Egypt is a nation in north Africa, top top the Mediterranean Sea, and is home to among the oldest human beings on earth. The name "Egypt" originates from the Greek Aegyptos which to be the Greek pronunciation of the ancient Egyptian name "Hwt-Ka-Ptah" ("Mansion of the soul of Ptah"), originally the name of the city the Memphis.

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Memphis was the an initial capital that Egypt and also a famous religious and profession center; that high condition is attested to by the Greeks alluding come the entire nation by that name. To the ancient Egyptians themselves, their nation was simply known as Kemet, which way "Black Land", so named for the rich, dark soil along the Nile River where the an initial settlements began. Later, the nation was well-known as Misr which method "country", a surname still in usage by Egyptians because that their nation in the present day. Egypt grew for countless years (from c. 8000 BCE come c. 30 BCE) together an independent country whose society was renowned for great cultural advances in every area of person knowledge, indigenous the art to scientific research to technology and religion. The an excellent monuments which ancient Egypt is still celebrated for reflect the depth and grandeur the Egyptian culture which affected so many ancient civilizations, amongst them Greece and also Rome.


One the the reasons for the enduring popular of Egyptian culture is its focus on the grandeur of the human experience. Their great monuments, tombs, temples, and artwork all celebrate life and also stand together reminders the what when was and what human being beings, at your best, are capable of achieving. Although ancient Egypt in popular culture is often linked with death and mortuary rites, something also in these speaks to people across the periods of what it means to be a person being and also the power and also purpose the remembrance.


The written background of Egypt starts between 3400 and 3200 BCE as soon as hieroglyphic manuscript is emerged by the Naqada society III.

To the Egyptians, life on planet was just one aspect of one eternal journey. The spirit was immortal and was just inhabiting a human body on this physical airplane for a quick time. At death, one would accomplish with referee in the room of fact and, if justified, would relocate on come an eternal paradise known as The ar of Reeds which was a mirror picture of one"s life on earth. As soon as one had reached paradise one can live peacefully in the firm of those one had actually loved while on earth, including one"s pets, in the same neighborhood by the same stream, in ~ the very same trees one thought had actually been lost at death. This eternal life, however, to be only available to those who had actually lived well and in accordance with the will certainly of the god in the most perfect ar conducive to together a goal: the floor of Egypt.


Egypt has a long background which goes back far past the composed word, the story of the gods, or the monuments which have made the society famous. Evidence of overgrazing that cattle, on the floor which is currently the Sahara Desert, has actually been date to about 8000 BCE. This evidence, together with artifacts discovered, points come a thriving farming civilization in the region at the time. Together the land was mostly arid also then, hunter-gatherer nomads sought the cool that the water source of the Nile river Valley and began to settle there sometime prior to 6000 BCE.

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Organized farming started in the an ar c. 6000 BCE and also communities recognized as the Badarian culture began to prosper alongside the river. Industry arisen at around this exact same time as evidenced by faience workshops found at Abydos dating to c. 5500 BCE. The Badarian were followed by the Amratian, the Gerzean, and also the Naqada societies (also well-known as Naqada I, Naqada II, and also Naqada III), every one of which contributed substantially to the breakthrough of what became Egyptian civilization. The written background of the land starts at some point between 3400 and 3200 BCE when hieroglyphic manuscript is developed by the Naqada society III. By 3500 BCE mummification the the dead to be in practice at the city the Hierakonpolis and big stone tombs constructed at Abydos. The city of Xois is recorded as being already ancient by 3100-2181 BCE as inscribed top top the famous Palermo Stone. As in other cultures worldwide, the little agrarian neighborhoods became central and thrived into larger urban centers.


Early history of Egypt

The at an early stage Dynastic duration in Egypt (c. 3150 - c. 2613 BCE) observed the marriage of the north and also south kingdoms under the king Menes (also well-known as Meni or Manes) of top Egypt who conquered Lower Egypt in c. 3118 BCE or c. 3150 BCE. This version of the early history comes from the Aegyptica (History the Egypt) by the old historian Manetho who lived in the third century BCE under the Ptolemaic empire (323-30 BCE). Back his chronology has been discussed by later on historians, the is still on regular basis consulted ~ above dynastic succession and the early history of ancient Egypt.

