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Ancient Egypt Egyptian History Name ______________________________ Dynasties and Pharaohs READING Core_____ The Nile River Valley is one of the most fertile areas in Northern Africa near the Mediterranean Sea. Because it is so fertile, people came to live in Egypt earlier than in most other places in Africa, probably around 30 or 40 thousand years ago. At first there were not very many people, mostly hunters and gatherers, or what we would think of as cavemen, but gradually as farming developed in the Nile River Valley and a surplus of food was available, Egypt became more crowded, so there was more need for a unified or united government that could rule over all of the small villages and cities together. So, around 3100 BC (or about 5000 years ago), Egypt was first unified under one ruler, who Egyptians called the Pharaoh. From that time until around 525 BC, when Egypt was conquered by the Persians, Egypt's history is divided into six different time periods. These are called the Old Kingdom, the First Intermediate Period, the Middle Kingdom, the Second Intermediate Period, the New Kingdom, and the Third Intermediate Period. The intermediate periods are times when the government of Egypt became weak and there was no clear ruler over all of Egypt but the culture and civilization did not die off. During these times, much of the civilization broke back into smaller kingdoms and cities that were ruled by many different rulers. The Old Kingdom Egypt (3100 B.C. – 2600 B.C.) Because it was so long ago, we don't have a lot of information about this time period, but it seems that during this time period the Pharaohs organized the first systematic irrigation from the Nile River, which allowed even more people to live in Egypt without starving. It was during this time period that the Pyramids were built as great tombs for the Pharaohs. While some people think that slaves built them, common Egyptian people who were usually farmers more likely built them as a form of public service instead of paying taxes. They may have been built a little at a time each year, during the Nile floods when people couldn't do farm work anyway. The early people who settled along the Nile River banded together into two main groups. One group lived around the mouth of Nile River, near the Mediterranean Sea. Their king wore a Red Crown. Their land was called Lower Egypt. The other group lived near the mountains to the South. Their king wore a White Crown. Their land was called Upper Egypt. These two groups had much in common. They spoke the same language. They worshipped the same gods. They had the same culture. But, they did not get along. They were always fighting. King Menes Eventually, Upper and Lower Egypt were unified around 3100 BC under a Pharaoh named Menes (also known as Pharaoh Narmer) from Upper Egypt (the south). After conquering Lower Egypt, King Menes created the Double Crown, a mixture of white and red. Both Lower and Upper Egypt respected the Double Crown and the Pharaoh quickly came to have a great deal of power over his King Menes subjects. King Menes also established the first capital of Egypt, called Memphis. He was also the builder of a temple called Crocodilopolis where live crocodiles were kept by the Pharaoh and the god Sobek was worshipped. King Menes’s death is a mystery, however, according to one legend he was attacked by either wild dogs or Nile crocodiles. King Menes's tomb resides at Saqqara, which is near where the Step Pyramid is located. Sobek, the Crocodile God Pharaoh Djoser Pharaoh Djoser was the second king during the 3rd dynasty of ancient Egypt. During his reign, he started the construction of the earliest important stone building in all of Egypt. The man made responsible for carrying out the project of building the important stone project was his vizier (government official), Imhotep, who was worshipped as a god by later Egyptians because of his great skills and accomplishments in building and engineering. The final product turned out to be an entirely new type of monument, a step pyramid, but that was apparently not the original goal of the architect. As archeologists have cleared along the base of the pyramid on its south side they found that the first thing to be built on the site was a large stone mastaba about 209 feet square and 26 feet high. The Step Pyramid is the first building of hewn (cut) stone, and the pyramid structures built for Djoser’s tomb were unique, and set the building model for the kings to follow Djoser. Obviously, stone cutting wasn't new -- mastabas of cut stone and mud brick were common -- but building on a scale this large was previously unheard of. Stone carvings and pillars that imitated the natural world such as flowers and wood-beam ceilings that were carved into the stones were also new in Egyptian