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The Egyptian Nile Valley was home to one of the oldest cultures in the world, spanning three thousand years of continuous history.

A unified kingdom arose circa 3200 B.C., and a series of dynasties ruled in Egypt for the next three millennia. The last native dynasty fell to the Persians in 341 B.C., who in turn were replaced by the Greeks, Romans, and Byzantines. It was the Arabs who introduced Islam and the Arabic language in the 7th century and who ruled for the next six centuries. A local military caste, the Mamluks took control about 1250 and continued to govern after the conquest of Egypt by the Ottoman Turks in 1517.

Ancient Egypt History

From along time ago some people (nomads) moved in separate groups from Asia (east of Egypt) to Egypt where they found the Nile. In the beginning they had no idea about the agriculture or even how to use fire. They settled on both banks of the Nile starting to have some knowledge about the agricultural life. At that time there was no yet a specific formation for the so-called Egypt. As dangers were around, those groups of nomads started to unify forming politically the small cities (or small tribal kingdoms) which unified later forming The Provinces. In About 7000 B.C. Egypt was divided in to 42 provinces. Later those provinces also unified forming 2 kingdoms; The Upper Egypt Kingdom (South Of Egypt), The Lower Egypt Kingdom (North Of Egypt). Upper Egypt Kingdom is south of Egypt because the Nile flows downstream from the south to the North. In 3200 B.C. King Narmar succeeded to unify Upper and Lower Egypt, into a single kingdom, and made Memphis his capital, this important event marked the beginning of the dynastic period of Egypt.

The information concerning the Ancient Egypt history mainly derived from three sources; Inscriptions found on the walls of temples and tombs, Papyrus scrolls (i.e. Papyrus of Torino) and what had been recorded by the historians like Manetho. Manetho, an Egyptian priest who lived at the beginning of the Ptolemaic Era, divided the Ancient Egyptian history into 30 Dynasties. In many cases, however, it is not clear why Manetho has grouped some kings into one dynasty and other kings into another. The 18th Dynasty, for instance, starts with Ahmose, a brother of the last king in Manetho's 17th Dynasty. Theoritically, Ahmose and Kamose should thus have been grouped in the same dynasty. Thutmosis I, on the other hand, does not appear to have been related to his predecessor, Amenhotep I, but still both kings are grouped in the 18th Dynasty.

But some Egyptologists according to recent researches divided the ancient history into 7 main periods; Early Dynastic Period, Old Kingdom Period, First Intermediate Period, Middle Kingdom Period, Second Intermediate Period, New Kingdom Period and finally Late Period. During these Intermediate periods, political divisions and weak rulers fragmented the central government and disrupted the administrative authority of the country.

  • Early Dynastic Period (c. 3050 –2686 BC)

The Early Dynastic Period is a period of some 500 years or more at the beginning of what is conventionally considered as the history of Ancient Egypt. It was the culmination of the formative stage of the Ancient Egyptian culture that began centuries before during the Prehistory.

It was during this period that the divine kingship became well established as Egypt's form of government, and with it, an entire culture that would remain virtually unchanged for the next 3000 or more years. Writing evolved from a few simple signs mainly used to denote quantities of substances and their provenance, to a complex system of several hundreds of signs with both phonetic and ideographic values.

  • Old Kingdom Period ( c. 2650-2150 BC)

Major advances in architecture, art, and technology were made during the Old Kingdom, fueled by the increased agricultural productivity made possible by a well-developed central administration. Some of Ancient Egypt's crowning achievements, the Giza pyramids and Great Sphinx, were constructed during the Old Kingdom. Under the direction of the vizier, state officials collected taxes, coordinated irrigation projects to improve crop yield, drafted peasants to work on construction projects, and established a justice system to maintain peace and order.

  • First Intermediate Period (c. 2150-2040 BC)

The government crumbled and civil war breaks out as several rival kingdoms started to fight for overtaking power of Egypt.

  • Middle Kingdom Period (c. 2045-1791 BC)

The 1st Intermediate Period came to an end in 2040 when 11th Dynasty king Mentuhotep II finally succeeded in overthrowing the Heracleopolitan kings of the 9th/10th Dynasty, thus reuniting Egypt after almost a century of chaos and civil war. Later generations would come to see Mentuhotep as the second founder of Egypt.

He and his successors launched a new building campaign throughout the country to build impressive monuments. Egypt once again became a prospering nation. There are, however, indications of dynastic problems. The last king of the 11th dynasty, Mentuhotep IV, was omitted from later king lists, which might indicate that he was considered a usurper.

