The Prehistory of Egypt ca. 6000- ca. 3100 BC
The Prehistory of Egypt spans the period of earliest human settlement to the beginning of the Early Dynastic Period of Egypt in ca. 3100 BC, starting with King Menes/Narmer.
The Predynastic Period is traditionally equivalent to the Neolithic period, beginning ca. 6000 BC and including the Protodynastic Period (Naqada III).
Significantly different from their former culture Naqada I and II of the fourth millennium BC , immediately preceding the historic era of the history of Egypt. First of all, both had a much greater range. In the culture of Nagada I can already see the characteristics stratified society and organized hierarchically . Naqada II is a culture with a much greater range, because the cover and the whole valley of the Nile Delta , and also maintained contacts with other countries.
The vast majority of Predynastic archaeological finds have been in Upper Egypt, because the silt of the Nile River was more heavily deposited at the Delta region, completely burying most Delta sites long before modern times.
Predynastic artifacts: clockwise from top left: A Bat figurine, a Naqada jar, an ivory figurine, a porphyry jar, a flint knife, and a cosmetic palette
A typical Naqada II pot with ship theme
Naqada III is the last phase of the Nagada culture of ancient Egyptian prehistory, dating approximately from 3200 to 3000 BC. It is the period during which the process of state formation, which had begun to take place in Naqada II, became highly visible, with named kings heading powerful polities. Naqada III is often referred to as Dynasty 0 or Protodynastic Period to reflect the presence of kings at the head of influential states, although, in fact, the kings involved would not have been a part of a dynasty. They would more probably have been completely unrelated and very possibly in competition with each other. Kings' names are inscribed in the form of serekhs on a variety of surfaces including pottery and tombs.
The Protodynastic Period in ancient Egypt was characterized by an ongoing process of political unification, culminating in the formation of a single state to begin the Early Dynastic Period. Furthermore, it is during this time that the Egyptian language was first recorded in hieroglyphs. There is also strong archaeological evidence of Egyptian settlements in southern Kanaan during the Protodynastic Period, which are regarded as colonies or trading entrepots.
The Narmer Palette, thought to mark the unification of Upper and Lower Egypt; note the images of Hathor at the top and bottom, as well as the lionesses, symbols of Sekhmet, forming the central intertwined image
Reverse and obverse sides of Narmer Palette
The Archaic or Early Dynastic Period of Egypt immediately follows the unification of Lower and Upper Egypt c. 3100 BC. It is generally taken to include the First and Second Dynasties, lasting from the Protodynastic Period of Egypt until about 2686 BC, or the beginning of the Old Kingdom. With the First Dynasty, the capital moved from Abydos to Memphis with a unified Egypt ruled by an Egyptian god-king. Abydos remained the major holy land in the south. The hallmarks of ancient Egyptian civilization, such as art, architecture and many aspects of religion, took shape during the Early Dynastic period.
It seems certain that Egypt became unified as a cultural and economic domain long before its first king ascended to the throne in the lower Egyptian city of Memphis where the dynastic period did originate.
In mythology, the unification of Egypt is portrayed as the falcon-god, called Horus and identified with Lower Egypt, as conquering and subduing the god Set, who was identified with Upper Egypt.
Old Kingdom 2686 BC – 2181 BC
Old Kingdom is the name given to the period in the 3rd millennium BC when Egypt attained its first continuous peak of civilization in complexity and achievement – the first of three so-called "Kingdom" periods, which mark the high points of civilization in the lower Nile Valley (the others being Middle Kingdom and the New Kingdom).
The Old Kingdom is most commonly regarded as the period from the Third Dynasty through to the Sixth Dynasty (2686 BC – 2181 BC). Many Egyptologists also include the Memphite Seventh and Eighth Dynasties in the Old Kingdom as a continuation of the administration centralized at Memphis.
