Ancient Egypt was a of , concentrated along the lower reaches of the , situated in the place that is now the country . Ancient Egyptian civilization followed and coalesced around 3100 (according to ) with the political unification of under (often identified with ). The occurred as a series of stable kingdoms, separated by periods of relative instability known as Intermediate Periods: the of the , the of the and the of the . Egypt reached the pinnacle of its power in the New Kingdom, ruling much of and a sizable portion of the , after which it entered a period of slow decline. During the course of its history Egypt was invaded or conquered by a number of foreign powers, including the , the , the , the ns, the , and the ians under the command of . The Greek , formed in the aftermath of Alexander's death, ruled Egypt until 30BC, when, under , it fell to the and became . The success of ancient Egyptian civilization came partly from its ability to adapt to the conditions of the . The predictable and controlled of the fertile valley produced surplus crops, which supported a more dense population, and and culture. With resources to spare, the sponsored mineral exploitation of the valley and surrounding desert regions, the early development of an independent , the organization of collective construction and agricultural projects, trade with surrounding regions, and intended to assert Egyptian dominance. Motivating and organizing these activities was a bureaucracy of elite , religious leaders, and administrators under the control of a , who ensured the cooperation and unity of the Egyptian people in the context of an elaborate system of . The many achievements of the ancient Egyptians include the , and construction techniques that supported the building of monumental , , and ; a system of , a practical and effective , irrigation systems and agricultural production techniques, the first known planked boats, and glass technology, new forms of , and the , made with the Hittites. Ancient Egypt has left a lasting legacy. Its and were widely copied, and its antiquities carried off to far corners of the world. Its monumental ruins have of travelers and writers for millennia. A newfound respect for antiquities and excavations in the early modern period by Europeans and Egyptians led to the of Egyptian civilization and a greater appreciation of its cultural legacy.


The has been the lifeline of its region for much of human history. The fertile floodplain of the Nile gave humans the opportunity to develop a settled and a more sophisticated, centralized society that became a cornerstone in the history of human civilization. s began living in the Nile valley through the end of the some 120,000 years ago. By the late period, the arid climate of Northern Africa became increasingly hot and dry, forcing the populations of the area to concentrate along the river region.

Predynastic period

In Predynastic and times, the . Large regions of Egypt were covered in treed and traversed by herds of grazing . Foliage and fauna were far more prolific in all environs and the Nile region supported large populations of waterfowl. Hunting would have been common for Egyptians, and this is also the period when many animals were first . By about , small tribes living in the Nile valley had developed into a series of cultures demonstrating firm control of agriculture and , and identifiable by their and personal items, such as combs, bracelets, and beads. The largest of these early cultures in upper (Southern) Egypt was the , which probably originated in the Western Desert; it was known for its high-quality ceramics, s, and its use of copper. The Badari was followed by the : the (Naqada I), the (Naqada II), and (Naqada III). These brought a number of technological improvements. As early as the Naqada I Period, predynastic Egyptians imported from , used to shape blades and other objects from . In Naqada II times, early evidence exists of contact with the , particularly and the coast. Over a period of about 1,000 years, the Naqada culture developed from a few small farming communities into a powerful civilization whose leaders were in complete control of the people and resources of the Nile valley. Establishing a power center at (in Greek, Hierakonpolis), and later at , leaders expanded their control of Egypt northwards along the . They also traded with to the south, the oases of the to the west, and the cultures of the and to the east, initiating a period of . The Naqada culture manufactured a diverse selection of material goods, reflective of the increasing power and wealth of the elite, as well as societal personal-use items, which included combs, small statuary, painted pottery, high quality , s, and jewelry made of gold, lapis, and ivory. They also developed a known as , which was used well into the Roman Period to decorate cups, amulets, and figurines. During the last predynastic phase, the Naqada culture began using written symbols that eventually were developed into a full system of for writing the ancient Egyptian language.

Early Dynastic Period (c. 3150–2686 BC)

The Early Dynastic Period was approximately contemporary to the early ian- civilisation of and of ancient . The third-centuryBC Egyptian priest grouped the long line of kings from to his own time into 30 dynasties, a system still used today. He began his official history with the king named "Meni" (or Menes in Greek) who was believed to have united the two kingdoms of and . The transition to a unified state happened more gradually than ancient Egyptian writers represented, and there is no contemporary record of Menes. Some scholars now believe, however, that the mythical Menes may have been the king , who is depicted wearing on the ceremonial ''Narmer Palette,'' in a symbolic act of unification. In the Early Dynastic Period, which began about 3000BC, the first of the Dynastic kings solidified control over lower Egypt by establishing a capital at , from which he could control the and agriculture of the fertile delta region, as well as the lucrative and critical s to the . The increasing power and wealth of the kings during the early dynastic period was reflected in their elaborate tombs and mortuary cult structures at Abydos, which were used to celebrate the deified king after his death. The strong institution of kingship developed by the kings served to legitimize state control over the land, labour, and resources that were essential to the survival and growth of ancient Egyptian civilization.

Old Kingdom (2686–2181 BC)

Major advances in architecture, art, and technology were made during the , fueled by the increased and resulting population, made possible by a well-developed central administration. Some of ancient Egypt's crowning achievements, the and , were constructed during the Old Kingdom. Under the direction of the , state officials collected taxes, coordinated irrigation projects to improve , drafted peasants to work on construction projects, and established a to maintain peace and order. With the rising importance of central administration in Egypt, a new class of educated scribes and officials arose who were granted estates by the king in payment for their services. Kings also made land grants to their mortuary cults and local temples, to ensure that these institutions had the resources to worship the king after his death. Scholars believe that five centuries of these practices slowly eroded the economic vitality of Egypt, and that the economy could no longer afford to support a large centralized administration. As the power of the kings diminished, regional governors called s began to challenge the supremacy of the office of king. This, coupled with between 2200 and 2150BC, is believed to have caused the country to enter the 140-year period of famine and strife known as the First Intermediate Period.

