Friday, July 2, 2010

The beggining of the Egyptian Empire

Seven or eight thousand years ago, at the farthest reaches of human memory, before there was Egypt or the pyramids, North Africa was a lush and green place. There were vast grasslands and green forests stretching from the Atlantic Ocean to the Red Sea. Over this enormous green area, humans wandered in small groups; eventually, about eight thousand or so years ago, some of these small groups began to plant and cultivate their food. You might say that this change, which happened so slowly that it probably took a millennium to take place, was the single most important event in human history. It turned humans into agriculturist s. As farmers, these wandering human groups settled down in one place, and human culture, confined now to villages, radically changed shape.
This revolution, so vital to everything that follows, took shape so slowly that at least one quarter of written human history can be contained in the period of time that it took for humans to become agriculturists. While this revolution happened all around the world, North Africa was a special case.
For about the time humans slowly transformed into farmers, North Africa started to die. It died slowly and imperceptibly, but generation after generation began to notice that it was raining less frequently and that there were fewer plants. The death of the grasslands and forests slowly gave way to sand; in a few thousand years, North Africa became "The Desert" ("Sahara" means "desert" in Arabic). Humans were pushed relentlessly by the encroaching dry and sand. They were pushed south (they are still being pushed south as the Sahara continues to grow), some were pushed north into the Middle East, and some were pushed towards the Nile River. Like a solitary giant, the Nile loomed as the only source of water in the growing desert; in a sea of sand, the Nile was a thin sliver of green, growth, and life.
This is where the great Nile civilizations were fostered and grew: Egypt, Nubia, and Meroe. From the desperate human communities forced by the growing desert to live on the banks of the Nile grew one of the first great urban cultures of human history.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Some History Of Egypt

To begin with I am going to outline the three main ancient civilisations in my opinion.
There were 3 main ancient civilisations. All before Jesus Christ our Lord.
These were the Greeks, The Romans and the Egyptians. Out of all of these the Egyptians were, I believe, the greatest of these civilisations. The Egyptian empire lasted for over three thousand years from 3150BC until 31BC when it was conquered by the Roman Empire. The first pharaoh wore the Double Crown. This was a combination of the Red Crown of Lower Egypt and the White Crown of Upper Egypt. It symbolised the joining of the two lands, and the pharaoh's control over the two lands.
The Egyptian Civilization's great success was partly due to its ability to utilise the conditions in the Nile river Valley. The flooding of this was key to enabling controlled irrigation to produce crops. These crops meant that the Egyptians had resources to spare and were able to not just survive, but to thrive and flourish in the arts, sciences, writing as well as building up a substantial military to defeat foreign enemies and assert Egyptian dominance. These activities were organized by the religious leaders (priests) and the elder scribes who were also in charge of the general Egyptian populace and their religious system.
The Egyptians achieved many amazing feats such as their construction of the Pyramids, The Sphinx. Their development of glass and new methods of reading and recording of events. The Egyptians advanced humankinds understanding of the world vastly beyond other civilisations since.

The Course of the Egyptian Empire was separated into periods of time based around key events.
These were:
- The Predynastic Period - 5464 B.C - 3414 B.C
- The Archaic Period - 3414B.C - 3100 B.C
- The Old Kingdom - 3100B.C - 2181 B.C
- The First Intermediate Period - 2181B.C - 2125 B.C
- The Middle Kingdom - 2125B.C - 1650 B.C
- The Second Intermediate Period and Hyksos - 1650B.C - 1550 B.C
- The New Kingdom - 1550B.C - 1069 B.C
- The First Late Period - 1069B.C - 517 B.C
- The First Persian Period - 517B.C - 425 B.C
- The Second Late Period - 425B.C - 342 B.C
- The Second Persian Period - 342B.C - 332 B.C
- The Greek Dynasty - 332B.C - 30 B.C

Note: The Pharaohs were not present in Egypt until Upper and Lower Egypt were united.


The Predynastic Period can be best characterized by the evolutionary nature of the hunter-gatherers departing from the Neolithic to form a variant of an agricultural/farming society. This period also shows great technological, religious, funerary and social life advances toward a village grouping society on the verge of a city-state organization. Basically the Egyptian culture went from being one based on hunting and gathering to provide for them. To Settling down and organising and growing food and resources without having to constantly search for these things.

The beginning of the urban city, writing, trading with other cultures, ornamental pottery and a strong belief in the afterlife were formed and strengthened during this period. Food was also plentiful. Animals such as dogs, goats, sheep, cattle, geese and pigs had been domesticated. As time went by, Egypt was gradually unified during this period which helped lead to the early dynastic period.


