system, Hyksos 2 corresponds to Dyn. XV, and Thebes 3 to Dyn. XVII.
Earlier I made reference to two assumptions that influenced the reconciliation of the Manetho sources. One was that Thebes 2 and Hyksos 1 started at the same time, at the end of Dyn. XIII; the other that the 184 years assigned to Dyn. XIV was a corrupt transmission of “194” years. Keeping those assumptions in mind, consider Eusebius’s chronology for the Theban dynasties.
He lists three Theban dynasties, Dyn. XIII ruling 453 years, Dyn. XV ruling 250 years, and Dyn. XVI ruling 190 years. He does not include a Theban dynasty ruling 151 years. Logic would suggest that one of these three Theban dynasties might be a larger subset of Theban kings that included the 151 year reign of Thebes 3. If we place his Theban Dyn. XVI, ruling 190 years, alongside his Hyksos Dyn. XIV, ruling 194 years (assuming that “184” was a corruption of “194”), an interesting pattern emerges.
The Great Hyksos Dynasty, our Hyksos 2, lasted four years into the Eighteenth Dynasty. Therefore, the sum of Hyksos 1 and Hyksos 2 should be four years longer than the sum of Thebes 2 and Thebes 3. Since Eusebius’s Hyksos Dyn. XIV ruled 194 years, and his Theban Dyn. XVI ruled 190 years, we can assume that his Dyn. XIV is the sum of Hyksos 1 and Hyksos 2, and his Dyn. XVI is the sum of Thebes 2 and Thebes 3.
This permits us to assign lengths of reign to Thebes 2 and Hyksos 1. Thebes 2 ruled for 39 years, the difference between 190 and 151 years; Hyksos 1 ruled for 86 years, the difference between 194 and 108 years. In our theoretical kinglist, then, there would be a sequence of Theban kings ruling 39 years, followed by a line of summation referring to “kings ruling for 39 years,” followed by a sequence of Hyksos kings ruling for 86 years, followed by a line of summation referring to “kings ruling for 86 years.” Following the pattern of error exhibited in the analysis of Thebes 3 and Hyksos 2, we combine Thebes 2 and Hyksos 1, getting a total duration of 125 years, and then add on the two accompanying lines of summation for another 125 years. This gives a grand total of 250 years, the number of years assigned to Eusebius’s Dyn. XV.
This makes for an interesting parallel between Africanus’s Dyn. XV and Eusebius’s Dyn. XV. In both cases, the Fifteenth Dynasty consists of a Theban dynasty concatenated to a Hyksos dynasty. The chief differences between the two are that Eusebius’s dynasty represents Thebes 2 and Hyksos 1 and is identified with Thebes, whereas Africanus’s dynasty represents Thebes 3 and Hyksos 2 and is identified with the Hyksos.
Summarizing briefly, Hyksos 1, ruling 86 years, equals Manetho’s original Dyn. XIV; Thebes 2, ruling 39 years, equals Manetho’s original Dyn. XVI. Eusebius’s Dyn. XIV is actually the sum of Manetho’s Dyn. XIV and Dyn. XV; his Dyn. XV is actually the sum of Manetho’s Dyn. XV and Dyn. XVI; and his Dyn. XVI is actually the sum of Manetho’s Dyn. XVI and Dyn. XVII. In all three instances, each dynastic total includes both the original Manetho dynasty and the next Manetho dynasty in succession.
This brings us to the matter of Dyn. XIII, which according to both Africanus and Eusebius ruled 453 years. It is commonly believed by scholars that the 453 years is a miscopy of 153. It is maintained that in Greek, the characters for “400” and “100” are easily confused, and, in fact there is some evidence for that view. One version of Eusebius assigns the Fourteenth Dynasty 184 years, another assigns 484 years.
Such a solution, however, is inconsistent with the reconciliation set forth above. It would require a total period of almost 350 years for the period from the start of Dyn. XIII to the end of Dyn. XVII, more than a century longer than any Egyptologist would allow. As an alternative, I suggest that 453 is an accurate transmission but that it is the combined sum for all five dynasties in the Second Intermediate Period. If this view is correct, then Manetho would have to have given the original Dyn. XIII a reign of 69 years. An examination of Manetho’s Twelfth Dynasty indicates that Manetho did just that.
There are two versions of Manetho’s Twelfth Dynasty, Africanus and Eusebius. Both sources agree as to the first five kings in sequence, although, strangely, both place the first king in between the Eleventh Dynasty and the Twelfth Dynasty. These first five kings had a total reign of 156 years. It is after the fifth king that the two chronologies diverge.
Africanus names three kings with a combined reign of twenty years. This gives a dynastic total of 176 years, well short of the actual duration. Eusebius, however, indicates that after the fifth king an unknown number of successors ruled for 42 years. This would indicate a total duration of 198 years, but Eusebius then states the total duration of the dynasty was 245 years, a figure that is at least thirtyfive years longer than the true length of the Twelfth Dynasty. Eusebius provides no explanation for this disparity between the number of years recorded and the number of years claimed.
Since both Africanus and Eusebius start the Twelfth Dynasty with the same group of kings serving the same lengths of reign, it is clear that the Eusebius total of 245 must encompass a larger group of kings than does the Africanus total. Coincidentally, the difference between Africanus’s 176 years and Eusebius’s 245 years is 69 years, the proposed number of years for Dyn. XIII. This suggests that Eusebius’s figure of 245 years includes both the Twelfth Dynasty kings and the Thirteenth Dynasty kings, once again combining two consecutive dynasties for a single dynastic total. We note also that the 69 year period proposed for Manetho’s Thirteenth Dynasty must of necessity include at least part of the Twelfth Dynasty.
In conclusion, I think it is fair to say that Manetho’s original history had a reasonably accurate account of the Second Intermediate Period chronology. If we add up all three Theban dynasties the sum is 259 years. Since a portion of that includes the tail end of the Twelfth Dynasty, the proposed Manetho figures are quite consistent with the consensus about how long the Second Intermediate Period lasted.
Furthermore, we have seen that Eusebius’s account of the Great Hyksos Kings coincides with the historical evidence for this dynasty. He has accurate lengths of reign, and he places the kings in proper dynastic sequence. Given the inaccuracies in Josephus and Africanus it is hard to accept that Eusebius accidentally stumbled onto the correct chronological record. Manetho must have had the correct figures.
The nature of the errors described herein also follow logical patterns. Time and again each erroneous figure appears to be the result of concatenating either consecutive dynasties or concurrent dynasties. We also note that in both instances where the concurrent dynasties were concatenated, the sum of years also incorporated the lines of summation into the total.
Whenever the Second Intermediate Period chronology is discussed, Manetho is routinely chastised for his highly inflated figures and his confusing account of this period’s history. The evidence above, however, shows that Manetho was well acquainted with the events of the Second Intermediate Period and presented a highly accurate account of the dynastic chronology. The erroneous traditions that have been passed down to us are the result of faulty redactions by Greek, Jewish, and Christian scholars. These redactors, more concerned with the propaganda value of Manetho’s works then they were with a studious analysis of what he wrote, have done Manetho a great injustice. It is time to set the record straight.
1. Data taken from Manetho, ed. G.P. Poole. trans. W. G. Waddell,
(1940; Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1980) 7397.
2. Sir Alan Gardiner, Egypt of the Pharaohs (Oxford: Oxford
University Press, 1978) 442.
3. T. G. H. James, CAH II:1 292. The highest year marker for Kamose
is 3 years.
4. Gardiner, Egypt of the Pharaohs 168.
5. Manetho 111.