Ancient Kemet (Egypt) remains to date, the best and most advanced civilization of the ancient and modern world. As we write this, Egyptologists are still tearing up the entire region for the magnificent remains of African ancestors who built what is now known as ‘Ancient Egyptian Dynasties’. In this article, we take a look at the timeline of ancient Kemet.
Egypt is a country located in North Africa, and it is situated along the lower reaches of the Nile River on the Mediterranean Sea. Its name is gotten from the greek word “Aegyptos” which was the Greek pronunciation of the ancient Egyptian name ‘Hwt-Ka-Ptah’ (Mansion of the Spirit of Ptah).
But the ancient Egyptians named their land “Kemet” which means “Black Land” which was named after the rich, dark soil along the Nile River where their first settlements began, and “Misr” which means ‘country’, a name still in use by Egyptians till the present day.
It is important to note that the Arabs (and their descendants) who occupy Egypt today, are by no way or means, the ancieent black Africans who build the varius ciivlizations and dynasties of ancient Egypt. The Arabs are the last people in history to invade Egypt, and capture her cities from the caucasian Europeans, who conquered Egypt before them.
In this article we discuss the works and acheivements of the Black gods and men who built the maginificent civilzation of Kemet, and not those who invaded and plundered it.
The ancient Egyptians, whose giant strides in all areas of life are emulated by the rest of the world today, had undergone series of building, breakdown, restoration, development, formation, crisis, civil unrest, plunderings by foreign forces, and even periods of series of instability. These periods of its civilization holds within it a history worthy of appreciation as its achievements have been praised.
PreDynastic Period (6000 BCE)
Egypt’s civilization began from the Nile River. This natural, less arid, fertile floodplain, with Savannah trees, herds of grazing animals with the presence of fauna which encouraged hunting was where they first settled.
By about 5500 BC the settlers had been able to form small ethnic nationalities with various cultures from their significant arts and way of life but the largest was the Badarian Culture which was followed by the Naqada cultures. For over a thousand years, the Naqada cultures developed into a powerful civilization with its leaders in total control of the people and their resources. The Naqada cultures era introduced the hieroglyphs which were used for writing ancient Egyptian language and it brought about trade and an increase in power and the wealth of this (Predynastic) period.
Early Dynastic Period (c. 3050–2686 BC)
This period saw the unification of the upper and lower Egypt which was the only two kingdoms, by King Menes, who some scholars believe to be King Narmer, who is depicted wearing royal regalia on the ceremonial Narmer Palette, in a symbolic act of unification. He was regarded as the first king in Manetho who was a 3BC Egyptian priest in work “Aegyptica (The history of kings)”.
It was in this period that the power and wealth of the kings increased, an authority that helped to legitimize the state control over the land, labor, and resources that were essential to the survival and growth of ancient Egyptian civilization.
Old Kingdom (2686–2181 BC)
As a result of the already well developed centralized administration from the early dynastic period, many advances were made in architecture, art and technology together with an increase in productivity. A system of justice was also formed to ensure peace and order. The Pyramids of Giza and the Great Sphinx was constructed in this period. However, the kings in this period engaged in a series of wasteful spending that slowly eroded the economy which together with the challenges on the kings by the lower hierarchdy of monarchs led to droughts between 2200 and 2150 BC, and also caused the country to enter the 140-year period of famine and strife known as the First Intermediate Period collapsing the central government.
First Intermediate Period (2181–1991 BC)
In this period the government could no longer support the people due to the decline in the economy. This development led to a series of civil unrest, food shortages and crisis. But despite the downturn of events the Local leaders were able to navigate the affairs of their provinces in a way that the provinces fluorished, creativity increased, the people had a better standard of living and they themselves became wealthy. But, the local leaders began to compete amongst themselves for territorial control and political power. The land was divided into two, with the rulers in Hereakleopis in control of lower Egypt in the north and the Intef family in control of upper Egypt in the South. Around 2055 BC, it was reunified by the northern Theban forces under Nebhepetre Mentuhotep II. This stability inaugurated the Middle Kingdom period.
Middle Kingdom (2134–1690 BC)
This period witnessed a restoration of the kingdom’s stability and prosperity, better agricultural practices yielding increased agricultural output, increase in mineral wealth as a result of the country’s strong military and political base.
The populace, arts and religion also fluorished. But the ambitious building and mining activities of the last great ruler of the Middle Kingdom, Amenemhat III, led to poor decisions that eventually strained the economy and launched into power the people known as the Hyksos.
Second Intermediate Period (1674–1549 BC) and the Hyksos
In this period, the Hyksos seized control of the country and the king was treated as a vassal and the government was forced to retreat to Thebes. After years of vassalage, the native Theban kings with the help of their alliances gathered enough strength to challenge the Hyksos in a futile conflict that lasted more than 30 years. Howbeit, independence from the Hyksos was later gained under the command of Ahmose I. The years after was spent on building the country’s military defenses. It was also, in this period the composite bow and horse drawn chariot was introduced.
New Kingdom (1549–1069 BC)
This period made Egypt the largest empire that was ever seen. The country’s prosperity and diplomatic ties was increased and strengthened. Hatsheput(a queen who named herself a pharaoh) launched series of building projects and trading expeditions increasing the country’s wealth further. It was in this period that the Battle of Kadesh which recorded the first peace treaty, around 1258 BC was fought to a stalemate. Eventually in this period Egypt lost control of its remaining territories in southern Canaan to invaders with much of it falling to the Assyrians.
Third Intermediate Period (1069–653 BC)
In this period the reigns of the Kings were filled with constant conflict with the Libyan princes who ruled for over 200 years, the Kushites who had their period of control and the Assyrians against whom Egypt enjoyed several victories. But, ultimately, the Assyrians pushed the Kushites back into Nubia, and occupied Memphis.
The 25th dynasty in this period under the reign of Pharaoh Taharqa created an empire nearly as large as the New Kingdom’s and the Nile valley saw the first widespread construction of pyramids since the Middle Kingdom.
Late Period (653–332 BC)
After the Assyrians conquered Egypt, they left its control to a series of vassals (Saite kings of the Twenty-Sixth Dynasty) who gave fealty to them. However, the Saite kings became rebellious and with the help of Greek mercenaries they were able to oust out of power their sovereign(Assyria) and take control, but they themselves were later defeated by Persia in the Battle of Pelusium which established Persian rule of Egypt.
The rule ended in 402 BC, when Egypt regained independence under a series of native dynasties launching the thirtieth dynasty which became the last of the dynasties. Still, it was followed with a brief restoration of Persian rule, known as the Thirty-First Dynasty in 343 BC, but shortly after the Persian ruler Mazaces handed Egypt over to Alexander the Great without a fight.
Ptolemaic period (332–30 BC)
In this period, the subsequent administration established by Alexander’s successors, the Macedonian Ptolemaic Kingdom, was based on an Egyptian model of government. Hellenistic culture was introduced, the power and prestige of the country was also restored. Commerce and revenue generating enterprises was top priority. The Ptolemies also kept the Egyptians traditions in an effort to win the people’s loyalty but there were still native mobs attacks. These continuous Egyptian revolts, ambitious politicians, and powerful opponents from the Near East made the country unstable and vulnerable, and this helped Rome to successfully secure the country as a province of its empire.
Within Egypt’s civilization lies a myriad of conflicts, gains, and losses. But, despite its rise and falls, the glory of Egypt’s past has inarguably had a profound impact on the modern-day world.