The Archaic Period marked the point in time in which Egypt was consolidated as a state. Egypt was united and a court centred centralized administration was developed. After this point Egypt became very stable politically because whenever Egypt got into political strife it was run by the Egyptian Elite (The heads of the court system). Cultural standards were set for the country which made the King the fountainhead of power and also a representative of the 'Elite way of Life'.


In this period most of Egypt's amazing Pyramids were built. However it was during the Third Dynasty when many of the original, crude pyramids were built. During the Fourth Dynasty however, all of the Great Pyramids of Giza were constructed. Also, during this period the Sinai Peninsula (an area rich in turquoise and copper) was quickly being exploited. During the reign of the Pharaoh Sahure, trade outside of the centralised Nile river area was quickly becoming commonplace. After this during the reign of Pepi the Egyptian army was organised and a warrior caste with the oversight of General Wei. A short time later the time of The Old Kingdom came to an end with the death of Pepi II. The central government collapsed soon after his death which thrust the Egyptian Culture into a period of turmoil known as the First Intermediate Period.


The Intermediate Period I began with the death of Pepi II as previously stated. It is not completely certain but it appears that either shortly before Pepi II died or shortly after a change in the climate occurred which resulted in the crops to fail and led to a lack of food across Egypt. This meant that there was famine, increased poverty, anarchy and great upheaval in the social structure of Egypt. The local governments tried to keep control but putting the needs of the local populace above their relationships with their neighbouring areas. The geographical extent of this was a source of conflict between researchers but it undoubtedly engulfed Memphis (The capital at the time).
Approximately 20 years later a line of kings who made up the Ninth and Tenth Dynasties emerged from the chaos. The kings resided at Herakeopolis and managed to stabilise the neighbouring regions and their power over them which led them to being able to take control of Delta.
These Kings attempted to take control of Upper Egypt; however, upon their bid for power around Thebes they met resistance from the princes of Upper Egypt. This lead to Thebes being Named 'The Door of the South'. In later times Thebes started the Rebellion against the Kings residing in Herakeopolis resulting in Thebes setting up its own independent kingdom. The extent of this kingdom is rather unusual to precisely discover. However, it is likely to have extended down to the first cataract and to just below Abydos. A later war between Thebes and Herakeopolis over the control of Egypt resulted in Nebhetepre Mentuhotep I conquering Herakeopolis after a few years. This was the beginning of the period of time of the Middle Kingdom in Egypt.


This period of time began when Nebhepetre Mentuhotep I united all of Egypt. His reign was one of stability and it lasted for 51 years. By conquering Egypt he destroyed their armies and therefore their power. This meant that Nebhepetre Mentuhotep I had a position as a king that had not occurred since Phiops II. His Son ruled well and his reign was a peaceful one. However, his grandson, Mentuhotep IV was overthrown by Amenemhet I (with assistance from the nomarchs) which marked the end of the 11th Dynasty. Some of these nomarchs held fast to their power until Senusret III stripped them of it in later years.
During this time the trade in Egypt picked up drastically and more resources were utilised. The Faiyum was used for the cultivation of crops, mining for gold and digging quarries for building purposes. During this period many building projects were conducted such as the mortuary temple by Mentuhotep I at Deir el-Bahari. During the 12th Dynasty the ancient practice of pyramid building was re-established. This meant that every Pharaoh from this Dynasty was buried in their own individual pyramid.
As well as pyramids, many other structures were also built such as the series of fortresses built by Amenemhet I. These fortresses came to be known as the Wall of Princes. Senusret I also built a series of 13 fortresses from the Second Cataract along the western bank of the Nile as a protective measure against invaders
Overall the time of the Middle Kingdom was a peaceful one. However, several expeditions were sent out to further push the borders of Egypt outwards. During the reign of Senusret III numerous campaigns were made with the same purpose in mind. Senusret III, through the implementation of several internal reforms regained the power previously held by Mentuhotep I.
Although there was a smooth transition between the 12th and 13th Dynasties, The 13th lost their control as the later kings came to power. The ending of The Middle Kingdom is thought to have been when the 14th Dynasty took over control of western Delta and the 15th eastern Delta. This led to the 2nd Intermediate Period.

Starting Out

Brand new blog and I have decided to base it entirely on Ancient civilisations such as the Egyptians,greeks, romans etc. Mostly however I think I will focus on the egyptians as they seem to be the one most people want information on.