ancient egyptian history
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Ancient Egyptian History
Early Dynastic Period or Archaic Period (1st and 2
Old Kingdom (3rd
Dynasty) 26862181 BC
1st Intermediate Period (7th
Dynasty) 21812055 BC
Middle Kingdom (11th
Dynasty) 20551650 BC
2nd Intermediate Period (13th
Dynasty) 16501550 BC
New Kingdom (18th
Dynasty) 15501069 BC
3rd Intermediate Period (21th to 25th
Dynasty) 1069664 BC
Late Period (26th
Dynasty) 664332 BC
The Badarian people lived in Upper Egypt, on the eastern bank of
the Nile, from approximately 5000 BC to 4400 BC. Though they were a
semi-nomadic people, they formed small settlements and began to
cultivate grain and domesticate animals.
They buried their dead in small cemeteries on the borders of these
settlements, and also conducted ceremonial burials for some of their
domesticated animals. Although the graves themselves were simple, the
deceased was buried with fine ceramics, jewellery, cloth and fur, and
they usually included a finely crafted figurine of a female fertility idol.
They did not mummify their dead, instead burying them in a foetal
position, facing west (towards the setting sun).
The Naqadan culture took over from the Badarian around 4500 BC
and became arguably the most important prehistoric culture in Upper
Egypt. It is named after the city of Naqada where many of the
archaeological evidence for the period was found.
The early phase (Naqada 1, also called Amratian because of
deposits found near the village of that name) ran in parallel to the
Badarian culture, but slowly replaced it. They also lived in small villages
and they developed the cultivation of the Nile valley, but the culture is
most notable for the increase in artistic accomplishment and the
proliferation of bearded male figures in addition to the female fertility
Each village had its own animal deity which was associated with
the clan of the villagers. This formed the basis of the nome system
which divided Egypt into regions represented by their amulets.
In Naqada I graves, the deceased were buried with statuettes to
keep them company in the afterlife. These were the forerunners of
ushabti figures found in Egyptian tombs. Along with these figures, the
dead person was buried with food, weapons, amulets, ornaments and
decorated vases and palettes.
The Naqada II (also known as Gerzean due to finds near the village
of that name) phase began around 3500 BC. This culture mastered the
art of agriculture and the use of artificial irrigation, and no longer needed
to hunt for their food. The people started live in towns, not just villages,
creating areas of higher population density than ever before.
The culture continued to develop their artistic tendencies, creating
new styles of pottery and more complicated carving. Many animal-
shaped and shield-shaped palettes (used for mixing cosmetics) have been
recovered. They form a clear link in development towards the
ceremonial palettes of the early dynastic period (eg the Narmer palette).
They also developed their skills in metalworking, in particular copper
which they traded with the ancient peoples of Mesopotamia and Asia.
The introduction of cylindrical seals (a typically Mesopotamiam device)
showed that their culture was influenced by their neighbours, but the
familiar Egyptian gods Hathor, Ra and Horus also date to this period.
Their burial rituals also changed. They created rectangular graves
whose walls were lined with masonry or wood, and the body was not
specifically oriented towards the setting sun. There was a marked
difference in the quality of grave goods between the rich and poor and
many contained pottery.
Architecture also took a leap forward during the Naqada II period.
A palace and ritual precinct was constructed in Nekhen (Hierakonpolis),
which was the cult centre of Horus of Nekhem. It has a large oval
courtyard, surrounded by small buildings, and is clearly the precursor to
the ritual precincts of the Early Dynastic Period. Features of the complex
(built of timber and matting) are echoed in the construction of Djoser's
Naqada III (also known as "Semainean") was a short period from
3200 to 3000 BC which is often referred to as the protodynastic period,
or Zero Dynasty. During this period there is a marked difference
between the culture of Upper and Lower Egypt. In Upper Egypt, an
estimated thirteen kings reigned from Nekhen (Hierakonpolis).
Unfortunately, only the last few have been identified. The kings were
named after animals, no doubt relating to the favoured totem of their
home towns. The ruler was seen as the personification of the god (in
much the same way as later Kings were considered to be the "Son of
Ra") and wore the white crown of Upper Egypt. The art work of the time
suggests they were a fairly warlike bunch (for example the scorpion
In Lower Egypt, the system was more bureaucratic and
commercial. Important families ruled small areas and there does not
appear to have been a rigid hierarchy. The rulers, such as they were,
wore the red crown of Lower Egypt. Seven kings from Lower Egypt are
listed on the Palermo stone. However, little is known about them and
some doubt that they ever existed. Buto is generally considered to have
been the largest and most important town, but there were also population
centres at Ma'adi and Tell Farkha.
Sources of Egyptian history
Ancient Egyptian history originates its events from four basic
sources including: Ancient Egyptian Antiquities, contemporary
civilizations, the writings of historians and Greeks and Romans
adventures, the heavenly books (the Torah and the Bible and the Koran)
1.The Egyptian Monuments: They include temples, royal tombs,
graves individuals, obelisks, paintings, statues, mummies, papyri,
coffins, pottery fragments, and all movable monuments.
The Egyptian Antiquities are one of the most important sources of
ancient Egyptian history, however, the ancient Egyptians did not do
inscribe on the monuments with the aim to record history or historical
events. They inscribed on the monuments with the aim of
commemoration of one of the important events during the reign of a
certain king or to celebrate a particular victory. However, we can not
fully trust what is written on those monuments. In regard to the record of
battles on specific monuments, there is a kind of exaggeration. The
clearest example of this is what is recorded on the temples of King
Ramses II, one of the most important kings of the nineteenth Dynasty.
The king claimed that he defeated the Hittites in the battle of Kadesh in
the fifth year of his reign. On the other side, the Hittites confirm their
victory over the king and his troops. Still there is no conclusive evidence
to prove that Ramesses II defeated the Hittites.
2. Contemporary Civilizations
This source includes the inscriptions and monuments of the
contemporary civilizations throughout the history of the ancient
Egyptian civilization and which record events that reflect the extent of
the relationship and the interaction between them. These civilizations are
the Babylonian, Assyrian, Phoenician, Mittanian and Hittites