Ancient Egypt & Greco-Roman Egypt


Old Kingdom of Egypt - 2686 BCE - 2181 BCE

Key Kings : Narmer, Djer, Djoser, Sneferu, Cheops, Khafra, Menkaure, Pepi II
Key cities : Abydos, Memphis, Giza
Key constructions : Mastaba, Step Pyramid, Great Pyramid, Sphinx
Key events : Reunification of the two kingdoms

First Intermediate Period of Egypt (2181-2055 BC)

Key Kings : Mentuhotep,
Key cities : Abydos, Heracleopolis, Thebas, Memphis

Middle Kingdom of Egypt (2055 BC - 1650 BC)

Key Kings : Amenemhat
Key cities : Thebes, el-Lisht

Second Intermediate Period of Egypt (1650 BC - 1550 BC)

Key Kings : Salitis
Key cities : Avaris
Key events : Hyksos invasion and expulsion

New Kingdom (1550 BC - 1069 BC):

Key Kings : Amenhotep, Thutmose I, Hatshepsut, Thutmose III,Amenhotep III, Amenhotep IV (Akhetaten), Tutankhamun, Ramses, Seti, Ramesses II, Ramesses III
Key cities : Thebes, Amarna, Deir el-Medina, Pi-Ramesses
Key constructions : Karnak, Luxor, Hatshepsut mortuary temple, Valley of the Kings, Abu Simbel, Medinet Habu temple

Third Intermediate Period (1075 BC-664 BC)

Key Kings : Smendes, Psusennes, Shoshenq I, Shepsesre Tefnakht I,Piye, Taharqa
Key cities : Tanis, Napata (Gebel Barkal, Nuri), El Kurru
Key events : Meshwesh Libyans rule, Kushite kings rule

Late Period of ancient Egypt (664 BC-323 BC)

Key Kings : Psamtik I, Apries, Amasis II, Darius I, Xerxes I,Amyrtaeus,Darius III
Key cities : Sais
Key events : Assyrians rule, Persian invasion of Egypt

Ptolemaic Egypt (332 BC -30 BC)

Key Kings : Alexander the Great, Ptolemy I, Cleopatra
Key cities : Alexandria
Key events : Ptolemaic Kings



Old Kingdom of Egypt

The Prehistory of Egypt spans the period of earliest human settlement to  the beginning of the Early Dynastic Period of Egypt in ca. 3100 BC, starting  with King Menes/Narmer. The Old Kingdom is most commonly regarded as the period of time when Egypt was ruled from the Third Dynasty through to the Sixth Dynasty (2686 BCE - 2181 BCE)

The 3rd century BC Egyptian priest Manetho grouped the long line of pharaohs from Menes to his own time into 30 dynasties, a system still used today. He chose to begin his official history with the king named "Meni" (or Menes in Greek) who was then believed to have united the two kingdoms  of Upper and Lower Egypt (around 3100 BC). Narmer was an ancient Egyptian pharaoh of the Early Dynastic Period (c. 32nd century BCE). He is thought to be the successor to the Protodynastic pharaohs Scorpion (or Selk) and/or Ka, and he is considered by some to be the unifier of Egypt and founder of the First Dynasty, and therefore the first pharaoh of unified Egypt. The famous Narmer Palette, discovered in 1898 in Hierakonpolis, shows  Narmer displaying the insignia of both Upper and Lower Egypt, giving rise to the theory that he unified the two kingdoms in c. 3100 BC

[The Palette, which has survived five millennia in almost perfect condition, was discovered by British archeologists James E. Quibell and Frederick W. Green, in what they called the Main Deposit in the Temple of Horus at Hierakonpolis, during the dig season of 1897-1898. The Narmer Palette is part of the permanent collection of the Egyptian Museum in Cairo Hierakonpolis was the ancient capital of Upper Egypt during the pre-dynastic Naqada III phase of Egyptian history.]

The Egyptians began construction of the mastabas which became models for the later Old Kingdom constructions such as the Step pyramid. Cereal agriculture and centralization contributed to the success of the state for the next 800 years.

The pharaohs of the first dynasty were buried in Abydos, including Narmer, who is regarded as founder of the first dynasty, and his successor, Aha. It was in this time period that the Abydos boats were constructed. From earliest times, Abydos was a cult centre, first of the local deity, Khentiamentiu, and from the end of the Old Kingdom, the rising cult of Osiris and Isis. Decorations in tombs throughout Egypt, such as the one displayed to the right, record journeys to and from Abydos, as important pilgrimages made by individuals who were proud to have been able to make the vital trip.

Human sacrifice was practiced as part of the funerary rituals associated with the first dynasty. The tomb of Djer (Djer was the second or third pharaoh of the first dynasty of Egypt) is associated with the burials of 338 individuals thought to have been sacrificed. The people and animals sacrificed, such as asses, were expected to assist the pharaoh in the afterlife. It appears that Djer's courtiers were strangled and their tombs all closed at the same time. For unknown reasons, this practice ended with the conclusion of the dynasty, with shabtis taking the place of actual people to aid the pharaohs with the work expected of them in the afterlife.

The tomb of Djer

[Mastabas:
Egyptians believed that the soul could live only if the body was preserved from corruption and depredation.
From the predynastic era forward, the ancient Egyptians strove to develop methods for preserving the bodies of the dead. Initially embalming methods were used, and later architectural  tombs were devised to preserve the corpse indefinitely.The body would  be placed in a deep, sealed chamber such as a Mastaba. The remains were not in contact with the dry desert sand, consequently natural mummification of the remains could not take place. In order to preserve the remains, the ancient Egyptian priests had to devise a system of artificial mummification


The mastaba was the standard type of tomb in pre-dynastic and early dynastic Egypt for both the pharaoh and the social elite. 
The ancient Egyptian city of Abydos was the location chosen for many of the cenotaphs. The royal cemetery was at Sakkara, overlooking the capital of early times, Memphis. 
Today, Abydos is notable for the memorial temple of Seti I, which contains an inscription from the nineteenth dynasty known to the modern world as the Abydos King List. It is a chronological list showing cartouches of most dynastic  pharaohs of Egypt from Menes until Ramesses I, Seti's father.

The King List in Seti's Temple at Abydos

Even after pharaohs began to construct pyramids for their tombs in the Third Dynasty, members of the nobility continued to be buried in mastaba tombs. This is especially evident on the Giza Plateau, where hundreds of mastaba tombs have been constructed alongside the pyramids.

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The cults of gods like Horus, Set and Neith associated with living representatives became widespread in the country.
[Horus was born to the goddess Isis after she retrieved all the dismembered body parts of her murdered husband Osiris (murdered by Seth), except his penis which was thrown into the Nile and eaten by a catfish, and used her magic powers to resurrect Osiris and fashion a gold phallus to conceive her son. Once Isis knew she was pregnant with Horus, she fled to the Nile Delta marshlands to hide from her brother Set who jealously killed Osiris and who she knew would want to kill their son.


Isis used her magic powers to resurrect Osiris

In the Egyptian language, the word for this symbol (Horus) was "Wedjat":

]
To achieve immortality the Egyptian had to meet three conditions: - First, his body had to be preserved by mummification. - Second, nourishment was provided by the actual offering of daily bread and beer. - Third, magical spells were interred with him. His body doesnt rise from the dead; rather elements of his personality - his Ba and Ka - continued to hover over his body.
Under King


Djoser, the second king of the Third Dynasty of the Old Kingdom, the royal capital of Egypt was moved to Memphis, where Djoser established his court. A new era of building was initiated at Saqqara under his reign. King Djoser's architect, Imhotep is credited with the development of building with stone and with the conception of the new architectural form
the Step Pyramid.

Menphis was the Capital of Egypt during the Old Kingdom, it remained an important city throughout ancient Mediterranean history.According to legend related by Manetho, the city was founded by the pharaoh Menes (aka Narmer) around 3000 BC. It has been theorised that Menes was possibly a mythical king, similar to Romulus and Remus of Rome. Some scholars suggest that Egypt most likely became unified through mutual need, developing cultural ties and trading partnerships, although that the first capital of united Egypt was the city of Memphis is undisputed. Memphis declined briefly after the 18th dynasty with the rise of Thebes and the New Kingdom, and was revived under the Persians before falling firmly into second place following the foundation of Alexandria.


[The golden age of Memphis began with the 4th dynasty, which seems to have furthered the primary role of Memphis as a royal residence where rulers received the double crown, the divine manifestation of the unification of the Two Lands. Coronations and jubilees such as the Sed festival were celebrated in the temple of Ptah. The earliest signs of such ceremonies were found in the chambers of Djoser.
The architecture of this period was similar to that seen at Giza, royal necropolis of the Fourth dynasty, where recent excavations have revealed that the essential focus of the kingdom at that time centred on the construction of the royal tomb. All these necropoleis were surrounded by camps inhabited by craftsmen and labourers, dedicated exclusively to the construction of royal tombs.
In the beginning of the Middle Kingdom, the capital and court of the pharaoh had moved to Thebes in the south, leaving Memphis for a time in the shade. Although the seat of political power had been shifted, however, Memphis remained perhaps the most important commercial and artistic centre, as evidenced by the discovery of handicrafts districts and cemeteries, located west of the temple of Ptah.
With the invasion of the Hyksos, and their rise to power ca. 1650 BC, the city of Memphis came under siege. Following its capture, many monuments and statues of the ancient capital and were dismantled, looted or damaged by the Hyksos kings, who later carried them to adorn their new capital at Avaris.
In the New Kingdom, Memphis became a centre for the education of royal princes and the sons of the nobility. Amenhotep II, born and raised in Memphis, was made the setem the high priest over Lower Egypt during the reign of his father.

There is evidence that, under Rameses II, the city developed new importance in the political sphere through its proximity to the new capital Pi-Rameses. The pharaoh devoted many monuments in Memphis and adorned them with colossal symbols of glory.


During the Third Intermediate Period and the Late Period, Memphis is often the scene of liberation struggles of the local dynasties against an occupying force, such as the Kushites, Assyrians and Persian
In 332 BCE, Alexander the Great was crowned pharaoh in the Temple of Ptah, ushering in the Hellenistic period. The city retained a significant status, especially religious, throughout the period following the takeover by one of his generals, Ptolemy.


Alexander at the Temple of Apis in Memphis, by Andre Castaigne (1898–1899).
On the death of Alexander in Babylon (323 BCE), Ptolemy took great pains in acquiring his body and bringing it to Memphis. Claiming that the king himself had officially expressed a desire to be buried in Egypt, he then carried the body of Alexander to the heart of the temple of Ptah, and had him embalmed by the priests. By custom, kings in Macedon asserted their right to the throne by burying their predecessor. Ptolemy II later transferred the sarcophagus to Alexandria, where a royal tomb was constructed for its burial.
The exact location of the tomb has been lost since then.


With the arrival of the Romans, like Thebes, the city lost its place permanently in favour of Alexandria, which opened onto the empire. The rise of the cult of Serapis, a syncretic deity most suited to the mentality of the new rulers of Egypt, and the emergence of Christianity taking root deep into the country, spelled the complete ruin of the ancient cults of Memphis. The city then became a quarry to build new settlements nearby, including a new capital founded by the Arabs who took possession in the 7th century. The foundations of Fustat and later Cairo, both built further north, were laid with stones of dismantled temples and ancient necropoleis of Memphis. The Temple of Apis in Memphis was the main temple dedicated to the worship of the bull Apis, considered to be a living manifestation of Ptah. It was said (in the Shabaka Stone) that it was Ptah who called the world into being, having dreamt creation in his heart, and speaking it, his name meaning opener, in the sense of opener of the mouth. Indeed the opening of the mouth ceremony, performed by priests at funerals to release souls from their corpses, was said to have been created by Ptah.

Ptah
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Under King Djoser, the second king of the Third Dynasty of the Old Kingdom, the royal capital of Egypt was moved to Memphis, where Djoser established his court. A new era of building was initiated at Saqqara under his reign. King Djoser's architect and vizier, Imhotep is credited with the development of building with stone and with the conception of the new architectural form the Step Pyramid (built in 2630-2611 BCE)
The Step Pyramid
The pyramid was not simply a grave in ancient Egypt. Its purpose was to facilitate a successful afterlife for the king so that he could be eternally reborn. The symbolism of the step pyramid form, which did not survive the 3rd Dynasty, is unknown, but it has been suggested that it may be a monumental symbol of the crown.

Indeed, the Old Kingdom is perhaps best known for the large number of pyramids constructed at this time as pharaonic burial places. For this reason, the Old Kingdom is frequently referred to as "the Age of the Pyramids." . Imhotep is credited with being the founder of medicine and with being the author of a medical treatise remarkable for being devoid of magical thinking; the so-called Edwin Smith papyrus containing anatomical observations, ailments, and cures. The surviving papyrus was probably written around 1700 BCE but may be a copy of texts a thousand years older. This attribution of authorship is speculative, however. The location of Imhotep's self-constructed tomb was well hidden from the beginning and it remains unknown, despite efforts to find it. The consensus is that it is hidden somewhere at Saqqara.

It was in this era (third dinasty) that formerly independent ancient Egyptian states became known as nomes, under the rule of the pharaoh. The former rulers were forced to assume the role of governors or otherwise work in tax collection. Egyptians in this era worshiped their pharaoh as a god, believing that he ensured the annual flooding of the Nile that was necessary for their crops. Egyptian views on the nature of time during this period held that the universe worked in cycles, and the Pharaoh on earth worked to ensure the stability of those cycles


Fourth Dynasty: Golden Age

Seated Scribe, dated from the 4th dinasty, Louvre museum
The Old Kingdom and its royal power reached a zenith under the Fourth Dynasty, which began with Sneferu (2613-2589 BCE). Using more stones than any other pharaoh, he built three pyramids: a now collapsed pyramid in Meidum, the Bent Pyramid at Dahshur, and the Red Pyramid, at North Dahshur. However, the full development of the pyramid style of building was reached not at Saqqara, but during the building of the "great pyramids" at Giza.
Bent Pyramid at Dahshur
Red Pyramid, at North Dahshur

Although the chambers and burial vaults are all present in the monument's main body, no ascending passageway has been excavated, nor is there evidence of a western entrance or diagonal portcullis, J.P Lepre is convinced that there are secret chambers waiting to be uncovered within the stone superstructure of the the Red pyramid . Considering that the remains of King Sneferu have not yet been found, it still may be possible that his sarcophagus and mummy lie hidden in his mysterious last structure. Lepre claims:

the Red pyramid remains one of the chief pyramids that may possibly contain secret chambers, not the least of which may be the true burial chamber of King Sneferu himself.

According to this inscription, Sneferu was able to capture large numbers of people from other nations, make them his prisoners and then add them into his labour force. During his raids into Nubia and Libya, he also captured cattle for the sustenance of his massive labour force. Such incursions must have been incredibly devastating to the populations of the raided countries.

Prince Rahotep, King's Son of his Body, High Priest of Re in Heliopolis was buried in Meidum with his wife Nofret.


Rahotep and Nofret


 Sneferu was succeeded by his son, Khufu (aka Cheops) (2589 - 2566 BCE) who built the Great Pyramid of Giza. After Khufu's death his sons Djedefra (2528-2520 BCE) and Khafra (2520-2494 BCE) may have quarreled. The latter built the second pyramid and (in traditional thinking) the Sphinx in Giza. Recent reexamination of evidence has suggested that the Sphinx may have been built by Djedefra as a monument to Khufu

Khufu (aka Cheops): He is generally accepted as being the builder of the Great Pyramid of Giza, one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World. Khufu's full name was "Khnum-Khufu" which means "the god Khnum protects me. Unlike his father, Khufu is remembered as a cruel and ruthless pharaoh in later folklore. Khufu had nine sons, one of whom, Djedefra, was his immediate successor. He also had fifteen daughters, one of whom would later become Queen Hetepheres II.
Since He is credited with building the single largest building of ancient times, it is ironic that the only positively identified royal sculpture of his was discovered not at Giza, but in a temple in Abydos during an excavation by Flinders Petrie in 1903. Originally this piece was found without its head, but bearing the pharaoh's name. Realizing the importance of this discovery, Petrie halted all further excavation on the site until the head was found three weeks later after an intensive sieving of the sand from the area where the base had been discovered.
The mass of the pyramid is estimated at 5.9 million tonnes. The volume, including an internal hillock, is roughly 2,500,000 cubic metres. Based on these estimates, building this in 20 years would involve installing approximately 800 tonnes of stone every day. Similarly, since it consists of an estimated 2.3 million blocks, completing the building in 20 years would involve moving an average of more than 12 of the blocks into place each hour, day and night. The pyramid remained the tallest man-made structure in the world for over 3,800 years, unsurpassed until the 160-metre-tall spire of Lincoln Cathedral was completed c. 1300.
The first precision measurements of the pyramid were done by Egyptologist Sir Flinders Petrie in 1880
82 and published as The Pyramids and Temples of Gizeh.Almost all reports are based on his measurements
The Greeks believed that slave labour was used, but modern discoveries made at nearby worker's camps associated with construction at Giza suggest it was built instead by tens of thousands of skilled workers. Verner posited that the labor was organized into a hierarchy, consisting of two gangs of 100,000 men, divided into five zaa or phyle of 20,000 men each, which may have been further divided according to the skills of the workers.
An empty sarcophagus is located in the King's Chamber inside the pyramid though it is unclear if it had ever been used for such a purpose as burial. While his mummy has never been recovered, two impressive and well preserved solar barges or Khufu ships were discovered buried in a pit at the foot of his great pyramid at Giza in 1954 by Egyptian archaeologists.

Khafra (aka Khafre) (2520-2494 BCE) was an Egyptian pharaoh of the Fourth dynasty, who had his capital at Memphis. According to some authors he was the son and successor of Khufu, but it is more commonly accepted that Djedefre was Khufu's successor and Khafra was Djedefre's. Khafra built the second largest pyramid at Giza. The Egyptian name of the pyramid was Wer(en)-Khafre which means "Khafre is Great".
The sphinx is said to date to the time of Khafre. A temple dedicated to Haremakhet was erected by Khafre. It was located right in front of the paws of the Sphinx.
The one-metre-wide nose on the face is missing. Examination of the Sphinx's face shows that long rods or chisels were hammered into the nose, one down from the bridge and one beneath the nostril, then used to pry the nose off towards the south. The Egyptian Arab historian al-Maqr, writing in the 15th century AD, attributes the loss of the nose to iconoclasm by Muhammad Sa'im al-Dahr, a Sufi Muslim from the khanqah of Sa'id al-Su'ada. In AD 1378, upon finding the Egyptian peasants making offerings to the Sphinx in the hope of increasing their harvest, Sa'im al-Dahr was so outraged that he destroyed the nose, and was hanged for vandalism. Al-Maqr describes the Sphinx as the "talisman of the Nile" on which the locals believed the flood cycle depended. Menkaure (or Men-Kau-Ra) was the last pharaoh of the Fourth dynasty of Egypt (c. 2620 BC 2480 BC) who ordered the construction of the third and smallest of the Pyramids of Giza. His name means "Eternal like the Souls of Re". He was the successor of Khafra. Several of his statues were unfinished upon his death suggesting the shorter reign while his pyramid is the smallest of all the three royal pyramids at Giza.
Menkaura and Queen Khamerernebty
Decline and collapse: Fifth-Eighth Dynasties

After the reigns of Userkaf and Sahure, civil wars arose as the powerful nomarchs (regional governors) no longer belonged to the royal family. The worsening civil conflict undermined unity and energetic government and also caused famines. But regional autonomy and civil wars were not the only causes of this decline. The massive building projects of the Fourth Dynasty had exceeded the capacity of the treasury and populace and, therefore, weakened the Kingdom at its roots.

The final blow was a severe drought in the region that resulted in a drastic drop in precipitation between 2200 and 2150 BCE, which in turn prevented the normal flooding of the Nile. The result was the collapse of the Old Kingdom followed by decades of famine and strife. An important inscription on the tomb of Ankhtifi, a nomarch during the early First Intermediate Period, describes the pitiful state of the country when famine stalked the land.
Pyramid Texts from Pyramid of Teti I (2345
2333) in Saqqara
The decline of the Old Kingdom arguably began during Pepi I's reign, with nomarchs (regional representatives of the king) becoming more powerful and exerting greater influence.

Pepi II (reigned c. 2278 BC-2184 BC) (2284 BC - 2184 BC) was a pharaoh of the Sixth dynasty in Egypt's Old Kingdom. His throne name, Neferkare (Nefer-ka-Re), means "Beautiful is the Ka of Re". He succeeded to the throne at age six, after the death of Merenre I, and is generally credited with having the longest reign of any monarch in history at 94 years (c. 2278 BC- 2184 BC) although this figure has been disputed by some Egyptologists who favour a shorter reign of not much more than 64 years Pepi II carried on in ways very similar to his predecessors. Copper and turquoise were mined at Wadi Maghareh in the Sinai, and alabaster was quarried from Hatnub. He is mentioned in inscriptions in Byblos in ancient Palestine.
Increasing wealth and power appears to have been handed over to high officials during Pepi II's reign. Large and expensive tombs appear at many of the major nomes of Egypt, built for the reigning nomarchs, the priestly class and other administrators. Nomarchs were traditionally free from taxation and their positions became hereditary. Their increasing wealth and independence led to a corresponding shift in power away from the central royal court to the regional nomarchs. A statue which is now in the Brooklyn Museum, depicts Queen Ankhenesmerire II with her son Pepi II on her lap. Pepi II wears the royal nemes headdress and a kilt. He is shown at a much smaller scale than his mother. This difference in size is atypical because the king is usually shown larger than others. The difference in size may refer to the time period when his mother served as a regent.
Queen Ankhenesmerire II with her son Pepi II on her lap
This was the end of the Old Kingdom of Egypt, a prelude to the roughly 200-year span of Egyptian history known as the First Intermediate Period

First Intermediate Period of Egypt_(2181-2055 BC)

The First Intermediate Period, often described as a dark period in ancient Egyptian history, spanned approximately one hundred years after the end of the Old Kingdom from ca. 2181-2055 BC. It included the seventh, eighth, ninth, tenth, and part of the eleventh dynasties. Very little monumental evidence survives from this period, especially towards the beginning of the era. The First Intermediate Period was a dynamic time in history where rule of Egypt was roughly divided between two competing power bases. One of those bases resided at Heracleopolis in Lower Egypt, a city just south of the Faiyum region. The other resided at Thebes in Upper Egypt. It is believed that during this time, the temples were pillaged and violated, their existing artwork was vandalized, and the statues of kings were broken or destroyed as a result of this alleged political chaos. These two kingdoms would eventually come into conflict, with the Theban kings conquering the north, resulting in reunification of Egypt under a single ruler during the second part of the eleventh dynasty.

It has been suggested that an invasion of Upper Egypt occurred contemporaneous with the founding of the Heracleopolitan kingdom, which would establish the Theban line of kings, constituting the eleventh and twelfth dynasties. One of them, Intef II, begins the assault on the north, particularly at Abydos. Intef III completes this attack on the north and eventually captures Abydos, moving into Middle Egypt against the Heracleopolitan kings.The first three kings of the eleventh dynasty (all named Intef) were, therefore, also the last three kings of the First Intermediate Period and would be succeeded by a line of kings who were all called Mentuhotep. Mentuhotep II (2061 BC-2010 BC), also known as Nebhepetra, would eventually defeat the Heracleopolitan kings around 2033 BC and unify the country to continue the eleventh dynasty, bringing Egypt into the Middle Kingdom Mentuhotep II led military campaigns south into Nubia, which had gained its independence during the First Intermediate Period. There is also evidence of military actions against Canaan. The king reorganized the country and placed a vizier at the head of the administration. Mentuhotep II was buried in a large tomb he had constructed at Deir el-Bahri. Mentuhotep II built temples and chapels at several places in Upper Egypt. These places include Denderah, Abydos, Armant and Gebelein.

