Egypt is one of two countries (apart from China) in the world which has a long continuous history of over 7,000 years as a social, cultural and political entity. Much of its glorious history was in writing as well as being carved in stone on the face of the country. The pyramids and monuments the ancient Egyptians built demonstrated the levels of engineering, mathematical, astronomical and architectural skills that were ahead of many cultures by thousands of years.
Egyptians had settled in the Nile valley for a long time, where the inhabitants benefited from the ebb and rise of the annual floods for their livelihood. In around 3100 BC, Upper Egypt (the territories south of the Nile plains) was united with Lower Egypt under King Menes (or Horus King Narmer) to form the first dynasty. Agriculture, language and scientific developments continued to evolve which later made possible the achievements during the period of the pharaohs.
Ancient Egypt was ruled by thirty dynasties, divided into several kingdoms: the Old Kingdom, the Middle Kingdom and the New Kingdom, interrupted in between by Intermediate Periods when central authority disappeared.
The Old Kingdom consisting of the 3rd to the 6th Dynasties from 2686 BC to 2130 BC, ruled from the city of Memphis (near Cairo). This was followed by a 130-year Intermediate Period under several dynasties until the Middle Kingdom reunited the country from its base in Thebe in Upper Nile and ruled from 2000 BC to 1630 BC under the 11th and 12th Dynasties.
Many pyramids and other funerary structures were built during the Old and Middle Kingdoms. The first pyramid was a step pyramid built for Pharoah Zoser at Saqqarah in 2620 BC, and was followed by others such as the Great Pyramid built for Pharoah Khufu at Gisa in about 2550 BC which was made of over 2 million limestone blocks each weighing many tons. In all, about 80 pyramids have been found in Egypt up to now.
The Middle Kingdom was replaced from 1630 BC by a century of foreign rule by the Hyksos, said to be a Semitic tribe from the eastern Mediterranean coast. They (also called the Shepherd Kings) adopted Egyptian culture and ruled as pharaohs from the eastern Nile Delta.
The New Kingdom (made up of the 18th to 20th Dynasties) was founded in the mid-1500 BC, when an Egyptian leader, Ahmose, from Thebe expelled the Hyksos. The New Kingdom lasted until 1080 BC., and was perhaps the most glorious period in Egyptian history in terms of its military prowess and the cultural legacies it left behind. At the height of its power under Pharaoh Thutmose III around 1430 BC, Egypt’s territories covered Syria, Mesopotamia, Libya and Palestine.
The New Kingdom pharaohs, especially Thutmose III and Ramses II, also built many enduring monuments. The New Kingdom was not a pyramid-builder; instead it built many huge temples such as the ones at Karnak, Luxor, Abu Simbel and the Ramesseum at Thebes. It was also during the time of the first few pharaohs of this Kingdom that the Valley of the Kings began to be used as a burial ground for the royalties.
The Old Testament recounted the time when Moses lived in Egypt and the events leading to the exodus which took place 480 years before “the fourth year of Solomon’s reign over Israel”. Since that year was 966 BC, this would mean that the exodus occurred in 1446 BC, at the time of the reign of Pharaoh Thutmose III and his son Amunhotep II. While there is no historical proof, one may even conjecture that the Israelites might have entered Egypt before or around the time of the Hyksos.
Before the New Kingdom, Egyptians worshipped several gods; but during the reign of Pharaoh Akhenaten around 1360 BC he propelled the country to worship only the sun-god, Ra. All other gods were banished, their temples destroyed, and their names erased. However, this was reversed soon after his death probably because harvests were bad towards the end of his reign and his successors had to appease the offending gods by reviving their images and temples.
After Pharoah Akhenaten were several well-known pharaohs. The first one was his heir, Tutankhamen, known more for the contents found in his tomb than for his achievements because he became king at nine and died at eighteen. Later, came Ramses II, who ruled from 1279 to 1213 BC, and brought peace, stability and prosperity to the country. He was so revered that many pharaohs who came later all took his name (from Ramses III to Ramese XI).
After 1436 BC, Egypt began to be beset by attacks from Libyans, Ethiopians, Hittites (from present-day Turkey and Syria), and Philistines from the Mediterranean. Lands that had been previously conquered, such as Ethiopia, Libya and Nubia, were gradually lost and the New Kingdom ended around 1080 BC when it was again split between Upper and Lower Egypt.
The next few centuries to 663 BC first saw some pharaohs who were Libyans, Nubians, Ethiopians and Assyrians who adapted to the Egyptian ways, and later, in 539 BC, Cyrus of Persia defeated the Assyrians, turned Egypt into a province and ruled for two centuries; but the Persians were hated for their oppressiveness.
