Egypt was one of the earliest civilizations which
had a continuous evolving culture. Egypt's hieroglyphic
art, and architecture influenced other ancient kingdoms.
Egyptian Gods and Goddess had followers in Rome and Greece.
The western alphabets were influence by hieroglyphic writing.
The influence of ancient Egyptian philosophies are
evident in the Judaic and Christian religious texts. Greek
sciences and art were directly inspired from the early Egyptians.
art found in temples and commissioned by the royal's represented
and idealized society. Today much is being learned about
the real ancient Egyptian culture from papyrus and pottery
fragments (ostraca) by the working class.
neighboring civilizations alternated between being Egypt's
friends and enemies, there was no serious threat to Egypt's
independence before 700 B.C.An abundance of food and materials
combined with a strong religious and political structure
kept ancient Egypt's civilization stable.
made literacy possible and promoted development in science
and art. This enabled the Egyptians to create the
most magnificent art and architecture of that historical
common belief in a mythology
describing an orderly cosmos, maintained by a
divine pharaoh, supported by the church and state government,
kept Egypt's civilization virtually unchanged for over 3,000
years. Without the influence of different cultures
the majority of the population remained constant and loyal
to the pharaoh. By continuing to practice traditional basic
beliefs and cultural norms the society remained stable and
period of history before written records exist (before 3100BC)
is known as the Predynastic Era. Before 5000 BC hunters
and gatherers lived in the Nile valley. As the environment
changed and the land became drier (after 4000 BC) human
settlements became restricted to the valley areas. This
change in living conditions developed early agricultural
communities. Eventually trading along the Nile between
villages became common. By 3300 BC the land was divided
between two kingdoms of upper (Northern land) and lower
Egypt (Southern land). King Narmer (also known as
Menes) united the two kingdoms. King Narmer was succeeded
as pharaoh by the kings of the 1st and 2nd
dynasties. Memphis was the capital of the united Egypt.
ancient Egyptians were preoccupied with the afterlife of
the pharaoh. Pharaohs began building large pyramid complexes
around 2686-2613 BC. Large tombs dominated by step
pyramids were built at Saquarra. One of the best preserved
of these step pyramids is King Zoser's (Djoser's). This
pyramid is in the middle of a funerary complex.
during the 4th dynasty the more impressive pyramids
of Giza were built. The largest pyramid at Giza was built
for Khufu (Cheops). Due to a shrinking economy the
pyramids of the 5th and 6th dynasties
at Abusir and Saqqara were smaller.
the 5th dynasty, temples of the sun god Ra (Re), were built
close to the pyramids, connecting the sun god to the pharaoh.
Starting in the 6th dynasty the phar-
aoh was called "son of the sun god Ra".
the 4th and 5th dynasties Egypt remained
internally strong. The government developed an aggressive,
expansionist attitude towards their neighboring countries.
By the 6th dynasty the neighboring countries
governments were stronger and Egypt 's government was on
were rectangular structures of brick or stones where royal
families were buried. They contained chapels and rooms
depicting murals on the walls.
art realism was not the primary concern. The goal
in early Egyptian art was to represent the ideal and the
most recognizable characteristics of a person or subject.
For instance a human being's head is drawn in profile but
arms and torso are drawn from the frontal perspective. The
most important person in the picture was the largest, thus
a realistic perspective or representation was ignored. The
pharaoh was shown as an ideal, regardless of age, disease,
strong centralized government control began to break down
under the 7th dynasty (2181-2040 BC). The
pharaohs were unable to keep the area warlords from fighting
each other. The kingdom became divided, later in 2000 BC
the 11th dynasty reunited Egypt. This began the
period known as the Middle Kingdom. These changes in government
created social changes in the people. Individuals
were now more aware of their personal rights. The government
had to recognize and accommodate this change. Religion was
also affected. The average citizen began participating
in burial practices that were once limited to the kings.
During the 12th dynasty the government encouraged
the development of a middle class. The funerary god Osiris
was now available to everyone to worship.
the art was still idealized, some statues began to represent
more realistic figures.
1786-1567 BC social decline and invasions impacted Egypt’s
civilization. During the 13th dynasty high
officials became extremely powerful, sometimes fighting
over the right to succeed the pharaoh. This created
much shorter reigns due to assassinations and depositions
of the kings. This weakened Egypt militarily and left the
land vulnerable to invasions.
