History of Ancient Egypt

History of Ancient Egypt

Overview
The History of Ancient Egypt
Ancient Egypt
Ancient Egypt was an ancient civilization of Northeastern Africa, concentrated along the lower reaches of the Nile River in what is now the modern country of Egypt. Egyptian civilization coalesced around 3150 BC with the political unification of Upper and Lower Egypt under the first pharaoh...

spans the period from the early predynastic
Predynastic Egypt
The Prehistory of Egypt spans the period of earliest human settlement to the beginning of the Early Dynastic Period of Egypt in ca. 3100 BC, starting with King Menes/Narmer....

 settlements of the northern Nile Valley to the Roman conquest in 30 BC. The Pharaonic Period is dated from around 3200 BC, when Lower
Lower Egypt
Lower Egypt is the northern-most section of Egypt. It refers to the fertile Nile Delta region, which stretches from the area between El-Aiyat and Zawyet Dahshur, south of modern-day Cairo, and the Mediterranean Sea....

 and Upper
Upper Egypt
Upper Egypt is the strip of land, on both sides of the Nile valley, that extends from the cataract boundaries of modern-day Aswan north to the area between El-Ayait and Zawyet Dahshur . The northern section of Upper Egypt, between El-Ayait and Sohag is sometimes known as Middle Egypt...

 Egypt
Egypt
Egypt , officially the Arab Republic of Egypt, Arabic: , is a country mainly in North Africa, with the Sinai Peninsula forming a land bridge in Southwest Asia. Egypt is thus a transcontinental country, and a major power in Africa, the Mediterranean Basin, the Middle East and the Muslim world...

 became a unified state, until the country fell under Greek rule in 332 BC.

Egypt's history is split into several different periods according to the ruling dynasty of each pharaoh
Pharaoh
Pharaoh is a title used in many modern discussions of the ancient Egyptian rulers of all periods. The title originates in the term "pr-aa" which means "great house" and describes the royal palace...

.
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The History of Ancient Egypt
Ancient Egypt
Ancient Egypt was an ancient civilization of Northeastern Africa, concentrated along the lower reaches of the Nile River in what is now the modern country of Egypt. Egyptian civilization coalesced around 3150 BC with the political unification of Upper and Lower Egypt under the first pharaoh...

spans the period from the early predynastic
Predynastic Egypt
The Prehistory of Egypt spans the period of earliest human settlement to the beginning of the Early Dynastic Period of Egypt in ca. 3100 BC, starting with King Menes/Narmer....

 settlements of the northern Nile Valley to the Roman conquest in 30 BC. The Pharaonic Period is dated from around 3200 BC, when Lower
Lower Egypt
Lower Egypt is the northern-most section of Egypt. It refers to the fertile Nile Delta region, which stretches from the area between El-Aiyat and Zawyet Dahshur, south of modern-day Cairo, and the Mediterranean Sea....

 and Upper
Upper Egypt
Upper Egypt is the strip of land, on both sides of the Nile valley, that extends from the cataract boundaries of modern-day Aswan north to the area between El-Ayait and Zawyet Dahshur . The northern section of Upper Egypt, between El-Ayait and Sohag is sometimes known as Middle Egypt...

 Egypt
Egypt
Egypt , officially the Arab Republic of Egypt, Arabic: , is a country mainly in North Africa, with the Sinai Peninsula forming a land bridge in Southwest Asia. Egypt is thus a transcontinental country, and a major power in Africa, the Mediterranean Basin, the Middle East and the Muslim world...

 became a unified state, until the country fell under Greek rule in 332 BC.

Egypt's history is split into several different periods according to the ruling dynasty of each pharaoh
Pharaoh
Pharaoh is a title used in many modern discussions of the ancient Egyptian rulers of all periods. The title originates in the term "pr-aa" which means "great house" and describes the royal palace...

. The dating of events is still a subject of research. The conservative dates are not supported by any reliable absolute date for a span of about three millennia. The following is the list according to conventional Egyptian chronology
Conventional Egyptian chronology
The Conventional Egyptian chronology represents the scholarly consensus on the chronology of the rulers of ancient Egypt, taking into account well accepted developments during the 20th century but not including any of the major revision proposals that have also been made in that time.All dates are...

.
  • Predynastic Period (Prior to 3100 BC)
  • Protodynastic Period (Approximately 3100 - 3000 BC)
  • Early Dynastic Period
    Early Dynastic Period of Egypt
    The Archaic or Early Dynastic Period of Egypt immediately follows the unification of Lower and Upper Egypt c. 3100 BC. It is generally taken to include the First and Second Dynasties, lasting from the Protodynastic Period of Egypt until about 2686 BC, or the beginning of the Old Kingdom...

     (1st–2nd Dynasties)
  • Old Kingdom (3rd–6th Dynasties)
  • First Intermediate Period
    First Intermediate Period of Egypt
    The First Intermediate Period, often described as a “dark period” in ancient Egyptian history, spanned approximately one hundred years after the end of the Old Kingdom from ca. 2181-2055 BC. It included the seventh, eighth, ninth, tenth, and part of the eleventh dynasties. Very little monumental...

     (7th–11th Dynasties)
  • Middle Kingdom
    Middle Kingdom of Egypt
    The Middle Kingdom of Egypt is the period in the history of ancient Egypt stretching from the establishment of the Eleventh Dynasty to the end of the Fourteenth Dynasty, between 2055 BC and 1650 BC, although some writers include the Thirteenth and Fourteenth dynasties in the Second Intermediate...

     (12th–13th Dynasties)
  • Second Intermediate Period
    Second Intermediate Period of Egypt
    The Second Intermediate Period marks a period when Ancient Egypt fell into disarray for a second time, between the end of the Middle Kingdom and the start of the New Kingdom...

     (14th–17th Dynasties)
  • New Kingdom (18th–20th Dynasties)
  • Third Intermediate Period
    Third Intermediate Period of Egypt
    The Third Intermediate Period refers to the time in Ancient Egypt from the death of Pharaoh Ramesses XI in 1070 BC to the foundation of the Twenty-Sixth Dynasty by Psamtik I in 664 BC, following the expulsion of the Nubian rulers of the Twenty-Fifth Dynasty....

     (21st–25th Dynasties) (also known as the Libyan Period)
  • Late Period (26th–31st Dynasties)


Note: For alternative 'revisions' to the chronology of Egypt, see Egyptian chronology
Egyptian chronology
The creation of a reliable chronology of Ancient Egypt is a task fraught with problems. While the overwhelming majority of Egyptologists agree on the outline and many of the details of a common chronology, disagreements either individually or in groups have resulted in a variety of dates offered...

.

Neolithic period


The Nile
Nile
The Nile is a major north-flowing river in North Africa, generally regarded as the longest river in the world. It is long. It runs through the ten countries of Sudan, South Sudan, Burundi, Rwanda, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Tanzania, Kenya, Ethiopia, Uganda and Egypt.The Nile has two major...

 has been the lifeline for Egyptian culture since nomadic hunter-gatherers began living along the Nile during the Pleistocene
Pleistocene
The Pleistocene is the epoch from 2,588,000 to 11,700 years BP that spans the world's recent period of repeated glaciations. The name pleistocene is derived from the Greek and ....

. Traces of these early people appear in the form of artifacts and rock carvings along the terraces of the Nile and in the oases.

Along the Nile, in the 12th millennium BC, a grain-grinding culture using the earliest type of sickle blades had been replaced by another culture of hunters
Hunting
Hunting is the practice of pursuing any living thing, usually wildlife, for food, recreation, or trade. In present-day use, the term refers to lawful hunting, as distinguished from poaching, which is the killing, trapping or capture of the hunted species contrary to applicable law...

, fishers
Fishing
Fishing is the activity of trying to catch wild fish. Fish are normally caught in the wild. Techniques for catching fish include hand gathering, spearing, netting, angling and trapping....

, and gathering
Hunter-gatherer
A hunter-gatherer or forage society is one in which most or all food is obtained from wild plants and animals, in contrast to agricultural societies which rely mainly on domesticated species. Hunting and gathering was the ancestral subsistence mode of Homo, and all modern humans were...

 people using stone tool
Stone tool
A stone tool is, in the most general sense, any tool made either partially or entirely out of stone. Although stone tool-dependent societies and cultures still exist today, most stone tools are associated with prehistoric, particularly Stone Age cultures that have become extinct...

s. Evidence also indicates human habitation and cattle herding in the southwestern corner of Egypt, near the Sudan
Sudan
Sudan , officially the Republic of the Sudan , is a country in North Africa, sometimes considered part of the Middle East politically. It is bordered by Egypt to the north, the Red Sea to the northeast, Eritrea and Ethiopia to the east, South Sudan to the south, the Central African Republic to the...

 border, before 8000 BC. Geological evidence and computer climate modeling studies suggest that natural climate changes around 8000 BC began to desiccate the extensive pastoral lands of northern Africa, eventually forming the Sahara
Sahara
The Sahara is the world's second largest desert, after Antarctica. At over , it covers most of Northern Africa, making it almost as large as Europe or the United States. The Sahara stretches from the Red Sea, including parts of the Mediterranean coasts, to the outskirts of the Atlantic Ocean...

 (c.2500 BC). Early tribes in the region naturally tended to aggregate close to the Nile River where they developed a settled agricultural economy and more centralized society. There is evidence of pastoralism
Pastoralism
Pastoralism or pastoral farming is the branch of agriculture concerned with the raising of livestock. It is animal husbandry: the care, tending and use of animals such as camels, goats, cattle, yaks, llamas, and sheep. It may have a mobile aspect, moving the herds in search of fresh pasture and...

 and cultivation of cereals in the East Sahara in the 7th millennium BC.

Continued desiccation forced the early ancestors of the Egyptians to settle around the Nile more permanently and forced them to adopt a more sedentary lifestyle. However, the period from 9000 to 6000 BC has left very little in the way of archaeological evidence.

Predynastic period


The Nile Valley of Egypt was basically uninhabitable until the work of clearing and irrigating the land along the banks of the river was started. However it appears that this clearance and irrigation was largely under way by about 6000 BC. By that time, society in the Nile Valley was already engaged in organized agriculture and the construction of large buildings in the Nile Valley. At this time, Egyptians in the southwestern corner of Egypt were herding cattle and also constructing large buildings. Mortar
Mortar (masonry)
Mortar is a workable paste used to bind construction blocks together and fill the gaps between them. The blocks may be stone, brick, cinder blocks, etc. Mortar becomes hard when it sets, resulting in a rigid aggregate structure. Modern mortars are typically made from a mixture of sand, a binder...

 was in use by 4000 BC. The people of the Nile Valley and on delta were self-sufficient and were raising barley and emmer
Emmer
Emmer wheat , also known as farro especially in Italy, is a low yielding, awned wheat. It was one of the first crops domesticated in the Near East...

 (an early variety of wheat) and stored it in pits lined with reed mats. They raised cattle, goats and pigs and they wove linens and baskets. The Predynastic Period continues through this time, variously held to begin with the Naqada
Naqada
Naqada is a town on the west bank of the Nile in the Egyptian governorate of Qena. It was known in Ancient Egypt as Nubt and in classical antiquity as Ombos. Its name derives from ancient Egyptian nub, meaning gold, on account of the proximity of gold mines in the Eastern Desert.Naqada comprises...

 culture.

Between 5500 and 3100 BC, during Egypt's Predynastic Period, small settlements flourished along the Nile, whose delta
River delta
A delta is a landform that is formed at the mouth of a river where that river flows into an ocean, sea, estuary, lake, reservoir, flat arid area, or another river. Deltas are formed from the deposition of the sediment carried by the river as the flow leaves the mouth of the river...

 empties into the Mediterranean Sea
Mediterranean Sea
The Mediterranean Sea is a sea connected to the Atlantic Ocean surrounded by the Mediterranean region and almost completely enclosed by land: on the north by Anatolia and Europe, on the south by North Africa, and on the east by the Levant...

. By 3300 BC, just before the first Egyptian dynasty, Egypt was divided into two kingdoms, known as Upper Egypt
Upper Egypt
Upper Egypt is the strip of land, on both sides of the Nile valley, that extends from the cataract boundaries of modern-day Aswan north to the area between El-Ayait and Zawyet Dahshur . The northern section of Upper Egypt, between El-Ayait and Sohag is sometimes known as Middle Egypt...

, Ta Shemau, to the south, and Lower Egypt
Lower Egypt
Lower Egypt is the northern-most section of Egypt. It refers to the fertile Nile Delta region, which stretches from the area between El-Aiyat and Zawyet Dahshur, south of modern-day Cairo, and the Mediterranean Sea....

