Egypt - Wikipedia
The New Kingdom, also referred to as the Egyptian Empire, is the period in ancient Egyptian history between the 16th century BC and the 11th century BC, covering the 18th, 19th, and 20th dynasties of Egypt. Radiocarbon dating places the exact beginning of the New Kingdom New Kingdom at its maximum territorial extent in the 15th century BC. The history of ancient Egypt spans the period from the early prehistoric settlements of the The conservative dates are not supported by any reliable absolute date for a span of about three millennia . The royal capital of Egypt during this period was located at Memphis, where Djoser (– BCE) established his court. The term "North Africa" has no single accepted definition. It is sometimes defined as stretching Egypt, being also part of the Middle East, is often considered separately, due to being The Atlas Mountains extend across much of northern Algeria, Morocco, and Tunisia. .. 5Terra nullius located between Egypt and Sudan.
In various periods there were immigrants from Nubia, Libyaand especially the Middle East. They were historically significant and also may have contributed to population growth, but their numbers are unknown.
Most people lived in villages and towns in the Nile valley and delta. Dwellings were normally built of mud brick and have long since disappeared beneath the rising water table or beneath modern town sites, thereby obliterating evidence for settlement patterns.
In antiquity, as now, the most favoured location of settlements was on slightly raised ground near the riverbank, where transport and water were easily available and flooding was unlikely. Until the 1st millennium bce, Egypt was not urbanized to the same extent as Mesopotamia. Instead, a few centres, notably Memphis and Thebesattracted population and particularly the elite, while the rest of the people were relatively evenly spread over the land.
The size of the population has been estimated as having risen from 1 to 1. Much higher levels of population were reached in Greco-Roman times. Nearly all of the people were engaged in agriculture and were probably tied to the land. In theory all the land belonged to the king, although in practice those living on it could not easily be removed and some categories of land could be bought and sold.
Land was assigned to high officials to provide them with an income, and most tracts required payment of substantial dues to the state, which had a strong interest in keeping the land in agricultural use. Abandoned land was taken back into state ownership and reassigned for cultivation.
The people who lived on and worked the land were not free to leave and were obliged to work it, but they were not slaves; most paid a proportion of their produce to major officials. Free citizens who worked the land on their own behalf did emerge; terms applied to them tended originally to refer to poor people, but these agriculturalists were probably not poor.
Slavery was never common, being restricted to captives and foreigners or to people who were forced by poverty or debt to sell themselves into service. In the New Kingdom from about to bcelarge numbers of captive slaves were acquired by major state institutions or incorporated into the army. Punitive treatment of foreign slaves or of native fugitives from their obligations included forced labourexile in, for example, the oases of the western desertor compulsory enlistment in dangerous mining expeditions.
Even nonpunitive employment such as quarrying in the desert was hazardous. The official record of one expedition shows a mortality rate of more than 10 percent. Just as the Egyptians optimized agricultural production with simple means, their crafts and techniques, many of which originally came from Asia, were raised to extraordinary levels of perfection.
Some of the technical and organizational skills involved were remarkable. The construction of the great pyramids of the 4th dynasty c. This expenditure of skill contrasts with sparse evidence of an essentially neolithic way of living for the rural population of the time, while the use of flint tools persisted even in urban environments at least until the late 2nd millennium bce. Metal was correspondingly scarce, much of it being used for prestige rather than everyday purposes.
In urban and elite contextsthe Egyptian ideal was the nuclear familybut, on the land and even within the central ruling group, there is evidence for extended families. Egyptians were monogamous, and the choice of partners in marriage, for which no formal ceremony or legal sanction is known, did not follow a set pattern. Consanguineous marriage was not practiced during the Dynastic period, except for the occasional marriage of a brother and sister within the royal family, and that practice may have been open only to kings or heirs to the throne.
Divorce was in theory easy, but it was costly. Women had a legal status only marginally inferior to that of men. They could own and dispose of property in their own right, and they could initiate divorce and other legal proceedings. Lower down the social scale, they probably worked on the land as well as in the house. The uneven distribution of wealth, labour, and technology was related to the only partly urban character of society, especially in the 3rd millennium bce.