A view on the remains of Mentuhotep's funerary temple (foreground). The larger building in the background is Hatshepsut's temple, the design of which was largely based on Mentuhotep's.
Mentuhotep II commanded military campaigns south as far as the Second Cataract in Nubia, which had gained its independence during the First Intermediate Period. He also restored Egyptian hegemony over the Sinai region, which had been lost to Egypt since the end of the Old Kingdom.

The end of the First Intermediate Period is placed at the time when Mentuhotep II of the eleventh dynasty defeats the Heracleopolitan kings of Lower Egypt and reunites Egypt under a single ruler. This act helps usher in a period of great wealth and prosperity, known as the Middle Kingdom.

Middle Kingdom of Egypt (2055 BC - 1650 BC):
 

 The Middle Kingdom of Egypt is the period in the history of ancient Egypt stretching from the establishment of the Eleventh Dynasty to the end of the Fourteenth Dynasty, between 2055 BC and 1650 BC, although some writers include the Thirteenth and Fourteenth dynasties in the Second Intermediate Period. During this period, the funerary cult of Osiris rose to dominate Egyptian popular religion. With the rise of the cult of Osiris during the Middle Kingdom the democratization of religion offered to even his most humblest followers the prospect of eternal life, with moral fitness becoming the dominant factor in determining a person's suitability. At death a person faced judgment by a tribunal of forty-two divine judges. If they led a life in conformance with the precepts of the Goddess Ma'at, who represented truth and right living, the person is welcomed into the kingdom of Osiris. If found guilty the person is thrown to a "devourer" and didn't share in eternal life. The person who is taken by the devourer is subject first to terrifying punishment and then annihilated. These depictions of punishment may have influenced medieval perceptions of the inferno in hell via early Christian and Coptic texts. The period comprises two phases, the 11th Dynasty, which ruled from Thebes and the 12th Dynasty onwards which was centered around el-Lisht. These two dynasties were originally considered to be the full extent of this unified kingdom, but historians now consider the 13th Dynasty to at least partially belong to the Middle Kingdom.
Lisht or el-Lisht is an Egyptian village located south of Cairo. It is the site of Middle Kingdom royal and elite burials, including two pyramids built by Amenemhat I and Senusret I. The two main pyramids were surrounded by smaller pyramids of members of the royal family, and several hundred mastaba tombs of high officials and their family members. Amenemhat I built a new capital for Egypt in the north, known as Amenemhet Itj Tawy, or Amenemhet, Seizer of the Two Lands. The location of this capital is unknown, but is presumably near the city's necropolis, the present-day el-Lisht. Like Montuhotep II, Amenemhet bolstered his claim to authority with propaganda. In particular, the Prophecy of Neferty dates to about this time, which purports to be an oracle of an Old Kingdom priest, who predicts a king, Amenemhet I, arising from the far south of Egypt to restore the kingdom after centuries of chaos. The Prophecy of Neferti is an Ancient Egyptian discourse text set in the reign of the 4th dynasty Old Kingdom king Snofru (c.2550 BC), but was actually written during the early 12th dynasty (c.1991-1786 BC). The text is a pseudo-prophecy, i.e. one written after the event.

When the Eleventh Dynasty reunified Egypt, it had to create a centralized administration such as had not existed in Egypt since the downfall of the Old Kingdom government. To do this, it appointed people to positions which had fallen out of use in the decentralized First Intermediate Period. Highest among these was the Vizier.The vizier was the chief minister for the king, handling all the day to day business of government in the king's place. This was a monumental task, therefore it would often be split into two positions, a vizier of the north, and a vizier of the south. It is uncertain how often this occurred during the Middle Kingdom, but Senusret I clearly had two simultaneously functioning viziers.

Later ancient Egyptians considered the literature from this time as "classic". Stories such as the Tale of the shipwrecked sailor and the Story of Sinuhe were composed during this period, and were popular enough to be widely copied afterwards

Second Intermediate Period of Egypt (1650 BC - 1550 BC)

The Second Intermediate Period marks a period when Ancient Egypt fell into disarray for a second time, between the end of the Middle Kingdom and the start of the New Kingdom. It is best known as the period when the Hyksos made their appearance in Egypt and whose reign comprised the fifteenth and sixteenth dynasties. The brilliant Egyptian twelfth dynasty came to an end in the 18th century BC with the death of Queen Sobekneferu (1777 BC-1773 BC).Apparently, she had no heirs, causing the twelfth dynasty to come to a sudden end as did the Golden Age of the Middle Kingdom, which was succeeded by the much weaker thirteenth dynasty of Egypt. It was during the reign of Sobekhotep IV that the Hyksos may have made their first appearance, and around 1720 BC took control of the town of Avaris (the modern Tell ed-Dab'a/Khata'na), a few miles from Qantir. The outlines of the traditional account of the "invasion" of the land by the Hyksos is preserved in the Aegyptiaca of Manetho, an Egyptian priest who wrote in the time of Ptolemy II Philadelphus. Manetho recorded that it was during the reign of "Tutimaios" (who has been identified with Dedumose I of the Thirteenth Dynasty) that the Hyksos overran Egypt, led by Salitis, the founder of the fifteenth dynasty. This dynasty was succeeded by a group of Hyksos princes and chieftains, who ruled in the eastern delta region with their local Egyptian vassals.
The Hyksos first appeared in Egypt during the Eleventh dynasty, began their climb to power in the Thirteenth dynasty, and came out of the second intermediate period in control of Avaris and the Delta. By the Fifteenth dynasty, they ruled Lower Egypt (the native Egyptian ruling house in Thebes declared its independence from the vassal dynasty in Itj-tawy and set itself up as the seventeenth dynasty. This dynasty was to prove the salvation of Ancient Egypt and eventually would lead the war of liberation that drove the Hyksos out of the country at the end of the Seventeenth dynasty,. The two last kings of this dynasty were Tao II the Brave (Seqenenre Tao II seems to have led military skirmishes against the Hyksos and, judging from the vicious head wound on his mummy in the Cairo Museum, may have died during one of them.) and Kamose, who traditionally are credited with the final defeat of the Hyksos).
The Hyksos had Canaanite names, as seen in those with names of Semitic deities such as Anath or Ba'al. They introduced new tools of warfare into Egypt, most notably the composite bow and the horse-drawn chariot.
A group of Asiatic peoples (perhaps the future Hyksos) depicted entering Egypt c.1900 BC from the tomb of a 12th dynasty official Khnumhotep
New Kingdom (1550 BC - 1069 BC):

The New Kingdom of Egypt, also referred to as the Egyptian Empire is the period in ancient Egyptian history between the 16th century BC and the 11th century BC, covering the Eighteenth, Nineteenth, and Twentieth Dynasties of Egypt.  It was Egypt's most prosperous time and marked the peak of its power.
Eighteenth Dynasty. The eighteenth dynasty of ancient Egypt (notated Dynasty XVIII)[ (c. 1550-c. 1292 BC) is perhaps the best known of all the dynasties of ancient Egypt. As well as boasting a number of Egypt's most famous pharaohs, it included Tutankhamun, the finding of whose tomb by Howard Carter in 1922 was a sensational archaeological discovery despite its having been twice disturbed by tomb robbers. The dynasty is sometimes known as the Thutmosid Dynasty because of the four pharaohs named Thutmosis. As well as Tutankhamen, famous pharaohs of Dynasty XVIII include Hatshepsut (1479 BC-1458 BC), longest-reigning queen-pharaoh of an indigenous dynasty, and Akhenaten (1353-1336 BC / 1351 - 1334 BC), the "heretic pharaoh", with his queen, Nefertiti. Many of the pharaohs were buried in the Valley of the Kings in Thebes (designated KV). Ahmose I (sometimes written Amosis I, "Amenes" and "Aahmes" and meaning Born of the Moon) was a pharaoh of ancient Egypt and the founder of the Eighteenth dynasty. During his reign, he completed the conquest and expulsion of the Hyksos from the delta region, restored Theban rule over the whole of Egypt and successfully reasserted Egyptian power in its formerly subject territories of Nubia and Canaan. Perhaps the most important shift was a religious one: Thebes effectively became the religious as well as the political center of the country, its local god Amun credited with inspiring Ahmose in his victories over the Hyksos. The importance of the temple complex at Karnak (on the east bank of the Nile north of Thebes) grew and the importance of the previous cult of Ra based in Heliopolis diminished. His pyramid was the last pyramid ever built as part of a mortuary complex in Egypt. The pyramid form would be abandoned by subsequent pharaohs of the New Kingdom, for both practical and religious reasons. The Giza plateau offered plenty of room for building pyramids; but this was not the case with the confined, cliff-bound geography of Thebes and any burials in the surrounding desert were vulnerable to flooding. The pyramid form was associated with the sun god Re, who had been overshadowed by Amun in importance. One of the meanings of Amun's name was the hidden one, which meant that it was now theologically permissible to hide the Pharaoh's tomb by fully separating the mortuary template from the actual burial place. This provided the added advantage that the resting place of the pharaoh could be kept hidden from necropolis robbers. All subsequent pharaohs of the New Kingdom would be buried in rock-cut shaft tombs in the Valley of the Kings . Ahmose I's mummy was discovered in 1881 within the Deir el-Bahri Cache, located in the hills directly above the Mortuary Temple of Hatshepsut. He was interred along with the mummies of other 18th and 19th dynasty leaders Amenhotep I, Thutmose I, Thutmose II, Thutmose III, Ramesses I, Seti I, Ramesses II and Ramesses IX, as well as the 21st dynasty pharaohs Pinedjem I, Pinedjem II and Siamun. He had evidently been moved from his original burial place, re-wrapped and placed within the cache at Deir el-Bahri during the reign of the 21st dynasty priest-king Pinedjem II, whose name also appeared on the mummy's wrappings.

Amenhotep I (1526–1506) was the first king of Egypt to separate his mortuary temple from his tomb, probably to keep tomb robbers from finding his tomb as easily. The remains of this temple are most probably to be found at the north end of Deir el-Bahri. Deir el-Bahri appears to have had some sort of funerary significance for Amenhotep, since Theban Tomb 358, the tomb of his queen Ahmose-Meritamon, was also found nearby.

After Amenhotep died, wherever his tomb was located, his body did not remain there. Amenhotep I's body was found in the Deir el-Bahri Cache above the Mortuary Temple of Hatshepsut and is now in the Egyptian Museum in Cairo. His mummy had apparently not been looted by the 21st dynasty, and the priests who moved the mummy took care to keep the Cartonnage intact. Because of that exquisite face mask, Amenhotep's is the only royal mummy which has not been unwrapped and examined by modern Egyptologists
Amenhotep I mask.
It appears that during Amenhotep I's reign the first water clock was invented. Amenhotep's court astronomer Amenemheb took credit for creating this device in his tomb biography, although the oldest surviving mechanism dates to the reign of Amenhotep III. This invention was of great benefit for timekeeping, because the Egyptian hour was not a fixed amount of time, but was measured as 1/12 of the night. When the nights were shorter in the summer, these waterclocks could be adjusted to measure the shorter hours accurately-

Thutmose I (1506–1493 BC, sometimes read as Thothmes, Thutmosis or Tuthmosis I, meaning Thoth-Born) was the third Pharaoh of the 18th dynasty of Egypt. He was given the throne after the death of the previous king Amenhotep I. During his reign, he campaigned deep into the Levant and Nubia, pushing the borders of Egypt further than ever before. Thutmose had one son by another wife, Mutnofret. Queen Ahmose, who held the title of Great Royal Wife of Thutmose, was probably the daughter of Ahmose I and the sister of Amenhotep I;[however, she was never called "king's daughter, this son succeeded him as Thutmose II, whom Thutmose I married to his daughter, Hatshepsut. It was later recorded by Hatshepsut that Thutmose willed the kingship to both Thutmose II and Hatshepsut. However, this is considered to be propaganda by Hatshepsut's supporters to legitimise her claim to the throne when she later assumed power. Thutmose I organized great building projects during his reign, including many temples and tombs, but his greatest projects were at the Temple of Karnak under the supervision of the architect Ineni. The original coffin of Thutmose I was taken over and re-used by a later pharaoh of the 21st dynasty. The mummy of Thutmose I was thought to be lost, but Egyptologist Gaston Maspero, largely on the strength of familial resemblance to the mummies of Thutmose II and Thutmose III, believed he had found his mummy in the otherwise unlabelled mummy #5283. In 2007, Dr. Zahi Hawass announced that the mummy which was previously thought to be Thutmose I [is] that of a thirty year old man who had died as a result of an arrow wound to the chest.

Nebamun's tomb: Nebamun's name is translated as "My Lord is Amun" and he is thought to have lived c. 1500 bc. The paintings were hacked from the tomb wall and purchased by a British collector who in turn sold them to the British Museum in 1821. Nebamun was an Egyptian "scribe and counter of grain" during the New Kingdom. His tomb in Thebes, the location of which is now lost, featured the famous Pond in a Garden fresco, executed a secco.


Hatshepsut (1479–1458) was described by early modern scholars as only having served as a co-regent from about 1479 to 1458 BC, during years seven to twenty-one of the reign previously identified as that of Thutmose III. Today Egyptologists generally agree that Hatshepsut assumed the position of pharaoh and the length of her reign usually is given as twenty-two years.
Statue of Hatshepsut on display at the Metropolitan Museum of Art
Although it was uncommon for Egypt to be ruled by a woman, the situation was not unprecedented. As a regent Hatshepsut was preceded by Merneith of the first dynasty, who was buried with the full honors of a pharaoh and may have ruled in her own right. In comparison with other female pharaohs, Hatshepsut's reign was much longer and prosperous. She was successful in warfare early in her reign, but generally is considered to be a pharaoh who inaugurated a long peaceful era. She re-established trading relationships lost during a foreign occupation and brought great wealth to Egypt. That wealth enabled Hatshepsut to initiate building projects that raised the calibre of Ancient Egyptian architecture to a standard, comparable to classical architecture, that would not be rivaled by any other culture for a thousand years. Hatshepsut established the trade networks that had been disrupted during the Hyksos occupation of Egypt during the Second Intermediate Period, thereby building the wealth of the eighteenth dynasty. She oversaw the preparations and funding for a mission to the Land of Punt. The expedition set out in her name with five ships, each measuring 70 feet (21 m) long bearing several sails and accommodating 210 men that included sailors and 30 rowers. Many trade goods were bought in Punt, notably myrrh.
Wife of the ruler of Punt from Hatshepsut's Deir el-Bahri
Most notably, however, the Egyptians returned from the voyage bearing thirty-one live myrrh trees, the roots of which were carefully kept in baskets for the duration of the voyage.

Hatshepsut had monuments constructed at the Temple of Karnak. She also restored the original Precinct of Mut, the ancient great goddess of Egypt, at Karnak that had been ravaged by the foreign rulers during the Hyksos occupation. It later was ravaged by other pharaohs, who took one part after another to use in their pet projects and awaits restoration. She had twin obelisks, at the time the tallest in the world, erected at the entrance to the temple. One still stands, as the tallest surviving ancient obelisk on Earth; the other has broken in two and toppled. No contemporary mention of the cause of her death has survived. If the recent identification of her mummy (see below) is correct, however, the medical evidence would indicate that she suffered from diabetes and died from bone cancer which had spread throughout her body while she was in her fifties. It also would suggest that she had arthritis and bad teeth
Hatshepsut
s mortuary temple is considered the closest Egypt came to the Classical Architecture
After her death, many of Hatshepsut's monuments and depictions were subsequently defaced or destroyed, including those in her famous mortuary temple complex at Deir el-Bahri. Traditionally, these have been interpreted by early modern scholars to be evidence of acts of damnatio memoriae (condemning a person by erasure from recorded existence) by Thutmose III.

Widely considered a military genius by historians, Thutmose III made 16 raids in 20 years. He was an active expansionist ruler, sometimes called Egypt's greatest conqueror or "the Napoleon of Egypt." He is recorded to have captured 350 cities during his rule and conquered much of the Near East from the Euphrates to Nubia during seventeen known military campaigns. Thutmose dedicated far more attention to Karnak than any other site. East of the Iput-Isut, he erected another temple to Aten where he was depicted as being supported by Amun. It was inside this temple that Thutmose planned on erecting his tekhen waty, or "unique obelisk." The tekhen waty was designed to stand alone, instead as part of a pair, and is the tallest obelisk ever successfully cut. It was not, however, erected until Thutmose IV raised it, thirty five years later. It was later moved to Rome by Emperor Constantius II and is now known as the Lateran Obelisk.
Lateran Obelisk
Another Christian Roman Emperor Theodosius I re-erected another obelisk from the Temple of Karnak in the Hippodrome of Constantinople, in AD 390. Thus, two obelisks of Tuthmosis III's Karnak temple stand in Papal Rome and in Caesaropapist Constantinople, the two main historical capitals of the Roman Empire.

Thutmose III's tomb in the Valley of the Kings, (KV34), is the first one in which Egyptologists found the complete Amduat, an important New Kingdom funerary text. The wall decorations are executed in a simple, "diagrammatic" way, imitating the manner of the cursive script one might expect to see on a funerary papyrus rather than the more typically lavish wall decorations seen on most other royal tomb walls.
KV34
Toward the end of the reign of Thutmose III and into the reign of his son, an attempt was made to remove Hatshepsut from certain historical and pharaonic records. This elimination was carried out in the most literal way possible. Her cartouches and images were chiselled off some stone walls, leaving very obvious Hatshepsut-shaped gaps in the artwork. The deliberate erasures or mutilations of the numerous public celebrations of her accomplishments, but not the rarely seen ones, would be all that was necessary to obscure Hatshepsut's accomplishments.

The 2006 discovery of a foundation deposit including nine golden cartouches bearing the names of both Hatshepsut and Thutmose III in Karnak may shed additional light on the eventual attempt by Thutmose III and his son Amenhotep II to erase Hatshepsut (aunt of Thutmose III) from the historical record and the correct nature of their relationships and her role as pharaoh.

Amenhotep III (sometimes read as Amenophis III; Egyptian Amna-tpa; meaning Amun is Satisfied) also known as Amenhotep the Magnificent was the ninth pharaoh of the Eighteenth dynasty. Amenhotep III built extensively at the temple of Karnak including the Luxor temple which consisted of two pylons, a colonnade behind the new temple entrance, and a new temple to the goddess Ma'at. His enormous mortuary temple on the west bank of the Nile was, in its day, the largest religious complex in Thebes, but unfortunately, the king chose to build it too close to the floodplain and less than two hundred years later, it stood in ruins. The Colossi of Memnon two massive stone statues, eighteen meters high, of Amenhotep that stood at the gateway of his mortuary temple are the only elements of the complex that remained standing.  Amenhotep III also built the Third Pylon at Karnak and erected 600 statues of the goddess Sekhmet in the Temple of Mut, south of Karnak. With the exception of the Colossi, however, very little remains today of Amenhotep's temple. Standing on the edge of the Nile floodplain, successive annual inundations gnawed away at the foundations a famous 1840s lithograph by David Roberts shows the Colossi surrounded by water and it was not unknown for later rulers to dismantle, purloin, and reuse portions of their predecessors' monuments.
David Roberts lithograph, Thebes, Colossi of Memnon
In 27 BC, a large earthquake reportedly shattered the eastern colossus, collapsing it from the waist up and cracking the lower half. Following its rupture, the remaining lower half of this statue was then reputed to "sing" on various occasions- always within an hour or two of sunrise, usually right at dawn. The sound was most often reported in February or March, but this is probably more a reflection of the tourist season rather than any actual pattern.
Around 1350 BC, the stability of the New Kingdom was threatened when Amenhotep IV ascended the throne and instituted a series of radical and chaotic reforms. Changing his name to Akhenaten, he touted the previously obscure sun god Aten as the supreme deity, suppressed the worship of other deities, and attacked the power of the priestly establishment. Moving the capital to the new city of Akhetaten (modern-day Amarna), Akhenaten turned a deaf ear to foreign affairs and absorbed himself in his new religion and artistic style. After his death, the cult of the Aten was quickly abandoned, and the subsequent pharaohs Tutankhamun, Ay, and Horemheb erased all mention of Akhenaten's heresy, now known as the Amarna Period.
Amarna
As Amenhotep IV, Akhenaten was married to Nefertiti at the very beginning of his reign, and six daughters were identified from inscriptions. Recent DNA analysis has revealed he also fathered Tutankhaten (later Tutankhamen) with his biological sister, whose mummy remains unidentified. The parentage of Smenkhkare, his successor, is unknown, and Akhenaten and an unknown wife have been proposed to be his parents.

Akhenaten, Nefertiti and their children
Important evidence about Akhenaten's reign and foreign policy has been provided by the discovery of the Amarna Letters, a cache of diplomatic correspondence discovered in modern times at el-Amarna, the modern designation of the Akhetaten site. This correspondence comprises a priceless collection of incoming messages on clay tablets, sent to Akhetaten from various subject rulers through Egyptian military outposts, and from the foreign rulers (recognized as "Great Kings") of the kingdom of Mitanni, Babylon, Assyria and Hatti.

This Amarna Period is also associated with a serious outbreak of a pandemic, possibly the plague, or polio, or perhaps the world's first recorded outbreak of influenza, which came from Egypt and spread throughout the Middle East, killing Suppiluliuma I, the Hittite King. Influenza is a disease associated with the close proximity of water fowl, pigs and humans, and its origin as a pandemic disease may be due to the development of agricultural systems that allow the mixing of these animals and their wastes.
Some scholars do identify Mummy 61074, found in KV55, an unfinished tomb in the Valley of the Kings, as Akhenaten's. If so or if the KV 55 mummy is that of his close relative, Smenkhkare its measurements tend to support the theory that Akhenaten's depictions exaggerate his actual appearance. Though the "mummy" consists only in disarticulated bones, the skull is long and has a prominent chin and the limbs are light and long. However, in 2007, Zahi Hawass and a team of researchers made CT Scan images of the KV 55 mummy. They have concluded that the elongated skull, cheek bones, cleft palate, and impacted wisdom tooth suggest that the mummy is the father of Tutankhamun, also commonly known as Akhenaten. The Nefertiti Bust is a 3300-year-old painted limestone bust of Nefertiti, the Great Royal Wife of the Egyptian Pharaoh Akhenaten and is one of the most copied works of ancient Egypt. Due to the bust, Nefertiti has become one of the most famous women from the ancient world as well as an icon of female beauty. It is believed to have been crafted in 1345 BC by the sculptor Thutmose.
Nefertiti bust
 A German archeological team led by Ludwig Borchardt discovered the Nefertiti bust in 1912 in Thutmose's workshop in Amarna, Egypt. It has been kept at several locations in Germany since its discovery, including a salt mine in Merkers-Kieselbach, the Dahlem museum (then in West Berlin), the Egyptian Museum in Charlottenburg and the Altes Museum. It is currently on display at the Neues Museum, Berlin
The bust of Nefertiti has become "one of the most admired, and most copied, images from ancient Egypt", and the star exhibit used to market Berlin's museums. It is seen as an "icon of international beauty"."Showing a woman with a long neck, elegantly arched brows, high cheekbones, a slender nose and an enigmatic smile played about red lips, the bust has established Nefertiti as one of the most beautiful faces of antiquity." It is described as the most famous bust of ancient art, comparable only to the mask of Tutankhamun. Nefertiti has become an icon of Berlin's culture. Some 500,000 visitors see Nefertiti every year. The bust is described as "The best-known work of art from ancient Egypt, arguably from all antiquity". Her face is on postcards of Berlin and 1989 German postage stamps. There are many theories regarding her death and burial but to date, the mummy of this famous and iconic queen has not been found. Nefertiti's place as an icon in popular culture is secure as she has become somewhat of a celebrity. After Cleopatra she is the second most famous "Queen" of Ancient Egypt in the Western imagination and influenced through photographs that changed standards of feminine beauty of the 20th century, and is often referred to as "the most beautiful woman in the world". The succession of kings at the end of the Eighteenth dynasty of Ancient Egypt is a matter of great debate and confusion. There are very few contemporary records that can be relied upon, due to the nature of the Amarna Period and the reign of Akhenaten and his successors and possible co-regents. It is known that Akhenaten reigned for seventeen years, and in the last 3 or 4 years he had two co-regents: Smenkhkare, who was possibly his brother or son, and Neferneferuaten, who was either one of his daughters or his Great Royal Wife Nefertiti. It is unknown in which order they followed each other, and neither of their reigns lasted long, for Tutankhamun succeeded not long after Akhenaten's death. The last dated appearance of Akhenaten and the Amarna family is in the tomb of Meryre II, and dates from second month, year 12 of his reign. After this the historical record is unclear, and only with the succession of Tutankhamun is it somewhat clarified. The royal line of the dynasty died out with Tutankhamun, for two foetuses found buried in his tomb may have been his twin daughters, according to a 2008 investigation. In his third regnal year, Tutankhamun reversed several changes made during his father's reign. He ended the worship of the god Aten and restored the god Amun to supremacy. The ban on the cult of Amun was lifted and traditional privileges were restored to its priesthood. The capital was moved back to Thebes and the city of Akhetaten abandoned. This is also when he changed his name to Tutankhamun.

