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Ancient Egypt

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It is also highly likely that it was during this period that all of the pyramid and tomb complexes were looted. 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.

A rival line, the Eleventh Dynasty based at Thebes , reunited Upper Egypt , and a clash between the rival dynasties was inevitable.

The period comprises two phases, the Eleventh Dynasty, which ruled from Thebes, and then the Twelfth Dynasty , whose capital was Lisht.

These two dynasties were originally considered the full extent of this unified kingdom, but some historians now [18] consider the first part of the Thirteenth Dynasty to belong to the Middle Kingdom.

The earliest pharaohs of the Middle Kingdom traced their origin to two nomarchs of Thebes, Intef the Elder , who served a Heracleopolitan pharaoh of the Tenth Dynasty, and his successor, Mentuhotep I.

The successor of the latter, Intef I , was the first Theban nomarch to claim a Horus name and thus the throne of Egypt.

He is considered the first pharaoh of the Eleventh Dynasty. His claims brought the Thebans into conflict with the rulers of the Tenth Dynasty.

Intef I and his brother Intef II undertook several campaigns northwards and finally captured the important nome of Abydos.

Warfare continued intermittently between the Thebean and Heracleapolitan dynasties until the 39th regnal year of Mentuhotep II, second successor of Intef II.

At this point, the Herakleopolitans were defeated and the Theban dynasty consolidated their rule over Egypt. Mentuhotep II is known to have commanded military campaigns south into Nubia, which had gained its independence during the First Intermediate Period.

There is also evidence for military actions against the Southern Levant. The king reorganized the country and placed a vizier at the head of civil administration for the country.

His reign saw the realization of some of the finest Egyptian carvings. Despite being absent from various lists of pharaohs, his reign is attested from a few inscriptions in Wadi Hammamat that record expeditions to the Red Sea 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 Amenemhat I , the first pharaoh of the Twelfth Dynasty.

Amenemhat is therefore 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, Itjtawy , thought to be located near the present-day Lisht, although Manetho claims the capital remained at Thebes.

Amenemhat forcibly pacified internal unrest, curtailed the rights of the nomarchs, and is known to have launched at least one campaign into Nubia.

His son Senusret I continued the policy of his father to recapture Nubia and other territories lost during the First Intermediate Period.

The Libu were subdued under his forty-five year reign and Egypt's prosperity and security were secured. Senusret III — 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.

Egypt's population began to exceed food production levels during the reign of Amenemhat III, who then ordered the exploitation of the Faiyum and increased mining operations in the Sinai Peninsula.

He also invited settlers from Western Asia 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 Second Intermediate Period marks a period when Egypt once again fell into disarray between the end of the Middle Kingdom and the start of the New Kingdom.

This period is best known as the time the Hyksos made their appearance in Egypt, the reigns of its kings comprising the Fifteenth Dynasty.

The Thirteenth Dynasty proved unable to hold onto the long land of Egypt, and a provincial family of Levantine descent located in the marshes of the eastern Delta at Avaris broke away from the central authority to form the Fourteenth Dynasty.

The splintering of the land most likely happened shortly after the reigns of the powerful Thirteenth Dynasty Pharaohs Neferhotep I and Sobekhotep IV c.

The outlines of the traditional account of the "invasion" of the land by the Hyksos is preserved in the Aegyptiaca of Manetho, who records that during this time the Hyksos overran Egypt, led by Salitis , the founder of the Fifteenth Dynasty.

More recently, however, the idea of a simple migration, with little or no violence involved, has gained some support.

The Hyksos princes and chieftains ruled in the eastern Delta with their local Egyptian vassals. The Fifteenth Dynasty rulers established their capital and seat of government at Memphis and their summer residence at Avaris.

The Hyksos kingdom was centered in the eastern Nile Delta and central Egypt but relentlessly pushed south for the control of central and Upper Egypt.

Around the time Memphis fell to the Hyksos, the native Egyptian ruling house in Thebes declared its independence and set itself up as the Sixteenth Dynasty.

Another short lived dynasty might have done the same in central Egypt, profiting from the power vacuum created by the fall of the 13th dynasty and forming the Abydos Dynasty.

