4880 to 4250 BC
A Neolithic culture called the Merimde settle in the western delta area of Lower Egypt. At one point it is believed that as many as 5,000 people may have lived in a permanent settlement in the Merimde Beni-Salam area. They cultivated grain which they stored in granaries, and raised pigs, cattle, and goats. Their pottery was simple and unadorned, and they had rather austere funerary rites, burying their dead in unoccupied parts of the village, with little evidence of funerary offerings.
4600 to 4400 BC
A Neolithic group called the El Omari occupy a permanent settlement in the area of Cairo. In most respects the El Omari were like the Merimde settlement, including burying their dead within the settlement rather than in dedicated cemeteries. However, unlike the Merimde, in many graves there was a small pot placed in front of the body, indicating a slightly more sophisticated notion of an afterlife.
4400 to 4000 BC
The Badarian Culture maintains a permanent farming settlement in the area of Badari in Upper Egypt. They were the earliest farmers in Upper Egypt. They used copper and stone tools, and produced pottery with some simple decorative painting and ornamental handles. They are believed to have produced the first glazed ceramic beads. The Badarians were closely related to the Tasian sub-group found near Der Tasa.
4000 to 3500 BC
Maadi Culture, named after the Maadi suburb of Cairo where they were discovered, establish a permanent settlement with a more sophisticated funerary tradition. They had cemeteries that were located away from the settlement, with only infants buried within town. Bodies were buried in oval graves, with their hands over their faces. In later years, they interred their dead lying on the right side, with the head facing south. In addition to clay pottery, basalt vessels were common, as was copper. There is evidence of trade with the region of Palestine. They may have been the first people to domesticate the donkey as a work animal.
In Upper Egypt the first phase of Naqada Culture (also called the Amratian Culture) appears. It is very similar to the Badarian culture, with some increasing complexity in pottery design. There are clear signs of trade between Upper and Lower Egypt. The first signs of mud-brick building occurs, and some larger tombs begin to appear.
3500 to 3200 BC
Naqada II, also called Gerzean Culture after the town of al-Girza, develops throughout Upper and Lower Egypt. The pottery they produce is much more sophisticated, with depictions of animals and geographic features. Some of their pottery exhibited pre-hieroglyphic writing. Larger and more ornate tombs, with more “expensive” funerary offerings (including beads crafted from the iron of meteorites), begin to appear in the phase two Naqada Culture.
The unification of Upper and Lower Egypt begins, heralding the beginning of the Naqada III phase. In Upper Egypt, large and elaborate tombs in exclusive burial grounds signal pronounced social stratification. Cylindrical jars begin to appear in tombs. Hieroglyphics are more developed during this period. There are a number of kings named from this period, but there is no truly united kingdom and no real succession of royalty, so no dynasties have a chance to take hold during this period.
According to tradition and early records, Narmer (also called Menes) unites Upper and Lower Egypt into a single kingdom and becomes the first king of the First Dynasty. He is also called Meni, and Herodotus called him Min. Some Egyptologists think he might have been the King Hor-Aha, while others consider Hor-Aha to be the second king of the First Dynasty. He is also credited with founding Memphis as the first capitol of a united Egypt.
King Qaa passes, and is accompanied by 26 servants on his burial. Apparently the Egyptian kings decide human sacrifice is bad for morale, and beginning with the Second Dynasty the kings are buried with small statues of servants–called ushabti–that animate in the afterlife to provide for the king’s needs.
King Sekhemib apparently changes his name to Set-Peribsen, and replaces the image of Horus with that of Set on his serekh. A serekh is a special hieroglyph that precedes the king’s name. It is uncertain what this change signified, but it seems to reflect some sort of change of affiliation. Both Set and Horus had rivalling cults in Upper Egypt, and the change may have been an attempt to appease the Sethian faction. The religious conflict reaches the level of civil war during this period.
King Khasekhemwy, last king of the Second Dynasty, ends the civil war which arose between the followers of Horus and the followers of Set. Afterward he includes the images of both Set and Horus in his serekh.
