Portal:Ancient Egypt

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THE ANCIENT EGYPT PORTAL

Showcased content about Ancient Egypt

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

Ancient Egypt was a civilization of ancient North Africa, concentrated along the lower reaches of the Nile River in the place that is now the country Egypt. Ancient Egyptian civilization followed prehistoric Egypt and coalesced around 3100 BC (according to conventional Egyptian chronology) with the political unification of Upper and Lower Egypt under Menes (often identified with Narmer). The history of ancient Egypt occurred as a series of stable kingdoms, separated by periods of relative instability known as Intermediate Periods: the Old Kingdom of the Early Bronze Age, the Middle Kingdom of the Middle Bronze Age and the New Kingdom of the Late Bronze Age.

Egypt reached the pinnacle of its power in the New Kingdom, ruling much of Nubia and a sizable portion of the Near East, after which it entered a period of slow decline. During the course of its history Egypt was invaded or conquered by a number of foreign powers, including the Hyksos, the Libyans, the Nubians, the Assyrians, the Achaemenid Persians, and the Macedonians under the command of Alexander the Great. The Greek Ptolemaic Kingdom, formed in the aftermath of Alexander's death, ruled Egypt until 30 BC, when, under Cleopatra, it fell to the Roman Empire and became a Roman province.

The success of ancient Egyptian civilization came partly from its ability to adapt to the conditions of the Nile River valley for agriculture. The predictable flooding and controlled irrigation of the fertile valley produced surplus crops, which supported a more dense population, and social development and culture. With resources to spare, the administration sponsored mineral exploitation of the valley and surrounding desert regions, the early development of an independent writing system, the organization of collective construction and agricultural projects, trade with surrounding regions, and a military intended to assert Egyptian dominance. Motivating and organizing these activities was a bureaucracy of elite scribes, religious leaders, and administrators under the control of a pharaoh, who ensured the cooperation and unity of the Egyptian people in the context of an elaborate system of religious beliefs.

The many achievements of the ancient Egyptians include the quarrying, surveying and construction techniques that supported the building of monumental pyramids, temples, and obelisks; a system of mathematics, a practical and effective system of medicine, irrigation systems and agricultural production techniques, the first known planked boats, Egyptian faience and glass technology, new forms of literature, and the earliest known peace treaty, made with the Hittites. Ancient Egypt has left a lasting legacy. Its art and architecture were widely copied, and its antiquities carried off to far corners of the world. Its monumental ruins have inspired the imaginations of travelers and writers for centuries. A new-found respect for antiquities and excavations in the early modern period by Europeans and Egyptians led to the scientific investigation of Egyptian civilization and a greater appreciation of its cultural legacy.

Selected article

Painting of Gaza by David Roberts, 1839

The city of Gaza has a history of habitation that dates back 5,000 years, making it one of the oldest cities in the world. Located on the Mediterranean coastal route between North Africa and the Levant, for most of its history it served as a key entrepot of southern Palestine and an important stopover on the spice trade route traversing the Red Sea.

Settlement in the region of Gaza dates back to Tell as-Sakan, an Ancient Egyptian fortress built in Canaanite territory to the south of present-day Gaza. The site went into decline throughout the Early Bronze Age II as its trade with Egypt sharply decreased. Gaza later served as Egypt’s administrative capital in Canaan. During the reign of Tuthmosis III, the city became a stop on the Syrian-Egyptian caravan route and was mentioned in the Amarna letters as "Azzati". Gaza remained under Egyptian control for 350 years until it was conquered by the Philistines in the 12th century BCE, becoming a part of their "pentapolis". According to the Book of Judges, Gaza was the place where Samson was imprisoned by the Philistines and met his death. After being ruled by the Israelites, Assyrians, and then the Egyptians, Gaza achieved relative independence and prosperity under the Persian Empire. Alexander the Great besieged Gaza, the last city to resist his conquest on his path to Egypt, for five months before finally capturing it 332 BCE.

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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.

Did you know...

Amenhotep III


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


Selected biography

Statue of Akhenaten in the early Amarna style

Akhenaten was a Pharaoh of the Eighteenth dynasty of Egypt, ruled for 17 years and died in 1336 BC or 1334 BC. He is especially noted for abandoning traditional Egyptian polytheism and introducing worship centered on the Aten, which is sometimes described as monotheistic or henotheistic. An early inscription likens him to the sun as compared to stars, and later official language avoids calling the Aten a god, giving the solar deity a status above mere gods.

Akhenaten tried to bring about a departure from traditional religion, yet in the end it would not be accepted. After his death, traditional religious practice was gradually restored, and when some dozen years later rulers without clear rights of succession from the Eighteenth Dynasty founded a new dynasty, they discredited Akhenaten and his immediate successors, referring to Akhenaten himself as 'the enemy' in archival records.[1]

He was all but lost from history until the discovery, in the 19th century, of Amarna, the site of Akhetaten, the city he built for the Aten. Early excavations at Amarna by Flinders Petrie sparked interest in the enigmatic pharaoh, which increased with the discovery in the Valley of the Kings, at Luxor, of the tomb of King Tutankhamun, who has been proved to be Akhenaten's son according to DNA testing in 2010 by Dr Zahi Hawaas, Cairo. Akhenaten remains an interesting figure, as does his Queen, Nefertiti. Their modern interest comes partly from his connection with Tutankhamun, partly from the unique style and high quality of the pictorial arts he patronized, and partly from ongoing interest in the religion he attempted to establish.

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References

  1. ^ Trigger et al. (2001), pp.186-7

News

5th September 2018. At Lisht was discovered a rock cut tomb of an Egyptian official, dating to the 12th Dynasty. Rock-cut Tomb in a 4000-year-old Elite Cemetery Discovered


26th August 2018 An Egyptian team under the direction of Fahima El Nahas discovered several Ptolemaic tombs in the west of Alexandria. Ptolemaic rock-cut tombs discovered in Alexandria


August 2018: in the tomb of the mayor of Memphis Ptahmose who dates around 1300 BC was found well preserved cheese, more than 3000 years old. [1]


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