Sharuhen was an ancient town in the Negev Desert or perhaps in Gaza. 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.
- Many scholars today believe that Tell el-Farah (south) ( ), situated on Nahal Besor near the border with Gaza, 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 Gaza area, in the 1930s. He thought that Ajjul was the ancient town of 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, along the Nahal Gerar near the border with Gaza, and about 15 km northeast of Farah south, ( ) as the site of Sharuhen, as well. This identification is also supported by Donald Redford, because of the site's immense size and important geographical position.
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- 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.
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