18th dynasty (1570-1085 BC) is known as the New
was an extremely important era for ancient Egypt. During
this period the country was ruled by pharaohs Hatshepsut,
Thutmose III, Akhenaten, Seti I, and Ramses II. Under their
rule Egyptians became more powerful and aggressively expansionists.
These rulers recaptured Nubia and Palestine. Egypt reestablished
diplomatic and business ties with other countries.
one of the rare female pharaohs assumed reign while acting
as regent for Thutmose III. Her reign lasted 22 years, After
her death Thutmose became pharaoh and destroyed Hatshepsut's
monuments. During this time the priesthood became more lucrative.
Often the king would give estates to the priests. Eventually
priests owned one-third of the best land in Egypt. The pharaoh
always represented the ruler of both church and state. Divinity
was always an important feature in the belief of the pharaoh's
right to rule. The pharaoh represented the living
Horus, who in Egyptian mythology was the son of Osiris.
He was also divinely related to the sun god Amun-Ra.
pharaoh Akhenaten (1379-1362 BC) is one of the most controversial
figures in pharaonic history. He developed a monotheistic
religion (belief in one God) during his reign. He
believed in a single god, the Aten represented as the sun
disk. Along with a new religion, he moved the capitol
from Thebes to Tell el Amarna. He broke with tradition and
married Nefertiti a non-royal. A sculpture of Nefertiti
is considered one of the greatest works of art in history.
In his new capitol Akhenaten reigned as the Aten on earth.
These radical changes in religious beliefs and governmental
traditions caused resentment towards the pharaoh. When Akhenaton
died the state and church returned to their previous way
of life. Egypt's capitol returned to Thebes and all
of the gods were once again being worshipped in the
successor Tutankhamen assumed reign at the age of nine.
His reign was not long, but his tomb was the only tomb that
was not looted by grave robbers.
Ramses II had the longest known reign. During his leadership
a peace treaty was signed with the Hittites. In the
19th dynasty the king's divine role was still
supported by government and church. Therefore it was
that any priest could become too powerful
and threaten the pharaoh’s control over the country.
status was high by ancient standards. Women could own property,
initiate divorce and officiate for their husbands on certain
occasions when they were unable to perform in an official
pyramid tomb was forgotten, and the pharaohs had smaller
tombs cut into the walls of rock in the Valley of the Kings.
the 20th dynasty (1198-66 BC) the strong nation
of Egypt lost power. Royal building programs were
unsuccessful. Corruption and the inefficient New Kingdom
government led by Ramses XI ended in civil war. Sometime
after 1085 BC, Egypt became divided. By 800 BC there were
individual states, run by local governments and worshipping
local gods. This weakened government allowed the Cushites
to invade and occupy the country until the Assyrian invasion
and occupation during 667-665 BC.
26th dynasty managed to regain independence from
foreign invaders, only to be overthrown by the Persians.
Egypt was ruled by the Persians from 525-404 BC and also
from 341 to 333 BC.
the 4th century BC Alexander the Great conquered
Egypt from the Persians. Alexander declared himself
pharaoh. When Alexander died his general Ptolemy became
pharaoh and established the last dynasty of Egypt.
The Ptolemeic dynasty ruled for over 300 years.
first the Ptolemy’s had a prosperous reign, but internal
conflict caused rebellion. The native Egyptian people resented
being governed by Greeks. The last Ptolemy to rule
Egypt was Cleopatra VII who committed suicide in 30 BC.
Egypt was conquered by the Romans’ after Cleopatra’s death.
The country was under Roman rule for two centuries.
During this period the Romans protected Egypt from other
life remained fundamentally the same except in Alexandria
where the Greek influence made art a mixture of the Egyptian
and Greek culture. The Roman government began taxing the
Egyptians and peasants began fleeing the rural areas. This
developed into an economic crisis. Governmental control
had begun to crumble.
the Christian religion became the major religion and Egypt
was ruled by four families. The country became divided by
these four families,
641 AD the Byzantines were defeated by Arabs, and a new
capitol was established in Cairo. After wards the
country was invaded by the Ottomans. In 1798 Napolean conquered
Egypt, but withdrew after a defeat in battle near Alexandria.
Mohamed Ali declared himself ruler and reigned from 1805-1849.
Under the reign of his grandson the British ruled.
1952 Egyptian army officers forced King Farouk (the
last of the dynasty established by Mohamed Ali) to abdicate
the throne, and in 1954 Gamal Abdel-Nassar became president.
Nassar died in 1970 and was succeeded by Mohamed Anwar El-Sadat.
Sadat was assassinated in 1981 and Mohamed Hosni Moubarak