History of Egypt briefly: from ancient gods to tourism
The history of Egypt is written by whole books, Egyptian civilization is one of the oldest on the planet.
We will try to describe it briefly enough so that you will not tire of reading this article, but also fully enough to give tourists an idea of the history of Egypt and the ability to understand during the tour, what you are looking at and what period to attribute the exhibits to the museums.
The history of Egypt is divided into dynastic (the time when the pharaohs ruled), Hellenistic, Roman, Byzantine, Arab, Turkish and modern periods. Of course, first of all we are interested in the ancient dynastic period, the times of the pharaohs.
Civilization in Egypt was born 7 thousand years ago. At that moment, the conditions in Egypt were much better than now. Many are hard to believe, but the Sahara desert did not exist then, at this place there was a savannah.
That's what the space that the Sahara desert now looks like. Unfortunately, in such a locality civilization could not arise, since this area is not a good source of food.
Civilization arose in the valley of the Nile. A large amount of water has made it possible to develop effective farming.
Together with agriculture in the 4th millennium BC, the communal system disintegrates, and small states are formed, which were called "nomas". In turn, the nomas united in large states, which we call "upper Egypt" and "lower Egypt".
At the end of the 4th century BC, the conflict between the two kingdoms becomes inevitable, and the history of Egypt as a single state begins.
Defeated the north (upper Egypt). The first pharaoh was Namer, who founded the "zero dynasty". After a period of turmoil and the end of the formation of a single state, under the rule of Pharaoh Menes, the period of the "early kingdom" begins around 3100 BC.
For simplicity of understanding of epochs and dynasties, visit our page of chronology of dynasties , it will allow you to orient yourself easier in epochs and dynasties of pharaohs.
Dynastic period of the history of Egypt
For the next 1000 years Egypt flourished, agriculture developed, the Egyptians were able to build a single irrigation system, flourished crafts. Egypt successfully fought with its neighbors and fought with nomads, trade with other nations developed. During this period in Egypt six dynasties of pharaohs were replaced.
The 1st and 2nd dynasties belong to the period of the "early kingdom", the 3-6 dynasties ruled during the "ancient kingdom" period.
During this period, the Egyptians invented the solar calendar, studied the stars, accumulated knowledge in geometry. All this allowed to build pyramids, create very beautiful ceramics and gold ornaments.
It was during this period that the ancient Egyptian writing was completely made out. In the following periods, the writing has changed slightly, the meanings of some hieroglyphs have changed, and some characters have changed their outline.
It was during the period of the ancient kingdom that the pyramids were built, from the first six-step pyramid of Djoser to the great pyramids at Giza. The oldest literary work in the history of Egypt, too, refers to this period, inside the pyramids are found, the so-called "texts of the pyramids." They are a set of stories and instructions about the afterlife and rituals of the ancient Egyptians.
About 2260 BC begins a 200-year period of the decline of Egypt. This time is called the "first transition period". The reason for the decline was, most likely, the weakening of the power of the pharaohs and the general discontent of the people. Some historians associate this period of anarchy with climate change, it became much drier, which led to a decrease in yields. The state collapsed into nomas, the rulers of which had full power, and the pharaohs possessed only nominal power.
In 2040 BC, the ruler of the city of Thebes (not to be confused with the Greek city of Thebes) united the whole country, and the epoch of the "middle kingdom" began. This epoch lasted about 250 years, but it is precisely at this epoch that a serious development of architecture and construction of the most grandiose temples takes place, papyrus was actively used and schools appeared. The field irrigation system was seriously modernized, and Egypt became a state with strong central authority. During the Middle Kingdom, the rules of the 11th and 12th dynasties.
Around 1780 BC, the history of Egypt survived a major uprising, which greatly weakened the country. From the north, the Hyksos tribes invaded Egypt (emphasis on the first syllable, do not confuse). They captured almost the whole country, but they could not settle here. This period is called the "second transition period". About 1550 BC Hyksos was expelled from Egypt, and the era of the "new kingdom" began.
The period of the new kingdom lasted 500 years. During this period, ruled 17-20th dynasty of the pharaohs. Pharaoh Ahmose expelled the invaders from the country, he is the founder of the 18th dynasty. In fact, he did not base any new dynasty, but in connection with great merit, it is believed that his descendants have the right to be called a separate dynasty.
The new kingdom is the most brilliant period in the history of Egypt, the territory of the state expanded up to Persia, many temples were built. It was during this period that such famous pharaohs as Ramses 2, Thutmose (the most famous commander from all the pharaohs) and Queen Nefertiti (in some Nefertari spring) ruled.
During this period, the Egyptians mastered the casting of bronze, massively used chariots in battle and came up with a new, mechanized irrigation system with the help of special shadouf wells.
By 1080 BC the power was seized by the priests of the god Amun. As often happens in history, the government of religious figures did not bring anything good. Egypt fell apart on the nomes. Egypt plunged into chaos for 400 years, which is called the "third transition period."
For these 400 years, various dynasties ruled, power was constantly divided, and the lands belonged to one group, then another. The number of kings in this era is so huge that only from their names one can write a whole book.
In 664 BC the era of the "late kingdom" began, which was a series of military conflicts to restore independence from Persia. In this era, the history of Egypt ruled the 26th and 30th dynasties.
