History of Egypt

Egypt with its long-standing civilization in north-eastern Africa, concentrated mostly along the middle to lower reaches of the Nile River, reaching its greatest extent in the second millennium BC, during the New Kingdom between the 16th and the 11th century BC. The history of Egypt is the longest regular history, as a unified state, of any country in the world.

Ancient History: The Age of the Pharaoh

Ancient Egypt developed centuries ago. It began with the early alliance of Nile Valley polities around 3150 BC, and is thought to have ended in 31 BC when the early Roman Empire conquered and absorbed Ptolemaic Egypt as a state. Archaeological evidence indicates that a developed Egyptian society extended far, beyond the borders into prehistory of the Ptolemaic Egypt. The Nile River round which maximum of the population clusters, has been the life-line of the Egyptian culture since the nomadic hunter-gathers began living along the Nile. Traces of the people of that time come in the form of artifacts and rock carvings beside the Nile and in the oasis. The 10th millennium BC grain-grinding culture using the earliest sickle blades was replaced by the hunter-gathers and the fishers using the stone tools. Organized agriculture and large building construction had appeared in the Nile Valley by 6000 BC.

The Badarian culture and its successor Naqada series are generally regarded as precursors to Dynastic Egyptian civilization. The earliest proof of Egyptian hieroglyphic inscriptions emerge during the pre-dynastic period on Naqada III pottery vessels, dated to about 3200 BC. King Menes in 3150 BC found a unified kingdom, giving rise to a series of dynasties that ruled Egypt for the next 3 millennia. Egyptian culture flourished during this long period and remained uniquely Egyptian in its religion, arts, language and customs.

The first two ruling dynasties of Egypt set the stage for the period of Old Kingdom between 2700-2200 BC, famous for its several pyramids, most notably the Third Dynasty Pyramid of Djoser and the Fourth Dynasty Giza Pyramids.

The prosperity of the Middle Kingdom soared during the 2040 BC and reached its peak in the reign of Pharaoh Amenemhat III. The New Kingdom (1550-1070 BC) which began with the Eighteenth Dynasty, marked the rise of Egypt as an international power that expanded as an empire as far south as the Jebel Barkal in Nubia, and included parts of the Levant in the east. This period is known for some of the most well-known Pharaohs, including Hatshepsut, Thutmose III, Akhenaten, Tutankhamun and Ramesses II. The last native ruling dynasty was the Thirtieth Dynasty of the Pharaonic epoch. King Nectanebo II, the last native pharaoh, was defeated in battle in the hands of the Persians in 343 BC. Soon after, the Egypt fell in the hands of the Greeks and Romans, beginning over two thousand years of foreign rule.

Modern History

The year 1798 saw the arrival of Napoleon with his French army in Egypt and the locals became exposed to the principles of the French Revolution. After this a series of civil wars took place between the Ottoman Turks, the Mamluks, and Albanian mercenaries leading to the evacuation of French troops, and the Albanian Muhammad Ali taking control of Egypt in 1805. Egypt became an important world transportation hub in 1869 with the completion of the Suez Canal by Ismaiel.

In 1882 Egypt became a part of the British colony and in 1883 Lord Cromer became the effective ruler if the country. A local nationalist movement for independence was taking shape between 1882 and 1906, and even the first political parties were being formed. With Zaghlul and his associates being exiled to Malta by the British on March 8, 1919, Egypt witnessed its first modern revolution. Continuous revolting by the Egyptian people throughout the country led Great Britain to issue a unilateral declaration of Egypt's independence on February 22, 1922. A new constitution was drafted on 1923 and Saad Zaghlul was popularly-elected as Prime Minister of Egypt in 1924. The Egyptian Republic was declared on 18 June 1953 with General Muhammad Naguib as the first President, but he had to resign and Gamal Abdel Nasser assumed power as President and declared full independence of Egypt from the United Kingdom on June 18, 1956. The nationalization of the Suez Canal took place on July 26, 1956 which prompted the 1956 Suez Crisis.

In 1973, Egypt, together with Syria, launched a surprise attack on Israel in an attempt to regain the occupied Sinai Peninsula. The US and the USSR intervened and a cease-fire was reached between both sides. The Egyptian Movement for Change, popularly known as Kifaya, was launched to in 2003 to seek a return to democracy and greater civil liberties.


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