7000-3000 BCE: Gradual desertification of the interior, leading to migrations to the Nile zone.
Around 6000: Neolithic culture at the Nabta Playa in the south of Egypt with the oldest calendar in the world.
Around 5000: Raising of crops is introduced.
Around 4000: Naqada 1 period with larger settlements and more advanced production techniques.
Around 3300: Extensive irrigation systems are developed.
3150: North and south Egypt is united under King Menes, Narmer or possibly Aha.
Early Dynastic / Archaic Period
3150-2686 BCE. 0-2nd Dynasty
This period of some 400 years was the formative period for the Egyptian civilization. There were great advances in the fields of writing, painting and architecture. Death cult was developed and sophisticated, where royals used mastabas and surrounding complexes for their tombs.
The unification of Egypt was not completed through the period, and regional tensions persisted. It was first with King Khasekhemwy that the unification was completed and identities of the two Egypts reconciled.
Detailed articles: | 1st Dynasty | | 2nd Dynasty |
2686-2181 BCE. 3rd-6th Dynasty
The Old Kingdom's first king was Zoser, also the king who started the pyramid era with his step mastaba, or step pyramid, at Saqqara. This construction is an indicator of a well-functioning state with large tax revenues, and of great advances in technology and culture in general.
The Old Kingdom reached its heigh with the 4th Dynasty, which consisted of the greatest pyramid builders, Snefru, Khufu and Khafre.
With the 6th Dynasty, Egypt was still able to make great advances into foreign lands, in search of new wealths. But on the home ground, increasing regional divisions caused great damage to the central power, paving for the end of the rich and united Egypt.
Detailed articles: | Old Kingdom | | 3rd Dynasty | | 4th Dynasty | | 5th Dynasty | | 6th Dynasty |
First Intermediate Period
2181-2055 BCE. 7th-11th Dynasty
The First Intermediate Period is a period of regional divisions, of petty dynasties, rivalry and chaos. It would last for about 125 years, and there have been counted as many as 70 rulers divided between 5 dynasties.
In addition to the loss of a central power that could secure trade and peace, there were also problems with famine due to less water carried by the Nile.
The north was ruled by kings in Herakleopolis, while the south by kings of Edfu and Thebes. The intermediate period comes to an end with the Theban king Mentuhotep 2 uniting north and south of Egypt.
Detailed articles: | First Intermediate Period |
2055-1650 BCE. 11th-14th Dynasty
Mentuhotep 2's Egypt was once again able to make advances into foreign lands, like Libya, Nubia, Sinai and Punt (Somalia). The capital is first relocated to Memphis, later to Fayoum Oasis.
The 12th Dynasty represented the cultural height of this period, being the last pyramid builders, although the techniques implemented was inferior to earlier times. Yet, the 12th Dynasty was a troubled time, with water levels of the Nile so high that it caused famine, and even plagues.
Detailed articles: | Middle Kingdom | | 11th Dynasty | | 12th Dynasty | | 13th Dynasty | | 14th Dynasty |
Second Intermediate Period
1650-1550 BCE. 15th-17th Dynasty
The Second Intermediate Period, is just like the first one where the unity of Egypt is lost. The dynasties lost their hold on Nubia and the Nile Delta. Small states took hold of Nubia, while the Hyksos established themselves in the Nile Delta, ruling from Avaris, and would at times represent the strongest force in Egypt.
The Hyksos was a foreign people, the indigenous Egyptians had Thebes as their capital. Finally, the Hyksos were defeated, and a new era of a united Egypt could start.
Detailed articles: | Second Intermediate Period | | Hyksos; 15th Dynasty |
1550-1069 BCE. 18th-20th Dynasty
The New Kingdom represents one of the major contributors to the legacy of Ancient Egypt together with the pyramid builders of the Old Kingdom. The rulers of the New Kingdom stayed on in Thebes, and involved themselves in building great temples and rock-hewn tombs.
The Egyptians made great advances into foreign lands, of which Nubia was the most important. This was also a period of much immigration to Egypt.
In the second half of the 14th century, the Egyptians developed the first monotheistic religion of the world, the cult of Aten. This would not last long, however.
The 20th Dynasty was one of many invasions from foreign powers, and lost its foreign lands. The weakness of King Ramses 11 position made him divide the effective control over Egypt between the high priest of Amon (south) and his vizier (north). From the two, two new dynasties grew forth, and the unity of Egypt had been lost again.
Detailed articles: | New Kingdom | | 18th Dynasty | | 19th Dynasty | | 20th Dynasty |
Third Intermediate Period / Late Dynastic Period
1069-664 BCE. 21st-25th Dynasty
The Late Dynastic Period is often called Third Intermediate Period. Northern Egypt was governed from Tanis, while the south was governed from Thebes. The relations between the two halves were peaceful and harmonious. With the 22nd Dynasty of Libyan rulers who governed the north from Bubastis, a period of foreign rulers started. The 24th Dynasty were Ethiopians, while the 25th Dynasty were Cushites.
Detailed articles: | Third Intermediate Period | | 21st Dynasty | | 22nd Dynasty | | 23rd Dynasty | | 24th Dynasty | | 25th Dynasty |
664-332 BCE. 26th-31st Dynasty
The Late Period starts with the Assyrian conquest of Thebes in 664, and Egypt became an Assyrian province. A new capital was established in Saïs in the north. This would be the last great period referred to as Pharonic. Although a province subject to a foreign state, the Late Period was still marked by cultural and technological advances. The canal built between the Nile and the Red Sea is an indicator of this.
A second period starts with the Persian invasion in 525. A period of 150 years of Persian influence and weak rulers start. This would briefly end with the Kings known as Nectanebo 1 and 2 in the middle of the 4th century, before Persian control was restored.
Detailed articles: | Late Period | | 26th Dynasty | | 27th Dynasty | | 28th Dynasty | | 29th Dynasty | | 30th Dynasty | | 31st Dynasty |
The Ptolemaic Period starts with the fall of the Persian Empire to Alexander the Great in 332. Before his death 9 years later, Alexander had divided his empire between his Macedonian generals. Ptolemy became the ruler of Egypt, and this would mean that Egypt regained its independence.
Some Greek elements were introduced, like the Greek language. Yet, much of Ancient Egyptian culture was kept alive. The temples at Edfu and Kom Ombo belong to this period.
Detailed articles: | Ptolemaic dynasty |
30 BCE-323 CE
The Roman Period starts with the military defeat to Rome at the Battle of Actium. Egypt now became a Roman province, but Egyptian culture would survive. The temples at Dendera and Esna belong to this period.
In the 1st century CE, Christianity was introduced to Egypt, and would come to replace Ancient Egyptian religion, although the latter would have permament influence on Christianity. The shift to Byzantine Period was hardly felt in Egypt, as it really was only a question of the Roman leaders moving their capital.
The Byzantine Period was dominated by Christianity and represent the final end of both Ancient Egyptian religion and culture. New architectural styles replaced the old ones. The Byzantine Period ends with the with the fall of Alexandria in 642 to the Muslim Arabs. The conquest of Egypt had started in 636, when Babylon (south of Cairo) was taken.
With the Muslim conquest, the history of Ancient Egypt ends, and the history of modern Egypt starts.
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