STELE OF KAMOSE AT KARNAK
The following two inscriptions purport to be King Kamose's account of his struggle to reunify Egypt at the end of the Second Intermediate Period. Kamose's father, Seqenenre Tao, had been king of the area around Thebes, which became the headquarters for his fairly successful effort to regain control of the Nile valley from the foreign Hyksos monarchy, at that time represented by the aging Apophis (called Apopy in the inscription). Kamose took up the reconquest from his dad, eventually pushing the Hyksos king back toward his capital city of Avaris, in the Nile Delta. Apophis tried to expand the war to a second front, by calling on the ruler of Kush, at Egypt's southern border, to attack Kamose to the rear. As the inscription indicates, Apophis' plan did not succeed. Kamose's rule was fairly brief; his successor Ahmose was the one who finally managed to force the Hyksos out of Egypt and re-unify Egypt under an Egyptian monarchy.
why does Kamose attack the Asiatics? Is his motivation typical of all Egyptians at the time? on what basis do others disagree with his plans?
how does Kamose manage to succeed? how is victory represented in the inscriptions?
Kamose I (Helck, 1975a; 82ff., no. 119)
(1-2) "Regnal year 3 of Horus, he who has appeared on his throne; The-Two-Ladies, repeating monuments; Horus-of-Gold, who pacifies the Two Lands, King of Upper and Lower Egypt [Wadj]-Kheper-[re (1), son of Re] Kamose, given life, beloved of Amenre lord of the Thrones of the Two Lands, like Re forever and ever! A mighty king native of Wese, Wadj-[kheper]-re, given life forever, even a good king! It is Re [that made] him king himself, and that authorized victory for him in very Truth!
(3-5) His Majesty spoke in his palace to his council of magistrates who were in his train: 'To what end do I know my (own) strength? One chief is in Avaris, another in Kush, and I sit (here) associated with an Asiatic and a Nubian! Each man has his slice in this Egypt and so the land is partitioned with me! None can pass through it(2) as far as Memphis (although it is) Egyptian water! See he (even) has Hermopolis! No one can be at ease when they are milked by the taxes of the Asiatics. I shall grapple with him that I might crush his belly, (for) my desire is to rescue Egypt which the Asiatics have destroyed.'
(6-7) Then spake the magistrates of his council: 'See, as far as Kos(3) it is Asiatic water, and they have drawn out their tongues of one accord (4). We are doing all right with our (part of) Egypt: Elephantine is strong, and the interior is with us as far as Kos. Their free land is cultivated for us, and our cattle graze in the Delta fens, while corn is sent for our pigs. Our cattle have not been seized, and [ ... ] have not been tasted He has the land of the Asiatics, we have Egypt. Only when comes one who [acts against us] should we act against him.'
But they troubled His Majesty's heart.
(8-9) 'As for your counsel [...] [ ... op]posite me. He who partitions the land with me will never respect me(5) [ ... ] the Asiatics who [ ... ] with him. I will sail north to engage the Asiatics and success will come! If he intends to be at ease in [ ... ] his eyes weeping and the entire land [ ... ]!'
The Mighty Ruler in Thebes, Kamose the Strong, protector of Egypt.
(10-16) I sailed north in my might to repel the Asiatics through the command of Amun, exact-of-counsel, with my brave army before me like a flame of fire and the Medjay (6)archers a-top our fighting-tops on the lookout for the Asiatics in order to destroy their places. East and West proffered their abundance, and the army provisioned itself everywhere. I despatched the mighty battalions of Medjay, while I passed the day in [ ... ] in order to invest [ ... ] Tety the son of Pepy in the midst of Nefrusy(7) . I was not going to let him escape, once I had repelled the Asiatics who had defied Egypt, so that he could turn Nefrusy into a nest of Asiatics. I passed the night in my ship, my heart happy; and when day dawned I was upon him as if it were a hawk. When breakfast time came I overthrew him having destroyed his walls and slaughtered his people, and made his wife descend to the river bank. My army acted like lions with their spoil - chattels, cattle, fat, honey - dividing their things, their hearts joyful. The district of Nefrusy came down (in submission) : it did not take us long until its [ ... ] was hemmed in [?] [unknown location] was deserted when I approached it. Their horses had fled inside, and the border patrol [ ... ] those who had spent the night in the valley, their property ... [remainder lost]
Kamose II (Habachi 1972)
(1-3) "'Bad news is in your town: you are driven back in the presence of your army, and your authority is restricted - inasmuch as you, in your capacity as suzerain, have made me a chief - so that (now) you must (even) beg for the block where you shall fall. Look behind you! My troops are a threat behind you. The mistresses of Avaris shall not conceive, their hearts shall not budge in the midst of their bodies, when the war-whoop of my troops is heard!'
(4-8) I put in at Per-djedken(8) , my heart happy, so that I might let Apopy experience a bad time, that Syrian prince with weak arms, who conceives brave things which never come about for him! I arrived at Yenyet- of-the-southward-journey(9) , and I crossed over to them to greet them. I put the fleet (already) equipped in order, one behind the other, in order that I might take the lead, setting the course, with my braves, flying over the river as does a falcon, my flag-ship of gold at their head, something like a divine being at their front. I made the might transport boat beach at the edge of the cultivation, with the fleet behind it, as the sparrow-hawk uproots (plants) upon the flats of Avaris!