In 332 BC, Alexander the Great defeated the Persians and was welcomed as a liberator. He won people’s heart by founding the great city of Alexandria, and making a pilgrimage to an oracle at Siwa. The Egyptians accepted him as the son of god. After his death in 323 BC, Egypt came under the rule of one of his generals, Ptolemy, who formed the last ancient Egyptian dynasty with Alexandria as the capital.
Like Alexander the Great, the Ptolemy regime showed great respect to Egypt’s traditions, culture and religion. Their reign ended when Cleopatra killed herself with an asp, after her (and Mark Anthony’s) defeat at the battle of Actium by Octavius (later becoming Augusta Caesar) of Rome in 30 BC. History showed that, prior to that, she met Julius Caesar in 48 BC when she was 20, and married Mark Anthony in 41 BC when she was 27.
Egypt then became part of the Roman Empire for six centuries. During that period, Rome was able to levy poll taxes on the population and import agricultural produce from Egypt. Part of the population also converted to become Christians; they, in 451 AD, split from the Greek Church to form the Coptic Church following a theological dispute about the nature of Christ.
Christian influence declined after the invasion of the Muslim Arabs in 642 AD, who became rulers of Egypt. From that year until 1517 AD, Egypt fell into the hands of different Muslim rulers: the Caliphs of Baghdad, the Mameluks (soldiers recruited by Arabs from Central Asian Turks), the Shia dynasty of Fatimid with origins from North Africa, the dynasty built by Saladin (who fought against the Crusaders), and finally the Ottomans in 1517 AD. Several of these rulers ruled Egypt as part of a bigger empire.
For four centuries from 1517, Egypt was ruled by a weakening Ottoman Empire, which stationed senior military officers in the country; however, the Egyptians were left largely to run their own affairs, often with meddling by Britain and the other western powers. It became a British protectorate in 1914 when the Ottomans disintegrated. The Napoleonic French occupied the country for three years from 1798, this did not have lasting impacts on Egypt.
The history of the Mameluks deserved mentioning. They were Turkish tribes from Central Asia who had, for a long time even before the 10th century AD, been recruited by the Arabs as slaves and soldiers. Being able fighters, many had risen to become generals in the Arab world and in Egypt. In 1258, the Mameluk general Qutuz from Egypt faced off the Mongol army in Palestine in 1260 and defeated it. For the next 250 years, the Mameluks became the ruler of Egypt. They remained powerful in Egypt even after it became a province of the Ottoman Empire, until 1811 when all senior Mameluk officials in Egypt were assassinated by an Ottoman viceroy, Muhammad Ali, who was an Albanian Muslim originally sent by the Ottomans to fight Napoleonic army.
Before the assassinations of 1811, Muhammad Ali had been appointed Egypt’s viceroy in 1805 because of his leadership qualities and the support he had received from the Egyptians. He began a dynasty which lasted 147 years. During his reign, he modernised Egypt, developed its agriculture and industries, and expanded its military power so that the country could be independent of the Ottomans. His grandson, Said, built the Suez Canal (1859 to 1869) together with the French. However, during the 147 years, Egypt’s economic and military ambitions were often curbed by the British, French, Austria, Russia and Ottomans, which led to wars between Egypt and the great powers particularly over Egypt’s invasion of Syria, as well as major economic sufferings and huge national debt. Added to that was the rivalry between Britain and France for influence in the Middle East.
All these fanned increasing nationalist sentiments in the populace, among the Islamic movement and among the Egyptian military officers. The drive to expel foreign influence led to the invasion of Egypt by Britain and the war in 1882 between the two countries. Egypt was defeated and occupied by British, which stationed troops and administrators to run the country. However, Britain could not turn the tide of history. Finally, a group of army officers under Gamal Abdel Nasser seized power and the last of the Egyptian kings abdicated in 1952 when Egypt became a republic.
Aswan, Nile Valley, Egypt
An amazing place. What with Abu simbel and crocodiles! It's awsome. History buff or not it's still amazing.
Aswan, Nile Valley, Egypt
The collection reflects the history and character of Nubia. Among other pieces the collection includes the statue of Ramses II, statute of Amenras, the head of the Shpatka, and the head of black granite of Tahraqa. The building of the museum is constructed in traditions of Nubian architecture. As it stands on a slope of a rock, its western part is one-storeyed, and eastern part is two-storeyed. The wide ladder conducts downwards from a lobby. Visitors are met with a breadboard model of a valley of the Nile on which tiny copies of the most interesting architectural monuments of Nubia are placed. The exposition is located by a historical principle. In essence, it is placed in the uniform hall divided into parts by partitions. Among exhibits sculptures and jewels, ceramics and frescos from walls of the flooded Christian temples, subjects of arts and crafts. In the right part of a hall - a breadboard model of the Nubian house with brightly painted facade, household stages with wax figures of inhabitants. You may see my VIDEO-Clip from my personal YouTube channel: 4 min 20 sec Egypt Aswan Nubian Museum 2007 You may watch my Nubia Museum high resolution photos on Google Earth in Aswan according to the following coordinates 24º 4' 46.69" N 32º 53' 18.36" E or on my Google Earth Panoramio Aswan Nubean Museum and Aswan Nubean Museum Inside.