In the 3rd and early 2nd millennia, the elite ideal, expressed in the decoration of private tombs, was manorial and rural. Not until much later did Egyptians develop a more pronouncedly urban character. The king and ideology: Of these groups, only the king was single, and hence he was individually more prominent than any of the others. He gives offerings to the gods and mortuary offerings to the spirits [the blessed dead].
His divinity accrued to him from his office and was reaffirmed through rituals, but it was vastly inferior to that of major gods; he was god rather than man by virtue of his potential, which was immeasurably greater than that of any human being. To humanity, he manifested the gods on earth, a conception that was elaborated in a complex web of metaphor and doctrine; less directly, he represented humanity to the gods. The text quoted above also gives great prominence to the dead, who were the object of a cult for the living and who could intervene in human affairs; in many periods the chief visible expenditure and focus of display of nonroyal individuals, as of the king, was on provision for the tomb and the next world.
Egyptian kings are commonly called pharaohs, following the usage of the Bible. This term for palace was used increasingly from about bce as a way of referring to the living king; in earlier times it was rare. Rules of succession to the kingship are poorly understood. The choice of queen seems to have been free; often the queen was a close relative of the king, but she also might be unrelated to him.
In the New Kingdom, for which evidence is abundant, each king had a queen with distinctive titles, as well as a number of minor wives. Sons of the chief queen seem to have been the preferred successors to the throne, but other sons could also become king. In many cases the successor was the eldest surviving son, and such a pattern of inheritance agrees with more general Egyptian values, but often he was some other relative or was completely unrelated.
New Kingdom texts describe, after the event, how kings were appointed heirs either by their predecessors or by divine oracles, and such may have been the pattern when there was no clear successor.
Dissent and conflict are suppressed from public sources. From the Late period — bcewhen sources are more diverse and patterns less rigid, numerous usurpations and interruptions to the succession are known; they probably had many forerunners. By the 5th dynasty, fixed institutions had been added to the force of tradition and the regulation of personal contact as brakes on autocracy, but the charismatic and superhuman power of the king remained vital.
The elite of administrative officeholders received their positions and commissions from the king, whose general role as judge over humanity they put into effect. They commemorated their own justice and concern for others, especially their inferiors, and recorded their own exploits and ideal conduct of life in inscriptions for others to see. These attitudes and their potential dissemination through society counterbalanced inequality, but how far they were accepted cannot be known.
The core group of wealthy officeholders numbered at most a few hundred, and the administrative class of minor officials and scribes, most of whom could not afford to leave memorials or inscriptions, perhaps 5, With their dependents, these two groups formed perhaps 5 percent of the early population. Monuments and inscriptions commemorated no more than one in a thousand people.
According to royal ideologythe king appointed the elite on the basis of merit, and in ancient conditions of high mortality the elite had to be open to recruits from outside. There was, however, also an ideal that a son should succeed his father. In periods of weak central control this principle predominated, and in the Late period the whole society became more rigid and stratified. Writing was a major instrument in the centralization of the Egyptian state and its self-presentation.
The two basic types of writing— hieroglyphswhich were used for monuments and display, and the cursive form known as hieratic —were invented at much the same time in late predynastic Egypt c. Writing was chiefly used for administration, and until about bce no continuous texts are preserved; the only extant literary texts written before the early Middle Kingdom c. The use and potential of writing were restricted both by the rate of literacy, which was probably well below 1 percent, and by expectations of what writing might do.
Hieroglyphic writing was publicly identified with Egypt. Perhaps because of this association with a single powerful state, its language, and its cultureEgyptian writing was seldom adapted to write other languages; in this it contrasts with the cuneiform script of the relatively uncentralized, multilingual Mesopotamia.
Sneferuthe dynasty's founder, is believed to have commissioned at least three pyramids; while his son and successor Khufu Greek Cheops erected the Great Pyramid of GizaSneferu had more stone and brick moved than any other pharaoh.
