The Early Dynastic Period in Egypt (c. 2613 BCE) is the beginning of the historical era of the country during which the regions of Upper Egypt (south) and Lower Egypt (north) were united as one country under a centralized government.
During this period the divine rule of the kings began and a recognizable Egyptian culture, including the development of writing, arts, and sciences developed. The title `pharaoh' was not used during this period; rulers were referred to as `kings' and addressed as `your majesty'. The title of `pharaoh' was not used until the period of the New Kingdom (c. 1570 - c. 1069 BCE) when the word pero (also per-a-a) came into use to designate the royal residence and meant `Great House' in reference to the king's palace.
This era followed the Predynastic Period in ancient Egypt (c. 6000 - c. 3150 BCE) and was followed by the period known as the Old Kingdom (c. 2613 - 2181 BCE). While these dates are not arbitrary they should not be understood as any kind of demarcation ending one era and beginning another. They are used to help clarify the long history of Egypt by dividing its story into sections of cohesive development.
The line between some periods in ancient Egyptian history does seem quite clear while, with others (such as that between the Predynastic and Early Dynastic periods), it is blurred. Dates should be understood to be approximations the further back in time one travels in Egyptian history. This same paradigm, however, should also be applied to all of Egyptian history as the ancient Egyptians themselves did not record their history according to these terms and demarcations; all of these are modern constructs.
Egypt's Unification & First King
According to the chronology of Manetho (3rd century BCE), the first king of Egypt was Menes, a king of Upper Egypt possibly from the city of Thinis (or Hierkanopolis), who overcame the other city states around him and then went on to conquer Lower Egypt. This king's name is known primarily through written records such as Manetho's chronology and the Turin King List, however, it is not corroborated by any extensive archeological evidence and scholars now believe the first king may have been a man named Narmer who peacefully united Upper and Lower Egypt at some point c. 3150 BCE.
This claim is contested owing to the Narmer Palette (an ancient inscribed slab) which depicts a king, positively identified as Narmer, as a military figure conquering a region which is clearly Lower Egypt. Historian Marc Van de Mieroop comments on this:
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That Egypt was created through military means is a basic concept expressed in the art of the period. A sizeable set of stone objects, including cermonial mace-heads and palettes, contain scenes of war and fighting between men, between animals, and between men and animals.Whereas in the past Egyptologists read the scenes of war literally as records of actual events, today they prefer to see them as stereotypical statements of kingship and the king's legitimacy. (33)
This new method of interpreting ancient inscriptions, however valuable some may consider it, does not mean such interpretations are accurate. The argument against such interpretations asks why, if these inscriptions are to be taken symbolically, others of later periods - such as those of Rameses the Great at the Battle of Kadesh - continue to be read literally as historical record. Van de Mieroop comments further, stating, "This new approach makes it impossible to date the unification of Egypt or attribute it to a specific individual on the basis of these representations" (33-34) but notes that, whatever the case regarding the first ruler, "the art of the period shows that the Egyptians linked unification with conflict" (34). Scholar Douglas J. Brewer, on the other hand, does not see any problem in regarding the inscriptions symbolically. The name `Menes" means "He who endures" and could possibly be a title, not a personal name, in which case there is no difficulty in identifying the first king as Narmer `who endured'.
The name `Menes' has also been found on an ivory inscription from Naqada associated with Hor-Aha, which could mean the title was passed down or that Hor-Aha was the first king. Brewer notes that these ancient inscriptions, such as the Narmer Palette, perpetuate "a culturally accepted scenario and, therefore, should perhaps be regarded as a monument commemorating an achieved state of unity rather than depicting the process of unification itself" (141). To scholars such as Brewer, the means by which unification came about are not as important as the fact of unification itself. The details of the event, like those of any nation's origins, may have been largely embellished upon by later writers. Brewer writes:
Menes probably never existed, at least as the individual responsible for all the attributed feats. Rather he is most likely a compilation of real-life individuals whose deeds were recorded through oral tradition and identified as the work of a single person, thereby creating a central hero figure for Egypt's unification. Like the personalities of the Bible, Menes was part fiction, part truth, and the years have masked the borderline, creating a legend of unification. (142)
Unification, Brewer (and others) claim was "most likely a slow process stimulated by economic growth" (142). Upper Egypt seems to have been more prosperous and their wealth enabled them to systematically absorb the lands of lower Egypt over time as they found they needed more resources for their population and for trade. Whether the king who united the country was Narmer or someone of another name, this king lay the foundation for the rise of one of the greatest civilizations of the ancient world.
Egypt's First Dynasty
The First Dynasty of Egypt (c. 2890 BCE) was founded by Menes/Narmer after the unification of the country. The great Egyptologist Flinders Petrie (l. 1853-1942 CE) accepted Narmer as the first king of the first dynasty claiming that the two names designated one man. Flinders Petrie, and others following him, claim that whether Narmer united Egypt by force is considered irrelevant in that it is almost certain he had to maintain the kingdom through military means and this would account for his depiction in inscriptions such as the Narmer Palette.
Pharaoh Narmer initiated large building projects and under his rule urbanization increased.