First Intermediate Period (2181–2055 BC)

After Egypt's collapsed at the end of the Old Kingdom, the administration could no longer support or stabilize the country's economy. Regional governors could not rely on the king for help in times of crisis, and the ensuing food shortages and political disputes escalated into famines and small-scale civil wars. Yet despite difficult problems, local leaders, owing no tribute to the king, used their new-found independence to establish a thriving culture in the provinces. Once in control of their own resources, the provinces became economically richer—which was demonstrated by larger and better burials among all social classes. In bursts of creativity, provincial artisans adopted and adapted cultural motifs formerly restricted to the royalty of the Old Kingdom, and scribes developed literary styles that expressed the and originality of the period. Free from their loyalties to the king, local rulers began competing with each other for territorial control and . By 2160BC, rulers in controlled Lower Egypt in the north, while a rival clan based in , the , took control of Upper Egypt in the south. As the Intefs grew in power and expanded their control northward, a clash between the two rival dynasties became inevitable. Around 2055BC the northern Theban forces under finally defeated the Herakleopolitan rulers, reuniting the Two Lands. They inaugurated a period of economic and cultural renaissance known as the .

Middle Kingdom (2134–1690 BC)

The kings of the Middle Kingdom restored the country's stability and prosperity, thereby stimulating a resurgence of art, literature, and monumental building projects. Mentuhotep II and his successors ruled from Thebes, but the vizier , upon assuming the kingship at the beginning of the around 1985BC, shifted the kingdom's capital to the city of , located in . From Itjtawy, the kings of the Twelfth Dynasty undertook a far-sighted and irrigation scheme to increase agricultural output in the region. Moreover, the military reconquered territory in that was rich in quarries and gold mines, while laborers built a defensive structure in the Eastern Delta, called the "", to defend against foreign attack. With the kings having secured the country militarily and politically and with vast agricultural and mineral wealth at their disposal, the nation's population, arts, and religion flourished. In contrast to elitist Old Kingdom attitudes towards the gods, the Middle Kingdom displayed an increase in expressions of personal piety. Middle Kingdom literature featured sophisticated themes and characters written in a confident, eloquent style. The and portrait sculpture of the period captured subtle, individual details that reached new heights of technical sophistication. The last great ruler of the Middle Kingdom, , allowed -speaking ite settlers from the into the Delta region to provide a sufficient labour force for his especially active mining and building campaigns. These ambitious building and mining activities, however, combined with severe later in his reign, strained the economy and precipitated the slow decline into the Second Intermediate Period during the later Thirteenth and Fourteenth dynasties. During this decline, the Canaanite settlers began to assume greater control of the Delta region, eventually coming to power in Egypt as the .

Second Intermediate Period (1674–1549 BC) and the Hyksos

Around 1785BC, as the power of the Middle Kingdom kings weakened, a n people called the , who had already settled in the Delta, seized control of Egypt and established their capital at , forcing the former central government to retreat to . The king was treated as a vassal and expected to pay tribute. The Hyksos ("foreign rulers") retained Egyptian models of government and identified as kings, thereby integrating Egyptian elements into their culture. They and other invaders introduced new tools of warfare into Egypt, most notably the and the horse-drawn . After retreating south, the native Theban kings found themselves trapped between the Canaanite Hyksos ruling the north and the Hyksos' allies, the , to the south. After years of vassalage, Thebes gathered enough strength to challenge the Hyksos in a conflict that lasted more than 30 years, until 1555BC. The kings and were ultimately able to defeat the to the south of Egypt, but failed to defeat the Hyksos. That task fell to Kamose's successor, , who successfully waged a series of campaigns that permanently eradicated the Hyksos' presence in Egypt. He established a new dynasty and, in the New Kingdom that followed, the military became a central priority for the kings, who sought to expand Egypt's borders and attempted to gain mastery of the .

New Kingdom (1549–1069 BC)

The New Kingdom pharaohs established a period of unprecedented prosperity by securing their borders and strengthening diplomatic ties with their neighbours, including the Empire, , and . Military campaigns waged under and his grandson extended the influence of the pharaohs to the largest empire Egypt had ever seen. Beginning with the rulers of Egypt adopted the title of . Between their reigns, , a queen who established herself as pharaoh, launched many building projects, including restoration of temples damaged by the Hyksos, and sent trading expeditions to and the Sinai. When Tuthmosis III died in 1425BC, Egypt had an empire extending from in north west to the of the Nile in , cementing loyalties and opening access to critical imports such as and . The New Kingdom pharaohs began a large-scale building campaign to promote the god , whose growing cult was based in . They also constructed monuments to glorify their own achievements, both real and imagined. The Karnak temple is the largest Egyptian temple ever built. Around 1350BC, 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 , he touted the previously obscure as the , suppressed the worship of most other deities, and moved the capital to the new city of Akhetaten (modern-day ). He was devoted to his new and . After his death, the cult of the Aten was quickly abandoned and the traditional religious order restored. The subsequent pharaohs, , , and , worked to erase all mention of Akhenaten's heresy, now known as the . Around 1279BC, , also known as Ramesses the Great, ascended the throne, and went on to build more temples, erect more statues and obelisks, and sire more children than any other pharaoh in history. A bold military leader, Ramesses II led his army against the in the (in modern ) and, after fighting to a stalemate, finally agreed to the first recorded , around 1258BC. Egypt's wealth, however, made it a tempting target for invasion, particularly by the to the west, and the , a conjectured confederation of seafarers from the . Initially, the military was able to these invasions, but Egypt eventually lost control of its remaining territories in southern , much of it falling to the Assyrians. The effects of external threats were exacerbated by internal problems such as corruption, tomb robbery, and civil unrest. After regaining their power, the high priests at the in Thebes accumulated vast tracts of land and wealth, and their expanded power splintered the country during the Third Intermediate Period.

