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Egyptians
Egyptians
(Egyptian Arabic: مَصريين‎  IPA: [mɑsˤɾɪjˈjiːn]; Maṣreyyīn; Arabic: مِصريّون‎; Coptic: ⲛⲓⲣⲉⲙⲛ̀ⲭⲏⲙⲓ Ni/rem/en/kīmi) are an ethnic group native to Egypt
Egypt
and the citizens of that country sharing a common culture and a common dialect known as Egyptian Arabic. Egyptian identity
Egyptian identity
is closely tied to geography. The population of Egypt
Egypt
is concentrated in the lower Nile
Nile
Valley, the small strip of cultivable land stretching from the First Cataract to the Mediterranean and enclosed by desert both to the east and to the west. This unique geography has been the basis of the development of Egyptian society since antiquity. The daily language of the Egyptians
Egyptians
is the local variety of Arabic, known as Egyptian Arabic or Masri. Additionally, a sizable minority of Egyptians
Egyptians
living in Upper Egypt
Egypt
speak Sa'idi Arabic. Egyptians
Egyptians
are predominantly adherents of Sunni
Sunni
Islam
Islam
with a Shia
Shia
minority and a significant proportion who follow native Sufi
Sufi
orders.[16] A considerable percentage of Egyptians
Egyptians
belong to the Coptic Orthodox Church, whose liturgical language, Coptic, is the most recent stage of the indigenous Egyptian language
Egyptian language
and is still used in prayers along with Arabic.

Contents

1 Terminology 2 Demographics 3 Identity 4 Languages 5 History

5.1 Ancient Egypt 5.2 Graeco-Roman period 5.3 Islamic period from Late antiquity to Middle Ages 5.4 Ottoman period 5.5 Modern history

5.5.1 Nationalism 5.5.2 Liberal age 5.5.3 Republic

6 Culture 7 Surnames 8 Genetic history 9 See also 10 References 11 Bibliography 12 Further reading

Terminology[edit] Egyptians
Egyptians
receive or have received several names:

Egyptians, from Greek Αἰγύπτιοι, Aiguptioi, from Αἴγυπτος, Aiguptos "Egypt". The Greek name is derived from Late Egyptian
Late Egyptian
Hikuptah "Memphis", a corruption of the earlier Egyptian name Hat-ka- Ptah
Ptah
(ḥwt-k3-ptḥ), meaning "home of the ka (soul) of Ptah", the name of a temple to the god Ptah
Ptah
at Memphis. Strabo provided a folk etymology according to which Αἴγυπτος had evolved as a compound from Aἰγαίου ὑπτίως Aegaeou huptiōs, meaning "below the Aegean". In English, the noun "Egyptians" appears in the 14th century, in Wycliff's Bible, as Egipcions.[citation needed] Copts
Copts
(قبط, qibṭ, qubṭ), also a derivative of the Greek word Αἰγύπτιος, Aiguptios ("Egyptian"), that appeared under Muslim
Muslim
rule. After the majority of Egyptians
Egyptians
converted from Christianity
Christianity
to Islam, the term became exclusively associated with Egyptian Christianity
Christianity
and Egyptians
Egyptians
who remained Christian, though references to native Muslims as Copts
Copts
are attested until the Mamluk period.[17] Maṣreyyīn, the modern Egyptian name, which comes from the ancient Semitic name for Egypt
Egypt
and originally connoted "civilization" or "metropolis".[citation needed] Classical Arabic
Arabic
Miṣr (Egyptian Arabic
Arabic
Maṣr) is directly cognate with the Biblical Hebrew Mitsráyīm, meaning "the two straits", a reference to the predynastic separation of Upper and Lower Egypt. Edward William Lane
Edward William Lane
writing in the 1820s, said that Egyptians
Egyptians
commonly called themselves El-Maṣreyyīn 'the Egyptians', Ewlad Maṣr 'the Children of Egypt' and Ahl Maṣr 'the People of Egypt'. He added that the Turks "stigmatized" the Egyptians
Egyptians
with the name Ahl-Far'ūn or the 'People of the Pharaoh'.[18] 𓂋𓍿𓀂𓁐𓏥𓈖𓆎𓅓𓏏𓊖 / rmṯ n Km.t, the native Egyptian name of the people of the Nile
Nile
Valley, literally 'People of Kemet' (i.e., Egypt). In antiquity, it was often shortened to simply Rmṯ or "the people".[citation needed] The name is vocalized as rem/en/kī/mi ⲣⲉⲙⲛ̀ⲭⲏⲙⲓ in the (Bohairic) Coptic stage of the language, meaning "Egyptian" (ni/rem/en/kīmi ⲛⲓⲣⲉⲙⲛ̀ⲭⲏⲙⲓ with the plural definite article, "the Egyptians").

Demographics[edit]

Religions in Egypt
Egypt
est. 2017

Religions

Percent

Muslim

90%

Coptic Orthodox
Coptic Orthodox
Christian

9%

Other Christian

1%

A map of Egypt's population density.

A view of Cairo, the largest city in Africa and the Middle East. The Cairo Opera House
Cairo Opera House
(bottom-right) is the main performing arts venue in the Egyptian capital.

There are an estimated 92.1 million Egyptians.[3] Most are native to Egypt, where Egyptians
Egyptians
constitute around 99.6% of the population.[19] Approximately 90% of the population of Egypt
Egypt
are Muslim
Muslim
adherents and 10% are Christian
Christian
adherents (9% Coptic, 1% other Christian) according to the government census.[20] The majority live near the banks of the Nile
Nile
River where the only arable land is found. Close to half of the Egyptian people
Egyptian people
today are urban; most of the rest are fellahin that are native, along with descendants of several Arab tribes living in rural towns and villages. A large influx of fellahin into urban cities, and rapid urbanization of many rural areas since the early 20th century, have shifted the balance between the number of urban and rural citizens. Egyptians
Egyptians
also form smaller minorities in neighboring countries, North America, Europe and Australia. Egyptians
Egyptians
also tend to be provincial, meaning their attachment extends not only to Egypt
Egypt
but to the specific provinces, towns and villages from which they hail. Therefore, return migrants, such as temporary workers abroad, come back to their region of origin in Egypt. According to the International Organization for Migration, an estimated 2.7 million Egyptians
Egyptians
live abroad and contribute actively to the development of their country through remittances (US$7.8 billion in 2009), circulation of human and social capital, as well as investment. Approximately 70% of Egyptian migrants live in Arab countries (923,600 in Saudi Arabia, 332,600 in Libya, 226,850 in Jordan, 190,550 in Kuwait
Kuwait
with the rest elsewhere in the region) and the remaining 30% are living mostly in Europe and North America (318,000 in the United States, 110,000 in Canada
Canada
and 90,000 in Italy).[21]