Narmer (probably from Thinis) married the princess Neithhotep of Naqada in an alliance to strengthen ties between the two cities. He led military expeditions through lower Egypt to put down rebellions and expanded his territory into Canaan and Nubia. He initiated large building projects and under his rule urbanization increased.
The cities of Egypt never reached the magnitude of those in Mesopotamia perhaps owing to the Egyptians' recognition of the threats such development posed. Mesopotamian cities were largely abandoned due to overuse of the land and pollution of the water supply while Egyptian cities, such as Xois (to choose a random example), existed for millenia. Although later developments in urban development ensured the cities' continuation, the early efforts of kings like Narmer would have provided the model.
It is possible that Neithhotep ruled on her own following Narmer's death but this claim is far from universally accepted. Her tomb, discovered in the 19th century CE, was on par with a king's and suggested a status greater than simply a monarch's wife. Further evidence for her rule is her name inscribed in serakhs from the time which was a practice reserved only for a ruler, not a spouse. Still, her reign is far from clearly attested.
Narmer is instead thought to have been succeeded by his son Hor-Aha c. 3100 BCE (though some claim the two are the same person) who continued his father's military expansion and increased trade. He was especially interested in religion and the concept of the afterlife and the mastaba tomb (a house for the deceased) was developed under his reign. Hor-Aha was succeeded by his son Djer in c. 3050 BCE and continued the same policies as his predecessors. His son, Djet (c. 3000 BCE) married the princess Merneith and, upon his death, she is thought to have assumed control of the country. It is unclear whether she reigned as regent for her young son Den or ruled as queen but, either way, her reign marks the first time a woman is attested as ruling in ancient Egypt.
Her son, Den (c. 2990 BCE) is considered the greatest king of the First Dynasty and ruled for fifty years. His reputation as an effective king comes from his improvements to the country's economy, military conquests, and the stability of his reign as evidenced by lavish building projects and intricate works of art. Den is the first ruler to be depicted wearing the crowns of Upper and Lower Egypt, clearly indicating a united nation under his rule. Den was followed by two other kings, Anedjib and then Semerkhet, who experienced difficult reigns marked by insurrection. The dynasty ended with the reign of Qa'a whose successors fought for the throne and were subdued by Hotepsekhmenwy who founded the Second Dynasty.
Egypt's Second Dynasty
The Second Dynasty (c. 2890 - c. 2670 BCE) was marred by internal conflict and a lack of, or confusion of, records. None of the rulers of the Second Dynasty have verifiable dates and many of the names of kings seem to be repetitions of earlier rulers. Hotepsekhmenwy, whose name means "two powerful ones are at peace" is a perfect example of this problem. It would make sense, because of his name, that he came to power after subduing the princes who fought for the throne after Qa'a but his name is inscribed on the entranceway to Qa'a's tomb meaning that, 1. he was the ruler responsible for burying Qa'a and, 2. he already had that name before the war over succession broke out.
The argument that the war started immediately after Qa'a's death and was crushed quickly by Hotepsekhmenwy is not supported by the archaeological evidence or the Egyptian culture which would not have allowed the king's body to lie in wait to be buried for so long. It is possible that Hotepsekhmenwy had already tried to resolve the differences between the princes prior to Qa'a's death but this is just speculation.
Raneb (Nebra) was the first King to link his name to that of the gods and so establish the relationship between the king and the divine.
Even so, Hotepsekhmenwy is credited with bringing peace to Egypt upon his ascent to the throne; even though that peace was short-lived. His reign was characterized by unrest and rebellion. He was followed by Raneb (also known as Nebra) who was the first to link his name to that of the gods and so establish the relationship between the king and the divine.
His successor, Nynetjer and the following, Senedji, continued to deal with the civil problems of the nation and little else is known of them. Senedji was succeeded by Peribsen (also known as Seth-Peribsen) who is a figure of some controversy among scholars.
Peribsen is the first king to separate himself from the Horus cult and embrace that of Set. This is significant because, in Egyptian religion, Horus the Younger was the son of the great god Osiris who defeated Set in order to bring harmony to the world. As harmonious balance was an important value to the ancient Egyptians, it seems strange that a king would decide to align himself with the forces associated with chaos. There is no satisfactory answer as to why Peribsen chose to do this. Early scholars believed that he was the first monotheist who declared Set the only god but this has been disproven by evidence of the worship of many gods during his reign. As his name is only recorded in Upper Egypt, there is also a theory that he chose to align with Set for political reasons; to distance himself from the Horus cult of Lower Egypt.
Whatever the reason, he is considered a good king in that trade, the economy, religious practice, and the arts all flourished under his reign. The first complete sentence written in ancient Egypt was found in his tomb and reads: "The golden one, he of Ombos, hath unified and handed over the two realms to his son, the king of Lower and Upper Egypt, Peribsen" meaning that Set (he of Ombos) had blessed Peribsen's rule. The sentence also indicates that Egypt was unified under Peribsen's reign and the claim that he aligned himself with Set to distance himself from the Horus cult of Lower Egypt is untenable.
Peribsen was succeeded by Khasekhemwy, possibly his son, who continued the building projects of his predecessors and is thought to have brought the two regions of Egypt again under central rule or, at least, strengthened unification. His is best known for his monuments at Hierakonopolis and Abydos and as the father of the pharaoh Djoser.