King Djoser, second king of the Third Dynasty, commissions the first Egyptian pyramid, the Step Pyramid at Saqqara. Designed by his famous architect and engineer, Imhotep, the pyramid consists of six stacked mastabas, each smaller than the one beneath it.
2613 to 2589 BC
King Snefru, first king of the Fourth Dynasty, attempts to build the first true smooth-sided pyramid when he completes King Huni‘s pyramid at Meidum. This effort ends with the collapse of the pyramid. He tries again, but has to change the angle, resulting in the Bent Pyramid. He nails it with his third attempt, the Red Pyramid at Dashur, the first true smooth-sided pyramid.
2589 to 2566 BC
2558 to 2532 BC
2532 to 2503 BC
2494 to 2487 BC
King Userkaf, first king of the Fifth Dynasty, is the first king to build a sun temple as part of his cult. The cult of the sun god begins to grow during this period, replacing the divinity of the pharaoh as the primary deity, which in turn begins to chip away at the absolute power the pharaohs have enjoyed during the Old Kingdom.
2375 to 2345 BC
By the time of King Unas, the last king of the Fifth Dynasty, we begin to see the emergence of Pyramid Texts, the inscription of passages from the “Book of the Dead” onto pyramid walls. The Book of the Dead, also called the Book of Coming Forth by Day, was the primary text dealing with the doctrine of the afterlife, and foreshadows Greek, Roman, and Judeo-Christian concepts of death, judgment, and resurrection.
2345 to 2181 BC
During the Sixth Dynasty we begin to see the lesser nobility growing in strength, further weakening the power of the Pharaoh.
After ruling for 94 years, King Pepi II dies. His vassals have grown powerful enough to exert some independence from his successor, Merenre II. This is the first real sign of the crumbling of the Old Kingdom, which will collapse altogether in the Seventh and Eighth Dynasties, leading to the First Intermediate Period.
2181 to 2125 BC
Little is known of the kings of the Seventh and Eighth Dynasties, and the information we do have of this period is conflicting and incomplete. It is clear that the weakening of centralized power which began at the end of the Sixth Dynasty has come to full bloom during this time. Power and administration tend to be exerted locally rather than centrally. Most of the kings from the Seventh and Eighth Dynasties incorporate Pepi II’s throne name, Neferkare, or some variation of it, into their own names in an apparent attempt to evoke the authority of the past. It has little effect.
Adding to the chaos is a growing dispute over whether the god Horus rules from the traditional capitol of Memphis, in Lower Egypt, or from Thebes, located in Upper Egypt.
2160 to 2025 BC
“Turning and turning in the widening gyre
The falcon cannot hear the falconer;
Things fall apart; the center cannot hold;
Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world, ”
From “The Second Coming,” by William Butler Yeats
Things fall apart, indeed. Egypt has split into three kingdoms with three capitols–Memphis, Thebes, and Herakleopolis. All three capitols claim the legitimacy of Horus, the falcon-headed god who manifests in the person of the king. Local chiefdoms challenge what little authority remains.
For a number of years the Nile withholds her annual flooding, causing crops to fail. Famine and misery cover the three kingdoms. With the divinity of kings in question, and a general devaluing of the afterlife, Egypt sees the beginning of a new career–professional grave robbers.
Little is known of the contentious Ninth and Tenth Dynasties. Both were based at Herakleopolis, and were at perpetual war with the Theban faction.
The Theban king Mentuhotep II, the fifth king of the Eleventh Dynasty, defeats the Herakleopolitan faction, reuniting Egypt and heralding in the Middle Kingdom Period. Thebes is now the capitol of all Egypt.
1965 to 1920 BC
Under the rule of Senusret I, the second king of the Twelfth Dynasty, a national program of temple restoration begins, with many of the earlier temples being rebuilt with stone.
1874 to 1855
Power is again becoming more centralized in the person of the pharaoh under King Senusret III as regional leadership becomes consolidated into the royal bureaucracy.
