Portal:Ancient Egypt

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THE ANCIENT EGYPT PORTAL

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Golden funeral mask of king Tutankhamun, a symbol for many of ancient Egypt.

Ancient Egypt was an ancient civilization of eastern North Africa, concentrated along the lower reaches of the Nile River in what is now the modern country of Egypt. The civilization coalesced around 3150 BC with the political unification of Upper and Lower Egypt under the first pharaoh, and it developed over the next two millennia. Ancient Egypt reached its pinnacle during the New Kingdom, after which it entered a period of slow decline. Egypt was conquered by a succession of foreign powers in this late period, and the rule of the pharaohs officially ended in 31 BC when the early Roman Empire conquered Egypt and made it a province.

Egypt has left a lasting legacy for all to see. Its art and architecture has been widely copied, and its antiquities have been carried off to the far corners of the world. Egypt's monumental ruins have inspired the imaginations of travelers and writers for centuries. A newfound respect for antiquities and excavations in the early modern period led to the scientific investigation of Egyptian civilization and a greater appreciation of its cultural legacy for the earth.

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A tableau from the Book of the Dead (green-skinned Osiris is seated to the right). In ancient Egyptian religious cosmology, Thinis features as a mythical place in heaven.

Thinis or This (Egyptian: Tjenu) was a city, as yet undiscovered, which the classical historian Manetho cites as the centre of the Thinite Confederacy, a tribal confederation whose leader, Menes (or Narmer), united Egypt and was its first pharaoh, and as the capital of the first dynasties of ancient Egypt. The precise location of Thinis is unknown, although mainstream Egyptological consensus places it in the vicinity of ancient Abydos and modern Girga.

Other proprosals for Thinis' location have lost favour at the expense of the Girga-Birba theory: Auguste Mariette, founder director of the Egyptian Museum, suggested Kom el-Sultan; A. Schmidt, El-Kherbeh; and Heinrich Karl Brugsch, Johannes Dümichen and others supported El-Tineh, near Berdis. Mainstream Egyptological consensus continues to locate Thinis at or near to either Girga or El-Birba, where an inscribed statue fragment mentioning Thinis is said to have been found. Although the archaeological site of Thinis has never been located, evidence of population concentration in the Abydos-Thinis region dates from the fourth millennium BCE. Thinis is also cited as the earliest royal burial-site in Egypt.

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Did you know...

Amenhotep III


  • ... that Ramses IV reigned only 6 years in spite of his many prayers to Osiris for a long reign?


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Rosetta Stone.JPG
Credit: Hans Hillewaert

The Rosetta Stone is a fragment of a granite stele containing a decree written in Hieroglyphs, Demotic, and Greek. Discovered in 1799, the stone contributed greatly to the process of hieroglyph decipherment.

Selected biography

One of the few surviving three-dimensional representations of Amenhotep I contemporary to his reign, now in the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston.

Amenhotep I (sometimes read as Amenophis I and meaning "Amun is satisfied") was the second Pharaoh of the 18th dynasty of Egypt. His reign is generally dated from 1526 to 1506 BC. He was born to Ahmose I and Ahmose-Nefertari, but had at least two elder brothers, Ahmose-ankh and Ahmose Sapair, and was not expected to inherit the throne. However, sometime in the eight years between Ahmose I's 17th regnal year and his death, his heir apparent died and Amenhotep became crown prince. He then acceded to the throne and ruled for about 21 years.

Although his reign is poorly documented, it is possible to piece together a basic history from available evidence. He inherited the kingdom formed by his father's military conquests and maintained dominance over Nubia and the Nile Delta, but probably did not attempt to keep power in Syria-Canaan. He continued to rebuild temples in Upper Egypt, and revolutionized mortuary complex design by separating his tomb from his mortuary temple, setting a trend which would persist throughout the New Kingdom. After his death, he was deified into the patron god of Deir el-Medina.

Amenhotep was deified upon his death and made the patron deity of the village which he opened at Deir el-Medina. His mother, who lived at least one year longer than he did, was also deified upon her death and became part of his litany. When being worshiped, he had three deific manifestations: "Amenhotep of the Town," "Amenhotep Beloved of Amun," and "Amenhotep of the Forecourt," and was known as a god who produced oracles. Some of the questions asked of him have been preserved on ostraca from Deir el-Medina, and appear to have been phrased in such a way that the idol of the king could nod (or be caused to nod) the answer.

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Ancient News

January 2011: Archaeologists discovered a tomb - KV64 - in the Valley of the Kings. The coffin found in the tomb contained an intact mummy of Nehmes Bastet, a temple singer during Egypt's 22nd Dynasty.(1)


November 2010: The Supreme Council of Antiquities in Egypt says archaeologists have unearthed 12 more sphinx statues along the ancient avenue connecting Luxor and Karnak temples.(2)


April 2010: A new 19th Dynasty tomb in Tell el-Maskhuta is discovered. The tomb belongs to a noble named Ken-Amun


March 2010: A new translation of the Philae Victory Stele reveals the name of Augustus in cartouches.


March 2010: More statues of Amenhotep III are found at Kom el-Hettan.


March 2010: The ruins of the pyramid of Queen Behenu are discovered.

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