Tutankhamun was nine years old when he became pharaoh and reigned for approximately ten years. In historical terms, Tutankhamun's significance stems from his rejection of the radical religious innovations introduced by his predecessor and father, Akhenaten. Secondly, his tomb in the Valley of the Kings was discovered by Howard Carter almost completely intact the most complete ancient Egyptian royal tomb ever found. KV62 is the tomb of Tutankhamun in the Valley of the Kings (Egypt), which became famous for the wealth of treasure it contained. The tomb was discovered in 1922 underneath the remains of workmen's huts built during the Ramesside Period; this explains why it was spared from the worst of the tomb depredations of that time. KV is an abbreviation for the Valley of the Kings, followed by a number to designate individual tombs in the Valley. As Tutankhamun began his reign at such an early age, his vizier and eventual successor Ay was probably making most of the important political decisions during Tutankhamun's reign.
Mask of Tutankhamun's mummy, the popular icon for ancient Egypt at The Egyptian Museum.
The last two members of the eighteenth dynasty - Ay and Horemheb - became rulers from the ranks of officials in the royal court, although Ay may have married the widow of Tutankhamun in order to obtain power and she did not live long afterward. Ay's reign was short. His successor was Horemheb, who had been a diplomat in the administration of Tutankhamun and may have been intended as his successor by the childless Tutankhamun. Horemheb may have taken the throne away from Ay in a coup. He also died childless and appointed his successor, Paramessu, who under the name Ramesses I ascended the throne in 1292 BC and was the first pharaoh of the Nineteenth Dynasty.
Horemheb with Amun at the Museo Egizio (museum in Turin, Italy, that specialises in Egyptian archaeology and anthropology. It houses the world's largest and most comprehensive collection of Egyptian antiquities outside the Egyptian Museum in Cairo)
Towards the end of the 18th Dynasty, the situation had changed radically. Aided by Akhenaten's apparent lack of interest in international affairs, the Hittites had gradually extended their influence into Phoenicia and Canaan to become a major power in international politics.

Nineteenth Dynasty:

The warrior kings of the early 18th Dynasty had encountered only little resistance from neighbouring kingdoms, allowing them to expand their realm of influence easily. The situation had changed radically towards the end of the 18th Dynasty. The Hittites gradually extended their influence into Syria and Palestine to become a major power in international politics, a power that both Seti I and his son Ramesses II would need to deal with. Menpehtyre Ramesses I (traditional English: Ramesses or Ramses) was the founding Pharaoh of Ancient Egypt's 19th dynasty. Originally called Pa-ra-mes-su, Ramesses I was of non-royal birth, being born into a noble military family from the Nile delta region, perhaps near the former Hyksos capital of Avaris, or from Tanis. Ramesses I enjoyed a very brief reign, as evidenced by the general paucity of contemporary monuments mentioning him: the king had little time to build any major buildings in his reign and was hurriedly buried in a small and hastily finished tomb.
Decoration at KV 16 (Rameses I)
Menmaatre Seti I (also called Sethos I after the Greeks) was a Pharaoh of Ancient Egypt (Nineteenth dynasty of Egypt), the son of Ramesses I and Queen Sitre, and the father of Ramesses II.
Seti I fought a series of wars in Western Asia, Libya and Nubia in the first decade of his reign. The main source for Seti's military activities are his battle scenes on the north exterior wall of the Karnak Hypostyle Hall, along with several royal stela with inscriptions mentioning battles in Canaan and Nubia.
The greatest achievement of Seti I's foreign policy was the capture of the Syrian town of Kadesh and neighboring territory of Amurru from the Hittite Empire. Kadesh had been lost to Egypt since the time of Akhenaten. Tutankhamun and Horemheb had both failed to recapture the city from the Hittites. Seti I was successful in defeating a Hittite army that tried to defend the town. He entered the city in triumph together with his son Ramesses II and erected a victory stela at the site. Kadesh, however, soon reverted to Hittite control because the Egyptians did not or could not maintain a permanent military occupation of Kadesh.
Seti's well preserved tomb (KV17) was found in 1817 by Giovanni Battista Belzoni, in the Valley of the Kings; it proved to be the longest at 136 meters and deepest of all the New Kingdom royal tombs. It was also the first tomb to feature decorations on every passageway and chamber with highly refined bas-reliefs and colorful paintings.
Seti's well preserved tomb (KV17)
From an examination of Seti's extremely well-preserved mummy, Seti I appears to have been less than forty years old when he died unexpectedly. This is in stark contrast to the situation with Horemheb, Ramesses I and Ramesses II who all lived to an advanced age. Seti I was portrayed as the father of Rameses II and uncle of Moses by actor Sir Cedric Hardwicke in the 1956 film The Ten Commandments

Ramesses II (c. 1303 BC-July or August 1213 BC; Egyptian: alternatively transcribed as Rameses play and Ramses),  referred to as Ramesses the Great, was the third Egyptian pharaoh (reigned 1279 BC
1213 BC) of the Nineteenth dynasty. He is often regarded as the greatest, most celebrated, and most powerful pharaoh of the Egyptian Empire. His successors and later Egyptians called him the "Great Ancestor"
He is also known as Ozymandias in the Greek sources, from a transliteration into Greek of a part of Ramesses's throne name, Usermaatre Setepenre, "Ra's mighty truth, chosen of Ra"
At age fourteen, Ramesses was appointed Prince Regent by his father Seti I. He is believed to have taken the throne in his late teens and is known to have ruled Egypt from 1279 BC to 1213 BC for 66 years and 2 months, according to both Manetho and Egypt's contemporary historical records.
The Battle of Kadesh in his fifth regnal year was the climactic engagement in a campaign that Ramesses fought in Syria, against the resurgent Hittite forces of Muwatallis. The pharaoh wanted a victory at Kadesh both to expand Egypt's frontiers into Syria and to emulate his father Seti I's triumphal entry into the city just a decade or so earlier. He also constructed his new capital, Pi-Ramesses where he built factories to manufacture weapons, chariots, and shields
[Pi-Rameses: Ramesses II moved the capital of his kingdom from Thebes in the Nile valley to a new site in the eastern Delta. His motives are uncertain, though he possibly wished to be closer to his territories in Palestine and Syria. The new city of Pi-Ramesses (or to give the full name, Pi-Ramesses Aa-nakhtu, meaning "Domain of Ramesses, Great in Victory") was dominated by huge temples and the king's vast residential palace, complete with its own zoo. For a time the site was misidentified as that of Tanis, due to the amount of statuary and other material from Pi-Ramesses found there, but it is now recognised that the Ramasside remains at Tanis were brought there from elsewhere, and the real Pi-Ramesses lies about 30 km south, near modern Qantir. The colossal feet of the statue of Ramesses are almost all that remains above ground today, the rest is buried in the fields. The biblical Book of Exodus mentions "Ramesses" as one of the cities on whose construction the Israelites were forced to labour. Understandably, this Ramesses was identified by an early generation of biblical archaeolgists with the Pi-Ramesses of Ramesses II. But the existence of the city as Egypt's capital as late as the 10th century means it is thus not possible to say that the reference to Ramesses in the Exodus story preserves a genuine memory of the era of Ramesses II; and indeed, the shortened form "Ramesses", in place of the original Pi-Ramesses, is first found in 1st millennium texts.  Although Ramesses's forces were caught in a Hittite ambush and outnumbered at Kadesh, the pharaoh fought the battle to a stalemate and returned home a hero. Ramesses II's forces suffered major losses particularly among the 'Ra' division which was routed by the initial charge of the Hittite chariots during the battle. Once back in Egypt, Ramesses proclaimed that he had won a great victory. The battle is generally dated to 1274 BC, and is the earliest battle in recorded history for which details of tactics and formations are known. It was probably the largest chariot battle ever fought, involving perhaps 5,000-6,000 chariots.

In his 21st regnal year, Ramesses signed the first recorded peace treaty with Urhi-Teshub's successor, Hattusili III and with that act Egypt-Hittite relations improved significantly. Ramesses II even married two Hittite princesses, the first after his second Sed Festival. At least as early as Josephus, it was believed that Moses lived during the reign of Ramesses II (though a wide range of other possibilities has also been suggested). Ramesses built extensively throughout Egypt and Nubia, and his cartouches are prominently displayed even in buildings that he did not actually construct.

The temple complex built by Ramesses II between Qurna and the desert has been known as the Ramesseum since the 19th century. The Greek historian Diodorus Siculus marveled at the gigantic and famous temple, now no more than a few ruins.
The Ramesseum is the memorial temple (or mortuary temple) of Pharaoh Ramesses II ("Ramesses the Great", also spelled "Ramses" and "Rameses"). It is located in the Theban necropolis in Upper Egypt, across the River Nile from the modern city of Luxor. The name or at least its French form, Rhamession was coined by Jean-Franois Champollion, who visited the ruins of the site in 1829 and first identified the hieroglyphs making up Ramesses's names and titles on the walls. A temple of Seti I, of which nothing is now left but the foundations, once stood to the right of the hypostyle hall. In 1255 BC Ramesses and his queen Nefertari had traveled into Nubia to inaugurate a new temple, the great Abu Simbel. It is an ego cast in stone; the man who built it intended not only to become Egypt's greatest pharaoh but also one of its gods.
The great temple of Ramesses II at Abu Simbel was discovered in 1813 by the famous Swiss Orientalist and traveler Johann Ludwig Burckhardt. However, four years passed before anyone could enter the temple, because an enormous pile of sand almost completely covered the facade and its colossal statues, blocking the entrance. This feat was achieved by the great Paduan explorer Giovanni Battista Belzoni, who managed to reach the interior on 4 August 1817
Abu Simbel by David Roberts in 1838
In 1959 an international donations campaign to save the monuments of Nubia began: the southernmost relics of this ancient human civilization were under threat from the rising waters of the Nile that were about to result from the construction of the Aswan High Dam.

The salvage of the Abu Simbel temples began in 1964 by a multinational team of archeologists, engineers and skilled heavy equipment operators working together under the UNESCO banner; it cost some $40 million at the time. Between 1964 and 1968, the entire site was carefully cut into large blocks (up to 30 tons, averaging 20 tons), dismantled, lifted and reassembled in a new location 65 meters higher and 200 meters back from the river, in one of the greatest challenges of archaeological engineering in history. Some structures were even saved from under the waters of Lake Nasser. Today, thousands of tourists visit the temples daily. Guarded convoys of buses and cars depart twice a day from Aswan, the nearest city. Many visitors also arrive by plane, at an airfield that was specially constructed for the temple complex.
A scale model showing the original and current location of the temple (with respect to the water level)
The most important and famous of Ramesses's consorts was discovered by Ernesto Schiaparelli in 1904.Although it had been looted in ancient times, the tomb of Nefertari is extremely important, because its magnificent wall painting decoration is regarded as one of the greatest achievements of ancient Egyptian art.
Ramesses obvious affection for his wife, as written on her tomb's walls, shows clearly that Egyptian queens were not simply marriages of convenience or marriages designed to accumulate greater power and alliances, but, in some cases at least, were actually based around some kind of emotional attachment. Also poetry written by Ramesses about his dead wife is featured on some of the walls of her burial chamber. ("My love is unique no one can rival her, for she is the most beautiful woman alive. Just by passing, she has stolen away my heart.")

[Tomb of Nefertari : The real value of the paintings found within the tomb is that they are the best preserved and most detailed source of the ancient Egyptian's journey towards the afterlife. The tomb features several extracts from the Book of the Dead from chapters 148, 94, 146, 17 and 144 and tells of all the ceremonies and tests taking place from the death of Nefertari up until the end of her journey, depicted on the door of her burial chamber, in which Nefertari is reborn and emerges from the eastern horizon as a sun disc, forever immortalized in victory over the world of darkness.
The tomb was closed to the public in 1950 because of various problems that threatened the spectacular paintings, which are considered to be the best preserved and most eloquent decorations of any Egyptian burial site, found on almost every available surface in the tomb, including stars painted thousands of times on the ceiling of the burial chamber on a blue background to represent the sky. In 1986 an operation to restore all the paintings within the tomb was embarked upon by the Egyptian Antiquities Organisation and the Getty Conservation Institute; however, work did not begin on the actual restoration until 1988 which was completed in April 1992. Upon completion of the restoration work, Egyptian authorities decided to severely restrict public access to the tomb in order to preserve the delicate paintings found within. Tomb KV5 is a subterranean, rock-cut tomb in the Valley of the Kings. It belonged to the sons of Ramesses II. Though KV5 was partially excavated as early as 1825, its true extent was discovered by Dr Kent R. Weeks and his exploration team. The tomb is now known to be the largest in the Valley of the Kings. Dr Week's discovery in 1995 is widely considered the most dramatic in the valley since the discovery of the tomb of Tutankhamun in 1922. At least 121 rooms or chambers have been discovered as of 2006 (only about 7% of which have been cleared), and work is still continuing on clearing the rest of tomb. In the proximity to the tomb of Ramesses II, this tomb contained most of his children, both male and female, including those who died in his lifetime in particular. The skull fragments of Amun-her-khepeshef, among others, were found inside and reconstituted.

Ramesses II was originally buried in the tomb KV7 in the Valley of the Kings but, because of looting, priests later transferred the body to a holding area, re-wrapped it, and placed it inside the tomb of queen Inhapy. 72 hours later it was again moved, to the tomb of the high priest Pinudjem II. All of this is recorded in hieroglyphics on the linen covering the body. His mummy is today in Cairo's Egyptian Museum.
KV7 follows the bent-axis plan of tombs of the earlier Eighteenth Dynasty. The burial chamber has a sunken central area and a vaulted ceiling. Much of the decoration has been damaged beyond repair
its section of the Valley is particularly susceptible to flash floods but it would have been decorated with the standard Book of Gates, Amduat and Litany of Ra. Ramesses II is one of the more popular candidates for the Pharaoh of the Exodus. He is cast in this role in the 1944 novella Das Gesetz ("The Law") by Thomas Mann. Although not a major character, Ramesses appears in Joan Grant's So Moses Was Born, a first person account from Nebunefer, the brother of Ramoses, which paints the picture of the life of Ramoses from the death of Seti, with all the power play, intrigue, plots to assassinate, following relationships are depicted: Bintanath, Queen Tuya, Nefertari, and Moses. In film, Ramesses was played by Yul Brynner in the classic film The Ten Commandments (1956). Here Ramesses was portrayed as a vengeful tyrant as well as the main antagonist of the film, ever scornful of his father's preference for Moses over "the son of [his] body".The animated film The Prince of Egypt (1998), also featured a depiction of Ramesses (voiced by Ralph Fiennes), portrayed as Moses' adoptive brother, and ultimately as the film's de facto villain. The Ten Commandments: The Musical (2006) co-starred Kevin Earley as Ramesses. This dynasty declined as internal fighting between the heirs of Merneptah for the throne increased. Amenmesse apparently usurped the throne from Merneptah's son and successor, Seti II, but he ruled Egypt for only 4 years. After his death, Seti regained power and destroyed most of Amenmesse's monuments. Seti was served at Court by Chancellor Bay, who was originally just a 'royal scribe' but quickly became one of the most powerful men in Egypt gaining the unprecedented privilege of constructing his own tomb in the Valley of the Kings (KV17). Both Bay and Seti's chief wife Twosret reportedly had a sinister reputation in Ancient Egyptian folklore. After Siptah's death Twosret ruled Egypt for two more years, but she proved unable to maintain her hold on power amid the conspiracies and powerplays being hatched at the royal court. She was likely ousted in a revolt led by Setnakhte, founder of the Twentieth Dynasty.
Seated statue of Seti II, detail of head and face, Karnak. British Museum
The Eighteenth, Nineteenth, and Twentieth Dynasties of ancient Egypt are often combined under the group title, New Kingdom. The 20th dynasty is considered to be the last one of the New Kingdom of Egypt.

Twentieth Dynasty:

Pharaoh Setnakhte was likely already middle aged when he took the throne after Queen Twosret. He only ruled for a short time when he was succeeded by his son Ramesses III (1186 - 1155 BC). Egypt was threatened by the Sea Peoples during this time period, but Ramesses III was able to defeat this confederacy from the Near East. The king is also known for a harem conspiracy in which Queen Tiye attempted to assassinate the king and put her son Pentawere on the throne. The period of these rulers is notable for the beginning of the systematic robbing of the Royal Tombs. Many surviving administrative documents from this period are records of investigations and punishment for these crimes, especially in the reigns of Ramses IX (1129 - 1111 BC) and Ramses XI (1107-1077).

Ramesses III (also written Ramses and Rameses) was the second Pharaoh of the Twentieth Dynasty and is considered to be the last great New Kingdom king to wield any substantial authority over Egypt. He was the son of Setnakhte and Queen Tiy-Merenese. Ramesses III is believed to have reigned from March 1186 to April 1155 BCE. Ramesses began the reconstruction of the Temple of Khonsu at Karnak from the foundations of an earlier temple of Amenhotep III and completed the Temple of Medinet Habu around his Year 12. He decorated the walls of his Mortuary Medinet Habu temple with scenes of his Naval and Land battles against the Sea Peoples. This monument stands today as one of the best-preserved temples of the New Kingdom. Although it was long believed that Ramesses III's body showed no obvious wounds, a recent examination of the the mummy by a German forensic team, televised in the documentary Rameses on the Science Channel in 2011, showed excess bandages around the neck. A subsequent CT Scan revealed that beneath the bandages was a deep knife wound across the throat, a wound deep enough to reach the vertebrae. According to the documentary narrator, "It was a wound no one could have survived."
The mummy of Ramesses III was discovered by antiquarians in 1886 and is regarded as the prototypical Egyptian Mummy in numerous Hollywood movies. His tomb (KV11) is one of the largest in the Valley of the Kings.

Khaemwaset prince and his father RamsesIII (QV44)
Heqamaatre Ramesses IV (also written Ramses or Rameses) was the third pharaoh of the Twentieth Dynasty of the New Kingdom of Ancient Egypt. His name prior to assuming the crown was Amonhirkhopshef. He was the fifth son of Ramesses III and was appointed to the position of crown prince by the twenty-second year of his father's reign when all four of his elder brothers predeceased him
Part of the king's program included the extensive enlargement of his father's Temple of Khonsu at Karnak and the construction of a large mortuary temple near the Temple of Hatshepsut. The most important document to survive from this pharaoh's rule is Papyrus Harris I, which honours the life of his father, Ramesses III, by listing the latter's many accomplishments and gifts to the temples of Egypt, and the Turin papyrus, the earliest known geologic map. After a short reign of about six and a half years, Ramesses IV died and was buried in tomb KV2 in the Valley of the Kings.The tomb was one of about eleven tombs open to early travelers. KV2 contains the second-highest number of ancient graffiti within it (after KV9), with 656 individual griffitos left by both Ancient Greek and Roman visitors. This tomb also contains around 50 or so examples of Coptic graffiti, mostly sketched onto the right wall by the entranceway, The tomb was likely used as a dwelling by Coptic monks, and there are also depictions of Coptic saints and crosses on the tomb's walls.
Coptic graffiti at Rameses IV
Ramesses VI (also written Ramses and Rameses) was the fifth ruler of the Twentieth dynasty of Egypt who reigned from 1145 BC to 1137 BC and a son of Ramesses III by Iset Ta-Hemdjert. His royal tomb, KV9, is located near Tutankhamun's tomb in the Valley of the Kings. Egypt's political and economic decline continued unabated during Ramesses VI's reign; he is the last king of Egypt's New Kingdom whose name is attested in the Sinai. At Thebes, the power of the chief priests of Amun Ramessesnakht grew at the expense of Pharaoh despite the fact that Isis, Ramesses VI's daughter, was connected to the Amun priesthood "in her role as God's Wife of Amun or Divine Adoratice."

Shortly after his burial, his tomb was penetrated and ransacked by grave robbers who hacked away at his hands and feet in order to gain access to his jewelry. A medical examination of his mummy which was found in KV35 in 1898 revealed severe damage to his body, with the head and torso being broken into several pieces by an axe used by the tomb robbers. The creation of Ramesses VI's tomb, however, protected Tutankhamon's own intact tomb from grave robbers since debris from its formation was dumped over the tomb entrance to the boy king's tomb.

Book of the Earth, part A, scene 7: personification of water clock called "One Who Hides the Hours." at Ramesses VI tomb (KV9)



Ramesses VIII is the most obscure ruler of this Dynasty and the current information from his brief kingship suggests that he lasted on the throne for one year at the most. Some scholars assign him a maximum reign of two years. He is the sole pharaoh of the Twentieth Dynasty whose tomb has not been definitely identified in the Valley of the Kings, though some scholars have suggested that the tomb of Prince Mentuherkhepshef, KV19, the son of Ramesses IX, was originally started for Ramesses VIII but proved unsuitable when he became a king in his own right. Currently an all-Egyptian team of researchers headed by Afifi Rohiem under the supervision of Dr.Zahi Hawass are looking for the pharaoh's tomb.It is believed this tomb is somewhere between the tomb of Merenptah (KV 8), son and successor of Ramesses II, and the tomb of Ramesses II himself (KV 7).

