Egypt is home to the oldest civilizations on earth. Its modern English name is derived from the Greek word Aegyptus. In 5500 BCE, there were two main kingdoms extending over the Nile River. Egyptian historians called them Upper and Lower Egypt. In 3200 BCE, the two kingdoms were brought together under one rule and one ruler. The one who takes care of their affairs is King Narmer, who is also called Menes, and this marked the beginning of the civilization of ancient Egypt.
The Egyptian civilization is one of the most important civilizations in the ancient world. It is also one of the oldest civilizations that recorded its history. The history of Egyptian civilization is divided into two main parts. The first section is about the prehistoric era, which was the beginning of the settlement of Egyptian man in the Nile Valley region in approximately 6000 BCE.
In 3100 BCE, these two states were united into one state, and that was during the reign of Mina, who unified the two countries. The second section is about the historical era of Egypt. In this era, the Egyptians knew writing, and three countries and thirty royal families appeared in it.
A pioneering civilization in its innovations, architecture, and arts, as it amazed the world and scholars with its thought and knowledge. It is a connected civilization with which the Egyptian man interacted and left its mark on his mind and conscience. Egypt was the first country in the ancient world to know the principles of writing and invented letters and hieroglyphic signs.
Ancient Egyptians were keen to write down and record their history and the events that they made and lived, and with this great civilizational step, Egypt moved from prehistoric times and became the first country in the world to have a written history, and it has Fixed systems and therefore considered by all standards the mother of human civilizations.
Several civilizations have followed the land of Egypt, so it was the cradle of the Pharaonic civilization, an incubator of the Greek and Roman civilization, a beacon of the Coptic civilization, and a protector of the Islamic civilization.
The Timeline of the Development of Ancient Egypt
The ancient civilization of Egypt is considered one of the longest and most ancient civilizations, and despite its decline at times, it regained its strength to return stronger than before, which led to its continuation for several centuries, and the following timetable shows the periods of its development and periods of decline.
- 5300–3500 BCE: The beginning of agriculture in the Nile Valley.
- 3500–3000 BCE: Unification of Egypt.
- 2650 BCE: The beginning of the Old Kingdom.
- 2575 BCE: Building the pyramids in Giza.
- 2150 BCE: The beginning of the first intermediate period.
- 2074 BCE: The beginning of the Middle Kingdom and the rise of a united and powerful Egypt again.
- 1759 BCE: The beginning of the second intermediate period and the Hyksos occupation of northern Egypt.
- 1539 BCE: The beginning of the new kingdom by expelling the Hyksos and restoring unity.
- 1328–1344 BCE: Pharaoh Akhenaten carried out several religious reforms.
- 1336–1327 BCE: The rule of Tutankhamun.
- 1279–1213 BCE: Egypt reached the peak of its power during the reign of Ramesses II.
- 1150 BCE: The beginning of the decline of the New Kingdom.
- 728 BCE: The Nubian kings invaded Egypt.
- 656 BCE: the Assyrian occupation of Egypt.
- 639 BCE: the revival of Egypt again after the expulsion of the Assyrians from it.
- 525 BCE: The Persians invaded Egypt.
- 332 BCE: The invasion of Alexander the Great.
- 305 BCE: Publishing the Greek language.
- 30 BCE: The death of Queen Cleopatra and the annexation to the Roman Empire.
The Historical Eras of Egyptian Civilization
In the late Paleolithic period, the climate in North Africa gradually turned hot and dry, forcing the people of the region to concentrate along the Nile Valley. Since Neanderthals began living in the region in the late Ice Age 120,000 years ago, the Nile River has become Egypt’s lifeline.
Fertility accompanied by the Nile flood gave the population the opportunity to develop an agricultural economy and consolidate the stability of a centralized society, which has become, as some see, the cornerstone of the history of human civilization.
Some historians believe that the construction of the pyramids in Egypt was one of its purposes to complete the fusion of the people with each other, as it gathered workers from all over the country to participate in building the pyramids. These were national projects in which the different populations participated, cooperating in work and living with each other.
