The more than 3000 year long history of Ancient Egypt has been divided into 8 or 9 periods, sometimes called Kingdoms. This modern-day division is somewhat arbitrarily based on the country\\\'s unity and wealth and the power of the central government. The Ancient Egyptians themselves did not group their rulers according to such criteria. They rather seem to have developed the notion of dynasties throughout their history. The Palermo Stone simply lists the kings one after the other, without any apparent need of grouping them. The Turin Kinglist, which is more recent, has grouped the kings according to their descendance or origin. Thus, Amenemhat I and his descendants, are described as the kings of Itj-Tawi, the capital whence they ruled. We owe the division into 30 dynasties as we use it now to Manetho, the Egyptian priest who lived at the beginning of the Ptolemaic Era. In many cases, however, it is not clear why Manetho has grouped some kings into one dynasty and other kings into another. The 18th Dynasty, for instance, starts with Ahmose, a brother of the last king in Manetho\\\'s 17th Dynasty. Theoritically, Ahmose and Kamose should thus have been grouped in the same dynasty. Thutmosis I, on the other hand, does not appear to have been related to his predecessor, Amenhotep I, but still both kings are grouped in the 18th Dynasty.
Some Egyptologists have attempted to abandon the notions of Kingdoms and dynasties, but for the sake of conformity with most publications dealing with Ancient Egypt, this site will continue using both notions. Visitors may, however, notice that the timeline below and the timescale used throughout The Ancient Egypt Site may be somewhat different from some of the other books or web-sites they have consulted.
Visitors should also be aware that, as is the case with any publication dealing with Ancient Egypt, dates are approximations and should not be taken literally. In many cases it is not known just how long a king may have ruled. Comparing different publications on the hisory and chronology of Ancient Egypt, visitors may notice that one king may be credited with a fairly short reign in one publication and a fairly long in another. This impacts the absolute chronology, that is to say, Egyptian history using our year numbering.
In The Ancient Egypt Site, some dates will be proposed but again, they should only be seen as approximations and not as absolutes. A discussion on the length of the reign of a king may follow and this discussion may show the likelyhood that this king reigned longer or shorter than the dates linked to his reign.
It can thus not be stressed enough that the provided dates are just a frame of reference helping visitors to gain insight in the sequence of events and occurences and to have an approximate idea of the age of certain monuments and artefacts.
With the decline of the 13th Dynasty, Egypt lost its military power as well. The military leaders and soldiers stationed in Nubia became more and more independent. Some of them may even have permanently settled in Nubia. The fortresses built along the Eastern border were either abandoned, or control on who passed the borders was not as strict as it used to be. Asian nomads had free entrance into a country which they considered a country of wealth and abundance.
Most of these Asians settled and became traders, farmers or craftsmen, but at least one of them, Khendjer, became a king. By the end of the 13th Dynasty, the Eastern Delta was populated with mostly Asians.
During the early 2nd Intermediate Period, a group of Asians, known as the Hyksos, established their own dynasties in Egypt. Little is known about their origins, or about the way they gained control over large parts of Egypt. It is commonly assumed that they invaded Egypt and overtook it by force. This theory may be supported by the name the Egyptians themselves gave to the Hyksos: \\\"rulers of the foreign countries\\\", which may indicate that the Hyksos ruled outside Egypt before invading it. The weakness of the Egyptians at the beginning of the 2nd Intermediate Period may have invited a military invasion.
On the other hand, there is no real proof of military conflicts between the Egyptians and the Hyksos at the end of the Middle Kingdom. It is also possible that the Asian settlers who had been coming to Egypt for some generations had become so powerful, that they were able to gain political control and establish their own dynasties, without a military show of force. The fact that some of them used Egyptian names and that they did not try to integrate their own Asian heritage into the Egyptian culture, may indeed lead to suppose that the Hyksos had been living long enough in Egypt before they seized power to have adapted themselves to the Egyptian culture.
By whatever means the Hyksos came into power in Egypt, they were largely accepted throughout the country as the ruling dynasty. They did, however, tolerate other dynasties to coexist with their own. The 15th Dynasty was not the only dynasty of Hyksos: there was also the less important 16th Dynasty, about which little is known. It is possible that there were still some kings of the 13th Dynasty who ruled a part of the country. The kings of the 14th Dynasty are said to have ruled the Western part of the Delta. And in Thebes ruled an Egyptian house: the 17th Dynasty.
Although the time the Hyksos ruled Egypt has often been depicted as a time of chaos and misery (especially by later generations of Egyptians), it was also a time of technological advance. Before the Hyksos, Egypt stayed largely ignorant of the advances made in the rest of the Ancient Near East. Many new tools, such as the wheel and most importantly, new weapons, were introduced into Egypt during this period. The rule of the Hyksos during the 2nd Intermediate Period would prepare the Egyptian for the adventure of the New Kingdom.
Around 1550, the 17th Dynasty first started opposing the dominion of the Hyksos kings. A New Kingdom tale teaches us how the Hyksos king Apophis sent a letter to the Theban king Seqenenre, complaining that the noise made by Seqenenre\\\'s hippopotamuses prevented him from sleeping. Seqenenre, of course, would not take such an insult, but unfortunately, this is where the story breaks of. That this story may have been based on fact, is suggested by the mummy of Seqenenre, which shows that he died a violent death, perhaps on the battlefield.