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Manetho"s job-related is the only resource which cites Menes and also the conquest, and also it is currently thought the the male referred come by Manetho together "Menes" was the king Narmer that peacefully joined Upper and also Lower Egypt under one rule. Identification of Menes through Narmer is far from universally accepted, however, and Menes has actually been together credibly linked to the king Hor-Aha (c. 3100-3050 BCE) who flourished him. An explanation because that Menes" association with his predecessor and follower is that "Menes" is an honorific title meaning "he who endures" and also not a an individual name and also so might have been offered to to express to much more than one king. The claim that the land was unified by military project is also disputed together the well known Narmer Palette, portraying a armed forces victory, is considered by some scholars to be imperial propaganda. The country may have an initial been united peacefully, however this appears unlikely.


Geographical designation in ancient Egypt adheres to the direction the the Nile River and also so upper Egypt is the southern an ar and reduced Egypt the north area closer come the Mediterranean Sea. Narmer ruled from the city the Heirakonopolis and then native Memphis and Abydos. Profession increased substantially under the rulers the the at an early stage Dynastic duration in Egypt and elaborate mastaba tombs, precursors come the later on pyramids, emerged in Egyptian interment practices which consisted of increasingly intricate mummification techniques.

The Gods

From the Predynastic duration in Egypt (c. 6000 - c. 3150 BCE) a belief in the gods identified the Egyptian culture. Very early Egyptian creation myth speak of the god Atum that stood in the middle of swirling chaos prior to the beginning of time and spoke production into existence. Atum to be accompanied by the eternal pressure of heka (magic), personified in the god Heka and also by other spiritual pressures which would animate the world. Heka to be the primal pressure which infused the universe and also caused all points to operate as they did; that also enabled for the main value the the Egyptian culture: ma"at, harmony and balance.

All the the gods and all of their obligations went ago to ma"at and also heka. The sun rose and collection as it did and the moon travel its course throughout the sky and the periods came and went in accordance v balance and order i beg your pardon was possible because the these two agencies. Ma"at was also personified as a deity, the goddess of the ostrich feather, to who every king promised his complete abilities and also devotion. The king was associated with the god Horus in life and also Osiris in death based top top a myth which came to be the most well-known in Egyptian history.


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Egyptian God Osiris

Osiris and also his sister-wife Isis to be the original queens who administer the world and also gave the civilization the presents of civilization. Osiris" brother, Set, thrived jealous of him and also murdered him but he was brought ago to life through Isis that then boring his son Horus. Osiris to be incomplete, however, and so descended to dominance the underworld if Horus, when he had matured, avenged his father and also defeated Set. This myth shown how order triumphed over chaos and also would come to be a persistent motif in Egyptian religion, mortuary rituals, and spiritual texts, and art. There to be no duration in i beg your pardon the god did no play one integral duty in the day-to-day lives the the Egyptians and this is plainly seen native the earliest time in the country"s history.

The Old Kingdom

During the period known as the Old Kingdom that Egypt (c. 2613-2181 BCE), design honoring the gods emerged at an boosted rate and also some of the most renowned monuments in Egypt, such together the pyramids and also the good Sphinx of Giza, were constructed. The king Djoser, that reigned c. 2670 BCE, constructed the first Step Pyramid at Saqqara c. 2670, designed by his cook architect and physician Imhotep (c. 2667-2600 BCE) who likewise wrote one of the an initial medical texts describing the treatment of end 200 different diseases and arguing the the cause of disease could be natural, not the will certainly of the gods. The great Pyramid of Khufu (last that the 7 Wonders the the ancient world) was created during his reign (2589-2566 BCE) with the pyramids the Khafre (2558-2532 BCE) and also Menkaure (2532-2503 BCE) following.

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The grandeur of the pyramids ~ above the Giza plateau, as they initially would have actually appeared, sheathed in gleaming white limestone, is a testament to the power and also wealth that the rulers during this period. Numerous theories abound about how these monuments and also tombs to be constructed, but modern architects and scholars are far from covenant on any single one. Considering the modern technology of the day, some have actually argued, a monument such as the an excellent Pyramid the Giza need to not exist. Rather claim, however, that the existence of such buildings and tombs imply superior technology which has been shed to time.


There is absolutely no evidence that the monuments the the Giza plateau - or any kind of others in Egypt - were constructed by servant labor nor is there any type of evidence to assistance a historical reading of the biblical publication of Exodus. Many reputable scholar today refuse the case that the pyramids and also other monuments were built by servant labor, although servants of different nationalities definitely did exist in Egypt and were employed frequently in the mines. Egyptian monuments were thought about public works developed for the state and used both skilled and also unskilled Egyptian workers in construction, all of whom were paid for their labor. Employees at the Giza site, which was only one of many, were given a ration of beer 3 times a day and their housing, tools, and even their level that health treatment have every been plainly established.


