Egypt is a country in North Africa, bordering the Mediterranean Sea, and home to one of the oldest civilizations in the world. The name “Egypt” comes from the Greek Aegyptos the Greek pronunciation of the ancient Egyptian name “Hwt-Ka-Ptah” (“House of the spirit of Ptah”) In fact this name originally designated the name of the city of Memphis . However Memphis is the first capital of Egypt and a famous religious and commercial center. Also its high status is attested by the Greeks who refer to the whole country by this name.
To the ancient Egyptians themselves, their country simply known as Kemet. Which means “Black Earth”. So named because of the rich, dark soil along the Nile. Where the first settlements began. Later, the country is known as Misr.
Which means “country”, a name still used by Egyptians for their nation today. Moreover, Egypt prospered for thousands of years (from 8000 BC to around 30 BC). Whose culture is famous for its great advances in all areas of human knowledge. In short, from the arts to the sciences, through technology and religion.
The great monuments for which ancient Egypt is still celebrated. Reflect the depth and grandeur of Egyptian culture. So it influenced so many ancient civilizations, including Greece and Rome.
One of the reasons for the popularity of Egyptian culture is its emphasis on the grandeur of the human experience.
Its great monuments, temples and famous works of art are reminders of what once was. And also what human beings, at their best, are capable of accomplishing. Although the popular culture of ancient Egypt is often associated with death and mortuary rites. So something even in these rites speaks to people of all ages. Of what it means to be a human being and of the power and purpose of remembrance.
However the history of ancient Egypt begins between 3400 and 3200 BC So when the hieroglyphic writing is developed by the culture of Naqada III.
However, for Egyptians, life on earth is one aspect of an eternal journey. The soul is immortal and inhabited the body for a short time. At death, judgment was met in the Hall of Truth. Then and, if justified. So we were headed for an eternal paradise known as the Field of Reeds.
While a mirror image of life on earth. Once we had reached paradise. You could live with those you loved while on earth. Including his pets, in the same neighborhood. Also on the edge of the same stream, under the same trees that were thought to be lost to death.
This eternal life, however, is only available to some. However to those who had lived well and according to the will of the gods. Especially in the most perfect and conducive place for such a purpose: the land of Egypt.
In fact Egypt has a long history which goes back well beyond the written records. So stories of the gods or monuments that made this culture famous. In addition, evidence of overgrazing of livestock in the Sahara desert. Dated to around 8000 BC.
As well as the artifacts discovered, indicate a flourishing agricultural civilization at this time. As the land was already largely arid at that time. The hunter-gatherer nomads sought water from the Nile Valley. Then they started to settle there before 6000 BC.
Organized agriculture began in the region around 6000 BC, as well as Badarian culture communities began to flourish along the river. The industry developed around the same time. As evidenced by the earthenware workshops discovered at Abydos around 5500 BC.
The Badarians were followed by the Naqadas (Naqada I, Naqada II and Naqada III). Who also contributed to the development of what became the Egyptian civilization.
The written history of the earth begins at some point between 3400 and 3200 BC When hieroglyphic writing was developed Around 3500 BC Mummification of the dead was practiced in the city of Hierakonpolis and large stone tombs built in Abydos. Small agrarian communities became centralized and grew into larger urban centers.
History of ancient Egypt
the history of ancient Egypt begins with the beginning of the dynastic period in Egypt (ca. 3150 – ca. 2613 BC). Saw the unification of the northern and southern kingdoms under King Menes. However, from Upper Egypt who conquered Lower Egypt around 3118 BC. This version of ancient history comes from (History of Egypt) by the ancient historian Manetho.
Who lived in the 3rd century BC under the Ptolemaic dynasty (323-30 BC). Although its chronology has been disputed by later historians. She is still consulted on dynastic succession and the early history of ancient Egypt.
The association of Ménès with his predecessor and his successor is explained by the fact that “Menes” is an honorary title meaning “one who endures” and not a personal name. And that it could therefore have been used to designate several kings. The claim that the land was united by a military campaign is also disputed.
Because the famous “Narmer Palette”, representing a military victory, is considered by some specialists as royal propaganda. The country may have been unified peacefully at first, but that seems unlikely.
In ancient Egypt, the geographical designation follows the direction of the Nile. Thus, Upper Egypt is the southern region and Lower Egypt the northern region, closer to the Mediterranean Sea. Narmer ruled from the city of Heirakonopolis, then from Memphis and Abydos.
Trade expanded considerably under the rulers of the Early Dynastic period in Egypt and elaborate mastaba tombs, precursors to later pyramids, developed into Egyptian burial practices which included increasingly elaborate mummification techniques.
As far back as the predynastic period in Egypt (c. 6000 – c. 3150 BC), throughout ancient Egyptian history a belief in gods defined Egyptian culture.