There is a decline of the practice of writing “coffin texts” (similar to pyramid texts, but written on the coffin itself) during this period.
Immigration steadily increases throughout the Middle Kingdom Period, particularly during the Twelfth Dynasty. Most of the immigrants are classified as “Asiatics,” although it is now generally agreed that they were mostly Semitic people. There is a high degree of tolerance for these settlers, who tend to form their own enclaves, eschewing Egyptian ways in favor of their own.
1795 to 1650 BC
Although associated with the Second Intermediate Period, the Thirteenth Dynasty is the calm before the storm. Most evidence points to a time of wary but stable peace. Although there is a succession of short-lived kings, the Thirteenth Dynasty does a fairly good job of keeping Upper and Lower Egypt together until about 1700 BC. After the death of Ay I (Merneferre Ay) no single Thirteenth Dynasty king is listed as reigning over both Upper and Lower Egypt.
As the Thirteenth Dynasty begins to disintegrate the provincial rulers of the Eastern Delta region, who previously were content to rule alongside the Thirteenth Dynasty, establish their own independent kingdom and dynasty. Little is known of the Fourteenth Dynasty, but it appears they were a mixture of Egyptians and Asiatics who had settled the region, and their rulers reflected this diversity.
It is unknown exactly when the Fourteenth Dynasty collapsed, but it appears to have been absorbed, willingly or otherwise, by the Hyksos of the Fifteenth Dynasty.
At about the same time the Thirteenth Dynasty was drawing its last breath, and the Fourteenth Dynasty was declaring its independence, a third dynasty, the Fifteenth, was establishing itself in the Eastern Delta and Desert regions. Called the Heka-Khaswt (“Rulers of the Foreign Lands”) by the Egyptians, and the Hyksos by the Greeks, this was a group of Semitic people who would soon overrun the Fourteenth Dynasty and assume control of all the Delta region of Lower Egypt.
The Fifteenth Dynasty Hyksos eventually take Memphis, but rule primarily from Avaris in the Delta region.
1650 to 1580 BC
The Sixteenth Dynasty were the Kysos, were foreign rulers who controlled various parts of Lower and Middle Egypt on behalf of the Hyksos, with their primary center of power being the northern Sinai city of Pelusium.
Beginning around 1650 BC, but particularly with the reign of Intef V in around 1668 BC, a third dynasty again enters the picture. The Seventeenth Dynasty is based in Thebes, although they were largely under the thumb of the Hyksos of the Fifteenth Dynasty at Avaris.
With the ascension of Tao II (Seqenenre) to the throne at Thebes, Egypt begins to experience a rebirth of nationalism. Not content to share power with the Hyksos in the north, Tao II (whose Egyptian name, Seqenenre, means “He who strikes like Ra”) begins striking out against the foreign dynasty.
Tao II is wounded in battle with the Hyksos. Accounts vary, but he was either mortally wounded, or returned to the battlefield before fully healing and died as a result. Refusing to capitulate, his wife, Queen Ahhotep I, drives the troops on until their son, Kamose, is old enough to take Tao II’s place on the battlefield.
Kamose begins his northern campaign against the Hyksos by sailing up the Nile and sacking villages one after the other, and laying siege to the larger settlements, effectively starving them into submission. It is not thought that Kamose got as far as the Hyksos capitol of Avaris, but the damage was done. When his soldiers intercepted a courier carrying a message from the Hyksos king, Ipepi, to his Kushite allies in Nubia, Kamose turned his attention to his southern neighbors, recapturing some of the lands lost to the Kush in the process.
Kamose’s younger brother, Ahmose I, becomes coregent of Upper Egypt. The timing is fortuitous, as Kamose dies of unknown causes within a year. As Ahmose I was only ten years old at the time of his coronation, it again fell upon his mother, Queen Ahhotep, to keep up the pressure on the Hyksos. Not enough can be said of this remarkable woman’s role in ending the Second Intermediate Period and making the New Kingdom possible. Ahmose I would later raise a memorial stele in Karnak Temple proclaiming of his mother:
She cared for Egypt, she took care of her soldiers.