Their characteristic rootedness as Egyptians, commonly explained as the result of centuries as a farming people clinging to the banks of the Nile, is reflected in sights, sounds and atmosphere that are meaningful to all Egyptians. Dominating the intangible pull of Egypt is the ever present Nile, which is more than a constant backdrop. Its varying colors and changing water levels signal the coming and going of the Nile
Nile
flood that sets the rhythm of farming in a rainless country and holds the attention of all Egyptians. No Egyptian is ever far from his river and, except for the Alexandrines whose personality is split by looking outward toward the Mediterranean, the Egyptians are a hinterland people with little appetite for travel, even inside their own country. They glorify their national dishes, including the variety of concoctions surrounding the simple bean. Most of all, they have a sense of all-encompassing familiarity at home and a sense of alienation when abroad ... There is something particularly excruciating about Egyptian nostalgia for Egypt: it is sometimes outlandish, but the attachment flows through all Egyptians, as the Nile
Nile
through Egypt.[22]

A sizable Egyptian diaspora did not begin to form until well into the 1980s, when political and economic conditions began driving Egyptians out of the country in significant numbers. Today, the diaspora numbers nearly 4 million (2006 est).[23] Generally, those who emigrate to the United States
United States
and western European countries tend to do so permanently, with 93% and 55.5% of Egyptians
Egyptians
(respectively) settling in the new country. On the other hand, Egyptians
Egyptians
migrating to Arab countries almost always only go there with the intention of returning to Egypt; virtually none settle in the new country on a permanent basis.[7] Prior to 1974, only few Egyptian professionals had left the country in search for employment. Political, demographic and economic pressures led to the first wave of emigration after 1952. Later more Egyptians left their homeland first after the 1973 boom in oil prices and again in 1979, but it was only in the second half of the 1980s that Egyptian migration became prominent.[7] Egyptian emigration today is motivated by even higher rates of unemployment, population growth and increasing prices. Political repression and human rights violations by Egypt's ruling régime are other contributing factors (see Egypt
Egypt
§ Human rights). Egyptians have also been impacted by the wars between Egypt
Egypt
and Israel, particularly after the Six-Day War
Six-Day War
in 1967, when migration rates began to rise. In August 2006, Egyptians
Egyptians
made headlines when 11 students from Mansoura University
Mansoura University
failed to show up at their American host institutions for a cultural exchange program in the hope of finding employment.[24] Egyptians
Egyptians
in neighboring countries face additional challenges. Over the years, abuse, exploitation and/or ill-treatment of Egyptian workers and professionals in the Arab states of the Persian Gulf, Iraq and Libya
Libya
have been reported by the Egyptian Human Rights Organization[25] and different media outlets.[26][27] Arab nationals have in the past expressed fear over an "'Egyptianization' of the local dialects and culture that were believed to have resulted from the predominance of Egyptians
Egyptians
in the field of education"[10] (see also Egyptian Arabic – Geographics). The Egyptians
Egyptians
for their part object to what they call the "Saudization[citation needed]" of their culture due to Saudi Arabian petrodollar-flush investment in the Egyptian entertainment industry.[28] Twice Libya
Libya
was on the brink of war with Egypt
Egypt
due to mistreatment of Egyptian workers and after the signing of the peace treaty with Israel.[29] When the Gulf War
Gulf War
ended, Egyptian workers in Iraq
Iraq
were subjected to harsh measures and expulsion by the Iraqi government and to violent attacks by Iraqis
Iraqis
returning from the war to fill the workforce.[30] Identity[edit]

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Further information: Pan-Arabism, Pharaonism, and Coptic identity

Egyptian donkey herders at the start of the British occupation of Egypt, circa 1860s.

The degree to which Egyptians
Egyptians
identify with each layer of Egypt's history in articulating a sense of collective identity can vary. Questions of identity came to fore in the 20th century as Egyptians sought to free themselves from British occupation, leading to the rise of ethno-territorial secular Egyptian nationalism
Egyptian nationalism
(also known as "Pharaonism"). After Egyptians
Egyptians
gained their independence from Great Britain, other forms of nationalism developed, including secular Arab nationalism as well as Islamism. "Pharaonism" rose to political prominence in the 1920s and 1930s during the British occupation, as Egypt
Egypt
developed separately from the Arab world. A segment of the most Westernized upper class argued that Egypt
Egypt
was part of a Mediterranean civilization. This ideology largely developed out of the country's lengthy pre-Islamic pre-Arab history, the relative isolation of the Nile
Nile
Valley and the mostly homogeneous indigenous non-Arab genetic ancestry/ethnicity of the inhabitants,[31] regardless of current religious identity. One of Pharaonism's most notable advocates was Taha Hussein
Taha Hussein
who remarked " Pharaonism is deeply rooted in the spirits of the Egyptians. It will remain so, and it must continue and become stronger. The Egyptian is Pharaonic before being Arab."[32] Pharaonism became the dominant mode of expression of Egyptian anti-colonial activists of the pre-war and inter-war periods. In 1931, following a visit to Egypt, Syrian Arab nationalist Sati' al-Husri remarked that "[Egyptians] did not possess an Arab nationalist sentiment; did not accept that Egypt
Egypt
was a part of the Arab lands, and would not acknowledge that the Egyptian people
Egyptian people
were part of the Arab nation."[33] The later 1930s would become a formative period for Arab nationalism in Egypt, in large part due to efforts by Syrian, Palestinian and Lebanese intellectuals.[34] Arab-Islamic political sentiment was fueled by the solidarity felt between Egyptians
Egyptians
struggling for independence from Britain and those across the Arab world
Arab world
engaged in similar anti-imperialist struggles. In particular, the growth of Zionism
Zionism
in neighboring Palestine was seen as a threat by many Egyptians
Egyptians
and the cause of resistance there was adopted by rising Islamic movements such as the Muslim
Muslim
Brotherhood as well as the political leadership including King Faruq I
Faruq I
and Prime Minister Mustafa el-Nahhas.[31] Nevertheless, a year after the establishment of the League of Arab States in 1945, to be headquartered in Cairo, Oxford University historian H. S. Deighton was still writing:

