The vigorous civilization developing in Egypt was destined, however, to suffer a sudden eclipse. About 1800 B.C. barbarous Semitic tribes burst into the country through the Isthmus of Suez and settled in the Delta. These Hyksos, as they are usually called, were able to extend their sway over all Egypt. At first they ruled harshly, plundering the cities and enslaving the inhabitants, but in course of time the invaders adopted Egyptian culture and their kings reigned like native Pharaohs. The Hyksos are said to have introduced the horse and military chariot into Egypt. A successful revolt at length expelled the intruders and set a new line of Theban monarchs on the throne.
The overthrow of the Hyksos marked a new era in Egyptian history. From a home-loving and peaceful people, the Egyptians became a warlike people, ambitious for military glory. The Pharaohs raised powerful armies and by extensive conquests created an Egyptian Empire, which reached from the Nile to the Euphrates.
The subject territories paid a rich tribute of the precious metals, merchandise, and slaves. The forced labor of war captives enabled the Pharaohs to build temples and other public works in every part of their realm. The ruins of these stupendous structures attest the majesty and power of ancient Egypt.
The area comprised within the limits of Upper and Lower Egypt is indicated on the map. The conquered regions outside were Nubia, Ethiopia, Libya, Palestine, Phoenicia, and Syria. The islands of Cyprus and Crete, though independent, were under Egyptian influence.
The ablest and most successful of the conquering Pharaohs, Thutmose III, reigned for over half a century, beginning about Soo B.C. He waged no less than seventeen campaigns in western Asia and crushed repeated Thutmose III revolts of the subject cities and kingdoms. This work estab lished the Egyptian Empire on so sound a basis that it lasted for several hundred years.