Third Intermediate Period (1069–653 BC)

Following the death of in 1078BC, assumed authority over the northern part of Egypt, ruling from the city of . The south was effectively controlled by the , who recognized Smendes in name only. During this time, Libyans had been settling in the western delta, and chieftains of these settlers began increasing their autonomy. Libyan princes took control of the delta under in 945BC, founding the so-called Libyan or Bubastite dynasty that would rule for some 200 years. Shoshenq also gained control of southern Egypt by placing his family members in important priestly positions. Libyan control began to erode as a rival dynasty in the delta arose in , and threatened from the south. Around 727BC the Kushite king invaded northward, seizing control of Thebes and eventually the Delta, which established the . During the 25th Dynasty, Pharaoh created an empire nearly as large as the 's. Twenty-fifth Dynasty pharaohs built, or restored, temples and monuments throughout the Nile valley, including at Memphis, Karnak, Kawa, and Jebel Barkal. During this period, the Nile valley saw the first widespread construction of since the Middle Kingdom. Egypt's far-reaching prestige declined considerably toward the end of the Third Intermediate Period. Its foreign allies had fallen under the n sphere of influence, and by 700BC war between the two states became inevitable. Between 671 and 667BC the Assyrians began the . The reigns of both and his successor, , were filled with constant conflict with the Assyrians, against whom Egypt enjoyed several victories. Ultimately, the Assyrians pushed the Kushites back into Nubia, occupied Memphis, and .

Late Period (653–332 BC)

The Assyrians left control of Egypt to a series of vassals who became known as the Saite kings of the . By 653BC, the Saite king was able to oust the Assyrians with the help of Greek mercenaries, who were recruited to form Egypt's first . expanded greatly as the of became the home of Greeks in the Nile Delta. The Saite kings based in the new capital of witnessed a brief but spirited resurgence in the economy and culture, but in 525BC, the powerful Persians, led by , began their conquest of Egypt, eventually capturing the pharaoh at the . Cambyses II then assumed the formal title of pharaoh, but ruled Egypt from Iran, leaving Egypt under the control of a satrapy. A few successful revolts against the Persians marked the 5th centuryBC, but Egypt was never able to permanently overthrow the Persians. Following its annexation by Persia, Egypt was joined with and in the sixth y of the . This first period of Persian rule over Egypt, also known as the , ended in 402BC, when Egypt regained independence under a series of native dynasties. The last of these dynasties, the , proved to be the last native royal house of ancient Egypt, ending with the kingship of . A brief restoration of Persian rule, sometimes known as the , began in 343BC, but shortly after, in 332BC, the Persian ruler Mazaces handed Egypt over to without a fight.

Ptolemaic period (332–30 BC)

In 332BC, conquered Egypt with little resistance from the ns and was welcomed by the Egyptians as a deliverer. The administration established by Alexander's successors, the , was based on an Egyptian model and based in the new of . The city showcased the power and prestige of Hellenistic rule, and became a and culture, centered at the famous . The lit the way for the many ships that kept trade flowing through the city—as the Ptolemies made commerce and revenue-generating enterprises, such as papyrus manufacturing, their top priority. did not supplant native Egyptian culture, as the Ptolemies supported time-honored traditions in an effort to secure the loyalty of the populace. They built new temples in Egyptian style, supported traditional cults, and portrayed themselves as pharaohs. Some traditions merged, as Greek and were into composite deities, such as , and forms of sculpture influenced traditional Egyptian motifs. Despite their efforts to appease the Egyptians, the Ptolemies were challenged by native rebellion, bitter family rivalries, and the powerful mob of Alexandria that formed after the death of . In addition, as relied more heavily on imports of grain from Egypt, the took great interest in the political situation in the country. Continued Egyptian revolts, ambitious politicians, and powerful opponents from the made this situation unstable, leading Rome to send forces to secure the country as a province of its empire.

Roman period (30 BC – AD 641)

Egypt became a province of the in 30BC, following the defeat of and Queen by (later Augustus) in the . The Romans relied heavily on grain shipments from Egypt, and the , under the control of a prefect appointed by the Emperor, quelled rebellions, strictly enforced the collection of heavy taxes, and prevented attacks by bandits, which had become a notorious problem during the period. Alexandria became an increasingly important center on the trade route with the orient, as exotic luxuries were in high demand in Rome. Although the Romans had a more hostile attitude than the Greeks towards the Egyptians, some traditions such as mummification and worship of the traditional gods continued. The art of mummy portraiture flourished, and some Roman emperors had themselves depicted as pharaohs, though not to the extent that the Ptolemies had. The former lived outside Egypt and did not perform the ceremonial functions of Egyptian kingship. Local administration became Roman in style and closed to native Egyptians. From the mid-first century AD, took root in Egypt and it was originally seen as another cult that could be accepted. However, it was an uncompromising religion that sought to win converts from and religion and threatened popular religious traditions. This led to the persecution of converts to Christianity, culminating in the great purges of starting in 303, but eventually Christianity won out. In 391 the Christian Emperor introduced legislation that banned pagan rites and closed temples. Alexandria became the scene of great anti-pagan riots with public and private religious imagery destroyed. As a consequence, Egypt's native religious culture was continually in decline. While the native population continued to speak , the ability to read slowly disappeared as the role of the Egyptian temple priests and priestesses diminished. The temples themselves were sometimes converted to or abandoned to the desert. In the fourth century, as the Roman Empire divided, Egypt found itself in the Eastern Empire with its capital at Constantinople. In the waning years of the Empire, Egypt fell to the army in the (618–628). It was then recaptured by the Roman Emperor (629–639), and was finally captured by in 639–641, ending Roman rule.

Government and economy

Administration and commerce

The was the absolute monarch of the country and, at least in theory, wielded complete control of the land and its resources. The king was the supreme and head of the government, who relied on a bureaucracy of officials to manage his affairs. In charge of the administration was his second in command, the , who acted as the king's representative and coordinated land surveys, the treasury, building projects, the legal system, and the . At a regional level, the country was divided into as many as 42 administrative regions called each governed by a , who was accountable to the vizier for his jurisdiction. The formed the backbone of the economy. Not only were they , but were also responsible for collecting and storing the kingdom's wealth in a system of and treasuries administered by , who redistributed grain and goods. Much of the economy was centrally organized and strictly controlled. Although the ancient Egyptians did not use until the , they did use a type of money-barter system, with standard sacks of grain and the ', a weight of roughly of copper or silver, forming a common denominator. Workers were paid in grain; a simple laborer might earn 5 sacks (200 kg or 400 lb) of grain per month, while a foreman might earn 7 sacks (250 kg or 550 lb). Prices were fixed across the country and recorded in lists to facilitate trading; for example a shirt cost five copper deben, while a cow cost 140deben. Grain could be traded for other goods, according to the fixed price list. During the fifth centuryBC coined money was introduced into Egypt from abroad. At first the coins were used as standardized pieces of rather than true money, but in the following centuries international traders came to rely on coinage.