, Ta Mehu, to the north. The dividing line was drawn roughly in the area of modern Cairo
Cairo
Cairo , is the capital of Egypt and the largest city in the Arab world and Africa, and the 16th largest metropolitan area in the world. Nicknamed "The City of a Thousand Minarets" for its preponderance of Islamic architecture, Cairo has long been a centre of the region's political and cultural life...

.

The Tasian culture was the next to appear in Upper Egypt. This group is named for the burials found at Der Tasa, a site on the east bank of the Nile between Asyut
Asyut
Asyut is the capital of the modern Asyut Governorate in Egypt; the ancient city of the same name is situated nearby. The modern city is located at , while the ancient city is at .- Etymology :...

 and Akhmim
Akhmim
Akhmim is a city in the Sohag Governorate of Upper Egypt. Referred to by the ancient Greeks as Khemmis, Chemmis and Panopolis, it is located on the east bank of the Nile, 4 miles to the northeast of Sohag.- History :Akhmim was known in Ancient Egypt as Ipu, Apu or Khent-min...

. The Tasian culture group is notable for producing the earliest blacktop-ware, a type of red and brown pottery which has been painted black on its top and interior.

The Badarian Culture, named for the Badari
Badari
The Badarian culture provides the earliest direct evidence of agriculture in Upper Egypt during the Predynastic Era. It flourished between 4400 and 4000 BCE, and might have already existed as far back as 5000 BCE. It was first identified in El-Badari, Asyut.About forty settlements and six...

 site near Der Tasa, followed the Tasian culture, however similarities between the two have led many to avoid differentiating between them at all. The Badarian Culture continued to produce the kind of pottery called Blacktop-ware (although its quality was much improved over previous specimens), and was assigned the Sequence Dating numbers between 21 and 29. The significant difference, however, between the Tasian and Badarian culture groups which prevents scholars from completely merging the two together is that Badarian sites use copper in addition to stone, and thus are chalcolithic settlements, while the Tasian sites are still Neolithic
Neolithic
The Neolithic Age, Era, or Period, or New Stone Age, was a period in the development of human technology, beginning about 9500 BC in some parts of the Middle East, and later in other parts of the world. It is traditionally considered as the last part of the Stone Age...

, and are considered technically part of the Stone Age
Stone Age
The Stone Age is a broad prehistoric period, lasting about 2.5 million years , during which humans and their predecessor species in the genus Homo, as well as the earlier partly contemporary genera Australopithecus and Paranthropus, widely used exclusively stone as their hard material in the...

.

The Amratian culture
Amratian culture
The Amratian Culture was a cultural period in the history of predynastic Upper Egypt, which lasted approximately from 4000 to 3500 BC. It is named after the site of El-Amra, about 120 km south of Badari, Upper Egypt. El-Amra was the first site where this culture group was found without...

 is named after the site of el-Amra, about 120 km south of Badari
Badari
The Badarian culture provides the earliest direct evidence of agriculture in Upper Egypt during the Predynastic Era. It flourished between 4400 and 4000 BCE, and might have already existed as far back as 5000 BCE. It was first identified in El-Badari, Asyut.About forty settlements and six...

. El-Amra was the first site where this culture group was found unmingled with the later Gerzean culture group; however, this period is better attested at the Naqada site, thus it is also referred to as the Naqada I culture. Black-topped ware continued to be produced, but white cross-line ware, a type of pottery which was decorated with close parallel white lines crossed by another set of close parallel white lines, began to be produced during this time. The Amratian period falls between S.D. 30 and 39 in Petrie's Sequence Dating
Sequence Dating
Sequence Dating, a relative dating method, was a method of dating developed by the Egyptologist William Matthew Flinders Petrie. By linking styles of pottery with periods, he was the first to use seriation in Egyptology, a new method for establishing the chronology of a site...

 system. Trade between Upper and Lower Egypt was attested at this time, as newly excavated objects indicate. A stone vase from the north was found at el-Amra, and copper, which is not present in Egypt, was apparently imported from the Sinai, or perhaps from Nubia. Obsidian
Obsidian
Obsidian is a naturally occurring volcanic glass formed as an extrusive igneous rock.It is produced when felsic lava extruded from a volcano cools rapidly with minimum crystal growth...

 and an extremely small amount of gold
Gold
Gold is a chemical element with the symbol Au and an atomic number of 79. Gold is a dense, soft, shiny, malleable and ductile metal. Pure gold has a bright yellow color and luster traditionally considered attractive, which it maintains without oxidizing in air or water. Chemically, gold is a...

 were both definitively imported from Nubia during this time. Trade with the oases was also likely.

The Gerzean Culture, named after the site of Gerza, was the next stage in Egyptian cultural development, and it was during this time that the foundation for Dynastic Egypt was laid. Gerzean culture was largely an unbroken development out of Amratian Culture, starting in the delta and moving south through upper Egypt; however, it failed to dislodge Amratian Culture in Nubia. Gerzean culture coincided with a significant drop in rainfall, and farming produced the vast majority of food. With increased food supplies, the populace adopted a much more sedentary lifestyle, and the larger settlements grew to cities of about 5,000 residents. It was in this time that the city dwellers started using mud brick to build their cities. Copper instead of stone was increasingly used to make tools and weaponry. Silver, gold, lapis, and faience were used ornamentally, and the grinding palettes used for eye-paint since the Badarian period began to be adorned with relief carvings.

Early dynastic period




The historical records of ancient Egypt begin with Egypt as a unified state, which occurred sometime around 3150 BC. According to Egyptian tradition Menes
Menes
Menes was an ancient Egyptian pharaoh of the early dynastic period, credited by classical tradition with having united Upper and Lower Egypt, and as the founder of the first dynasty ....

, thought to have unified Upper and Lower Egypt, was the first king. This Egyptian culture, customs, art expression, architecture, and social structure was closely tied to religion, remarkably stable, and changed little over a period of nearly 3000 years.

Egyptian chronology
Egyptian chronology
The creation of a reliable chronology of Ancient Egypt is a task fraught with problems. While the overwhelming majority of Egyptologists agree on the outline and many of the details of a common chronology, disagreements either individually or in groups have resulted in a variety of dates offered...

, which involves regnal year
Regnal year
A regnal year is a year of the reign of a sovereign, from the Latin regnum meaning kingdom, rule.The oldest dating systems were in regnal years, and considered the date as an ordinal, not a cardinal number. For example, a monarch could have a first year of rule, a second year of rule, a third, and...

s, began around this time. The conventional Egyptian chronology
Conventional Egyptian chronology
The Conventional Egyptian chronology represents the scholarly consensus on the chronology of the rulers of ancient Egypt, taking into account well accepted developments during the 20th century but not including any of the major revision proposals that have also been made in that time.All dates are...

 is the chronology accepted during the twentieth century, but it does not include any of the major revision proposals that also have been made in that time. Even within a single work, archaeologists often will offer several possible dates or even several whole chronologies as possibilities. Consequently, there may be discrepancies between dates shown here and in articles on particular rulers or topics related to ancient Egypt. There also are several possible spellings of the names. Typically, Egyptologists divide the history of pharaonic civilization using a schedule laid out first by Manetho
Manetho
Manetho was an Egyptian historian and priest from Sebennytos who lived during the Ptolemaic era, approximately during the 3rd century BC. Manetho wrote the Aegyptiaca...

's Aegyptiaca (History of Egypt) that was written during the Ptolemaic era, during the third century BC.

Prior to the unification of Egypt, the land was settled with autonomous villages. With the early dynasties, and for much of Egypt's history thereafter, the country came to be known as the Two Lands. The rulers
Pharaoh
Pharaoh is a title used in many modern discussions of the ancient Egyptian rulers of all periods. The title originates in the term "pr-aa" which means "great house" and describes the royal palace...

 established a national administration and appointed royal governors.

According to Manetho
Manetho
Manetho was an Egyptian historian and priest from Sebennytos who lived during the Ptolemaic era, approximately during the 3rd century BC. Manetho wrote the Aegyptiaca...

, the first king
Pharaoh
Pharaoh is a title used in many modern discussions of the ancient Egyptian rulers of all periods. The title originates in the term "pr-aa" which means "great house" and describes the royal palace...

 was Menes
Menes
Menes was an ancient Egyptian pharaoh of the early dynastic period, credited by classical tradition with having united Upper and Lower Egypt, and as the founder of the first dynasty ....

, but archeological findings support the view that the first pharaoh to claim to have united the two lands was Narmer
Narmer
Narmer was an ancient Egyptian pharaoh of the Early Dynastic Period . He is thought to be the successor to the Protodynastic pharaohs Scorpion and/or Ka, and he is considered by some to be the unifier of Egypt and founder of the First Dynasty, and therefore the first pharaoh of unified Egypt.The...

 (the final king of the Protodynastic Period). His name is known primarily from the famous Narmer Palette
Narmer Palette
The Narmer Palette, also known as the Great ierakonpolis Palette or the Palette of Narmer, is a significant Egyptian archeological find, dating from about the 31st century BC, containing some of the earliest hieroglyphic inscriptions ever found. It is thought by some to depict the unification of...

, whose scenes have been interpreted as the act of uniting Upper and Lower Egypt.

Funeral practices for the elite resulted in the construction of mastaba
Mastaba
A mastaba, or "pr-djt" , is a type of ancient Egyptian tomb in the form of a flat-roofed, rectangular structure with outward sloping sides that marked the burial site of many eminent Egyptians of Egypt's ancient period...

 tombs, which later became models for subsequent Old Kingdom constructions such as the Step pyramid
Step pyramid
Step pyramids are structures which characterized several cultures throughout history, in several locations throughout the world. These pyramids typically are large and made of several layers of stone...

.

Old Kingdom


The Old Kingdom is most commonly regarded as spanning the period of time when Egypt was ruled by the Third Dynasty
Third dynasty of Egypt
For the Sumerian Renaissance, see Third Dynasty of Ur.The Third Dynasty of ancient Egypt is the first dynasty of the Old Kingdom. Other dynasties of the Old Kingdom include the Fourth, Fifth and Sixth...

 through to the Sixth Dynasty
Sixth dynasty of Egypt
The sixth dynasty of ancient Egypt is often combined with Dynasties III, IV and V under the group title the Old Kingdom.-Pharaohs:...

 (2686 BC – 2134 BC). The royal capital of Egypt during the Old Kingdom was located at Memphis
Memphis, Egypt
Memphis was the ancient capital of Aneb-Hetch, the first nome of Lower Egypt. Its ruins are located near the town of Helwan, south of Cairo.According to legend related by Manetho, the city was founded by the pharaoh Menes around 3000 BC. Capital of Egypt during the Old Kingdom, it remained an...

, where Djoser
Djoser
Netjerikhet or Djoser is the best-known pharaoh of the Third dynasty of Egypt. He commissioned his official, Imhotep, to build the first of the pyramids, a step pyramid for him at Saqqara...

 established his court. The Old Kingdom is perhaps best known, however, for the large number of pyramid
Pyramid
A pyramid is a structure whose outer surfaces are triangular and converge at a single point. The base of a pyramid can be trilateral, quadrilateral, or any polygon shape, meaning that a pyramid has at least three triangular surfaces...

s, which were constructed at this time as pharaonic burial places. For this reason, the Old Kingdom is frequently referred to as "the Age of the Pyramids." The first notable pharaoh of the Old Kingdom was Djoser
Djoser
Netjerikhet or Djoser is the best-known pharaoh of the Third dynasty of Egypt. He commissioned his official, Imhotep, to build the first of the pyramids, a step pyramid for him at Saqqara...

 (2630–2611 BC) of the Third Dynasty, who ordered the construction of a pyramid (the Step Pyramid
Pyramid of Djoser
The Pyramid of Djoser , or step pyramid is an archeological remain in the Saqqara necropolis, Egypt, northwest of the city of Memphis. It was built during the 27th century BC for the burial of Pharaoh Djoser by Imhotep, his vizier...

) in Memphis' necropolis, Saqqara
Saqqara
Saqqara is a vast, ancient burial ground in Egypt, serving as the necropolis for the Ancient Egyptian capital, Memphis. Saqqara features numerous pyramids, including the world famous Step pyramid of Djoser, sometimes referred to as the Step Tomb due to its rectangular base, as well as a number of...

.

It was in this era that formerly independent ancient Egyptian states became known as nomes
Nome (Egypt)
A nome was a subnational administrative division of ancient Egypt. Today's use of the Greek nome rather than the Egyptian term sepat came about during the Ptolemaic period. Fascinated with Egypt, Greeks created many historical records about the country...