The Egyptians
Egyptians
are not Arabs, and both they and the Arabs
Arabs
are aware of this fact. They are Arabic-speaking, and they are [predominantly] Muslim[. I]ndeed [the Muslim] religion plays a greater part in their lives than it does in those either of the [Muslim] Syrians or the Iraqi [Muslims]. But the Egyptian, during the first thirty years of the [twentieth] century, was not aware of any particular bond with the Arab East... Egypt
Egypt
sees in the Arab cause a worthy object of real and active sympathy and, at the same time, a great and proper opportunity for the exercise of leadership, as well as for the enjoyment of its fruits. But [Egypt,] she is still Egyptian first and Arab only in consequence, and her main interests are still domestic.[35]

It was not until the Nasser era
Nasser era
more than a decade later that Arab nationalism, and by extension Arab socialism, became a state policy and a means with which to define Egypt's position in the Middle East and the world,[36] usually articulated vis-à-vis Zionism
Zionism
in the neighboring new state of Israel. Nasser's politics was shaped by his conviction that all the Arab states were contending with anti-imperialist struggles and thus solidarity between them was imperative for independence. He viewed the earlier Egyptian nationalism of Saad Zaghlul
Saad Zaghlul
as too inward-looking and saw no conflict between Egyptian patriotism (wataniyya) and Arab nationalism (qawmiyya).[37] For a while Egypt
Egypt
and Syria
Syria
formed the United Arab Republic
United Arab Republic
(UAR). When the union was dissolved, Egypt
Egypt
continued to be known as the UAR until 1971, when Egypt
Egypt
adopted the current official name, the Arab Republic of Egypt.[38] The Egyptians' attachment to Arabism was particularly questioned after the 1967 Six-Day War. Thousands of Egyptians
Egyptians
had lost their lives, and the country became disillusioned with Arab politics.[39] Although the Arabism instilled in the country by Nasser was not deeply embedded in society, a certain kinship with the rest of the Arab world
Arab world
was firmly established and Egypt
Egypt
saw itself as the leader of this larger cultural entity. Nasser's version of pan-Arabism stressed Egyptian sovereignty and leadership of Arab unity instead of the eastern Arab states.[37] Nasser's successor Anwar el-Sadat, both through public policy and his peace initiative with Israel, revived an uncontested Egyptian orientation, unequivocally asserting that only Egypt
Egypt
and Egyptians were his responsibility. According to Dawisha, the terms "Arab", "Arabism" and "Arab unity", save for the new official name, became conspicuously absent.[40] (See also Liberal age and Republic sections.) However, despite Sadat's systematic attempts to root out Arab sentiment, Arab nationalism
Arab nationalism
in Egypt
Egypt
remained a potent force.[41] During this era, in 1978, Egyptian-American sociologist Saad Eddin Ibrahim studied the national discourse between 17 Egyptian intellectuals relating to Egypt's identity and peace with Israel. He noted that in 18 articles Arab identity was acknowledged and neutrality in the conflict opposed, while in eight articles Arab identity was acknowledged and neutrality supported and only in three articles written by author Louis Awad was Arab identity rejected and neutrality supported.[42] Egyptian scholar Gamal Hamdan
Gamal Hamdan
stressed that Egyptian identity
Egyptian identity
was unique, but that Egypt
Egypt
was the center and "cultural hub" of the Arab world, arguing that " Egypt
Egypt
in the Arab world is like Cairo
Cairo
in Egypt." Hamdan further contended "We do not see the Egyptian personality, no matter how distinct it may be, as anything other than a part of the personality of the greater Arab homeland."[41] Many Egyptians
Egyptians
today feel that Egyptian and Arab identities are inextricably linked, and emphasize the central role that Egypt
Egypt
plays in the Arab world. Others continue to believe that Egypt
Egypt
and Egyptians are simply not Arab, emphasizing indigenous Egyptian heritage, culture and independent polity, pointing to the perceived failures of Arab and pan-Arab nationalist policies. Egyptian anthropologist Laila el-Hamamsy illustrates the modern-day relationship between the two trends, stating: "in light of their history, Egyptians
Egyptians
... should be conscious of their national identity and consider themselves, above all, Egyptians. How is the Egyptian, with this strong sense of Egyptian identity, able to look himself as an Arab too?"[43] Her explanation is that Egyptianization translated as Arabization
Arabization
with the result being "an increased tempo of Arabization, for facility in the Arabic language
Arabic language
opened the windows into the rich legacy of Arabic culture. ... Thus in seeking a cultural identity, Egypt
Egypt
has revived its Arab cultural heritage."[42] Egyptian critics of Arab nationalism
Arab nationalism
contend that it has worked to erode and/or relegate native Egyptian identity
Egyptian identity
by superimposing only one aspect of Egypt's culture. These views and sources for collective identification in the Egyptian state are captured in the words of a linguistic anthropologist who conducted fieldwork in Cairo:

Historically, Egyptians
Egyptians
have considered themselves as distinct from 'Arabs' and even at present rarely do they make that identification in casual contexts; il-'arab [the Arabs] as used by Egyptians
Egyptians
refers mainly to the inhabitants of the Gulf states... Egypt
Egypt
has been both a leader of pan-Arabism and a site of intense resentment towards that ideology. Egyptians
Egyptians
had to be made, often forcefully, into "Arabs" [during the Nasser era] because they did not historically identify themselves as such. Egypt
Egypt
was self-consciously a nation not only before pan-Arabism but also before becoming a colony of the British Empire. Its territorial continuity since ancient times, its unique history as exemplified in its pharaonic past and later on its Coptic language and culture, had already made Egypt
Egypt
into a nation for centuries. Egyptians
Egyptians
saw themselves, their history, culture and language as specifically Egyptian and not "Arab."[44]

Languages[edit] Main articles: Languages of Egypt, Egyptian Arabic, and Coptic language Further information: Egyptian language

A Luxor
Luxor
school teacher lecturing on Eastern Arabic
Arabic
numerals.

