Ancient Egyptian Lives (AEL)


Ancient Egyptian History

The New Kingdom (1530 - 1050 B.C.)


With the unification of the land and the founding of the 18th Dynasty by Ahmose I, the New Kingdom (1530-1050 BC) began. Ahmose reestablished the borders, goals, and bureaucracy of the Middle Kingdom and revived its land-reclamation program. He maintained the balance of power between the nomarchs and himself with the support of the military, who were accordingly rewarded. The importance of women in the New Kingdom is illustrated by the high titles and position of the royal wives and mothers.

The 18th Dynasty Kings
Once Amenhotep I, who reigned 1551-1524 BC, had full control over his administration-he was co-regent for five years-he began to extend Egypt's boundaries in Nubia and Palestine. A major builder at Al Karnak, Amenhotep, unlike his predecessors, separated his tomb from his mortuary temple; he began the custom of hiding his final resting place. Thutmose I continued the advances of the new Imperial Age and emphasized the preeminence of the god Amon. His tomb was the first in the Valley of the Kings. Thutmose II, his son by a minor wife, succeeded him, marrying the royal princess Hatshepsut to strengthen his claim to the throne. He maintained the accomplishments of his predecessors. When he died in 1504 BC, his heir, Thutmose III, was still a child, and so Hatshepsut governed as a regent. Within a year, she had herself crowned pharaoh, and then mother and son ruled jointly. When Thutmose III achieved sole rule upon Hatshepsut's death in 1483 BC, he reconquered Syria and Palestine, which had broken away under joint rule, and then continued to expand his empire. His annals in the temple at Al Karnak chronicle many of his campaigns. Nearly 20 years after Hatshepsut's death, he ordered the obliteration of her name and images. Amenhotep II, who reigned 1453-1419 BC, and Thutmose IV tried to maintain the Asian conquests in the face of growing threats from the Mitanni and Hittite states, but they found it necessary to use negotiations as well as force. Amenhotep III ruled peacefully for nearly four decades, 1386-1349 BC, and art and architecture flourished during his reign. He maintained the balance of power among Egypt's neighbors by diplomacy. His son and successor, Akhenaton (Amenhotep IV), was a religious reformer who fought the power of the Amon priesthood. Akhenaton abandoned Thebes for a new capital, Akhetaton (see Tall al 'Amarinah), which was built in honor of Aton, the disk of the sun on which his monotheistic religion centered. The religious revolution was abandoned toward the end of his reign, however, and his son-in-law, Tutankhamen, returned the capital to Thebes. Tutankhamen is known today chiefly for his richly furnished tomb, which was found nearly intact in the Valley of the Kings by the British archaeologists Howard Carter and Lord Carnarvon in 1922. The 18th Dynasty ended with Horemheb, who reigned 1321-1293 BC.

The Ramesside Period
The founder of the 19th Dynasty, Ramses I, who reigned 1293-1291 BC, had served his predecessor as vizier and commander of the army. Reigning only two years, he was succeeded by his son, Seti I, who reigned 1291-1279 BC; he led campaigns against Syria, Palestine, the Libyans, and the Hittites. Seti built a sanctuary at Abydos. Like his father, he favored the delta capital of Pi-Ramesse (now Qantir). One of his sons, Ramses II, succeeded him and reigned for nearly 67 years. He was responsible for much construction at Luxor and Al Karnak, and he built the Ramesseum (his funerary temple at Thebes), the rock-cut temples at Abu Simbel, and sanctuaries at Abydos and Memphis. After campaigns against the Hittites, Ramses made a treaty with them and married a Hittite princess. His son Merneptah, who reigned 1212-1202 BC, defeated the Sea Peoples, invaders from the Aegean who swept the Middle East in the 13th century BC, and records tell of his desolating Israel. Later rulers had to contend with constant uprisings by subject peoples of the empire. The second ruler of the 20th Dynasty, Ramses III, had his military victories depicted on the walls of his mortuary complex at Medinet Habu, near Thebes. After his death the New Kingdom declined, chiefly because of the rising power of the priesthood of Amon and the army. One high priest and military commander even had himself depicted in royal regalia.

Third Intermediate Period
The 21st through the 24th dynasties are known as the Third Intermediate period. Kings ruling from Tanis, in the north, vied with a line of high priests, to whom they appear to be related, from Thebes, in the south. The rulers of the 21st Dynasty may have been partially Libyan in ancestry, and the 22nd Dynasty began with Libyan chieftains as kings. As the Libyans' rule deteriorated, several rivals rose to challenge them. In fact the next two dynasties, the 23rd and 24th, were contemporaneous with part of the 22nd Dynasty, just as the 25th (Cushite) Dynasty effectively controlled much of Egypt during the latter years of the 22nd and the 24th dynasties.

Late Period
The 25th through the 31st dynasties ruled Egypt during the time that has come to be known as the Late Period. The Cushites ruled from about 767 BC until they were ousted by the Assyrians in 671 BC. Native rule was reestablished early in the 26th Dynasty by Psamtik I. A resurgence of cultural achievement, reminiscent of earlier epochs, reached its height in the 26th Dynasty. When the last Egyptian king was defeated by Cambyses II in 525 BC, the country entered a period of Persian domination under the 27th Dynasty. Egypt reasserted its independence under the 28th and 29th dynasties, but the 30th Dynasty was the last one of native rulers. The 31st Dynasty, which is not listed in Manetho's chronology, represented the second Persian domination.

The Hellenistic and Roman Periods
The occupation of Egypt by the forces of Alexander the Great in 332 BC brought an end to Persian rule. Alexander appointed Cleomenes of Naucratis, a Greek resident in Egypt, and his Macedonian general, known later as Ptolemy I, to govern the country. Although two Egyptian governors were named as well, power was clearly in the hands of Ptolemy, who in a few years took absolute control of the country.

The Ptolemaic Dynasty
Rivalries with other generals, who carved out sections of Alexander's empire after his death in 323 BC, occupied much of Ptolemy's time, but in 305 BC he assumed the royal title and founded the dynasty that bears his name (see Ptolemaic Dynasty). Ptolemaic Egypt was one of the great powers of the Hellenistic world, and at various times it extended its rule over parts of Syria, Asia Minor, Cyprus, Libya, Phoenicia, and other lands. Partly because native Egyptian rulers had a reduced role in affairs of state during the Ptolemaic regime, they periodically demonstrated their dissatisfaction by open revolts, all of which were, however, quickly suppressed. In the reign of Ptolemy VI, Egypt became a protectorate under Antiochus IV of Syria, who successfully invaded the country in 169 BC. The Romans, however, forced Antiochus to give up the country, which was then divided between Ptolemy VI and his younger brother, Ptolemy VII; the latter took full control upon the death of his brother in 145 BC. The succeeding Ptolemies preserved the wealth and status of Egypt while continually losing territory to the Romans. Cleopatra VII was the last great ruler of the Ptolemaic line. In an attempt to maintain Egyptian power she aligned herself with Julius Caesar and, later, Mark Antony, but these moves only postponed the end. After her forces were defeated by Roman legions under Octavian (later Emperor Augustus), Cleopatra committed suicide in 30 BC.

The Fall of Ancient Egypt
With the death of Cleopatra it can also be consider the fall of the Ancient Egyptian kingdom which was the egypt we often think of. Later to follow egypt would see rule by foreign rulers that would destroyed most all that was egypt.



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