Khufu, his son Khafra Greek Chephrenand his grandson Menkaure Greek Mycerinus all achieved lasting fame in the construction of the Giza pyramid complex. To organize and feed the manpower needed to create these pyramids required a centralized government with extensive powers, and Egyptologists believe the Old Kingdom at this time demonstrated this level of sophistication. Recent excavations near the pyramids led by Mark Lehner have uncovered a large city that seems to have housed, fed and supplied the pyramid workers.
They apparently worked while the annual flood covered their fields, as well as a very large crew of specialists, including stonecutters, painters, mathematicians and priests.
The Fifth Dynasty began with Userkaf c. Consequently, less efforts were devoted to the construction of pyramid complexes than during the Fourth Dynasty and more to the construction of sun temples in Abusir. The decoration of pyramid complexes grew more elaborate during the dynasty and its last king, Unaswas the first to have the Pyramid Texts inscribed in his pyramid.
Egypt's expanding interests in trade goods such as ebonyincense such as myrrh and frankincensegold, copper and other useful metals compelled the ancient Egyptians to navigate the open seas. Evidence from the pyramid of Sahuresecond king of the dynasty, shows that a regular trade existed with the Syrian coast to procure cedar wood. Pharaohs also launched expeditions to the famed Land of Puntpossibly the Horn of Africafor ebony, ivory and aromatic resins.
During the Sixth Dynasty — BCEthe power of pharaohs gradually weakened in favor of powerful nomarchs. These no longer belonged to the royal family and their charge became hereditary, thus creating local dynasties largely independent from the central authority of the pharaoh.
His death, certainly well past that of his intended heirs, might have created succession struggles and the country slipped into civil wars mere decades after the close of Pepi II's reign. The final blow came when the 4. First Intermediate Period[ edit ] Main article: After the fall of the Old Kingdom came a roughly year stretch of time known as the First Intermediate Period, which is generally thought to include a relatively obscure set of pharaohs running from the end of the Sixth to the Tenth and most of the Eleventh Dynasties.
Most of these were likely local monarchs who did not hold much power outside of their nome. There are a number of texts known as "Lamentations" from the early period of the subsequent Middle Kingdom that may shed some light on what happened during this period.
Some of these texts reflect on the breakdown of rule, others allude to invasion by "Asiatic bowmen". In general the stories focus on a society where the natural order of things in both society and nature was overthrown. It is also highly likely that it was during this period that all of the pyramid and tomb complexes were looted. Further lamentation texts allude to this fact, and by the beginning of the Middle Kingdom mummies are found decorated with magical spells that were once exclusive to the pyramid of the kings of the Sixth Dynasty.
A rival line, the Eleventh Dynasty based at Thebesreunited Upper Egyptand a clash between the rival dynasties was inevitable. The period comprises two phases, the Eleventh Dynasty, which ruled from Thebes, and then the Twelfth Dynastywhose capital was Lisht. These two dynasties were originally considered the full extent of this unified kingdom, but some historians now  consider the first part of the Thirteenth Dynasty to belong to the Middle Kingdom.
The earliest pharaohs of the Middle Kingdom traced their origin to two nomarchs of Thebes, Intef the Elderwho served a Heracleopolitan pharaoh of the Tenth Dynasty, and his successor, Mentuhotep I. The successor of the latter, Intef Iwas the first Theban nomarch to claim a Horus name and thus the throne of Egypt.
He is considered the first pharaoh of the Eleventh Dynasty. His claims brought the Thebans into conflict with the rulers of the Tenth Dynasty. Despite his efforts to prevent the recovery of the country by the Persians, he succumbed to a massive invasion in BCE, and was defeated at Pelusium. A brief liberation of the city under the rebel-king Khababash to BCE is evinced by an Apis bull sarcophagus bearing his name, which was discovered at Saqqara dating from his second year.
The armies of Darius III eventually regained control of the city. Memphis under the Late Period saw recurring invasions followed by successive liberations.
Several times besieged, it was the scene of several of the bloodiest battles in the history of the country. Despite the support of their Greek allies in undermining the hegemony of the Achaemenids, the country nevertheless fell into the hands of the conquerors, and Memphis was never again to become the nation's capital.
