Several archaeometric investigations have been conducted seeking answers to the origins of the Hyksos people. The Hyksos were a cultural group from western Asia who established a foothold in the Delta region of Lower Egypt around 1900 BCE. The Hyksos’ rise to power initiated the era in Egyptian history known as the Second Intermediate Period (c. 1782 – c. 1570 BCE). Pottery studies by both neutron activation analysis (NAA) and petrography have resulted in contradictory interpretations. This webpage provides links to both types of archaeometric investigations so the reader can decide for themselves.
Dr. Manfred Bietak is an Austrian archaeologist who conducted excavations at the capital of the Hyksos (Tell el-Dab’a – also known as Avaris). Pottery from his excavations were analyzed at several different laboratories. The largest study was conducted by neutron activation analysis (NAA) by Joan Huntoon at Brookhaven National Laboratory (BNL) who analyzed more than 1000 samples. Unfortunately, Ms. Huntoon died before completing her study. Later, Dr. Patrick McGovern from the University of Pennsylvania took up the project and analyzed several hundred more pottery samples by NAA at both BNL and MURR. Publications by McGovern and Garman Harbottle (1997) and McGovern (2000) reporting on the NAA results suggests that the Hyksos homeland was probably southern Palestine. A review of the McGovern and Harbottle investigation by Neff (2002) agreed with the conclusions of McGovern and Harbottle; but reviews by Goren (2003) and Aston (2004) did not agree with McGovern.
A subsequent petrographic investigation by Anat Cohen-Weinberger and Yuval Goren (2005) linked the pottery from Tell el-Dab’a to the northern Levant (i.e., Lebanon, Syria, and Turkey) instead of southern Palestine. More recently, McGovern (2019), reasserted the findings from his 2000 article. For those interested in learning more about this debate, please find the references below along with links to the NAA datasets.