Social status

Egyptian society was highly stratified, and was expressly displayed. Farmers made up the bulk of the population, but agricultural produce was owned directly by the state, temple, or that owned the land. Farmers were also subject to a labor tax and were required to work on irrigation or construction projects in a 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, known as the "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. It is unclear whether as understood today existed in ancient Egypt, there is difference of opinions among authors. The ancient Egyptians viewed men and women, including people from all social classes, as essentially equal under the law, and even the lowliest was entitled to petition the and his court for redress. Although slaves were mostly used as indentured servants, they were able to buy and sell their servitude, work their way to freedom or nobility, and were usually treated by in the workplace. 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, legal rights, and opportunities for achievement. Women such as and even became pharaohs, while others wielded power as . Despite these freedoms, did not often take part in official roles in the administration, aside from the royal high priestesses, apparently served only secondary roles in the temples (not much data for many dynasties), and were not so likely to be as educated as men.

Legal system

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 . Although no s 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 the criminal on a stake. Punishment could also be extended to the criminal's family. Beginning in the New Kingdom, s 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 judgement 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 .


A combination of favorable geographical features contributed to the success of ancient Egyptian culture, the most important of which was the rich resulting from annual inundations of the Nile River. The ancient Egyptians were thus able to produce an abundance of food, allowing the population to devote more time and resources to cultural, technological, and artistic pursuits. was crucial in ancient Egypt because taxes were assessed based on the amount of land a person owned. Farming in Egypt was dependent on the cycle of the Nile River. The Egyptians recognized three seasons: ' (flooding), ' (planting), and ' (harvesting). The flooding season lasted from June to September, depositing on the river's banks a layer of mineral-rich silt ideal for growing crops. After the floodwaters had receded, the lasted from October to February. Farmers plowed and planted seeds in the fields, which were irrigated with ditches and canals. Egypt received little rainfall, so farmers relied on the Nile to water their crops. From March to May, farmers used s to harvest their crops, which were then with a to separate the straw from the grain. removed the from the grain, and the grain was then ground into flour, brewed to make beer, or stored for later use. The ancient Egyptians cultivated and , and several other cereal grains, all of which were used to make the two main food staples of bread and beer. plants, uprooted before they started flowering, were grown for the fibers of their stems. These fibers were split along their length and spun into thread, which was used to weave sheets of and to make clothing. growing on the banks of the Nile River was used to make paper. Vegetables and fruits were grown in garden plots, close to habitations and on higher ground, and had to be watered by hand. Vegetables included leeks, garlic, melons, squashes, pulses, lettuce, and other crops, in addition to grapes that were made into wine.


The Egyptians believed that a balanced relationship between people and s was an essential element of the cosmic order; thus humans, animals and plants were believed to be members of a single whole. Animals, both and , were therefore a critical source of spirituality, companionship, and sustenance to the ancient Egyptians. were the most important livestock; the administration collected taxes on livestock in regular , and the size of a herd reflected the prestige and importance of the estate or temple that owned them. In addition to cattle, the ancient Egyptians kept sheep, goats, and pigs. , such as ducks, geese, and pigeons, were captured in nets and bred on farms, where they were force-fed with dough to fatten them. The Nile provided a plentiful source of . Bees were also domesticated from at least the Old Kingdom, and provided both honey and wax. The ancient Egyptians used donkeys and as , 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 in the . Camels, although known from the New Kingdom, were not used as beasts of burden until the Late Period. There is also evidence to suggest that were briefly utilized in the Late Period but largely abandoned due to lack of land. , dogs, and monkeys were common family pets, while more exotic pets imported from the heart of Africa, such as n s, were reserved for royalty. observed that the Egyptians were the only people to keep their animals with them in their houses. During the Late Period, the worship of the gods in their animal form was extremely popular, such as the cat goddess and the ibis god , and these animals were kept in large numbers for the purpose of ritual sacrifice.

Natural resources

Egypt is rich in building and decorative stone, copper and lead ores, gold, and semiprecious stones. These s allowed the ancient Egyptians to build monuments, sculpt statues, make tools, and . used salts from the for , which also provided the needed to make plaster. Ore-bearing s were found in distant, inhospitable s in the and the Sinai, requiring large, state-controlled expeditions to obtain natural resources found there. There were extensive in , and one of the first maps known is of a gold mine in this region. The was a notable source of granite, , and gold. was the first mineral collected and used to make tools, and flint handaxes are the earliest pieces of evidence of habitation in the Nile valley. Nodules of the mineral were carefully flaked to make blades and arrowheads of moderate hardness and durability even after copper was adopted for this purpose. Ancient Egyptians were among the first to use minerals such as as cosmetic substances. The Egyptians worked deposits of the at Gebel Rosas to make net sinkers, plumb bobs, and small figurines. Copper was the most important metal for toolmaking in ancient Egypt and was smelted in furnaces from ore mined in the Sinai. Workers collected gold by washing the nuggets out of sediment in , or by the more labor-intensive process of grinding and washing gold-bearing quartzite. Iron deposits found in upper Egypt were utilized in the Late Period. High-quality building stones were abundant in Egypt; the ancient Egyptians quarried limestone all along the Nile valley, granite from Aswan, and basalt and sandstone from the wadis of the Eastern Desert. Deposits of decorative stones such as , greywacke, , and dotted the Eastern Desert and were collected even before the First Dynasty. In the Ptolemaic and Roman Periods, miners worked deposits of s in Wadi Sikait and in .


The ancient Egyptians engaged in trade with their to obtain rare, exotic goods not found in Egypt. In the , they established trade with Nubia to obtain gold and incense. They also established trade with Palestine, as evidenced by Palestinian-style oil jugs found in the burials of the First Dynasty pharaohs. An Egyptian stationed in southern dates to slightly before the First Dynasty. had Egyptian pottery produced in Canaan and exported back to . By the Second Dynasty at latest, ancient Egyptian trade with yielded a critical source of quality timber not found in Egypt. By the Fifth Dynasty, trade with provided gold, aromatic resins, ebony, ivory, and wild animals such as monkeys and baboons. Egypt relied on trade with for essential quantities of tin as well as supplementary supplies of copper, both metals being necessary for the manufacture of bronze. The ancient Egyptians prized the blue stone , which had to be imported from far-away . Egypt's Mediterranean trade partners also included and Crete, which provided, among other goods, supplies of .