architecture. So, Pharaoh Djoser is best known for the Step Pyramid in Saqqara, Egypt, built by his architect Imhotep. The mortuary complex (including step pyramid, shrines, burial shafts, and tombs) is one of the major steps in the evolution of the “true pyramid". Pharaoh Sneferu Pharaoh Sneferu was the first king of the Fourth Dynasty and he was ancient Egypt's greatest pyramid builder. Sneferu was also the first king to use the oval cartouche to frame his name when it was written down in hieroglyphics. Snefru is best known for developing the Egyptian pyramid as we know it into its true form. He apparently began by build what was probably a step pyramid at Meidum, which was later converted into a true pyramid. But this pyramid was unsuccessful because of the steep slope and the weight of the limestone added to make the sides caused the outside of the pyramid to break and slide down into a pile of rubble. During his reign, however, the final smooth-sided form of the pyramid was perfected, with the king responsible for no fewer than three large stone structures. When Sneferu moved his court to the city of Dahshur during his 15th year as pharaoh, work began on a new pyramid at the site. Its sides at first were very steep, and cracks appeared as the building grew – so its angle of incline was decreased for the higher sections of the construction. This gave it a strange outline which gave it the modern name the Bent Pyramid. Another pyramid was built for the king at the same site, and this is now known as the Red Pyramid (possibly because it is believed that it was actually painted red when it was finished). This was Egypt's first true smooth sided pyramid, and the model on which the more famous structures at Giza were based. It is also thought to be the tomb in which Sneferu was finally buried. In many respects, including the combined scale of building projects and the evolutionary architectural achievements, Sneferu must be ranked as one of Egypt's most renowned pyramid builders. In fact, the sheer volume of building work was greater than any other ruler in the Old Kingdom. Pharaoh Khufu Pharaoh Khufu, also known by the Greek name Cheops, was the son of Sneferu and was pharaoh and ruler during the 4th Dynasty. He reigned for approximately 24 years. Using what he learned from his father’s pyramid building, he was the pharaoh who had the Great Pyramid of Giza built as his tomb. The Great Pyramid originally stood 485 feet high complete with its original casing, but since it lost its top 30 feet, it stands only 451 feet now. It covers about 13 acres. The exterior casing was shining white limestone, laid from the top downwards. The limestone was largely robbed in the Middle Ages to build buildings in the medieval city of Cairo, Egypt. There was also a limestone temple built near the Great Pyramid, but nothing still remains today except for its black basalt floor which is 171 feet by 132 feet. The complex’s valley temple which was down by the Nile River has also disappeared under the Arab village built there, though traces of this temple were seen when new sewer systems were being laid down in the village. Along with the pyramid itself, the remains of a magnificent 141-foot long ship of cedar wood had also been found in a rock-cut pit close to the south side of the Great Pyramid. A second ship is known to rest in a second sealed pit, though it is not in as good condition as the first one. The ship was restored over many years, and is now in a special museum built near the pyramid itself. The ship may have symbolized the solar journey of the deceased king with the gods, particularly the sun-god Ra. The Great Pyramid stands witness to the ability of Khufu to lead and coordinate his people. Current theories say that the building of the Great Pyramid was not achieved by slave labor. Instead, it is believed that the people had to work instead of paying taxes, since at that time there was no monetary system in Ancient Egypt. Also, due to the annual flooding of the Nile, there was always one part of the year that the population that had some time that they could not spend in their homes or farming. Pharaoh Khafre Pharaoh Khafre, also known as Chephren by the Greeks, was the son of Khufu and ruled Egypt for around 25 years during the 4th dynasty. As pharaoh, Khafre is known for building the Chephren Pyramid. The pyramid appears larger than Khufu's, but this is an optical illusion because it is built on slightly higher ground. It is actually the second largest pyramid on the plateau. It is less complex than Khufu’s pyramid inside, but the mortuary temple and causeway of (road leading up to) Khafre's pyramid remain well preserved and give us a good idea just what the entire complex was supposed to look like. Parts of the red-granite Valley Temple is also still standing, and parts of the causeway (road) have