The first historically recorded traces of a war against the Hyksos are dated to the reign of Seqenenre\\\'s son, Kamose. Two stelae commemorate Kamose\\\'s struggle against the Hyksos and their vassals. Against the advice of his council, Kamose started or continued the war, punishing all those who had collaborated with the foreigners. He almost succeeded in conquering Avaris, the capital of the Hyksos in the Delta, but he (too) may have fallen on the battlefield.
It would be Kamose\\\'s younger brother and successor, Ahmose, who would finally succeed in overthrowing the Hyksos. With his reign, a new period of prosperity and wealth would begin: the New Kingdom.
The mummy of Seqenenre shows that this king died a violent death. Whether this was on the battlefield or the result of a murderous plot is not known.
The Early Dynastic Period is a period of some 500 years or more at the beginning of what is conventionally considered as the history of Ancient Egypt. It was the culmination of the formative stage of the Ancient Egyptian culture that began centuries before during the Prehistory.
It was during this period that the divine kingship became well established as Egypt\\\'s form of government, and with it, an entire culture that would remain virtually unchanged for the next 3000 or more years. Writing evolved from a few simple signs mainly used to denote quantities of substances and their provenance, to a complex system of several hundreds of signs with both phonetic and ideographic values.
The typical ancient Egyptian artistic canon took shape for both two and three dimensional representions, determining the work of artists for millenia to come.
Craftsmen increased their skills and experimented with the use of more durable materials. Structures built in brick, wood and reeds were copied in stone, giving birth to the typical Ancient Egyptian architecture. Most of the features developed during the Early Dynastic Period would remain in use until the Greek-Roman Period, more than 3000 years later.
Another very important change that marks the beginning of the Early Dynastic Period is the rise of urbanism. Inhabitants of small settlements throughout the country abandoned their homes and moved to larger communities and cities. Several key factors, that could vary from region to region, have influenced this process of urbanisation:
• The need for security may have caused people to seek protection within the safety of fortified walls.
• It facilitated central control of the population by the state. Some relocations may thus have been forced by the government. The process of urbanisation appears to have started earlier in societies with a stronger hierarchical structure.
• Changes in the natural environment. This has apparently been the case at Hierakonpolis, one of the most important cities in late Predynastic Egypt.
• Society was evolving beyond its mere agricultural needs and required specialised craftsmen, traders and other skilled personnel. The ruling elite needed these people not only to be close at hand, but also to work and thus live together.
• Demographic changes, such as a growth in population, may have caused smaller settlements to extend and merge into one larger community.
As the Early Dynastic Period is the culmination of an on-going cultural, religious and political evolution, it is hard to determine its actual beginning. According to the Ancient Egyptian tradition, the first (human) king to have ruled over the whole of Egypt was a man named Menes. He is considered the first king of the 1st Dynasty and tradition credited him with the unification of Upper- and Lower-Egypt. As none of the sources from the Early Dynastic Period mention his name and as none of the deeds credited to him can be associated with any of the archaeologically attested kings, the identification of this Menes, however, is problematic.
Both in the Turin King-list and with Manetho, this Menes follows a long list of gods and demi-gods who ruled before him. The first row on the Palermo Stone contains names of kings who allegedly ruled Egypt before him. As our knowledge of this early stage of Egyptian history evolves, we are finding sources that hint at powerful rulers living in Middle and Upper Egypt who already had extended their influence, if not their realm, to parts of Lower Egypt. This information may correspond to the mythical rulers in the Turin King-list and to the names listed in the first row of the Palermo Stone, if not literally, then perhaps simply as a confirmation that the Ancient Egyptian chroniclers were aware of the existence of kings before Menes. This has led some authors to propose that there may have been a Dynasty \\\"0\\\" before the 1st Dynasty. It is not certain that the kings placed in this hypothetical Dynasty \\\"0\\\" actually belonged to the same ruling family and to what extent they all ruled over the same area.
In most books dealing with the history of Ancient Egypt, the Early Dynastic Period usually consists of the first two dynasties. This is based on the fact that the first pyramids were built during the 3rd Dynasty and that the Old Kingdom is often viewed as \\\"the age of the pyramids\\\". This has caused the 3rd Dynasty to be included in the Old Kingdom.
It needs to be pointed out, however, that the pyramids built during the 3rd Dynasty were Step Pyramids and not the \\\"true\\\" pyramids that were built from the start of the 4th Dynasty on. The complexes surrounding Netjerikhet\\\'s Step Pyramid and Sekhemkhet\\\'s unfinished step pyramid, both at Saqqara, are unlike the funerary complexes of the 4th Dynasty and later. As such, the Step Pyramid and the funerary complexes of the 3rd Dynasty can still be considered as part of the formative stage of pyramid building.
The kings during the 3rd Dynasty were still known mainly by their Horus-title, but from the 4th Dynasty on, the Prenomen, and later the Nomen, become the more important titles. This may indicate in shift in views on the divine kingship: during the first three dynasties, the king was a living embodiment of the god Horus, whereas from the 4th Dynasty on, he came to be the son of the solar god Re.
The 3rd Dynasty should therefore rather be part of the Early Dynastic Period than the Old Kingdom. As such, it played a pivotal role in consolidating the political, religious and cultural evolution that had started centuries before.
It should, on the other hand, be noted that the Turin King-list simply lists the kings of the first 5 dynasties, without further classification. This may mean that at the time of the composition of the Turin King-list\\\'s original, the first 5 dynasties were viewed as a whole. Our division of that timeframe into an Early Dynastic Period and an Old Kingdom, does not correspond to the views of some Ancient Egyptian chroniclers
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