During the Old Kingdom, the king of Egypt (not called the Pharaoh until the New Kingdom) became a living god, who ruled absolutely and could demand the services and wealth of his subjects.
the Old Kingdom is perhaps best known for the large number of pyramids constructed at this time as pharaoh's burial places. For this reason, the Old Kingdom is frequently referred to as "the Age of the Pyramids."
The first king of the Old Kingdom was Djoser (sometime between 2691 and 2625 BC) of the Third Dynasty, who ordered the construction of a pyramid (the Step Pyramid) in Memphis' necropolis.
Egyptians in this era worshiped their pharaoh as a god, believing that he ensured the annual flooding of the Nile that was necessary for their crops.
The Old Kingdom and its royal power reached a zenith under the Fourth Dynasty, which began with Sneferu (2613–2589 BC). Using more stones than any other pharaoh, he built three pyramids: a now collapsed pyramid in Meidum, the Bent Pyramid at Dahshur, and the Red Pyramid, at North Dahshur. However, the full development of the pyramid style of building was reached not at Saqqara, but during the building of the "great pyramids" at Giza.
Sneferu was succeeded by his son, Khufu (2589 - 2566 BC) who built the Great Pyramid of Giza. After Khufu's death his sons Djedefra (2528–2520 BC) and Khafra (2520–2494 BC) may have quarreled. The latter built the second pyramid and (in traditional thinking) the Sphinx in Giza. Recent reexamination of evidence has suggested that the Sphinx may have been built by Djedefra as a monument to Khufu.
Khufu, the builder of the Great Pyramid at Giza.
The later kings of the Fourth Dynasty were king Menkaure (2494–2472 BC), who built the smallest pyramid in Giza, Shepseskaf (2472–2467 BC) and Djedefptah (2486–2484 BC).
The Fifth Dynasty began with Userkaf (2465–2458 BC), who initiated reforms that weakened the Pharaoh and central government.Egypt's expanding interests in trade goods such as ebony, incense such as myrrh and frankincense, gold, copper and other useful metals inspired the ancient Egyptians to build suitable ships for navigation of the open sea.
The First Intermediate Period, often described as a “dark period” in ancient Egyptian history, spanned approximately one hundred years after the end of the Old Kingdom from ca. 2181-2055 BC. It included the seventh, eighth, ninth, tenth, and part of the eleventh dynasties. Very little monumental evidence survives from this period, especially towards the beginning of the era. The First Intermediate Period was a dynamic time in history where rule of Egypt was roughly divided between two competing power bases. One of those bases resided at Heracleopolis in Lower Egypt, a city just south of the Faiyum region. The other resided at Thebes in Upper Egypt. It is believed that during this time, the temples were pillaged and violated, their existing artwork was vandalized, and the statues of kings were broken or destroyed as a result of this alleged political chaos.
The Middle Kingdom of Egypt 2055 - 1650 BC
The Middle Kingdom of Egypt is the period in the history of ancient Egypt stretching from the establishment of the Eleventh Dynasty to the end of the Fourteenth Dynasty, between 2055 BC and 1650 BC, although some writers include the Thirteenth and Fourteenth dynasties in the Second Intermediate Period. During this period, the funerary cult of Osiris rose to dominate Egyptian popular religion.
In the anthropology of religion, a funerary cult is a body of religious teaching and practice centered around the dead, in which the living are thought to be able to confer benefits on the dead in the afterlife or to appease their otherwise wrathful ghosts. Rituals were carried on for the benefit of the dead, either by their relatives or by a class of priests appointed and paid to perform the rites. These rituals took place at the tombs of the dead themselves or at funerary temples appointed to this purpose. Funerary Cults have occurred in a wide variety of cultures.
Funerary cults are especially associated with ancient Egypt, where it was common for Royalty, those associated with royalty, cats, and the wealthy to be mummified. This practice was done so as to preserve their bodies for the journey to the afterlife. The god Osiris, who was the dying and reviving god and Lord of the Egyptian afterlife, was usually depicted as a mummy in Egyptian art. Also at Bubastis, where Bast was worshiped, there was a massive cat cemetery. Cats were also thought to journey to the afterlife, usually to join their owners. These needed their own material goods for this journey, such as food.