been restored. Khafre is also known for building statues. It is the Sphinx that grabs the most attention, however. Many people believe that it is carved in the likeness of pharaoh Khafre. The body and head of the sphinx are carved from an existing limestone escarpment (cliff). The head, being of harder stone, is better preserved (and you can still see some of the traces of paint on the headdress), but the body is crumbling and repairs in previous centuries have probably caused more damage than they fixed. Pharaoh Menkaure Nearly everyone knows the pharaohs who built the two big pyramids at Giza, but fewer know the builder of the smaller pyramid, Pharaoh Menkaure. Even though it was noticeably smaller than the previous two, Menkaure's pyramid is quite fine, with a casing of Aswan granite that made it stand out from the limestone casing of the larger pyramids. It is most likely that Menakarue did not become king until he was an older man. He did not want to repeat the errors of earlier pharaohs in attempting to built too large a monument that would remain unfinished, so he started the smaller pyramid at Giza. He did, however, die before it was finished and it was completed by his son Shepseskaf. Very little of his temple complex remains and even the causeway (road) to the demolished valley temple is nearly all gone. Despite the much smaller size of his pyramid, the burial chamber and relieving chambers in the pyramid are the most advanced of the group. The interior is elaborate, and the exterior was cased in fine granite, some of which still remains. Egyptologists have a good idea of how the outside casing was installed, since seven courses of the granite remain on the base of the pyramid. Egypt in the First Intermediate Period (2600 B.C. – 2000 B.C.) The end of the Old Kingdom, around 2600 BC, seems to have been caused by rebellions among the lower levels of the rich people, who believed that the Pharaohs had too much power. Gradually the Pharaohs had become more and more dependent on the government officials to help rule Egypt, and these men grabbed power from the Pharaoh. Some of the organization of the country collapsed. After this time, no more pyramids were built. Literary sources describe a time of anarchy, with noblemen and noblewomen working in the fields, men killing their parents, brothers fighting, and tombs being destroyed. Some people, think this may have been brought on by a major climate change which brought drought conditions to Egypt. Middle Kingdom Egypt (2000 B.C. – 1786 B.C.) The Middle Kingdom was formed after a series of wars between the rulers of Upper Egypt (the South) and Lower Egypt (the North). The rulers of Upper Egypt won, and they reunified the country about 2000 BC, with the capital first at Thebes in the south, and then at a new city just south of Memphis. The Pharaohs of this period were not as powerful as before. They would show themselves as taking care of their people, instead of being treated as godkings like in the Old Kingdom. The Pharaohs were more like the shepherds of the people now and the local officials (like governors) had more power in government. In this period, Jerusalem, Jericho, and Syria first came under Egyptian influence or control and there was a lot of trading with Byblos, near modern Beirut in Lebanon, probably for cedar trees for lumber. Second Intermediate Period Egypt (1786 B.C. – 1539 B.C.) Around 1786 BC the a group called the Hyksos (Hixsos) invaded Egypt, starting the Second Intermediate Period. The Hyksos, who were invaders from Western Asia and took over the eastern part of the Nile Delta (North-Eastern Egypt, the part closest to Asia), having their capital at Memphis. Egyptologists still aren't exactly sure who the Hyksos were, but they seem to have been Amorites, who spoke a Semitic language (related to Hebrew and Arabic) and came from the area around Syria and Israel, an area which had traded extensively with the Egyptians during the Middle Kingdom. The Hyksos did very well for about a hundred years, but then the southern rulers from Thebes again began to re-conquer the north of Egypt. In these "wars of liberation," the brothers Kamose and Ahmose fought both the Hyksos and the Nubians, Africans who lived to the south, and succeeded in reuniting Egypt. New Kingdom Egypt (1539 B.C. – 1085 B.C.) With the reunification of Egypt by the southerner Ahmose (Kamose died before it was united) and the expulsion (getting rid of) of the Hyksos, Egypt began a new period of prosperity and wealth under the 18th dynasty. At this time there was a great deal of trade with Western Asia, and Egyptian armies even conquered much of Israel and Syria, though they were constantly fighting the Hittites and Assyrians to keep control of it. Great temples were built all over Egypt. The Egyptian queens were very powerful at this time, and in 1490 BC one