One of the earliest Egyptian creation myths tells of the god Atum who stood amid the swirling chaos before time began and spoke from creation into existence. Atum was accompanied by the eternal force of heka (magic), personified by the god Heka and other spiritual forces that would animate the world. The heka was the primordial force that infused the universe and made all things work as they did; it also enabled the central value of Egyptian culture: ma'at, harmony and balance.
All the gods and all their responsibilities belonged to the ma'at and the heka. The sun rose and set as it did, the moon tracked its course across the sky, and the seasons came and went in balance and order, which was possible because of these two agencies. Ma'at was also personified as a deity, the goddess of the ostrich feather, to whom each king promised his full abilities and devotion. The king was associated with the god Horus in life and Osiris in death, according to a myth that has become the most popular in Egyptian history.
Osiris and his sister Isis are therefore the first monarchs who ruled the world and gave the people the gifts of civilization. Osiris' brother Seth grew jealous of him and murdered him, but he was brought back to life by Isis who then bore her son Horus. Osiris however was incomplete and so descended to rule the underworld while Horus, once he had matured, avenged his father and defeated Seth.
This myth illustrates how order triumphs over chaos and would become a recurring motif in Egyptian religion, mortuary rituals, religious texts and art. There has not been a period when the gods did not play an integral role in the daily lives of Egyptians and this is clearly seen from the earliest times in the country's history.
The old empire
the history of ancient Egypt continues during the period known as the Old Kingdom of Egypt (c. 2613-2181 BC). Architecture during this period of ancient Egypt honoring the gods developed at an increased rate and some of the most famous monuments in Egypt. Such as the pyramids and the Great Sphinx of Giza. King Djoser, who reigned around 2670 BC, built the first step pyramid at Saqqara around 2670. Designed by his chief architect and physician Imhotep (c. 2667-2600 BC).
Who also wrote one of the first medical texts. Describing the treatment of over 200 different diseases. And arguing that the cause of the disease could be natural, and not the will of the gods. The Great Pyramid of Cheops (last of the seven wonders of the ancient world) was built during his reign (2589-2566 BC). Followed by the pyramids of Chephren (2558-2532 BC) and Mykerinos (2532-2503 BC).
The grandeur of the pyramids on the Giza plateau as they were originally intended to appear. Clad in sparkling white limestone. Testifies to the power and wealth of the sovereigns of that time. Many theories abound as to how these monuments and tombs were constructed.
But modern architects and specialists are far from agreeing on just one of them. Given the technology of the time. Some claim that the existence of these buildings and tombs suggests superior technology that has been lost over time.
There is absolutely no evidence in ancient Egyptian history. That the monuments of the Giza plateau or any other in Egypt are built by slave labor. Nor is there any evidence to support a historical reading of the biblical book of Exodus. Most reputable scholars today reject the claim that the pyramids and other monuments were considered public works.
Created for the state and used skilled and unskilled Egyptian workers in construction. Who were all paid for their work. The workers at the Giza site, which was just one of many, received a ration of beer three times a day and their accommodation. Their tools and even their level of health care have all been clearly established.
The First Intermediate Period and the Hyksos
Egypt's First Intermediate Period (2181-2040 BC) Ancient Egypt. Saw a decline in central government power following its collapse. Largely independent districts with their own governors developed throughout Egypt until two major centers emerged. Hierakonpolis in Lower Egypt and Thebes in Upper Egypt.
These centers founded their own dynasties. Who ruled their regions independently and fought intermittently for supreme control until around 2040 BC. When the Theban king Mentuhotep II (around 2061-2010 BC) defeated the forces of Hierakonpolis and united Egypt under the rule of Thebes.
The kingdom of Egypt reached its 'golden age' When art and culture reached new heights. And that Thebes became the most important and richest city.
Stability allowed flourishing under the name Middle Kingdom (2040-1782 BC). Considered the “classical age” of Egypt. During the history of ancient Egypt according to historians “the kings of the Twelfth Dynasty were powerful rulers. Who established their control not only over the whole of Egypt and over Nubia to the south.
Where several fortresses were created to protect Egyptian commercial interests”
The first standing army was created by King Amenemhat I (circa 1991-1962 BC). The temple of Karnak was inaugurated under Senruset I (around 1971-1926 BC). And some of the greatest Egyptian arts and literature were produced. The 13th Dynasty, however, was weak and distracted by problems. Who allowed a foreign people known as the Hyksos to take power in Lower Egypt around the Nile Delta.
The Hyksos most likely originated in the region of Syria and Palestine. They settled in the town of Avaris. Although the names of the Hyksos kings are of Semitic origin. No specific ethnicity has been established for them.