It is believed Ramesses VIII tomb is somewhere between the tomb of Merenptah (KV 8), son and successor of Ramesses II, and the tomb of Ramesses II himself (KV 7).
Ramesses IX (also written Ramses) (originally named Amon-her-khepshef Khaemwaset) (ruled 1129
1111 BC) was the eighth king of the Twentieth dynasty of Egypt. He was the third longest serving king of this Dynasty after Ramesses III and Ramesses XI. His reign is best known for the Year 16 tomb robberies, recorded in the Abbott Papyrus, the Leopold II-Amherst Papyrus and the Mayer Papyri, when several royal and noble tombs in the Western Theban necropolis were found to have been robbed, including that of a 17th Dynasty king, Sobekemsaf I. Ramesses IX brought a measure of stability to Egypt after the wave of tomb robberies. He also paid close attention to Lower Egypt and built a substantial monument at Heliopolis.
The tomb of Ramesses IX, (KV6), has been open since antiquity, as is evidenced by the presence of Roman and Greek graffiti on the tomb walls. In 1881, the mummy of Ramesses IX was found in the Deir el-Bahri cache (DB320) within one of the two coffins of Neskhons--wife of the Theban High Priest Pinedjem II. Tomb DB320 (now usually referred to as TT320) is located next to Deir el-Bahri, in the Theban Necropolis, opposite modern Luxor contained an extraordinary cache of mummified remains and funeral equipment of more than 50 kings, queens, royals and various nobility.

Deir el-Medina  is an ancient Egyptian village which was home to the artisans who worked on the tombs in the Valley of the Kings during the 18th to 20th dynasties of the New Kingdom period (ca. 1550–1080 BCE)

At the time when the world's press was concentrating on Howard Carter's discovery of the Tomb of Tutankhamun in 1922 a team led by Bernard Bruyère began to excavate the site. This work has resulted in one of the most thoroughly documented accounts of community life in the ancient world that spans almost four hundred years. There is no comparable site in which the organisation, social interactions, working and living conditions of a community can be studied in such detail.

TT1: The Ancient Egyptian artisan Sennedjem lived in Deir el-Medina on the west bank of the Nile, opposite Thebes, during the reigns of Seti I and Ramesses II. He was buried along with his wife, Iy-neferti, and family in a tomb in the village necropolis. His tomb was discovered January 31, 1886. When Sennedjem's tomb was found, in it there was regular furniture from his home, including a stool and a bed, which he actually used when he was alive.
Sennedjem's burial chamber.
TT359: It is located in Deir el-Medina, part of the Theban Necropolis, on the west bank of the Nile, opposite to Luxor. It is the burial place of the Ancient Egyptian workman Inherkhau, who was Foreman of the Lord of the Two Lands in the Place of Truth, during the reigns of Ramesses III and Ramesses IV.

burial chamber of Inherkhau.

Third Intermediate Period (1075 BC-664 BC):

The Third Intermediate Period refers to the time in Ancient Egypt from the death of Pharaoh Ramesses XI in 1070 BC to the foundation of the Twenty-Sixth Dynasty by Psamtik I in 664 BC, following the expulsion of the Nubian rulers of the Twenty-Fifth Dynasty. Even in Ramesses XI's day, the Twentieth dynasty of Egypt was losing its grip on power in the city of Thebes, whose priests were becoming increasingly powerful. After his death, his successor Smendes I ruled from the city of Tanis, and the High Priests of Amun at Thebes ruling the south of the country in the period of the Twenty-first dynasty of Egypt.

Smendes was the founder of the Twenty-first dynasty of Egypt and succeeded to the throne after burying Ramesses XI in Lower Egypt territory which he controlled. While Smendes' precise origins remain a mystery, he is thought to have been a powerful governor in Lower Egypt during the Renaissance era of Ramesses XI and his base of power was Tanis

Psusennes I was the third king of the Twenty-first dynasty of Egypt who ruled from Tanis. Psusennes I must have enjoyed cordial relations with the serving High Priests of Amun in Thebes during his long reign since the High Priest Smendes II donated several grave goods to this king which was found in Psusennes II's tomb.
Psusennes I' funerary mask
During his long reign, Psusennes built the enclosure walls and the central part of the Great Temple at Tanis which was dedicated to the triad of Amun, Mut and Khonsu. Professor Pierre Montet discovered pharaoh Psusennes I's intact tomb (No.3 or NRT III) in Tanis in 1940. Unfortunately, due to its moist Lower Egypt location, most of the "perishable" wood objects were destroyed by water a fate not shared by KV62, the tomb of Tutankhamun in the drier climate of Upper Egypt. However, the king's magnificent funerary mask was recovered intact; it proved to be made of gold and lapis lazuli and held inlays of black and white glass for the eyes and eyebrows of the object. Psusennes I's mask is considered to be "one of the masterpieces of the treasure[s] of Tanis" and is currently housed in Room 2 of the Cairo Museum.


Psusennes I's outer and middle sarcophagi had been recycled from previous burials in the Valley of the Kings through the state-sanctioned tomb-robbing that was common practice in the Third Intermediate Period. A cartouche on the red outer sarcophagus shows that it had originally been made for Pharaoh Merenptah, the nineteenth dynasty successor of Ramesses II. Psusennes I, himself, was interred in an "inner silver coffin" which was inlaid with gold. Since "silver was considerably rarer in Egypt than gold," Psusennes I's silver "coffin represents a sumptuous burial of great wealth during Egypt's declining years." Dr. Douglass Derry, who worked as the head of Cairo University's Anatomy Department, examined the king's remains in 1940, determined that the king was an old man when he died. Derry noted that Psusennes I's teeth were badly worn and full of cavities, and observed that the king suffered from extensive arthritis and was probably crippled by this condition in his final years.

Osorkon the Elder was the fifth king of the twenty-first dynasty of Egypt and was the first pharaoh of Libyan extraction in Egypt. He is also sometimes known as "Osochor," following Manetho's Aegyptiaca.
Titkheperure or Tyetkheperre Psusennes II  or Hor-Pasebakhaenniut II, was the last king of the Twenty-first dynasty of Egypt. His royal name means "Image of the transformation of Re" in Egyptian. Psusennes II is often considered the same person as the High-Priest of Amun known as Psusennes III

The kings of the Twenty-Second Dynasty of Egypt were a series of Meshwesh Libyans who ruled from circa 943 BC until 720 BC. They had settled in Egypt since the Twentieth Dynasty. Manetho states that the dynasty originated at Bubastis, but the kings almost certainly ruled from Tanis, which was their capital and the city where their tombs have been excavated.

The Meshwesh (often abbreviated in ancient Egyptian as Ma) were an ancient Libyan (i.e., Berber) tribe from beyond Cyrenaica where the Libu and Tehenu lived according to Egyptian references and who were probably of Central Berber ethnicity. Herodotus placed them in Tunisia and said of them to be sedentary farmers living in settled permanent houses as the later Massylii. He also added them to be partly descended from Trojan refugees. Early records of the Meshwesh date back to the 18th dynasty of Ancient Egypt from the reign of Amenhotep III. During the 19th and 20th Dynasties of Egypt (ca 1295 - 1075 BC), the Meshwesh were in almost constant conflict with the Egyptian state. In Ramses III's Regnal Year 11 a campaign was concerned almost exclusively with the Meshwesh, however Ramesses claimed victory, and settled the Meshwesh in military concentration camps in Middle Egypt in order to force their assimilation into Egyptian culture and press them into military service for the Egyptian state. During the late 21st Dynasty, increasing numbers of Meswesh Libyans began to settle in the Western Delta region of Egypt. They would ultimately take control of the country during the late 21st Dynasty first under king Osorkon the Elder. After an interregnum of 38 years, during which the native Egyptian kings Siamun and Psusennes II assumed the throne, they ruled Egypt throughout the 22nd and 23rd Dynasties under such powerful kings as Shoshenq I, Osorkon I, Osorkon II, Shoshenq III and Osorkon III respectively. Their reign only came to an end with the invasion of the Kushite 25th Dynasty in Year 20 of Piye.

Hedjkheperre Setepenre Shoshenq I , (reigned c.943-922 BCE), also known as Sheshonk or Sheshonq I (for discussion of the spelling, see Shoshenq), was a Meshwesh Berber king of Egypt of Libyan ancestry and the founder of the Twenty-second Dynasty. He is perhaps mentioned in the Hebrew Bible as Shishaq. Sheshonk I is frequently identified with the Egyptian king "Shishaq", referred to in the Old Testament at 1st Kings 11:40, 14:25, and 2 Chronicles 12:2-9. According to the Bible, Shishaq invaded Judah, mostly the area of Benjamin, during the fifth year of the reign of king Rehoboam, taking with him most of the treasures of the temple created by Solomon. Shoshenq I is generally attributed with the raid on Judah. 'Sheshonk' is mentioned in the 1981 American action-adventure film Raiders of the Lost Ark, directed by Steven Spielberg: Indiana said: "An Egyptian Pharaoh, Shishak,invaded Jerusalem about 980 BC, and may have taken the Ark to the city of Tanis and hidden it in a secret chamber called the Well of Souls. About a year after the Pharaoh returned to Egypt, the city of Tanis was consumed by the desert in a year-long sandstorm. Wiped clean by the wrath of God."

Heqakheperre Shoshenq II (887-885) was an Egyptian king of the 22nd dynasty of Egypt. He was the only ruler of this Dynasty whose tomb was not plundered by tomb robbers. The final resting place of Shoshenq II was certainly a reburial because he was found interred in the tomb of another king, Psusennes I of the 21st Dynasty. Scientists have found evidence of plant growth on the base of Sheshonq II's coffin which suggests that Shoshenq II's original tomb had become waterlogged; hence, the urgent need to rebury him and his funerary equipment in Psusennes' tomb instead.
Gold funerary mask of Shoshenq II
After the reign of Osorkon II (872-837), particularly, the country had effectively shattered in two states with Shoshenq III of the Twenty-Second Dynasty controlling Lower Egypt by 818 BC while Takelot II and his son Osorkon (the future Osorkon III) ruled Middle and Upper Egypt. In Thebes, a civil war engulfed the city between the forces of Pedubast I, who had proclaimed himself Pharaoh versus the existing line of Takelot II/Osorkon B. These two factions squabbled consistently and the conflict was only resolved in Year 39 of Shoshenq III when Osorkon B comprehensively defeated his enemies. He proceeded to found the Upper Egyptian Libyan Dynasty of Osorkon III,Takelot III, Rudamun, but this kingdom quickly fragmented after Rudamun's death with the rise of local city states under kings such as Peftjaubast of Herakleopolis, Nimlot of Hermopolis, and Ini at Thebes.

The Twenty-third Dynasty of ancient Egypt was a separate regime of Meshwesh Libyan kings, who ruled ancient Egypt. This dynasty is often considered part of the Third Intermediate Period.

The Twenty-Fourth Dynasty was a short-lived group of pharaohs who had their capital at Sais in the western Nile Delta.

Shepsesre Tefnakht I (in Greek known as Tnephachthos), was a prince of Sa's and founder of the relatively short Twenty-fourth dynasty of Egypt who rose to become a Chief of the Ma at his home city. He is thought to have reigned roughly 732 BCE - 725 BCE or 7 years. Tefnakht I formed an alliance of the Delta kinglets, with whose support he attempted to conquer Upper Egypt; his campaign attracted the attention of the Nubian king, Piye, who recorded his conquest and subjection of Tefnakhte of Sais and his peers in a well-known inscription.
Piye,  (whose name was once transliterated as Piankhi the Nubian) (d. 721 BC) was a Kushite king and founder of the Twenty-fifth dynasty of Egypt who ruled Egypt from 747 BCE to 716 BCE according to Peter Clayton. He ruled from the city of Napata, located deep in Nubia, Sudan. As ruler of Nubia and Upper Egypt, Piye took advantage of the squabbling of Egypt's rulers by expanding Nubia's power beyond Thebes into Lower Egypt. In reaction to this, Tefnakht of Sais formed a coalition between the local kings of the Delta Region and enticed Piye's nominal ally king Nimlot of Hermopolis to defect to his side. Tefnakht then sent his coalition army south and besieged Herakleopolis where its king Peftjaubast and the local Nubian commanders appealed to Piye for help. Piye reacted quickly to this crisis in his Year 20 by assembling an army to invade Middle and Lower Egypt and visited Thebes in time for the great Opet Festival which proves he effectively controlled Upper Egypt by this time. His military feats are chronicled in the Victory stela at Gebel Barkal. Piye viewed his campaign as a Holy War, commanding his soldiers to cleanse themselves ritually before beginning battle. He himself offered sacrifices to the great god Amun. Piye then marched north and achieved complete victory at Herakleopolis, conquering the cities of Hermopolis and Memphis among others, and received the submission of the kings of the Nile Delta including Iuput II of Leontopolis, Osorkon IV of Tanis and his former ally Nimlot at Hermopolis. Hermopolis fell to the Nubian king after a siege lasting five months. Tefnakht took refuge in an island in the Delta and formally conceded defeat in a letter to the Nubian king but refused to personally pay homage to the Kushite ruler. Satisfied with his triumph, Piye proceeded to sail south to Thebes and returned to his homeland in Nubia never to return to Egypt. Tefnakht I's successor, Bakenranef, definitely assumed the throne of Sais and took the royal name Wahkare. His authority was recognised in much of the Delta including Memphis where several Year 5 and Year 6 Serapeum stelas from his reign have been found. This Dynasty came to a sudden end when Shabaka, the second king of the Twenty-Fifth Dynasty, attacked Sais, captured Bakenrenef and burned him alive.
[Gebel Barkal: Jebel Barkal or Gebel Barkal  is a very small mountain located some 400 km north of Khartoum, in Karima town in Northern State in Sudan, on a large bend of the Nile River, in the region called Nubia. The ruins around Gebel Barkal include at least 13 temples and 3 palaces. In 2003, the mountain, together with the historical city of Napata (which sits at its feet), were named World Heritage Sites by UNESCO.
Gebel Barkal
Napata was founded by Thutmose III in the 15th century BC after his conquest of Nubia. The nearby Jebel Barkal was taken to mark the southern border of the New Kingdom. Overall, the Kushite kings ruled Upper Egypt for approximately one century and the whole Egypt for approximately 57 years. (from 721 to 664 BC) They constitute the Twenty-fifth Dynasty in Manetho's work, Aegyptiaca. The reunited Nile valley empire of the 25th dynasty was as large as it had been since the New Kingdom. The 25th dynasty ushered in a renaissance period for Ancient Egypt. Religion, the arts, and architecture were restored to their glorious Old, Middle, and New Kingdom forms. Pharaohs, such as Taharqa, built or restored temples and monuments throughout the Nile valley, including at Memphis, Karnak, Kawa, Jebel Barkal, etc. It was during the 25th dynasty that the Nile valley saw the first widespread construction of pyramids (many in modern Sudan) since the Middle Kingdom.However, Pharaoh Taharqa's reign and that of his successor, (his cousin) Tanutamun, was filled with constant conflict with the Assyrians. In 664 BC the Assyrians laid the final blow, sacking Thebes and Memphis. The 25th dynasty ended with its rulers retreating to their spiritual homeland at Napata. It was there (at El-Kurru and Nuri) that all 25th dynasty pharaohs are buried under the first pyramids that the Nile valley had seen in centuries. The Napatan dynasty led to the Kingdom of Kush, which flourished in Napata and Meroe until at least the 2nd century A.D.

The twenty-fifth dynasty originated in Kush, or (Nubia), which is presently in Northern Sudan. The city-state of Napata was the spiritual capitol and it was from there that Piye (spelled Piankhi or Piankhy in older works) invaded and took control of Egypt. Piye personally led the attack on Northern Egypt and recorded his victory in a lengthy hieroglyphic filled stele called the "Stele of Victory." Piye revived one of the greatest features of the Old and Middle Kingdoms, pyramid construction. He was a great builder. He constructed the oldest known pyramid at the royal burial site of El Kurru and expanded the Temple of Amun at Jebel Barkal. Although Manetho does not mention the first king, Piye, mainstream Egyptologists consider him the first Pharaoh of the 25th dynasty.

Shabaka's reign (721 BC-707 BC) is significant because he consolidated the Nubian Kingdom's control over all of Egypt from Nubia down to the Delta region. It also saw an enormous amount of building work undertaken throughout Egypt, especially at the city of Thebes, which he made the capital of his kingdom. In Karnak he erected a pink granite statue of himself wearing the twin crowns of Egypt. Shabaka succeeded in preserving Egypt's independence from outside foreign powers especially the Assyrian empire under Sargon II. The most famous relic from Shabaka's reign is the Shabaka stone which records several Old Kingdom documents that the king ordered preserved. However, in later years, the stone was used as a millstone and so some of the hieroglyphics were damaged. Nevertheless, it has been a fruitful source of insight into the culture and religious doctrines of the ancient Egyptians.
Shabaka Stone on display in The British Museum
Taharqa (690-664 BC) ushered in one of Ancient Egypt's greatest periods of renaissance. Taharqa was the son of Piye. He ruled as Pharaoh from Memphis, but constructed great works throughout the Nile Valley, including works at Jebel Barkal, Kawa, and Karnak. At Karnak, the Sacred Lake structures, the kiosk in the first court, and the colonnades at the temple entrance are all owed to Taharqa and Mentuemhet. He is the pharaoh that is mentioned in the Christian bible (Isaiah 37:8-9, & 2 Kings 19:8-9) as the savior of the Hebrew people from Sennacherib's siege.  Taharqa built the largest pyramid in the Nubian region.
Scholars have identified Taharqa with Tirhakah, king of Ethiopia, who waged war against Sennacherib during the reign of King Hezekiah of Judah (2 Kings 19:9; Isaiah 37:9) and drove him from his intention of destroying Jerusalem and deporting its inhabitants,a critical action that, according to Henry T. Aubin, has shaped the Western world. It is clear from historical accounts that Taharqa was one of the greatest Ancient Egyptian pharaohs. Taharqa was described by the Ancient Greek historian Strabo as having "Advanced as far as Europe",  and (citing Megasthenes), even as far as the Pillars of Hercules in Spain. This feat alone would count him among the greatest military tacticians of the ancient world. Later Spanish legendary chronicles (eg. Florian de Ocampo's Cronica General, published 1553) also identify "Tarraco" as general of an Ethiopian army that supposedly campaigned in Spain in the 7th century BC before his becoming Pharaoh. This event has also been held to account for the name of the Spanish city of Tarraco (now Tarragona). Taharqa died in 664 BC and was buried in his pyramid at Nuri near Napata.
Nuri location in Sudan
Nuri is a place in modern Sudan on the south (east) side of the Nile. Close to it, there are pyramids belonging to Nubian kings. The earliest pyramid (Nu. 1) at Nuri belongs to king Taharqa which measures 51.75 metres square by 40 or by 50 metres high. His successor Tantamani was buried somewhere else, but all following Nubian kings and many of their wives till Nastasen (Nu. 15) (about 330 BC) were buried here. The pyramids at Nuri are in general smaller than the Egyptian ones and are today often heavily destroyed, but they often still contained substantial parts of the funerary equipment of the Kushite rulers who were buried here. During the Christian era, a church was erected here. The church was built of many old stones, including several stelae originally coming from the pyramids.The pyramids were systematically excavated by George Reisner.
Pyramids next to Nuri
El-Kurru was one of the royal cemeteries used by the Nubian royal family. Reisner excavated the royal pyramids. Most of the pyramids date to the early part of the Kushite period, from Alara of Nubia to King Nastasen (beginning of the third century BCE). A row of pyramids  includes those of Piye, Shabaka and Tanutamani.
Pyramid at El-Kurru

Kushite civilization continued for several centuries. In about 300 BC the move to Mero
(pic above) was made more complete when the monarchs began to be buried there, instead of at Napata. The kingdom of Kush began to fade as a power by the 1st or 2nd century AD, sapped by the war with the Roman province of Egypt and the decline of its traditional industries. Christianity began to gain over the old phaoronic religion and by the mid-sixth century AD the Kingdom of Kush was dissolved.
Assyria had a greater supply of timber, while Egypt had a chronic shortage, allowing Assyria to produce more charcoal needed for iron-smelting and thus giving Assyria a greater supply of iron weaponry. This disparity became critical during the Assyrian invasion of Egypt in 670 BC. Consequently, Pharaoh Taharqa's reign and that of his successor, (his cousin) Tanutamun, were filled with constant conflict with the Assyrians. In 664 BC the Assyrians laid the final blow, sacking Thebes and Memphis: Once the Assyrians had appointed Necho I, the Assyrians' representative, as king and left Egypt, Tantamani marched down the Nile from Nubia and reoccupied all of Egypt including Memphis. Necho I was killed in Tantamani's campaign. In reaction, the Assyrians returned to Egypt in force, defeated Tantamani's army in the Delta and advanced as far as south as Thebes, which they sacked. The Assyrian reconquest effectively ended Nubian control over Egypt although Tantamani's authority was still recognised in Upper Egypt until his 8th Year in 656 BC when Psamtik I's navy peacefully took control of Thebes and effectively unified all of Egypt.Thereafter, Tantamani ruled only Nubia (Kush). Tantamani died in 653 BC and was succeeded by Atlanersa, a son of Taharqa. He was buried in the family cemetery at El-Kurru.

Late Period of ancient Egypt (664 BC-323 BC):

The Late Period of Ancient Egypt refers to the last flowering of native Egyptian rulers after the Third Intermediate Period from the 26th Saite Dynasty into Persian conquests and ended with the death of Alexander the Great. It ran from 664 BC until 323 BC. It is often regarded as the last gasp of a once great culture, where the power of Egypt had diminished. The Twenty-sixth Dynasty of Egypt (also written Dynasty XXVI or Dynasty 26) was the last native dynasty to rule Egypt before the Persian conquest in 525 BC (although others followed). The Dynasty's reign (c. 685-525 BC) is also called the Saite Period after the city of Sais (town in the Western Nile Delta), where its pharaohs had their capital, and marks the beginning of the Late Period of ancient Egypt

Twenty-Sixth Dynasty:

Egypt was ruled (from 664 BC, a full eight years prior to Tanutamun's death) by the Twenty-Sixth Dynasty, client kings established by the Assyrians who successfully brought about Egypt's political independence under their reign. Psamtik I  (664-610 BC) was the first to be recognised by them as the King of the whole of Egypt, and he brought increased stability to the country in a 54 year reign from the city of Sais. Four successive Saite kings continued guiding Egypt into another period of peace and prosperity from 610-525 BC. The first of them was Necho II (610-595 BC), who is most likely the pharaoh mentioned in several books of the Bible. The Book of Kings states that Necho met King Josiah of the Kingdom of Judah at Megiddo and killed him (2 Kings 23:29) (see Battle of Megiddo (609 BC)). The Book of Chronicles 2 Chronicles 35:20-27 gives a lengthier account and 2 Chronicles 35:20 states that when Josiah had prepared the temple, Necho king of Egypt came up to fight against the Babylonians at Carchemish on the Euphrates River and that King Josiah was fatally wounded by an Egyptian archer. He was then brought back to Jerusalem to die. Necho II died in 595 BC and was succeeded by his son, Psamtik II, as the next pharaoh of Egypt. Psamtik II, however, later removed Necho's name from almost all of his father's monuments for unknown reasons. Under Psamtik II's reign, a pair of more than 21.79 metre high obelisks were erected in the temple of Heliopolis; the first Emperor of Rome, Augustus later had one of the obelisks, which had probably been thrown down by the Persian invaders in 525 BC, brought to Rome in 10 BC. Psamtik II also constructed a kiosk on Philae island. This kiosk today "represents the oldest known monument known on the island" and consisted "of a double row of four columns, which were connected by screen walls"
When Psamtik II died in 589 BC, he was succeeded by Apries who was his son by Queen Takhut, a Princess of Athribis.

