Between 3100 and 332 B.C was the rise and climax of one of the richest and oldest
ancient civilizations. Its lifeline was the Nile river in the Nile valley. Here, Egyptian
dynasties ruled from the first cataract of the Nile to the Mediterranean Sea. At the its
height it ruled an empire that reached from Syria in the east to Nubia in the south.
In this report I will be covering the Archaic Period, the Old Kingdom, the Middle
Kingdom the New Kingdom and The Late Period or 3100-332 B.C.
Archaic Period: 3100 B.C to 2750 B.C
There long history began with there first King who began the first Egyptian dynasty. In
3100 B.C Pharaoh Menes united upper and lower Egypt. Making Egypts first empire. In
doing so, he made the Egyptian double crown. It was made by putting the red crown of
Lower Egypt on top of the white crown of upper Egypt.
Menes ruled from the ancient city of Thinis near Abydos. Under his reign the first
hieroglyphic writing was made. He is also credited with making his empire
Old Kingdom: 2750 B.C to 2181 B.C / First Intermediate Period: 2182-2260
Little is known about Menes successors until the reign of Zoser at the end of the 3rd
dynasty. His capital was located at Memphis on the Niles west bank. He built the
worlds first pyramid and the first building of that size to be entirely made of stone. Even
though it was a pyramid it wasnt a true pyramid, but a step pyramid.
After the reign of the last king of the Sixth dynasty (the last dynasty in the old kingdom.)
Pepi II in 2181 B.C, there was a period of crisis and social upheaval known as the First
Intermediate Period. The reasons leading up to this dark time, was a series of low floods
and the result was famine during the Sixth dynasty. This undermined the stability of Egypt
and provoked rebellion.
What followed put Egypt in rapid decline. With no central power the provinces became
independent states the were often at war with each other. To make the situation worse
was a penetration of nomadic foreigners into the delta region of the Nile Valley.
Middle Kingdom: 2061-1784 B.C/Second Intermediate Period 1633-1570
The accession in 2060 B.C. of Mentuhotep II of Thebes the first pharaoh of the Middle
Kingdom, ended 90 years of conflict with a dynasty established a Herakleopolis, south of
Memphis. This strong Eleventh Dynasty ruler restored order in Egypt. He drove the
Asiatics from the delta and campaigned against the Libyans and nomadic tribes in the Sinai
and the eastern desert. Trade also expanded to Nubia, Syria and Palestine under his reign.
Mentuhotep II reigned for 50 years and was buried at Deir el-Bahri. Under the reign of
Sesostris II (1897-1878 B.C) huge irrigation works were built at the oasis at
Faiyum. Sesostris III (1878-1843) expanded Egypts southern border to the second
At such times of powerful rulers, Egypt was governed by an efficient administration.
Taxation provided much of the wealth and was carefully organized. A census of fields and
of all cattle was taken every two years. In addition to tax calculation and collection,
another important official function was the building up reserves of grain stocks to prevent
famine after a bad harvest. The state controlled all foreign trade and owned the mines and
After the end of the Thirteenth Dynasty in 1633 B.C Egypt fell into another period of
decline known as the second intermediate period. During this period Egypt was divided
into four areas: the southern area ruled by 17th dynasty Theban rulers, the central area
that owed allegiance to Thebes, the 15th and 16th dynasties or the Hyksos that ruled most
of the delta and the 14th dynasty that ruled a small are in the delta.
The Hyksos identity is not known and there was no evidence that they invaded Egypt.
This suggest that there takeover was peaceful as a result of their increased population in
the delta. During the middle kingdom the Hyksos were employed by the state of Egypt to
mine in the Sinai mines and in Egypt itself. Later their population in the delta was so large
that it was larger than the Egyptian population the delta, so this was the probable cause of
The Hyksos rule over Egypt was very unpopular with the people of Egypt and according
to tradition Hyksos were an anarchy, who were accused of burning temple and cities. But
evidence suggest that the Hyksos respected and even adapted to the Egyptian culture and
religion. And they also made many advances in many things. One of the more important
things were the horse drawn chariots.