This era is known in ancient Egyptian history as the Second Intermediate Period of Egypt (c. 1782 – c. 1570 BC). While the Hyksos (whose name means “foreign rulers”) were hated by the Egyptians. They brought many improvements to the culture, such as composite bow, horse and chariots. As well as crop rotation and the development of bronze and ceramic work.
At the same time, the Hyksos controlled the ports of Lower Egypt. By 1700 BC, the Kingdom of Kush had risen south of Thebes in Nubia and now held that border. The Egyptians organized several campaigns to drive out the Hyksos and subjugate the Nubians. But all failed until the prince Ahmose Ier of Thebes (circa 1570-1544 BC) succeeded and united the country under Theban rule.
The New Kingdom and the Amarna period
Ahmose Ier originated what is known as the New Kingdom period c. 1570 – c. 1069 BC). Who once again enjoyed great prosperity in the country under a strong central government. The title pharaoh for the ruler of Egypt comes from the New Kingdom period. Previous monarchs were simply known as kings. Most of today's best-known Egyptian rulers ruled during this period. And the majority of the great structures of Egyptian architecture. Such as the Ramesseum, Abu Simbel, Karnak and Luxor temples. As well as the tombs in the Valley of the Kings and the Valley of the Queens date from this period.
Between 1504 and 1492 BC of the history of Ancient Egypt, Pharaoh Tuthmose I consolidated his power and expanded the borders of Egypt. However, as far as the Euphrates in the north, Syria and Palestine in the west, and Nubia in the south. Her reign was followed by Queen Hatshepsut (1479-1458 BC). Who has considerably developed trade with other nations, in particular the country of Punt. His 22-year reign was a reign of peace and prosperity for Egypt.
His successor, Touthmôsis III, continued his policy. Although he tried to erase all memory of it. Because, we think, he did not want her to serve as a model for other women. Since only men were considered worthy to rule. And, at the time of his death in 1425 BC, Egypt was a great and powerful nation. This prosperity led to, among other things, an increase in the brewing of beer in many different varieties and more free time for sports. Advances in medicine have improved health.
At this time in the history of ancient Egypt the Kahun gynecological papyrus, concerning women's health and contraceptives. Was written around 1800 BC. During this period it seems to have been widely used by physicians. Both surgery and dentistry were practiced widely and with great skill. And beer was prescribed by doctors to relieve symptoms of over 200 different illnesses.
Akhenaten and the recognition of a single god
In 1353 BC, Pharaoh Amenhotep IV succeeded to the throne. And, soon after, changed his name to Akhenaten ('the living spirit of Aten') to reflect his belief in one god, Aten. The Egyptians, as noted, traditionally believed in many gods whose importance influenced all aspects of their daily lives. Among the most popular of these deities were Amun, Osiris, Isis, and Hathor. The cult of Amun, at that time, had become so rich. That the priests were almost as powerful as the pharaoh. Akhenaten and his queen, Nefertiti, renounced the traditional religious beliefs and customs of Egypt and instituted a new religion based on the recognition of a single god.
His religious reforms effectively severed the power of the priests of Amun and placed it in his hands. He moved the capital from Thebes to Amarna to further distance his power from that of his predecessors. This is called the Amarna period (1353-1336 BC), during which Amarna developed as the country's capital and polytheistic religious customs were banned.
The power of the clergy declined sharply as that of the central government increased. Which seemed to be Akhenaten's goal, but he failed to use his power for the benefit of his people. The Amarna Letters make it clear that he was more concerned with his religious reforms than with foreign policy or the needs of the Egyptian people.
His reign was followed by that of his son, today's most recognizable Egyptian ruler Tutankhamun, who reigned from 1336 to 1327 BC. He was originally called Tutankhaten. To reflect his father's religious beliefs. But, upon his accession to the throne, he changed his name to Tutankhamun to honor the ancient god Amun. He restores the ancient temples, removes all reference to the unique divinity of his father and returns the capital to Thebes. His reign was cut short by his death, and today he is best known for the untouched grandeur of his tomb, discovered in 1922 CE, which caused a stir at the time.
The greatest ruler of the New Kingdom, however, was Ramesses II. Also known as Ramses the Great, 1279-1213 BC). Who undertook the most elaborate building projects of any Egyptian ruler and who ruled so effectively that he had the means to do so. Although the famous Battle of Qadech of 1274 BC between Ramesses II of Egypt and Muwatalli II of the Hittites is today considered a draw. Ramses considered it a great Egyptian victory and celebrated himself as a champion of the people. And finally as a god, in his many public works.
In his temple of Abu Simbel depicts the Battle of Kadesh. And the small temple is dedicated to Ramses' favorite queen, Nefertari. During the reign of Ramses II, the world's first peace treaty was signed in 1258 BC. And Egypt experienced almost unprecedented prosperity as evidenced by the number of monuments built or restored during his reign.