She looked after what her Sovereign had established.
She guarded it. She brought back her fugitives.
She collected together her deserters.
She pacified Upper Egypt.
She has expelled the rebels,
The king´s wife Ahhotep given life
1550 to 1525 BC
Ahmose I comes to age in a court well-prepared by his mother, Ahhotep I. He finishes the work of his father, Tao II, and older brother, Kamose, by capturing Avaris, expelling the Hyksos, and founding the Eighteenth Dynasty, the first of the New Kingdom Period. Upper and Lower Egypt are again united under a single king.
1504 to 1492 BC
Under the reign of Thutmose I, Nubia is recaptured and rejoins the unified Egyptian state. Thutmose I is also responsible for expanding and creating much of the characteristic layout of Karnak Temple, including the construction of Pylons IV and V, and the colossal Hypostyle Hall.
1479 to 1425 BC
After the death of his father, King Thutmose II, young prince Thutmose III becomes king. But again we have a situation where a king ascends to the throne while too young to rule, and again a brilliant and tactful woman rules as his coregent. Hatshepsut (“Foremost of Noble Ladies”) was Thutmose III’s aunt, and eventually came to claim the title of king (not queen) and pharaoh alongside the her young nephew. Her military conquests and temple-building activities earn her a reputation for being one of the most active and successful kings in Egyptian history, although after her death her name becomes anathema–her images are mostly obliterated, and her name is all but erased from history.
Ironically, one of the most memorable sites modern visitors are likely to visit in the Luxor/Thebes region is the Temple of Hatshepsut, also called the Temple of Deir el Bahri (Arabic: The Northern Monastery).
1458 to 1425 BC
After co-ruling with is aunt for 21 years, Thutmose III continued to rule for another 33 years. He led 17 military campaigns and expanded Egypt’s borders further than ever in her long history. He continued the building trend started by his aunt, being responsible for more than 50 temples and numerous tombs of exquisite craftsmanship. His most important work was his expansion and improvements to Karnak Temple, including a renovation of the hypostyle hall and the raising of Pylon VI.
1390 to 1352 BC
Amenhotep III, ninth king of the Eighteenth Dynasty, continues the architectural abundance of the New Kingdom Period. His more notable accomplishments were the earlier phase of the Luxor Temple, just south of Karnak, and the twin statues of himself that guard the Theban Necropolis–the Colossi of Memnon.
1352 to 1336 BC
Amenhotep IV, the tenth pharaoh of the Eighteenth Dynasty, was one of the more flamboyant kings of Egypt, and more than a little controversial. His political platform was one of change. In the fifth year of his rule he changed his name to Akhenaten, which means “spirit (or vitality) of Aten,” built a new capital city at the site of present day Amarna dedicated to the god Aten (the Sun God in the form of the solar disk), and moved the royal court there.
He worked to suppress other gods, particularly Amun, and has been credited (although not universally) with trying to establish a monotheistic state religion, and indeed, some of the religious writings of the period have been compared to writings in the Old Testament. Akhenaten’s innovations, however, would be reversed by his successor, Tutankhaten, who would change his own name to the more recognizable Tutankhamun, signaling a return to older ways.
1336 to 1327 BC
This decade marks the reign of the famous Boy King, Tutankhamun, who rules for a mere ten years (actually, a good bit longer than many of his less fortunate predecessors) until his death at around age sixteen. Other than his role in overturning the heretical ways of Akhenaten, Tutankhamun was a relatively unimportant king whose fame is due mostly to his tomb, which remained unplundered until its discovery by Howard Carter in 1922.
1323 – 1295 BC
Under the reign of Pharaoh Horemheb, the last king of the Eighteenth Dynasty, what remains of Akhenaten’s temples and religious structures are razed. He erects the Temple of Amun at the Karnak complex using materials stripped from Aten’s temples. Although a bit heavy handed, Horemheb’s efforts restore stability in the wake of the “Amarna Revolution.”