Osiris, depicted as a mummy, receives offerings on behalf of the dead in this illustration on papyrus from a Book of the Dead.
The Second Intermediate Period
The Second Intermediate Period marks a period when Ancient Egypt fell into disarray for a second time, between the end of the Middle Kingdom and the start of the New Kingdom. It is best known as the period when the Hyksos made their appearance in Egypt and whose reign comprised the fifteenth and sixteenth dynasties.
The New Kingdom of Egypt, also referred to as the Egyptian Empire is the period in ancient Egyptian history between the 16th century BC and the 11th century BC, covering the Eighteenth, Nineteenth, and Twentieth Dynasties of Egypt. The New Kingdom followed the Second Intermediate Period and was succeeded by the Third Intermediate Period. It was Egypt’s most prosperous time and marked the peak of its power.
The later part of this period, under the Nineteenth and Twentieth Dynasties (1292-1069 BC) is also known as the Ramesside period, after the eleven pharaohs that took the name of Ramesses.
The Eighteenth Dynasty contained some of Egypt's most famous pharaohs, including Ahmose I, Hatshepsut, Thutmose III, Amenhotep III, Akhenaten and Tutankhamun.
Ahmose I (sometimes written Amosis I, "Amenes" and "Aahmes" and meaning Born of the Moon) was a pharaoh of ancient Egypt and the founder of the Eighteenth dynasty.
A fragmentary statue of Ahmose I, Metropolitan Museum of Art.
Hatshepsut, meaning Foremost of Noble Ladies; 1508–1458 BC) was the fifth pharaoh of the eighteenth dynasty of Ancient Egypt. She is generally regarded by Egyptologists as one of the most successful pharaohs, reigning longer than any other woman of an indigenous Egyptian dynasty.
Fragmentary statue of Hatshepsut, c. 1498–1483 BC
The Hawk of Pharaoh, Hatshepsuts Temple, Luxor
Sokaris receiving gifts from Thutmosis III in Anubis temple, Hatshepsut temple, Deir el-Bahari, Theban Necropolis, Egypt
To view Egyptians gods click here and here
Fallen Obelisk at the Temple of Karnak north of Luxor, Egypt. (This obelisk was made by Hatshepsut).
Thutmose III (sometimes read as Thutmosis or Tuthmosis III, and meaning Thoth is born) was the sixth Pharaoh of the Eighteenth Dynasty. During the first twenty-two years of Thutmose's reign he was co-regent with his stepmother, Hatshepsut, who was named the pharaoh.
Widely considered a military genius by historians, Thutmose III made 16 raids in 20 years. He was an active expansionist ruler, sometimes called Egypt's greatest conqueror or "the Napoleon of Egypt." He is recorded to have captured 350 cities during his rule and conquered much of the Near East from the Euphrates to Nubia during seventeen known military campaigns.
Thutmose III was a great builder pharaoh and constructed over fifty temples, although some of these are now lost and only mentioned in written records.
Sphinx of Thutmose III,
Obelisk of Thutmosis III, at the base showing Theodosius the Great (Roman Emperor, 379-395). The obelisk is now located in Istanbul, Turkey Hippodrome of Constantinople. In 390, Theodosius had the obelisk cut into three pieces and brought to Constantinople. Only the top section survives, and it stands today where he placed it, on a marble pedestal.
Thutmose's tekhen waty, today standing in Rome as the Lateran obelisk. The move from Egypt to Rome was initiated by Constantine the Great (Roman Emperor, 324-337) in 326, though he died before it could be shipped out of Alexandria. His son, the Emperor Constantius II completed the transfer in 357.
Scarab with the Throne Name of Thutmosis III
This scarab functioned as an individualized amulet, and was originally mounted or threaded. The amulet should ensure for its owner support by the royal authority of the divine king (Thutmosis III), as well as divine protection.The scarab was produced after the death of Thutmosis III (1479-1425 BC). The names and titles of Thutmosis III were used also in later periods; the Egyptians saw him as a protective god of kinship and his names and titles as powerful magical elements. The additional reading of his throne name as Amun increased the power of this amulet.
