muh free market competition will fix it
2021-06-12 20:08:03 ⋅ 18h
Scholars divide the long history of ancient Egypt into periods and dynasties. A dynasty is a series of kings related by family, geographic origin, or some other feature. Our current system of dynasties dates to the work of an Egyptian priest named Manetho, who wrote a history of Egypt about 300 BC. Using older Egyptian archives as his source, Manetho divided Egypt’s pharaohs into thirty dynasties. These divisions are still used for the most part, though scholars have been able to revise them on the basis of more ancient historical material.
The dynastic history of Egypt begins around 3000 BC, when the country was unified under a single government. Before that time, Egypt was divided into a number of local centers of power; this is known as the Predynastic Period. Manetho began his Dynasty 1 with the legendary king Menes, who united the south and north and built a new capital at Memphis (just south of modern Cairo). Scholars have not been able to identify Menes with any of the known historical pharaohs. Today, the first king of Dynasty 1 is generally assumed to be either Aha or his predecessor, Narmer. In fact, there is evidence that a number of kings even before Narmer had control of most if not all of Egypt; to preserve the traditional dynastic numbering, scholars group these earlier pharaohs into a “Dynasty Zero.”
Dynasties 1 and 2 are known as the Archaic Period (ca. 3000–2650 BC). During this time we can trace the development of most traditional aspects of Egyptian civilization: government, religion, art, and writing. The first full bloom of Egyptian culture came during the Old Kingdom, Dynasties 3–6 (ca. 2650–2150 BC). This was the time when the great pyramids were built and the first full hieroglyphic texts appeared.
After Dynasty 6, the central government weakened and Egypt entered a phase of its history known as the First Intermediate Period (Dynasties 8–11, ca. 2150–2040 BC; Manetho’s Dynasty 7 does not correspond to any known historical kings). Toward the end of this period, Egypt was ruled by two competing local dynasties: Dynasty 10, with its capital at Herakleopolis in the north; and Dynasty 11, based at Thebes in the south.
Around 2040 BC, a king of Dynasty 11, known as Mentuhotep II, managed to gain control of the entire country; this event marks the beginning of the Middle Kingdom (Dynasties 11-13, ca. 2040–1700 BC). Dynasty 12, ruling from a new capital at Lisht (about thirty miles south of modern Cairo), inaugurated the second flowering of Egyptian culture. During its rule the first great works of Egyptian literature were written, in the phase of the language known as Middle Egyptian.
Toward the end of Dynasty 13, central authority over the entire country weakened once again, and Egypt entered its Second Intermediate Period (Dynasties 13–17, ca. 1700–1550 BC). This era began with competing native dynasties in the south and north (Dynasties 13–14). Around 1650 BC the rulers of an Asiatic settlement in the Delta gained control of most of the country. The Egyptians called these kings Hyksos (HICK-soes), meaning “foreign rulers”; they are traditionally assigned to Dynasty 15. Meanwhile, the area around Thebes, in the south of Egypt, was governed by two successive native dynasties (the 16th and 17th).
After a series of battles lasting some two decades, between the last kings of Dynasty 17 and the Hyksos, a king named Ahmose was able to conquer the Hyksos and reestablish a unified government. His reign marks the beginning of Dynasty 18 and the period of Egyptian history known as the New Kingdom (Dynasty 18, ca. 1550–1302 BC). Once again Egyptian culture flourished, as the pharaohs of Dynasty 18 extended Egyptian influence over much of the Near East and inaugurated great building projects in Egypt itself. The end of Dynasty 18 saw the rule of the heretic pharaoh Akhenaten (who tried to establish the worship of a single god) and his successors, including Tutankhamun—a series of reigns known as the Amarna Period (ca. 1346–1316 BC).
The last pharaoh of Dynasty 18, Haremhab (ca. 1316–1302 BC), managed to quell the internal disruption that resulted from Akhenaten’s experiment, and his successors once again presided over a strong and stable Egypt. Most of the kings of the next two dynasties were named Ramesses, and their rule is known as the Ramesside Period (Dynasties 19–20, ca. 1302–1086 BC). The reign of Ramesses II (ca. 1290–1224 BC) was the high point of this time, marked by a peace treaty with the Hittites (the second great power in the Near East), advances in Egyptian theology and philosophy, and the greatest building projects since the time of the pyramids, 1300 years earlier.
Though most of them bore the same name, the successors of Ramesses II were hard pressed to live up to his legacy. After the death of the last Ramesside pharaoh, Ramesses XI, Egypt once more fell into a period of disunity. For the next four hundred years, a time known as the Third Intermediate Period (ca. 1086–650 BC), the country was torn between competing dynasties of native rulers (Dynasties 21 and 24) and kings originating from Libya (Dynasties 22–23) and Nubia (Dynasty 25). Not until 650 BC was Egypt able to prosper under a period of stable, unified rule by a single dynasty of native kings. The rulers of this dynasty, the 26th (672–525 BC), governed from the city of Sais, in the north, and their reign is known as the Saite Period. It was marked by a resurgence in the arts, based on the classical forms of the Old and Middle Kingdom.
The Saite Period ended brutally, with the conquest of Egypt by a Persian army in 525 BC. For the first time in its dynastic history, Egypt was governed not as an independent country but as the province of a foreign empire. During the next two hundred years, known as the Late Period (Dynasties 27–30, 525–332 BC), Egypt tottered between Persian rule (Dynasty 27) and brief periods when native pharaohs managed to regain control (Dynasties 28–30). In 343 BC, the Persians conquered Egypt for the final time, ending the reign of Nectanebo II, the last native Egyptian to rule his country until the Egyptian revolution in AD 1952.
When Alexander the Great destroyed the Persian Empire in 332 BC, he gained control of Egypt as well. After Alexander’s death in 323 BC, the rule of Egypt passed to one of his generals, named Ptolemy. Though they were of Macedonian origin, Ptolemy and his descendants governed Egypt as pharaohs. The country prospered during the three hundred years of their reign, known as the Ptolemaic Period (323–30 BC), with a strong central government and an ongoing program of rebuilding and renewing the older monuments.
Ptolemaic rule ended in 30 BC, when the coalition of Marc Antony and the Ptolemaic ruler Cleopatra VII was defeated by Octavian, the future Caesar Augustus. Egypt became a province of the Roman Empire. Although its ancient customs continued under Roman rule for the next four hundred years, Egypt gradually lost its old identity, first to Christianity and then, in AD 641, to Islam. The Roman conquest of 30 BC is generally considered as the end of ancient Egyptian civilization.