A 3rd-century Coptic inscription.

In the Early Dynastic Period, Egyptians
Egyptians
spoke the Archaic Egyptian language. In antiquity, Egyptians
Egyptians
spoke the Egyptian language. It constitutes its own branch of the Afroasiatic family. The Coptic language is the direct descendant of the Egyptian language, written in Coptic alphabet. Arabic
Arabic
was adopted by the rulers of Egypt
Egypt
after the Arab invasion and gradually came to replace Coptic as the spoken language.[45] Spoken Coptic was mostly extinct by the 17th century but may have survived in isolated pockets in Upper Egypt
Egypt
as late as the 19th century.[46] The official language of Egypt
Egypt
today is Arabic. The spoken vernacular is known as Egyptian Arabic, while Modern Standard Arabic
Arabic
is reserved for more formal contexts as is the case in all Arab countries. The recorded history of Egyptian Arabic as a separate dialect begins in Ottoman Egypt
Egypt
with a document by a 17th-century author writing about the peculiarities of the speech of the Egyptian people.[47] This suggests that the language by then was spoken by the majority of Egyptians. It is represented in a body of vernacular literature comprising novels, plays and poetry published over the course of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. Classical Arabic
Arabic
is also a significant cultural element in Egyptian culture, as Egyptian novelists and poets were among the first to experiment with modern styles of Arabic
Arabic
literature, and the forms they developed have been widely imitated. While a huge majority of the Egyptian Arabic dialect is derived from the formal Arabic
Arabic
language, it has also been highly influenced by many other languages such as French, Turkish and the old Egyptian language. This is widely thought to be the effects of being the victim of several invasions, including that of the Ottoman Empire
Ottoman Empire
as well as the French invasion. As each nation came and went, the Egyptians
Egyptians
kept the few words and phrases that made the language seem easier. It is also noteworthy that the Egyptian dialect is the most understood version of the Arabic language
Arabic language
amongst the Arab world. This is because Egyptian movies have been the most influential in the Arabic
Arabic
movie industry and is therefore the most widespread. As a result, most Arabic
Arabic
countries have grown up listening to the dialect and therefore have no trouble understanding it, even though they actually speak their own. History[edit] Main article: Population history of Egypt Further information: History of Egypt Ancient Egypt[edit] Main articles: Ancient Egypt
Egypt
and History of ancient Egypt

rmṯ (n) kmt 'Egyptians' in hieroglyphs

Ancient Egypt
Egypt
saw a succession of thirty dynasties spanning three millennia. During this period, Egyptian culture underwent significant development in terms of religion, arts, language and customs. Egypt
Egypt
fell under Hyksos
Hyksos
rule in the Middle Bronze Age. The native nobility managed to expel the conquerors by the Late Bronze Age, thereby initiating the New Kingdom. During this period, the Egyptian civilization rose to the status of an empire under Pharaoh Thutmose III of the 18th dynasty. It remained a super-regional power throughout the Amarna Period
Amarna Period
as well as during the 19th and 20th dynasties (the Ramesside Period), lasting into the Early Bronze Age. The Bronze Age
Bronze Age
collapse that had afflicted the Mesopotamian empires reached Egypt
Egypt
with some delay, and it was only in the 11th century BC that the Empire declined, falling into the comparative obscurity of the Third Intermediate Period of Egypt. The 25th dynasty of Nubian rulers was again briefly replaced by native nobility in the 7th century BC, and in 525 BC, Egypt
Egypt
fell under Persian rule. Alexander the Great
Alexander the Great
was greeted as a liberator when he conquered Egypt in 332 BC. The Late Period of ancient Egypt
Egypt
is taken to end with his death in 323 BC. The Ptolemaic dynasty ruled Egypt
Egypt
from 305 BC to 30 BC and introduced Hellenic culture to Egyptians. 4,000 Celtic mercenaries under Ptolemy II had even attempted an ambitious but doomed coup d'état around the year 270 BC. Throughout the Pharaonic epoch (viz., from 2920 BC to 525 BC in conventional Egyptian chronology), divine kingship was the glue which held Egyptian society together. It was especially pronounced in the Old Kingdom and Middle Kingdom and continued until the Roman conquest. The societal structure created by this system of government remained virtually unchanged up to modern times.[48] The role of the king was considerably weakened after the 20th dynasty. The king in his role as Son of Ra was entrusted to maintain Ma'at, the principle of truth, justice and order, and to enhance the country's agricultural economy by ensuring regular Nile
Nile
floods. Ascendancy to the Egyptian throne reflected the myth of Horus
Horus
who assumed kingship after he buried his murdered father Osiris. The king of Egypt, as a living personification of Horus, could claim the throne after burying his predecessor, who was typically his father. When the role of the king waned, the country became more susceptible to foreign influence and invasion. The attention paid to the dead, and the veneration with which they were held, were one of the hallmarks of ancient Egyptian society. Egyptians
Egyptians
built tombs for their dead that were meant to last for eternity. This was most prominently expressed by the Great Pyramids. The ancient Egyptian word for tomb pr nḥḥ means 'House of Eternity.' The Egyptians
Egyptians
also celebrated life, as is shown by tomb reliefs and inscriptions, papyri and other sources depicting Egyptians farming, conducting trade expeditions, hunting, holding festivals, attending parties and receptions with their pet dogs, cats and monkeys, dancing and singing, enjoying food and drink, and playing games. The ancient Egyptians
Egyptians
were also known for their engaging sense of humor, much like their modern descendants.[49]

A boat scene, the tomb of Nebamun, 18th dynasty, Thebes.