Thutmose dedicated far more attention to Karnak than any other site.
Depiction of Tuthmoses III at Karnak holding a Hedj Club and a Sekhem Scepter standing before two obelisks he had erected there.
Pillar at Karnak temple
To view fleuor de lis click here
Amenhotep III (sometimes read as Amenophis III; Egyptian Amāna-Ḥātpa; meaning Amun is Satisfied) also known as Amenhotep the Magnificent was the ninth pharaoh of the Eighteenth dynasty. According to different authors, he ruled Egypt from June 1386 to 1349 BC or June 1388 BC to December 1351 BC/1350 BC after his father Thutmose IV died. Amenhotep III was the son of Thutmose by Mutemwiya, a minor wife of Amenhotep's father.His reign was a period of unprecedented prosperity and artistic splendor, when Egypt reached the peak of her artistic and international power.
Amenhotep III, Musée du Louvre
Colossal statue of Amenhotep III in the British Museum
Relief of Amenhotep III
An authentic sphinx of Amenhotep III, Saint Petersburg
Akhenaten also spelled Echnaton, Ikhnaton, and Khuenaten meaning "living spirit of Aten") known before the fifth year of his reign as Amenhotep IV (sometimes given its Greek form, Amenophis IV, and meaning Amun is Satisfied), was a Pharaoh of the Eighteenth dynasty of Egypt who ruled for 17 years and died perhaps in 1336 BC or 1334 BC. He is especially noted for abandoning traditional Egyptian polytheism and introducing worship centered on the Aten, which is sometimes described as monotheistic. An early inscription links him with the sun as compared to stars, and later official language avoids calling the Aten a god, giving the solar deity a status above mere gods.
Aten (also Aton,) is the disk of the sun in ancient Egyptian mythology, and originally an aspect of Ra.
Amenhotep IV took decisive steps to establish the Aten as the exclusive, monotheistic god of Egypt: the pharaoh "disbanded the priesthoods of all the other gods...and diverted the income from these [other] cults to support the Aten". To emphasize his complete allegiance to the Aten, the king officially changed his name from Amenhotep IV to Akhenaten or 'Living Spirit of Aten. Akhenaten's fifth year also marked the beginning of construction on his new capital, Akhetaten or 'Horizon of Aten', at the site known today as Amarna. Very soon afterwards, he centralized Egyptian religious practices in Akhetaten, though construction of the city seems to have continued for several more years. In honor of Aten, Akhenaten also oversaw the construction of some of the most massive temple complexes in ancient Egypt. In these new temples, Aten was worshipped in the open sunlight, rather than in dark temple enclosures, as had been the previous custom. Akhenaten is also believed to have composed the Great Hymn to the Aten.
Initially, Akhenaten presented Aten as a variant of the familiar supreme deity Amun-Re (itself the result of an earlier rise to prominence of the cult of Amun, resulting in Amun becoming merged with the sun god Ra), in an attempt to put his ideas in a familiar Egyptian religious context. However, by Year 9 of his reign, Akhenaten declared that Aten was not merely the supreme god, but the only god, and that he, Akhenaten, was the only intermediary between Aten and his people. He ordered the defacing of Amun's temples throughout Egypt and, in a number of instances, inscriptions of the plural 'gods' were also removed.
Akhenaten tried to bring about a departure from traditional religion, yet in the end it would not be accepted. After his death, traditional religious practice was gradually restored, and when some dozen years later rulers without clear rights of succession from the Eighteenth Dynasty founded a new dynasty, they discredited Akhenaten and his immediate successors, referring to Akhenaten himself as "the enemy" in archival records.
Pharaoh Akhenaten and his family adoring the Aten
To view Aten click here
Statue of Akhenaten in the early Amarna style.
