“Egypt is the most important country in the world,” Napoleon Bonaparte said in his first interview with the governor of St. Helena. This sounds grandiose, but Egypt does rank high among the countries of the world for its longevity as a civilization, the roles it has played in history, and its strategic location. Most people in the world have heard of it. No doubt Egypt owes its fame in part to its historic influence over other civilizations and countries.
Egypt is one of the oldest countries in the world. It has at least 5,000 years of recorded history, and many Egyptians claim for it even more. Egypt is centrally located in relation to other concentrated population centers in Europe, Asia, and Africa. For most of its recorded past, at present, and probably well into the future we may view Egypt as being set in the middle of commercial, migration, and invasion routes that matter to Egyptians and foreigners. Depending on how you look at the map, you can say that Egypt occupies the northeast corner of Africa or the land between the Red Sea and the Mediterranean Sea. It takes up a 30th of Africa’s total land area and is 665 miles long (1,073 km) from north to south and 720 miles wide (1,226 km) from east to west. Its existence is bound up with the River Nile; without the river, almost all the land would be desert, and only a few people would live there. Because of the Nile, Egypt is a vibrant country with 80 million inhabitants. In the words of the ancient Greek historian Herodotus, “Egypt is the gift of the Nile.”
Ancient Egypt 10,000 BC – 500 BC.
Egypt was one the most civilized and well developed countries on earth at that time that was bestowed a river floods regularly and fertilizes the land with soil pushed by the floodwaters from the high plateau of Ethiopia which also constituted a shield against the attacks of the invaders. The people were obedient to the rulers who ensured justice and faithful to a pantheon of gods and goddesses who they believed ensured their goodness in this life and hereafter. The achievements of the ancient Egyptians are several and countless. They used unique method in architecture, building relaxing and restful homes in addition to monumental tombs and temples that were built using wood joined together.
Ancient Egyptians developed one of the first systems of writing found at then, by which they recorded their stories, poems, and religious texts. In addition to that, ancient Egyptians developed an early system of numbers, which they used while they were exploring new lands, calculate taxes, and measure weight, distance, and time. Their craftsmen developed tools for working with copper, tin, bronze, and precious metals such as silver and gold. Ancient Egyptians had also developed the art of carving and as a result of that we see sculptures found in tombs to the Great Sphinx of Giza, 65 feet approx. over the rock base on which it was carved.
Historians have habitually divided Egypt’s history through following the dynasties (ruling families) by years they ruled. Ancient Egyptian history of the dynasties is generally divided to Predynastic period (to 3100 B.C.E.), the Early Dynastic Period (First-Second Dynasties, 3100- 2686 B.C.E), the Old Kingdom (Third-Sixth Dynasties, 2686-2181 B.C.E). the First Intermediate Period (Seventh-Tenth Dynasties, 2181-2040 B.C.E), the Middle Kingdom (Eleventh-Thirteenth Dynasties, 2040- 1750 B.C.E), the Second Intermediate Period (Fourteenth-Seventeenth Dynasties, 1750-1550 B.C.E), New Kingdom (Eighteenth-Twentieth Dynasties, 1550-1069 B.C.E), the Third Intermediate Period (Twenty first-Twenty-fourth Dynasties, 1069-715 B.C.E), and the Late Period (Twenty-fifth-Thirtieth Dynasties, 747-332).
Persian Rule (525 B.C):
525 was the year when Cambyses II, the Persian emperor, conquered the last Saite pharaoh, and sat up the Twenty seventh Dynasty. The Persians, nomadic tribes found in what now is Iran, were united by Cyrus, The Great King of Persia 559-530 B.C; founder of the Achaemenid dynasty. The two kings together established the vastest empire known at that time. Their empire extended from the Indus River in Pakistan across the Middle East to North Africa and southeastern Europe. Although those kings were not Egyptians, they decided to follow the pharaonic traditions regarding the inauguration ceremony as a king to not to raise the anger of the population. Keeping the ancient rituals and traditions, they constructed new temples and public works, ameliorated the legal system, and promoted the economy in order to facilitate trade with south Asia.
Alexander the Great (332- 323 B.C):
Alexander the great who ruled from 356 to 323 B.C. was a courageous militant and a perfect strategist who became the king of Macedonia in his early beginning, after subsequent military successes, his empire extended from the Adriatic Sea to the Indus River in the middle of Asia and from the Danube river to the Nile river, including the entire Persian Empire. In this extensive empire he established the political basis for Hellenistic, similar to Greek civilization. Egypt was invaded in 332 B.C. by Alexander who treated with Egypt’s culture with reverence. He offered sacrifices to Apis and other Egyptian gods and went across the Western Desert to Siwa oasis to sit to Amun, whom he claimed as his celestial father. Alexander the great last achievement was the creation of Alexandria’s port, which blossomed into a global center of influence and culture, which linked Egypt commercially to the Mediterranean world.
The ruling period of Ptolemies was very beneficial at first. Trade prospered in the Mediterranean and the Red Seas. Since wheat replaced barley and other herbs, Egypt became the bread first trader of the Mediterranean world. Fruit trees, grapevines, flax, and papyrus also contributed to a general flourish. Even though the Ptolemies acted like pharaohs, respected the gods, kept the temples, and built new ones at Edfu, Esna, and Dendera, the Egyptians hated them. Their main reasons were economic. Alexandria’s well grown architecture, high culture, museum, and library were truly famous, but they were promoted by taxes paid mainly by elbow greasing Egyptian farmers. Their opposition flared into repeated open revolutions, both in the metropolises and in the countryside. A peasant uprising in 132
B.C.E. involved the whole Nile Valley.
Unlike the ancient Greek Ptolemies did not feel social to the Egyptians and that of course is explained in the light of the cultural chasm. As a proof to this is that Ptolemies did not identify intermarry between Ptolemies and Egyptians because they were marrying with their sisters, to keep the purity of the holy blood,
Roman Rule (30 B.C-640 A.C)
At the end of the Ptolemaic ruling period; Egypt was under the Roman protection against dangers. Egypt has been conquered and became a Roman colony only under Queen Cleopatra the seventh who ruled from 47 to 30 B.C.
Roman Egypt lasted for many years longer than any other ancient of Egypt. After he vanquished Antony and Cleopatra; Octavian put his hands over Egypt’s treasury and imposed higher taxes on the Egyptians. As a result, Egypt became under his personal suzerainty which no Roman senator can enter without his approval. Alexandria continued to flourish as a nonmetropolitan capital and as a trade center, manufacturing and culture, but it no longer enjoyed the advantages it had acquired under the Ptolemies. One-third of Egypt`s annual harvest could fed a huge number of the Romans because agriculture was Egypts main wealth So that, the Roman senators did not wish to conquer of attack Egypt.
Another important development during the Roman period was the rise of Christianity in Egypt. It is said that The Apostle Mark was the first converter among the Jews in Egypt around 40 to 60 C.E. He became the first patriarch of the Coptic Orthodox church which is the National Church of Egypt. At that time religion was not occupying the same position it used ti have under the Pharaonic era where life under Roman rule was very different from life in pharaonic times when Egyptian started converting to Christianity with a huge number with a great passion. That of Roman Emperor Diocletian had punished and killed so many Christian Egyptians after the commencement of his monarchy in 284 A.C marks the beginning of the Coptic calendar.
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