Another important continuity during this period is the Egyptian attitude toward foreigners—those they considered not fortunate enough to be part of the community of rmṯ or "the people" (i.e., Egyptians.) This attitude was facilitated by the Egyptians' more frequent contact with other peoples during the New Kingdom, when Egypt expanded to an empire that also encompassed Nubia
Nubia
through Jebel Barkal and parts of the Levant. The Egyptian sense of superiority was given religious validation, as foreigners in the land of Ta-Meri (Egypt) were anathema to the maintenance of Maat—a view most clearly expressed by the admonitions of Ipuwer in reaction to the chaotic events of the Second Intermediate Period. Foreigners in Egyptian texts were described in derogatory terms, e.g., 'wretched Asiatics' (Semites), 'vile Kushites' (Nubians), and 'Ionian dogs' (Greeks). Egyptian beliefs remained unchallenged when Egypt
Egypt
fell to the Hyksos, Assyrians, Libyans, Persians and Greeks—their rulers assumed the role of the Egyptian Pharaoh and were often depicted praying to Egyptian gods. The ancient Egyptians
Egyptians
used a solar calendar that divided the year into 12 months of 30 days each, with five extra days added. The calendar revolved around the annual Nile
Nile
Inundation (akh.t), the first of three seasons into which the year was divided. The other two were Winter and Summer, each lasting for four months. The modern Egyptian fellahin calculate the agricultural seasons, with the months still bearing their ancient names, in much the same manner. The importance of the Nile
Nile
in Egyptian life, ancient and modern, cannot be overemphasized. The rich alluvium carried by the Nile inundation were the basis of Egypt's formation as a society and a state. Regular inundations were a cause for celebration; low waters often meant famine and starvation. The ancient Egyptians
Egyptians
personified the river flood as the god Hapy
Hapy
and dedicated a Hymn to the Nile
Nile
to celebrate it. km.t, the Black Land, was as Herodotus
Herodotus
observed, "the gift of the river." Graeco-Roman period[edit] Main articles: Ptolemaic Kingdom
Ptolemaic Kingdom
and Egypt
Egypt
(Roman province)

Roman-era portrait of an Egyptian mummy from the Fayum collection, c. AD 125 − AD 150

When Alexander died, a story began to circulate that Nectanebo II
Nectanebo II
was Alexander's father. This made Alexander in the eyes of the Egyptians
Egyptians
a legitimate heir to the native pharaohs.[50] The new Ptolemaic rulers, however, exploited Egypt
Egypt
for their own benefit and a great social divide was created between Egyptians
Egyptians
and Greeks.[51] The local priesthood continued to wield power as they had during the Dynastic age. Egyptians
Egyptians
continued to practice their religion undisturbed and largely maintained their own separate communities from their foreign conquerors.[52] The language of administration became Greek, but the mass of the Egyptian population was Egyptian-speaking and concentrated in the countryside, while most Greeks
Greeks
lived in Alexandria
Alexandria
and only few had any knowledge of Egyptian.[53] The Ptolemaic rulers all retained their Greek names and titles, but projected a public image of being Egyptian pharaohs. Much of this period's vernacular literature was composed in the demotic phase and script of the Egyptian language. It was focused on earlier stages of Egyptian history when Egyptians
Egyptians
were independent and ruled by great native pharaohs such as Ramesses II. Prophetic writings circulated among Egyptians
Egyptians
promising expulsion of the Greeks, and frequent revolts by the Egyptians
Egyptians
took place throughout the Ptolemaic period.[54] A revival in animal cults, the hallmark of the Predyanstic and Early Dyanstic periods, is said to have come about to fill a spiritual void as Egyptians
Egyptians
became increasingly disillusioned and weary due to successive waves of foreign invasions.[55] When the Romans annexed Egypt
Egypt
in 30 BC, the social structure created by the Greeks
Greeks
was largely retained, though the power of the Egyptian priesthood diminished. The Roman emperors lived abroad and did not perform the ceremonial functions of Egyptian kingship as the Ptolemies had. The art of mummy portraiture flourished, but Egypt
Egypt
became further stratified with Romans at the apex of the social pyramid, Greeks
Greeks
and Jews
Jews
occupied the middle stratum, while Egyptians, who constituted the vast majority, were at the bottom. Egyptians
Egyptians
paid a poll tax at full rate, Greeks
Greeks
paid at half-rate and Roman citizens were exempt.[56] The Roman emperor Caracalla
Caracalla
advocated the expulsion of all ethnic Egyptians
Egyptians
from the city of Alexandria, saying "genuine Egyptians
Egyptians
can easily be recognized among the linen-weavers by their speech."[57] This attitude lasted until AD 212 when Roman citizenship was finally granted to all the inhabitants of Egypt, though ethnic divisions remained largely entrenched.[58] The Romans, like the Ptolemies, treated Egypt
Egypt
like their own private property, a land exploited for the benefit of a small foreign elite. The Egyptian peasants, pressed for maximum production to meet Roman quotas, suffered and fled to the desert.[59] The cult of Isis, like those of Osiris
Osiris
and Serapis, had been popular in Egypt
Egypt
and throughout the Roman Empire
Roman Empire
at the coming of Christianity, and continued to be the main competitor with Christianity
Christianity
in its early years. The main temple of Isis
Isis
remained a major center of worship in Egypt
Egypt
until the reign of the Byzantine emperor Justinian I
Justinian I
in the 6th century, when it was finally closed down. Egyptians, disaffected and weary after a series of foreign occupations, identified the story of the mother-goddess Isis protecting her child Horus
Horus
with that of the Virgin Mary and her son Jesus
Jesus
escaping the emperor Herod.[60] Consequently, many sites believed to have been the resting places of the holy family during their sojourn in Egypt
Egypt
became sacred to the Egyptians. The visit of the holy family later circulated among Egyptian Christians as fulfillment of the Biblical prophecy "When Israel
Israel
was a child, then I loved him, and called my son out of Egypt" (Hosea 11:1). The feast of the coming of the Lord of Egypt
Egypt
on June 1 became an important part of Christian
Christian
Egyptian tradition. According to tradition, Christianity
Christianity
was brought to Egypt
Egypt
by Saint Mark the Evangelist in the early 40s of the 1st century, under the reign of the Roman emperor Nero. The earliest converts were Jews
Jews
residing in Alexandria, a city which had by then become a center of culture and learning in the entire Mediterranean oikoumene.