(9-10) I espied his women upon his roof, peering out of their windows towards the harbor. Their bellies stirred not as they saw me, peeping from their loop-holes upon their walls like the young of inh-animals(10) in their holes, saying: he is swift!'
(11-18) Behold! I am come, a successful man! What remains is in my possession, and my venture prospers! As mighty Amun endures, I shall not leave you, I shall not allow you to tread the fields even when I am not (here) with you! Does your heart fail, O you vile Asiatic? Look! I drink of the wine of your vineyards which the Asiatics whom I captured pressed out for me. I have smashed up your resthouse, I have cut down your trees, I have forced your women into ships' holds, I have seized [your] horses; I haven't left a plank to the hundreds of ships of fresh cedar which were filled with gold, lapis, silver, turquoise, bronze axes without number, over and above the moringa-oil, incense, fat, honey, willow, box-wood, sticks and all their fine woods - all the fine products of Retenu(11) - I have confiscated all of it! I haven't left a thing to Avaris to her (own) destitution: the Asiatic has perished! Does your heart fail, O you vile Asiatic, you who used to say: 'I am lord without equal from Hermopolis to Pi-Hathor upon the Rekhty water. (As for) Avaris on the Two Rivers, I laid it waste without inhabitants; I destroyed their towns and burned their homes to reddened ruin-heaps forever, because of the destruction they had wrought in the midst of Egypt: they who had allowed themselves to hearken to the call of the Asiatics, had forsaken Egypt their mistress!
(19-24) I captured his messenger in the oasis upland, as he was going south to Kush with a written dispatch, and I found on it the following, in writing by the hand of the Ruler of Avaris: '[ ... ] son of Re, Apophis greets my son the ruler of Kush. Why have you arisen as ruler without letting me know? Do you see what Egypt has done to me? The Ruler which is in her midst - Kamose-the-Mighty, given life! - is pushing me off my (own) land! I have not attacked him in any way comparable to all that he has done to you; he has chopped up the Two Lands to their grief, my land and yours, and he has hacked them up. Come north! Do not hold back! See, he is here with me: There is none who will stand up to you in Egypt. See, I will not give him a way out until you arrive! Then we shall divide the towns of Egypt, and [Khent]-hen-nofer(12) shall be in joy.'
(25-30) 'I took possession of both deserts and the southland, and the rivers likewise, and no way was found for the ... (?). I am never lax concerning my army - the concerned man has not diverted attention - He feared me even when I was sailing north, before we had fought, before I reached him! When he saw my flame he beat a path as far as Kush to seek his deliverer. (But) I seized it(13) en route and did not let it arrive. Then I had it taken back that it might be returned to him again, and released on the east side at Atfih(14) . My victory astounded him and his limbs were wracked, when his messenger related to him what I had done to the district of Cynopolis which had been his possession. I despatched my strong battalion which was on the march to destroy Djesdjes (while I was in Sako), to prevent (any) enemy forces being behind me. So I fared south confident and happy, destroying all the enemy who were in my way!'
(31-35) What a happy home-trip for the Ruler! life! prosperity! happiness! with his army ahead of him! They had no casualties, nor did anyone blame his fellow, nor did their hearts weep! I moored on home soil during the season of Inundation; everyone was bright-eyed, the land had abundant food, the river-bank was resplendent! Thebes was festive, women and men had come out to see me; every woman hugged her neighbor, no one was tearful. [Amun's] incense (burned) in the sanctuary, at the place where it is said: 'Receive good things!' as he grants the scimitar to the son of Amun life! prosperity! happiness!, the enduring king Wadj-kheper-re, son of Re, Kamose-the-mighty, given life, who subdued the south and drove back the north, who seized the land by main force - given life, stability, dominion and happiness with his ku like Re forever and ever!
(36-38) His Majesty commanded the hereditary prince and count, master of privy matters of the kings-house, chief of the entire land, the seal-bearer of the king of Lower Egypt of (?) 'Star-of-the-Two-Lands', the dux, overseer of courtiers, overseer of the seal, User-neshi: 'Have everything that My Majesty has done in war be put upon a stela, and have it set in Karnak in Thebes forever and ever.' Then he replied to His Majesty: 'I will perform every assignment to the satisfaction of the king.'"
Notes for Kamose Inscriptions from Karnak
1. Wadj-kheper-re is a regnal name of Kamose.
2. or "there is none who can surpass him ... "
3. town also known as Cusae, near Hermopolis, at this time serving as the southern boundary of direct control by the Hyksos ruler
4. Or this could be a parenthetical remark about the councillors putting their tongues out and speaking as one in this response.
5. or "I can never move freely when the land is partitioned with me."
6. unit of auxiliaries in pharaoh's army
7. town north of Kos
8. unknown location
9. unknown location somewhere in the vicinity of Avaris
10. unknown kind of animal, possibly a rodent of some sort
11. Retenu is a place name associated with the eastern seaboard of the Mediterranean, the western Asia area from which the Hyksos originated
12. another name for Kush
13. i.e. the letter seeking aid from Kush
14. town in the 22nd nome, in Upper Egypt
Translation from D. Redford, "Textual Sources for the Hyksos Period," in E.D. Oren, (ed), The Hyksos: New Historical and Archaeological Perspectives (Philadelphia: 1997), pp.1-44.