The latter was to prove unable to resist and Thebes fell to the Hyksos for a very short period c. From then on, 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 for a period.

The Seventeenth 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 Seqenenre Tao and Kamose. Ahmose I completed the conquest and expulsion of the Hyksos from the Nile Delta, restored Theban rule over the whole of Egypt and successfully reasserted Egyptian power in its formerly subject territories of Nubia and the Southern Levant.

Possibly as a result of the foreign rule of the Hyksos 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 and held wide territories in the Near East. Egyptian armies fought Hittite armies for control of modern-day Syria.

This was a time of great wealth and power for Egypt. Some of the most important and best-known pharaohs ruled at this time, such as Hatshepsut.

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. However, 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 built extensively at the temple of Karnak including the Luxor Temple , which consisted of two pylons , a colonnade behind the new temple entrance, and a new temple to the goddess Maat.

During the reign of Thutmose III c. One of the best-known 18th Dynasty pharaohs is Amenhotep IV, who changed his name to Akhenaten in honor of the god Aten.

His exclusive worship of the Aten, sometimes called Atenism , is often seen as history's first instance of monotheism. Atenism and several changes that accompanied it seriously disrupted Egyptian society.

Akhenaten built a new capital at the site of Amarna , which gives his reign and the few that followed their modern name, the Amarna Period.

Amarna art diverged significantly from the previous conventions of Egyptian art. Under a series of successors, of whom the longest reigning were Tutankhamun and Horemheb.

Under them, worship of the old gods was revived and much of the art and monuments that were created during Akhenaten's reign was defaced or destroyed.

When Horemheb died without an heir, he named as his successor Ramesses I , founder of the Nineteenth Dynasty. Ramesses I reigned for two years and was succeeded by his son Seti I.

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.

He reigned for 67 years from the age of 18 and carried on his father Seti I's work and created many more splendid temples, such as that of Abu Simbel temples on the Nubian border.

He sought to recover territories in the Levant that had been held by the Eighteenth Dynasty. His campaigns of reconquest culminated in the Battle of Kadesh in BC , where he led Egyptian armies against those of the Hittite king Muwatalli II 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 he built for his sons many of whom he outlived in the Valley of the Kings has proven to be the largest funerary complex in Egypt.

His immediate successors continued the military campaigns, though an increasingly troubled court complicated matters.

Seti II's throne seems to have been disputed by his half-brother Amenmesse , who may have temporarily ruled from Thebes.

Upon his death, Seti II's son Siptah , who may have been afflicted with poliomyelitis during his life, was appointed to the throne by Chancellor Bay , a West Asian commoner who served as vizier behind the scenes.

At Siptah's early death, the throne was assumed by Twosret , the queen dowager 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 Bay and the enthronement of Setnakhte , establishing the Twentieth Dynasty.

In Year 8 of his reign, the Sea People 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 strike action 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.

Following Ramesses III's death there was endless bickering between his heirs. However, at this time Egypt was also increasingly beset by a series of droughts, below-normal flooding levels of the Nile, famine, civil unrest and official corruption.

Smendes would eventually found the Twenty-first Dynasty at Tanis. After the death of Ramesses XI , his successor Smendes ruled from the city of Tanis in the north, while the High Priests of Amun at Thebes had effective rule of the south of the country, whilst still nominally recognizing Smendes as king.

Piankh , assumed control of Upper Egypt, ruling from Thebes , with the northern limit of his control ending at Al-Hibah.

The High Priest Herihor 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 without other distinction, and they were replaced without any apparent struggle by the Libyan kings of the Twenty-Second Dynasty.

Egypt has long had ties with Libya , and the first king of the new dynasty, Shoshenq I , was a Meshwesh Libyan, who served as the commander of the armies under the last ruler of the Twenty-First Dynasty, Psusennes II.

He unified the country, putting control of the Amun clergy 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 , which ran concurrent with the latter part of the Twenty-Second Dynasty.

This brought stability to the country for well over a century. After the withdrawal of Egypt from Nubia at the end of the New Kingdom, a native dynasty took control of Nubia.

