Ancient Egypt in North Africa was one of the most powerful and influential civilizations in the region for over 3000 years.
Egyptian civilization existed before this period and has flourished since. Egypt is still a modern-day country despite the civilization's rulers, language, writing, climate, religion and borders changing many times over the millennia.
Ancient Egypt brought in and exported goods, religions, food, people and ideas to other parts of the world. At times ancient Egypt ruled territory outside of the country's borders, which now includes Sudan, Cyprus, Lebanon, Syria, Israel and Palestine.
The Persians, Nubians, Greeks and Romans all conquered Egypt in the ancient times.
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There were many names used for Egypt. "Kemet" is a popular name for Egypt. The fertile soil that was left over when the Nile flood receded is believed to have given this name.
Fertility was an important part of Egyptian religion, as the Nile created fertile soil that was vital to ancient Egypt's survival. The mummified penis of Tutankhamun is an example of how important fertility was in the ancient Egyptians.
Ronald Leprohon, an Egyptology professor at the University of Toronto, wrote in his book "The Great Name" that the ancient rulers of the country used a number of names as part of their title. The Egyptian term "per-aa" means "the Great House" and the word pharaoh is derived from it. During the rule of Thutmose III, the term was incorporated into a royal title. Leprohon wrote that it was 1479 to 1425 B.C.
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It's not clear when early hominids first arrived in Egypt. The earliest migration of humans out of Africa took place about 2 million years ago. Some of these migrations may have used Egypt.
Villages dependent on agriculture appeared in Egypt 7,000 years ago. Live Science reported that the earliest written inscriptions date back about 5,200 years and reveal information about the early rulers of Egypt. Iry-Hor founded Memphis, a city that served as Egypt's capital for much of its history. The inscriptions show that a queen named Neith-Hotep was regent for a pharaoh named Djer.
Historians and archaeologists disagree on when ancient Egypt was united into one kingdom. There is a chance that a number of smaller states coalesced into two kingdoms, Upper and Lower Egypt. The Lower and Upper Egypt crowns were worn by the pharaohs after Egypt was united.
Some areas of Egypt that were once fertile were now barren. The "cave of swimmers" is a famous archaeological site in southwest Egypt. The cave is surrounded by miles of desert and has rock art showing people swimming. The exact date of the rock art is not known, but scholars think it was created in prehistoric times.
The Great Pyramid of Giza was documented in the ancient logbook. The image is from the Egyptian Ministry of Antiquities.
Egypt has 30 dynasties.
Ancient Egypt's history has been divided into 30 dynasties. The tradition of preserving the accounts of ancient Egyptian history was started by the Egyptian priest Manetho, who lived during the third century B.C.
Modern-day scholars group these dynasties into several periods. Dynasties one and two are often called the "Archaic" period because they are thousands of years old. Menes was the first pharaoh of the first dynasty and he was called Narmer in Greek. He lived over 5,000 years ago, and while he was sometimes credited with being the first pharaoh of a united Egypt, archaeological research suggests that is not the case. Live Science previously reported that recent finds suggest that there were pharaohs before Menes who ruled a united Egypt. The pre- Menes rulers are sometimes referred to as a "dynasty zero".
A Bedouin is riding a camel near the Pyramids of Menkaure and the Pyramids of Khafre in Egypt. Adrian Pope has an image.
The "Old Kingdom" is a time period from 2650 to 2 150 B.C. and is often grouped together into Dynasties three to six. The pyramids of Giza were built during this time, and it is believed that professional workers played a major role in the construction.
The central government in Egypt was weak and the country was often controlled by different regional leaders. The collapse of the Old Kingdom is a matter of debate among scholars, with research indicating that climate change played a significant role. Evidence at archaeological sites indicates that a period of dry and arid climate hit the Middle East during this time.
The "Middle Kingdom" of the 12th, 13th, and part of the 11th dynasties lasted from around 1740 B.C to 1640 B.C. A large number of texts of literature and science were created after the Pyramid building resumed in Egypt. The document now known as the Edwin Smith surgical papyrus is a document that records a variety of medical treatments that modern-day medical doctors have hailed as being advanced for their time.
Modern-day scholars often group Dynasties 14 to 17 together as the Second Intermediate Period. The central government in Egypt collapsed again, and a group called the "Hyksos" took control of northern Egypt. The research shows that the Hyksos were already in Egypt at the time of the collapse of the government. A palace in the city of Avaris, the capital of Egypt, was the site of a series of severed hands. Soldiers may have presented the severed hands to a ruler in exchange for gold.