The an initial Intermediate duration & the Hyksos

The era known as the very first Intermediate duration of Egypt (2181-2040 BCE) observed a decrease in the power of the central government adhering to its collapse. Mainly independent districts v their very own governors occurred throughout Egypt until two great centers emerged: Hierakonpolis in reduced Egypt and Thebes in top Egypt. These centers established their own dynasties which rule their regions independently and intermittently battled with each various other for supreme regulate until c. 2040 BCE once the Theban king Mentuhotep II (c. 2061-2010 BCE) beat the pressures of Hierakonpolis and united Egypt under the dominion of Thebes.


The middle Kingdom that Egypt is considered its "Classical Age" as soon as art & culture reached an excellent heights & Thebes became the most crucial & wealthiest city.

The stability detailed by Theban rule allowed for the thriving of what is well-known as the middle Kingdom (2040-1782 BCE). The center Kingdom is taken into consideration Egypt"s "Classical Age" once art and society reached good heights and Thebes became the most important and wealthiest city in the country. Follow to the historians Oakes and Gahlin, "the Twelfth empire kings were strong rulers who established regulate not only over the whole of Egypt but additionally over Nubia come the south, where numerous fortresses were constructed to safeguard Egyptian trade interests" (11). The first standing military was produced during the middle Kingdom by the king Amenemhat ns (c. 1991-1962 BCE) the temple of Karnak was begun under Senruset i (c. 1971-1926 BCE), and also some the the greatest and Egyptian literature and also art to be produced. The 13th Dynasty, however, to be weaker than the 12th and distracted through internal difficulties which enabled for a foreign world known together the Hyksos to get power in reduced Egypt roughly the Nile Delta.

The Hyksos are a secret people, most most likely from the area of Syria/Palestine, who an initial appeared in Egypt c. 1800 and worked out in the city of Avaris. If the names of the Hyksos monarchs are Semitic in origin, no definite ethnicity has been developed for them. The Hyksos flourished in power till they to be able to take manage of a significant portion of reduced Egypt by c. 1720 BCE, calculation the Theban empire of upper Egypt almost a vassal state.

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This era is well-known as The 2nd Intermediate duration of Egypt (c. 1782 - c. 1570 BCE). When the Hyksos (whose surname simply means "foreign rulers") to be hated by the Egyptians, they presented a an excellent many renovations to the society such as the composite bow, the horse, and the chariot along with crop rotation and developments in bronze and also ceramic works. At the exact same time the Hyksos regulated the port of lower Egypt, through 1700 BCE the Kingdom the Kush had risen come the south of Thebes in Nubia and also now hosted that border. The Egyptians placed a number of campaigns to drive the Hyksos out and subdue the Nubians, yet all failed until prince Ahmose i of Thebes (c. 1570-1544 BCE) succeeded and also unified the country under Theban rule.

The new Kingdom & the Amarna Period

Ahmose ns initiated what is well-known as the period of the brand-new Kingdom of Egypt (c. 1570 - c. 1069 BCE) i beg your pardon again saw great prosperity in the soil under a strong central government. The title of pharaoh for the leader of Egypt comes from the period of the brand-new Kingdom; previously monarchs were simply known as kings. Countless of the Egyptian sovereigns best known now ruled throughout this duration and the majority of the good structures of Egyptian architecture such as the Ramesseum, Abu Simbel, the holy places of Karnak and Luxor, and the burial places of the sink of the Kings and Valley of the majesties were either developed or greatly amplified during this time.

Between 1504-1492 BCE the pharaoh Thutmose i (Tuthmosis I) consolidated his power and also expanded the limits of Egypt to the Euphrates river in the north, Syria and Palestine come the west, and Nubia come the south. His regime was adhered to by Queen Hatshepsut (1479-1458 BCE) that greatly broadened trade with other nations, most notably the floor of Punt. Her 22-year reign was one of peace and prosperity for Egypt.

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Her successor, Thutmose III (Tuthmosis III), lugged on her plans (although he tried to eradicate all storage of her as, the is thought, the did not desire her to offer as a duty model for various other women because only males were taken into consideration worthy come rule) and, by the moment of his fatality in 1425 BCE, Egypt to be a good and an effective nation. The prosperity led to, among other things, boost in the impending of beer in many different varieties and more leisure time because that sports. Advances in medication led to improvements in health.