Horemheb was sort of the Eisenhower of the Eighteenth Dynasty. He wasn’t related by blood to the linage, but was instead the supreme commander of the military under the short reigns of Pharaohs Tutankhamun and Ay II, and assumed kingship after Ay II’s death. He had no heir of his own, so he appointed his vizier, Ramesses I, to assume the throne on his death.
1295 to 1294 BC
Horemheb’s vizier and heir, Ramesses I, founds the Nineteenth Dynasty, but his reign is short-lived. He dies after less than two years as pharaoh.
1294 to 1279 BC
1279 to 1213 BC
Ramesses II, also known as Ramesses the Great, and Ozymandias by the Greeks, rules for a long and productive sixty-six years. Egypt is replete with statues of Ramesses the Great, and his cartouche is carved into nearly every significant edifice in the country. Major works attributed to Ramesses II include the temples at Abu Simbel, Abydos, and the Ramesseum.
There is a Judeo-Christian tradition that Ramesses II was the unnamed pharaoh of the Exodus of the Old Testament.
His military expeditions include forays into the areas of modern-day Syria, Israel, and Lebanon, as well as south into Nubia. He is also remembered for being possibly the first king to negotiate an armistice with an enemy.
The Battle of Qadesh was a vicious four-day conflict fought in Syria between Ramesses II and King Muwatalli II of the Hittites, which was possibly the largest chariot battle to date. The battle wasn’t going well for Ramesses, but just as defeat loomed, he received reinforcements and turned the battle against the Hittitites. Rather than surrender, King Muwatalli sued for peace, and on the advice of his officers Ramesses accepted.
On the death of Muwatalli II, the throne of Syria was usurped and his heir was forced to flee to Egypt. Both nations were coping with other enemies at the time, with Egypt facing a potential challenge from the Libyans, and the Hittites staring down the growing threat of the Assyrians. Rather than face a war on two fronts, Ramesses II and the new Hittite king, Hattusili III, negotiated a new border between Egypt and Syria and the peace was maintained.
1213 to 1203 BC
According to Islamic tradition, Pharaoh Merenptah was the unnamed pharaoh of the Exodus. Judeo-Christian tradition holds that his father, Ramesses II, was the Biblical pharaoh. Truth be told, there is no historical or archeological evidence for either, or really for the Exodus itself as described in the Bible, although there were many migrations of Semitic people into and out of Egypt during the time spanning the Middle through New Kingdoms Periods.
1184 to 1153 BC
During the late Nineteenth and early Twentieth Dynasties, many eastern Mediterranean kingdoms, Egypt included, faced numerous waves of maritime marauders known collectively as the Sea People. Ramesses III, the second king of the Twentieth Dynasty, put an end to the threat, but at the cost of nearly bankrupting the kingdom. The roots of the decline of the Twentieth Dynasty, and quite possibly the New Kingdom Period, sprouted from this expensive conflict.
Ramesses III is also known for his temple at Medinet Habu, which stylistically resembles the Ramesseum.
1103 to 1070 BC
Ramesses XI, final king of the Twentieth Dynasty–and of the New Kingdom Period–inherited a very troubled nation. The Egyptian economy had never truly recovered from the final push against the Sea People under Ramesses III, causing poverty and unrest in the countryside. Libyan raiders found excursions into Upper Egypt both easy and profitable. Nubia, with its vital goldmines, is lost during Ramesses XI’s reign.
Grave robbing, a growing problem throughout the Twentieth Dynasty, had become epidemic. Professional bands of tomb raiders were ravaging the Theban Necropolis. Ironically, the return of some small part of the treasure plundered from tombs into the local economy may have been one of the stronger remaining pillars of the market.
Ramesses XI’s court was beset with intrigue. He had been forced to remove Amenhotep, the High Priest of Amun, from office early in his reign, which would be just the beginning of his troubles with the Amun Potentates.