Historical development

The is a northern language closely related to the and . It has the second longest known history of any language (after ), having been written from c. 3200BC to the Middle Ages and remaining as a spoken language for longer. The phases of ancient Egyptian are , (Classical Egyptian), , and . Egyptian writings do not show dialect differences before Coptic, but it was probably spoken in regional dialects around Memphis and later Thebes. Ancient Egyptian was a , but it became more later on. Late Egyptian developed prefixal definite and indefinite , which replaced the older inflectional es. There was a change from the older to . The Egyptian , , and demotic scripts were eventually replaced by the more phonetic . Coptic is still used in the liturgy of the , and traces of it are found in modern .

Sounds and grammar

Ancient Egyptian has 25 consonants similar to those of other Afro-Asiatic languages. These include and consonants, voiced and voiceless stops, voiceless and voiced and voiceless . It has three long and three short vowels, which expanded in Late Egyptian to about nine. The basic word in Egyptian, similar to Semitic and Berber, is a or biliteral root of consonants and semiconsonants. Suffixes are added to form words. The verb conjugation corresponds to the . For example, the triconsonantal skeleton is the semantic core of the word 'hear'; its basic conjugation is ', 'he hears'. If the subject is a noun, suffixes are not added to the verb: ', 'the woman hears'. Adjectives are derived from nouns through a process that Egyptologists call ' because of its similarity with Arabic. The word order is in verbal and adjectival sentences, and in nominal and adverbial sentences. The subject can be moved to the beginning of sentences if it is long and is followed by a resumptive pronoun. Verbs and nouns are negated by the ''n'', but ''nn'' is used for adverbial and adjectival sentences. falls on the ultimate or penultimate syllable, which can be open (CV) or closed (CVC).


dates from c. 3000BC, and is composed of hundreds of 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 , 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, , 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. Around the first century AD, the Coptic alphabet started to be used alongside the Demotic script. Coptic is a modified with the addition of some Demotic signs. Although formal hieroglyphs were used in a ceremonial role until the fourth century, towards the end only a small handful of priests could still read them. As the traditional religious establishments were disbanded, knowledge of hieroglyphic writing was mostly lost. Attempts to decipher them date to the Byzantine and Islamic periods in Egypt, but only in the 1820s, after the discovery of the Rosetta Stone and years of research by and , were hieroglyphs .


Writing first appeared in association with kingship on labels and tags for items found in royal tombs. It was primarily an occupation of the scribes, who worked out of the ''Per Ankh'' institution or the House of Life. The latter comprised offices, libraries (called House of Books), laboratories and observatories. Some of the best-known pieces of ancient Egyptian literature, such as the and , were written in Classical Egyptian, which continued to be the language of writing until about 1300BC. Late Egyptian was spoken from the New Kingdom onward and is represented in administrative documents, love poetry and tales, as well as in Demotic and Coptic texts. During this period, the tradition of writing had evolved into the tomb autobiography, such as those of and . The genre known as ' ("instructions") was developed to communicate teachings and guidance from famous nobles; the , a poem of lamentations describing s and social upheaval, is a famous example. The , written in , might be the classic of Egyptian literature. Also written at this time was the , a set of stories told to by his sons relating the marvels performed by priests. The is considered a masterpiece of Near Eastern literature. Towards the end of the New Kingdom, the was more often employed to write popular pieces like the and the . 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 700BC, narrative stories and instructions, such as the popular Instructions of Onchsheshonqy, as well as personal and business documents were written in the script and phase of Egyptian. Many stories written in demotic during the period were set in previous historical eras, when Egypt was an independent nation ruled by great pharaohs such as .


Daily life

Most ancient Egyptians were farmers tied to the land. Their dwellings were restricted to immediate family members, and were constructed of designed to remain cool in the heat of the day. Each home had a kitchen with an open roof, which contained a grindstone for milling grain and a small oven for baking the bread. served as household wares for the storage, preparation, transport, and consumption of food, drink, and raw materials. Walls were painted white and could be covered with dyed linen wall hangings. Floors were covered with reed mats, while wooden stools, beds raised from the floor and individual tables comprised the furniture. The ancient Egyptians placed a great value on hygiene and appearance. Most bathed in the Nile and used a pasty soap made from and chalk. Men shaved their entire bodies for cleanliness; perfumes and aromatic 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 . 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 . Music and dance were popular entertainments for those who could afford them. Early instruments included flutes and harps, while instruments similar to trumpets, oboes, and pipes developed later and became popular. In the New Kingdom, the Egyptians played on bells, cymbals, tambourines, drums, and imported s and s from Asia. The was a rattle-like that was especially important in religious ceremonies. The ancient Egyptians enjoyed a variety of leisure activities, including games and music. , a board game where pieces moved according to random chance, was particularly popular from the earliest times; another similar game was , which had a circular gaming board. “” also known as 58 holes is another example of board games played in ancient Egypt. The first complete set of this game was discovered from a of the Egyptian pharaoh that dates to the . Juggling and s were popular with children, and wrestling is also documented in a tomb at . The wealthy members of ancient Egyptian society enjoyed , and boating as well. The excavation of the workers' village of has resulted in one of the most thoroughly documented accounts of community life in the ancient world, which spans almost four hundred years. There is no comparable site in which the organization, social interactions, and working and living conditions of a community have been studied in such detail.


Egyptian cuisine remained remarkably stable over time; indeed, the retains some striking similarities to the cuisine of the ancients. The staple diet consisted of bread and beer, supplemented with vegetables such as onions and garlic, and fruit such as dates and figs. Wine and meat were enjoyed by all on feast days while the upper classes indulged on a more regular basis. Fish, meat, and fowl could be salted or dried, and could be cooked in stews or roasted on a grill.


