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 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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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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Did you know...

Amenemhat I

  • ... that pharaoh Amenemhat I (pictured) was assassinated by his own guards when his son, co-regent and heir to the throne was leading a campaign in Libya?
  • ... that the goddess Nut was perceived by ancient Egyptians as a star-covered nude woman arching over the earth?
  • ... that pharaoh Psamtik III was forced to drink bull's blood to punish him for his involvement in a conspiracy against Cambyses I?

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All Gizah Pyramids.jpg
Credit: Ricardo Liberato

The pyramids of Giza are among the most recognizable symbols of the civilization of ancient Egypt.

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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