, ruled solely by the pharaoh. Subsequently the former rulers were forced to assume the role of governors or otherwise work in tax collection. Egyptians
Egyptians
Egyptians are nation an ethnic group made up of Mediterranean North Africans, the indigenous people of Egypt.Egyptian identity is closely tied to geography. The population of Egypt is concentrated in the lower Nile Valley, the small strip of cultivable land stretching from the First Cataract to...

 in this era worshiped their pharaoh as a god, believing that he ensured the annual flooding of the Nile that was necessary for their crops.

The Old Kingdom and its royal power reached their zenith under the Fourth Dynasty
Fourth dynasty of Egypt
The fourth dynasty of ancient Egypt is characterized as a "golden age" of the Old Kingdom. Dynasty IV lasted from ca. 2613 to 2494 BC...

. Sneferu
Sneferu
Sneferu, also spelled as Snephru, Snefru or Snofru , was the founder of the Fourth dynasty of Egypt. Estimates of his reign vary, with for instance The Oxford History of Ancient Egypt suggesting a reign from around 2613 BC to 2589 BC, a reign of 24 years, while Rolf Krauss suggests a 30-year reign...

, the dynasty's founder, is believed to have commissioned at least three pyramids; while his son and successor Khufu erected the Great Pyramid of Giza
Great Pyramid of Giza
The Great Pyramid of Giza is the oldest and largest of the three pyramids in the Giza Necropolis bordering what is now El Giza, Egypt. It is the oldest of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World, and the only one to remain largely intact...

, Sneferu had more stone and brick moved than any other pharaoh. Khufu
Khufu
Khufu , also known as Cheops or, in Manetho, Suphis , was a Pharaoh of Ancient Egypt's Old Kingdom. He reigned from around 2589 to 2566 BC. Khufu was the second pharaoh of the Fourth Dynasty. He is generally accepted as being the builder of the Great Pyramid of Giza, one of the Seven Wonders of...

 (Greek
Greek language
Greek is an independent branch of the Indo-European family of languages. Native to the southern Balkans, it has the longest documented history of any Indo-European language, spanning 34 centuries of written records. Its writing system has been the Greek alphabet for the majority of its history;...

 Cheops), his son Khafra
Khafra
Khafra — also Khafre — was an Egyptian pharaoh of the Fourth dynasty, who had his capital at Memphis. According to some authors he was the son and successor of Khufu, but it is more commonly accepted that Djedefre was Khufu's successor and Khafra was Djedefre's...

 (Greek Chephren), and his grandson Menkaura
Menkaura
Menkaure was a pharaoh of the Fourth dynasty of Egypt who ordered the construction of the third and smallest of the Pyramids of Giza. His name means "Eternal like the Souls of Re"...

 (Greek Mycerinus), all achieved lasting fame in the construction of their pyramids. To organize and feed the manpower needed to create these pyramids required a centralized government with extensive powers, and Egyptologists believe the Old Kingdom at this time demonstrated this level of sophistication. Recent excavations near the pyramids led by Mark Lehner
Mark Lehner
Mark Lehner PhD is an American archaeologist with more than 30 years of experience excavating in Egypt. His approach, as director of Ancient Egypt Research Associates , is to conduct interdisciplinary archaeological investigation. Every excavated object is examined by specialists to create an...

 have uncovered a large city which seems to have housed, fed and supplied the pyramid workers. Although it was once believed that slaves built these monuments, a theory based on the biblical Exodus
The Exodus
The Exodus is the story of the departure of the Israelites from ancient Egypt described in the Hebrew Bible.Narrowly defined, the term refers only to the departure from Egypt described in the Book of Exodus; more widely, it takes in the subsequent law-givings and wanderings in the wilderness...

 story, study of the tombs of the workmen, who oversaw construction on the pyramids, has shown they were built by a corvée
Corvée
Corvée is unfree labour, often unpaid, that is required of people of lower social standing and imposed on them by the state or a superior . The corvée was the earliest and most widespread form of taxation, which can be traced back to the beginning of civilization...

 of peasant
Peasant
A peasant is an agricultural worker who generally tend to be poor and homeless-Etymology:The word is derived from 15th century French païsant meaning one from the pays, or countryside, ultimately from the Latin pagus, or outlying administrative district.- Position in society :Peasants typically...

s drawn from across Egypt. They apparently worked while the annual Nile
Nile
The Nile is a major north-flowing river in North Africa, generally regarded as the longest river in the world. It is long. It runs through the ten countries of Sudan, South Sudan, Burundi, Rwanda, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Tanzania, Kenya, Ethiopia, Uganda and Egypt.The Nile has two major...

 flood covered their fields, as well as a very large crew of specialists, including stone cutters, painters, mathematicians and priests.

The Fifth Dynasty
Fifth dynasty of Egypt
The fifth dynasty of ancient Egypt is often combined with Dynasties III, IV and VI under the group title the Old Kingdom. Dynasty V dates approximately from 2494 to 2345 BC.-Rulers:...

 began with Userkhaf (2465–2458 BC), who initiated reforms that weakened the central government. After his reign civil war
Civil war
A civil war is a war between organized groups within the same nation state or republic, or, less commonly, between two countries created from a formerly-united nation state....

s arose as the powerful nomarch
Nomarch
Nomarchs were the semi-feudal rulers of Ancient Egyptian provinces. Serving as provincial governors, they each held authority over one of the 42 nomes into which the country was divided. Both nome and nomarch are terms derived from the Greek nomos, meaning a province or district...

s (regional governors) no longer belonged to the royal family. The worsening civil conflict undermined unity and energetic government and also caused famines. The final blow came when a severe drought in the region that resulted in a drastic drop in precipitation between 2200 and 2150 BC, which in turn prevented the normal flooding of the Nile
Nile
The Nile is a major north-flowing river in North Africa, generally regarded as the longest river in the world. It is long. It runs through the ten countries of Sudan, South Sudan, Burundi, Rwanda, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Tanzania, Kenya, Ethiopia, Uganda and Egypt.The Nile has two major...

. The result was the collapse of the Old Kingdom followed by decades of famine and strife.

First Intermediate Period


After the fall of the Old Kingdom came a roughly 200-year stretch of time known as the First Intermediate Period, which is generally thought to include a relatively obscure set of pharaohs running from the end of the Sixth
Sixth dynasty of Egypt
The sixth dynasty of ancient Egypt is often combined with Dynasties III, IV and V under the group title the Old Kingdom.-Pharaohs:...

 to the Tenth
Tenth dynasty of Egypt
The tenth dynasty of ancient Egypt is often combined with Dynasties VII, VIII, IX and XI under the group title First Intermediate Period...

, and most of the Eleventh
Eleventh dynasty of Egypt
The eleventh dynasty of ancient Egypt was one group of rulers, whose earlier members are grouped with the four preceding dynasties to form the First Intermediate Period, while the later members are considered part of the Middle Kingdom...

 Dynasty.
Most of these were likely local monarchs who did not hold much power outside of their own limited domain, and none held power over the whole of Egypt.

While there are next to no official records covering this period, there are a number of fictional texts known as Lamentations from the early period of the subsequent Middle Kingdom that may shed some light on what happened during this period. Some of these texts reflect on the breakdown of rule, others allude to invasion by "Asiatic bowmen". In general the stories focus on a society where the natural order of things in both society and nature was overthrown.

It is also highly likely that it was during this period that all of the pyramid and tomb complexes were robbed. Further lamentation texts allude to this fact, and by the beginning of the Middle Kingdom mummies are found decorated with magical spells that were once exclusive to the pyramid of the kings of the sixth dynasty.

By 2160 BC a new line of pharaohs (the Ninth
Ninth dynasty of Egypt
The ninth dynasty of ancient Egypt is often combined with Dynasties VII, VIII, X and XI under the group title First Intermediate Period...

 and Tenth
Tenth dynasty of Egypt
The tenth dynasty of ancient Egypt is often combined with Dynasties VII, VIII, IX and XI under the group title First Intermediate Period...

 Dynasties) consolidated Lower Egypt
Lower Egypt
Lower Egypt is the northern-most section of Egypt. It refers to the fertile Nile Delta region, which stretches from the area between El-Aiyat and Zawyet Dahshur, south of modern-day Cairo, and the Mediterranean Sea....

 from their capital in Herakleopolis Magna
Herakleopolis Magna
Heracleopolis or Herakleopolis Magna is the Greek name of the capital of the Twentieth nome of ancient Egypt. It was called Henen-nesut, Nen-nesu, or Hwt-nen-nesu in ancient Egyptian, meaning 'house of the royal child.' Later, it was called Hnas in Coptic, and Ahnas in medieval Arabic writings...

. A rival line (the Eleventh Dynasty
Eleventh dynasty of Egypt
The eleventh dynasty of ancient Egypt was one group of rulers, whose earlier members are grouped with the four preceding dynasties to form the First Intermediate Period, while the later members are considered part of the Middle Kingdom...

) based at Thebes
Thebes, Egypt
Thebes is the Greek name for a city in Ancient Egypt located about 800 km south of the Mediterranean, on the east bank of the river Nile within the modern city of Luxor. The Theban Necropolis is situated nearby on the west bank of the Nile.-History:...

 reunited Upper Egypt
Upper Egypt
Upper Egypt is the strip of land, on both sides of the Nile valley, that extends from the cataract boundaries of modern-day Aswan north to the area between El-Ayait and Zawyet Dahshur . The northern section of Upper Egypt, between El-Ayait and Sohag is sometimes known as Middle Egypt...

 and a clash between the two rival dynasties was inevitable. Around 2055 BC the Theban forces defeated the Heracleopolitan Pharaohs, reunited the Two Lands. The reign of its first pharaoh, Mentuhotep II
Mentuhotep II
Nebhepetre Mentuhotep II was a Pharaoh of the 11th dynasty, the son of Intef III of Egypt and a minor queen called Iah. His own wife was the 'king's mother' Tem. Other wives were Neferu and several secondary wives, one or more who it has been suggested were possibly Nubian, buried in his...

 marks the beginning of the Middle Kingdom.

Middle Kingdom




The Middle Kingdom is the period in the history of ancient Egypt
Ancient Egypt
Ancient Egypt was an ancient civilization of Northeastern Africa, concentrated along the lower reaches of the Nile River in what is now the modern country of Egypt. Egyptian civilization coalesced around 3150 BC with the political unification of Upper and Lower Egypt under the first pharaoh...

 stretching from the establishment of the Eleventh Dynasty
Eleventh dynasty of Egypt
The eleventh dynasty of ancient Egypt was one group of rulers, whose earlier members are grouped with the four preceding dynasties to form the First Intermediate Period, while the later members are considered part of the Middle Kingdom...

 to the end of the Fourteenth Dynasty
Fourteenth dynasty of Egypt
The Eleventh , Twelfth, Thirteenth and Fourteenth Dynasties of ancient Egypt are often combined under the group title, Middle Kingdom, though this dynasty overlaps partially with either the Thirteenth Dynasty or the Fifteenth Dynasty, during the Second Intermediate Period.It is associated with the...

, roughly between 2030 BC and 1640 BC.

The period comprises two phases, the 11th Dynasty
Eleventh dynasty of Egypt
The eleventh dynasty of ancient Egypt was one group of rulers, whose earlier members are grouped with the four preceding dynasties to form the First Intermediate Period, while the later members are considered part of the Middle Kingdom...

, which ruled from Thebes
Thebes, Egypt
Thebes is the Greek name for a city in Ancient Egypt located about 800 km south of the Mediterranean, on the east bank of the river Nile within the modern city of Luxor. The Theban Necropolis is situated nearby on the west bank of the Nile.-History:...

 and the 12th Dynasty
Twelfth dynasty of Egypt
The twelfth dynasty of ancient Egypt is often combined with Dynasties XI, XIII and XIV under the group title Middle Kingdom.-Rulers:Known rulers of the twelfth dynasty are as follows :...

 onwards which was centered around el-Lisht
El-Lisht
Lisht or el-Lisht is an Egyptian village located south of Cairo. It is the site of Middle Kingdom royal and elite burials, including two pyramids built by Amenemhat I and Senusret I. The two main pyramids were surrounded by smaller pyramids of members of the royal family, and many mastaba tombs of...

. These two dynasties were originally considered to be the full extent of this unified kingdom, but historians now consider the 13th Dynasty
Thirteenth dynasty of Egypt
The thirteenth dynasty of ancient Egypt is often combined with Dynasties XI, XII and XIV under the group title Middle Kingdom. Other writers separate it from these dynasties and join it to Dynasties XIV through XVII as part of the Second Intermediate Period...

 to at least partially belong to the Middle Kingdom.

