Ancient Egyptian History

Ancient Egyptian History

The history of ancient Egypt spans the period from the early prehistoric settlements of the northern Nile valley to the Roman conquest of Egypt in 30 BC. The pharaonic period, when a pharaoh ruled Egypt, is dated from the 32nd century BC when Upper and Lower Egypt were unified until the country fell under Macedonian rule in 332 BC.

Periods of Ancient Egyptian History

Egypt’s history is split into several different periods according to the ruling dynasty of each pharaoh. The conservative dates are not supported by any absolute reliable date for about three millennia. The dating of events is still a subject of research. The following is the list according to conventional Egyptian chronology:

  • Prehistoric Egypt (before 3100 BC)
  • Naqada III (“the proto-dynastic period”, approximately 3100–3000 BC; sometimes referred to as “Dynasty 0”)
  • Early Dynastic Period (First–Second Dynasties)
  • Old Kingdom (Third–Sixth Dynasties)
  • First Intermediate Period (Seventh or Eighth–Eleventh Dynasties)
  • Middle Kingdom (Twelfth–Thirteenth Dynasties)
  • Second Intermediate Period (Fourteenth–Seventeenth Dynasties)
  • New Kingdom (Eighteenth–Twentieth Dynasties)
  • Third Intermediate Period (also known as the Libyan Period; Twenty-first–Twenty-fifth Dynasties)
  • Late Period (Twenty-sixth–Thirty-first Dynasties)
  • Ptolemaic Egypt (305–30 BC)

Neolithic period

The Nile has been the lifeline for Egyptian culture since nomadic hunter-gatherers began living along it during the Pleistocene. Traces of these early people appear in the form of artefacts and rock carvings along the terraces of the Nile and the oases.

Along the Nile in the 12th millennium BC, an Upper Paleolithic grain-grinding culture using the earliest type of sickle blades had replaced the culture of hunting, fishing, and hunter-gatherers using stone tools. Evidence also indicates human habitation and cattle herding in the southwestern corner of Egypt near the Sudan border before the 8th millennium BC.

Despite this, the idea of an independent bovine domestication event in Africa must be abandoned because subsequent evidence gathered over thirty years has failed to corroborate this.

Archaeological evidence has attested that population settlements occurred in Nubia as early as the Late Pleistocene era and from the 5th millennium BC onwards. In contrast, there is “no or scanty evidence” of human presence in the Egyptian Nile Valley during these periods, which may be due to problems in site preservation.

The oldest-known domesticated cattle remains in Africa are from the Faiyum c. 4400 BC. Geological evidence and computer climate modelling studies suggest that natural climate changes around the 8th millennium BC began to desiccate the extensive pastoral lands of North Africa, eventually forming the Sahara by the 25th century BC.

Continued desiccation forced the early ancestors of the Egyptians to settle around the Nile more permanently and adopt a more sedentary lifestyle. However, the period from the 9th to the 6th millennium BC has left very little archaeological evidence.

The Predynastic Period

The early developments of Egyptian civilisation characterise this period. It witnessed an exchange of hunting for agriculture and early advances that paved the way for the later development of Egyptian arts and crafts, technology, politics and religion.

A significant aspect of this period is the establishment of two separate kingdoms: the Northern Kingdom and the southern one. The northern kingdom, also called the Red Land, occupied the Nile Delta and extended south to Atfih. While the Southern Kingdom, also called the White Land, stretched from Atfih in the north to Gebel El-Silsila in the south.

There were some attempts to unify the two kingdoms by a southern king, Scorpion. He made the first attempts to conquer the northern kingdom around 3200 BC. A century later, King Menes succeeded in subduing the north and unifying the country.

2. The Archaic Period

The Archaic Period witnessed a significant development of Egyptian society, including the all-important ideology of worship. During this period, King Menes founded the capital of ancient Egypt at Memphis. The new capital town stood near the apex of the Nile delta. By then, the Ancient Egyptians called this city “White Walls”. Later, this capital grew into a great metropolis and paved the way for building ancient Egyptian society.

First Dynasty of ancient Egypt

The First Dynasty of ancient Egypt (Dynasty I) covers the first series of Egyptian kings to rule over a unified Egypt. It immediately follows the unification of Upper and Lower Egypt, possibly by Narmer, and marks the beginning of the Early Dynastic Period, a time at which power was centred at Thinis.