The architecture of ancient Egypt includes some of the most famous structures in the world: the and the . Building projects were organized and funded by the state for religious and commemorative purposes, but also to reinforce the wide-ranging power of the pharaoh. The ancient Egyptians were skilled builders; using only simple but effective tools and sighting instruments, architects could build large with great accuracy and precision that is still envied today. The domestic dwellings of elite and ordinary Egyptians alike were constructed from perishable materials such as mudbricks and wood, and have not survived. Peasants lived in simple homes, while the palaces of the elite and the pharaoh were more elaborate structures. A few surviving New Kingdom palaces, such as those in and , show richly decorated walls and floors with scenes of people, birds, water pools, deities and geometric designs. Important structures such as temples and tombs that were intended to last forever were constructed of stone instead of mudbricks. The architectural elements used in the world's first large-scale stone building, 's mortuary complex, include supports in the papyrus and lotus motif. The earliest preserved ancient s, such as those at Giza, consist of single, enclosed halls with roof slabs supported by columns. In the New Kingdom, architects added the , the open , and the enclosed hall to the front of the temple's sanctuary, a style that was standard until the Greco-Roman period. The earliest and most popular tomb architecture in the Old Kingdom was the , a flat-roofed rectangular structure of mudbrick or stone built over an underground . The is a series of stone mastabas stacked on top of each other. Pyramids were built during the Old and Middle Kingdoms, but most later rulers abandoned them in favor of less conspicuous rock-cut tombs. The use of the pyramid form continued in private tomb chapels of the New Kingdom and in the royal . Model of a Porch and Garden MET DP350593.jpg, Model of a household porch and garden, c. 1981–1975 BC The Temple of Dendur MET DT563.jpg, The , completed by 10 BC, made of aeolian sandstone, temple proper: height: 6.4 m, width: 6.4 m; length: 12.5 m, in the (New York City) Philae temple at night.jpg, The well preserved Temple of Isis from is an example of and Lepsius-Projekt tw 1-2-108.jpg, Illustration of various types of capitals, drawn by the Egyptologist


The ancient Egyptians produced art to serve functional purposes. For over 3500 years, artists adhered to artistic forms and iconography that were developed during the Old Kingdom, following a strict set of principles that resisted foreign influence and internal change. These artistic standards—simple lines, shapes, and flat areas of color combined with the characteristic flat projection of figures with no indication of spatial depth—created a sense of order and balance within a composition. Images and text were intimately interwoven on tomb and temple walls, coffins, stelae, and even statues. The , for example, displays figures that can also be read as hieroglyphs. Because of the rigid rules that governed its highly stylized and symbolic appearance, ancient Egyptian art served its political and religious purposes with precision and clarity. Ancient Egyptian artisans used stone as a medium for carving statues and fine reliefs, but used wood as a cheap and easily carved substitute. Paints were obtained from minerals such as iron ores (red and yellow ochres), copper ores (blue and green), soot or charcoal (black), and limestone (white). Paints could be mixed with as a binder and pressed into cakes, which could be moistened with water when needed. Pharaohs used s to record victories in battle, royal decrees, and religious scenes. Common citizens had access to pieces of , such as statues and books of the dead, which they believed would protect them in the afterlife. During the Middle Kingdom, depicting scenes from everyday life became popular additions to the tomb. In an attempt to duplicate the activities of the living in the , these models show laborers, houses, boats, and even military formations that are scale representations of the ideal ancient Egyptian afterlife. Despite the homogeneity of ancient Egyptian art, the styles of particular times and places sometimes reflected changing cultural or political attitudes. After the invasion of the Hyksos in the Second Intermediate Period, -style frescoes were found in . The most striking example of a politically driven change in artistic forms comes from the , where figures were radically altered to conform to 's revolutionary religious ideas. This style, known as , was quickly abandoned after Akhenaten's death and replaced by the traditional forms. File:Calcite Basin Supporting a Boat with Shrine00 (6).jpg, Egyptian as funerary goods. Egyptian Museum in Cairo File:Kneeling portrait statue of Amenemhat holding a stele with an inscription 01.jpg, Kneeling portrait statue of Amenemhat holding a stele with an inscription; c. 1500 BC; limestone; (Germany) File:Tomb of Nebamun.jpg, Fresco which depicts hunting birds; 1350 BC; paint on ; 98 × 83 cm; (London) File:Portrait head of pharaoh Hatshepsut or Thutmose III 01.jpg, Portrait head of pharaoh or ; 1480–1425 BC; most probably ; height: 16.5 cm; Egyptian Museum of Berlin File:Falcon Box with Wrapped Contents MET 12.182.5a b EGDP023129.jpg, Falcon box with wrapped contents; 332–30 BC; painted and gilded wood, linen, resin and feathers; 58.5 × 24.9 cm; Metropolitan Museum of Art (New York City)

Religious beliefs

Beliefs in the divine and in the afterlife were ingrained in ancient Egyptian civilization from its inception; pharaonic rule was based on the . The Egyptian pantheon was populated by who had supernatural powers and were called on for help or protection. However, the gods were not always viewed as benevolent, and Egyptians believed they had to be appeased with offerings and prayers. The structure of this changed continually as new deities were promoted in the hierarchy, but priests made no effort to organize the diverse and sometimes conflicting and stories into a coherent system. These various conceptions of divinity were not considered contradictory but rather layers in the multiple facets of reality. Gods were worshiped in cult administered by priests acting on the king's behalf. At the center of the temple was the cult statue in a shrine. Temples were not places of public worship or congregation, and only on select feast days and celebrations was a shrine carrying the statue of the god brought out for public worship. Normally, the god's domain was sealed off from the outside world and was only accessible to temple officials. Common citizens could worship private statues in their homes, and amulets offered protection against the forces of chaos. After the New Kingdom, the pharaoh's role as a spiritual intermediary was de-emphasized as religious customs shifted to direct worship of the gods. As a result, priests developed a system of s to communicate the will of the gods directly to the people. 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 ''šwt'' (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 "." If deemed worthy, the deceased could continue their existence on earth in spiritual form. If they were not deemed worthy, their heart was eaten by the Devourer and they were erased from the Universe.