Under king Piye , the Nubian founder of Twenty-Fifth Dynasty , 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. His opponent Tefnakhte ultimately submitted to him, but he was allowed to remain in power in Lower Egypt and founded the short-lived Twenty-Fourth Dynasty at Sais.

The Kushite 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 was succeeded first by his brother, Shabaka , and then by his two sons Shebitku and Taharqa. Taharqa 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.

Pharaohs such as Taharqa built or restored temples and monuments throughout the Nile valley, including at Memphis, Karnak, Kawa, and Jebel Barkal.

The international prestige of Egypt declined considerably by this time. The country's international allies had fallen under the sphere of influence of Assyria and from about BC the question became when, not if, there would be war between the two states.

Taharqa '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 sacked.

From BC on, Memphis and the Delta region became the target of many attacks from the Assyrians , who expelled the Nubians and handed over power to client kings of the Twenty-Sixth Dynasty.

Punitive treatment of foreign slaves or of native fugitives from their obligations included forced labour , exile in, for example, the oases of the western desert , or compulsory enlistment in dangerous mining expeditions.

Even nonpunitive employment such as quarrying in the desert was hazardous. The official record of one expedition shows a mortality rate of more than 10 percent.

Just as the Egyptians optimized agricultural production with simple means, their crafts and techniques, many of which originally came from Asia, were raised to extraordinary levels of perfection.

Some of the technical and organizational skills involved were remarkable. The construction of the great pyramids of the 4th dynasty c.

This expenditure of skill contrasts with sparse evidence of an essentially neolithic way of living for the rural population of the time, while the use of flint tools persisted even in urban environments at least until the late 2nd millennium bce.

Metal was correspondingly scarce, much of it being used for prestige rather than everyday purposes.

In urban and elite contexts , the Egyptian ideal was the nuclear family , but, on the land and even within the central ruling group, there is evidence for extended families.

Egyptians were monogamous, and the choice of partners in marriage, for which no formal ceremony or legal sanction is known, did not follow a set pattern.

Consanguineous marriage was not practiced during the Dynastic period, except for the occasional marriage of a brother and sister within the royal family, and that practice may have been open only to kings or heirs to the throne.

Divorce was in theory easy, but it was costly. Women had a legal status only marginally inferior to that of men. They could own and dispose of property in their own right, and they could initiate divorce and other legal proceedings.

Lower down the social scale, they probably worked on the land as well as in the house. The uneven distribution of wealth, labour, and technology was related to the only partly urban character of society, especially in the 3rd millennium bce.

In the 3rd and early 2nd millennia, the elite ideal, expressed in the decoration of private tombs, was manorial and rural.

Not until much later did Egyptians develop a more pronouncedly urban character. Ancient Egypt.

Article Media. Info Print Print. Table Of Contents. Submit Feedback. Thank you for your feedback. Introduction Introduction to ancient Egyptian civilization Life in ancient Egypt The king and ideology: administration, art, and writing Sources, calendars, and chronology The recovery and study of ancient Egypt The Predynastic and Early Dynastic periods Predynastic Egypt The Early Dynastic period c.

Peter F. President Dorman has received numerous research grants and is See Article History. This incredible structure weighs as much as 16 Empire State buildings!

The eye-paint was usually green made from copper or black made from lead. As well as offering protection from the sun, the Egyptians believed make-up had magical healing powers, too!

They had gods for everything, from dangers to chores! Each had different responsibilities and needed to be worshipped so that life could be kept in balance.

Well, gang, so did the Ancient Egyptians! One popular game was Senet , which was played for over 2, years! The game involved throwing sticks in the same way we throw dice to see how many squares to move your piece forward on the board.

Great for teachers, homeschoolers and parents alike! Incredible ancient monuments, scorching deserts and bustling cities — this ancient country is now a sprawling, modern landscape!

Read on to learn about the Egypt of today…. Only about an 2. But each summer, the Nile river rises because of rains at its source, far to the south in Ethiopia.

The sections are named this way because the Nile flows from south to north. Northern Egypt has wide valleys near the Nile, and desert to the east and west.

Ancient Egypt Video

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