A Coptic- Arabic
Arabic
manuscript, Ayyubid period, AD 1249–50. Images depict Jesus
Jesus
in the Garden of Gethsemane, the kiss of Judas, the arrest of Christ, his appearance before Caiaphas, Peter's denial at cockcrow, Christ before Pilate, and the baptism of Jesus
Jesus
in the Jordan River.

St. Mark is said to have founded the Holy Apostolic See of Alexandria and to have become its first Patriarch. Within 50 years of St. Mark's arrival in Alexandria, a fragment of New Testament
New Testament
writings appeared in Oxyrhynchus
Oxyrhynchus
(Bahnasa), which suggests that Christianity
Christianity
already began to spread south of Alexandria
Alexandria
at an early date. By the mid-third century, a sizable number of Egyptians
Egyptians
were persecuted by the Romans on account of having adopted the new Christian
Christian
faith, beginning with the Edict of Decius. Christianity
Christianity
was tolerated in the Roman Empire until AD 284, when the Emperor Diocletian
Diocletian
persecuted and put to death a great number of Christian
Christian
Egyptians.[61] This event became a watershed in the history of Egyptian Christianity, marking the beginning of a distinct Egyptian or Coptic Church. It became known as the 'Era of the Martyrs' and is commemorated in the Coptic calendar
Coptic calendar
in which dating of the years began with the start of Diocletian's reign. When Egyptians
Egyptians
were persecuted by Diocletian, many retreated to the desert to seek relief. The practice precipitated the rise of monasticism, for which the Egyptians, namely St. Antony, St. Bakhum, St. Shenouda and St. Amun, are credited as pioneers. By the end of the 4th century, it is estimated that the mass of the Egyptians had either embraced Christianity
Christianity
or were nominally Christian.[61] The Catachetical School of Alexandria
Alexandria
was founded in the 3rd century by Pantaenus, becoming a major school of Christian
Christian
learning as well as science, mathematics and the humanities. The Psalms
Psalms
and part of the New Testament
New Testament
were translated at the school from Greek to Egyptian, which had already begun to be written in Greek letters with the addition of a number of demotic characters. This stage of the Egyptian language would later come to be known as Coptic along with its alphabet. The third theologian to head the Catachetical School was a native Egyptian by the name of Origen. Origen
Origen
was an outstanding theologian and one of the most influential Church Fathers. He traveled extensively to lecture in various churches around the world and has many important texts to his credit including the Hexapla, an exegesis of various translations of the Hebrew Bible. At the threshold of the Byzantine period, the New Testament
New Testament
had been entirely translated into Coptic. But while Christianity
Christianity
continued to thrive in Egypt, the old pagan beliefs which had survived the test of time were facing mounting pressure. The Byzantine period was particularly brutal in its zeal to erase any traces of ancient Egyptian religion. Under emperor Theodosius I, Christianity
Christianity
had already been proclaimed the religion of the Empire and all pagan cults were forbidden. When Egypt
Egypt
fell under the jurisdiction of Constantinople
Constantinople
after the split of the Roman Empire, many ancient Egyptians
Egyptians
temples were either destroyed or converted into monasteries.[62] One of the defining moments in the history of the Church in Egypt
Egypt
is a controversy that ensued over the nature of Jesus
Jesus
Christ which culminated in the final split of the Coptic Church from both the Byzantine and Roman Catholic Churches. The Council of Chalcedon convened in AD 451, signaling the Byzantine Empire's determination to assert its hegemony over Egypt. When it declared that Jesus
Jesus
Christ was of two natures embodied in Christ's person, the Egyptian reaction was swift, rejecting the decrees of the Council as incompatible with the Miaphysite doctrine of Coptic Orthodoxy. The Copts' upholding of the Miaphysite doctrine against the pro-Chalcedonian Greek Melkites had both theological and national implications. As Coptologist
Coptologist
Jill Kamil notes, the position taken by the Egyptians
Egyptians
"paved [the way] for the Coptic church to establish itself as a separate entity...No longer even spiritually linked with Constantinople, theologians began to write more in Coptic and less in Greek. Coptic art
Coptic art
developed its own national character, and the Copts
Copts
stood united against the imperial power."[63] Islamic period from Late antiquity to Middle Ages[edit]

Tomb of Egyptian saint Dhul-Nun al-Misri
Dhul-Nun al-Misri
(AD 796–859) in Cairo's City of the Dead.

En Route to an Arab Wedding
Arab Wedding
or Katb el-Kitāb in Cairo, Egypt

Before the Muslim
Muslim
conquest of Egypt, the Byzantine Emperor Heraclius was able to reclaim the country after a brief Persian invasion in AD 616, and subsequently appointed Cyrus of Alexandria, a Chalcedonian, as Patriarch. Cyrus was determined to convert the Egyptian Miaphysites by any means. He expelled Coptic monks and bishops from their monasteries and sees. Many died in the chaos, and the resentment of the Egyptians
Egyptians
against their Byzantine conquerors reached a peak.[64] Meanwhile, the new religion of Islam
Islam
was making headway in Arabia, culminating in the Muslim
Muslim
conquests that took place following Muhammad's Passing on. In AD 639, the Arab general 'Amr ibn al-'As marched into Egypt, facing off with the Byzantines in the Battle of Heliopolis that ended with the Byzantines' defeat. The relationship between the Greek Melkites and the Egyptian Copts
Copts
had grown so bitter that most Egyptians
Egyptians
did not put up heavy resistance against the Arabs.[65] The new Muslim
Muslim
rulers moved the capital to Fustat
Fustat
and, through the 7th century, retained the existing Byzantine administrative structure with Greek as its language. Native Egyptians
Egyptians
filled administrative ranks and continued to worship freely so long as they paid the jizya poll tax, in addition to a land tax that all Egyptians
Egyptians
irrespective of religion also had to pay. The authority of the Miaphysite doctrine of the Coptic Church was for the first time nationally recognized.[66] According to al-Ya'qubi, repeated revolts by Egyptian Christians against the Muslim
Muslim
Arabs
Arabs
took place in the 8th and 9th centuries under the reign of the Umayyads and Abbasids. The greatest was one in which disaffected Muslim
Muslim
Egyptians
Egyptians
joined their Christian
Christian
compatriots around AD 830 in an unsuccessful attempt to repel the Arabs.[66] The Egyptian Muslim
Muslim
historian Ibn Abd al-Hakam spoke harshly of the Abbasids—a reaction that according to Egyptologist Okasha El-Daly can be seen "within the context of the struggle between proud native Egyptians
Egyptians
and the central Abbasid
Abbasid
caliphate in Iraq."[67] The form of Islam
Islam
that eventually took hold in Egypt
Egypt
was Sunni, though very early in this period Egyptians
Egyptians
began to blend their new faith with indigenous beliefs and practices that had survived through Coptic Christianity. Just as Egyptians
Egyptians
had been pioneers in early monasticism so they were in the development of the mystical form of Islam, Sufism.[68] Various Sufi
Sufi
orders were founded in the 8th century and flourished until the present day. One of the earliest Egyptian Sufis was Dhul-Nun al-Misri
Dhul-Nun al-Misri
(i.e., Dhul-Nun the Egyptian). He was born in Akhmim
Akhmim
in AD 796 and achieved political and social leadership over the Egyptian people.[69] Dhul-Nun was regarded as the Patron Saint of the Physicians and is credited with having introduced the concept of Gnosis
Gnosis
into Islam, as well as of being able to decipher a number of hieroglyphic characters due to his knowledge of Coptic.[70] He was keenly interested in ancient Egyptian sciences, and claimed to have received his knowledge of alchemy from Egyptian sources.[71]