The earliest pharaohs of the Middle Kingdom traced their origin to a nomarch
Nomarch
Nomarchs were the semi-feudal rulers of Ancient Egyptian provinces. Serving as provincial governors, they each held authority over one of the 42 nomes into which the country was divided. Both nome and nomarch are terms derived from the Greek nomos, meaning a province or district...

 of Thebes, "Intef the Great, son of Iku", who is mentioned in a number of contemporary inscriptions. However, his immediate successor Mentuhotep II
Mentuhotep II
Nebhepetre Mentuhotep II was a Pharaoh of the 11th dynasty, the son of Intef III of Egypt and a minor queen called Iah. His own wife was the 'king's mother' Tem. Other wives were Neferu and several secondary wives, one or more who it has been suggested were possibly Nubian, buried in his...

 is considered the first pharaoh of this dynasty.

An inscription carved during the reign of Wahankh Intef II
Intef II
Intef II was a Pharaoh of the Eleventh dynasty during the First Intermediate Period. His capital was located at Thebes. At this time, Egypt was split between several local dynasties. After the death of the nomarch Ankhtifi, Intef II was able to unite all the southern nomes down to the First Cataract...

 shows that he was the first of this dynasty to claim to rule over the whole of Egypt, a claim which brought the Thebeans into conflict with the rulers of Herakleopolis Magna
Herakleopolis Magna
Heracleopolis or Herakleopolis Magna is the Greek name of the capital of the Twentieth nome of ancient Egypt. It was called Henen-nesut, Nen-nesu, or Hwt-nen-nesu in ancient Egyptian, meaning 'house of the royal child.' Later, it was called Hnas in Coptic, and Ahnas in medieval Arabic writings...

, the Tenth Dynasty
Tenth dynasty of Egypt
The tenth dynasty of ancient Egypt is often combined with Dynasties VII, VIII, IX and XI under the group title First Intermediate Period...

. Intef undertook several campaigns northwards, and captured the important nome of Abydos
Abydos, Egypt
Abydos is one of the most ancient cities of Upper Egypt, and also of the eight Upper Nome, of which it was the capital city. It is located about 11 kilometres west of the Nile at latitude 26° 10' N, near the modern Egyptian towns of el-'Araba el Madfuna and al-Balyana...

.

Warfare continued intermittently between the Thebean and Heracleapolitan dynasties until the 14th regnal year
Regnal year
A regnal year is a year of the reign of a sovereign, from the Latin regnum meaning kingdom, rule.The oldest dating systems were in regnal years, and considered the date as an ordinal, not a cardinal number. For example, a monarch could have a first year of rule, a second year of rule, a third, and...

 of Nebhetepra Mentuhotep II
Mentuhotep II
Nebhepetre Mentuhotep II was a Pharaoh of the 11th dynasty, the son of Intef III of Egypt and a minor queen called Iah. His own wife was the 'king's mother' Tem. Other wives were Neferu and several secondary wives, one or more who it has been suggested were possibly Nubian, buried in his...

, when the Herakleopolitans were defeated, and the Theban dynasty began to consolidate their rule. Mentuhotep II is known to have commanded military campaigns south into Nubia
Nubia
Nubia is a region along the Nile river, which is located in northern Sudan and southern Egypt.There were a number of small Nubian kingdoms throughout the Middle Ages, the last of which collapsed in 1504, when Nubia became divided between Egypt and the Sennar sultanate resulting in the Arabization...

, which had gained its independence during the First Intermediate Period. There is also evidence for military actions against Palestine. The king reorganized the country and placed a vizier
Vizier (Ancient Egypt)
The vizier was the highest official in Ancient Egypt to serve the king, or pharaoh during the Old, Middle, and New Kingdoms. Vizier is the generally accepted rendering of ancient Egyptian tjati, tjaty etc, among Egyptologists...

 at the head of civil administration for the country.

Mentuhotep IV was the final pharaoh of this dynasty, and despite being absent from various lists of pharaohs, his reign is attested from a few inscriptions in Wadi Hammamat
Wadi Hammamat
' is a dry river bed in Egypt's Eastern Desert, about halfway between Qusier and Qena. It was a major mining region and trade route east from the Nile Valley in ancient times, and three thousand years of rock carvings and graffiti make it a major scientific and tourist site today.-Trade...

 that record expeditions to the Red Sea
Red Sea
The Red Sea is a seawater inlet of the Indian Ocean, lying between Africa and Asia. The connection to the ocean is in the south through the Bab el Mandeb strait and the Gulf of Aden. In the north, there is the Sinai Peninsula, the Gulf of Aqaba, and the Gulf of Suez...

 coast and to quarry stone for the royal monuments. The leader of this expedition was his vizier Amenemhat, who is widely assumed to be the future pharaoh Amenemhet I, the first king of the 12th Dynasty
Twelfth dynasty of Egypt
The twelfth dynasty of ancient Egypt is often combined with Dynasties XI, XIII and XIV under the group title Middle Kingdom.-Rulers:Known rulers of the twelfth dynasty are as follows :...

. Amenemhet is widely assumed by some Egyptologists to have either usurped the throne or assumed power after Mentuhotep IV died childless.

Amenemhat I built a new capital for Egypt, known as Itjtawy
Itjtawy
Itjtawy , is the as-yet unidentified location of the royal city founded by Twelfth Dynasty Egyptian King Amenemhat I during year 20 of his reign. It is located in the Faiyum region, and its cemeteries were located at Lisht, el-Lahun and Dahshur...

, thought to be located near the present-day el-Lisht
El-Lisht
Lisht or el-Lisht is an Egyptian village located south of Cairo. It is the site of Middle Kingdom royal and elite burials, including two pyramids built by Amenemhat I and Senusret I. The two main pyramids were surrounded by smaller pyramids of members of the royal family, and many mastaba tombs of...

, although the chronicler Manetho
Manetho
Manetho was an Egyptian historian and priest from Sebennytos who lived during the Ptolemaic era, approximately during the 3rd century BC. Manetho wrote the Aegyptiaca...

 claims the capital remained at Thebes. Amenemhat forcibly pacified internal unrest, curtailed the rights of the nomarch
Nomarch
Nomarchs were the semi-feudal rulers of Ancient Egyptian provinces. Serving as provincial governors, they each held authority over one of the 42 nomes into which the country was divided. Both nome and nomarch are terms derived from the Greek nomos, meaning a province or district...

s, and is known to have at launched at least one campaign into Nubia
Nubia
Nubia is a region along the Nile river, which is located in northern Sudan and southern Egypt.There were a number of small Nubian kingdoms throughout the Middle Ages, the last of which collapsed in 1504, when Nubia became divided between Egypt and the Sennar sultanate resulting in the Arabization...

. His son Senusret I
Senusret I
Senusret I was the second pharaoh of the Twelfth Dynasty of Egypt. He ruled from 1971 BC to 1926 BC, and was one of the most powerful kings of this Dynasty. He was the son of Amenemhat I and his wife Nefertitanen. His wife and sister was Neferu. She was also the mother of the successor Amenemhat II...

 continued the policy of his father to recapture Nubia
Nubia
Nubia is a region along the Nile river, which is located in northern Sudan and southern Egypt.There were a number of small Nubian kingdoms throughout the Middle Ages, the last of which collapsed in 1504, when Nubia became divided between Egypt and the Sennar sultanate resulting in the Arabization...

 and other territories lost during the First Intermediate Period. The Libyans were subdued under his forty-five year reign and Egypt's prosperity and security were secured.

Senusret III
Senusret III
Khakhaure Senusret III was a pharaoh of Egypt. He ruled from 1878 BC to 1839 BC, and was the fifth monarch of the Twelfth Dynasty of the Middle Kingdom. Among his achievements was the building of the Sisostris Canal...

 (1878 BC 1839 BC) was a warrior-king, leading his troops deep into Nubia, and built a series of massive forts throughout the country to establish Egypt's formal boundaries with the unconquered areas of its territory. Amenemhet III (1860 BC 1815 BC) is considered the last great pharaoh of the Middle Kingdom.

Egypt's population began to exceed food production levels during the reign of Amenemhat III, who then ordered the exploitation of the Fayyum and increased mining operations in the Sinaï desert. He also invited Asiatic settlers to Egypt to labor on Egypt's monuments. Late in his reign the annual floods along the Nile began to fail, further straining the resources of the government. The Thirteenth Dynasty
Thirteenth dynasty of Egypt
The thirteenth dynasty of ancient Egypt is often combined with Dynasties XI, XII and XIV under the group title Middle Kingdom. Other writers separate it from these dynasties and join it to Dynasties XIV through XVII as part of the Second Intermediate Period...

 and Fourteenth Dynasty
Fourteenth dynasty of Egypt
The Eleventh , Twelfth, Thirteenth and Fourteenth Dynasties of ancient Egypt are often combined under the group title, Middle Kingdom, though this dynasty overlaps partially with either the Thirteenth Dynasty or the Fifteenth Dynasty, during the Second Intermediate Period.It is associated with the...

 witnessed the slow decline of Egypt into the Second Intermediate Period
Second Intermediate Period of Egypt
The Second Intermediate Period marks a period when Ancient Egypt fell into disarray for a second time, between the end of the Middle Kingdom and the start of the New Kingdom...

 in which some of the Asiatic settlers of Amenemhat III would grasp power over Egypt as the Hyksos
Hyksos
The Hyksos were an Asiatic people who took over the eastern Nile Delta during the twelfth dynasty, initiating the Second Intermediate Period of ancient Egypt....

.

Second Intermediate Period and the Hyksos


The Second Intermediate Period marks a period when Ancient Egypt
History of Ancient Egypt
The History of Ancient Egypt spans the period from the early predynastic settlements of the northern Nile Valley to the Roman conquest in 30 BC...

 once again fell into disarray between the end of the Middle Kingdom
Middle Kingdom of Egypt
The Middle Kingdom of Egypt is the period in the history of ancient Egypt stretching from the establishment of the Eleventh Dynasty to the end of the Fourteenth Dynasty, between 2055 BC and 1650 BC, although some writers include the Thirteenth and Fourteenth dynasties in the Second Intermediate...

, and the start of the New Kingdom. This period is best known as the time the Hyksos
Hyksos
The Hyksos were an Asiatic people who took over the eastern Nile Delta during the twelfth dynasty, initiating the Second Intermediate Period of ancient Egypt....

 (an Asiatic people) made their appearance in Egypt, the reigns of its kings comprising the Fifteenth
Fifteenth dynasty of Egypt
The Fifteenth, Sixteenth and Seventeenth Dynasties of ancient Egypt are often combined under the group title, Second Intermediate Period. The Fifteenth Dynasty dates approximately from 1650 to 1550 BC.-Rulers:...

 and Sixteenth Dynasties
Sixteenth dynasty of Egypt
The sixteenth dynasty of ancient Egypt was a dynasty of pharaohs that ruled in Upper Egypt for 50 years during the Second Intermediate Period The sixteenth dynasty of ancient Egypt (notated Dynasty XVI) was a dynasty of pharaohs that ruled in Upper Egypt for 50 years during the Second Intermediate...

.

The Thirteenth Dynasty proved unable to hold onto the long land of Egypt, and a provincial ruling family located in the marshes of the western Delta at Xois
Xois
Xois was a town of great antiquity and considerable size. Situated nearly in the center of the Nile Delta in Egypt, it is identified as the ancient Egyptian city of Khasut or Khaset or Sakha.-History:Xois sat upon an island formed by the Sebennytic and Phatnitic branches of the Nile...

 broke away from the central authority to form the Fourteenth Dynasty
Fourteenth dynasty of Egypt
The Eleventh , Twelfth, Thirteenth and Fourteenth Dynasties of ancient Egypt are often combined under the group title, Middle Kingdom, though this dynasty overlaps partially with either the Thirteenth Dynasty or the Fifteenth Dynasty, during the Second Intermediate Period.It is associated with the...

. The splintering of the land accelerated after the reign of the Thirteenth Dynasty king Neferhotep I
Neferhotep I
Neferhotep I was an Egyptian king of the Thirteenth Dynasty and one of the most powerful rulers of this dynasty. The Turin Canon assigned him a reign length of 11 years....

.

The Hyksos first appear during the reign of the Thirteenth Dynasty
Thirteenth dynasty of Egypt
The thirteenth dynasty of ancient Egypt is often combined with Dynasties XI, XII and XIV under the group title Middle Kingdom. Other writers separate it from these dynasties and join it to Dynasties XIV through XVII as part of the Second Intermediate Period...

 pharaoh Sobekhotep IV
Sobekhotep IV
Khaneferre Sobekhotep IV was one of the most powerful Egyptian kings of the 13th Dynasty. He was the son of the 'god's father' Haankhef and of the 'king's mother' Kemi. His brother, Neferhotep I, was his predecessor on the throne....