Egypt's Third Dynasty
Djoser's Step Pyramid at Saqqara is the first known pyramid built in Egypt. The Third Dynasty has been traditionally linked to the Fourth and the period known as the Old Kingdom because of its association with the first pyramids. Recent scholarship, however, has placed it at the end of the Early Dynastic Period because of the greater similarity in culture and technology with the earlier period than the latter.
The mastaba tomb was developed during the First Dynasty and the Step Pyramid at Saqqara is an elaborate, `stacked' mastaba, not a true pyramid such as those found at Giza. Djoser's pyramid, even so, is a masterpiece of technology. Designed by the vizier Imhotep, the pyramid was created as the eternal home for the king and later pyramids would follow its basic design.
Djoser's reign brought the stability necessary for large building projects and the development of the arts.
Djoser (r. c. 2670 BCE) built so many monuments that scholars have long held his reign to have lasted at least 30 years but, most likely, he ruled closer to 20. He initiated military campaigns to Sinai and maintained the cohesion of Egypt, resulting in the stability necessary for his building projects and the development of the arts.
He was succeeded by Sekhemket who was followed by Khaba, both of whom also built pyramids, the Buried Pyramid and the Layer Pyramid, as well as other monuments. The Third Dynasty ends with the reign of Huni (c. 2630 - 2613 BCE) about whom little is known. Upon his death, he was succeeded by Snefru who founded the Fourth Dynasty which begins the period known as the Old Kingdom.
The Early Dynastic Period in Egypt was a time of revolutionary advancements in culture. The calendar was created, writing developed, knowledge of the sciences, arts, and agriculture all advanced, as did the kind of technology required to build monuments such as the Step Pyramid. Just as importantly, religious sensibility developed to a high degree; a value which would inform the rest of the history of Egypt. The concept of ma'at, harmony, became widely valued during this time and the understanding began to grow that life on earth was only one part of an eternal journey.
This understanding, which was only possible for a people living under a stable government who did not have to worry about their personal safety or livelihood, led, according to the historian Bunson, "to an emerging sense of the `other' in the world, to the concept of eternity and spiritual values. Egyptians were taught that they were truly one with the divine and with the cosmos" (78). The Egyptian belief in eternity, and in the eternal life of every living thing, would become the defining characteristic of their culture and inform every monument, temple, and building they would create; especially the great pyramids which have come to be synonymous with Egypt.
CHAPTER XI - THE EARLY DYNASTIC PERIOD IN EGYPT
Tradition and a substantial body of indirect evidence suggest strongly that Egypt, in the period immediately preceding the foundation of the First Dynasty, was divided into two independent kingdoms: a northern kingdom, which included the Nile Delta and extended southwards perhaps to the neighbourhood of the modern village of Atfīh (Lower Egypt) and a southern kingdom comprising the territory between Atfīh and Gebel es-Silsila (Upper Egypt). The residences of the kings are believed to have been situated at Pe, in the north-west Delta, and at Nekhen (Hierakonpolis), on the west bank of the river near Edfu, both of which, in historical times at least, possessed important sanctuaries of the falcon-god Horus, the patron deity of the rulers. In the vicinity of Pe lay Dep, the seat of a cobra-goddess Uadjit (Edjo) the two places were together known in the New Kingdom and later under one name Per-Uadjit (House of Edjo), rendered as Buto by the Greeks. Across the river from Nekhen stood Nekheb (El-Kāb), where a vulture-goddess Nekhbet had her sanctuary. Both goddesses came to be regarded at a very early date, perhaps while the separate kingdoms were in being, as royal protectresses.
Even such information about this period as was recorded in the king-lists is largely lost and what remains is difficult to interpret. The first line of the fragmentary Palermo Stone consists of a series of compartments, seven only being entirely preserved, each of which contains a name and a figure of a king wearing the crown of Lower Egypt, but no historical events are mentioned.
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Early Dynastic Egypt
Early Dynastic Period: name for the two first dynasties of ancient Egypt (c.3000-2675 BCE).
The Early Dynastic Period covers the two first dynasties after the unification of Upper and Lower Egypt. It follows the Predynastic Period. Several developments continued, such as the formalization of an art style that would more or less maintain its static nature throughout the entire course of ancient Egyptian history.
From Abydos to Memphis
In the Early Dynastic Period, Egypt’s center of power shifted from the South (Abydos in Upper Egypt) to the North (Memphis in Lower Egypt). According to Manetho, a King Menes (who may or may not be identified with Narmer) founded this new city at the apex of the Delta. Some modern Egyptologists argue that it was in fact King Hor-Aha who founded the city of the “White Walls” (Inbu-Hedj in ancient Egyptian). This ruler was the second pharaoh of the First Dynasty and thus the son of Narmer and his consort, Queen Neithhotep. (Others believe that Hor-Aha was in fact Manetho’s Menes.)
However this may be, the desert plain behind the city of Memphis, Saqqara, was put into use as a necropolis for the elite members of society as well as royalty. Impressive Early Dynastic tombs have been unearthed here and there seems to have been a trend to build ever bigger and wealthier tombs.