Ramses II's fourth son, Khaemweset (c. 1281 – c. 1225 BC), is known as the "first Egyptologist". For his efforts to preserve and record ancient monuments. Temples and the names of their original owners. It is largely due to the initiative of Khaemweset that the name of Ramses II is so present on so many ancient sites in Egypt. Khaemweset left a mark of his own efforts. From the original builder/owner of the monument or temple, and also from the name of his father.
Ramesses II is known to later generations as “the great ancestor” and ruled so long that he outlived most of his children and wives. He led an exceptionally long life of 96 years. That's more than double the average lifespan of an ancient Egyptian.
The Decline of Egypt and the Rise of Alexander the Great
One of his successors, Ramses III (1186-1155 BC), followed his policy. But by this time Egypt's great wealth had attracted the attention of the Sea Peoples who began to make regular incursions along the coast.
The Sea Peoples, like the Hyksos, are of unknown origin but are thought to have come from the southern Aegean. Between 1276 and 1178 BC, the Sea Peoples posed a threat to Egyptian security. Ramesses II had defeated them in a sea battle early in his reign, as had his successor Merenptah (1213-1203 BC). After Merenptah's death, however, they increased their efforts, ransacking Kadesh, which was then under Egyptian control, and ravaging the coast. Between 1180 and 1178 BC, Ramesses III fought them, and finally defeated them at the Battle of Xois in 1178 BC.
In the years of ancient Egyptian history following the restoration of the ancient religion of Amun by Tutankhamun. And especially during the great period of prosperity of Ramses II, the priests of Amun had acquired large tracts of land and amassed great wealth which now threatened the central government and disrupted the unity of Egypt. By the time of Ramses XI (1107-1077 BC), at the end of the 20th dynasty, the Egyptian government was so weakened by the power and corruption of the clergy that the country fractured again and the central administration collapsed, triggering what is known as Egypt's Third Intermediate Period around 1069-525 BC.
Under the Kushite King Piye (752-722 BC). The country was again unified and the culture flourished, but from 671 BC the Assyrians under Esarhaddon began their invasion of Egypt, conquering it in 666 BC under his successor Ashurbanipal.
Not having made long term plans for control of the country. The Assyrians left it in ruins in the hands of the local rulers and abandoned Egypt to its fate. However, Egypt rebuilt and refortified itself, and it was in this state that the country was in when Cambyses II of Persia struck at the Battle of Pelusium in 525 BC. Knowing the veneration that the Egyptians had for cats (which were considered living representations of the popular goddess Bastet).
The story of ancient Egypt continues when Cambyses II ordered his men to paint cats on their shields and lead the cats, and other animals sacred to the Egyptians, ahead of the army towards Pelusium. Egyptian forces surrendered and the country fell to the Persians. It will remain under Persian occupation until the arrival of Alexander the Great in 332 BC.
Alexander was welcomed as a liberator and conquered Egypt without a fight. He established the city of Alexandria and set out to conquer Phenicia and the rest of the Persian Empire.
After his death in 323 BC, his general, Ptolemy I Soter, brought his body back to Alexandria and founded the Ptolemaic dynasty (323-30 BC). The last of the Ptolemies was Cleopatra VII who committed suicide in 30 BC after her forces (and those of her companion Mark Antony) were defeated by the Romans under Octavian Caesar at the Battle of Actium (31 BC).
Egypt then became a province of the Roman Empire (30 BC – 476 AD). Then from the Byzantine Empire (c. AD 527-646) until it was conquered by Muslim Arabs under Caliph Omar in AD 646 and fell under Islamic rule.
However, the glory of ancient Egypt's past was rediscovered during the 18th and 19th centuries AD and had a profound impact on today's understanding of ancient history and the world. Historian Will Durant expresses a sentiment felt by many:
The effect or memory of what Egypt accomplished at the very dawn of history has an influence on every nation and every age. It is even possible”, as Faure said, “that Egypt, by the solidarity, the unity and the disciplined variety of its artistic products, by the enormous duration and the sustained power of its effort, offers the spectacle of the greatest civilization that has yet appeared on earth”. We will do well to match it.
Egyptian culture and history have long held a universal fascination for people. Whether through the work of early 19th century CE archaeologists (such as Champollion who deciphered the Rosetta Stone in 1822) or the famous discovery of Tutankhamun's tomb by Howard Carter in 1922. The ancient Egyptian belief in life as an eternal journey. Although created and maintained by divine magic, has inspired later cultures and religious beliefs.
Much of the iconography and beliefs of Egyptian religion during ancient Egyptian history found their way into the new religion of Christianity. Additionally and many of their symbols are recognizable today with largely identical meaning. As well as it is an important testimony to the power of Egyptian civilization that so many works of the imagination. However films, books, paintings and even religious beliefs have been and continue to be inspired by his lofty and profound vision of the universe and humanity's place within it.
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