Al Uqsur, Nile Valley, Egypt
Life story of queen Hatshepsut is really interesting!! she was very strong woman and she wasn't really that kind of fair ideal person Queen "Hatshepsut" was the first one to send ships to the country's "Puntland" (Somalia now), so they are loaded and perfumes .. And "Hatshepsut" is the fifth kings of the eighteenth dynasty, which also belongs to the King "Tutankhamen." A daughter "Thutmose I," and wife "Thutmose II," has received the sentence with "Thutmose III," which was the son of one of her husband Gariaat, at the same time, her daughter's husband, and remained until her death in 1484 BC holding the reins of government, the ruling was over cogens her life, and deported "Thutmose III" from power, it was not described to him in the Governing Although she was a female had represented itself in the form of statues man has been flat without breasts, and has borrowed to live. Having died liberation "Thutmose III" from the trusteeship of heavy, and I like to retaliate against them Vatm construction of the temple, and the proportion of the same, and the name and crush most forms excavated and icons, and a place name and his titles in many quarters (please look the pictures i put inside) The design and implementation of building the temple Engineer "die" QC and one close to it. It belongs to a family of modest "Armant" but became the first president to acknowledge reception of the royal family, and the President receiving machine "Amon", and is in charge of all construction, so it made the greatest professional successes in the history of ancient Egypt.
Cairo, Cairo & Surrounding Region, Egypt
When travelling in Cairo and the more cultured parts of Egypt it is important to have your wits about you. I would suggest that women never travel alone and travel between cities/districts on transport that has an armed guard. It has been known that passengers on night buses have been held at gunpoint. People will also ask to see your passport when travelling between cities.
There are many beggars in Cairo, some of which have removed their own limbs to encourage donations, it is very sad but true unfortunately.
People will expect you to haggle with them. If you pay what is being asked, you have definitely been done!
The streets are lined with markets and bizarres, selling more or less anything you can think of. Market traders will pester you so much that you may become frustrated and annoyed. It is best to just ignore these people, rather than get stressed out. Its not worth the hassle!
The pyramids at Giza are an essential expedition when in Egypt. They are quite spectacular. Do not believe pessimists who suggest that they are not as good as they expected. These people obviously do not appreciate their glory. Make sure that you have guided tours where possible to gain an in-depth appreciation of these magnificent structures. There is access into 2 of the pyramids for a small charge. It is very claustrophobic inside and is not suitable for asthmatics or people with back problems. There is not a great deal to see inside, no tombs or hieroglyphics, however it is a very humbling feeling to be inside such a structure, having known its history.
The Egyptian Museum in Cairo is absolutely amazing. Take lots of time to have a good look round and if nothing else, pay the extra few pounds to see the 'Mummy Room'! The room contains several real mummies, preserved in glass cabinets. These remains are thousands of years old, some of which still have their hair, fingernails, and eyeballs.
There are floors in the museum dedicated to Tutankhamun . Anyone expecting his mummy to be here will be disappointed as his remains are at the Valley Of The Kings, South West Egypt. However, there is an extensive collection of his jewellery, headdresses etc and the numerous sarcophagases/tombs he was buried in to keep his body protected.
The Citadel is also a place to visit while in Eygpt. This is the most famous mosque in Islam as it contains the body of Mohammed the prophet. Visitors have to prepare themselves before entering the building. Shoes have to be removed and women need to cover any naked pieces of flesh with large sheet-like pieces of material. The building is made from alabaster which was taken from the Great Pyramid of Giza. The alabaster was used as a protective covering, yet was taken to build the mosque. The pyramid has a small tip of alabaster remaining, which looks like snow from a distance.
The best piece of advice I can give is to have a tour guide wherever possible, and sample as much culture in this city as you can possibly digest. Tour guides provide masses of information and take you to places you could not possibly find if travelling on your own. Cairo is the 3rd most populated city in the world (18 million citizens) and definitely deserves to be explored in detail.
Would I go back?????
At the drop of a hat!!!!!
Al 'Alamayn, Mediterranean Coast, Egypt
Worth a visit, for the war history - though if you want to visit the museum, dont forget to check which days its open!