/> King Ninetjer, dressed for the Sed festival
The tombs consisted of one or more underground burial chambers and storage rooms and were covered up with a structure of mudbrick. This structure resembled a couch and is therefore called a mastaba, Arabic for couch. The presence of these tombs in Saqqara indicates a growing organization within the Egyptian society, which was made possible by exploiting the country's resources (e.g, copper and natural stone). The invention of writing at the end of the Predynastic Period presumably stimulated and facilitated further administration.
Abydos, in the meantime, lost its political significance, although it remained in use as a royal burial place: in the Umm-el-Qaab necropolis, the tombs of the First Dynasty kings as well as various kings from the Second Dynasty have been unearthed. In this early age, it was not uncommon for the king to have two tombs, one in Saqqara and one in Abydos, although some of the presumed "double tombs" appear to be the final resting places of wealthy aristocrats.
Although the royal tombs on both locations have been looted and lack detailed mural paintings, various grave goods (often bearing the name of the deceased) have remained in situ. These objects include wooden and ivory labels, steles, stone pots, and vases.
One specific grave good of the First Dynasty is the solar barque. Twelve of these boats have been unearthed and excavated at Abydos, while others are known from Saqqara and Helwan (a necropolis of Memphis and a suburb of modern Cairo). The ancient Egyptians believed that this was the vessel by which the sun god Ra traveled through the heavenly sea of the goddess Nun. Every night, he would pass through twelve ports (one representing each hour of the night), defeat the snake Apophis, and eventually rise as the sun the next morning. The Egyptians also believed that the pharaoh, once deceased, would embark on the sun god’s boat and join this journey through the Underworld, encountering various challenges along the way before the weighing of the heart.
The kings of the first dynasty expanded their influence to the south, gaining control of Lower Nubia.
Edwards, I. E. S. (Iorwerth Eiddon Stephen), 1909-. The Early Dynastic Period in Egypt
Publication Information The main body of the Publication Information page contains all the metadata that HRAF holds for that document.
Author: Author's name as listed in Library of Congress records Edwards, I. E. S. (Iorwerth Eiddon Stephen), 1909-
Title: The Early Dynastic Period in Egypt
Published in: if part or section of a book or monograph The Cambridge ancient history -- v. 1, pt. 2. Early history of the Middle East, edited by I.E.S. Edwards, C.J. Gadd and N.G. L. Hammond
Published By: Original publisher The Cambridge ancient history -- v. 1, pt. 2. Early history of the Middle East, edited by I.E.S. Edwards, C.J. Gadd and N.G. L. Hammond Cambridge [England] New York: Cambridge University Press. 1971. 1-70, 877-892 p. maps
By line: Author's name as appearing in the actual publication by I. E.S. Edwards
HRAF Publication Information: New Haven, Conn.: Human Relations Area Files, 2005. Computer File
Culture: Culture name from the Outline of World Cultures (OWC) with the alphanumberic OWC identifier in parenthesis. Early Dynastic Egypt (MR70)
Abstract: Brief abstract written by HRAF anthropologists who have done the subject indexing for the document Edwards provides an overview of Early Dynastic Egypt. He discusses the kings before the unification and the unification of Upper and Lower Egypt, the kings of the first two dynasties, the founding of Memphis, and the cemeteries at Abydos and Saqqara. Egyptian government is described with its divine kings, and some of the king's officials are also listed. Egypt's relations with other cultures (the Levant, Lybia, Sumer or lower Mesopotamia, and Nubia) are explored with Edwards examining trade, some of the early wars, cultural contact and how the other cultures may have influenced Egypt. Religion and mortuary practices are covered along with architecture (mostly as it relates to mastabas) and sculpture.
Document Number: HRAF's in-house numbering system derived from the processing order of documents 3
Document ID: HRAF's unique document identifier. The first part is the OWC identifier and the second part is the document number in three digits. mr70-003
Document Type: May include journal articles, essays, collections of essays, monographs or chapters/parts of monographs. Essay
Language: Language that the document is written in English
Note: Includes bibliographical references (p. 877-892)
Field Date: The date the researcher conducted the fieldwork or archival research that produced the document no date given
Evaluation: In this alphanumeric code, the first part designates the type of person writing the document, e.g. Ethnographer, Missionary, Archaeologist, Folklorist, Linguist, Indigene, and so on. The second part is a ranking done by HRAF anthropologists based on the strength of the source material on a scale of 1 to 5, as follows: 1 - poor 2 - fair 3 - good, useful data, but not uniformly excellent 4 - excellent secondary data 5 - excellent primary data Archaeologist-4
Analyst: The HRAF anthropologist who subject indexed the document and prepared other materials for the eHRAF culture/tradition collection. Sarah Berry 2004
Coverage Date: The date or dates that the information in the document pertains to (often not the same as the field date). Early Dynastic Period
Coverage Place: Location of the research culture or tradition (often a smaller unit such as a band, community, or archaeological site)
LCSH: Library of Congress Subject Headings Egypt--Antiquities/Egypt--History--To 332 B.C.