, and by 1720 BC took control of the town of Avaris
Avaris
Avaris , capital of Egypt under the Hyksos , was located near modern Tell el-Dab'a in the northeastern region of the Nile Delta, at the juncture of the 8th, 14th, 19th and 20th Nomes...

. The outlines of the traditional account of the "invasion" of the land by the Hyksos is preserved in the Aegyptiaca of Manetho
Manetho
Manetho was an Egyptian historian and priest from Sebennytos who lived during the Ptolemaic era, approximately during the 3rd century BC. Manetho wrote the Aegyptiaca...

, who records that during this time the Hyksos overran Egypt, led by Salitis
Salitis
Salitis was the first king of the Hyksos Fifteenth dynasty of Egypt, who began to rule Egypt around 1648 BC. The precise dates of his rule are unknown. Northern Egypt was controlled by Hyksos rulers throughout the Dynasty. The Hyksos were people of Semitic origin who were thought to have invaded...

, the founder of the Fifteenth Dynasty. In the last decades, however, the idea of a simple migration, with little or no violence involved, has gained some support. Under this theory, the Egyptian rulers of 13th Dynasty
Thirteenth dynasty of Egypt
The thirteenth dynasty of ancient Egypt is often combined with Dynasties XI, XII and XIV under the group title Middle Kingdom. Other writers separate it from these dynasties and join it to Dynasties XIV through XVII as part of the Second Intermediate Period...

 were unable to stop these new migrants from travelling to Egypt from Asia because they were weak kings who were struggling to cope with various domestic problems including possibly famine.

The Hyksos princes and chieftains ruled in the eastern Delta with their local Egyptian vassals. The Hyksos Fifteenth Dynasty rulers established their capital and seat of government at Memphis
Memphis, Egypt
Memphis was the ancient capital of Aneb-Hetch, the first nome of Lower Egypt. Its ruins are located near the town of Helwan, south of Cairo.According to legend related by Manetho, the city was founded by the pharaoh Menes around 3000 BC. Capital of Egypt during the Old Kingdom, it remained an...

 and their summer residence at Avaris
Avaris
Avaris , capital of Egypt under the Hyksos , was located near modern Tell el-Dab'a in the northeastern region of the Nile Delta, at the juncture of the 8th, 14th, 19th and 20th Nomes...

.

The Hyksos kingdom was centered in the eastern Nile Delta
Nile Delta
The Nile Delta is the delta formed in Northern Egypt where the Nile River spreads out and drains into the Mediterranean Sea. It is one of the world's largest river deltas—from Alexandria in the west to Port Said in the east, it covers some 240 km of Mediterranean coastline—and is a rich...

 and Middle Egypt
Middle Kingdom of Egypt
The Middle Kingdom of Egypt is the period in the history of ancient Egypt stretching from the establishment of the Eleventh Dynasty to the end of the Fourteenth Dynasty, between 2055 BC and 1650 BC, although some writers include the Thirteenth and Fourteenth dynasties in the Second Intermediate...

 and was limited in size, never extending south into Upper Egypt
Upper Egypt
Upper Egypt is the strip of land, on both sides of the Nile valley, that extends from the cataract boundaries of modern-day Aswan north to the area between El-Ayait and Zawyet Dahshur . The northern section of Upper Egypt, between El-Ayait and Sohag is sometimes known as Middle Egypt...

, which was under control by Theban
Theban
Theban can refer to:* A thing or person of or from the city of Thebes, Greece.* A thing or person of or from the city of Thebes, Egypt.* The occult Theban alphabet...

-based rulers. Hyksos relations with the south seem to have been mainly of a commercial nature, although Theban princes appear to have recognized the Hyksos rulers and may possibly have provided them with tribute
Tribute
A tribute is wealth, often in kind, that one party gives to another as a sign of respect or, as was often the case in historical contexts, of submission or allegiance. Various ancient states, which could be called suzerains, exacted tribute from areas they had conquered or threatened to conquer...

 for a period.

Around the time Memphis fell to the Hyksos, the native Egyptian ruling house in Thebes
Thebes, Egypt
Thebes is the Greek name for a city in Ancient Egypt located about 800 km south of the Mediterranean, on the east bank of the river Nile within the modern city of Luxor. The Theban Necropolis is situated nearby on the west bank of the Nile.-History:...

 declared its independence from the vassal dynasty in Itj-tawy and set itself up as the Seventeenth Dynasty
Seventeenth dynasty of Egypt
The Fifteenth, Sixteenth and Seventeenth Dynasties of ancient Egypt are often combined under the group title, Second Intermediate Period. The Seventeenth Dynasty dates approximately from 1580 to 1550 BC.-Rulers:...

. This dynasty was to prove the salvation of Egypt and would eventually lead the war of liberation that drove the Hyksos back into Asia. The two last kings of this dynasty were Tao II the Brave
Tao II the Brave
Seqenenre Tao II, , called The Brave, ruled over the last of the local kingdoms of the Theban region of Egypt in the Seventeenth Dynasty during the Second Intermediate Period. He probably was the son and successor to Senaktenre Tao I the Elder and Queen Tetisheri...

 and Kamose
Kamose
Kamose was the last king of the Theban Seventeenth Dynasty. He was probably the son of Seqenenre Tao II and Ahhotep I and the full brother of Ahmose I, founder of the Eighteenth Dynasty. His reign fell at the very end of the Second Intermediate Period...

. Ahmose I
Ahmose I
Ahmose I was a pharaoh of ancient Egypt and the founder of the Eighteenth dynasty. He was a member of the Theban royal house, the son of pharaoh Tao II Seqenenre and brother of the last pharaoh of the Seventeenth dynasty, King Kamose...

 completed the conquest and expulsion of the Hyksos from the delta region
Nile Delta
The Nile Delta is the delta formed in Northern Egypt where the Nile River spreads out and drains into the Mediterranean Sea. It is one of the world's largest river deltas—from Alexandria in the west to Port Said in the east, it covers some 240 km of Mediterranean coastline—and is a rich...

, restored Theban rule over the whole of Egypt and successfully reasserted Egyptian power in its formerly subject territories of Nubia
Nubia
Nubia is a region along the Nile river, which is located in northern Sudan and southern Egypt.There were a number of small Nubian kingdoms throughout the Middle Ages, the last of which collapsed in 1504, when Nubia became divided between Egypt and the Sennar sultanate resulting in the Arabization...

 and Canaan
Canaan
Canaan is a historical region roughly corresponding to modern-day Israel, Palestine, Lebanon, and the western parts of Jordan...

. His reign marks this beginning of the
Eighteenth Dynasty
Eighteenth dynasty of Egypt
The eighteenth dynasty of ancient Egypt is perhaps the best known of all the dynasties of ancient Egypt...

 and the New Kingdom
New Kingdom
The New Kingdom of Egypt, also referred to as the Egyptian Empire is the period in ancient Egyptian history between the 16th century BC and the 11th century BC, covering the Eighteenth, Nineteenth, and Twentieth Dynasties of Egypt....

 period.

New Kingdom



Possibly as a result of the foreign rule of the Hyksos
Hyksos
The Hyksos were an Asiatic people who took over the eastern Nile Delta during the twelfth dynasty, initiating the Second Intermediate Period of ancient Egypt....

 during the Second Intermediate Period, the New Kingdom saw Egypt attempt to create a buffer between the Levant and Egypt, and attain its greatest territorial extent. It expanded far south into Nubia
Nubia
Nubia is a region along the Nile river, which is located in northern Sudan and southern Egypt.There were a number of small Nubian kingdoms throughout the Middle Ages, the last of which collapsed in 1504, when Nubia became divided between Egypt and the Sennar sultanate resulting in the Arabization...

 and held wide territories in the Near East
Near East
The Near East is a geographical term that covers different countries for geographers, archeologists, and historians, on the one hand, and for political scientists, economists, and journalists, on the other...

. Egyptian armies fought Hittite
Hittites
The Hittites were a Bronze Age people of Anatolia.They established a kingdom centered at Hattusa in north-central Anatolia c. the 18th century BC. The Hittite empire reached its height c...

 armies for control of modern-day Syria
Syria
Syria , officially the Syrian Arab Republic , is a country in Western Asia, bordering Lebanon and the Mediterranean Sea to the West, Turkey to the north, Iraq to the east, Jordan to the south, and Israel to the southwest....

.

Eighteenth Dynasty


This was a time of great wealth and power for Egypt. Some of the most important and best-known Pharaohs ruled at this time. Hatshepsut
Hatshepsut
Hatshepsut also Hatchepsut; meaning Foremost of Noble Ladies;1508–1458 BC) was the fifth pharaoh of the eighteenth dynasty of Ancient Egypt...

 was a pharaoh at this time. Hatshepsut is unusual as she was a female pharaoh, a rare occurrence in Egyptian history. She was an ambitious and competent leader, extending Egyptian trade south into present-day Somalia and north into the Mediterranean. She ruled for twenty years through a combination of widespread propaganda and deft political skill. Her co-regent and successor Thutmose III
Thutmose III
Thutmose III was the sixth Pharaoh of the Eighteenth Dynasty. During the first twenty-two years of Thutmose's reign he was co-regent with his stepmother, Hatshepsut, who was named the pharaoh...

 ("the Napoleon
Napoleon I of France
Napoleon Bonaparte was a French military and political leader during the latter stages of the French Revolution.As Napoleon I, he was Emperor of the French from 1804 to 1815...

 of Egypt") expanded Egypt's army and wielded it with great success. Late in his reign he ordered her name hacked out from her monuments. He fought against Asiatic people and was the most successful of Egyptian pharaohs. Amenhotep III
Amenhotep III
Amenhotep III also known as Amenhotep the Magnificent was the ninth pharaoh of the Eighteenth dynasty. According to different authors, he ruled Egypt from June 1386 to 1349 BC or June 1388 BC to December 1351 BC/1350 BC after his father Thutmose IV died...

 built extensively at the temple of Karnak
Karnak
The Karnak Temple Complex—usually called Karnak—comprises a vast mix of decayed temples, chapels, pylons, and other buildings, notably the Great Temple of Amun and a massive structure begun by Pharaoh Ramses II . Sacred Lake is part of the site as well. It is located near Luxor, some...

 including the Luxor temple
Luxor Temple
Luxor Temple is a large Ancient Egyptian temple complex located on the east bank of the River Nile in the city today known as Luxor and was founded in 1400 BCE.,...

 which consisted of two pylons
Pylon (architecture)
Pylon is the Greek term for a monumental gateway of an Egyptian temple It consists of two tapering towers, each surmounted by a cornice, joined by a less elevated section which enclosed the entrance between them. The entrance was generally about half the height of the towers...

, a colonnade behind the new temple entrance, and a new temple to the goddess Ma'at.

Nineteenth Dynasty




Ramesses I
Ramesses I
Menpehtyre Ramesses I was the founding Pharaoh of Ancient Egypt's 19th dynasty. The dates for his short reign are not completely known but the time-line of late 1292-1290 BC is frequently cited as well as 1295-1294 BC...

 reigned for two years and was succeeded by his son Seti I
Seti I
Menmaatre Seti I was a Pharaoh of Ancient Egypt , the son of Ramesses I and Queen Sitre, and the father of Ramesses II...

. Seti I carried on the work of Horemheb in restoring power, control, and respect to Egypt. He also was responsible for creating the temple complex at Abydos
Abydos, Egypt
Abydos is one of the most ancient cities of Upper Egypt, and also of the eight Upper Nome, of which it was the capital city. It is located about 11 kilometres west of the Nile at latitude 26° 10' N, near the modern Egyptian towns of el-'Araba el Madfuna and al-Balyana...

.

Arguably Ancient Egypt's power as a nation-state peaked during the reign of Ramesses II
Ramesses II
Ramesses II , referred to as Ramesses the Great, was the third Egyptian pharaoh of the Nineteenth dynasty. He is often regarded as the greatest, most celebrated, and most powerful pharaoh of the Egyptian Empire...

