Sharuhen was an ancient town in the Negev Desert. Following the expulsion of the Hyksos from Egypt in the second half of the 16th century BCE, they fled to Sharuhen and fortified it. The armies of Pharaoh Ahmose I seized and razed the town after a three-year siege.
The destruction of Sharuhen was merely the first stage of a new policy of pre-emptive warfare waged by the Egyptians. Because the Egyptians of the 17th Dynasty felt deeply humiliated by the 15th and 16th Dynasty rule of the Hyksos (ca. 1650 BCE-ca. 1540 BCE), the Theban dynasty launched an ambitious war, led by Seqenenre Tao, against the foreign king, Apepi, to reclaim lost territory. Though his own campaign to expel the Hyksos from Egypt failed, and he himself was killed in battle, his son, Kamose, launched an attack on the Hyksos capital of Avaris.
It was his much younger brother, Ahmose I, however, who finally succeeded in recapturing Avaris, razing it, and expelling the Hyksos rulers from Egypt altogether.
The profound insult of the foreign rule to the honour and integrity of Egypt could be corrected, and its recurrence prevented, only by extending Egypt's hegemony over the Asiatics to the north and east of Egypt. Ahmose I engaged in a retaliative three-year siege of Sharuhen, thereby launching an aggressive policy of pre-emptive warfare. His success was continued by his successor but one, Thutmose I, who extended Egyptian influence as far as the Mitanni kingdom in the north and Mesopotamia in the east, thereby creating what was to become the most extensive empire in the ancient world.
Two main sites have been identified as possibly being ancient Sharuhen;
- Many scholars today believe that Tell el-Farah (south) ( ) was Sharuhen. Farah south was first excavated by Flinders Petrie in the late 1920s. He first identified the site as Beth-Pelet (Joshua 15:27) and published the excavation reports under the names Beth-Pelet I - II. It was William F. Albright that laid the basis for identification of Tell Farah south as Sharuhen.
- Flinders Petrie also excavated Tell el-Ajjul ( ) in the 1930s. He thought that Ajjul was ancient Gaza, a theory that has since been partially misproven. The archaeologist Aharon Kempinski proposed identifying Ajjul with Sharuhen in the 1970s. Excavations at Ajjul were resumed in 1999 by a Swedish-Palestinian team under the directors Peter M. Fischer and Moain Sadeq.
- Anson Rainey proposed Tel Heror ( ) as the site of Sharuhen, as well.
- John Baines; Jaromír Málek (2000). Cultural atlas of Ancient Egypt. Checkmark Books. ISBN 978-0-8160-4036-0.
- Margaret Bunson (2002). Encyclopedia of ancient Egypt. Infobase Publishing. ISBN 978-0-8160-4563-1. Retrieved 24 November 2010.
- Fischer, P.M. and Sadeq, M. Tell el-Ajjul 1999. A Joint Palestinian-Swedish Field Project: First Season Preliminary Report. Egypt and the Levant 10, 2000, 211-226.
- Fischer, P.M. and M. Sadeq. Tell el-Ajjul 2000. Second Season Preliminary Report. Egypt and the Levant 12: 109-153.
- Fischer, P.M. The Preliminary Chronology of Tell el-Ajjul: Results of the Renewed Excavations in 1999 and 2000, 263-294, in: Manfred Bietak (2000). The synchronisation of civilisations in the Eastern Mediterranean in the second millennium B.C.: proceedings of an international symposium at Schloss Haindorf, 15th-17th of November 1996 and at the Austrian Academy, Vienna, 11th-12th of May 1998. Verlag der Österreichischen Akademie der Wissenschaften. ISBN 978-3-7001-2936-3.
- Fischer, P.M. The Chronology of Tell el-cAjjul, Gaza. pp 253–265 in: David A. Warburton (2009). Times Up! Dating the Minoan Eruption of Santorini: Acts of the Minoan Eruption Chronology Workshop, Sandbjerg, November 2007. Danish Institute at Athens. ISBN 978-87-7934-024-4.
- Quirke, Stephen; Spencer, Jeffrey; The British Museum Book of ancient Egypt; Thames and Hudson, New York; 1992