Apries (589 BC-570 BC) inherited the throne from his father, pharaoh Psamtik II, in February 589 BC and his reign continued his father's history of foreign intrigue in Palestinian affairs. Apries was an active builder who constructed "additions to the temples at Athribis (Tell Atrib), Bahariya Oasis, Memphis and Sais." In Year 4 of his reign, Apries' sister Ankhnesneferibre was adopted as the new God's Wife of Amun at Thebes.However, Apries' reign was also fraught with internal problems. In 588 BC, Apries dispatched a force to Jerusalem to protect it from Babylonian forces sent by Nebuchadrezzar II. His forces were quickly crushed and Jerusalem was destroyed by the Babylonians. His unsuccessful attempt to intervene in the politics of the Kingdom of Judah was followed by a mutiny of soldiers from the strategically important Aswan garrison. While the mutiny was contained, Apries later attempted to protect Libya from incursions by Dorian Greek invaders but his efforts here backfired spectacularly as his forces were mauled by the Greek invaders. When the defeated army returned home, a civil war broke out between the indigenous Egyptian army troops and foreign mercenaries in the Egyptian army. At this time of crisis, the Egyptians turned in support towards a victorious general, Amasis II who had led Egyptian forces in a highly successful invasion of Nubia in 592 BC under pharaoh Psamtik II, Apries' father. Amasis quickly declared himself pharaoh in 570 BC and Apries fled Egypt and sought refuge in another foreign country. When Apries marched back to Egypt in 567 BC with the aid of a Babylonian army to reclaim the throne of Egypt, he was likely killed in battle with Amasis' forces.Amasis thus secured his kingship over Egypt and was now the unchallenged ruler of Egypt.
An obelisk which Apries erected at Sais was moved by the 3rd century AD Roman Emperor Diocletian and originally placed at the Temple of Isis in Rome. It is today located in front of the Santa Maria sopra Minerva basilica church in Rome.
Apries' obelisk in Rome is known as the 'Pulcino della Minerva'
Amasis II (570 BC-526 BC ) was the last great ruler of Egypt before the Persian conquest. Most of our information about him is derived from Herodotus. Herodotus describes how Amasis II would eventually cause a confrontation with the Persian armies: According to Herodotus, Amasis, was asked by Cambyses II or Cyrus the Great for an Egyptian ophthalmologist on good terms. Amasis seems to have complied by forcing an Egyptian physician into mandatory labor causing him to leave his family behind in Egypt and move to Persia in forced exile. In an attempt to exact revenge for his forced exile, the physician would grow very close with Cambyses and would suggest that Cambyses should ask Amasis for a daughter in marriage in order to solidify his bonds with the Egyptians. Cambyses complied and requested a daughter of Amasis for marriage. Amasis worrying that his daughter would be a concubine to the Persian king refused to give up his offspring; Amasis also was not willing to take on the Persian empire so he concucted a trickery in which he forced the daughter of the ex-pharaoh Apries, whom Herodotus expilicity confirms to have been killed by Amasis, to go to Persia instead of his own offspring.This daughter of Apries, was none other than Nitetis, who was as per Herodotus's account, "tall and beautiful." Nitetis naturally, betrayed Amasis and upon being greeted by the Persian king explained Amasis's trickery and her true origins. This infuriated Cambyses and he vowed to take revenge for it. Amasis would die before Cambyses reached him, but his heir and son Psamtik III would be defeated by the Persians. Cyrus had destroyed Lydia in 546 B.C.E. and finally defeated the Babylonians in 538 B.C.E. which left Amasis with no major Near Eastern allies to counter Persia's increasing military might. Amasis II died in 526 BC. He was buried at the royal necropolis of Sais, and while his tomb was never discovered, Herodotus describes it for us:[I t is] a great cloistered building of stone, decorated with pillars carved in the imitation of palm-trees, and other costly ornaments. Within the cloister is a chamber with double doors, and behind the doors stands the sepulchre.
Herodotus also relates the desecration of Ahmose II/Amasis' mummy when the Persian king Cambyses conquered Egypt and thus ended the 26th Saite dynasty: [N]o sooner did [... Cambyses] enter the palace of Amasis that he gave orders for his [Amasis's] body to be taken from the tomb where it lay. This done, he proceeded to have it treated with every possible indignity, such as beating it with whips, sticking it with goads, and plucking its hairs. [... A]s the body had been embalmed and would not fall to pieces under the blows, Cambyses had it burned.

Unfortunately for the dynasty, a new power was growing in the Near EastcPersia. Pharaoh Psamtik III had succeeded his father Ahmose II for only 6 months before he had to face the Persian Empire at Pelusium. The Persians had already taken Babylon and Egypt was no match. Psamtik ruled Egypt for no more than six months. A few days after his coronation, rain fell at Thebes, which was a rare event that frightened some Egyptians, who interpreted this as a bad omen. The young and inexperienced pharaoh was no match for the invading Persians. After the Persians under Cambyses had crossed the Sinai desert with the aid of the Arabs, a bitter battle was fought near Pelusium, a city on Egypt's eastern frontier, in the spring of 525 BC. The Egyptians were defeated at Pelusium and Psamtik was betrayed by one of his allies, Phanes of Halicarnas. The fields around were strewn with the bones of the combatants when Herodotus visited, who noted that the skulls of the Egyptians were distinguishable from those of the Persians by their superior hardness, a fact confirmed he said by the mummies, and which he ascribed to the Egyptians' shaving their heads from infancy, and to the Persians covering them up with folds of cloth or linen. Consequently, Psamtik and his army were compelled to withdraw to Memphis. The Persians captured the city after a long siege, and captured Psamtik after its fall. Shortly thereafter, Cambyses ordered the public execution of two thousand of the principal citizens, including (it is said) a son of the fallen king. Psamtik was ultimately imprisoned and, later, executed at Susa, the capital of the Persian king Cambyses, who now assumed the formal title of Pharaoh.
Cambyses II of Persia capturing pharaoh Psamtik III after his conquest of Egypt. Image on persian seal, sixth century B.C.E.
From Egypt, Cambyses (530 BC-523 BC) attempted the conquest of Kush, located in the modern Sudan. But his army was not able to cross the deserts and after heavy losses he was forced to return. According to Herodotus 3.26, Cambyses sent an army to threaten the Oracle of Amun at the Siwa Oasis. The army of 50,000 men ('The lost army of Cambyses') was halfway across the desert when a massive sandstorm sprang up, burying them all. Although many Egyptologists regard the story as a myth, people have searched for the remains of the soldiers for many years. These have included Count László Almásy (on whom the novel The English Patient was based), Orde Wingate and modern geologist Tom Brown. Some believe that in recent petroleum excavations, the remains may have been uncovered.

Following its annexation by Persia, Egypt was joined with Cyprus and Phoenicia in the sixth satrapy of the Achaemenid Persian Empire. This first period of Persian rule over Egypt, also known as the Twenty-Seventh dynasty, ended in 402 BC, and from 380-343 BC the Thirtieth Dynasty ruled as the last native royal house of dynastic Egypt, which ended with the kingship of Nectanebo II. A brief restoration of Persian rule, sometimes known as the Thirty-First Dynasty, began in 343 BC, but shortly after, in 332 BC, the Persian ruler Mazaces handed Egypt over to Alexander the Great without a fight. Cambyses was succeded by Darius I. Darius ascended the throne by overthrowing the alleged magus usurper of Bardiya with the assistance of six other Persian noble families. Darius held the empire at its peak, then including Egypt (Mudrya), Balochistan, Kurdistan and parts of Greece. Darius, prior to seizing power and "of no consequence at the time", had served as a spearman (doryphoros) in the Egyptian campaign (528-525 BCE) of Cambyses II, then the Persian emperor. Xerxes, eldest son of Darius and Atossa, succeeded to the throne as Xerxes I.
Tomb of Darius the Great; located next to other Achaemenian emperors at Naqsh-e Rustam (current Iran)
Amyrtaeus (or Amenirdisu) of Sais is the only king of the Twenty-eighth dynasty of Egypt and is thought to be related to the royal family of the Twenty-sixth dynasty. He ended the First Persian Occupation and reigned from 404 BC to 399 BC. Before assuming the throne of Egypt, Amyrtaeus had revolted against Darius II as early as 411 BC, leading a guerrilla action in the western Nile Delta around his home city of Sais. Following the death of Darius, Amyrtaeus declared himself king in 404 BC. Amyrtaeus was defeated in open battle by his successor, Nepherites I (398-393) of Mendes, and executed at Memphis, an event which the Aramaic papyrus Brooklyn 13 implies occurred in October 399 BC. Nepherites was a native of Mendes (city located in the eastern Nile delta), where he also made his capital and burial place.

Nectanebo II (360-342) was successful in keeping Egypt safe from the Achaemenid Empire.
Betrayed by his former servant Mentor of Rhodes, however, Nectanebo II was ultimately defeated by the combined Persian-Greek forces in the Battle of Pelusium. In 342 BC the Persians occupied Memphis and the rest of Egypt, incorporating the country back into the Achaemenid Empire. Nectanebo fled south and preserved his power for some time; his subsequent fate is unknown. After this victory, Artaxerxes had the city walls of Memphis destroyed, started a reign of terror, and set about looting all the temples. Persia gained a significant amount of wealth from this looting. Aside from the immediate looting, Artaxerxes raised high taxes, and attempted to weaken Egypt enough that it could never revolt against Persia. For the 10 years that Persia controlled Egypt, religion was persecuted and sacred books were stolen. Artaxerxes III was the son of Artaxerxes II and Statira. Artaxerxes II had more than 115 sons by many wives, most of them however were illegitimate.

Darius III  also known by his given name of Codomannus, was the last king of the Achaemenid Empire of Persia from 336 BC to 330 BC. In 334 BC, Alexander the Great began his invasion of the Persian Empire and subsequently defeated the Persians in a number of battles before taking the capital Persepolis in 331 BC. With the Persian Empire now effectively under Alexander's control, Alexander then decided to pursue Darius, but Darius was killed by a satrap Bessus before Alexander reached him. A Macedonian soldier found Darius either dead or dying in the wagon shortly thereafter a disappointment to Alexander, who wanted to capture Darius alive. Alexander saw Darius's dead body in the wagon, and took the signet ring off the dead king
s finger. Afterwards he sent Darius's body back to Persepolis and ordered that he be buried, like all his royal predecessors, in the royal tombs.With the old king defeated and given a proper burial, Alexander's rulership of Persia became official. So ended Darius's life, with his last purpose being to serve as a vehicle for Alexander's ascension to the throne of Asia. After killing Darius, Bessus took the regal name Artaxerxes V and began calling himself the King of Asia. He would later be captured by Alexander, and subsequently tortured and executed.
Mosaic representing the battle of Alexander the Great against Darius III, perhaps after an earlier Greek painting of Philoxenus of Eretria. This mosaic was found in Pompeii in the House of the Faun and is now in the Museo Archeologico Nazionale (Naples). It is dated first century BC.

Ptolemaic Egypt (332 BC -30 BC)

In 332 BC Alexander III of Macedon conquered Egypt with little resistance from the Persians. He was welcomed by the Egyptians as a deliverer. He visited Memphis, and went on a pilgrimage to the oracle of Amun at the Oasis of Siwa. The oracle declared him to be the son of Amun. He conciliated the Egyptians by the respect which he showed for their religion, but he appointed Greeks to virtually all the senior posts in the country, and founded a new Greek city, Alexandria, to be the new capital. The wealth of Egypt could now be harnessed for Alexander's conquest of the rest of the Persian Empire. Early in 331 BC he was ready to depart, and led his forces away to Phoenicia. He left Cleomenes as the ruling nomarch to control Egypt in his absence. Alexander never returned to Egypt.

On either 10 or 11 June 323 BC, Alexander died in the palace of Nebuchadnezzar II, in Babylon, at age 32. Details of the death differ slightly – Plutarch's account is that roughly 14 days before his death, Alexander entertained admiral Nearchus, and spent the night and next day drinking with Medius of Larissa. He developed a fever, which worsened until he was unable to speak. Given the propensity of the Macedonian aristocracy to assassination, foul play featured in multiple accounts of his death.

In 2010, however, a new theory proposed that the circumstances of his death were compatible with poisoning by water of the river Styx (Mavroneri) that contained calicheamicin, a dangerous compound produced by bacteria. Several natural causes (diseases) have been suggested, including malaria and typhoid fever.

Alexander's body was laid in a gold anthropoid sarcophagus, which was in turn placed in a gold casket.According to Aelian, a seer called Aristander foretold that the land where Alexander was laid to rest "would be happy and unvanquishable forever". Perhaps more likely, the successors may have seen possession of the body as a symbol of legitimacy, since burying the prior king was a royal prerogative. While Alxander's funeral cortege was on its way to Macedon, Ptolemy stole it and took it to Memphis. His successor, Ptolemy II Philadelphus, transferred the sarcophagus to Alexandria, where it remained until at least late Antiquity. Ptolemy IX Lathyros, one of Ptolemy's final successors, replaced Alexander's sarcophagus with a glass one so he could convert the original to coinage. Pompey, Julius Caesar and Augustus all visited the tomb in Alexandria. The latter allegedly accidentally knocked the nose off the body. Caligula was said to have taken Alexander's breastplate from the tomb for his own use. In c. AD 200, Emperor Septimius Severus closed Alexander's tomb to the public. His son and successor, Caracalla, a great admirer, visited the tomb during his own reign. After this, details on the fate of the tomb are hazy.

Caesar at the Grave of Alexander
Alexander's legacy extended beyond his military conquests. His campaigns greatly increased contacts and trade between East and West, and vast areas to the east were significantly exposed to Greek civilization and influence. Some of the cities he founded became major cultural centers, many surviving into the twenty-first century. His chroniclers recorded valuable information about the areas through which he marched, while the Greeks themselves got a sense of belonging to a world beyond the Mediterranean. Alexander's most immediate legacy was the introduction of Macedonian rule to huge new swathes of Asia. At the time of his death, Alexander's empire covered some 5,200,000 km2 (2,000,000 sq mi), and was the largest state of its time. Many of these areas remained in Macedonian hands or under Greek influence for the next 200–300 years. The successor states that emerged were, at least initially, dominant forces, and these 300 years are often referred to as the Hellenistic period. Over the course of his conquests, Alexander founded some twenty cities that bore his name, most of them east of the Tigris. The first, and greatest, was Alexandria in Egypt, which would become one of the leading Mediterranean cities

Hellenization was coined by the German historian Johann Gustav Droysen to denote the spread of Greek language, culture, and population into the former Persian empire after Alexander's conquest. That this export took place is undoubted, and can be seen in the great Hellenistic cities of, for instance, Alexandria, Antioch and Seleucia (south of modern Baghdad). Some of the most unusual effects of Hellenization can be seen in India, in the region of the relatively late-arising Indo-Greek kingdoms.There, isolated from Europe, Greek culture apparently hybridized with Indian, and especially Buddhist, influences. The first realistic portrayals of the Buddha appeared at this time; they were modeled on Greek statues of Apollo.

Following Alexander's death in Babylon in 323 BC, a succession crisis erupted among his generals. Initially, Perdiccas ruled the empire as regent for Alexander's half-brother Arrhidaeus, who became Philip III of Macedon, and then as regent for both Philip III and Alexander's infant son Alexander IV of Macedon, who had not been born at the time of his father's death.

Perdiccas appointed Ptolemy, one of Alexander's closest companions, to be satrap of Egypt. Ptolemy ruled Egypt from 323 BC, nominally in the name of the joint kings Philip III and Alexander IV. However, as Alexander the Great's empire disintegrated, Ptolemy soon established himself as ruler in his own right. Ptolemy successfully defended Egypt against an invasion by Perdiccas in 321 BC, and consolidated his position in Egypt and the surrounding areas during the Wars of the Diadochi (322 BC-301 BC). In 305 BC, Ptolemy took the title of King. As Ptolemy I Soter ("Saviour"), he founded the Ptolemaic dynasty that was to rule Egypt for nearly 300 years.

All the male rulers of the dynasty took the name "Ptolemy", while princesses and queens preferred the names Cleopatra and Berenice.

Ptolemy II instituted a new practice of brother-sister marriage when he married his full sister, Arsinoe II. They became, in effect, co-rulers, and both took the epithet Philadelphus ("Brother-Loving" and "Sister-Loving").

This custom made Ptolemaic politics confusingly incestuous, and the later Ptolemies were increasingly feeble. The only Ptolemaic Queens to officially rule on their own were Berenice III and Berenice IV. Cleopatra V did co-rule, but it was with another female, Berenice IV. Cleopatra VII officially co-ruled with Ptolemy XIII Theos Philopator, Ptolemy XIV, and Ptolemy XV, but effectively, she ruled Egypt alone.
Several queens exercised regal authority, but the most famous and successful was Cleopatra VII (51 BC-30 BC), with her two brothers and her son as successive nominal co-rulers.


The early Ptolemies did not disturb the religion or the customs of the Egyptians, and indeed built magnificent new temples for the Egyptian gods and soon adopted the outward display of the Pharaohs of old.

The Greeks always remained a privileged minority in Ptolemaic Egypt. They lived under Greek law, received a Greek education, were tried in Greek courts, and were citizens of Greek cities, just as they had been in Greece. The Egyptians were rarely admitted to the higher levels of Greek culture, in which most Egyptians were not in any case interested.

The Ptolemies undertook changes that went far beyond any other measures that earlier foreign rulers had imposed. They used the religion and traditions to increase their own power and wealth. Although they established a prosperous kingdom, enhanced with fine buildings, the native population enjoyed few benefits, and there were frequent uprisings.

Early Greek settlers did little to hide their disdain for the Egyptian population which surrounded them, people they thought to be barbaric. Despite this initial disdain, later generations of the Greek population were more open to intermarriage with the Egyptian population, particularly in the settlements farthest away from Alexandria

Ptolemy I, perhaps with advice from Demetrius of Phalerum, founded the Museum and Library of Alexandria. The Museum was a research centre supported by the king. It was located in the royal sector of the city. The scholars were housed in the same sector and funded by the Ptolemaic rulers. They had access to the Library. The chief librarian served also as the crown prince's tutor. For the first hundred and fifty years of its existence this library and research centre drew the top Greek scholars. This was a key academic, literary and scientific centre.

A number of the Ptolemaic dynasty are described as being extremely obese, whilst sculptures and coins reveal prominent eyes and swollen necks. Familial Graves' disease could explain the swollen necks and eye prominence (exophthalmos), although this is unlikely to occur in the presence of morbid obesity.


prominent eyes and swollen necks, some of the common features of the Ptlomaic dinasty
Ptolemy I Soter  was a ready patron of letters, founding the Great Library of Alexandria. He himself wrote a history of Alexander's campaigns that has not survived. Although now lost, it was a principal source for the surviving account by Arrian of Nicomedia.

Ptolemy III is  credited with the foundation of the Serapeum. Due to a falling out at the Seleucid court, his eldest sister Berenice Phernophorus was murdered along with her infant son. In response Ptolemy III invaded Syria.During this war, the Third Syrian War, he occupied Antioch and even reached Babylon. In exchange for a peace in 241 BC, Ptolemy was awarded new territories on the northern coast of Syria, including Seleucia Pieria, the port of Antioch. The Ptolemaic kingdom reached the height of its power. This war is cryptically alluded to in Daniel 11:7-9

[Ptolemy III Euergetes, (Ptolemai~os Euergéte-s, reigned 246 BC – 222 BC) was the third ruler of the Ptolemaic dynasty in Egypt. A serapeum is a temple or other religious institution dedicated to the syncretic Hellenistic-Egyptian god Serapis, who combined aspects of Osiris and Apis in a humanized form that was accepted by the Ptolemaic Greeks of Alexandria. There were several such religious centers, each of which was a serapeion  or, in its Latinized form, a serapeum ("seh-rah-peh-um").

The Serapeum of Alexandria in Ptolemaic Egypt was a temple built by Ptolemy III (reigned 246–222 BCE) and dedicated to Serapis, the syncretic Hellenistic-Egyptian god who was made the protector of Alexandria. By all detailed accounts, the Serapeum was the largest and most magnificent of all temples in the Greek quarter of Alexandria. The geographer Strabo tells that this stood in the west of the city. Nothing now remains above ground.

The Serapeum in Alexandria was destroyed by a Christian crowd or Roman soldiers in 391. Two conflicting accounts for the context of the destruction of the Serapeum exist.

A film called Agora was released in 2009 depicting these and other events, with semi-historical accuracy .

Several other ancient and modern authors, instead, have interpreted the destruction of the Serapeum in Alexandria as representative of the triumph of Christianity and an example of the attitude of the Christians towards pagans. However, Peter Brown frames it against a long-term backdrop of frequent mob violence in the city, where the Greek and Jewish quarters had fought during four hundred years, since the 1st century BCE. Robert Barron, an American Catholic priest, writes in an article: "Hypatia was indeed a philosopher and she was indeed killed by a Christian mob in 415, but practically everything else about the story that Gibbon and Sagan and Amenábar tell is falseThe film stands firmly in the Gibbons/Sagan tradition, presenting Hypatia as a saint of secular rationalism. Sagan’s account found its roots in Edward Gibbons’ version of the story in his deeply anti-Christian classic “The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire.” In fact, Gibbons was the first to link the murder of Hypatia with the burning down of the Alexandrian library. First, The library of Alexandria was burnt to the ground, not by Christian mobs in the fifth century, but by Julius Caesar’s troops, some 40 years before Jesus was born.
Second, sadly enough, she found herself caught in the middle of a struggle between two powerful figures in Alexandria, namely, Orestes the civil authority and Cyril the bishop. She was most likely killed in retaliation for the murder of some of Cyril’s supporters by agents of Orestes. Hypatia was also known as a neo-Platonist philosopher, a devotee of Plato and Plotinus. Not only were there Christians in Hypatia’s classes, not only were Christian bishops among her circle of friends, but Christian theologians — Augustine, Ambrose, and Origen, just to name the most prominent — were enthusiastic advocates of neo-Platonism."


]

Inside Pergamon in Bergama, there is the Temple of Serapis, built for the Egyptian Gods in the 2nd c. CE. and called the Red Basilica or Red Courtyard  by locals. This is a basilica-shaped building constructed under the reign of Hadrian. It consists of a main building and two round towers. In the 1st century CE, the Christian Church at Pergamon, inside the main building of the Red Basilica, was one of the Seven Churches to which the Book of Revelation was addressed (Revelation 2:12).

Although the building itself is of an immense size, it was only one part of a much larger sacred complex, surrounded by high walls, that dwarfed even the colossal Temple of Jupiter in Baalbek. The entire complex was built directly over the River Selinus in a remarkable feat of engineering that involved the construction of an immense bridge 196 metres (643 ft) wide to channel the river through two channels under the temple.

The temple was converted by the Byzantines into a Christian church dedicated to St John but was subsequently destroyed. Today the ruins of the main temple and one of the side rotundas can be visited, while the other side rotunda is still in use as a small mosque. The church was probably destroyed by the forces of the Arab general Maslamah ibn Abd al-Malik, who besieged and looted the city in 716–717 during an unsuccessful bid to conquer Constantinople. Pergamon fell into Turkish hands in 1336 and the building was converted into a mosque.

Ruins of the Temple of Serapis nowadays
The temple's date of construction is not recorded, but from the style of the sculptures and the building techniques a date in the first half of the second century AD has been proposed. Its use of red brick on a massive scale, unique in Asia Minor but relatively common in Italy at the time, indicates that the architect was not local. The immense size and lavish construction of the complex points to an extremely wealthy patron who sent a Roman architect and brick masons to Pergamon to build the temple. The most likely candidate is the emperor Hadrian himself. He is known to have been an enthusiastic sponsor of the Egyptian gods; he built temples of Isis and Serapis at various places in the Roman world, including at his own villa in Tivoli.