 ("the Great") of the 19th Dynasty. He reigned for 67 years from the age of 18 and carried on his immediate predecessor's work and created many more splendid temples, such as that of Abu Simbel
Abu Simbel
Abu Simbel temples refers to two massive rock temples in Abu Simbel in Nubia, southern Egypt on the western bank of Lake Nasser about 230 km southwest of Aswan...

 on the Nubian border. He sought to recover territories in the Levant
Levant
The Levant or ) is the geographic region and culture zone of the "eastern Mediterranean littoral between Anatolia and Egypt" . The Levant includes most of modern Lebanon, Syria, Jordan, Israel, the Palestinian territories, and sometimes parts of Turkey and Iraq, and corresponds roughly to the...

 that had been held by 18th Dynasty Egypt. His campaigns of reconquest culminated in the Battle of Kadesh
Battle of Kadesh
The Battle of Kadesh took place between the forces of the Egyptian Empire under Ramesses II and the Hittite Empire under Muwatalli II at the city of Kadesh on the Orontes River, in what is now the Syrian Arab Republic....

 in 1274 BC, where he led Egyptian armies against those of the Hittite king Muwatalli II
Muwatalli II
Muwatalli II was a king of the New kingdom of the Hittite empire .- Biography :He was the eldest son of Mursili II and Queen Gassulawiya, and he had several siblings....

 and was caught in history's first recorded military ambush. Ramesses II was famed for the huge number of children he sired by his various wives and concubines; the tomb
KV5
Tomb KV5 is a subterranean, rock-cut tomb in the Valley of the Kings.It belonged to the sons of Ramesses II. Though KV5 was partially excavated as early as 1825, its true extent was discovered by Dr Kent R. Weeks and his exploration team. The tomb is now known to be the largest in the Valley of the...

 he built for his sons (many of whom he outlived) in the Valley of the Kings
Valley of the Kings
The Valley of the Kings , less often called the Valley of the Gates of the Kings , is a valley in Egypt where, for a period of nearly 500 years from the 16th to 11th century BC, tombs were constructed for the Pharaohs and powerful nobles of the New Kingdom .The valley stands on the west bank of...

 has proven to be the largest funerary complex in Egypt.

His immediate successors continued the military campaigns, though an increasingly troubled court complicated matters. Ramesses II was succeeded by his son Merneptah
Merneptah
Merneptah was the fourth ruler of the Nineteenth Dynasty of Ancient Egypt. He ruled Egypt for almost ten years between late July or early August 1213 and May 2, 1203 BC, according to contemporary historical records...

 and then by Merenptah's son Seti II
Seti II
Seti II , was the fifth ruler of the Nineteenth dynasty of Egypt and reigned from 1203 BC to 1197 BC. His throne name, Userkheperure Setepenre, meant "Powerful are the Manifestations of Re, Chosen by Re.' He was the son of Merneptah and wife Isisnofret and sat on the throne during a...

. Seti II's throne seems to have been disputed by his half-brother Amenmesse
Amenmesse
Amenmesse was the 5th ruler of the Nineteenth Dynasty in Ancient Egypt, possibly the son of Merneptah and Queen Takhat. Others consider him to be one of the innumerable sons of Ramesses II. Very little is known about this king, who ruled Egypt for only three to four years...

, who may have temporarily ruled from Thebes. Upon his death, Seti II son Siptah
Siptah
Akhenre Setepenre Siptah or Merneptah Siptah was the penultimate ruler of the 19th Dynasty. His father's identity is currently unknown. Both Seti II and Amenmesse have been suggested. He was not the crown prince, but succeeded to the throne as a child after the death of Seti II...

, who may have been afflicted with polio during his life, was appointed to the throne by Chancellor Bay
Chancellor Bay
Chancellor Bay was an important Asiatic official in ancient Egypt, who rose to prominence and high office under Seti II Userkheperure Setepenre and later became an influential powerbroker in the closing stages of the 19th Dynasty. He is generally identified with Irsu Chancellor Bay (died 1192 BC)...

, an Asiatic commoner who served as vizier behind the scenes. At Siptah's early death, the throne was assumed by Twosret
Twosret
Queen Twosret was the last known ruler and the final Pharaoh of the Nineteenth Dynasty.She is recorded in Manetho's Epitome as a certain Thuoris, who in Homer is called Polybus, husband of Alcandara, and in whose time Troy was taken. She was said to have ruled Egypt for seven years, but this...

, the dowager queen of Seti II (and possibly Amenmesse's sister). A period of anarchy at the end of Twosret's short reign saw a native reaction to foreign control leading to the execution of the chancellor, and placing Setnakhte
Setnakhte
Userkhaure-setepenre Setnakhte was the first Pharaoh of the Twentieth Dynasty of the New Kingdom of Ancient Egypt and the father of Ramesses III....

 on the throne, establishing the Twentieth Dynasty.

Twentieth Dynasty


The last "great" pharaoh from the New Kingdom is widely regarded to be Ramesses III
Ramesses III
Usimare Ramesses III was the second Pharaoh of the Twentieth Dynasty and is considered to be the last great New Kingdom king to wield any substantial authority over Egypt. He was the son of Setnakhte and Queen Tiy-Merenese. Ramesses III is believed to have reigned from March 1186 to April 1155 BCE...

, the son of Setnakhte who reigned three decades after the time of Ramesses II
Ramesses II
Ramesses II , referred to as Ramesses the Great, was the third Egyptian pharaoh of the Nineteenth dynasty. He is often regarded as the greatest, most celebrated, and most powerful pharaoh of the Egyptian Empire...

. In Year 8 of his reign, the Sea People
Sea Peoples
The Sea Peoples were a confederacy of seafaring raiders of the second millennium BC who sailed into the eastern Mediterranean, caused political unrest, and attempted to enter or control Egyptian territory during the late 19th dynasty and especially during year 8 of Ramesses III of the 20th Dynasty...

, invaded Egypt by land and sea. Ramesses III defeated them in two great land and sea battles. He claimed that he incorporated them as subject people and settled them in Southern Canaan, although there is evidence that they forced their way into Canaan. Their presence in Canaan may have contributed to the formation of new states in this region such as Philistia after the collapse of the Egyptian Empire. He was also compelled to fight invading Libyan tribesmen in two major campaigns in Egypt's Western Delta in his Year 6 and Year 11 respectively.

The heavy cost of these battles slowly exhausted Egypt's treasury and contributed to the gradual decline of the Egyptian Empire in Asia. The severity of these difficulties is stressed by the fact that the first known labor strike in recorded history occurred during Year 29 of Ramesses III's reign, when the food rations for the Egypt's favoured and elite royal tomb-builders and artisans in the village of Deir el Medina could not be provisioned. Something in the air prevented much sunlight from reaching the ground and also arrested global tree growth for almost two full decades until 1140 BC. One proposed cause is the Hekla 3 eruption
Hekla 3 eruption
The Hekla 3 eruption circa 1000 BC is considered the most severe eruption of Hekla during the Holocene. It threw about 7.3 km3 of volcanic rock into the atmosphere, placing its Volcanic Explosivity Index at 5...

 of the Hekla volcano in Iceland, but the dating of that event remains in dispute.

Following Ramesses III's death there was endless bickering between his heirs. Three of his sons would go on to assume power as Ramesses IV
Ramesses IV
Heqamaatre Ramesses IV was the third pharaoh of the Twentieth Dynasty of the New Kingdom of Ancient Egypt. His name prior to assuming the crown was Amonhirkhopshef...

, Ramesses VI
Ramesses VI
Ramesses VI was the fifth ruler of the Twentieth dynasty of Egypt who reigned from 1145 BC to 1137 BC and a son of Ramesses III by Iset Ta-Hemdjert...

 and Ramesses VIII
Ramesses VIII
Usermare Akhenamun Ramesses VIII or Ramesses Sethherkhepshef Meryamun , was the seventh Pharaoh of the Twentieth Dynasty of the New Kingdom of Ancient Egypt and was one of the last surviving sons of Ramesses...

 respectively. However, at this time Egypt was also increasingly beset by a series of droughts, below-normal flooding levels of the Nile
Nile
The Nile is a major north-flowing river in North Africa, generally regarded as the longest river in the world. It is long. It runs through the ten countries of Sudan, South Sudan, Burundi, Rwanda, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Tanzania, Kenya, Ethiopia, Uganda and Egypt.The Nile has two major...

, famine, civil unrest and official corruption. The power of the last pharaoh, Ramesses XI
Ramesses XI
Ramesses XI reigned from 1107 BC to 1078 BC or 1077 BC and was the tenth and final king of the Twentieth dynasty of Egypt. He ruled Egypt for at least 29 years although some Egyptologists think he could have ruled for as long as 30...

, grew so weak that in the south the High Priests of Amun at Thebes
High Priests of Amun at Thebes
While not regarded as a dynasty, the High Priests of Amun at Thebes were nevertheless of such power and influence that they were effectively the rulers of Upper Egypt from 1080 to c.943 BC, after this period their influence declined...

 became the effective defacto rulers of Upper Egypt
Upper Egypt
Upper Egypt is the strip of land, on both sides of the Nile valley, that extends from the cataract boundaries of modern-day Aswan north to the area between El-Ayait and Zawyet Dahshur . The northern section of Upper Egypt, between El-Ayait and Sohag is sometimes known as Middle Egypt...

, while Smendes
Smendes
Hedjkheperre Setepenre Smendes was the founder of the Twenty-first dynasty of Egypt and succeeded to the throne after burying Ramesses XI in Lower Egypt – territory which he controlled...

 controlled Lower Egypt
Lower Egypt
Lower Egypt is the northern-most section of Egypt. It refers to the fertile Nile Delta region, which stretches from the area between El-Aiyat and Zawyet Dahshur, south of modern-day Cairo, and the Mediterranean Sea....

 even before Ramesses XI's death. Smendes would eventually found the Twenty-First dynasty
Twenty-first dynasty of Egypt
The Twenty-First, Twenty-Second, Twenty-Third, Twenty-Fourth, and Twenty-Fifth Dynasties of ancient Egypt are often combined under the group title, Third Intermediate Period.-Rulers:...

 at Tanis
Tanis, Egypt
Tanis , the Greek name of ancient Djanet , is a city in the north-eastern Nile delta of Egypt. It is located on the Tanitic branch of the Nile which has long since silted up.-History:...

.

Third Intermediate Period



After the death of Ramesses XI
Ramesses XI
Ramesses XI reigned from 1107 BC to 1078 BC or 1077 BC and was the tenth and final king of the Twentieth dynasty of Egypt. He ruled Egypt for at least 29 years although some Egyptologists think he could have ruled for as long as 30...

, his successor Smendes
Smendes
Hedjkheperre Setepenre Smendes was the founder of the Twenty-first dynasty of Egypt and succeeded to the throne after burying Ramesses XI in Lower Egypt – territory which he controlled...

 ruled from the city of Tanis
Tanis, Egypt
Tanis , the Greek name of ancient Djanet , is a city in the north-eastern Nile delta of Egypt. It is located on the Tanitic branch of the Nile which has long since silted up.-History:...

 in the north, while the High Priests of Amun at Thebes
High Priests of Amun at Thebes
While not regarded as a dynasty, the High Priests of Amun at Thebes were nevertheless of such power and influence that they were effectively the rulers of Upper Egypt from 1080 to c.943 BC, after this period their influence declined...

 had effective rule of the south of the country, whilst still nominally recognizing Smendes as king. In fact, this division was less significant than it seems, since both priests and pharaohs came from the same family. Piankh
Piankh
While the High Priest of Amun Piankh has been assumed to be a son-in-law of Herihor and his heir to the Theban throne of the High Priest of Amun, recent studies by Karl Jansen-Winkeln of the surviving temple inscriptions and monumental works by Herihor and Piankh in Upper Egypt imply that Piankh...

, assumed control of Upper Egypt, ruling from Thebes
Thebes, Egypt
Thebes is the Greek name for a city in Ancient Egypt located about 800 km south of the Mediterranean, on the east bank of the river Nile within the modern city of Luxor. The Theban Necropolis is situated nearby on the west bank of the Nile.-History:...

, with the northern limit of his control ending at Al-Hibah. (The High Priest Herihor
Herihor
Herihor was an Egyptian army officer and High Priest of Amun at Thebes during the reign of Pharaoh Ramesses XI although Karl Jansen Winkeln has argued that Piankh preceded Herihor as High Priest at Thebes and that Herihor outlived Ramesses XI before being succeeded in this office by Pinedjem I,...

 had died before Ramesses XI, but also was an all-but-independent ruler in the latter days of the king's reign.) The country was once again split into two parts with the priests in Thebes and the Pharaohs at Tanis. Their reign seems to be without any other distinction, and they were replaced without any apparent struggle by the Libyan kings of the Twenty-Second Dynasty
Twenty-second dynasty of Egypt
The Twenty-First, Twenty-Second, Twenty-Third, Twenty-Fourth and Twenty-Fifth Dynasties of ancient Egypt are often combined under the group title, Third Intermediate Period.-Rulers:...

.

Egypt has long had ties with Libya
Libya
Libya is an African country in the Maghreb region of North Africa bordered by the Mediterranean Sea to the north, Egypt to the east, Sudan to the southeast, Chad and Niger to the south, and Algeria and Tunisia to the west....