Al-Azhar Mosque
Al-Azhar Mosque
founded in AD 970 by the Fatimids

Mosque of Abu Haggag
Mosque of Abu Haggag
built in the 11th century over the ruins of a pharaonic temple. The ancient Opet festival associated with this temple is mirrored in the present day festival of Abu-l Haggag celebrated similarly by boat processions through the streets of Luxor.[72]

In the years to follow the Arab occupation of Egypt, a social hierarchy was created whereby Egyptians
Egyptians
who converted to Islam acquired the status of mawali or "clients" to the ruling Arab elite, while those who remained Christian, the Copts, became dhimmis. In time the power of the Arabs
Arabs
waned throughout the Islamic Empire so that in the 10th century, the Turkish Ikhshids were able to take control of Egypt
Egypt
and made it an independent political unit from the rest of the empire. Egyptians
Egyptians
continued to live socially and politically separate from their foreign conquerors, but their rulers like the Ptolemies before them were able to stabilize the country and bring renewed economic prosperity. It was under the Shiite Fatimids from the 10th to the 12th centuries that Muslim
Muslim
Egyptian institutions began to take form along with the Egyptian dialect of Arabic, which was to eventually slowly supplant native Egyptian or Coptic as the spoken language. Al-Azhar
Al-Azhar
was founded in AD 970 in the new capital Cairo, not very far from its ancient predecessor in Memphis. It became the preeminent Muslim
Muslim
center of learning in Egypt
Egypt
and by the Ayyubid period it had acquired a Sunni
Sunni
orientation. The Fatimids with some exceptions were known for their religious tolerance and their observance of local Muslim, Coptic and indigenous Egyptian festivals and customs. Under the Ayyubids, the country for the most part continued to prosper The Mamluks of Egypt
Egypt
(AD 1258–1517) as a whole were, some of the most enlightened rulers of Egypt, not only in the arts and in providing for the welfare of their subjects, but also in many other ways, such as efficient organisation of law and order and postal services, and the building of canals, roads, bridges and aqueducts.[73] Though turbulent, often treacherous and brutal in their feuds, and politically and economically inept, the later Mameluks maintained the splendour and artistic traditions of their predecessors. The reign of Kait Bey (1468-1496) was one of high achievement in architecture, showing great refinement of taste in the building of elegant tombs, mosques and palaces. It was a period in which learning flourished. Their rule is generally[citation needed] regarded as one under which Egyptians, Muslims and Copts, greatly suffered. By the 15th century most Egyptians
Egyptians
had already been converted to Islam, while Coptic Christians were reduced to a minority.[74] The Mamluks were mainly ethnic Circassians
Circassians
and Turks who had been captured as slaves then recruited into the army fighting on behalf of the Islamic empire. Native Egyptians
Egyptians
were not allowed to serve in the army until the reign of Mohamed Ali. Historian James Jankwoski writes:

Ultimately, Mamluk
Mamluk
rule rested on force. The chronicles of the period are replete with examples of Mamluk
Mamluk
violence against the indigenous population of Egypt...From horseback, they simply terrorized those lesser breeds who crossed their paths. The sudden and arbitrary use of force by the government and its dominant military elite; frequent resort to cruelty to make a point; ingenious methods of torture employed both for exemplary purpose and to extract wealth from others: all these measures were routine in the Mamluk
Mamluk
era. Egypt
Egypt
under the Mamluks was not a very secure place to live.[75]

Ottoman period[edit] Egyptians
Egyptians
under the Ottoman Turks from the 16th to the 18th centuries lived within a social hierarchy similar to that of the Mamluks, Arabs, Romans, Greeks
Greeks
and Persians before them. Native Egyptians
Egyptians
applied the term atrak (Turks) indiscriminately to the Ottomans and Mamluks, who were at the top of the social pyramid, while Egyptians, most of whom were farmers, were at the bottom. Frequent revolts by the Egyptian peasantry against the Ottoman- Mamluk
Mamluk
Beys took place throughout the 18th century, particularly in Upper Egypt
Egypt
where the peasants at one point wrested control of the region and declared a separatist government.[76] The only segment of Egyptian society which appears to have retained a degree of power during this period were the Muslim
Muslim
'ulama or religious scholars, who directed the religious and social affairs of the native Egyptian population and interceded on their behalf when dealing with the Turko-Circassian elite. It is also believed that during the time of Ottoman period of Egypt, native Egyptians
Egyptians
were allowed and required to join the army for the first time since the Roman period of Egypt, particularly Copts
Copts
who were civil servants at the time of Mohammed Ali Pasha.