Old Kingdom of Egypt
In BCE came the Greeks, who took control of the country from the Persians, and Egypt would never see a new native ruler ascend the pharaoh's throne until the Egyptian Revolution of The city retained a significant status, especially religious, throughout the period following the takeover by one of his generals, Ptolemy.
Claiming that the king himself had officially expressed a desire to be buried in Egypt, he then carried the body of Alexander to the heart of the temple of Ptah, and had him embalmed by the priests.
By custom, kings in Macedon asserted their right to the throne by burying their predecessor. Ptolemy II later transferred the sarcophagus to Alexandria, where a royal tomb was constructed for its burial. The exact location of the tomb has been lost since then. According to Aelianthe seer Aristander foretold that the land where Alexander was laid to rest "would be happy and unvanquishable forever". Thus began the Ptolemaic dynastyduring which began the city's gradual decline.
It was Ptolemy I who first introduced the cult of Serapis in Egypt, establishing his cult in Saqqara. From this period date many developments of the Saqqara Serapeum, including the building of the Chamber of Poets, as well as the dromos adorning the temple, and many elements of Greek-inspired architecture.
The cult's reputation extended beyond the borders of the country, but was later eclipsed by the great Alexandrian Serapeumbuilt in Ptolemy's honour by his successors. Delegates from the principal clergies of the kingdom gathered in synodunder the patronage of the High Priest of Ptah and in the presence of the pharaoh, to establish the religious policy of the country for years to come, also dictating fees and taxes, creating new foundations, and paying tribute to the Ptolemaic rulers.
These decrees were engraved on stelae in three scripts to be read and understood by all: Demotichieroglyphicand Greek. The most famous of these stelae is the Rosetta Stonewhich allowed the deciphering of ancient Egyptian script in the 19th century. There were other stelae, funerary this time, discovered on the site that have forwarded knowledge of the genealogy of the higher clergy of Memphis, a dynasty of high priests of Ptah.
The lineage retained strong ties with the royal family in Alexandria, to the extent that marriages occurred between certain high priests and Ptolemaic princesses, strengthening even further the commitment between the two families. Decline and abandonment[ edit ] With the arrival of the RomansMemphis, like Thebes, lost its place permanently in favour of Alexandriawhich opened onto the empire.
The rise of the cult of Serapisa syncretic deity most suited to the mentality of the new rulers of Egypt, and the emergence of Christianity taking root deep into the country, spelled the complete ruin of the ancient cults of Memphis. During the Byzantine and Coptic periods the city gradually dwindled and finally dropped out of existence. It then became a quarry used to build new settlements nearby, including a new capital founded by the Arabs who took possession in the 7th century.
The foundations of Fustat and later Cairo, both built further north, were laid with stones of dismantled temples and ancient necropoleis of Memphis.
In the 13th century, the Arab chronicler Abd-ul-Latifupon visiting the site, describes and gives testimony to the grandeur of the ruins. The more deeply we contemplate this city the more our admiration rises, and every fresh glance at the ruins is a fresh source of delight The ruins of Memphis hold a half-day's journey in every direction.
The first surveys and excavations of the 19th century, and the extensive work of Flinders Petriehave been able to show a little of the ancient capital's former glory. Remains[ edit ] During the time of the New Kingdom, and especially under the reign of the rulers of the 19th dynastyMemphis flourished in power and size, rivalling Thebes both politically and architecturally. An indicator of this development can be found in a chapel of Seti I dedicated to the worship of Ptah.
After over a century of excavations on the site, archaeologists have gradually been able to confirm the layout and expansion of the ancient city. The Hout-ka-Ptah, [Fnt 3] dedicated to the worship of the creator god Ptahwas the largest and most important temple in ancient Memphis.
It was one of the most prominent structures in the city, occupying a large precinct within the city's centre. Enriched by centuries of veneration, the temple was one of the three foremost places of worship in Ancient Egypt, the others being the great temples of Ra in Heliopolisand of Amun in Thebes. Much of what is known about the ancient temple today comes from the writings of Herodotus, who visited the site at the time of the first Persian invasion, long after the fall of the New Kingdom.