Amenhotep IV was crowned in Thebes and there he started a building program. He decorated the southern entrance to the precincts of the temple of Amun-Re with scenes of himself worshiping Re-Harakhti.
On day 13, Month 8, in the fifth year of his reign, the king arrived at the site of the new city Akhetaten (now known as Amarna). A month before that Amenhotep IV had officially changed his name to Akhenaten.
Stela of Akhenaten and His Family.
Tutankhamun approx. 1341 BC – 1323 BC) was an Egyptian pharaoh of the 18th dynasty (ruled ca. 1332 BC – 1323 BC in the conventional chronology), during the period of Egyptian history known as the New Kingdom. His original name, Tutankhaten, means "Living Image of Aten", while Tutankhamun means "Living Image of Amun". In hieroglyphs, the name Tutankhamun was typically written Amen-tut-ankh, because of a scribal custom that placed a divine name at the beginning of a phrase to show appropriate reverence.
Tutanhkamun innermost coffin
A coffinette that held the mummified liver of Tutankhamun.
Tomb of Tutankhamun in the Valley of the Kings
Tutanhkamun tomb statue
Ramesses II (c. 1303 BC – July or August 1213 BC) referred to as Ramesses the Great, was the third Egyptian pharaoh (reigned 1279 BC – 1213 BC) of the Nineteenth dynasty. He is often regarded as the greatest, most celebrated, and most powerful pharaoh of the Egyptian Empire. His successors and later Egyptians called him the "Great Ancestor".
Ramesses II as a child., Louvre Museum
Statue de Ramsès II, XIX° dynastie, at Egyptian Museum of Turin, Italy
Reliefs of Ramses II, Ptah and Sekhmet. Cairo Egyptian Museum.
Obelisk of Ramses II at Cairo Int. Airport,
Ramesses III was the second Pharaoh of the Twentieth Dynasty and is considered to be the last great New Kingdom king to wield any substantial authority over Egypt. He was the son of Setnakhte and Queen Tiy-Merenese. Ramesses III is believed to have reigned from March 1186 to April 1155 BCE.
Relief from the Sanctuary of Khonsu Temple at Karnak depicting Ramesses III
Ramses III in front of god Horus in tomb of Khaemwaset
Ramses III. in front of god Thoth in tomb of Khaemwaset
Osirian statues of Ramses III at his temple at Medinet Habu.
The Third Intermediate Period
The Third Intermediate Period refers to the time in Ancient Egypt from the death of Pharaoh Ramesses XI in 1070 BC to the foundation of the Twenty-Sixth Dynasty by Psamtik I in 664 BC, following the expulsion of the Nubian rulers of the Twenty-Fifth Dynasty.
The 21st dynasty official Ankhefenmut kneels before and adores the royal name of King Siamun in this monumental doorway lintel originally from Memphis, Egypt.
The sacred Apis bull shown on a Twenty-first dynasty Egyptian coffin.
Stele of Lady Taperet. Painted wood, 10th - 9 th century BCE (22nd dynasty)
Upper tier: the priest Padiuiset burning incense in honor of Ra-Horakhty-Atum; Lower tier: offering formula to Osiris. Coated and painted wood, ca. 900 BC (22nd Dynasty).
Priest Renpetmaa praying Ra-Horakhty. Coated and painted wood, ca. 900 BC (22nd Dynasty).
Stele of Takhenemet paying tribute to the god Ra-Horakhty wearing the costume of Osiris. Pigment and plaster on wood. Third Intermediate Period, Dynasty XXV, c. 775-653 BC.
Coffin of the priestess "Iset-en-kheb", Egypt, probable Thebes, 25th-26th dynasty, 7th-6th c. BC
The Late Period
The Late Period of Ancient Egypt refers to the last flowering of native Egyptian rulers after the Third Intermediate Period from the 26th Saite Dynasty into Persian conquests and ended with the conquest by Alexander the Great. It ran from 664 BC until 323 BC.
It is often regarded as the last gasp of a once great culture, where the power of Egypt had diminished.