Burial customs

The ancient Egyptians maintained an elaborate set of burial customs that they believed were necessary to ensure immortality after death. These customs involved preserving the body by , performing burial ceremonies, and interring with the body goods the deceased would use in the afterlife. Before the Old Kingdom, bodies buried in desert pits were naturally preserved by . The arid, desert conditions were a boon throughout the history of ancient Egypt for burials of the poor, who could not afford the elaborate burial preparations available to the elite. Wealthier Egyptians began to bury their dead in stone tombs and use artificial mummification, which involved removing the , wrapping the body in linen, and burying it in a rectangular stone sarcophagus or wooden coffin. Beginning in the Fourth Dynasty, some parts were preserved separately in s. 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 . 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 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. were often included in the grave, and, beginning in the New Kingdom, so were statues that were believed to perform manual labor for them in the afterlife. Rituals in which the deceased was magically re-animated accompanied burials. After burial, living relatives were expected to occasionally bring food to the tomb and recite prayers on behalf of the deceased.


The ancient Egyptian military was responsible for defending Egypt against foreign invasion, and for maintaining Egypt's domination in the . The military protected mining expeditions to the Sinai during the Old Kingdom and fought civil wars during the First and Second Intermediate Periods. The military was responsible for maintaining fortifications along important trade routes, such as those found at the city of on the way to Nubia. Forts also were constructed to serve as military bases, such as the fortress at Sile, which was a base of operations for expeditions to the . In the New Kingdom, a series of pharaohs used the standing Egyptian army to attack and conquer and parts of the Levant. Typical military equipment included , spears, and round-topped shields made by stretching over a wooden frame. In the New Kingdom, the military began using that had earlier been introduced by the Hyksos invaders. Weapons and armor continued to improve after the adoption of bronze: shields were now made from solid wood with a bronze buckle, spears were tipped with a bronze point, and the was adopted from Asiatic soldiers. The pharaoh was usually depicted in art and literature riding at the head of the army; it has been suggested that at least a few pharaohs, such as and his sons, did do so. However, it has also been argued that "kings of this period did not personally act as frontline war leaders, fighting alongside their troops." Soldiers were recruited from the general population, but during, and especially after, the New Kingdom, mercenaries from Nubia, Kush, and Libya were hired to fight for Egypt.

Technology, medicine, and mathematics


In technology, medicine, and mathematics, ancient Egypt achieved a relatively high standard of productivity and sophistication. Traditional , as evidenced by the and (c. 1600BC), is first credited to Egypt. The Egyptians created their own alphabet and .

Faience and glass

Even before the Old Kingdom, the ancient Egyptians had developed a glassy material known as , which they treated as a type of artificial semi-precious stone. Faience is a non-clay ceramic made of , small amounts of and , and a colorant, typically copper. The material was used to make beads, tiles, figurines, and small wares. Several methods can be used to create faience, but typically production involved application of the powdered materials in the form of a paste over a clay core, which was then fired. By a related technique, the ancient Egyptians produced a pigment known as , also called blue frit, which is produced by fusing (or ) silica, copper, lime, and an alkali such as natron. The product can be ground up and used as a pigment. The ancient Egyptians could fabricate a wide variety of objects from glass with great skill, but it is not clear whether they developed the process independently. It is also unclear whether they made their own raw glass or merely imported pre-made ingots, which they melted and finished. However, they did have technical expertise in making objects, as well as adding to control the color of the finished glass. A range of colors could be produced, including yellow, red, green, blue, purple, and white, and the glass could be made either transparent or opaque.


The medical problems of the ancient Egyptians stemmed directly from their environment. Living and working close to the Nile brought hazards from and debilitating parasites, which caused liver and intestinal damage. Dangerous wildlife such as crocodiles and hippos were also a common threat. The lifelong labors of farming and building put stress on the spine and joints, and traumatic injuries from construction and warfare all took a significant toll on the body. The grit and sand from stone-ground flour abraded teeth, leaving them susceptible to es (though were rare). The diets of the wealthy were rich in sugars, which promoted . Despite the flattering physiques portrayed on tomb walls, the overweight mummies of many of the upper class show the effects of a life of overindulgence. Adult was about 35 for men and 30 for women, but reaching adulthood was difficult as about one-third of the population died in infancy. Ancient Egyptian physicians were renowned in the ancient Near East for their healing skills, and some, such as , remained famous long after their deaths. remarked that there was a high degree of specialization among Egyptian physicians, with some treating only the head or the stomach, while others were eye-doctors and dentists. Training of physicians took place at the ''Per Ankh'' or "House of Life" institution, most notably those headquartered in during the New Kingdom and at and in the Late period. show of anatomy, injuries, and practical treatments. Wounds were treated by bandaging with raw meat, white linen, sutures, nets, pads, and swabs soaked with honey to prevent infection, while , , and were used to relieve pain. The earliest records of burn treatment describe burn dressings that use the milk from mothers of male babies. Prayers were made to the goddess . Moldy bread, honey, and copper salts were also used to prevent infection from dirt in burns. Garlic and onions were used regularly to promote good health and were thought to relieve symptoms. Ancient Egyptian surgeons stitched wounds, set , and amputated diseased limbs, but they recognized that some injuries were so serious that they could only make the patient comfortable until death occurred.

Maritime technology

Early knew how to assemble planks of wood into a and had mastered advanced forms of as early as 3000BC. The reports that the oldest s known are the . A group of 14 discovered ships in were constructed of wooden planks "sewn" together. Discovered by Egyptologist David O'Connor of , woven s were found to have been used to lash the planks together, and or stuffed between the planks helped to seal the seams. Because the ships are all buried together and near a mortuary belonging to , originally they were all thought to have belonged to him, but one of the 14 ships dates to 3000BC, and the associated pottery jars buried with the vessels also suggest earlier dating. The ship dating to 3000BC was long and is now thought to perhaps have belonged to an earlier pharaoh, perhaps one as early as . Early Egyptians also knew how to assemble planks of wood with s to fasten them together, using for the seams. The "", a vessel sealed into a pit in the at the foot of the in the around 2500BC, is a full-size surviving example that may have filled the symbolic function of a . Early Egyptians also knew how to fasten the planks of this ship together with joints. Large seagoing ships are known to have been heavily used by the Egyptians in their trade with the city states of the eastern Mediterranean, especially (on the coast of modern-day Lebanon), and in several expeditions down the Red Sea to the . In fact one of the earliest Egyptian words for a seagoing ship is a "Byblos Ship", which originally defined a class of Egyptian seagoing ships used on the Byblos run; however, by the end of the Old Kingdom, the term had come to include large seagoing ships, whatever their destination. In 2011, archaeologists from Italy, the United States, and Egypt excavating a dried-up lagoon known as have unearthed traces of an ancient harbor that once launched early voyages like 's Punt expedition onto the open ocean. Some of the site's most evocative evidence for the ancient Egyptians' seafaring prowess include large ship timbers and hundreds of feet of ropes, made from papyrus, coiled in huge bundles. In 2013 a team of Franco-Egyptian archaeologists discovered what is believed to be the world's oldest port, dating back about 4500 years, from the time of King on the Red Sea coast near Wadi el-Jarf (about 110 miles south of ). In 1977, an ancient north–south canal dating to the was discovered extending from to the Ballah Lakes. It was dated to the by extrapolating dates of ancient sites constructed along its course.