Bathing had long been an important part the the day-to-day Egyptian"s regimen as it was urged by their religion and also modeled by their clergy. In ~ this time, however, an ext elaborate baths were produced, presumably more for recreation than just hygiene. The Kahun Gynecological Papyrus, worrying women"s health and also contraceptives, had been created c. 1800 BCE and, during this period, appears to have actually been made substantial use of by doctors. Surgery and dentistry to be both practiced widely and with great skill, and beer to be prescribed by doctors for ease of symptom of end 200 various maladies.

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In 1353 BCE the pharaoh Amenhotep IV succeeded to the throne and, shortly after, readjusted his surname to Akhenaten (`living spirit of Aten") to reflect his id in a solitary god, Aten. The Egyptians, as listed above, traditionally believed in numerous gods whose importance influenced every facet of their daily lives. Among the most well-known of these deities were Amun, Osiris, Isis, and also Hathor. The cult that Amun, at this time, had actually grown so wealthy that the priests were virtually as powerful as the pharaoh. Akhenaten and also his queen, Nefertiti, renounced the traditional spiritual beliefs and customs of Egypt and also instituted a new religion based top top the recognition of one god.


Akhenaten was the an initial ruler come decree statuary & a temple in respect of his queen rather of just for self or the gods.

His religious reforms effectively cut the power of the clergymans of Amun and placed that in his hands. He moved the capital from Thebes to Amarna to more distance his rule from that of his predecessors. This is known as The Amarna duration (1353-1336 BCE) throughout which Amarna flourished as the resources of the country and polytheistic religious customs to be banned.

Among his plenty of accomplishments, Akhenaten was the very first ruler come decree statuary and a holy place in respect of his queen instead of just for himself or the gods and used the money which as soon as went to the temples for publicly works and parks. The strength of the clergy declined sharply together that of the main government grew, which appeared to it is in Akhenaten"s goal, yet he failed to usage his power for the finest interest of his people. The Amarna letter make clear that he was more concerned v his spiritual reforms than with international policy or the needs of the human being of Egypt.

His reign was followed by his son, the many recognizable Egyptian ruler in the modern day, Tutankhamun, who reigned native c. 1336 - c. 1327 BCE. He was originally named Tutankhaten to reflect the religious beliefs the his father but, upon assuming the throne, adjusted his surname to Tutankhamun to honor the old god Amun. He revived the old temples, eliminated all references to his father"s solitary deity, and returned the capital to Thebes. His reign was cut short by his fatality and, today, the is most famous for the intact grandeur the his tomb, uncovered in 1922 CE, which became an international sensation at the time.

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The greatest ruler the the brand-new Kingdom, however, to be Ramesses II (also well-known as Ramesses the Great, 1279-1213 BCE) that commenced the most elaborate building projects of any Egyptian ruler and also who reigned so successfully that he had actually the means to do so. Return the famous battle of Kadesh of 1274 BCE (between Ramesses II that Egypt and Muwatalli II the the Hittites) is today regarded as a draw, Ramesses taken into consideration it a great Egyptian victory and also celebrated himself together a champion the the people, and finally together a god, in his numerous public works.

His temple of Abu Simbel (built because that his queen Nefertari) depicts the battle of Kadesh and the smaller temple at the site, following Akhenaten"s example, is specialized to Ramesses" favorite queen Nefertari. Under the power of Ramesses II, the an initial peace treaty in the world (The treaty of Kadesh) to be signed in 1258 BCE and also Egypt enjoyed virtually unprecedented affluence as shown by the number of monuments built or restored during his reign.

Ramesses II"s 4th son, Khaemweset (c. 1281 - c. 1225 BCE), is well-known as the "First Egyptologist" for his initiatives in preserving and also recording old monuments, temples, and their original owner"s names. That is largely because of Khaemweset"s initiative the Ramesses II"s surname is so prominent at therefore many ancient sites in Egypt. Khaemweset left a document of his very own efforts, the initial builder/owner that the monument or temple, and also his father"s name as well.

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Ramesses II came to be known to later generations as "The great Ancestor" and also reigned for so long that he outlived most of his children and his wives. In time, every one of his subjects had been born discovering only Ramesses II as their ruler and had no storage of another. He delighted in an exceptionally lengthy life the 96 years, over dual the median lifespan of an old Egyptian. ~ above his death, that is videotaped that numerous feared the end of the people had come together they had actually known no other pharaoh and also no other kind the Egypt.