In addition to uniting their doctrinal vision, Pharaoh takes care of their affairs in the world, and after his death, he goes to the gods and begs them to help the population live and preserve them. The history of ancient Egypt is divided into six periods:
1. The Old Kingdom (2613–2181 BCE)
Architecture appeared and developed remarkably as the most famous monuments in Egypt were built, such as the pyramids and the Sphinx. The pyramid of Saqqara was built in 2670 BC during the reign of King Djoser, and the three pyramids were also built Khufu, Khafre, and Menkaure, indicating the enormous power and wealth of the rulers. In that period.
2. The First Intermediate Period (2181–2040 BCE)
There was a decline in Egypt’s power and wealth, and two central powers emerged: Hierakonpolis in Lower Egypt and Thebes in Upper Egypt. The two forces fought for supreme power until 2040 BCE when King Mentuhotep II of Thebes defeated the army of Hierakonpolis and united the two parts under Thebes.
3. The Middle Kingdom (1782–2040 BCE)
The prosperity that resulted from the rule of Thebes led to the emergence of the Middle Kingdom, and that era was called the classical era when Thebes reached the zenith of its power and wealth, and forts were built to protect Egyptian commercial interests, and the first army was established during the reign of King Amenemhat, and it remained prosperous until some internal problems occurred. It allowed the Hyksos to conquer it, and its power grew until it controlled part of Lower Egypt.
4. The Second Intermediate Period (1780–1570 BCE)
It began with the control of the Hyksos over Egypt, and although they were invaders of the country and its people, they added a lot of improvements to Egyptian cultures, such as the chariot and the horse, and work in bronze and ceramics. Prince Ahmose, I succeeded in restoring it and reuniting it under the rule of Thebes.
5. The New Kingdom (1570–1069 BCE)
It began after the unification of Egypt under the rule of Thebes again, when prosperity returned, and in this period, the term pharaoh appeared, as the ruler in the past was known as a king, and in the period 1504–1492 BCE, the borders of the country were expanded to include Syria and Palestine to the west, and the Euphrates River to the north, and Nubia in the south, and during the reign of Queen Hatshepsut, trade expanded with other countries.
Then her successor in power was King Thutmose III, who followed her path despite his attempt to eliminate any memory of her. Medicine was brewed, and many types of alcohol were brewed, which were prescribed to treat more than 200 types of diseases. Surgery developed, interest in women’s health increased, and bathrooms were established with the aim of hygiene and bathing in order to spend leisure time and enjoyment.
In 1353 BCE, Pharaoh Amenhotep IV came to the throne and changed his name to Akhenaten. There were many gods, such as Amun, Isis, and Osiris, except the worship of Amun, was the most popular, but Akhenaten and Nefertiti abandoned those beliefs and carried out religious reforms that required the establishment of a new religion based on the worship of only one god.
In the period 1353–1336 BCE, the capital moved to Amarna, then he was succeeded by his son Tutankhamun, who returned the capital to Thebes, and Ramses II ruled after him, and during his reign, the Battle of Kadesh took place in 1274 BCE, and although it ended in a draw, Ramses He considered it a victory and celebrated himself as a hero and a god, and during his reign, the first peace treaty was signed, which is the Kadesh Treaty in 1258 BCE.
6. The Third Intermediate Period (1069–525 BCE)
Ramses III ruled in the period 1186–1155 BCE and followed the policy of Ramesses II in his rule, and the wealth of Egypt at that time was coveted by many peoples living on the coast, which led to its invasion several times, and the last of which was the Battle of Showa in 1178 BCE, which ended in victory Ramses III.
After his death, his successors tried to maintain his policy, but they faced resistance from the peoples of the occupied lands, and with the passage of time, the priests of the god Amun seized a large part of the Egyptian lands and collected enough wealth to threaten the security of the central government, and by the time of Ramses XI the central government collapsed and the period began The third medium.
Egypt united again during the reign of the King of Kush in the period 752–722 BCE, but it collapsed when the Assyrians invaded it in 671 BCE, but they did not succeed in controlling it, so they withdrew and left it destroyed in the hands of the local rulers, and it was rebuilt in 525 BCE, then conquered the Persians, and remained under Persian occupation until the advent of Alexander the Great in 332 BCE.
Alexander took control of Egypt without any combat campaigns, and established the city of Alexandria, then moved on to conquer the Persian Empire. After his death in 323 BCE, Ptolemy I moved his corpse to Alexandria and founded the Ptolemaic dynasty in the period 30–323 BCE.
