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Ancient Egypt was one of the oldest and longest lasting world civilizations. It was located along the Nile River in the northeast part of Africa and lasted for over three thousand years. Historians generally use two ways to outline the history of Ancient Egypt:
The first is by using the different dynasties that ruled Egypt. These are the families that had power and passed the leadership of Pharaoh down from one family member to another. Counting the Ptolemaic Dynasty set up by the Greeks, there were over 30 dynasties that ruled Ancient Egypt. This sounds like a lot at first, but remember this was over the course of 3000 years.
2. Kingdoms and Periods:
There are also three primary kingdoms that historians use to define periods of Ancient Egypt. After each kingdom there is an "intermediate" period. The three kingdoms were the Old, Middle, and New Kingdoms.
Here is a brief outline of the timeline of the Ancient Egyptian civilization showing the Kingdoms, periods, and dynasties:
Early Dynastic Period (2950 -2575 BC) - Dynasties I-III
The Ancient Egyptian civilization begins. The first Pharaoh of Egypt, Menes, united the Upper and Lower parts of Egypt into a single civilization. He put the capitol at the midpoint of the two lands in a city called Memphis. During this time the Egyptians developed hieroglyphic writing which would be important for making records and running the government.
Near the end of the Dynastic Period and the start of the Old Kingdom, the first pyramid is built by the Pharoah Djoser and the famous Egyptian Architect Imhotep.
Old Kingdom (2575-2150 BC) - Dynasties IV-VIII
The fourth dynasty begins and the Great Pyramids of Giza and the Sphinx are built. This is often called the Age of the Pyramids. The fourth dynasty is a time of peace and also a time when the sun god Re became prominent in the Egyptian religion.
The Old Kingdom nears its end as the 7th and 8th dynasties are weak and the government begins to collapse. The end of the Old Kingdom is a time of poverty and famine.
First Intermediate Period (2150-1975 BC) Dynasties IX-XI
Egypt splits back into two countries. The Old Kingdom ends and the first Intermediate period begins.
Middle Kingdom (1975-1640 BC) Dynasties XII-XIV
The Pharaoh Mentuhotep II reunites the two parts of Egypt under one rule signaling the start of the Middle Kingdom. The royal tombs are moved to the north near the city of Memphis. The Egyptians start to use irrigation to carry water from the Nile to their crops.
Second Intermediate Period (1640-1520 BC) Dynasties XV-XVII
The Middle Kingdom ends and the Second Intermediate Period begins. Some of the dynasties at the end of the middle kingdom and during this period only last for a short time. The horse and chariot are introduced during this period.
New Kingdom (1520-1075 BC) Dynasties XVIII-XX
The New Kingdom is the time of greatest prosperity for the Ancient Egyptian civilization. During this time the Pharaohs conquer the most lands and the Egyptian Empire reaches its peak.
. - Amhose I reunites the kingdom and the New Kingdom begins.
- Tuthmosis I becomes Pharaoh. He is the first to be buried in the Valley of the Kings. For the next 500 years this will be the main burial area for the royalty of Egypt.
- Hatshepsut becomes Pharaoh. She is one of the most successful woman pharaohs and rules for 22 years.
- Amenhotep III becomes Pharaoh. Under his reign the Egyptian civilization would reach it's peak in prosperity, power, and art. He builds the Temple of Luxor.
- Akhenaten changed the Egyptian religion to worship a single god. This was a major change of life. It only lasted for his rule, however, as his son Tutankhamun would change the religion back to the old ways.
- Rameses II becomes Pharaoh. He would rule for 67 years and build many monuments.
Third Intermediate Period (1075 - 653 BC) Dynasties XXI-XXIV
The New Kingdom comes to end when Egypt becomes divided. Third Intermediate Period begins. Egypt grows weaker and is eventually conquered by the Assyrian Empire
near the end of this period.
Late Period (653 - 332 BC) Dynasties XXV-XXX
The late period begins as the Assyrians leave Egypt and the locals regain control from vassals left by the Assyrians.
- The Persians
conquer Egypt and rule for over 100 years.
- Alexander the Great and the Greeks conquer Egypt. He founds the great city of Alexandria.
- Ptolemy I becomes Pharaoh and the Ptolemic period begins. Alexandria becomes the new capital.
- The last Pharaoh, Cleopatra VII, dies.
Take a ten question quiz at the Timeline of Ancient Egypt questions
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