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The Third Dynasty of Egypt
The next king Djoser (c. 2670 BC), is mostly known for the great building projects he initiated, primarily the Step Pyramid at Ṣaqqārah, the first known pyramid in Egypt. The pyramid was designed by Imhotep, and his designs would become examples for building pyramids in later periods. His successor, Sekhemkhet, planned an even larger pyramid at Ṣaqqārah, the Buried Pyramid and his successor Khaba built the Layer Pyramid at Zawyat al-ʿAryan, a few miles south of Giza. The burial place of the last king of the Third Dynasty, Huni (c. 2630-2613 BC), is still unknown. Even the information about his reign is sparse. After his death, he was succeeded by Snefru, who founded the Fourth Dynasty. The end of the Third Dynasty marked the end of the Early Dynasty Period of Egypt and the start of the Old Kingdom.
During these three dynasties, major changes were made in Egypt’s cultural, religious and everyday life. Writing was developed, and its’ use was expanded, a calendar was created, the knowledge of art, science and agriculture grew to a new level, as did the technology required for building new kinds of monuments, temples and tombs. These new changes continued to shape Egypt for the next 2000 years.
Early Dynastic Period In Egypt - History
The last phase of the prehistoric period in Egypt is now generally known as the Naqada III period. However, there are already in Naqada III many inscribed objects, showing that writing was evolving and the country was developing towards a highly organised state. At the end of the Naqada period there are already hieroglyphic inscriptions attested which could be interpreted as the names of kings (Iry-Hor, Crocodile, Ka). The later sources open the history of Egypt with a king named Menes, and identified explicitly as the first king of Egypt. In current research there is no agreement as to which king known from contemporary sources should be identified as the king Menes of the later kinglists. Usually he is identified with either Narmer or Aha.
The Early Dynastic Period refers to the First and Second dynasties. In the Early Dynastic Period, Egyptian culture started to develop and Egyptian civilisation entered what is variously perceived today as its initial or formative phase.
The period saw progress in almost all technologies visible (metal working, faience). There is evidence of large-scale monumental architecture (kings' tombs in Abydos). Writing and art become standardised. A more complex administration and a calendar were developed. Excavations have shown that Abydos must have been the cemetery of the kings of the First Dynasty.
Many of the objects and finds of the Early Dynastic in Digital Egypt come from Tarkhan. Tarkhan is with about 2000 excavated, recorded and published tombs one of the major cemeteries of the period. Several important finds from the cemetery are in the Petrie Museum. The tombs and objects from this site amply illustrate the culture of the time.
It is during this period that Egypt was finally invaded from outside. While being invaded and conquered was already something of a routine in Mesopotamia, for Egypt it was a rather new experience for which there was precious little preparation. As a result the Hykso conquest of Egypt met little effective resistance, as the Egyptian were introduced to the effectiveness of chariot based warfare. Forming the 15th dynasty around 1674 BCE, they ruled until around 1567 BCE. As if to confuse things further, there was also a 16th dynasty running in parallel time outside the immediate control of the Hyksos, but apparently subject to Hyksos authority.
Also competing with 15th dynasty was the 17th dynasty based in Thebes. After over a century of domination by the Hyksos to the north, the Thebans were able to unite Egyptians through a common hatred of the still 'foreign' Hyksos leading to a successful rebellion against the Hyksos and their subsequent expulsion for Egypt.
History of the World
Extract from the King List in the Temple of Ramesses II, Abydos , now in the British Museum
The basic unit of Egypt’s ancient history is the dynasty. The most recent histories may count as many as 33 of these. These dynasties are then grouped into Kingdoms and Intermediary Periods, preceded and followed by other unnumbered dynasties and periods. This divides ancient Egyptian history into roughly ten divisions:
- The early Dynastic period: Dynasty 00 to dynasty 2
- The Old Kingdom: Dynasty 3 to Dynasty 7
- First Intermediate Period: Dynasty 8 to Dynasty 11 (part 1)
- Middle Kingdom: Dynasty 11 (part 2) to early Dynasty 13
- Second Intermediate Period: Dynasty 13 to Dynasty 17
- New Kingdom: Dynasty 18 to 20
- Third Intermediate Period: Dynasty 21 to the 24th Dynasty
- Late Period: Dynasty 25 to 31
- Roman Period
Egyptian archaeology during the Dynastic Period has always been tied to the King list. This is important, because all artefacts in Egypt are tied directly or indirectly to material that is dated by royal association. This material is used to date Egyptian material in contexts outside Egypt too. The basic tool for establishing a chronology for ancient Egypt is the king list because the Egyptians themselves dated by regnal years. Some other ancient societies used an ‘era’ system, dating their calendars from specific events (the Greeks dated theirs from the first Olympic Games around 776 BC by our terms, while the Romans started from the foundation of the City of Rome. Some other societies, like the Mesopotamians used eponym lists, naming the year after the chief magistrates. Egypt used none of these systems, hence the importance of the king lists to historians and archaeologists.