The last of the Ptolemaic dynasty was Queen Cleopatra, who killed herself in 30 BCE after her forces were defeated by the Romans, and Egypt remained under the control of the Romans in the period 30 BCE – 476 CE, then the Byzantine Empire took control of it in the period 527–646 CE until the Muslims conquered it under the leadership of the Caliph Omar, may god be pleased with him, and became affiliated to the Islamic Caliphate.
What are the Greatest Achievements of the Ancient Civilizations of Egypt?
The achievements of the ancient Egyptian civilization appear in their innovation of hieroglyphic and demotic writing, mathematics and architecture, and the innovation of modern methods of agriculture and irrigation, and this is an illustration of some of their achievements in various fields:
The united Egyptian kingdom included thousands of square miles inhabited by millions of people, and the Pharaoh was the high priest of each temple and was responsible for the army, so he participated in wars, and in the era of the pharaohs, the civil service system was developed that included all members of the people and the government, and Egypt was divided into 42 provinces The Pharaoh used to live in his palace, surrounded by senior officials and rulers, and served by the prime minister.
There were many gods among the ancient Egyptians, such as there was the sun god Ra, and Osiris, the god of the dead, and others. The Egyptians embalmed the afterlife to preserve the body after death.
Egypt’s economy was based on agriculture due to the fertility of the land in the Nile Valley, and its agricultural production was so great that the money that was reaped from agriculture was used to build temples and pyramids. As for trade, the Nile River helped greatly in its development, so markets spread on the banks of the river. The cost of transporting commercial goods across the river was less than the cost of transporting over land.
Trade developed in the Bronze Age, and the Nile became the point of contact through which goods moved from Africa to the Mediterranean Sea. As for the commercial campaigns between the south and the Red Sea, they were to search for valuable goods that give Great value for the influence of Egypt, such as ivory, gold, and slaves.
Hieroglyphic writing appeared in 3100 BCE, and it represents engraved and sacred symbols that carry the sayings of the gods and express the uttered meaning and the symbols and sounds by drawing. The fourth century CE, with changes in some of its terminology according to the development of time, ceased to be used when Emperor Theodos closed the temples and prohibited the worship of idols.
The ancient Egyptians were famous for the art of tombs and murals, as they believed that life continues after death, and they excelled in tombs so that the dead could enjoy luxury after death, according to their belief.
Stone circles dating back to the fifth millennium BCE began to be discovered and were used to predict the occurrence of floods in the Nile Valley. The Egyptians also developed a system of constellations and developed their own calendar system.
What are the most Prominent Monuments of the Ancient Civilization of Egypt?
The pyramids were built to bury the pharaohs in them, and they were tombs built of limestone with a square base. The Egyptians built the pyramids and put in them the treasures and decorations that the Pharaoh needed to survive and enjoy comfort in the afterlife, according to their belief.
Archaeologists considered that the reason for the presence of stairs in the pyramids is because the Egyptians believed The ancients used them for the ascension of the Pharaoh to the sun god, and the Egyptians built about 138 pyramids of varying size, the largest of which is the pyramid of Khufu in Giza.
The life of ancient Egypt revolved around the Nile River, so farmers developed irrigation methods to control the flow of water, allowing crops to grow, whether in dry or rainy seasons, and the Nile River Valley produced many crops due to the fertility of its lands, and the money resulting from the sale of crops was used to build pyramids and temples and in developing trade and paying the price for the invasions. As for the floods that occurred in the river, the Egyptians exploited them to irrigate the crops and neighbouring lands.
The temples were built to be homes for the Egyptian gods, and there were two types of them, the Cultus Temple to certain house gods and the funerary temple to worship the dead pharaohs. To the god who inhabits it.
The Rosetta Stone was discovered in 1799 CE, and without it, archaeologists would not have been able to read the ancient Egyptians’ blogs, and the Egyptian civilization would have remained unknown. The stone contained one text but with three different lines arranged from top to bottom; it is as follows:
The French archaeologist, Jean-Francois Champollion, obtained a copy of the stone and studied the texts written in it. With many hypotheses and challenges, he announced in 1822 CE that he had managed to decipher the ancient Egyptian language. He laid the foundations for the ancient Egyptian language, which hundreds of researchers in the world completed after him.