Facing growing civil unrest, Ramesses XI is forced to appoint two coregents in an effort to bring stability back to the crumbling empire. Control of Lower Egypt is given to Smendes of Djanet (a city later renamed Tanis by the Greeks), a governor from the Delta region in the north. Control of Upper Egypt is handed to Herihor, an officer in the military and the new High Priest of Amun. Herihor’s ambition carried him to the level of vizier and beyond, eventually being accepted as the quasi-official king of Upper Egypt, with Ramesses XI left in place as little more than a figurehead.
Ramesses XI outlived Herihor by several years, but by this time it was a given that Upper Egypt was the province of the Ameu Potentates at Thebes, with Smendes ruling Lower Egypt from Tanis.
On the death of Ramesses XI, Smendes becomes the first king of the Twenty-First Dynasty. Since power is shared with the High Priesthood of Amun based at Thebes, who have effective control of Upper Egypt, the nation is once again split and a Third Intermediate Period dawns.
Pharaoh Shoshenq I, first king of the Twenty-Second Dynasty, wages a successful military campaign against Israel and Judah. His conquest may have earned him mention in the Old Testament of the Bible (I Kings 14:25, and II Chronicles 12:1-12), although current scholarship suggests this may be an attempt to fit a round peg into a square hole.
The back-story of the fictional movie Raiders of the Lost Ark contends that it was during Shoshenq’s foray into Israel that the Ark of the Covenant was stolen and carted back to Egypt.
On the death of Harsiese, the Theban High Priest of Amun (although it has been attested that Harsiese, while a Theban king, was only a regular priest of Amun), Egypt is nominally reunited under a single dynasty when Pharaoh Osorkon II appoints his son, Nimlot, as the new High Priest. This new arrangement, unfortunately, dies with the king.
On the death of Nimlot, Takelot II becomes King of Upper Egypt, which he rules as distinct and separate from Lower Egypt after the death of Osorkon II.
A third contender for an Egyptian crown, Pedubast I, challenges Takelot II’s rule of Upper Egypt, and Thebes enters 30 years of civil war.
Osorkon III defeats Padibast I and assumes control of Thebes, ending the civil war. At this time Sheshonq III still rules Lower Egypt and Osorkon III rules Upper Egypt.
818 to 715 BC
The Twenty-Third Dynasty is a sort of catch-all category, with different Egyptologists assigning different kings who overlap the Twenty-Second and Twenty-Fourth Dynasties into this group. It generally includes kings from the Delta region, particularly Bubastis and Leontopolis.
727 to 715 BC
The Twenty-Fourth Dynasty consists of four Libyan kings who ruled from the city of Sais in the western part of the Delta in Lower Egypt. Called the Great Chiefs of the West, their rules overlap both the Twenty-Third and Twenty-Fifth Dynasties, resulting in the contradicting dates.
Tefnakht II actually brought many of the Delta cities under his control and made a pretty good run at Upper Egypt, but was turned back by Piye, the Kushite king and first Pharaoh of the Twenty-Fifth Dynasty to rule a united Egypt.
747 to 716 BC
Piye, first Pharaoh of the Twenty-Fifth Dynasty, takes control of Thebes and Upper Egypt in what has been described as a Holy War. He ordered his soldiers to make ablutions and made sacrifices to Amun to assure his success in battle. After defeating Tefnakht II in Lower Egypt he could make claim to ruling all of Egypt, although the degree of his control in Lower Egypt is debatable.
716 to 702 BC
King Shabaka, brother and heir of Piye, establishes greater control over Upper Egypt and erects a statue of himself at Karnak wearing the Double Crown, symbolizing his sovereignty over Upper and Lower Egypt.
The Assyrians sack Memphis and members of the royal family are taken hostage. Taharqa flees to Upper Egypt, and Esarhaddon installs Necho I as governor at Sais, establishing the Twenty Sixth Dynasty, also called the Saite Dynasty after their chosen capitol.
664 to 656 BC
After Esarhaddon returns to Assyria, Taharqa’s successor, Tantamani, invades Lower Egypt and for a short while regains control of much of the Two Kingdoms. But when he threatens Necho I at Sais, the Assyrians return, defeat Tantamani’s army and drive him back to Nubia, sacking Thebes in the process.