, and the first king of the new dynasty, Shoshenq I
Shoshenq I
Hedjkheperre Setepenre Shoshenq I , , also known as Sheshonk or Sheshonq I , was a Meshwesh Berber king of Egypt—of Libyan ancestry—and the founder of the Twenty-second Dynasty...

, was a Meshwesh
Meshwesh
The Meshwesh were an ancient Libyan tribe from beyond Cyrenaica where the Libu and Tehenu lived according to Egyptian references and who were probably of Central Berber ethnicity. Herodotus placed them in Tunisia and said of them to be sedentary farmers living in settled permanent houses as the...

 Libyan, who served as the commander of the armies under the last ruler of the Twenty-First Dynasty, Psusennes II
Psusennes II
Titkheperure or Tyetkheperre Psusennes II Greek Ψουσέννης] or Hor-Pasebakhaenniut II Egyptian ḥr-p3-sb3-ḫˁỉ--nỉwt], was the last king of the Twenty-first dynasty of Egypt. His royal name means "Image of the transformation of Re" in Egyptian. Psusennes II is often considered the same person as...

. He unified the country, putting control of the Amun clergy
Clergy
Clergy is the generic term used to describe the formal religious leadership within a given religion. A clergyman, churchman or cleric is a member of the clergy, especially one who is a priest, preacher, pastor, or other religious professional....

 under his own son as the High Priest of Amun, a post that was previously a hereditary appointment. The scant and patchy nature of the written records from this period suggest that it was unsettled. There appear to have been many subversive groups, which eventually led to the creation of the Twenty-Third Dynasty
Twenty-third dynasty of Egypt
The Twenty-third Dynasty of ancient Egypt was a separate regime of Meshwesh Libyan kings, who ruled ancient Egypt. This dynasty is often considered part of the Third Intermediate Period.-Rulers:...

, which ran concurrent with the latter part of the Twenty-Second Dynasty.
The country was reunited by the Twenty-Second Dynasty founded by Shoshenq I
Shoshenq I
Hedjkheperre Setepenre Shoshenq I , , also known as Sheshonk or Sheshonq I , was a Meshwesh Berber king of Egypt—of Libyan ancestry—and the founder of the Twenty-second Dynasty...

 in 945 BC (or 943 BC), who descended from Meshwesh
Meshwesh
The Meshwesh were an ancient Libyan tribe from beyond Cyrenaica where the Libu and Tehenu lived according to Egyptian references and who were probably of Central Berber ethnicity. Herodotus placed them in Tunisia and said of them to be sedentary farmers living in settled permanent houses as the...

 immigrants, originally from Ancient Libya
Ancient Libya
The Latin name Libya referred to the region west of the Nile Valley, generally corresponding to modern Northwest Africa. Climate changes affected the locations of the settlements....

. This brought stability to the country for well over a century. After the reign of Osorkon II
Osorkon II
Usermaatre Setepenamun Osorkon II was a pharaoh of the Twenty-second Dynasty of Ancient Egypt and the son of Takelot I and Queen Kapes. He ruled Egypt around 872 BC to 837 BC from Tanis, the capital of this Dynasty. After succeeding his father, he was faced with the competing rule of his cousin,...

 the country had again splintered into two states with Shoshenq III
Shoshenq III
King Usermaatre Setepenre or Usimare Setepenamun Shoshenq III ruled Egypt's 22nd Dynasty for 39 years according to contemporary historical records. Two Apis Bulls were buried in the fourth and 28th years of his reign and he celebrated his Heb Sed Jubilee in his regnal year 30...

 of the Twenty-Second Dynasty controlling Lower Egypt by 818 BC while Takelot II
Takelot II
Hedjkheperre Setepenre Takelot II Si-Ese was a pharaoh of the Twenty-Third Dynasty of Ancient Egypt in Middle and Upper Egypt. He has been identified as the High Priest of Amun Takelot F, son of the High Priest of Amun Nimlot C at Thebes and, thus, the son of Nimlot C and grandson of king Osorkon...

 and his son (the future Osorkon III
Osorkon III
Usermaatre Setepenamun Osorkon III Si-Ese was Pharaoh of Egypt in the 8th Century BC. He is the same person as the Crown Prince and High Priest of Amun Osorkon B, son of Takelot II by his Great Royal Wife Karomama II. Prince Osorkon B is best attested by his Chronicle—which consists of a series of...

) ruled Middle and Upper Egypt.

After the withdrawal of Egypt from Nubia
Nubia
Nubia is a region along the Nile river, which is located in northern Sudan and southern Egypt.There were a number of small Nubian kingdoms throughout the Middle Ages, the last of which collapsed in 1504, when Nubia became divided between Egypt and the Sennar sultanate resulting in the Arabization...

 at the end of the New Kingdom, a native dynasty took control of Nubia. Under king Piye
Piye
Piye, was a Kushite king and founder of the Twenty-fifth dynasty of Egypt who ruled Egypt from 747 BCE to 716 BCE according to Peter Clayton. He ruled from the city of Napata, located deep in Nubia, Sudan...

, the Nubian founder of Twenty-Fifth Dynasty
Twenty-fifth dynasty of Egypt
The twenty-fifth dynasty of Egypt, known as the Nubian Dynasty or the Kushite Empire, was the last dynasty of the Third Intermediate Period of Ancient Egypt....

, the Nubians pushed north in an effort to crush his Libyan opponents ruling in the Delta. Piye managed to attain power as far as Memphis
Memphis, Egypt
Memphis was the ancient capital of Aneb-Hetch, the first nome of Lower Egypt. Its ruins are located near the town of Helwan, south of Cairo.According to legend related by Manetho, the city was founded by the pharaoh Menes around 3000 BC. Capital of Egypt during the Old Kingdom, it remained an...

. His opponent Tefnakhte
Tefnakhte
Shepsesre Tefnakht , was a prince of Saïs and founder of the relatively short Twenty-fourth dynasty of Egypt who rose to become a Chief of the Ma at his home city. He is thought to have reigned roughly 732 BCE - 725 BCE or 7 years...

 ultimately submitted to him, but he was allowed to remain in power in Lower Egypt and founded the short-lived Twenty-Fourth Dynasty
Twenty-fourth dynasty of Egypt
The Twenty-First, Twenty-Second, Twenty-Third, Twenty-Fourth and Twenty-Fifth Dynasties of ancient Egypt are often combined under the group title, Third Intermediate Period.-Rulers:...

 at Sais
Sais, Egypt
Sais or Sa el-Hagar was an ancient Egyptian town in the Western Nile Delta on the Canopic branch of the Nile. It was the provincial capital of Sap-Meh, the fifth nome of Lower Egypt and became the seat of power during the Twenty-fourth dynasty of Egypt and the Saite Twenty-sixth dynasty of Egypt ...

. The Kushite
Kingdom of Kush
The native name of the Kingdom was likely kaš, recorded in Egyptian as .The name Kash is probably connected to Cush in the Hebrew Bible , son of Ham ....

 kingdom to the south took full advantage of this division and political instability and defeated the combined might of several native-Egyptian rulers such as Peftjaubast, Osorkon IV of Tanis, and Tefnakht of Sais. Piye established the Nubian Twenty-Fifth Dynasty
Twenty-fifth dynasty of Egypt
The twenty-fifth dynasty of Egypt, known as the Nubian Dynasty or the Kushite Empire, was the last dynasty of the Third Intermediate Period of Ancient Egypt....

 and appointed the defeated rulers to be his provincial governors. He was succeeded first by his brother, Shabaka
Shabaka
Shabaka or Shabaka Neferkare, 'Beautiful is the Soul of Re', was a Kushite pharaoh of the Twenty-fifth dynasty of Egypt, between according to Peter Clayton .-Family:...

, and then by his two sons Shebitku
Shebitku
Shebitku was the third king of the Twenty-fifth dynasty of Egypt who ruled from 702 BCE to 690 BCE according to Peter Clayton or 707/706 BC-690 BC, according to Dan'el Kahn's most recent academic research. He was the nephew and successor of Shabaka. He was a son of Piye, the founder of this dynasty...

 and Taharqa
Taharqa
Taharqa was a pharaoh of the Ancient Egyptian 25th dynasty and king of the Kingdom of Kush, which was located in Northern Sudan.Taharqa was the son of Piye, the Nubian king of Napata who had first conquered Egypt. Taharqa was also the cousin and successor of Shebitku. The successful campaigns of...

. Taharqa
Taharqa
Taharqa was a pharaoh of the Ancient Egyptian 25th dynasty and king of the Kingdom of Kush, which was located in Northern Sudan.Taharqa was the son of Piye, the Nubian king of Napata who had first conquered Egypt. Taharqa was also the cousin and successor of Shebitku. The successful campaigns of...

 reunited the "Two lands" of Northern and Southern Egypt and created an empire that was as large as it had been since the New Kingdom
New Kingdom
The New Kingdom of Egypt, also referred to as the Egyptian Empire is the period in ancient Egyptian history between the 16th century BC and the 11th century BC, covering the Eighteenth, Nineteenth, and Twentieth Dynasties of Egypt....

. The 25th dynasty
Twenty-fifth dynasty of Egypt
The twenty-fifth dynasty of Egypt, known as the Nubian Dynasty or the Kushite Empire, was the last dynasty of the Third Intermediate Period of Ancient Egypt....

 ushered in a renaissance period for Ancient Egypt. Religion, the arts, and architecture were restored to their glorious Old, Middle, and New Kingdom forms. Pharaohs, such as Taharqa, built or restored temples and monuments throughout the Nile valley, including at Memphis, Karnak, Kawa, Jebel Barkal, etc. It was during the 25th dynasty that the Nile valley saw the first widespread construction of pyramids (many in modern Sudan)
Nubian pyramids
Nubian pyramids are pyramids that were built by the rulers of the Kushite and Egyptian kingdoms. Prior to the Kushites building these pyramids , there had been no pyramid construction in Egypt and the Nile Valley for more than 500 years.The area of the Nile valley known as Nubia, which lies within...

 since the Middle Kingdom.

The international prestige of Egypt declined considerably by this time. The country's international allies had fallen under the sphere of influence of Assyria
Assyria
Assyria was a Semitic Akkadian kingdom, extant as a nation state from the mid–23rd century BC to 608 BC centred on the Upper Tigris river, in northern Mesopotamia , that came to rule regional empires a number of times through history. It was named for its original capital, the ancient city of Assur...

 and from about 700 BC the question became when, not if, there would be war between the two states. Taharqa
Taharqa
Taharqa was a pharaoh of the Ancient Egyptian 25th dynasty and king of the Kingdom of Kush, which was located in Northern Sudan.Taharqa was the son of Piye, the Nubian king of Napata who had first conquered Egypt. Taharqa was also the cousin and successor of Shebitku. The successful campaigns of...

's reign and that of his successor, Tanutamun, were filled with constant conflict with the Assyrians against whom there were numerous victories, but ultimately Thebes was occupied and Memphis
Memphis, Egypt
Memphis was the ancient capital of Aneb-Hetch, the first nome of Lower Egypt. Its ruins are located near the town of Helwan, south of Cairo.According to legend related by Manetho, the city was founded by the pharaoh Menes around 3000 BC. Capital of Egypt during the Old Kingdom, it remained an...

 sacked.

Late Period



From 671 BC on, Memphis and the Delta region became the target of many attacks from the Assyria
Assyria
Assyria was a Semitic Akkadian kingdom, extant as a nation state from the mid–23rd century BC to 608 BC centred on the Upper Tigris river, in northern Mesopotamia , that came to rule regional empires a number of times through history. It was named for its original capital, the ancient city of Assur...

ns, who expelled the Nubians and handed over power to client kings of the Twenty-Sixth Dynasty
Twenty-sixth dynasty of Egypt
The Twenty-sixth Dynasty of Egypt was the last native dynasty to rule Egypt before the Persian conquest in 525 BC . The Dynasty's reign The Twenty-sixth Dynasty of Egypt (also written Dynasty XXVI or Dynasty 26) was the last native dynasty to rule Egypt before the Persian conquest in 525 BC...

. Psamtik I was the first to be recognized as the king of the whole of Egypt, and he brought increased stability to the country during a 54-year reign from the new capital of Sais
Sais, Egypt
Sais or Sa el-Hagar was an ancient Egyptian town in the Western Nile Delta on the Canopic branch of the Nile. It was the provincial capital of Sap-Meh, the fifth nome of Lower Egypt and became the seat of power during the Twenty-fourth dynasty of Egypt and the Saite Twenty-sixth dynasty of Egypt ...