The "New Kingdom" was a period that lasted from 1550 to 1070 B.C., and was encompassed by dynasties 18 to 20. Tutankhamun's rich tomb was found intact in 1922, and the Valley of the Kings is perhaps the most famous archaeological site from the New Kingdom. One of the reasons the pharaohs stopped building pyramids was to provide better security against tomb robbers.
Modern-day scholars call the 21st to 24th dynasties the "Third Intermediate Period". The country was not always united and the central government was sometimes weak. The Sea Peoples from the Aegean destroyed cities and civilizations in the Middle East. Egyptian rulers claimed to have defeated the Sea Peoples in battle, but it wasn't enough to save their civilization. The loss of trade routes may have weakened the central government.
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Dynasties 25 to 31 were from 712 to 332 B.C. and are often referred to as the "late period". Egypt was sometimes under the control of foreign powers. Nubia is an area located in modern-day southern Egypt and northern Sudan. The Persians and Assyrians ruled Egypt at different times.
The Persians were driven out of Egypt by Alexander the Great in 332 B.C. Ptolemy Soter, one of Alexander's generals, was one of the rulers who came to power after Alexander's death. Cleopatra VII, the last of the "Ptolemaic" rulers, died by suicide in 30 B.C after her forces were defeated at the Battle of Actium by the Romans. Egypt was incorporated into the Roman Empire after her death.
The Romans were treated as pharaohs by the Egyptians. Live Science reported that the emperor Claudius was dressed as a pharaoh. The carving says that Claudius is the "Son of Ra, Lord of the Crowns" and the "King of Upper and Lower Egypt, Lord of the Two Lands."
The Ptolemaic and Roman rulers are not considered part of a dynasty.
The Karnak Temple and Luxor Temple were connected by an avenue of statues. The Egyptian Ministry of Tourism and Antiquities has an image.
The people of Egypt followed a polytheistic religion in which many gods and goddesses were venerated. The site of Abydos was an important cult center for Osiris, and numerous temples and shrines were constructed in his honor.
During the New Kingdom, Amun-Ra was associated with the city of Luxor. The Karnak Temple complex was built in honor of the god.
The ancient Egyptians believed that the dead could reach a paradise of sorts, where they could live forever. Egyptian dead were sometimes mummified and buried with spells to help them navigate the Underworld. The "Book of the Dead" is a 13 foot-long (4 meter) copy of which was recently found in an ancient burial shaft.
In ancient Egyptian mythology, the first step in navigating the Underworld was to weigh a person's actions against the feather of a god. The person's heart would be heavier than the feather if they had committed a lot of wrong. If their actions were generally good, they passed forward and were able to navigate the Underworld.
The shabti were often buried with the dead. They were supposed to do the dead's work in the afterlife for them.
Over time, Egyptian religion changed. The religious revolution that took place during the reign of the pharaoh Akhenaten saw Egyptian religion become focused on worship of the sun disk. The names of some of Egypt's deities were ordered to be defaced by the ruler of the desert. Tutankhamun returned ancient Egypt to its previous polytheistic religion after his father's death.
The gods and goddesses of the Roman and Greek rulers were incorporated into Egyptian religion. Christianity spread throughout Egypt after the first century A.D. Gnosticism, a religion that incorporated some Christian beliefs, spread throughout Egypt at this time and a large collection of Gnostic texts were discovered in 1945.
The country was captured by a Muslim army and Islam spread throughout it. The majority of Egypt's inhabitants practice Islam, while a minority are Christians.
The earliest inscriptions were written in a language called hieroglyphics.
Barry Kemp, a professor of Egyptology at the University of Cambridge, England, wrote in his book " 100 hieroglyphs: Think Like an Egyptian" that ancient Egyptian was a living oral language. The ancient Egyptians developed a form of writing calledhieratic. The first millennium A.D. saw the introduction of a new form of short-form writing called "Demotic."
The Egyptian language has changed over the centuries, with scholars often dividing the surviving categories into writings such as "Old Egyptian," "Middle Egyptian" and "Late Egyptian."
Alexander the Great conquered Egypt, and the Greek language became widely used. In the late 19th century, archaeologists excavated half a million papyri fragments, most of which were written in Greek, at the ancient Egyptian town of Oxyrhynchus.
Coptic, an Egyptian language that uses the Greek alphabet, was widely used after Christianity spread throughout Egypt. The use of the hieroglyphic writing style waned in the fifth century A.D. as Greek and Coptic became more popular.
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The ancient Egyptians harnessed the power of engineering to build an empire. 1.5 hours is the length of the video.
The Australian Museum put together a history of ancient Egypt, including a breakdown of each dynasty and the significant dates within that dynasty.
"Ancient Egypt: The DefinitiveVisual History" is a fun way to teach kids about ancient Egypt.