Ancient Egypt /
Period of Ancient Egypt, 664-332 BCE, 332 years, consisting of 6 dynasties, the 26th through the 31st Dynasty.
The first 8 years overlap with the Third Intermediate Period; in 664 a new, strong dynasty was established, first as vassal kings under by the Assyrians. With Sais as capital, Psametik 1 managed by 656 to unite all of Egypt, when Thebes peacefully passed from the control of Cush, known as the 25th Dynasty of Egypt. Psametik's 26th Dynasty would bring back a level of prosperity and peace that Egypt had not seen in centuries, but soon Babylonia, then Persia would emerge as regional superpowers.
Throughout this period, Egypt was a united country, but it was no longer strong enough to withstand strong foreign armies, and for two periods, of about 132 years together, Egypt was conquered by the Persian, becoming only a satrapy (province).
The Late Period ends with Alexander the Great's conquest, eventually leading to the establishment of the Ptolemaic Dynasty. Beginning with Alexander, Egypt would pass through a continuous period of almost 2300 years of being ruled by foreigners.
National society was dominated by the temples and the priesthoods. In many temple inscriptions, the elite was only mentioned with their religious offices, not the administrative that they clearly also had. Temples grew increasingly stronger, benefiting from great donations.
The more than 2000 year old worship of the Apis bull at Saqqara became one of the main cults in Egypt; Apis was seen upon as a manifestation of Ptah. Egypt which was a country challenged by foreign empires, placed much importance on Seth becoming the god of foreign lands.
Animal worship developed into perhaps the most central part of Egyptian religion, especially in the case of popular cults. Towards the end of the Late Period, animal worship emerged as the most common form for religious practice all over. Animal burials became very common, involving at least 10 species, including ibises, cats and dogs. Perhaps the most popular centre for this was Bubastis in the Nile Delta.
The main monuments built by individuals of this period were statues erected in or near temples.
Culture and Economy
The central part of Egypt, economically and culturally, was the Nile Delta and the up the Nile until the region of Memphis. Throughout the 26th Dynasty, the Egyptian economy grew and thrived. The richest periods was that of Ahmose 2 (570-526).
This was a period of large Greek immigration, whereas in the New Kingdom and the Third Intermediate Period, immigration had been dominated by Libyans. Trade became highly developed between Greece and Egypt.
Egyptians proved strongly opposed to immigrants and their cultures. A reaction to their times was strong nationalism, and increased focus on national culture.
This was a period in which demotic script became increasingly used across the whole country, beginning in the north. Demotic became the script used by administration. Hieratic remained in use, but became retained for literary and religious texts. But even in literature, demotic would be used more and more.
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