of them, Hatshepsut, became Pharaoh herself. Queen Hatshepsut / Thutmose III Hatshepsut was daughter of the Pharaoh Tuthmose I and Queen Aahmes, both of royal lineage and was the favorite of their three children. When her two brothers died, she was in the unique position to gain the throne upon the death of her father. To have a female pharaoh was unprecedented. There had been Queens in Egypt, but never a woman as the pharaoh. When her brother Tuthmose I passed away, his son Tuthmose II, technically ascended the throne and became pharaoh because he was the next male heir. For the few years of his reign, however, Hatshepsut seems to have been making the decisions. From markings on his mummy, archaeologists believe Tuthmose II had a skin disease and he died after ruling only three or four years. His son, Tuthmose III, was in line for the throne, but due to his age Hatshepsut was allowed to reign as queen. Hatshepsut was not one to sit back and wait for her nephew to become old enough to take her place. Queen As a favorite daughter of a popular pharaoh, and as a charismatic and Hapsheput beautiful lady in her own right, she was able to command enough of a following to actually take control as pharaoh. She ruled for between 15 and 20 years, until her death in 1458 BC, and left behind more monuments and works of art than any Egyptian queen to come. Her rise to power went against all the conventions of her time. She was the first wife and Queen of Thutmose II and on his death proclaimed herself Pharaoh, denying the old king's son, her nephew, his inheritance. To support her cause she claimed the sun god Ra spoke to her, saying "Welcome my sweet daughter, my favorite, the king of Upper and Lower Egypt, Hatshepsut. Thou art the King, taking possession of the two Lands." She dressed as a king, even wearing a false beard and men’s clothing and the Egyptian people seem to have accepted this strange behavior. She remained in power for up to twenty years and during this time the Egyptian economy flourished, she expanded trading relations and built magnificent temples as well as restoring many older temples. Eventually her nephew grew into a man and took his rightful place as pharaoh. The circumstances of this event are unknown and what became of Hatshepsut is a mystery. Hatshepsut's successor became one of the greatest of all Pharaohs, Thutmose III, "the Napoleon of ancient Egypt." He had her name cut away from the temple walls which suggests he was not overly fond of his aunt. Not only was Hatshepsut's name erased, but some of her monuments were destroyed. She had built two obelisks of red granite, the largest built to that point. This was a continuation of the works of her father, who was not able to complete all his construction plans. Her name appeared on the obelisks, but instead of toppling them, Tuthmose III ordered them sheathed (covered) in masonry. Their gilded (gold-covered) pyramidions (pyramids at the top of the obelisk) were probably the only original elements to be exposed. In all, Hatshepsut accomplished what no woman had before her. She ruled the most powerful, advanced civilization in the world, successfully, for twenty years. Even if there were some who resented her success, her success stands for all eternity. And the fact that she was able to contain the ambitions of her nephew for so many years, hints at the powerful qualities of her character. Pharaoh Akhenaten and Queen Nefertiti In 1363 BC there was a famous Pharaoh named Akhenaten, who built a new capital at Amarna, and seems to have worshipped a new sun god, and developed new art styles. His wife was Nefertiti. They had seven daughters together, but no sons. Because of this, Akhenaten’s successor was his son-in-law Tutankhamen (King Tut). Nefertiti is perhaps one of the best known queens of Ancient Egypt. Nefertiti was the Wife of Akhenaten during the Eighteenth Dynasty. Her face appears in more sculpture and artwork than even the King Akhenaten. She is considered one of the most beautiful women of the ancient world. She joined her husband in ruling the kingdom and in the worship of a new religion. However, towards the end of Akhenaton's reign, Nefertiti abruptly left the palace, apparently taking her daughter and son-in-law, Tutankhatmen with her. After that, she vanished from history. Nefertiti Tutankhamen / King Tut The most famous of all the kings found buried in the Valley of the Kings was Tutankhamun, also known as King Tut. Tutankhamen was probably just a boy when he was crowned pharaoh in the 18th Dynasty. He was still a teenager when he died of unknown causes and was entombed in the Egyptian Valley of Kings. It is thought by some that he was because his mummy was found with his skull was bashed in. Although Tutankhamen was not one of the more distinguished or important pharaohs in his own time, he has a very special