664 to 610 BC
Psamtik I, son of Necho I, begins his reign as governor of Egypt on behalf of the Assyrian Empire. But as the Assyrian Empire’s power wanes during its long war of attrition with the Babylonians, Psamtik I is left pretty much to rule Egypt independently.
Psamtik I sails his navy up the Nile to Thebes, which peacefully capitulates. His daughter, Nitocris I, is installed as next in line to become the “Divine Adoratrice of Amun,” considered to be the living bride of the god Amun, and effectively governess of Thebes.
Once again, Egypt is united under a single pharaoh, securing the prominence of the Saite Dynasty.
Armageddon, Round One–The Battle of Megiddo
While en route to assist the Assyrians in an all-out-winner-takes-all battle with the Babylonians, the Egyptian army, under command of Pharaoh Necho II, meets with the Judean army on the Plain of Megiddo. A battle ensues in which, according to the Old Testament (II Kings 23:29, II Chronicles 35:20-27), King Josiah of Judah is mortally wounded by an Egyptian archer. It is probable that this battle was the symbolic inspiration for the final Battle of Armageddon as envisioned by St. John the Divine in the Book of Revelations (New Testament).
Necho II’s luck, however, fails to hold. The combined forces of Egypt and the Assyrians were no match for the Babylonians, who deliver an Armageddon of their own, bringing the Assyrian Empire to a crashing end.
Pharaoh Haaibre, more commonly known by his Greek name, Apries, sends military assistance to Jerusalem, which was being threatened by the forces of the Babylonian king, Nebuchadnezzar II. The combined Egyptian and Judean forces are roundly defeated by the Babylonians, who destroy Jerusalem and take the Jews into captivity.
Pharaoh Haaibre again tries to come to the aid of an ally, with even more disastrous results. When he attempts to defend Libyan allies in Cyrene against the Greeks his army is yet again defeated. When they return, the mercenaries employed by the Egyptians turn on the Egyptian army itself, and civil war threatens to erupt. When Haaibre turns to his top general, Ahmose, to quell the dissention, Ahmose instead declares himself king, becoming Pharaoh Ahmose II. Haaibre is forced into exile.
With the assistance of his old enemy, the Babylonians, Haaibre attempts to retake Egypt, but is slain in the battle. Humble in victory, Ahmose II has Haaibre’s body returned to Sais for a proper state burial.
Cyrus II of Persia deals a crushing, and final, blow to the Babylonian Empire, after which he declares himself “King of the Four Corners of the World.” The Persian Empire now becomes the major power in the Mediterranean world, with ominous implications for the Saite Dynasty.
Thus ends the Twenty-Sixth Dynasty, and begins the Twenty-Seventh, the First Persian Dynasty.
525 to 522 BC
Cambyses II adds the throne of Egypt to his list of possessions, becoming the first Pharaoh of the Twenty-Seventh Dynasty, also called the First Persian Dynasty.
Inaros, a descendent of the royal line of Saite kings, rallies an uprising against Persian tax collectors in the Delta region around Sais. He gathers an army, and with the aid of other prominent Saite families and Greek allies from Athens, leads a revolt against the Persian king, Artaxerxes I. At the Battle of Pampremis, Inaros defeats the Persian army and kills Achaemenes, the provincial governor of Egypt and a member of the Persian royal family.
Amyrtaeus II of Sais, the grandson of one of Inaros’ most valued allies during the ill-fated revolt of 460 BC, begins an on-again-off-again revolt against the Persians.
On the death of Darius II, Amyrtaeus II declares himself king. Artaxerxes II, the new king of the Persian Empire, has too many problems at home to mount a response, so Amyrtaeus II becomes the first, and only, pharaoh of the Twenty-Eighth Dynasty.
Nepherites I overthrows Amyrtaeus II, who dies in battle at Memphis. Nepherites I becomes the first king of the Twenty-Ninth Dynasty.
