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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The so-called Seated Scribe. Painted limestone, eyes inlaid with rock crystal in copper, 4th of 5th dynasty of Egypt, 2600–2350 BC. From Saqqarah.

The Louvre Museum is one of the world's largest museums, the most visited art museum in the world, and a historic monument. The Egyptian antiquities department, comprising over 50,000 pieces, includes artifacts from the Nile civilizations which date from 4,000 BC to the 4th century AD. The collection, among the world's largest, overviews Egyptian life spanning ancient Egypt, the Middle Kingdom, the New Kingdom, Coptic art, and the Roman, Ptolemaic, and Byzantine periods. The department's origins lie in the royal collection, but it was augmented by Napoleon's 1798 expeditionary trip with Dominique Vivant, the future director of the Louvre. After Jean-François Champollion translated the Rosetta Stone, Charles X decreed that an Egyptian Antiquities department be created. Champollion advised the purchase of three collections, the Durand, Salt and Drovetti; these additions added 7,000 works. Growth continued via acquisitions by Auguste Mariette, founder of the Egyptian Museum in Cairo. Mariette, after excavations at Memphis, sent back crates of archaeological finds including The Seated Scribe.

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Did you know...

Pyramid of Sahure

  • ... that the mortuary temple of the pyramid of Sahure (pictured) was decorated with over 10,000 sq. metres (107,640 sq. ft) of fine relief carvings?
  • ... that Iry-Hor is the earliest ruler of Egypt known by name?
  • ... that Qakare Ibi was the last pharaoh to have a pyramid build for himself in Saqqara?

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Nofretete Neues Museum.jpg
Credit: Xenon 77

Bust of Nefertiti. She was the Great Royal Wife of the Egyptian Pharaoh Akhenaten. She was the mother-in-law and the stepmother of the Pharaoh Tutankhamun. She was made famous due to Nefertiti bust (pictured) currently on display in the Neues Museum.

Selected biography

Tomb of Artaxerxes III at Persepolis

Artaxerxes III (Ca. 425 BC – 338 BC) was the Great King (Shah) of Persia and the eleventh Emperor of the Achaemenid Empire and the first Pharaoh of the 31st dynasty of Egypt. He was the son and successor of Artaxerxes II and was succeeded by his son, Arses of Persia (also known as Artaxerxes IV). His reign coincided with the reign of Philip II in Macedon and Nectanebo II in Egypt.

Before ascending the throne Artaxerxes was a satrap and commander of his father's army. Artaxerxes came to power after one of his brothers was executed, another committed suicide, the last brother was murdered and his father, Artaxerxes II died at the age of 86. Soon after becoming king, Artaxerxes murdered all of the royal family to secure his place as emperor. He started two major campaigns against Egypt. The first campaign failed, and was followed up by rebellions throughout the western empire. In 343 BC, Artaxerxes defeated Nectanebo II, the Pharaoh of Egypt, driving him from Egypt, stopping a revolt in Phoenicia on the way.

In Artaxerxes' later years, Philip II of Macedon's power was increasing in Greece, where he tried to convince the Greeks to revolt against Achaemenid Persia. His activities were opposed by Artaxerxes, and with his support, the city of Perinthus resisted a Macedonian siege. There is evidence for a renewed building policy at Persepolis in his later life, where Artaxerxes erected a new palace and built his own tomb but projects like the Unfinished Gate. According to a Greek source, Diodorus of Sicily, Bagoas poisoned Artaxerxes, but a cuneiform tablet (now in the British Museum) suggests that the king died from natural causes.

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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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