Ptolemy IV Philopator (reigned 221–205 BCE), son of Ptolemy III and Berenice II of Egypt was the fourth Pharaoh of Ptolemaic Egypt. Under the reign of Ptolemy IV, the decline of the Ptolemaic kingdom began.

Philopator was devoted to orgiastic forms of religion and literary dilettantism. He built a temple to Homer and composed a tragedy, to which his favourite Agathocles added a commentary. He married (about 220 BC) his sister Arsinoë III, but continued to be ruled by his mistress Agathoclea, sister of Agathocles.

Ptolemy is said to have built a giant ship known as thet ("forty"), a huge type of galley. The forty of its name may refer to its number of banks of oars. The Guinness Book of Records recognizes it as the world's Largest Human Powered Vessel.

Agathoclea may have given birth to a son from her affair with Ptolemy IV, who may had died shortly after his birth. On the death of Ptolemy IV in 205 BC. Agathoclea and her friends kept the event secret, that they might have an opportunity of plundering the royal treasury. They also formed a conspiracy with Sosibius aimed at placing Agathocles on the throne or at least making him regent for the new boy king, Ptolemy V Epiphanes. With the support of Sosibius, they murdered Arsinoe III. In 203/202 BC, the Egyptians and Greeks of Alexandria, exasperated at Agathocles' outrages, rose against him, and the military governor Tlepolemus placed himself at their head. They surrounded the palace in the night, and forced their way in. Agathocles and his sister begged for mercy, but in vain. Agathocles was killed by his friends, to avoid an even more cruel fate. Agathoclea with her sisters, and Oenanthe, who had taken refuge in a temple, were dragged out, and in a state of nakedness exposed to the fury of the multitude, who literally tore them limb from limb.

Ptolemy IV is a major protagonist of the apocryphal 3 Maccabees, which describes purported events following the Battle of Raphia, in both Jerusalem and Alexandria.

Ptolemy V Epiphanes (reigned 204–181 BC), son of Ptolemy IV Philopator and Arsinoe III of Egypt, was the fifth ruler of the Ptolemaic dynasty. He became ruler at the age of five.

Egyptian revolts: Great cruelty and treachery were displayed in the suppression of the native rebellion, and some accounts represent him as personally tyrannical. In 197 BC Lycopolis was held by the forces of Ankmachis, the secessionist pharaoh of Upper Egypt, but was forced to withdraw to Thebes. The war between North and South continued until 185 BC with the arrest of Ankmachis by Ptolemaic General Conanus.

The Rosetta Stone, "basically a tax concession," was statement of thanks to the Egyptian priesthood for help during the crisis.

Ptolemaic Empire in 200 BC, during the reign of Ptolemy V

Ptolemy VI Philometor (ca. 186–145 BC) was a king of Egypt from the Ptolemaic period. He reigned from 180 to 145 BC.

In 170 BC, Antiochus IV began the sixth Syrian War and invaded Egypt twice. He was crowned as its king in 168, but abandoned his claim on the orders of the Roman Senate.

From 169–164, Egypt was ruled by a triumvirate consisting of Ptolemy, his sister-queen and his younger brother known as Ptolemy VIII Physcon. In 164 he was driven out by his brother and went to Rome to seek support, which he received from Cato. He was restored the following year by the intervention of the Alexandrians and ruled uneasily, cruelly suppressing frequent rebellions.

In 145 BC he died of battle wounds received against Alexander Balas of Syria.

Ptolemy IX Soter II or Lathyros was king of Egypt three times, from 116 BC to 110 BC, 109 BC to 107 BC and 88 BC to 81 BC, with intervening periods ruled by his brother, Ptolemy X Alexander.

Ptolemy IX replaced the sarcophagus of Alexander the Great with a glass one, and melted the original down in order to strike emergency gold issues of his coinage. The citizens of Alexandria were outraged at this and soon after, Ptolemy IX was killed.

His daughter Berenice III took the throne after his death, and reigned for about a year. She was forced to marry her stepson Alexander, who reigned under the name Ptolemy XI Alexander II and had her killed nineteen days later.

Ptolemy XII Auletes (117–51 BC) was an Egyptian king of Macedonian descent.

Ptolemy reigned during the period of Hellenism. He is assumed to have been an illegitimate son of Ptolemy IX Soter, perhaps by an Egyptian woman. But he is also possibly the Son of Ptolemy XI and Cleopatra IV.

When Ptolemy XI died without a male heir, the only available male descendents of the Ptolemy I lineage were the illegitimate sons of Ptolemy IX by an unknown Greek concubine.The boys were living in exile in Sinope, at the court of Mithridates VI, King of Pontus. As the eldest of the boys Ptolemy XII was proclaimed king as Ptolemy XII Neos Dionysos and married his sister, Tryphaena. Ptolemy XII was coregent with his daughter Cleopatra VI Tryphaena and his wife Cleopatra V Tryphaena.

During his reign, Ptolemy XII attempted to secure his own fate and the fate of his dynasty by means of a pro-Roman policy. In 63 BC, it appeared that Pompey would emerge as the leader of a Roman struggle, thus Ptolemy sought to form a patron-client relationship with the Roman by sending him riches and extending an invitation to Alexandria.

In 58 BC, Ptolemy XII failed to comment on the Roman conquest of Cyprus, a territory ruled by his brother, thereby upsetting the Egyptian population to start a rebellion. Egyptians were already aggravated by heavy taxes (to pay for the Roman bribes) and a substantial increase in the cost of living. Ptolemy XII fled to Rome, possibly with his daughter Cleopatra VII, in search of safety. His daughter Berenice IV became his successor. She ruled as coregent with her sister (or possibly mother) Cleopatra VI Tryphaena. A year after Ptolemy XII's exile, Cleopatra VI Tryphaena died and Berenice ruled alone over Alexandria from 57 to 56BC.

During this time, Roman creditors realized that they would not get the return on their loans to the Egyptian king without his restoration.Thus in 57 BC, pressure from the Roman public forced the Senate's decision to restore Ptolem. Ptolemy XII finally recovered his throne by paying Aulus Gabinius 10,000 talents to invade Egypt in 55 BC. After defeating the frontier forces of the Egyptian kingdom, Aulus Gabinius's army proceeded to attack the palace guards but the guards surrendered before a battle commenced. Nevertheless, upon entering the palace, Ptolemy had Berenice and her supporters executed. From then on, he reigned until he fell ill in 51 BC. Around two thousand Roman soldiers and mercenaries, the so-called Gabiniani, were stationed in Alexandria to ensure Ptolemy XII's authority on the throne. In exchange, Rome was able to exert its power over the restored king. His daughter Cleopatra VII became his coregent.


The first pylon at Edfu Temple was decorated by Ptolemy XII in 57 BC with figures of himself smiting the enemy.

In his will, he declared that she and her brother Ptolemy XIII should rule the kingdom together. To safeguard his interests, he made the people of Rome executors of his will. Since the Senate was busy with its own affairs, Pompey (as Ptolemy XII's ally) approved the will.

Cleopatra originally ruled jointly with her father Ptolemy XII Auletes and later with her brothers, Ptolemy XIII and Ptolemy XIV, whom she married as per Egyptian custom, but eventually she became sole ruler. As pharaoh, she consummated a liaison with Julius Caesar that solidified her grip on the throne. She later elevated her son with Caesar, Caesarion, to co-ruler in name. After Caesar's assassination in 44 BC, she aligned with Mark Antony in opposition to Caesar's legal heir, Gaius Julius Caesar Octavianus (later known as Augustus). With Antony, she bore the twins Cleopatra Selene II and Alexander Helios, and another son, Ptolemy Philadelphus. Her unions with her brothers produced no children.

Ptolemy XII died in March 51 BC, thus by his will making the 18-year-old Cleopatra and her brother, the 10-year-old Ptolemy XIII joint monarchs. In August 51 BC, relations between Cleopatra and Ptolemy completely broke down. Cleopatra dropped Ptolemy's name from official documents and her face appeared alone on coins, which went against Ptolemaic tradition of female rulers being subordinate to male co-rulers.

The sole reign of Cleopatra was finally ended by a cabal of courtiers, led by the eunuch Pothinus. In connection with a half-Greek general, Achillas, and Theodotus of Chios he overthrew her in favor of her younger brother. Now Ptolemy XIII became sole ruler in circa 48 BC.

Horus and Thoth purifying Ptolemy XIII at the temple of Kom Ombo
While Cleopatra was in exile, Pompey became embroiled in the Roman civil war. In the autumn of 48 BC, Pompey fled from the forces of Caesar to Alexandria, seeking sanctuary. Ptolemy, only thirteen years old at that time, had set up a throne for himself on the harbour, from where he watched as on September 28, 48 BC, Pompey was murdered by one of his former officers, now in Ptolemaic service. He was beheaded in front of his wife and children, who were on the ship from which he had just disembarked. When Caesar arrived in Egypt two days later, Ptolemy presented him with Pompey's severed head; Caesar was enraged. Although he was Caesar's political enemy, Pompey was a Roman consul and the widower of Caesar's only legitimate daughter, Julia (who died in childbirth with Pompey's son).

Eager to take advantage of Julius Caesar's anger toward Ptolemy, Cleopatra had herself smuggled secretly into the palace to meet with Caesar. Plutarch in his "Life of Julius Caesar" gives a vivid description of how she entered past Ptolemy’s guards rolled up in a carpet.

At this point Caesar abandoned his plans to annex Egypt, instead backing Cleopatra's claim to the throne. After Mithridates raised the siege of Alexandria Caesar defeated Ptolemy's army at the Battle of the Nile, Ptolemy XIII drowned in the Nile and Caesar restored Cleopatra to her throne, with another younger brother Ptolemy XIV as her new co-ruler. Although Cleopatra was 21 years old when they met and Caesar was 52, they became lovers during Caesar’s stay in Egypt between 48 BC and 47 BC. She became Caesar’s mistress, and nine months after their first meeting, in 47 BC, Cleopatra gave birth to their son, Ptolemy Caesar, nicknamed Caesarion, which means "little Caesar. Cleopatra claimed Caesar was the father of her son and wished him to name the boy his heir, but Caesar refused, choosing his grandnephew Octavian instead.

Cleopatra VII and her son Caesarion at the Temple of Dendera

The ancient accounts by Plutarch, Aulus Gellius, Ammianus Marcellinus, and Orosius agree that Caesar accidentally burned the Alexandria's library down during his visit to the city in 48 BC at the fight with Ptolemy XIII.

 Cleopatra, Ptolemy XIV and Caesarion visited Rome in summer 46 BC, where the Egyptian queen resided in one of Caesar's country houses. The relationship between Cleopatra and Caesar was obvious to the Roman people and it was a scandal, because the Roman dictator was already married to Calpurnia Pisonis.

The Roman orator Cicero said in his preserved letters that he hated the foreign queen. Cleopatra and her entourage were in Rome when Caesar was assassinated on 15 March, 44 BC. She returned with her relatives to Egypt. When Ptolemy XIV died – allegedly poisoned by his older sister – Cleopatra made Caesarion her co-regent.

In the Roman civil war between the Caesarian party, led by Mark Antony and Octavian, and the party of the assassins of Caesar, led by Marcus Junius Brutus and Gaius Cassius Longinus, Cleopatra sided with the Caesarian party because of her past. In 41 BC, Mark Antony, one of the triumvirs who ruled Rome in the power vacuum following Caesar's death, sent his intimate friend Quintus Dellius to Egypt. Dellius had to summon Cleopatra to Tarsus to meet Antony and answer questions about her loyalty. During the Roman civil war she allegedly had paid much money to Cassius. It seems that in reality Antony wanted Cleopatra’s promise to support his intended war against the Parthians. Cleopatra arrived in great state, and so charmed Antony that he chose to spend the winter of 41 BC–40 BC with her in Alexandria.To safeguard herself and Caesarion, she had Antony order the death of her sister Arsinoe, who was living at the temple of Artemis in Ephesus, which was under Roman control. The execution was carried out in 41 BC on the steps of the temple, and this violation of temple sanctuary scandalised Rome

On 25 December 40 BC, Cleopatra gave birth to twins fathered by Antony, Alexander Helios and Cleopatra Selene II. Four years later, Antony visited Alexandria again en route to make war with the Parthians. He renewed his relationship with Cleopatra, and from this point on, Alexandria was his home. He married Cleopatra according to the Egyptian rite (a letter quoted in Suetonius suggests this), although he was at the time married to Octavia Minor, sister of his fellow triumvir Octavian. He and Cleopatra had another child, Ptolemy Philadelphus.

 Relations between Antony and Octavian, disintegrating for several years, finally broke down in 33 BC, and Octavian convinced the Senate to levy war against Egypt. In 31 BC Antony's forces faced the Romans in a naval action off the coast of Actium.

After losing the Battle of Actium to Octavian's forces, Antony committed suicide. Cleopatra followed suit, according to tradition killing herself by means of an asp bite on August 12, 30 BC. She was briefly outlived by Caesarion, who was declared pharaoh by his supporters, but he was soon killed on Octavian's orders. Egypt became the Roman province of Aegyptus.

The ancient sources, particularly the Roman ones, are in general agreement that Cleopatra killed herself by inducing an Egyptian cobra to bite her. The oldest source is Strabo, who was alive at the time of the event, and might even have been in Alexandria. He says that there are two stories: that she applied a toxic ointment,
or that she was bitten by an asp on her breast.

Death of Cleopatra by Canadian author Harold F. Kells

Plutarch tells us of the death of Antony. When his armies deserted him and joined with Octavian, he cried out that Cleopatra had betrayed him. She, fearing his wrath, locked herself in her monument with only her two handmaidens and sent messengers to tell Antony that she was dead. Believing them, Antony stabbed himself in the stomach with his sword, and lay on his couch to die. Instead, the blood flow stopped, and he begged any and all to finish him off. Another messenger came from Cleopatra with instructions to bring him to her, and he, rejoicing that Cleopatra was still alive, consented. She wouldn't open the door, but tossed ropes out of a window. After Antony was securely trussed up, she and her handmaidens hauled him up into the monument. This nearly finished him off. After dragging him in through the window, they laid him on a couch. Cleopatra tore off her clothes and covered him with them. She raved and cried, beat her breasts and engaged in self-mutilation. Antony told her to calm down, asked for a glass of wine, and died upon finishing it.

The site of their mausoleum is uncertain, though the Egyptian Antiquities Service believes it is in or near the temple of Taposiris Magna, southwest of Alexandria.

Cleopatra was regarded as a great beauty, even in the ancient world. In his Life of Antony, Plutarch remarks that "judging by the proofs which she had had before this of the effect of her beauty upon Caius Caesar and Gnaeus the son of Pompey, she had hopes that she would more easily bring Antony to her feet. For Caesar and Pompey had known her when she was still a girl and inexperienced in affairs, but she was going to visit Antony at the very time when women have the most brilliant beauty." Later in the work, however, Plutarch indicates that "her beauty, as we are told, was in itself not altogether incomparable, nor such as to strike those who saw her." Rather, what ultimately made Cleopatra attractive were her wit, charm and "sweetness in the tones of her voice."

Cassius Dio also spoke of Cleopatra's allure: "For she was a woman of surpassing beauty, and at that time, when she was in the prime of her youth, she was most striking; she also possessed a most charming voice and knowledge of how to make herself agreeable to every one.

Roman Egypt (30 BC to AD 395)

The Roman province of Egypt (Aegyptus) was established in 30 BC after Octavian (the future emperor Augustus) defeated his rival Mark Antony, deposed his lover Queen Cleopatra VII and annexed the Ptolemaic kingdom of Egypt to the Roman Empire. The province encompassed most of modern-day Egypt except for the Sinai Peninsula (which would later be conquered by Trajan).

As a province, Aegyptus was ruled by a prefect instead of the traditional senatorial governor of other Roman provinces. The prefect was a man of equestrian rank and was appointed by the Emperor. The first prefect of Aegyptus, Gaius Cornelius Gallus, brought Upper Egypt under Roman control by force of arms, established a protectorate over the southern frontier district, which had been abandoned by the later Ptolemies.

From the reign of Nero onward, Aegyptus enjoyed an era of prosperity which lasted a century. Much trouble was caused by religious conflicts between the Greeks and the Jews, particularly in Alexandria, which after the destruction of Jerusalem in 70 became the world centre of Jewish religion and culture. Under Trajan a Jewish revolt occurred, resulting in the suppression of the Jews of Alexandria and the loss of all their privileges, although they soon returned. Hadrian, who twice visited Aegyptus, founded Antinoöpolis in memory of his drowned lover Antinous. From his reign onward buildings in the Greco-Roman style were erected throughout the country.

Under Antoninus Pius, however, oppressive taxation led to a revolt in 139, of the native Egyptians, which was suppressed only after several years of fighting.

Caracalla (211-217) granted Roman citizenship to all Egyptians, in common with the other provincials, but this was mainly to extort more taxes, which grew increasingly onerous as the needs of the emperors for more revenue grew more desperate.

There was a series of revolts, both military and civilian, through the 3rd century. Under Decius, in 250, the Christians again suffered from persecution, but their religion continued to spread.

Zenobia, queen of Palmyra, took the country away from the Romans when she conquered Aegyptus in 269, declaring herself the Queen of Egypt also. This warrior queen claimed that Egypt was an ancestral home of hers through a familial tie to Cleopatra VII.

Two generals based in Egypt, Probus and Domitius Domitianus, led successful revolts and made themselves emperors. Diocletian captured Alexandria from Domitius in 298 and reorganised the whole province. His edict of 303 against the Christians began a new era of persecution. This was the last serious attempt to stem the steady growth of Christianity in Egypt, however.

Just as under the Ptolemies, Alexandria and its citizens had their own special designations. The capital city enjoyed a higher status and more privileges than the rest of Egypt. Just as it was under the Ptolemies, the primary way of becoming a citizen of Roman Alexandria was through showing when registering for a deme that both parents were Alexandrian citizens. Alexandrians were the only Egyptians that could obtain Roman citizenship. If a common Egyptian wanted to become a Roman citizen he would first have to become an Alexandrian citizen.

Egyptian Christians believe that the Patriarchate of Alexandria was founded by Mark the Evangelist around 33, but little is known about how Christianity entered Egypt. The historian Helmut Koester has suggested, with some evidence, that originally the Christians in Egypt were predominantly influenced by gnosticism until the efforts of Demetrius of Alexandria gradually brought the beliefs of the majority into harmony with the rest of Christianity.

By 200 it is clear that Alexandria was one of the great Christian centres. The Christian apologists Clement of Alexandria and Origen both lived part or all of their lives in that city, where they wrote, taught, and debated.

No sooner had the Egyptian Church achieved freedom and supremacy, however, than it became subject to schism and prolonged conflict which at times descended into civil war. Alexandria became the centre of the first great split in the Christian world, between the Arians, named for the Alexandrian priest Arius, and their opponents, represented by Athanasius, who became Archbishop of Alexandria in 326 after the First Council of Nicaea rejected Arius's views. The Arian controversy caused years of riots and rebellions throughout most of the 4th century. In the course of one of these, the great temple of Serapis, the stronghold of paganism, was destroyed. Athanasius was alternately expelled from Alexandria and reinstated as its Archbishop between five and seven times.

Arius is notable primarily because of his role in the Arian controversy, a great fourth-century theological conflict that rocked the Christian world and led to the calling of the first ecumenical council of the Church. This controversy centered upon the nature of the Son of God, and his precise relationship to God the Father. Arius ignited the controversy that bears his name when St. Alexander of Alexandria, who had succeeded Achillas as the Bishop of Alexandria, gave a sermon on the similarity of the Son to the Father. Arius interpreted Alexander's speech as being a revival of Sabellianism, condemned it, and then argued that "if the Father begat the Son, he that was begotten had a beginning of existence: and from this it is evident, that there was a time when the Son was not. It therefore necessarily follows, that he [the Son] had his substance from nothing." This quote describes the essence of Arius' doctrine.

At this First Council of Nicaea in 325 (celebrated at Bithynia, present Turkey) twenty-two bishops, led by Eusebius of Nicomedia, came as supporters of Arius. But when some of Arius's writings were read aloud, they are reported to have been denounced as blasphemous by most participants. For about two months, the two sides argued and debated, with each appealing to Scripture to justify their respective positions. Anthonius is quoted to have said "Jesus that I know as my Redeemer cannot be less than God" . Under Constantine's influence, the majority of the bishops ultimately agreed upon a creed, known thereafter as the Nicene creed. It included the word homoousios, meaning "consubstantial", or "one in essence", which was incompatible with Arius' beliefs

On June 19, 325, council and emperor issued a circular to the churches in and around Alexandria: Arius and two of his unyielding partisans (Theonas and Secundus) were deposed and exiled to Illyricum, while three other supporters—Theognis of Nicaea, Eusebius of Nicomedia and Maris of Chalcedon—affixed their signatures solely out of deference to the emperor. In the course of one of these, the great temple of Serapis, the stronghold of paganism, was destroyed. Athanasius was alternately expelled from Alexandria and reinstated as its Archbishop between five and seven times.

Though he never repudiated the council or its decrees, the emperor ultimately permitted Arius (who had taken refuge in Palestine) and many of his adherents to return to their homes, once Arius had reformulated his Christology to mute the ideas found most objectionable by his critics. As it turned out—for whatever reason—one day before the Sunday appointed for Arius to be formally readmitted to communion, Arius suddenly died. Many Nicene Christians asserted that Arius's death was miraculous—a consequence of his allegedly heretical views.

Constantius II, who succeeded Constantine, was an Arian sympathizer who openly encouraged the Arians by appointing Eusebius of Nicomedia, another sympathizer to Arianism, as Bishop ("Patriarch", in the Eastern Church) of Constantinople. However, Theodosius I effectively wiped out Arianism once and for all among the elites of the Eastern Empire through a combination of imperial decree, persecution, and the calling of the Second Ecumenical Council in 381, which condemned Arius anew while reaffirming and expanding the Nicene Creed: One of the projects undertaken by the Council was the creation of the Nicene Creed, a declaration and summary of the Christian faith.