place in ours. Tutankhamen's tomb was discovered in 1922 by an archeologist named Howard Carter. The first room they came to was a fake and it had a hidden door that led to the main chamber. From the main chamber two rooms split off. There was a storage room and the burial chamber where the mummy was laid. Carter said later "As my eyes grew accustomed to the light I was struck dumb with amazement. A winged scarab beetle spells out the hieroglyphs which mean Tutankhamen”. Over the next several years, Carter's expedition carefully uncovered the riches within, including the famous gold mask. A number of mysterious deaths that followed the opening of the tomb set off wild rumors of a mummy's curse. Today, King Tut is known to countless people the world over, in part because his is the only pharaoh's tomb ever discovered completely intact and undisturbed by grave robbers. Tut's burial site had somehow escaped being robbed by grave robbers for over 3000 years. His mummy and its magnificent solid gold sarcophagus, along with wall paintings, furniture, weapons, games and other artifacts have survived to the present, giving us a unique glimpse at the life of an ancient pharaoh. Pharaoh Rameses II In 1303 BC a new northern dynasty or family of Pharaohs took over, the 19th Egyptian dynasty. Their first king, Rameses, moved the capital back to Memphis in the north. Priests became very powerful. Fighting with the Hittites in Western Asia continued, but also a lot of trade making this a powerful and wealthy time for Egypt. Rameses II was considered to be one of the greatest pharaohs who ever lived. Also he was the longest living pharaohs. His rule was roughly 67 years long. He had five or six main wives and is said to have had more than 100 children. Ramese II is thought to have been Moses' nemesis who kept the Hebrews as slaves in Egypt in the book of Exodus from the Christian Bible. Ramses II was a important and famous ruler that fought to reclaim territory in Africa and Western Asia. The Hittites and Asia Minor were his main opponents or his main enemies. During his fifth year as Pharaoh, he led a campaign known as the Battle of Kadesh. Ramses II tried to keep the newly acquired territory (today it is known as Syria) but lost the battle to one of his opponents - the Hittites. Later, a treaty was signed, the territory was divided, and Ramses II agreed to marry the daughter of the Hittite King. This is believed to possibly be the first written peace treaty in all of human history. During his duration as Pharaoh, he attacked many of his enemies such as the Libyans and the Nubians and also attacked Syria about half a dozen times. Although known for his military might, Ramses II also lived a life of extreme wealth and in addition he showed his need for divine architecture. The tomb of Ramses II is located in the Valley of the Kings and remains empty. After years or being looted (robbed) and weathered, it remains destroyed. Great amounts of effort are in progress with the hope of returning the tomb to a somewhat presentable stage. Although the tomb remains empty, the mummy of the Pharaoh has been found. Ramses II’s mummy is thought to be one of the best-preserved mummies ever found. The 20th dynasty Pharaohs, around 1200 BC, continued the same policies, and were all called Rameses. There were many attacks on Egypt, first from Libya to the west and then from West Asia, by a group that the Egyptians called the Sea Peoples. The Hittites were destroyed, though around 1100 BC the Egyptians fought off the Sea Peoples in a great naval battle. But the trouble in West Asia seems to have caused a general economic depression in the whole Eastern Mediterranean and West Asia, and soon afterwards the New Kingdom collapsed. Egypt in the Third Intermediate Period (1085 B.C. – 525 B.C.) After the death of the last Ramses in 1085 BC, Egypt fell apart. Egyptologist don't know exactly why, but think that there may have been a serious drought. The nearby Hittite and Mycenaean cultures also collapsed at the same time, and various people from that area invaded Egypt. They were called the Sea Peoples -possibly the Philistines, the Lycians, and the Achaeans, among others. Egypt beat these Sea Peoples off, but Egyptian civilization collapsed soon afterward anyway. Egypt lost its control over Israel and Lebanon and was again ruled by different kings in the north and the south. Nubia got back its independence altogether, and had its own kings, and so did the Egyptian territories in Israel and Syria. The north became richer than the south, and larger cities developed for the first time. But Egypt was weaker than usual, and the Libyans invaded several times, and ruled the north for a while. In the south, at Thebes, the priests of Amun continued to be very powerful. Around 715 BC, a black king from south of Egypt, named Piankhy, invaded