The first process for Egyptology was to establish a complete king list. Before the decipherment of hieroglyphics, it was not possible to do this directly from the monuments, and scholarship relied on the evidence of Greek and Latin writers. The first history of Egypt was written by the Egyptian priest Manetho in the reign of Ptolemy II around 280 BC. Called Aigyptiaka (‘On things Egyptian’) it was written for the new Ptolemaic ruling dynasty, just as a near contemporary Babylonian, Berossos, wrote a history of Babylon for the new Seleukid dynasty. Each historian was setting out to prove that his country was the oldest, a matter of prestige to the new Macedonian rulers.
Manetho divided Egyptian history into 31 dynasties, each being a ruling family from a particular city. It’s most likely that Manetho based his own work on Egyptian written sources and traditions, and his dynastic framework probably has some sort of Egyptian tradition behind it. However, no complete version of Aigyptiaka survives, only abridgements, and the king lists are preserved in the writings of later authors. All ancient books were copied by hand, and with books such as this, error would inevitably creep in during the process of transmission. The most important writers to preserve Manetho’s work, are Flavios Josephos and the Christian chronographers Africanus and Eusabius.
With copying, abbreviation and corruption of texts, by AD 80 the preserved versions of Manetho were so far removed from the original that they were virtually useless. It is, perhaps, hard to see why Egyptologists put so much value on Manetho, but in reality, the first Egyptologists had little choice. The texts of Manetho were available for early European scholarship along with a great deal of other Greek and Roman literature, from the Renaissance onwards. Lacking direct access to monuments, and unable to read the hieroglyphic texts, scholars found in Manetho an outline chronology of ancient Egypt, which was then supplemented by information gleaned form Herodotus, Diodoros and many other scholars. Indeed, Jean-Francois Champollion, who is generally considered to be the founding father of modern Egyptology, increased Manetho’s authority when, in 1828, he announced that he could read the names of some of the Egyptian kings recorded by Manetho on monuments. Those kings were Achoris (Hakor), Nepherites (Nefaurud), Psammetichos (Psamtik), Osorcho (Osorkon), Sesonchis (Sheshonq), Rameses and Tuthmosis (Thutmose).
As well as using inconsistent Greek forms of Egyptian names, and occasionally repeating kings, the preserved king lists of Manetho also omit many rulers and the reign lengths rarely agree in the different versions. As his work survives, it is hopelessly garbled in places. But, despite all the problems associated with dynastic divisions, Manetho’s work is so ingrained in Egyptology that it is now impossible to get rid of it and, despite the problems, the dynastic system is still useful as a basic unit of Egyptian history. Although there are overlapping dynasties, it is safe to assume that the higher the number, the later the dynasty and remembering which important rulers – or monuments – belong to which dynasty, does help to for a broad cultural-historical framework.
In the early nineteenth century, scholars attempting to decipher hieroglyphic realized that the cartouche contained royal names and therefore began to assemble collections of all those that were visible on monuments. One of the first collections published was in the Description de l’Egypte, the result of the French scholarly expedition of 1798. it was also recognized that cartouches were usually paired one carrying the personal name of the pharaoh and the other the name that he assumed when he ascended the throne. As European activity in Egypt increased, a number of important ancient king lists were found that aided in the reconstruction of the historical framework.
The Turin Canon of Kings is preserved on papyrus (not in the Museo Egizio, Turin) and dates from the time of Ramesses II. It was reputedly virtually intact when acquired by the French consul in 1823, but by the time Champollion got hold of it, it was a mass of fragments. A German scholar by the name of Gustav Seyffarth, began to examine these fragments in 1826. By looking closely at the fibres of the papyrus he was able to reconstruct sections of it. Despite the efforts of the other scholars, the papyrus ha sstill not been completely restored to everybody’s agreement. It carries a king list divided into groups, with totals of regnal years.
A fragmentary king list cared on a wall in the temple of Ramesses II at Abydos was unearthed by the scholarly traveller William Bankes in 1818, but left there. In 1837 it was removed and later acquired by the British Musem. This list carried cartouches of 52 kings, wit the throne names of rulers beginning with Meni and ending with Ramesses II. In 1825 another, similar list, the Karnak Table of Kings, was recognized, carved on the walls of a small chamber in the temple o Thotmose II at Karnak. The walls carry images of 61 Kings wit their cartouches, of which 48 were legible. In 1843 this was moved to the Louvre in Paris.
The most important of these king lists was found carved on a corridor wall in the temple of Sety I at Abydos during the clearance of the temple of Auguste Mariette. Richard Lepsius published a copy in 1863. The whole scene shows the pharaoh Sety I and the crown prince Ramesses (to be Ramesses II), making offerings to the names of ancestral kings. This list is perfectly preserved but there are certain political omissions such as the entire Second Intermediate Period, Hatshepsut, Akhenaten and his immediate successors.
The Table of Saqqara was found in 1861 in the tomb of an official of Ramesses II named Tjuneroy. It originally had 57 cartouches, some of which were already damaged by the time of their discovery. It is significant that these lists are already Ramesside and that such lists do not survive from other periods. In addition to the King lists, some temples and tombs at Thebes depict processions of royal statues in a similar chronological arrangement.