Egypt had an ancient tradition of religious speculation, enabling a variety of controversial religious views to thrive there. Not only did Arianism flourish, but other doctrines, such as Gnosticism and Manichaeism, either native or imported, found many followers. Another religious development in Egypt was the monasticism of the Desert Fathers, who renounced the material world in order to live a life of poverty in devotion to the Church. The Desert Fathers were hermits, ascetics, monks, and nuns (Desert Mothers) who lived mainly in the Scetes desert of Egypt beginning around the third century AD. The most well known was Anthony the Great, who moved to the desert in 270–271 and became known as both the father and founder of desert monasticism. By the time Anthony died in 356, thousands of monks and nuns had been drawn to living in the desert following Anthony's example — his biographer, Athanasius of Alexandria, wrote that "the desert had become a city"

Sometime around the year 270 AD, Anthony heard a Sunday sermon stating that perfection could be achieved by selling all of one's possessions, giving the proceeds to the poor, and following Christ.(Matt. 19.21, part of the Evangelical counsels) He took the message to heart and made the further step of moving deep into the desert to seek complete solitude. Over time, the model of Anthony and other hermits attracted many followers, who lived alone in the desert or in small groups. They chose a life of extreme asceticism, renouncing all the pleasures of the senses, rich food, baths, rest, and anything that made them comfortable

Hesychasm (from the Greek for "stillness, rest, quiet, silence") is a mystical tradition and movement that originated with the Desert Fathers and was central to their practice of prayer.  Hesychasm for the Desert Fathers was primarily the practice of "interior silence and continual prayer". It didn't become a formal movement of specific practices until the fourteenth century Byzantine meditative prayer techniques, when it was more closely identified with the Prayer of the Heart, or "Jesus Prayer"

The emphasis of the Desert Fathers was on living and practicing the teachings of Christ, much more than mere theoretical knowledge. Their efforts to live the commandments were not seen as being easy — many of the stories from that time recount the struggle to overcome negative emotions such as anger and judgment of others.  Anthony himself is said to have faced a series of supernatural temptations during his pilgrimage to the desert. Some of the stories included in Saint Anthony's biography are perpetuated now mostly in paintings, where they give an opportunity for artists to depict their more lurid or bizarre interpretations. Many artists, including Martin Schongauer, Hieronymus Bosch, Dorothea Tanning, Max Ernst, and Salvador Dalí, have depicted these incidents from the life of Anthony.


The Temptation St. Anthony by Salvador Dali

The desert monastic communities that grew out of the informal gathering of hermit monks became the model for Christian monasticism. The eastern monastic tradition at Mt. Athos and the western Rule of St. Benedict both were strongly influenced by the traditions that began in the desert.

Egyptian Christians took up monasticism with such enthusiasm that the Emperor Valens had to restrict the number of men who could become monks. Egypt exported monasticism to the rest of the Christian world. Another development of this period was the development of Coptic, a form of the Ancient Egyptian language written with the Greek alphabet supplemented by several signs to represent sounds present in Egyptian which were not present in Greek. Coptic is invented as a means to ensure correct pronunciation of magical words and names in "pagan" texts, the so-called Greek Magical



The fall of the Western Empire in the 5th century further isolated the Egyptian Romans from Rome's culture and hastened the growth of Christianity. The triumph of Christianity led to a virtual abandonment of pharaonic traditions: with the disappearance of the Egyptian priests and priestesses who officiated at the temples, no-one could read the hieroglyphs of Pharaonic Egypt, and its temples were converted to churches or abandoned to the desert.

The Eastern Empire became increasingly "oriental" in style as its links with the old Græco-Roman world faded. The Greek system of local government by citizens had now entirely disappeared. Offices, with new Byzantine names, were almost hereditary in the wealthy land-owning families. Alexandria, the second city of the empire, continued to be a centre of religious controversy and violence. Cyril, the patriarch of Alexandria, convinced the city's governor to expel the Jews from the city in 415 with the aid of the mob, in response to the Jews' alleged nighttime massacre of many Christians.The murder of the philosopher Hypatia marked the final end of classical Hellenic culture in Egypt. Hypatia (ca. AD 350–370–March 415)  was a Greek Neoplatonist philosopher in Roman Egypt who was the first notable woman in mathematics. As head of the Platonist school at Alexandria, she also taught philosophy and astronomy.

Modern studies represent Hypatia's death as the result of a struggle between two Christian factions, the moderate Orestes, who was the Praefectus augustalis -gobernor- of the Diocese of Egypt (province of Rome) and supported by Hypatia, and the more rigid Cyril.

According to Christian sources, the Jews of Alexandria schemed against the Christians and killed many of them. Cyril reacted and expelled either all of the Jews, or else only the murderers, from Alexandria, actually exerting a power that belonged to the civil officer, Orestes. Orestes was powerless, but nonetheless rejected Cyril's gesture of offering him a Bible, which would mean that the religious authority of Cyril would require Orestes' acquiescence in the bishop's policy

Nitrian monks came from the desert and instigated a riot against Orestes among the population of Alexandria. These monks' violence had already been used, 15 years before, by Theophilus against the "Tall Brothers"; furthermore, it is said that Cyril had spent five years among them in ascetic training.

Prefect Orestes enjoyed the political backing of Hypatia, a philosopher and scientist who had considerable moral authority in the city of Alexandria, and who had extensive influence.

Several Christians thought that Hypatia's influence had caused Orestes to reject all reconciliatory offerings by Cyril. Modern historians think that Orestes had cultivated his relationship with Hypatia to strengthen a bond with the pagan community of Alexandria, as he had done with the Jewish one, to handle better the difficult political life of the Egyptian capital. A Christian mob possibly led by Nitrian monks, however, grabbed Hypatia out of her chariot and brutally murdered her, hacking her body apart and burning the pieces outside the city walls.

This political assassination eliminated an important and powerful supporter of the Imperial Prefect, and led Orestes to give up his struggle against Patriarch Cyril and leave Alexandria.


In 396, Emperor Theodosius I, age 48, dies after a disease involving severe edema, at Milan. The Roman Empire is re-divided into an eastern and a western half. The Eastern Roman Empire is centered in Constantinople under Arcadius, son of Theodosius, and the Western Roman Empire in Mediolanum under Honorius, his brother. Egypt is under the Eastern Roman Empire.

The new religious controversy was over the nature of Jesus of Nazareth. The issue was whether he had two natures, human and divine, or a combined one (from His humanity and divinity). This may seem an arcane distinction, but in an intensely religious age it was enough to divide an empire. The Miaphysite controversy arose after the First Council of Constantinople in 381 (The Council confirmed the teachings of Saint Athanasius and confirmed the title of Mary as "Mother of God".) and continued until the Council of Chalcedon in 451, which ruled in favour of the position that Jesus was "In two natures" due to confusing Miaphytism (combined) with Monophystism (single). The Council of Chalcedon was a church council held from October 8 to November 1, 451 AD, at Chalcedon (a city of Bithynia in Asia Minor), on the Asian side of the Bosporus. The council marked a significant turning point in the Christological debates that led to the separation of the church of the Eastern Roman Empire in the 5th century. It is the last council which many Anglicans and most Protestants consider ecumenical. The Church of Alexandria split from the Churches of Rome and Constantinople over this issue, creating what would become the Coptic Orthodox Church of Alexandria, which remains a major force in Egyptian religious life today. In terms of Christology, the Oriental Orthodox (Non-Chalcedonians) understanding is that Christ is "One Nature--the Logos Incarnate" of the full humanity and full divinity.

Egypt nevertheless continued to be an important economic center for the Empire supplying much of its agriculture and manufacturing needs as well as continuing to be an important center of scholarship. It would supply the needs of Byzantine Empire and the Mediterranean as a whole. The reign of Justinian (482–565) saw the Empire recapture Rome and much of Italy from the barbarians, but these successes left the empire's eastern flank exposed. The Empire's "bread basket" now lacked for protection.

The Persian conquest of Egypt, beginning in 619 or 618, was one of the last Sassanid triumphs in the Roman-Persian Wars against Byzantium. Khosrow II Parvêz had begun this war in retaliation for the assassination of Emperor Maurice (582-602) and had achieved a series of early successes, culminating in the conquests of Jerusalem (614) and Alexandria (619). The Persian conquest allowed Miaphysitism to resurface in the open in Egypt, and when imperial rule was restored by Emperor Heraclius in 629, the Miaphysites were persecuted and their patriarch expelled. Egypt was thus in a state of both religious and political alienation from the Empire when a new invader appeared.

Old Egyptian life:

The ancient Egyptians viewed men and women, including people from all social classes except slaves, as essentially equal under the law, and even the lowliest peasant was entitled to petition the vizier and his court for redress. Both men and women had the right to own and sell property, make contracts, marry and divorce, receive inheritance, and pursue legal disputes in court. Married couples could own property jointly and protect themselves from divorce by agreeing to marriage contracts, which stipulated the financial obligations of the husband to his wife and children should the marriage end. Compared with their counterparts in ancient Greece, Rome, and even more modern places around the world, ancient Egyptian women had a greater range of personal choices and opportunities for achievement. Women such as Hatshepsut and Cleopatra VI even became pharaohs, while others wielded power as Divine Wives of Amun. Despite these freedoms, ancient Egyptian women did not often take part in official roles in the administration, served only secondary roles in the temples, and were not as likely to be as educated as men.

Egyptian society was highly stratified, and social status was expressly displayed. Farmers made up the bulk of the population, but agricultural produce was owned directly by the state, temple, or noble family that owned the land. Farmers were also subject to a labor tax and were required to work on irrigation or construction projects in a corve system. Artists and craftsmen were of higher status than farmers, but they were also under state control, working in the shops attached to the temples and paid directly from the state treasury. Scribes and officials formed the upper class in ancient Egypt, the so-called "white kilt class" in reference to the bleached linen garments that served as a mark of their rank. The upper class prominently displayed their social status in art and literature. Below the nobility were the priests, physicians, and engineers with specialized training in their field. Slavery was known in ancient Egypt, but the extent and prevalence of its practice are unclear.

The head of the legal system was officially the pharaoh, who was responsible for enacting laws, delivering justice, and maintaining law and order, a concept the ancient Egyptians referred to as Ma'at. Although no legal codes from ancient Egypt survive, court documents show that Egyptian law was based on a common-sense view of right and wrong that emphasized reaching agreements and resolving conflicts rather than strictly adhering to a complicated set of statutes

Local councils of elders, known as Kenbet in the New Kingdom, were responsible for ruling in court cases involving small claims and minor disputes. More serious cases involving murder, major land transactions, and tomb robbery were referred to the Great Kenbet, over which the vizier or pharaoh presided. Plaintiffs and defendants were expected to represent themselves and were required to swear an oath that they had told the truth. In some cases, the state took on both the role of prosecutor and judge, and it could torture the accused with beatings to obtain a confession and the names of any co-conspirators. Whether the charges were trivial or serious, court scribes documented the complaint, testimony, and verdict of the case for future reference
Punishment for minor crimes involved either imposition of fines, beatings, facial mutilation, or exile, depending on the severity of the offense. Serious crimes such as murder and tomb robbery were punished by execution, carried out by decapitation, drowning, or impaling the criminal on a stake. Punishment could also be extended to the criminal's family. Beginning in the New Kingdom, oracles played a major role in the legal system, dispensing justice in both civil and criminal cases. The procedure was to ask the god a "yes" or "no" question concerning the right or wrong of an issue. The god, carried by a number of priests, rendered judgment by choosing one or the other, moving forward or backward, or pointing to one of the answers written on a piece of papyrus or an ostracon.

The ancient Egyptians used donkeys and oxen as beasts of burden, and they were responsible for plowing the fields and trampling seed into the soil. The slaughter of a fattened ox was also a central part of an offering ritual. Horses were introduced by the Hyksos in the Second Intermediate Period, and the camel, although known from the New Kingdom, was not used as a beast of burden until the Late Period. There is also evidence to suggest that elephants were briefly utilized in the Late Period, but largely abandoned due to lack of grazing land. Dogs, cats and monkeys were common family pets, while more exotic pets imported from the heart of Africa, such as lions, were reserved for royalty. Herodotus observed that the Egyptians were the only people to keep their animals with them in their houses. During the Predynastic and Late periods, the worship of the gods in their animal form was extremely popular, such as the cat goddess Bastet and the ibis god Thoth, and these animals were bred in large numbers on farms for the purpose of ritual sacrifice.
The ancient Egyptians placed a great value on hygiene and appearance. Most bathed in the Nile and used a pasty soap made from animal fat and chalk. Men shaved their entire bodies for cleanliness, and aromatic perfumes and ointments covered bad odors and soothed skin. Clothing was made from simple linen sheets that were bleached white, and both men and women of the upper classes wore wigs, jewelry, and cosmetics. Children went without clothing until maturity, at about age 12, and at this age males were circumcised and had their heads shaved. Mothers were responsible for taking care of the children, while the father provided the family's income.

Circumcision was practiced in Ancient Egypt with one record as far back as over 4,200 years ago mentioning the circumcision of 120 boys in a single ceremony. It appears to have been carried out at puberty and on reaching adolescence the side-lock worn by young male children also disappeared. The rite was called the Sebi and became compulsory for all priests of the temples if not for all youths. It may have been for 'cleanliness' in a hot dusty land as Herodotus said, but it also appeared to have religious and ethnic significance as it differentiated them from foreigners. A religious custom, as we know, also adopted by the Israelites.

Hieroglyphic writing dates to c. 3200 BC, and is composed of some 500 symbols. A hieroglyph can represent a word, a sound, or a silent determinative; and the same symbol can serve different purposes in different contexts. Hieroglyphs were a formal script, used on stone monuments and in tombs, that could be as detailed as individual works of art. In day-to-day writing, scribes used a cursive form of writing, called hieratic, which was quicker and easier. While formal hieroglyphs may be read in rows or columns in either direction (though typically written from right to left), hieratic was always written from right to left, usually in horizontal rows. A new form of writing, Demotic, became the prevalent writing style, and it is this form of writing along with formal hieroglyphs that accompany the Greek text on the Rosetta Stone.

The Egyptians believed that every human being was composed of physical and spiritual parts or aspects. In addition to the body, each person had a wt (shadow), a ba (personality or soul), a ka (life-force), and a name. The heart, rather than the brain, was considered the seat of thoughts and emotions. After death, the spiritual aspects were released from the body and could move at will, but they required the physical remains (or a substitute, such as a statue) as a permanent home. The ultimate goal of the deceased was to rejoin his ka and ba and become one of the "blessed dead", living on as an akh, or "effective one". For this to happen, the deceased had to be judged worthy in a trial, in which the heart was weighed against a "feather of truth". If deemed worthy, the deceased could continue their existence on earth in spiritual form. By the New Kingdom, the ancient Egyptians had perfected the art of mummification; the best technique took 70 days and involved removing the internal organs, removing the brain through the nose, and desiccating the body in a mixture of salts called natron. The body was then wrapped in linen with protective amulets inserted between layers and placed in a decorated anthropoid coffin. Mummies of the Late Period were also placed in painted cartonnage mummy cases. Actual preservation practices declined during the Ptolemaic and Roman eras, while greater emphasis was placed on the outer appearance of the mummy, which was decorated. Wealthy Egyptians were buried with larger quantities of luxury items, but all burials, regardless of social status, included goods for the deceased. Beginning in the New Kingdom, books of the dead were included in the grave, along with shabti statues that were believed to perform manual labor for them in the afterlife. The New Kingdom saw the Book of the Dead develop and spread further. The famous Spell 125, the 'Weighing of the Heart', is first known from the reign of Hatshepsut and Tuthmose III, c.1475 BC. From this period onward the Book of the Dead was typically written on a papyrus scroll, and the text illustrated with vignettes.During the 25th and 26th dynasties, the Book of the Dead was updated, revised and standardised. Spells were consistently ordered and numbered for the first time. This standardised version is known today as the 'Saite recension', after the Saite (26th) dynasty. In the Late period and Ptolemaic period, the Book of the Dead remained based on the Saite recension, though increasingly abbreviated towards the end of the Ptolemaic period.
Hunefer (fl. 1310 BCE) was a scribe during the 19th Dynasty. His copy of the Egyptian funerary Book of the Dead, along with the Papyrus of Ani, represent classical examples of these documents. He was "Scribe of Divine Offerings", "Overseer of Royal Cattle", and steward of Pharaoh Seti I
In the three scenes from the Book of the Dead (version from ~1300 BCE) the dead man (Hunefer) is taken into the judgment hall by the jackal-headed Anubis. The next scene is the weighing of his heart, with Ammut awaiting the result and Thoth recording. Next, the triumphant Hunefer, having passed the test, is presented by the falcon-headed Horus to Osiris, seated in his shrine with Isis and Nephthys. (British Museum)
Literature: The Story of Sinuhe, written in Middle Egyptian, might be the classic of Egyptian literature. Also written at this time was the Westcar Papyrus, a set of stories told to Khufu by his sons relating the marvels performed by priests. The Instruction of Amenemope is considered a masterpiece of near-eastern literature. Towards the end of the New Kingdom, the vernacular language was more often employed to write popular pieces like the Story of Wenamun and the Instruction of Any. The former tells the story of a noble who is robbed on his way to buy cedar from Lebanon and of his struggle to return to Egypt. From about 700 BC, narrative stories and instructions, such as the popular Instructions of Onchsheshonqy, as well as personal and business documents were written in the demotic script and phase of Egyptian.

Sinuhe is an official who accompanies prince Senwosret I to Libya. He overhears a conversation connected with the death of King Amenemhet I and as a result flees to Upper Retjenu (Canaan), leaving Egypt behind. He becomes the son-in-law of Chief Ammunenshi and in time his sons grow to become chiefs in their own right. Sinuhe fights rebellious tribes on behalf of Ammunenshi. As an old man, in the aftermath of defeating a powerful opponent in single combat, he prays for a return to his homeland.: "May god pity me..may he hearken to the prayer of one far away!..may the King have mercy on me..may I be conducted to the city of eternity!". He then receives an invitation from King Senwosret I of Egypt to return, which he accepts in highly moving terms. Living out the rest of his life in royal favour he is finally laid to rest in the necropolis in a beautiful tomb.

Parallels have been made with the biblical narrative of Joseph. In what is seen as divine providence, the Syro-Canaanite Joseph is taken to Egypt where he becomes part of the ruling elite, acquires a wife and family, before being reunited with his Syro-Canaanite family. In what as seen as divine providence, Sinuhe the Egyptian flees to Syro-Canaan and becomes a member of the ruling elite, acquires a wife and family, before being reunited with his Egyptian family. Parallels have also been drawn with other biblical texts: Sinuhe's frustrated flight from the orbit of god's power (=King) is likened to the Hebrew prophet Jonah's similar attempt, his fight with a mighty challenger, whom he slays with a single blow, is compared to the battle between David and Goliath and his return home likened to the parable of the Prodigal Son
The story also formed part of the inspiration for the 1945 novel by Mika Waltari, and the 1954 Hollywood film epic, both titled The Egyptian, which although set during the reign of 18th dynasty pharaoh Akhenaten, features a lead character named Sinuhe who flees Egypt in disgrace, to return after achieving material success and personal redemption in foreign lands.

Egyptologists and discoveries:

Dominique Vivant Denon: At Bonaparte's invitation he joined the expedition to Egypt as part of the arts and literature section of the Institut d'Egypte, and thus found the opportunity of gathering the materials for his most important literary and artistic work. He accompanied General Desaix to Upper Egypt, and made numerous sketches of the monuments of ancient art, sometimes under the very fire of the enemy. The results were published in his Voyage dans la basse et la haute Egypte (Journey in Lower and Upper Egypt), published as two volumes in 1802. The work crowned his reputation both as an archaeologist and as an artist, and sparked the Egyptian Revival in architecture and decorative arts. In 1804 he was appointed by Napoleon to the important office of director-general of museums and head of the new Muse Napoleon (Louvre Museum) after the Egyptian campaign of 1798-1801., which he filled until the Allied occupation of Paris in 1814.
Sphinx at Giza, being measured by French surveyors (drawing by Vivant Denon)


Giovanni Battista Belzoni (5 November 1778 – 3 December 1823), sometimes known as The Great Belzoni, was a prolific Venetian explorer of Egyptian antiquities.

Belzoni was born in Padua. His father was a barber who sired fourteen children. His family was from Rome and when Belzoni was 16 he went to work there, claiming that he 'studied hydraulics'. He intended taking monastic vows, but in 1798 the occupation of the city by French troops drove him from Rome and changed his proposed career. In 1800 he moved to the Netherlands.

In 1803 he fled to England to avoid being sent to jail. There he married an Englishwoman, Sarah Bane (1783-1860). Belzoni was a tall man at 6 ft 7 in (2m1) tall. In England, Belzoni in despair at not find any employment in engineering and mechanics and having taken on a young wife, joined a traveling circus and was billed as “Patagonian Samson.” This career lasted twelve years and included several years spent with the famous Astley's Circus due to the patronage of Henry Salt, the traveller and antiquarian.

Belzoni
On the recommendation of the orientalist, J. L. Burckhardt, he was sent by Henry Salt, the British consul to Egypt, to the Ramesseum at Thebes, from where he removed with great skill the colossal bust of Ramesses II, commonly called "the Young Memnon". Shipped by Belzoni to England, this piece is still on prominent display at the British Museum. He also expanded his investigations to the great temple of Edfu, visited Elephantine and Philae, cleared the great temple at Abu Simbel of sand (1817), made excavations at Karnak, and opened up the sepulchre of Seti I (still sometimes known as "Belzoni's Tomb"). He was the first to penetrate into the second pyramid of Giza, and the first European in modern times to visit the oasis of Bahariya. He also identified the ruins of Berenice on the Red Sea.

the Young Memnon
In 1823 he set out for West Africa, intending to travel to Timbuktu. Having been refused permission to pass through Morocco, he chose the Guinea Coast route. He reached the Kingdom of Benin, but was seized with dysentery at a village called Gwato, and died there. According to the celebrated traveller Richard Francis Burton he was murdered and robbed. In 1829 his widow published his drawings of the royal tombs at Thebes.

Jean-François Champollion (23 December 1790 – 4 March 1832) was a French classical scholar, philologist and orientalist, decipherer of the Egyptian hieroglyphs.

He was raised in humble circumstances; because his parents could not afford to send him to school, and he was taught to read by his brother Jacques. Jacques, although studious and largely self-educated, did not have Jean-François' genius for language; however, he was talented at earning a living, and supported Jean-François for most of his life.

He lived with his brother in Grenoble for several years, and even as a child showed an extraordinary linguistic talent. By the age of 16 he had mastered a dozen languages and had read a paper before the Grenoble Academy concerning the Coptic language. By 20 he could also speak Latin, Greek, Hebrew, Amharic, Sanskrit, Avestan, Pahlavi, Arabic, Syriac, Chaldean, Persian and Ge'ez in addition to his native French. In 1809, he became assistant-professor of History at Grenoble University. His interest in oriental languages, especially Coptic, led to his being entrusted with the task of deciphering the writing on the then recently-discovered Rosetta Stone, and he spent the years 1822–1824 on this task. Champollion published the first translation of the Rosetta Stone hieroglyphs in 1822, showing that the Egyptian writing system was a combination of phonetic and ideographic signs. His 1824 work Précis du système hiéroglyphique gave birth to the entire field of modern Egyptology. He also identified the importance of the Turin King List, and dated the Dendera zodiac to the Roman period.

The Rosetta Stone

Champollion was appointed Conservator of the Egyptian collections at the Louvre, Paris in 1826. He made his sole visit to Egypt in 1828-29, conducting the first systematic survey of the country's monuments, history and archaeology. On his return, the first chair in Egyptian history and archaeology was created for him at the Collège de France, Paris. Champollion died on 4 March 1832 as a result of a stroke, while preparing the results of his expedition for publication. His Egyptian grammar was published posthumously.

Karl (or Carl) Richard Lepsius (23 December 1810 – 10 July 1884) was a pioneering Prussian Egyptologist and linguist and pioneer of modern archaeology.

Richard Lepsius
In 1836, Lepsius travelled to Tuscany to meet with Ippolito Rosellini, who had led a joint expedition to Egypt with Champollion in 1828–1829. In a series of letters to Rosellini, Lepsius expanded on Champollion's explanation of the use of alphabetic signs in hieroglyphic writing, emphasising (contra Champollion) that vowels were not written.

