The Late Period of Ancient Egypt began around 653 BC. It was a time when Egypt was united under Egyptian rulers. However, this didn't last long. Around 525 BC, the Persians conquered Egypt and the Achaemenid Period of Egypt began.
What dynasties ruled during the Late Period?
The Twenty-Sixth Dynasty of Egypt ruled for 125 years during the Late Period. This dynasty is sometimes called the Saite Period because the capital city was called Sais. The Twenty-Seventh Dynasty began when the Persians conquered Egypt.
In the years before the Greeks arrived, power changed hands often with four short lived dynasties (Twenty-Eighth to the Thirty-First) ruling Egypt.
Egypt had been divided during the Third Intermediate Period. It was the invasion of the Assyrians that caused Egypt to reunite to fight off foreign invaders. Under the leadership of Pharaoh Psamtik II Egypt united and the Late Period began.
Psamtik II, and the later leaders of the Twenty-Sixth Dynasty, sought to return Egypt to its former glory. They re-established many of the old traditions including building great monuments to the pharaohs and the gods. They also fought off invasions from a new foreign threat, the Babylonians.
The Persians Invade
In 525 BC, the Persian Empire, led by King Cambyses II, invaded Egypt. They soundly defeated the Egyptian army at the Battle of Pelusium and took control of Egypt.
Egypt Under Persia
When the Persian Empire conquered Egypt, it was the largest empire in the world. Egypt then became a "satrapy" (like a province) of the Persian Empire. The leaders of the satrapy became known as the Twenty-Seventh Dynasty. Persia ruled over Egypt for 100 years.
Egypt prospered under the rule of the Persian King Darius I. Darius built temples and presented himself like a pharaoh to Egypt. However, later Persian leaders, such as Xerxes, treated Egypt cruelly causing much inner turmoil and rebellion.
Alexander the Great Invades
Persian rule came to an end with the invasion of Alexander the Great in 332 BC. He defeated the Persians and brought Egypt into his vast empire. After Alexander died, a Greek leader named Ptolemy I Soter took control of Egypt and established the Ptolemaic Dynasty.
Interesting Facts About the Late Period and Persian Rule
Pharaoh Neko II attempted to build a canal from the Red Sea to the Nile River.
During the late period, several different peoples and cultures from around the Mediterranean impacted the culture of Egypt. Immigrants from Greece, Phoenicia, and Palestine all settled communities in Egypt.
The Persian Empire is sometimes called the Achaemenid Empire.
Ptolemy I Soter was one of Alexander the Great's top generals.