Whatever the nature of the Hyksos rule they where still very unpopular. However one of
the consequences of the Hyksos rule was the dramatic change in Egypts attitudes toward
war and foreign conquest. And after a hundred years of rule, the Theban prince Seqenere
began the struggle against the Hyksos, dying in battle of fatal head wounds. His son
Kamose drove the Hyksos from Middle Egypt and took Avaris. In 1570 B.C he was
succeeded by his younger brother Ahmosis, who drove the Hyksos out of Egypt persued
them into Palestine and eliminated them in a series of campaigns.
The New Kingdom 1570-1045
After a decade of fighting Egypt was restored and Ahmosis formed the most illustrious
18th dynasty of The New Kingdom or The Empire. And once again Egypt. The founder
of this Illustrious family died in 1546 B.C.
Under a series of rulers once again controlled Syria, Palestine and Nubia. And under the
reign of Amenophis II Egypt expanded its empire beyond the Fourth Cataract. One of
the many new lands that were conquered was Kush. And soon Egypt was depending on
Kushs mines for gold. And the capital moved to Thebes.
Egypts power and prosperity were largely the result of the exploits of a few kings.
Thuthmosis I campaigned as far as the Euphrates and first brought Syria and Palestine
under Egyptian rule. Following the reign of Hatshepsut the widow of Tuthmosis II, her
nephew and stepson Tuthmosis III reasserted Egyptian authority over kingdoms in Asia
and came in conflict with Mitanni. Under Tuthmosis IV, a peace treaty was concluded
between these powers and sealed by dynastic marriage. Toward the end of Amenophis III
reign, the Hittites sacked Mitannis capital and began to dominate Egypts land in Syria.
Egyptian influence in the area collapsed.
After the reign of Horemheb (1348-1320 B.C) the 18th dynasty was over and the 19th
dynasty began. The first ruler of the new dynasty was Ramesses I. His reign of 2 years
was succeeded by his son, Seti I who did much to restore Egypts prestige. There was
one campaign against the Libyans and he also campaigned in the east and restored
Egyptian control over Palestine. Egypt came into conflict with the Hittites in Syria, but by
the end of Seti Is reign, the two powers seemed to come to an understanding.
Setis son Ramesses II resumed hostilities and attacked the Hittites under King Muwatallis
at Qadesh. The details of this encounter for the control of Syria are know because
Ramesses had it recorded as a great victory on several temples. In fact the result was
indecisive, and both armies suffered heavy losses.
The rest of Ramesses IIs reign was fairly peaceful and prosperous. Nubia was still under
his control, although there seemed to be difficulty in the production of gold. He also
moved his capital north to Pi-Ramesse. Under his successors, Egypt fell into a period of
decline. Merneptah fought and defeated invading Libyans, who were allied with the Sea
People. In the reign of the Twentieth Dynasty pharoah Ramesses III, Egypt was once
again attaked Libyans and the Sea People. Three campaigns were fought in the Delta
before the invaders were beaten.
Although most of Ramesses III reign was prosperous and the king made many gifts to the
temples, toward the end there were problems. First there was a strike because monthly
food rations were overdue. More serious was the discovery that several of his wives and
officials in his harem were in a plot to kill him. As punishment, some of the plotters were
allowed to kill themselves, while others lived, but got there noses and ears off.
The next eight pharohs were all called Ramesses, and under them Egypt lost the what was
left of its empire and became increasingly unstable.
The Late Period: 1045-332 B.C
This was the downfall of Egypt and was the last intermediate period. After the end of the
20th Dynasty Egypt was divided between the High Preist at Thebes and the Vizier of
lower egypt, Smendes who ruled from Tanis. And as usual, at times when Egypt was in
turmoil conquerors came. In this case the Libyans once again attacked and settled in the
delta. In 747 B.C the Nubians came to power, but it was shortlived fore the Assyrians
overran the Nubians in 667 B.C. Between the years of 663-525 B.C the Egyptians
became independent under th 26th dynasty. Then in 605 B.C The Babylonians conquered
Egypt, then in 539 B.C the Persians defeated the Babylonians and conquered Egypt. Then
finally in 332 B.C Alexander the Great of Macedonia Conquered Egypt and built his city
In conclusion I think Egypt is by far the least warlike civilization of its time. I think this
because it only fighted invaders and not until the New Kingdom did it conquer foreign
lands on the large scale.