At the festival of the god of Min, there was a procession of royal statues. This is depicted in the temples of Rameeses II (the Ramesseum) and Ramesses III (Madinet Habu). The earliest ruler shown is Meni, the founder fo the Egyptian state he is followed by Neb-hepet-ra (Mentjuhopet II) who reunited Egypt and founded the Middle Kingdom. These two pharaohs stand as shorthand for the whole of the Old and Middle Kingdoms. Neb-pehty-ra (Ahmose) reunited Egpyt, and is generally considered as the founder of the New Kingdom. He is followed by the statues of nearly all the pharaohs of the eighteenth and nineteenth dynasties to the reigning sovereign, Ramesses II or III as is usual, Hatshepsut and the immediate successors of Amenhotep III are omitted.
In addition to these new Kingdom sources, fragments of an Old Kingdom list survive. This is generally known, after the largest surviving piece, as the Palermo Stone. The original document appears to have carried a complex historical text that recorded Old Kingdom rulers with information on their reigns, such as height of inundation, the foundation of temples and military activities. One of the major early organizers of the evidence from the monuments alongside the Greek, Roman and biblical traditions was Ippolito Rosellini (1800-1843), leader, with Champollion, of the joint Franco-Tuscan Egyptian expedition of 1828-29. Following Champollion’s untimely death, Rosellini published the vast amount of material gathered by the expedition in three parts: historical, religions and social. His synthesis of the historical evidence gathered all of the known ancient sources that could be read in Greek, Latin and Hebrew, attached them to Manetho’s chronology, and, wherever possible, added the newly read hieroglyphic cartouches and the monuments where they were to be found. Although Rosellini did not get everything correct, for the first time, Egyptian monuments had been ordered chronologically.
Ancient Egyptian History , Pre-dynastic period
The ancient Egyptian history includes an era, the scholars called it the pre-dynastic period. Egypt at that time was consisting of small cities.
Gradually, all these cities have united, after that Egypt consisted of two kingdoms. The first Northern kingdom was in the west of Delta and its capital was “Poto”, its slogan was the papyrus, and its god was “Hur”.
The second was the Southern Kingdom, its capital was “Nakhn” also known as “Al- Kab”, its slogan was the Lotus, and its god was “seet”.
In prehistory era, the ancient Egyptians were trying to unite both of two kingdoms. The southern kingdom reached up to a high level of civilization.
In 4241 B.C, the ancient Egyptians have discovered the solar calendar whereas this year consisted of 365 days, so this calendar considered as the most ancient calendars in the whole world, in order that Pre-dynastic era of ancient Egyptian history considered as the most important era like another era the in ancient history of Egypt.
Now, we are going to focus on some cultures which have appeared in the history of ancient Egypt.
Marmada Bani Salama was a small village which located on the South-West of Delta and 50 Kilometers North-West of Cairo.
Archaeological discoveries have shown that the people who lived in this village introduced the farming. In addition to, they stored the grains in the silos made from Wickers and straws, as well as they were very clever in the handmade of wonderful and simple ornamental pottery.
The archaeologists have deduced that they did not know the farming, but also they were domesticating the animals and grinding the grains. In addition to, they were using the flax material to weave their clothes. As well as, they preferred wearing bracelets and rings which made from bone.
bracelets in Mermeda Bani Salama
Also, there were two types of the houses the first type was “oval shape” and they were using a big mass of muds to build their houses which were built in one row. These houses were separated by a narrow street.
They buried their dead people in tombs close to their houses.
The ancient Egyptians were living in small communities nearby the banks of the Swamps and the river. They were living under the protection of the heavy plants which were working as windbreakers.
They also found lots of oval cottages which made of a big mass of dry muds, and its substructure was below the earth level. Also, they were using wide pots to collect the rain water that leaking out from the roof which made of straws.
Al- Fayoum located on “100 km” of the South-West of Cairo on the left side of the Nile River.
Lake Moeris considered as the remains part of the old lake which was called Ta-Hint by the ancient Egyptians, also was called by Moeris by the ancient Greeks. This lake was surrounded by high hills and walls in whole directions. In addition to, this lake gathers between the features of the desert depression and the features of Al-Delta.
The archaeological researchers confirmed that the ancient Egyptian selected this site which belongs to the modern Stone Age as their settlement places.
In addition to, the ancient Egyptians have made ornamental potteries, and these potteries were very tough because they were using the dry mud.
We can make a difference between three kinds of Al-Fayoum’s potteries. The first one was red and polished, the second one was black and polished, also they were very clever in the handmade of scuttles which were made by Plant stalks, moreover They used these scuttles to underlay the grains’ stores which buried in the land.
The Excavations have shown that the ancient Egyptian used 248 holes to cook the food, furthermore there were private and public silos to store the Wheat and barley, besides that the archaeologists have found all these silos above the hills far from the houses.
They also found some ornamental tools such as bracelets, ears, and necklaces which made of stones, moreover the ancient Egyptians were using the shells as ornament tools.
They were fishing from lakes and hunting the wilds animals from jungles such as Hippopotamus and wild pigs beside the farming craft.
The civilization of Al-Badary village in the ancient history of Egypt:-
Al-Badary was a small village in the upper Egypt “Asyut Governorate” which locates on the eastern bank of the Nile River.
This culture was richer than other cultures which appeared in the Stone Age, as well as, the culture of Al-Badary have reached to a high level of development more than the culture of “Marmada Bani Salama” which belongs to the Chalcolithic era.