The earliest attested examples of mathematical calculations date to the predynastic period, and show a fully developed . The importance of mathematics to an educated Egyptian is suggested by a New Kingdom fictional letter in which the writer proposes a scholarly competition between himself and another scribe regarding everyday calculation tasks such as accounting of land, labor, and grain. Texts such as the and the show that the ancient Egyptians could perform the four basic mathematical operations—addition, subtraction, , and division—use fractions, calculate the areas of rectangles, triangles, and circles and compute the volumes of boxes, columns and pyramids. They understood basic concepts of and , and could solve simple sets of . was decimal, and based on hieroglyphic signs for each power of ten up to one million. Each of these could be written as many times as necessary to add up to the desired number; so to write the number eighty or eight hundred, the symbol for ten or one hundred was written eight times respectively. Because their methods of calculation could not handle most fractions with a numerator greater than one, they had to write as the sum of several fractions. For example, they resolved the fraction ''two-fifths'' into the sum of ''one-third'' + ''one-fifteenth''. Standard tables of values facilitated this. Some , however, were written with a special glyph—the equivalent of the modern two-thirds is shown on the right. Ancient Egyptian mathematicians knew the as an empirical formula. They were aware, for example, that a triangle had a right angle opposite the when its sides were in a 3–4–5 ratio. They were able to estimate the area of a by subtracting one-ninth from its diameter and squaring the result: :Area ≈ )''D''sup>2 = ()''r''2 ≈ 3.16''r''2, a reasonable approximation of the formula . The seems to be reflected in many Egyptian constructions, including the , but its use may have been an unintended consequence of the ancient Egyptian practice of combining the use of knotted ropes with an intuitive sense of proportion and harmony.


Estimates of the size of the population range from 1-1.5 million in the 3rd millennium BCE to possibly 2-3 million by the 1st millennium BCE, before growing significantly towards the end of that millennium. A team led by managed the first reliable sequencing of the genomes of 90 mummified individuals in 2017 from northern Egypt (buried near modern-day Cairo), which constituted "the first reliable data set obtained from ancient Egyptians using high-throughput DNA sequencing methods." Whilst not conclusive, because of the non-exhaustive time frame (New Kingdom to Roman period) and restricted location that the mummies represent, their study nevertheless showed that these ancient Egyptians "closely resembled ancient and modern Near Eastern populations, especially those in the , and had almost no DNA from sub-Saharan Africa. What's more, the genetics of the mummies remained remarkably consistent even as different powers—including Nubians, Greeks, and Romans—conquered the empire." Later, however, something did alter the genomes of Egyptians. Some 15% to 20% of modern Egyptians' DNA reflects sub-Saharan ancestry, but the ancient mummies had only 6–15% sub-Saharan DNA. They called for additional research to be undertaken. Other genetic studies show much greater levels of sub-Saharan African ancestry in the current-day populations of southern as opposed to northern Egypt, and anticipate that mummies from southern Egypt would contain greater levels of sub-Saharan African ancestry than Lower Egyptian mummies.


The culture and monuments of ancient Egypt have left a lasting legacy on the world. Egyptian civilization significantly influenced the and with both adopting Egyptian religious and architectural norms (hundreds of (6–30 meters high) were built in Egypt/Sudan), as well as using Egyptian writing as the basis of the . Meroitic is the oldest written language in Africa, other than Egyptian, and was used from the 2nd century BC until the early 5th century AD. The cult of the goddess , for example, became popular in the , as obelisks and other relics were transported back to Rome. The Romans also imported s from Egypt to erect Egyptian-style structures. Early historians such as , , and studied and wrote about the land, which Romans came to view as a place of mystery. During the and the , Egyptian pagan culture was in decline after the rise of Christianity and later , but interest in Egyptian antiquity continued in the writings of medieval scholars such as and . In the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, European travelers and tourists brought back antiquities and wrote stories of their journeys, leading to a wave of across Europe. This renewed interest sent collectors to Egypt, who took, purchased, or were given many important antiquities. arranged the first studies in when he brought some 150 scientists and artists to study and document Egypt's , which was published in the '. In the 20th century, the Egyptian Government and archaeologists alike recognized the importance of cultural respect and integrity in excavations. The now approves and oversees all excavations, which are aimed at finding information rather than treasure. The council also supervises museums and monument reconstruction programs designed to preserve the historical legacy of Egypt. File:EgyptFrontispiece.jpg, of ', published in 38 volumes between 1809 and 1829. File:The Sphinx and Pyramid of Khafre (8838365561).jpg, Tourists at the near the

See also

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Further reading

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External links

BBC History: Egyptians
rovides a reliable general overview and further links
Ancient History Encyclopedia
on Egypt
Ancient Egyptian Science: A Source Book Door Marshall Clagett, 1989

A site that shows the history of Egyptian * ''Napoleon on the Nile: Soldiers, Artists, and the Rediscovery of Egypt''

Digital Egypt for Universities.
Scholarly treatment with broad coverage and cross references (internal and external). Artifacts used extensively to illustrate topics.
Priests of Ancient Egypt
In-depth-information about Ancient Egypt's priests, religious services and temples. Much picture material and bibliography. In English and German.
Ancient Egypt

UCLA Encyclopedia of Egyptology

Ancient Egypt and the Role of Women
by Dr Joann Fletcher
Full-length account of Ancient Egypt as part of history of the world
{{Authority control History of Egypt