Nekhtnebef I overthrows (and kills) Nepherites II, becoming the first pharaoh of the Thirtieth Dynasty. He launches a program of temple restoration, and builds a small pavilion on the Island of Philae around which the famous Temple of Isis will eventually develop.
Artaxerxes III suceeds in overthrowing Nekhtnebef II, driving him into exile in Nubia. Artaxerxes III becomes the first king of the Thirty-First Dynasty, also called the Second Persian Dynasty.
Alexander of Macedonia, also known as Alexander the Great, invades Asia Minor and defeats the Persians at the Battle of Granicus.
Alexander (the Great) of Macedonia defeats the Persian Empire. He is welcomed by the Egyptians, who crown him Pharaoh at Memphis, instituting the Macedonian Dynasty.
305 to 285 BC
205 to 180 BC
Antiochus IV of Syria invades Egypt and is declared king, but is ordered by the Roman Senate to either withdraw or face war with Rome. Antiochus chooses to withdraw.
The Temple of Isis is mostly completed under the rule of Ptolemy VI. Later additions and improvements will be made, but the primary structure is established.
The Temple of Hathor at Dendera is rebuilt during this period.
Pompey Magnus flees to Egypt to avoid Julius Caesar during the Roman Civil War. He is beheaded on orders of Ptolemy XIII. Far from being gracious, Caesar is infuriated and installs himself as sovereign. Ptolemy XIII drowned in the Nile either fleeing Caesar, or trying to cross to negotiate with Caesar, depending on which source you believe.
Cleopatra VII, names her younger brother, Ptolemy XIV, as co-regent, but immediately begins to plot against him. Seeing an opportunity to play Caesar off against her brother, has herself smuggled into the royal court rolled up in a carpet. Nine months later, Ptolemy XV, Cesarion, is born.
Caesar is assassinated. To secure Cesarion’s position Cleopatra VII is believed to have had Ptolemy XIV poisoned.
47 to 44 BC
The Double Temple of Horus and Sobek is completed at Kom Ombo.
41 to 40 BC
Cleopatra VII kills herself after Mark Antony’s suicide, ending the Ptolemaic Dynasty.
Egypt becomes the Roman province of Aegyptus under Octavian.
According to Coptic tradition, the Patriarchate of Alexandria is founded by St. Mark.
Egypt becomes part of the Byzantine Empire under the rule of Flavius Arcadius when the Roman Empire is divided into the Western Empire, ruled from Rome, and the Eastern Empire, ruled from Constantinople.
Egypt is invaded by Arab armies under the command of Amr ibn al-’As.
Amr ibn al-’As captures Alexandria.
The Byzantines retake Alexandria, but in AD 646 they lose it again for good, ending the Byzantine Period in Egypt.
Ahmad ibn Tulun begins to withhold tribute from the Abbasid Caliphate, making him in effect the ruler of an independent Egypt.
Mosque of ibn Tulun completed.
The Abbasids retake Egypt.
Saladin arrives in Cairo.
Original structure of the Cairo Citadel completed.
Mamluks come to power
Black Death ravages Egypt.
Sultan Hassan Mosque completed.
The suq of Khan el-Khalili established in Cairo by Emir Jarkas el-Khalil.
Sultan Selim the Grim invades, ending the rule of the Mamluks and establishing the Ottoman Empire‘s rule of Egypt.
Napoleon Bonaparte invades Egypt.
Inauguration of the Suez Canal.
Khedive Ismail Pasha moves the seat of government to the Abdeen Palace.
British occupy Cairo.
Egypt regains independence from British rule.
The “Six Day War” against Israel fails.
Camp David Peace Accord signed with Israel.
President Anwar el Sadat is assassinated in Cairo.
Egypt joins in the First Gulf War on the side of the United States.
Terrorists gun down 58 tourists outside the Temple of Hatshepsut.
The first Black president of the United States of America addresses the Egyptian people in Cairo.
Copyright by Keith Payne, 2009, all rights reserved.