In this period of the ancient Egyptian history, they used copper to make their tools, also the Egyptians who lived in Al-Badary village were using the same tools which the urban people use to make Pins and drills, moreover they were very interested in agriculture, ornaments, and furniture.
The culture of Al-Badary included different fields such as agriculture, industry, ornaments, and furniture. This culture considered as the beginning of other new cultures such as” the first and second culture of Naqada”.
The farming and domesticating the animals were the most features which distinguish this culture.
The ancient Egyptians were famous for all types of the handmade potteries, moreover these types of the potteries whether red or black which belong to the culture of Al-Badary considered as the best types of potteries in the ancient Egypt.
Both women and men were like the Ornaments very much. They were wearing rings, ears, bracelets, necklace, hair accessories, wooden combs and embroidered cloth.
The culture of Al-Badary was distinguished by the Visual arts in hence that the ancient Egyptian left lots of handmade statues which made of muds and bone.
In addition to, their houses were distinguished by special wooden beds and some furniture
They were burying their dead in tombs far from their house and their tombs were about sand holes, as well as, they were not only putting pillow which made of flax clothes or straw and some potteries with their dead, but also they were burying animals and some states such as cats, dogs, birds, or women and a lot of pottery, consequently the ancient Egyptians were believing in the Resurrection and immortality.
History of ancient Egyptians
Ancient Egyptian history: Tasian culture
“Deir Tasa” is a small village which located on the eastern bank of the Nile River in Asyut Governorate. This culture has been established in 4800 B.C. the ancient Egyptian was rolling their dead in animals’ leathers. This culture was famous for the black potteries.
Although This culture had appeared before the culture of Al- Badary, but some of the ancient Egyptians united them in one culture because the Geographical sites for both villages were very close to each other.
Nonetheless, the culture of Deir Tasa was belonging to the stone age, but the culture of Al-Badary was belonging to the Chalcolithic era.
The culture of Naqada considered as the most important eras in that period of the ancient history.
These three cultures of Naqada were belonging to one of the cities in Qena governorate.
The Egyptologists have found a lot of monuments which belonged to this culture in a lot of sites such as middle Egypt and the first cataract.
They also found some pins and other tools which made from copper in Naqada’s tombs, in addition to, their houses were very simple whereas the ancient Egyptian were using the tree branches which covered by muds to build their houses.
In another side, their tombs were little a bit deep and Elliptical holes, in addition to, they were burying their dead in squatting position, as well as they were rolled by goats’ leathers.
This culture was more famous than other cultures in the ancient Egyptian history. The archaeologists have found a lot of monuments which belong to this culture in the south of Egypt in Nubia and in the North of Egypt in “Tarkhan”.
This culture was famous for establishing the basis of the farming culture, also this culture reached up to a high level of the stones and metal industry. In addition to, they used copper metal in some manufacturers of tools.
Their houses were evolved in comparison with other houses of the culture of Naqada I, these houses were Rectangular shape and was built by muds, but the tombs were evolved more than other tombs, as well as, the ancient Egyptian covered their tombs by muds, Inches, and mat, the tombs were not only a burial room, but there were small rooms in the tombs, and they used it to store the potteries and burial furniture.
I would like to finish the previous part and start a new part of the ancient Egyptian history especially “the Predynastic era” but I found a lot of information about the unknown period of the ancient history of Egypt. As long as I searched for this period, I found more opaque information.
The French archaeologist “Arslan“ came to Egypt in 1868 A.C, and he confirmed that there was a prehistoric era in the ancient history of Egypt.
During his visit to Egypt, he makes some researchers, and collected more information about the pyramids, in addition to some Machines which made of Al-Zaran stones.
Also, he found a big factory of Al-Zaran stones which located above the hills that overlooked the Valley of the Kings in Luxor. By the way, this factory was belonging to the old stone era” Al-Balioliti” The pre historic era divided into three periods whereas the first dynasty was in 3200B.C.
Some archaeologists did some researches about that, but some archaeologists denied the first era of the ancient history of Egypt.
The first era is also known as the old stone era ”Al-Yolite”, and they used Al-Zaran stones as they found them in nature. The second era also known as the old stone era “Al- Balyutle”, they also used the refining stones.
The new era ”Al-Nulity” they were using the metals also they used stones, copper, and iron manufacture the machines. It was impossible to know the exact dates of these periods, but some archaeologists such as” Flinders” put dates for these eras.
During the studies, they have found tombs which date back to the period of using the metals, in addition to they arranged the different types of potteries which it has been found by the archaeologists.
The 1st Intermediate Period
Time period : c. 2150 BC - c. 1975 BC
Dynasties : 7th Dynasty - 11th Dynasty
During this period, the Egyptian empire collapsed, and the land came under the control of regional rulers. Archaeologists believe that this collapse could have been caused by mass famine as well as some of the weaker pharaohs of ancient Egypt.
Slowly, the two lands of Upper and Lower Egypt were each consolidated by different dynasties. The dynasty of Lower Egypt based in Heracleopolis, and the dynasty of Upper Egypt based in Thebes, each attempted to reunite Egypt under their rule.