Most of the era, Egypt was in the subordination or composition of the Persian Empire, even in the battle of the Persians with Alexander the Great under Issus, the Egyptian forces fought as part of the Persian army.
That part of the history of Egypt, which is called the "dynastic period" ended in 332 BC, when Alexander the Great entered here, that part of the history of Egypt, which is usually called the "Hellenistic period", began.
The Hellenistic period of the history of Egypt
Together with Alexander the Great, who was declared a pharaoh and the embodiment of the god Amon, Greek culture came to Egypt. Alexander founded Alexandria of Egypt (Alexandria was founded several dozen, better to specify) on the coast of the Mediterranean, which became the capital of the country.
After Alexander's death, his empire was divided into parts by his associates, who were called "dyadokhi." Egypt went to Ptolemy, who founded a dynasty, ruling until the arrival of the Romans. Ptolemy was the most successful ally of Alexander, he died the only death and founded a successful dynasty.
It was Ptolemy who took out the body of Alexander the Great and buried it in Egypt. However, the body was lost after the reign of the Ptolemaic dynasty, in the Roman era. Where the body of Alexander is now, is unknown.
Left frame from the movie "Alexander". The role of the aged Ptolemy in this film was played by Anthony Hopkins.
During this period, the original Egyptian culture merges with the Greek. The official language of the country is the Greek language, all official correspondence is conducted only on it. The laws of this time were a mixture of Egyptian and Greek traditions.
During this period of the history of Egypt, the famous Alexandria Library arose, the largest in the ancient world, all spheres of science developed actively. It was one of the Ptolemies who proposed the first system of the device of the cosmos (by the way, incorrect), it was here that the first work was written about the classification of the history of Egypt, the priest Manetho.
History of Egypt, as part of the Roman Empire and the Byzantine Empire
In 30 BC Egypt fell under the authority of the Roman Empire. The dynasty of the Ptolemies was weakened by this time, the last were Queen Cleopatra and King Ptolemy of the 14th. The second was poisoned, and Cleopatra herself married Julius Caesar, and, after his death, for Mark Antony. The Empress of Rome was not destined to become her, and she committed suicide.
Cleopatra and Julius Caesar had a son called Caesarion. He was also killed by the first emperor of Rome, Octavian Augustus. The Ptolemaic dynasty was finally interrupted.
Egypt became a Roman province, and stayed in this status until 395, that is, more than 400 years, after which it became part of the Byzantine Empire. As part of the Byzantine Empire, Egypt remained until 642.
In the photo on the right is the Roman amphitheater in Alexandria, in Egypt.
All this time Egypt was not the center of civilization, but, rather, was the source of food for these empires. Of course, the great library still existed and the title of "center of science" remained for Alexandria.
The Arab Caliphate and the Ottoman Empire
Around 640 Egyptian troops entered the Arab caliphate. It was a fateful event. The Arabs brought Islam to Egypt, and for several centuries the population of Egypt has become almost entirely Arab, which we observe now.
Modern inhabitants of Egypt have nothing to do with either the pyramids or the ancient temples.
There is a very important error, in some unscrupulous sources it is said that, allegedly, the Arabs destroyed the great library and burned all the books. In fact, there is no evidence of this fact, it is not mentioned in any source about this burning. Unfortunately, by that time the library had lost most of the work. The first time a fire occurred during the capture of the city by the Romans, the second time many books died in the suppression of the uprising by Emperor Aurelian, and most recently in 391 during the conflict between Christians and pagans.
Around 870, Egypt, already Muslim, left the Arab Caliphate, becoming independent. Until 1517, various dynasties ruled here, and the most famous ruler in the history of Egypt of the Muslim era was Saladin (more often the name of Salah ad-Din), which is very famous for his victories over the Crusaders.
Left frame from the movie "Kingdom of Heaven", it is believed that the image of Saladin in this film is shown magnificently.
In 1517, Egypt falls under the rule of the Turks, becomes part of the Ottoman Empire. The governors were replaced, but no serious events occurred, except, of course, changes in the political situation and norms of subordination of these territories to Istanbul.
From the interesting, it is possible to note the campaign of Napoleon to Egypt in 1798-1801. This enterprise he started in order to challenge the rule of the British in Asia.
In 1799 a very important event occurred, a "rosetta stone" was found. Many tourists often hear this phrase, but do not know what it is. We will tell. The writing of ancient Egypt was not used for a long time, and the meaning of the hieroglyphs was forgotten. Scientists simply could not translate the inscriptions.
And in 1799 a stone was found on which the same text was written in three languages. In the ancient Egyptian language, a demotic letter (later a letter in Egypt) and in ancient Greek. Since the ancient Greek language was well known to scientists, the deciphering of the ancient letter of Egypt became possible.
The Newest History of Egypt
By 1914 Egypt fell completely under British rule, and stayed in this status until 1936, when he gained independence.
The recent history of independent Egypt is full of events that are connected either with wars with Israel, or with a "sharing of power" that never ended and, most likely, will not end in the near future.
The riots in Egypt focused attention, and it's not even that Egypt is popular with tourists, but rather that in Egypt is the Suez Canal, the most important transport artery for the whole of Europe.
Other interesting facts about Egypt read in our articles ( links below ).
Read about Egypt on our website
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