  • Second Intermediate Period (c. 1790 – 1540 BC)

Around 1785 BC, as the power of the Middle Kingdom pharaohs weakened, a Semitic Canaanite people called the Hyksos had already settled in the Eastern Delta town of Avaris seized control of Egypt, and forced the central government to retreat to Thebes, where the pharaoh was treated as a vassal and expected to pay tribute. The Hyksos ("foreign rulers") retained Egyptian models of government and portrayed themselves as pharaohs, thus integrating Egyptian elements into their culture. They and Semitic invaders introduced new tools of warfare into Egypt, most notably the composite bow and the horse-drawn chariot.

  • New Kingdom Period (c. 1540-1070 BC)

The expulsion of the Hyksos, began during the late 17th Dynasty by Seqenenre or by Kamose and completed by 18th Dynasty monarch Ahmose in 1522, was the start of a series of conquests that would bring Egypt peace and prosperity. The age of conquest had begun!

Ahmose's aggresive policy against Asia and Nubia was followed by his successors, especially by Thutmosis I and Thutmosis III, who expanded the boundaries of the new empire as far as the 4th cataract to the south and as far as the Euphrates River near the modern-day Turkish border in the north.

The New Kingdom pharaohs began a large-scale building campaign to promote the god Amun, whose growing cult was based in Karnak. They also constructed monuments to glorify their own achievements, both real and imagined. The pharaoh Hatshepsut used such hyperbole and grandeur during her reign of almost twenty-two years. Her reign was very successful, marked by an extended period of peace and wealth-building, trading expeditions to Punt, restoration of foreign trade networks, great building projects including an elegant mortuary temple that rivaled the Greek architecture of a thousand years later, a colossal pair of obelisks, and a chapel at Karnak. Despite her achievements, the heir to Hatshepsut's nephew-stepson Tuthmosis III, Amenhotep II, sought to erase her legacy near the end of his father's reign and throughout his, touting many of her accomplishments as his. He also attempted to change many established traditions that had developed over the centuries, which some suggest was a futile attempt to prevent other women from becoming pharaoh and to curb their influence in the kingdom.

  • Late Period (c. 1070-332 BC)

It was described as a period of decline and chaos. It is true that during most of the so-called 3rd Intermediate Period, there was more than one centre of power in Egypt: in Tanis, in the Nile Delta plus the Theban High Priests who ruled from Luxor. This period is characterized by the constant foreign threats from Assyrians, Babylonians and Persians. During the reign of Nectanebo 2, Egypt was conquered by Persians, this marked the end of native Egyptian rule, and all the following dynasties were foreigners. In 332 BC Alexander the Great conquered Egypt ending the Ancient Egyptian History.

 

General Information about the Ancient Egypt:

Egyptian Life

Daily life in ancient Egypt revolved around the Nile and the fertile land along its banks. The yearly flooding of the Nile enriched the soil and brought good harvests and wealth to the land.

The people of ancient Egypt built mud brick homes in villages and in the country. They grew some of their own food and traded in the villages for the food and goods they could not produce.

Most ancient Egyptians worked as field hands, farmers, craftsmen and scribes. A small group of people were nobles. Together, these different groups of people made up the population of ancient Egypt.

Gods and Goddesses of Ancient Egypt

The ancient Egyptians believed in many different gods and goddesses, each one with their own role to play in maintaining peace and harmony across the land.

Some gods and goddesses took part in creation, some brought the flood every year, some offered protection, and some took care of people after they died. Others were either local gods who represented towns, or minor gods who represented plants or animals.

The ancient Egyptians believed that it was important to recognise and worship these gods and goddesses so that life continued smoothly.

Mummification

The earliest ancient Egyptians buried their dead in small pits in the desert. The heat and dryness of the sand dehydrated the bodies quickly, creating lifelike and natural 'mummies'.

Later, the ancient Egyptians began burying their dead in coffins to protect them from wild animals in the desert. However, they realised that bodies placed in coffins decayed when they were not exposed to the hot, dry sand of the desert.

Over many centuries, the ancient Egyptians developed a method of preserving bodies so they would remain lifelike. The process included embalming the bodies and wrapping them in strips of linen. Today we call this process mummification.

Writing

The ancient Egyptians believed that it was important to record and communicate information about religion and government. Thus, they invented written scripts that could be used to record this information.

The most famous of all ancient Egyptian scripts is hieroglyphic. However, throughout three thousand years of ancient Egyptian civilisation, at least three other scripts were used for different purposes. Using these scripts, scribes were able to preserve the beliefs, history and ideas of ancient Egypt in temple and tomb walls and on papyrus scrolls.

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