In 1842 Lepsius was commissioned (at the recommendation of Alexander von Humboldt and Christian Charles Josias Bunsen) by King Frederich Wilhelm IV of Prussia to lead an expedition to Egypt and the Sudan to explore and record the remains of the ancient Egyptian civilization. The Prussian expedition was modeled after the earlier Napoléonic mission, and consisted of surveyors, draftsmen, and other specialists. The mission reached Giza in November 1842 and spent six months making some of the first scientific studies of the pyramids of Giza, Abusir, Saqqara, and Dahshur. They discovered over sixty-seven pyramids and more than 130 tombs of noblemen in the area. While at the Great Pyramid of Giza, Lepsius inscribed a graffito written in Egyptian hieroglyphs that honours Friedrich Wilhelm IV above the pyramid's original entrance; it is still visible.

[The Karnak king list was located in the southwest corner of the Akh-Menu Hall. Composed during the reign of Thutmose III, it lists sixty-one kings beginning with Sneferu from Egypt's Old Kingdom. Only the names of forty-eight kings are still legible, and one is not written in a cartouche.

In 1843, French adventurer Emile Prisse dismantled and stole the blocks containing the king list at night, claiming to act "in the interests of France." He had found out that a German expedition led by egyptologist Karl Richard Lepsius was making its way up the Nile to Karnak.Severely damaged, it is now on display at the Louvre in Paris]

Working south, stopping for extended periods at important Middle Egyptian sites, such as Beni Hasan and Dayr al-Barsha, Lepsius reached as far south as Khartoum, and then traveling up the Blue Nile to the region about Sennar. After exploring various sites in Upper and Lower Nubia, the expedition worked back north, reaching Thebes on 2 November 1844, where they spent four months studying the western bank of the Nile (such as the Ramesseum, Medinet Habu, the Valley of the Kings, etc.) and another three on the east bank at the temples of Karnak and Luxor, attempting to record as much as possible. Afterwards they stopped at Coptos, the Sinai, and sites in the Egyptian Delta, such as Tanis, before returning to Europe in 1846.

Lepsius was president of the German Archaeological Institute in Rome from 1867–1880, and from 1873 until his death in 1884, the head of the Royal Library at Berlin. He was the editor of the Zeitschrift für ägyptisches Sprache und Altertumskunde, a fundamental scientific journal for the new field of Egyptology, which remains in print to this day.

Working south, stopping for extended periods at important Middle Egyptian sites, such as Beni Hasan and Dayr al-Barsha, Lepsius reached as far south as Khartoum, and then traveling up the Blue Nile to the region about Sennar. After exploring various sites in Upper and Lower Nubia, the expedition worked back north, reaching Thebes on 2 November 1844, where they spent four months studying the western bank of the Nile (such as the Ramesseum, Medinet Habu, the Valley of the Kings, etc.) and another three on the east bank at the temples of Karnak and Luxor, attempting to record as much as possible. Afterwards they stopped at Coptos, the Sinai, and sites in the Egyptian Delta, such as Tanis, before returning to Europe in 1846.

Lepsius published widely in the field of Egyptology, and is considered the father of the modern scientific discipline of Egyptology, assuming a role that Champollion might have achieved had he not died so young. Much of his work is fundamental to the field. Indeed, Lepsius even coined the phrase Totenbuch ("Book of the Dead"). He was also a leader in the field of African linguistics, though his ideas are now mainly considered to be outdated.

François Auguste Ferdinand Mariette (February 11, 1821 – January 19, 1881) was a French scholar, archaeologist and Egyptologist, the designer of the rebuilt Egyptian Museum under Maximilian of Austria orders when the later had gained control of the artifacts collected to that point.

Born at Boulogne-sur-Mer, Mariette proved to be a talented draftsman and designer, and he supplemented his salary as a teacher at Douai by giving private lessons and writing on historical and archaeological subjects for local periodicals.

Statue of Egyptologist François Auguste Ferdinand Mariette at Boulogne-sur-Mer
Entrusted with a government mission for the purpose of seeking and purchasing the best Coptic, Syriac, Arabic and Ethiopic manuscripts for the Louvre collection so that it retained its then-supremacy over other national collections, he set out for Egypt in 1850.  In 1851, he made his celebrated discovery of this avenue and eventually the subterranean tomb-temple complex of catacombs with their spectacular sarcophagi of the Apis bulls. Breaking through the rubble at the tomb entrance on November 12, he entered the complex, finding thousands of statues, bronze tablets and other treasures, but only one intact sarcophagus. He also found the virtually intact tomb of Prince Khaemweset, Ramesses II's son.

Accused of theft and destruction by rival diggers and by the Egyptian authorities, Mariette began to rebury his finds in the desert to keep them from these competitors. Instead of manuscripts, official French funds were now advanced for the prosecution of his researches, and he remained in Egypt for four years, excavating, discovering — and despatching archaeological treasures to the Louvre, following the accepted Eurocentric convention. However, the French government and the Louvre set up an arrangement to divide the finds 50:50, so that upon his return to Paris 230 crates went to the Louvre (and he was raised to an assistant conservator), but an equal amount remained in Egypt.

However, unsatisfied with a purely academic role after his discoveries at Saqqara (he said "I knew I would die or go mad if I did not return to Egypt immediately"), after less than a year he returned to Egypt on the insistence of the Egyptian government under Ismail Pasha, who in 1858 created the position of conservator of Egyptian monuments for him.

Moving with his family to Cairo, his career blossomed into a chronicle of unwearying exploration and brilliant successes. He cleared the sands around the Sphinx down to the bare rock, and in the process discovered the famous granite and alabaster monument, the "Temple of the Sphinx".

In 1869, at the request of the Khedive, he wrote a brief plot for an opera. The following year this concept, worked into a scenario by Camille du Locle, was proposed to Giuseppe Verdi, who accepted it as a subject for Aida. For Aida, Mariette and Du Locle oversaw the scenery and costumes, which were inspired by the art of Ancient Egypt. The premiere of Aida was originally scheduled for February 1871, but was delayed until 24 December 1871, due to the siege of Paris at the height of the Franco-Prussian War (which trapped Mariette with the costumes and scenery in Paris). The opera met with great acclaim.

In 1878, his museum was ravaged by floods, which destroyed most of his notes and drawings. By the spring of 1881, prematurely aged and nearly blind, Mariette arranged for the appointment of the Frenchman Gaston Maspero (a linguist rather than an archaeologist, who he had met at the Exposition in 1867), to ensure that France retained its supremacy in Egyptology, rather than an Englishman. At this time, the English comprised the majority of Egyptologists in Egypt. He died in Cairo and was interred in a sarcophagus which is on display in the Garden of the Egyptian Museum, Cairo.

Gaston Camille Charles Maspero
(June 23, 1846 – June 30, 1916) was a French Egyptologist.
Gaston Maspero was born in Paris to parents of Lombard origin. While at school he showed a special taste for history, and by the age of fourteen he was already interested in hieroglyphic writing. It was not until his second year at the École Normale in 1867 that Maspero met fellow Egyptologist Auguste Mariette, who was in Paris as commissioner for the Egyptian section of the Exposition Universelle. Mariette gave him two newly discovered hieroglyphic texts of considerable difficulty to study, and the young self-taught scholar produced translations of them in less than a fortnight, a great feat in those days when Egyptology was still almost in its infancy. The publication of these texts in the same year established his academic reputation.

Maspero

Aware that his reputation was then more as a linguist than an archaeologist, Maspero's first work in the post was to build on Mariette's achievements at Saqqara. He expanded their scope from the early Old Kingdom to the later, with particular interest in tombs with long and complete hieroglyphic inscriptions that could help illustrate the development of the Egyptian language. Selecting five later Old Kingdom tombs, he was successful in that aim, finding over 4,000 lines of hieroglyphics which were then sketched and photographed.

As an aspect of his attempt to curtail the rampant illegal export of Egyptian antiquities by tourists, collectors and agents for the major European and American museums, Maspero arrested the Abd al-Russul brothers from the notorious treasure-hunting village of Gorna, who confessed under torture to having found the great cache of royal mummies at Deir el-Bahri in July 1881. The cache was moved to Cairo as soon as possible to keep it safe from robbers.

In 1886 he resumed work begun by Mariette to uncover the Sphinx, removing more than 65 feet (20 m) of sand and seeking tombs below it (which he did not find, but have later been found and left unopened). He also introduced admission charges for Egyptian sites to the increasing number of tourists to pay for their upkeep and maintenance.
View of the collapsed columns from the north gate in 1900
figure found at Karnak
Maspero resumed his professorial duties in Paris from June 1886 until 1899, when, at 53, he returned to Egypt in his old capacity as director-general of the department of antiquities. On October 3rd that year an earthquake at Karnak collapsed 11 columns and left the main hall in ruins. Maspero had already made some repairs and clearances there (continued in his absence by unofficial but authorized explorers of many nationalities) in his previous tenure of office, and now he set up a team of workmen under French Egyptologists and regularly visited to oversee its reconstruction work, opposing some Romantics who wished the ruins left as they were. In 1903 an alabaster pavement was found in the court of the 7th Pylon, and beneath it a shaft leading to a large hoard of almost 17,000 statues, with  every part of the dig drawn, recorded and photographed.

Ludwig Borchardt (5 October 1863 – 12 August 1938) was a German Egyptologist who was born in Berlin.His main focus was Ancient Egyptian architecture. He began excavations in Amarna, where he discovered the workshop of the sculptor Djhutmose, amongst its contents was the bust of Nefertiti, (now in the Neues Museum in Berlin). He also directed the excavations in Heliopolis and the tombs of Old Kingdom nobles in Abu Gorab. He died in Paris, on 12 August 1938. Recently, controversy has arisen with the assertion he smuggled the bust of Nefertiti out of Egypt by reporting it as an artifact made of gypsum. It has also been claimed by Swiss art historian Henri Stierlin that the bust is a copy dating from 1912.

William Matthew Flinders Petrie FRS (3 June 1853 – 28 July 1942), commonly known as Flinders Petrie, was an English Egyptologist and a pioneer of systematic methodology in archaeology and preservation of artifacts. He held the first chair of Egyptology in the United Kingdom, and excavated at many of the most important archaeological sites in Egypt, such as Naukratis, Tanis, Abydos and Amarna. Some consider his most famous discovery to be that of the Merneptah Stele, an opinion with which Petrie himself concurred.

Born in Maryon Road, Charlton, Kent (now part of south-east London), England, the son of William Petrie (1821–1908) and Anne (née Flinders (1812–1892). Anne was the daughter of Captain Matthew Flinders, surveyor of the Australian coastline.

Flinders Petrie was encouraged from childhood in his archaeological interests. At the age of eight he was being tutored in French, Latin, and Greek, until he had a collapse and was taught at home and self-taught.

After surveying British prehistoric monuments in his teenage years (commencing with the late Romano-British 'British Camp' that lay within yards of his family home in Charlton) in attempts to understand their geometry (at 19 tackling Stonehenge), Petrie travelled to Egypt early in 1880 to apply the same principles in a survey of the Great Pyramid at Giza, making him the first to properly investigate how they were constructed. On that visit he was appalled by the rate of destruction of monuments (some listed in guidebooks had been worn away completely since then) and mummies. He described Egypt as "a house on fire, so rapid was the destruction" and felt his duty to be that of a "salvage man, to get all I could, as quickly as possible and then, when I was 60, I would sit and write it all down".

Having returned to England at the end of 1880, Petrie wrote a number of articles and then met Amelia Edwards, journalist and patron of the Egypt Exploration Fund (now the Egypt Exploration Society), who became his strong supporter and later appointed him as Professor at her Egyptology chair at University College London. Impressed by his scientific approach, they offered him work as the successor to Édouard Naville. Petrie accepted the position and was given the sum of £250 per month to cover the excavation’s expenses. In November 1884, Petrie arrived in Egypt to begin his excavations.

Petrie
He then went straight to the burial site at Fayum, particularly interested in post-30 BC burials, which had not previously been fully studied. He found intact tombs and 60 of the famous portraits, and discovered from inscriptions on the mummies that they were kept with their living families for generations before burial. Under Auguste Mariette's arrangements, he sent 50% of these portraits to the Egyptian department of antiquities. However, later finding that Gaston Maspero placed little value on them and left them open to the elements in a yard behind the museum to deteriorate, he angrily demanded that they all be returned, forcing Maspero to pick the 12 best examples for the museum to keep and then returning 48 to Petrie, which he sent to London for a special showing at the British Museum.

In 1890, Petrie made the first of his many forays into Palestine, leading to much important archaeological work. His six-week excavation of Tell el-Hesi (which was mistakenly identified as Lachish) that year represents the first scientific excavation of an archaeological site in the Holy Land.

Next, from 1891, he worked on the temple of Aten at Tell-el-Amarna, discovering a 300-square-foot (28 m2) New Kingdom painted pavement of garden and animals and hunting scenes. This became a tourist attraction but, as there was no direct access to the site, tourists wrecked neighbouring fields on their way to it. This made local farmers deface the paintings, and it is only thanks to Petrie's copies that their original appearance is known.

painted pavement of garden at Tell-el-Amarna

The chair of Edwards Professor of Egyptian Archaeology and Philology at University College, London was set up and funded in 1892 by Amelia Edwards. Petrie's supporter since 1880, she made him its first holder. He continued to excavate in Egypt after taking up the professorship, training many of the best archaeologists of the day. In 1913 Petrie sold his large collection of Egyptian antiquities to University College, London, where it is now housed in the Petrie Museum of Egyptian Archaeology (The museum contains over 80,000 objects and ranks among some of the world's leading collections of Egyptian and Sudanese material. It ranks behind only the collections of the Cairo Museum, The British Museum and the Ägyptisches Museum, Berlin in number of items).

In early 1896, Petrie and his archaeological team were conducting excavations on a temple in Petrie's area of concession at Luxor. This temple complex was located just north of the original funerary temple of Amenhotep III which had been built on a flood plain. Two splendid stelae were found, both of them usurped on the reverse side by Merenptah, who had turned them face to the wall (a temple had been built by Merenptah, the son and successor of Ramesses II, almost entirely from stone which had been plundered from the temple of Amenophis III nearby) In one of the It was the first mention of the word "Israel" in any Egyptian text and the news made headlines when it reached the English papers.'

Petrie offered important collections of artefacts to the University of Strasbourg. In 1897, the Kaiser-Wilhelms-Universität Straßburg gratefully conferred to Petrie the title of doctor honoris causa.  1923 saw Petrie knighted for services to British archaeology and Egyptology. In 1926, the focus of Petrie’s work shifted permanently to Palestine (though he did become interested in early Egypt, in 1928 digging a cemetery at Luxor which proved so huge that he devised an entirely new excavation system, including comparison charts for finds which are still used today)

By linking styles of pottery with periods, he was the first to use seriation in Egyptology, a new method for establishing the chronology of a site. Flinders Petrie was also responsible for mentoring and training a whole generation of Egyptologists, including Howard Carter.

Upon his death in Jerusalem in 1942, influenced by his interest in science, races and different civilisations, Petrie donated his head to the Royal College of Surgeons of London, so that it could be studied for its high intellectual capacity. Petrie, who was also affiliated with a variety of far right-wing groups and anti-democratic thought in England and was a dedicated believer in the superiority of the Northern peoples over the Latinate and Southern peoples (Silberman, 1999), derided Budge's belief that the ancient Egyptians were an African people with roots in eastern Africa as impossible and "unscientific", as did his followers.

Howard Carter (9 May 1874 – 2 March 1939) was an English archaeologist and Egyptologist, noted as a primary discoverer of the tomb of Tutankhamun.

In 1891, at the age of 17, Carter, a talented young artist, was sent out to Egypt by the Egypt Exploration Fund to assist Percy Newberry in the excavation and recording of Middle Kingdom tombs at Beni Hasan. Even at that young age he was innovative in improving the methods of copying tomb decoration. In 1892 he worked under the tutelage of Flinders Petrie for one season at Amarna, the capital founded by the pharaoh Akhenaten.

In 1899, Carter was appointed the first chief inspector of the Egyptian Antiquities Service (EAS). He supervised a number of excavations at Thebes (now known as Luxor) before he was transferred in 1904 to the Inspectorate of Lower Egypt. Carter resigned from the Antiquities Service in 1904 as a result of an affray between Egyptian site guards and a group of French tourists, in which he sided with the Egyptian personnel.

After three hard years, Carter was employed by Lord Carnarvon to supervise his excavations from 1907. The intention of Gaston Maspero, who introduced the two, was to ensure that Carter imposed modern archaeological methods and systems of recording.

Carnarvon financed Carter's work in the Valley of the Kings from 1914, but it was interrupted by World War I until 1917, when serious work was resumed. After several years of fruitless searching, Carnarvon became dissatisfied with the lack of results and, in 1922, he gave Carter one more season of funding to find the tomb he was searching for. On 4 November 1922, Carter's water carrier found the steps leading to Tutankhamun's tomb (subsequently designated KV62), by far the best preserved and most intact pharaonic tomb ever found in the Valley of the Kings. The tomb was underneath the remains of workmen's huts built during the Ramesside Period (The creation of Ramesses VI's tomb, however, protected Tutankhamon's own intact tomb from grave robbers since debris from its formation was dumped over the tomb entrance to the boy king's tomb); this explains why it was spared from the worst of the tomb depredations of that time. He wired Carnarvon to come, and on 26 November 1922, with Carnarvon, Carnarvon's daughter, and others in attendance, Carter made the famous "tiny breach in the top left hand corner" of the doorway, and was able to peer in by the light of a candle and see that many of the gold and ebony treasures were still in place. He made the breach into the tomb with a chisel his grandmother had given him for his seventeenth birthday. She knew he would one day make an amazing archaeological discovery. He did not yet know at that point whether it was "a tomb or merely a cache", but he did see a promising sealed doorway between two sentinel statues. When Carnarvon asked "can you see anything?", Carter replied: "Yes, wonderful things."

The next several months were spent cataloging the contents of the antechamber under the 'often stressful' oversight of Pierre Lacau, director general of the Department of Antiquities of Egypt. On 16 February 1923, Carter opened the sealed doorway, and found that it did indeed lead to a burial chamber, and he got his first glimpse of the sarcophagus of Tutankhamun. All of these discoveries were eagerly covered by the world's press, but most of their representatives were kept in their hotels; only H. V. Morton was allowed on the scene, and his vivid descriptions helped to cement Carter's reputation with the British public.

The tomb was densely packed with items in great disarray. Carter was able to photograph garlands of flowers, which disintegrated when touched. Due to the state of the tomb, and to Carter's meticulous recording technique, the tomb took nearly a decade to empty, the contents all being transported to the Egyptian Museum in Cairo.

Tutankhamun's tomb had been entered at least twice, not long after he was buried and well before Carter's discovery. The outermost doors of the shrines enclosing the king's nested coffins were left opened, and unsealed. It is estimated that 60% of the jewellery which had been stored in the "Treasury" was removed as well. After one of these ancient robberies, embalming materials from KV62 are believed to have been buried at KV54: it is thought that after the first robbery attempt of the tomb, the embalming cache material was moved to the pit that was KV54, and the corridor filled with rocky debris in order to stop any future robbery attempts.The food and other related items likely came from a funerary banquet held at the pharaoh's interment. He estimated that there had been a total of eight official mourners who had attended the burial.

In design, the tomb appears to have originally been intended for a private individual, not for royalty. There is some evidence to suggest that the tomb was adapted for a royal occupant during its excavation.


The clearance of the tomb with its thousands of objects continued until 1932. Following his sensational discovery Howard Carter retired from archaeology and became a part-time agent for collectors and museums, including the Cleveland Museum of Art and the Detroit Institute of Arts. He visited the United States in 1924, and gave a series of illustrated lectures in New York City and other cities in the United States which were attended by very large and enthusiastic audiences, sparking Egyptomania in America.



Hometric view of the corridor and four chambers of Tutankhamun's tomb with its contents.
On 5 April 1923, Carnarvon died in the Continental-Savoy Hotel in Cairo, in the Kingdom of Egypt. This led to the story of the "Curse of Tutankhamun", the "Mummy's Curse". His death is most probably explained by blood poisoning (progressing to pneumonia) after accidentally shaving a mosquito bite infected with erysipelas. His colleague and employee, Howard Carter, the man most responsible for revealing the tomb of the young king, lived safely for another sixteen years.

Carter died of lymphoma, a type of cancer, in Kensington, London, on 2 March 1939 at the age of 64

Ernesto Schiaparelli (July 12, 1856– 1928) was an Italian Egyptologist, born in Occhieppo Inferiore (Biella), who found Queen Nefertari's tomb in Deir el-Medina in the Valley of the Queens (1904) and excavated the TT8 tomb of the royal architect Kha (1906), found intact and displayed in toto in Turin. He was appointed director of the Egyptian Museum in Florence, where he professionally reorganized the collection in new quarters in 1880, then at the peak of his career was made director of the Museo Egizio di Torino (It houses the second world's largest collections of Egyptian antiquities after Cairo), which became with him and his many seasons of excavating, the second biggest Egyptian museum in the world.

The pyramid-chapel of Kha and his wife Merit had already been well known for many years; indeed, scenes from it had already been copied by several Egyptologists including John Gardiner Wilkinson and Karl Lepsius in the 19th century. The items found in the tomb show that Kha and Merit were quite wealthy during their lifetime. Unlike the more chaotic burial of Tutankhamun, Kha's burial had been carefully planned out, the more important items had been covered by dust sheets, and the floor had been swept when the last person had left.The coffins of Kha and Merit had been buried in two nested coffins; Kha's mummy had been tightly wrapped with several items of jewelry included within the wrappings.

Statue of Kha


Pierre Montet (June 27, 1885, Villefranche-sur-Saône, Rhône – June 19, 1966) was a respected French Egyptologist.

He excavated at Byblos (modern Jbail) in Lebanon between 1921 and 1924, excavating tombs of rulers from Middle Kingdom times. Between 1929 and 1939, he excavated at Tanis, Egypt, finding the royal necropolis of the Twenty-first and Twenty-second Dynasties — the finds there almost equalled that of Tutankhamun's tomb in the Valley of the Kings.

In the 1939-1940 Egypt excavation season, he discovered the completely intact tombs of 3 Egyptian pharaohs at Tanis: Psusennes I, Amenemope, and Shoshenq II along with the partially plundered tomb of Takelot I in Lower Egypt at Tanis.

During his academic career, he served as Professor of Egyptology at the University of Strasbourg from 1919 to 1948 and then at the Collège de France, Paris between 1948 and 1956. He died in Paris on June 19, 1966.

Montet believed that his excavations at Tanis had uncovered Pi-Ramesses. After his death, Austrian Egyptologist Manfred Bietak discovered that although Montet had discovered Pi-Ramesses stonework at Tanis, the true location of the ancient city lay some 30 km to the south. Montet can be credited, however, as the discoverer of the "transplanted" city of Pi-Ramesses.

Richard H. Wilkinson (born 1951) is an archaeologist in the field of Egyptology. He is Regents Professor of Egyptian Archaeology at the University of Arizona and Director of the University of Arizona Egyptian Expedition. He has conducted research and excavation in Egypt for more than 20 years, mainly in the Valley of the Kings, and is currently excavating the memorial temple of Queen Twosret, a queen of the 19th dynasty who ruled Egypt as a king.



Richard H. Wilkinson
Wilkinson has held a number of professional offices, he is the editor of the Directory of North American Egyptologists and also editor of the Journal of Ancient Egyptian Interconnections, an online publication concerning the interactions of ancient Egypt with other Middle Eastern and Mediterranean cultures. He is the author of many scholarly articles and books on Egyptology and his books have been translated into many languages. He is best known for his studies of Egyptian symbolism and his work in Egyptian archaeology.