. Four successive Saite kings continued guiding Egypt successfully and peacefully from 610-526 BC, keeping the Babylonia
Babylonia
Babylonia was an ancient cultural region in central-southern Mesopotamia , with Babylon as its capital. Babylonia emerged as a major power when Hammurabi Babylonia was an ancient cultural region in central-southern Mesopotamia (present-day Iraq), with Babylon as its capital. Babylonia emerged as...

ns away with the help of Greek
Greece
Greece , officially the Hellenic Republic , and historically Hellas or the Republic of Greece in English, is a country in southeastern Europe....

 mercenaries.

By the end of this period a new power was growing in the Near East: Persia. The pharaoh Psamtik III had to face the might of Persia at Pelusium
Pelusium
Pelusium was a city in the eastern extremes of Egypt's Nile Delta, 30 km to the southeast of the modern Port Said. Alternative names include Sena and Per-Amun , Pelousion , Sin , Seyân , and Tell el-Farama...

; he was defeated and briefly escaped to Memphis, but ultimately was captured and then executed.

Persian domination



Achaemenid Egypt can be divided into three eras: the first period of Persian occupation when Egypt became a satrap
Satrap
Satrap was the name given to the governors of the provinces of the ancient Median and Achaemenid Empires and in several of their successors, such as the Sassanid Empire and the Hellenistic empires....

y, followed by an interval of independence, and the second and final period of occupation.

The Persian king Cambyses
Cambyses
Cambyses can refer to two ancient rulers and two plays:-*Cambyses I, King of Anshan 600 to 559 BCE*Cambyses II, King of Persia 530 to 522 BCE*Cambyses, a tragedy by Thomas Preston...

 assumed the formal title of Pharaoh, called himself Mesuti-Re ("Re has given birth"), and sacrificed to the Egyptian gods. He founded the Twenty-seventh dynasty
Twenty-seventh Dynasty of Egypt
The Twenty-seventh Dynasty of Egypt also known as the First Egyptian Satrapy was effectively a province of the Achaemenid Perisan Empire between 525 BCE to 402 BCE. The last pharaoh of the Twenty-Sixth dynasty, Psamtik III, was defeated by Cambyses II of Persia in the battle of Pelusium in the...

. Egypt
Egypt
Egypt , officially the Arab Republic of Egypt, Arabic: , is a country mainly in North Africa, with the Sinai Peninsula forming a land bridge in Southwest Asia. Egypt is thus a transcontinental country, and a major power in Africa, the Mediterranean Basin, the Middle East and the Muslim world...

 was then joined with Cyprus
Cyprus
Cyprus , officially the Republic of Cyprus , is a Eurasian island country, member of the European Union, in the Eastern Mediterranean, east of Greece, south of Turkey, west of Syria and north of Egypt. It is the third largest island in the Mediterranean Sea.The earliest known human activity on the...

 and Phoenicia
Phoenicia
Phoenicia , was an ancient civilization in Canaan which covered most of the western, coastal part of the Fertile Crescent. Several major Phoenician cities were built on the coastline of the Mediterranean. It was an enterprising maritime trading culture that spread across the Mediterranean from 1550...

 in the sixth satrap
Satrap
Satrap was the name given to the governors of the provinces of the ancient Median and Achaemenid Empires and in several of their successors, such as the Sassanid Empire and the Hellenistic empires....

y of the Achaemenid Empire.

Cambyses' successors Darius I the Great and Xerxes
Xerxes I of Persia
Xerxes I of Persia , Ḫšayāršā, ), also known as Xerxes the Great, was the fifth king of kings of the Achaemenid Empire.-Youth and rise to power:...

 pursued a similar policy, visited the country, and warded off an Athenian
Athens
Athens , is the capital and largest city of Greece. Athens dominates the Attica region and is one of the world's oldest cities, as its recorded history spans around 3,400 years. Classical Athens was a powerful city-state...

 attack. It is likely that Artaxerxes I
Artaxerxes I of Persia
Artaxerxes I was the sixth king of kings of the Achaemenid Empire from 465 BCE to 424 BCE. He was the son of Xerxes I of Persia and Amestris, daughter of Otanes.*Artaxerxes I was the sixth king of kings of the Achaemenid Empire from 465 BCE to 424 BCE. He was the son of Xerxes I of Persia and...

 and Darius II
Darius II of Persia
Darius II , was king of the Persian Empire from 423 BC to 405 BC.Artaxerxes I, who died on December 25, 424 BC, was followed by his son Xerxes II. After a month and a half Xerxes II was murdered by his brother Secydianus or Sogdianus...

 visited the country as well, although it is not attested in our sources, and did not prevent the Egyptians from feeling unhappy.

During the war of succession after the reign of Darius II, which broke out in 404, they revolted under Amyrtaeus
Amyrtaeus
Amyrtaeus of Sais is the only king of the Twenty-eighth dynasty of Egypt and is thought to be related to the royal family of the Twenty-sixth dynasty...

 and regained their independence. This sole ruler of the Twenty-eighth dynasty
Twenty-eighth dynasty of Egypt
The Twenty-Eighth Dynasty is often combined with other groupings of rulers of ancient Egypt under the title, Late Period. These other groupings include the Twenty-Sixth, Twenty-Seventh, Twenty-Ninth, Thirtieth, and Thirty-First dynasties.-Rulers:...

 died in 399, and power went to the Twenty-ninth dynasty
Twenty-ninth dynasty of Egypt
Nepherites I founded the Twenty-ninth Dynasty of ancient Egypt by defeating Amyrtaeus in open battle, and later putting him to death at Memphis. Nepherites made his capital at Mendes...

. The Thirtieth Dynasty
Thirtieth dynasty of Egypt
The Thirtieth Dynasty of ancient Egypt followed Nectanebo I's deposition of Nefaarud II, the son of Hakor. This dynasty is often considered part of the Late Period....

 was established in 380 BC and lasted until 343 BC. Nectanebo II
Nectanebo II
Nectanebo II was the third and last pharaoh of the Thirtieth dynasty, as well as the last native ruler of Ancient Egypt. Under Nectanebo II Egypt prospered...

 was the last native king to rule Egypt.

Artaxerxes III
Artaxerxes III of Persia
Artaxerxes III of Persia , was the Great King of Persia and the eleventh Emperor of the Achaemenid Empire, as well as the first Pharaoh of the 31st dynasty of Egypt. He was the son and successor of Artaxerxes II and was succeeded by his son, Arses of Persia...

 (358–338 BC) reconquered the Nile valley for a brief period (343–332 BC).
In 332 BC Mazaces handed over the country to Alexander the Great without a fight. The Achaemenid empire had ended, and for a while Egypt was a satrapy in Alexander's empire. Later the Ptolemies
Ptolemaic dynasty
The Ptolemaic dynasty, was a Macedonian Greek royal family which ruled the Ptolemaic Empire in Egypt during the Hellenistic period. Their rule lasted for 275 years, from 305 BC to 30 BC...

 and then the Romans
Roman Empire
The Roman Empire was the post-Republican period of the ancient Roman civilization, characterised by an autocratic form of government and large territorial holdings in Europe and around the Mediterranean....

 successively ruled the Nile valley.

Ptolemaic dynasty



In 332 BC Alexander III of Macedon conquered Egypt with little resistance from the Persians. He was welcomed by the Egyptians
Egyptians
Egyptians are nation an ethnic group made up of Mediterranean North Africans, the indigenous people of Egypt.Egyptian identity is closely tied to geography. The population of Egypt is concentrated in the lower Nile Valley, the small strip of cultivable land stretching from the First Cataract to...

 as a deliverer. He visited Memphis
Memphis, Egypt
Memphis was the ancient capital of Aneb-Hetch, the first nome of Lower Egypt. Its ruins are located near the town of Helwan, south of Cairo.According to legend related by Manetho, the city was founded by the pharaoh Menes around 3000 BC. Capital of Egypt during the Old Kingdom, it remained an...

, and went on a pilgrimage to the oracle of Amun
Amun
Amun, reconstructed Egyptian Yamānu , was a god in Egyptian mythology who in the form of Amun-Ra became the focus of the most complex system of theology in Ancient Egypt...

 at the Oasis of Siwa. The oracle declared him to be the son of Amun. He conciliated the Egyptians by the respect which he showed for their religion, but he appointed Greeks to virtually all the senior posts in the country, and founded a new Greek city, Alexandria
Alexandria
Alexandria is the second-largest city of Egypt, with a population of 4.1 million, extending about along the coast of the Mediterranean Sea in the north central part of the country; it is also the largest city lying directly on the Mediterranean coast. It is Egypt's largest seaport, serving...

, to be the new capital. The wealth of Egypt could now be harnessed for Alexander's conquest of the rest of the Persian Empire. Early in 331 BC he was ready to depart, and led his forces away to Phoenicia. He left Cleomenes
Cleomenes of Naucratis
Cleomenes , a Greek of Naucratis in Egypt, was appointed by Alexander III of Macedon as nomarch of the Arabian district of Egypt and receiver of the tributes from all the districts of Egypt and the neighbouring part of Africa...

 as the ruling nomarch
Nomarch
Nomarchs were the semi-feudal rulers of Ancient Egyptian provinces. Serving as provincial governors, they each held authority over one of the 42 nomes into which the country was divided. Both nome and nomarch are terms derived from the Greek nomos, meaning a province or district...

 to control Egypt in his absence. Alexander never returned to Egypt.

Following Alexander's death in Babylon
Babylon
Babylon was an Akkadian city-state of ancient Mesopotamia, the remains of which are found in present-day Al Hillah, Babil Province, Iraq, about 85 kilometers south of Baghdad...

 in 323 BC, a succession crisis
Diadochi
The Diadochi were the rival generals, family and friends of Alexander the Great who fought for the control of Alexander's empire after his death in 323 BC...

 erupted among his generals. Initially, Perdiccas
Perdiccas
Perdiccas was one of Alexander the Great's generals. After Alexander's death in 323 BC he became regent of all Alexander's empire.Arrian tells us he was son of Orontes, a descendant of the independent princes of the Macedonian province of Orestis...

 ruled the empire as regent for Alexander's half-brother Arrhidaeus, who became Philip III of Macedon
Philip III of Macedon
Philip III Arrhidaeus was the king of Macedonia from after June 11, 323 BC until his death. He was a son of King Philip II of Macedonia by Philinna of Larissa, allegedly a Thessalian dancer, and a half-brother of Alexander the Great...

, and then as regent for both Philip III and Alexander's infant son Alexander IV of Macedon
Alexander IV of Macedon
Alexander IV Aegus was the son of Alexander the Great and Princess Roxana of Bactria.-Birth:...

, who had not been born at the time of his father's death. Perdiccas appointed Ptolemy
Ptolemy I Soter
Ptolemy I Soter I , also known as Ptolemy Lagides, c. 367 BC – c. 283 BC, was a Macedonian general under Alexander the Great, who became ruler of Egypt and founder of both the Ptolemaic Kingdom and the Ptolemaic Dynasty...

, one of Alexander's closest companions, to be satrap
Satrap
Satrap was the name given to the governors of the provinces of the ancient Median and Achaemenid Empires and in several of their successors, such as the Sassanid Empire and the Hellenistic empires....

 of Egypt. Ptolemy ruled Egypt from 323 BC, nominally in the name of the joint kings Philip III and Alexander IV. However, as Alexander the Great's empire disintegrated, Ptolemy soon established himself as ruler in his own right. Ptolemy successfully defended Egypt against an invasion by Perdiccas in 321 BC, and consolidated his position in Egypt and the surrounding areas during the Wars of the Diadochi (322 BC-301 BC). In 305 BC, Ptolemy took the title of King. As Ptolemy I Soter
Ptolemy I Soter
Ptolemy I Soter I , also known as Ptolemy Lagides, c. 367 BC – c. 283 BC, was a Macedonian general under Alexander the Great, who became ruler of Egypt and founder of both the Ptolemaic Kingdom and the Ptolemaic Dynasty...

 ("Saviour"), he founded the Ptolemaic dynasty
Ptolemaic dynasty
The Ptolemaic dynasty, was a Macedonian Greek royal family which ruled the Ptolemaic Empire in Egypt during the Hellenistic period. Their rule lasted for 275 years, from 305 BC to 30 BC...

 that was to rule Egypt for nearly 300 years.

The later Ptolemies took on Egyptian traditions by marrying their siblings, had themselves portrayed on public monuments in Egyptian style and dress, and participated in Egyptian religious life. Hellenistic culture thrived in Egypt well after the Muslim conquest
Muslim conquest of Egypt
At the commencement of the Muslims conquest of Egypt, Egypt was part of the Byzantine Empire with its capital in Constantinople. However, it had been occupied just a decade before by the Persian Empire under Khosrau II...

. The Ptolemies had to fight native rebellions and were involved in foreign and civil wars that led to the decline of the kingdom and its annexation by Rome.

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