The decline of Egypt & the coming of Alexander the Great

One of his successors, Ramesses III (1186-1155 BCE), adhered to his policies but, through this time, Egypt"s an excellent wealth had attracted the attention of the Sea peoples who began to make continual incursions follow me the coast. The Sea Peoples, prefer the Hyksos, room of unknown origin yet are believed to have come native the southerly Aegean area. Between 1276-1178 BCE the Sea individuals were a hazard to Egyptian security. Ramesses II had defeated them in a naval fight early in his power as had his successor Merenptah (1213-1203 BCE). After Merenptah"s death, however, they raised their efforts, sacking Kadesh, which was then under Egyptian control, and also ravaging the coast. Between 1180-1178 BCE Ramesses III fought them off, finally defeating them in ~ the battle of Xois in 1178 BCE.

Following the reign of Ramesses III, his followers attempted to keep his policies however increasingly met with resistance from the people of Egypt, those in the dominated territories, and, especially, the priestly class. In the years after Tutankhamun had revitalized the old religious beliefs of Amun, and especially throughout the great time that prosperity under Ramesses II, the clergymans of Amun had actually acquired huge tracts of land and also amassed great wealth which now threatened the main government and disrupted the unity of Egypt. By the time of Ramesses XI (1107-1077 BCE), the finish of the 20th Dynasty, the Egyptian federal government had come to be so dilute by the power and corruption that the clergy that the nation again broken and central administration collapsed, initiating the so-called 3rd Intermediate period of Egypt c. 1069-525 BCE.

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Under the Kushite King Piye (752-722 BCE), Egypt was again unified and also the culture flourished, but start in 671 BCE, the Assyrians under Esarhaddon began their intrusion of Egypt, overcoming it through 666 BCE under his successor Ashurbanipal. Having actually made no irreversible plans for manage of the country, the Assyrians left it in damage in the hands of regional rulers and also abandoned Egypt come its fate. Egypt rebuilt and refortified, however, and this is the state the nation was in once Cambyses II of Persia struck in ~ the battle of Pelusium in 525 BCE. Discovering the reverence the Egyptians organized for cats (who were assumed living representations of the well-known goddess Bastet), Cambyses II ordered his guys to repaint cats on their shields and also to drive cats, and also other pets sacred to the Egyptians, in former of the military toward Pelusium. The Egyptian forces surrendered and also the nation fell come the Persians. It would continue to be under Persian occupation until the coming of Alexander the great in 332 BCE.

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Alexander was invited as a liberator and conquered Egypt there is no a fight. He created the city that Alexandria and also moved top top to dominate Phoenicia and the rest of the Persian Empire. After ~ his death in 323 BCE his general, Ptolemy ns Soter, carried his body earlier to Alexandria and founded the Ptolemaic empire (323-30 BCE). The last of the Ptolemies was Cleopatra VII that committed suicide in 30 BCE ~ the defeat of her pressures (and those of her consort mark Antony) by the Romans under Octavian Caesar in ~ the fight of Actium (31 BCE). Egypt then came to be a district of the Roman realm (30 BCE-476 CE) climate of the oriental Empire (c. 527-646 CE) until it was dominated by the Arab Muslims under Caliph Umar in 646 CE and fell under Islamic rule.

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The glory that Egypt"s past, however, was rediscovered during the 18th and 19th centuries CE and also has had actually a profound impact on the present-day"s expertise of ancient background and the world. Chronicler Will Durant expresses a sentiment felt through many:

The effect or remembrance the what Egypt achieved at the an extremely dawn of background has influence in every country and every age. "It is also possible", as Faure has said, "that Egypt, v the solidarity, the unity, and the disciplined variety of its imaginative products, v the enormous duration and also the continual power of its effort, uses the spectacle of the greatest people that has actually yet showed up on the earth." us shall do well to equal it. (217)

Egyptian society and background has long held a global fascination for people; whether with the occupational of early archeologists in the 19th century CE (such together Champollion who deciphered the Rosetta stone in 1822 CE) or the famous exploration of the dig of Tutankhamun by Howard Carter in 1922 CE. The old Egyptian belief in life together an eternal journey, created and maintained by magnificent magic, influenced later cultures and also later religious beliefs. Lot of the iconography and the beliefs of Egyptian religion discovered their means into the brand-new religion the Christianity and also many of your symbols room recognizable today with mostly the same meaning. It is crucial testimony to the strength of the Egyptian human being that so plenty of works of the imagination, from films to publications to paintings also to spiritual belief, have actually been and continue come be influenced by its elevating and profound vision the the universe and also humanity"s place in it.


Editorial ReviewThis article has been reviewed because that accuracy, reliability and adherence to academic standards prior to publication.
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A freelance writer and also former part-time Professor of philosophy at Marist College, new York, Joshua J. Mark has lived in Greece and also Germany and also traveled v Egypt. He has taught history, writing, literature, and philosophy in ~ the college level.