Herodotus claimed that the temple had been founded by Menes himself, and that the core building of the complex was restricted to priests and kings. Archaeological work undertaken in the last century has gradually unearthed the temple's ruins, revealing a huge walled compound accessible by several monumental gates located along the southern, western and eastern walls. The remains of the great temple and its premises are displayed as an open-air museum near the great colossus of Rameses II, which originally marked the southern axis of the temple.
Also in this sector is a large sphinx monolith, discovered in the 19th century. It dates from the 18th dynastymost likely having been carved during the reign of either Amenhotep II or Thutmose IV.
It is one of the finest examples of this kind statuary still present on its original site. The outdoor museum houses numerous other statues, colossi, sphinxes, and architectural elements. However, the majority of the finds have been sold to major museums around the world. For the most part, these can be found on display in the Egyptian Museum in Cairo.
The specific appearance of the temple is unclear at present, and only that of the main access to the perimeter are known.
Recent developments include the discovery of giant statues which adorned the gates or towers. Those that have been found date from the reign of Ramsses II.
This pharaoh also built at least three shrines within the temple compound, where worship is associated with those deities to whom they were dedicated.
Temple of Ptah of Rameses II[ edit ] This small temple, adjoining the southwest corner of the larger Temple of Ptah, was dedicated to the deified Rameses II, along with the three state gods: Horus, Ptah and Amun. The excavations uncovered a religious building complete with a tower, a courtyard for ritual offerings, a portico with columns followed by a pillared hall and a tripartite sanctuary, all enclosed in walls built of mud bricks. Its most recent exterior has been dated from the New Kingdom era.
The temple opened to the east towards a path paved with other religious buildings. The archaeological explorations that took place here reveal that the southern part of the city indeed contain a large number of religious buildings with a particular devotion to the god Ptah, the principal god of Memphis.
Temple of Ptah and Sekhmet of Rameses II[ edit ] Located further east, and near to the great colossus of Rameses, this small temple is attributed to the 19th dynasty, and seems to have been dedicated to Ptah and his divine consort Sekhmetas well as deified Rameses II. Its ruins are not as well preserved as others nearby, as its limestone foundations appear to have been quarried after the abandonment of the city in late antiquity.
Column depicting Merenptah making an offering to Ptah.
Two giant statues, dating from the Middle Kingdom, originally adorned the building's facade, which opened to the west. They were moved inside the Museum of Memphis, and depicted the pharaoh standing in the attitude of the march, wearing the white crown of Upper Egypt, Hedjet. Temple of Ptah of Merneptah[ edit ] In the southeast of the Great Temple complex, the pharaoh Merneptahof the 19th dynasty, founded a new shrine in honour of the chief god of the city, Ptah.
This temple was discovered in the early 20th century by Flinders Petrie, who identified a depiction of the Greek god Proteus cited by Herodotus. Excavations began in the anterior part, which is formed by a large courtyard of about 15 sq metres, opening on the south by a large door with reliefs supplying the names of the pharaoh and the epithets of Ptah. Only this part of the temple has been unearthed; the remainder of the chamber has yet to be explored a little further north.
During the excavations, archaeologists unearthed the first traces of an edifice built of mud brick, which quickly proved to be a large ceremonial palace built alongside the temple proper. Some of the key elements of the stone temple were donated by Egypt to the museum at the University of Pennsylvaniawhich financed the expedition, while the other remained at the Museum in Cairo.
The temple remained in use throughout the rest of the New Kingdom, as evidenced by enrolment surges during the reigns of later pharaohs.
New Kingdom of Egypt - Wikipedia
Thereafter, however, it was gradually abandoned and converted for other uses by civilians. Gradually buried by the activity of the city, the stratigraphic study of the site shows that by the Late Period it was already in ruins and is soon covered by new buildings. The ruins of the temple of Hathor of Memphis.
From its proportions, it does not seem to be a major shrine of the goddess, but is currently the only building dedicated to her discovered in the city's ruins.