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Land of the Pharaohs

6000 BC 3300 BC Predynastic
3100 BC 2850 BC Protodynastic
2686 BC 2134 BCOld Kingdom
2180 BC 2060 BCFirst Intermediate Period
2030 BC 1640 BCMiddle Kingdom
1663 BC 1555 BCSecond Intermediate Period
1552 BC 1069 BCNew Kingdom
1069 BC 332 BCLate Period
The history of ancient Egypt divides itself into three great periods. First, that of the Old Empire, from the time of the commencement of the Egyptian monarchy under its first king, Menes, down to the subjugation of Egypt by a foreign race of Phoenician or Arabian origin, who are generally known by the name of Hyksos or Shepherds. In this period are included the building of Memphis and the erection of the Pyramids. The second period, which has received the name of the Middle Empire, is that during which Egypt is supposed to have been for centuries tributary to the foreign Hyksos or Shepherd kings. The third period, or that of the New Empire, commencing with the deliverance of Egypt from the Shepherd yoke, by the expulsion of the Hyksos, includes the most flourishing period, the decadence and final destruction of the empire of the Pharaohs, terminating with Nectanebo, the last of the Egyptian monarchs, in BC 340.

To some modern writers, the whole sequence of Pharaohs from Menes to Nectanebo consisted of one long unbroken line; the religion, the language, the habits, the dwelling-places, the burial-places, the anteekas now dug up or manufactured, all belong to one people, one succession of kings nay, to judge by what some have written, one period. Ancient Egypt is contrasted with modern, as one might contrast the Commonwealth with the reign of Charles II. No attempt is made to remember that the period which separated the first Seti from the last Ptolemy was probably as long as the whole Christian era. In that time all the kings were not great, powerful, and rich. And in the old time before them, though here years fail as a measure, were there not eighteen dynasties, of which one at least consisted of sixty kings?

Only the immediate valley of the Nile is arable soil, and this is a very narrow strip, which between Asswan and the Delta never exceeds fifteen miles in width, and at places is only two miles wide. In the Delta there is a far wider stretch of cultivable land, owing to the fact that the Nile here divides into numerous branches; but even here all the land is not available for cultivation, owing to numerous great swamps and large lakes. In antiquity the greater part of the Delta was swamp and meadow land; and its chief value lay in the fact that it was a good grazing country, and that its swamps and lakes made fine hunting-grounds, abounding as they did in all sorts of aquatic birds. The lakes were full of fish, so that fishing was added to grazing and hunting, and thus the country possessed considerable resources even before agriculture became profitable.

It is well known that Egypt owes this strip of good land to the Nile. This remarkable river, which rises in the Nyanza Lakes in tropical Africa, and has several branches which come from the Ethiopic highlands, is annually swollen by the rains which prevail in the tropics during the rainy season. Already in June the river begins to rise, and continues to swell until about September 15th, when it reaches the high-water mark. It then remains stationary until late in October, when it begins to fall, and by January the river is again at its old level.

Tutankamon At first sight, Egypt is a full-grown state possessed of a well-ordered government, a well-organized society, and a civilization of a high order. At the dawn of history the formative period of the nation was over, and Egypt was a finished product. Egypt was not always a single united country as it was in historic times, but was for a long time previous to Menes divided into two countries, which were entirely independent of one another, and remained so until Menes united them and founded the Egyptian state about 3000 BC. The Egyptian official name of the state was Taut, "both lands " i.e., both North and South Egypt; the name Qemet, "the black (land) " was also often used, though not in state documents. The country was divided into two parts, the South, known in Egyptian as Ris or Qemat, "the South," and as Pa ta res, "the South Land," and the North, designated in the Egyptian as Mehta "the North," and Pa ta mera. The "South" included all the land from Assuan to Memphis, the "North" all of the Delta.

These two countries were known even after the union as "the North" and "the South," and the official name of the united kingdom was Taui "Both lands " thus preserving the memory that there were originally two countries where in historical times there was but one. Each of these two countries had its own crownLower Egypt a curiously shaped red crown, and Upper Egypt a peculiar white crown, shaped like one of the pieces used in playing ninepins. When the two countries were united these two crowns were combined into one as the peshent, or double crownthe white crown being put inside of the red.

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