Periods of Ancient Egyptian History
Early Dynastic Period (3100�2890 BC)
There is evidence of human activity in the Western Desert as far back as 8000 BC, but what we regard as ancient Egypt began in 3100 BC with the unification of Upper (southern) and Lower (northern) Egypt by King Narmer (also known as Menes), who created a capital at Memphis.
Old Kingdom (2686�2181 BC)
Also known as the Age of the Pyramids, successive dynasties of kings raised a chain of pyramids, the greatest of which were the trio at Giza. Subsequently, poor harvests depleted the royal coffers, which led to a decline in royal power, signified by a decrease in the size of pyramids.
First Intermediate Period (2181�2055 BC)
During this unstable period of ancient Egyptian history there were numerous ephemeral kings. The weakening of centralized power led to the establishment of local dynasties, notably at Herakleopolis in the Fayoum Oasis and Thebes in the south.
Middle Kingdom (2055�1650 BC)
The powerful warlord Montuhotep II conquered the north to reunite the country with Thebes (modern-day Luxor) as its new capital, which grew into a major metropolis.
Across the river, the first tombs and funerary temples were constructed at the foot of the Theban Hills on the west bank of the Nile.
Second Intermediate Period (1650�1550 BC)
Migrants from lands north of Egypt, referred to as Hyksos, assumed control and allied with Nubia to dominate southern Egypt. The country became subject to intermittent civil war.
New Kingdom (1550�1069 BC)
With the reunification of north and south and the expulsion of the Hyksos, Egypt entered a Golden Age, expanding its rule into Asia Minor and as far as the Euphrates. Captured treasures enriched the royal powerbase at Karnak, seat of the mightiest pharaohs including Ramses II.
Third Intermediate Period (1069�715 BC)
The New Kingdom gave way to four centuries of disunity and foreign infiltration, with Egypt again divided into north (ruled from Tanis in the Delta) and south (ruled by the priests of Karnak) and subject to invasion by Libyans and Nubians.
Late Period (747�332 BC)
The Late Period began with the Assyrian invasion of Egypt, followed by the
Persians in 525 BC. The Persians ruled for 200 years interrupted only by the short-lived 30th Dynasty of Egyptian pharaohs (380�343 BC), the last native rulers until the Revolution of 1952.
Graeco-Roman Period (332�30 BC)
In 332 BC the Macedonian king Alexander the Great �liberated� Egypt from the Persians and founded his new capital, Alexandria, on the Mediterranean.
He was succeeded by his trusted general Ptolemy, who founded a dynasty that ruled for 275 years ending with the dramatic death of the last of the Ptolemies, Cleopatra VII, lover of Julius Caesar and Marc Antony.
After the Pharaohs
With the defeat and suicide of Cleopatra in 30 BC, Egypt became part of the Roman empire. It remained under the rule of Rome, followed by that of Constantinople, capital of the Eastern Roman empire, until the arrival of conquering Arab armies in AD 640.
Top 10 Kings and Queens of Ancient Egypt
Narmer (c.3100 BC)
The king who started 30 dynasties of ancient Egyptian royalty.
Djoser (2667�2648 BC)
Djoser�s architect Imhotep built the Step Pyramid at Saqqara, the world�s oldest stone monument.
Khufu (2589�2566 BC)
A ruthless pharaoh, but celebrated as the builder of the Great Pyramid at Giza.
Montuhotep II (2055�2004 BC)
Reunited Egypt to initiate the Middle Kingdom.
Ahmose (1550�1525 BC)
Defeated the Hyksos to reunite Egypt once again and start the greatest period of Pharaonic history.
Hatshepsut (1473�1458 BC)
Egypt�s only woman pharaoh and builder of a striking mortuary temple at Thebes.
Tuthmosis III (1479�1425 BC)
A military genius whose victories expanded the Egyptian empire to its furthest extents.
Akhenaten (1352�1336 BC)
Labelled as the �Heretic King� due to his attempts to embrace monotheism.
Ramses II (1279�1213 BC)
Ramses II�s 66-year reign saw royal construction on a huge scale, notably at Abu Simbel.
Cleopatra (51�30 BC)
Cleopatra VII�s death brought to an end 3,070 years of ancient Egyptian history.