and conquered most of Egypt and founded what can be considered dynasty 25 of the Pharaohs. It was during this period that Egypt was under the control of the Nubian Kingdom. This dynasty did not last long, because a new group in West Asia, the Assyrians, conquered Egypt in a series of wars ending in 664 BC and drove the Nubians out of Egypt. The Assyrians could not really rule a land so far from their own capital, though, and around 525 BC a new West Asian empire, the Persians, conquered Egypt, and this time they succeeded in ruling it. Egypt under Persian Rule (525 B.C. – 332 B.C.) The Persians began ruling Egypt in 525 BC after successfully fighting off the Assyrians and the Libyans. After the Greek victory at Marathon in 490 BC, the Egyptians tried revolting against the Persians with the help of the Athenians, but were unsuccessful. In 404 BC Egypt succeeded in becoming independent, thanks to Persian weakness, and established Dynasties 28, 29 and 30. Dynasty 28 was very short (only one Pharaoh!). In Dynasty 29, the Egyptians made an alliance with Sparta where Sparta would help Egypt against the Persians in exchange for a lot of wheat, but unfortunately the Persians captured the Egyptian wheat ships on their way to Sparta, so that didn't work out very well. (The Egyptians were dealing with the Spartans now instead of the Athenians because Athens was weaker after the Peloponnesian War). The Pharaohs of Dynasty 30 tried to re-establish Egypt as an independent country. They fought off Persian invasions. One time, the Persians had to go home because the Nile flooded when they were trying to invade. Like the other Pharaohs, they made alliances with Sparta and Athens and other Greek cities to try to keep off the Persians. Some of them even tried to put the New Kingdom back together by invading Syria. But in the end they couldn't keep fighting the Persians off. The Persians re-conquered Egypt after sixty-three years, in 341 BC. But they didn't keep it very long. By 332 BC, Alexander the Great conquered Egypt as part of his takeover of the Persian Empire. Egypt under Greek Rule (332 B.C. – 50 B.C.) In 332 BC Alexander the Great conquered Egypt with a Greek army. At first the Egyptians thought he would make them independent again, but he did not. Alexander made Egypt part of his own empire. When Alexander died in 323 BC, his general Ptolemy took over Egypt as his own territory. He and his successors ruled Egypt until the Roman Augustus conquered it from the last rule in the Ptolemy dynasty, Queen Cleopatra in 30 BC. The Ptolemies succeeded in reconquering much of Israel and Syria. They brought Greek culture and the Greek language to Egypt, though ordinary people continued to speak Egyptian and worship Egyptian gods. Cleopatra, Queen of the Nile By the time of the Roman Julius Caesar, around 50 BC, the Ptolemies, who were the Greek kings of Egypt, were much weaker than the Romans. When Julius Caesar visited Egypt, the Ptolemaic (Greek) queen of Egypt, Cleopatra, begged him to help her fight a civil war against her teenaged brother and husband, Ptolemy. Julius Caesar did help her, but he left Roman troops all over Egypt, and also took Cleopatra back to Rome with him as his girlfriend. When Julius Caesar was assassinated in Rome in 44 BC, Cleopatra returned to Egypt with another Roman leader, Marc Anthony (who was her new boyfriend). In a civil war between Julius Caesar's nephew Augustus and Marc Anthony, Antony and Cleopatra were defeated. They killed themselves (or perhaps were killed) in 30 BC, and the Romans took over Egypt. Roman Egypt (50 B.C. to 700 A.D.) Around 300-400 AD, most Egyptians converted to Christianity. There were bitter battles over exactly which kind of Christianity (if they would be Catholic or not) would be observed in Egypt. When Rome fell to the Ostrogoths in 476 AD, Egypt's grain was sent instead to the new Roman capital at Constantinople, near the Black Sea, in what is now Turkey. The Romans held Egypt until about 700 AD, for about 700 years, until the Arabs conquered it. Islamic Egypt (700 A.D. – 1500 A.D.) As part of the rise of the new religion of Islam in Western Asia, the Arabs established a new empire centered on Syria. They soon conquered Egypt as well, so that just as under the Assyrians and then the Persians, Egypt came under the rule of West Asia. Gradually most Egyptians converted from Christianity to Islam, and learned to speak Arabic. A new capital was established in the north at Cairo which remains the capital of Egypt even until today. For a while around 1000-1300 AD, the Egyptians became independent of Asia under the Shiite Fatimid dynasty. This was a time of great achievements in Egypt. But then they were conquered by the Sunni Ayyubids, and then the Mamluks. Around 1500, Egypt became part of the Islamic Ottoman Empire, which held Egypt until modern times.