The date of this period is subject to scholarly debate about the Egyptian chronology. In a 2013 study based on radiocarbon dates, the beginning of the First Dynasty—the accession of Narmer (commonly known as Menes)—was placed at 3100 BC, give or take a century (3218–3035, with 95% confidence). It falls within the early Bronze Age and is estimated to have begun between the 34th and the 30th centuries BC.

Second Dynasty of ancient Egypt

The Second Dynasty of ancient Egypt (or Dynasty II, c. 2890 – c. 2686 BC) was the latter of the two dynasties of the Egyptian Archaic Period when the seat of government was centred at Thinis. It is most known for its last ruler, Khasekhemwy, but is otherwise one of the most obscure periods in Egyptian history.

3. The Old Kingdom of Ancient Egyptian History

The Old Kingdom is a fascinating one in ancient Egyptian history. We call it “the pyramid builder’s period”, as well. It witnessed a clear development in the religious construction of tombs to go with the beliefs of Egyptian society. Accordingly, the Ancient Egyptian builders made several attempts to shape the pharaoh’s tomb. Noteworthy that these attempts started with building the step-pyramid at Sakkara and arrived at the fantastic pyramids in Giza. Dynasties of the Old Kingdom include the Third, Fourth, Fifth and Sixth.

Third Dynasty of Ancient Egypt

The Third Dynasty of ancient Egypt (III Dynasty) is the first dynasty of the Old Kingdom Period. The Third Dynasty of ancient Egypt (c. 2670-2613 BCE) begins with king Djoser, famous for his Step Pyramid at Saqqara. The capital during the period of the Old Kingdom was Memphis.

4. The First Intermediate Period

The First Intermediate Period witnessed a collapse of the central government. In return, this collapse led to a civil war between city governors—consequently, the appearance of two separate kingdoms – the Kingdom of North and the Kingdom of South. The Kingdom of North spanned the middle of Egypt between Memphis and Thebes. At the same time, the Southern one was in Thebes.

The weak of the country and its division led to a partial invasion and famine disaster. By the end of this period, we can notice some attempts to reunify the country. These attempts succeeded during the Theban prince Mentuhotep.

5. The Middle kingdom

During the Middle Kingdom, Egypt witnessed the golden age of the old kingdom. Once again, Ancient Egypt established its capital south of Memphis and started military campaigns against the Bedouins. Besides, there was a political reform to ensure the smooth succession of their power by making each successor co-regent.

6. The Second Intermediate Period

The beginning of another unsettled stage in Egyptian history marked this period of Ancient Egyptian history. During the Second Intermediate period, a rapid succession of kings failed to consolidate power. Consequently, several spheres of influence marked the Second Intermediate Period of Egyptian history.

7. The New Kingdom of Ancient History

The New Kingdom was the most flourished period in Ancient Egyptian history. A Theban pharaoh called Ahmose once again reunited the country.

The most prominent aspect of this period is the formation of the world’s first great empire. During this period, we can find that Egypt restored its control over Nubia and began military campaigns to the north and east, stretching its empire from Nubia to the Euphrates River in Asia.

8. The Third Intermediate Period

The weakness of the central government characterises this period. We can find out that there were two main reasons for this weakness. The first reason was the increase in priests’ power. At the same time, the threat was coming from the new capabilities. The second reason was the Nubian kingdom’s extended influence and the Assyrian empire’s appearance.

9. The Late Period

During this period, Egypt gets reunified, although the loyalty was to the Assyrian empire. Then, Egypt became part of the Persian Empire after the collapse of the Assyrian one. Although, the year 404 BC. Witnessed the last period of Egyptian independence under native rulers from the 28th dynasty to the 30th dynasty.

1 thought on “Ancient Egyptian History

  1. Whew! God this page made me feel as if I have landed in my history book all over again. The amazing labyrinth of various kings and their dynasties and how they ruled over their kingdom. For a second, I felt myself like the ” Maze Runner”! Really enjoyed this historical journey portrayed here by Landious group. This is like putting cheese in front of the mouse. Go Grab it!

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