From the Egyptian side, literary works from both the Mamluk
Mamluk
and Ottoman eras indicate that literate Egyptians
Egyptians
had not totally submerged their identity within Islam, but retained an awareness of Egypt's distinctiveness as a uniquely fertile region of the Muslim world, as a land of great historical antiquity and splendor... At least for some Egyptians, 'the land of Egypt' (al-diyar al-misriyya) was an identifiable and emotionally meaningful entity within the larger Muslim
Muslim
polity of which it was now a province.[77]

Modern history[edit] Main articles: History of Egypt
Egypt
under the Muhammad
Muhammad
Ali dynasty and History of modern Egypt

Battle of the Pyramids
Battle of the Pyramids
by François-Louis-Joseph Watteau, 1798–1799

Egyptian women in traditional dress

Modern Egyptian history is generally believed to begin with the French expedition in Egypt
Egypt
led by Napoleon Bonaparte in 1798. The French defeated a Mamluk-Ottoman army at the Battle of the Pyramids, and soon they were able to seize control of the country. The French occupation was short-lived, ending when British troops drove out the French in 1801. Its impact on the social and cultural fabric of Egyptian society, however, was tremendous. The Egyptians were deeply hostile to the French, whom they viewed as yet another foreign occupation to be resisted. At the same time, the French expedition introduced Egyptians
Egyptians
to the ideals of the French Revolution which were to have a significant influence on their own self-perception and realization of modern independence. When Napoleon invited the Egyptian ulama to head a French-supervised government in Egypt, for some, it awakened a sense of nationalism and a patriotic desire for national independence from the Turks. In addition, the French introduced the printing press in Egypt
Egypt
and published its first newspaper. The monumental catalogue of Egypt's ecology, society and economy, Description de l'Égypte, was written by scholars and scientists who accompanied the French army on their expedition. The withdrawal of French forces from Egypt
Egypt
left a power vacuum that was filled after a period of political turmoil by Mohammed Ali, an Ottoman officer of Albanian ethnicity. He rallied support among the Egyptians
Egyptians
until he was elected by the native Muslim
Muslim
ulama as governor of Egypt. Mohammed Ali is credited for having undertaken a massive campaign of public works, including irrigation projects, agricultural reforms and the cultivation of cash crops (notably cotton, rice and sugar-cane), increased industrialization, and a new educational system—the results of which are felt to this day.[78] In order to consolidate his power in Egypt, Mohammed Ali worked to eliminate the Turko-Circassian domination of administrative and army posts. For the first time since the Roman period, native Egyptians filled the junior ranks of the country's army. The army would later conduct military expeditions in the Levant, Sudan
Sudan
and against the Wahabis in Arabia.[78] Many Egyptians
Egyptians
student missions were sent to Europe in the early 19th century to study at European universities and acquire technical skills such as printing, shipbuilding and modern military techniques. One of these students, whose name was Rifa'a et-Tahtawy, was the first in a long line of intellectuals that started the modern Egyptian Renaissance. Nationalism[edit]

Rifa'a el-Tahtawi, 1801–1873, laid the groundwork for the modern Egyptian Renaissance.

The period between 1860–1940 was characterized by an Egyptian nahda, renaissance or rebirth. It is best known for the renewed interest in Egyptian antiquity and the cultural achievements that were inspired by it. Along with this interest came an indigenous, Egypt-centered orientation, particularly among the Egyptian intelligentsia that would affect Egypt's autonomous development as a sovereign and independent nation-state.[79] The first Egyptian renaissance intellectual was Rifa'a el-Tahtawi. In 1831, Tahtawi undertook a career in journalism, education and translation. Three of his published volumes were works of political and moral philosophy. In them he introduces his students to Enlightenment ideas such as secular authority and political rights and liberty; his ideas regarding how a modern civilized society ought to be and what constituted by extension a civilized or "good Egyptian"; and his ideas on public interest and public good.[79] Tahtawi was instrumental in sparking indigenous interest in Egypt's ancient heritage. He composed a number of poems in praise of Egypt
Egypt
and wrote two other general histories of the country. He also co-founded with his contemporary Ali Mubarak, the architect of the modern Egyptian school system, a native Egyptology
Egyptology
school that looked for inspiration to medieval Egyptian scholars like Suyuti and Maqrizi, who studied ancient Egyptian history, language and antiquities.[80] Tahtawi encouraged his compatriots to invite Europeans to come and teach the modern sciences in Egypt, drawing on the example of Pharaoh Psamtek I who had enlisted the Greeks' help in organizing the Egyptian army.[citation needed]

Egyptian silk weavers during the reign of Khedive
Khedive
Ismail, 1880.

Among Mohammed Ali's successors, the most influential was Isma'il Pasha who became khedive in 1863. Ismail's reign witnessed the growth of the army, major education reforms, the founding of the Egyptian Museum and the Royal Opera House, the rise of an independent political press, a flourishing of the arts, and the inauguration of the Suez Canal. In 1866, the Assembly of Delegates was founded to serve as an advisory body for the government. Its members were elected from across Egypt, including villages, which meant that native Egyptians
Egyptians
came to exert increasing political and economic influence over their country.[81] Several generations of Egyptians
Egyptians
exposed to the ideas of constitutionalism made up the emerging intellectual and political milieu that slowly filled the ranks of the government, the army and institutions which had long been dominated by an aristocracy of Turks, Greeks, Circassians
Circassians
and Armenians.[citation needed] Ismail's massive modernization campaign, however, left Egypt
Egypt
indebted to European powers, leading to increased European meddling in local affairs. This led to the formation of secret groups made up of Egyptian notables, ministers, journalists and army officers organized across the country to oppose the increasing European influence.[82] When the British deposed of Ismail and installed his son Tawfik, the now Egyptian-dominated army reacted violently, staging a revolt led by Minister of War Ahmed Urabi, self-styled el-Masri ('the Egyptian'), against the Khedive, the Turko-Circassian elite, and the European stronghold. The revolt was a military failure and British forces occupied Egypt
Egypt
in 1882. Technically, Egypt
Egypt
was still part of the Ottoman Empire
Ottoman Empire
with the Mohammed Ali family ruling the country, though now with British supervision and according to British directives. The Egyptian army was disbanded and a smaller army commanded by British officers was installed in its place. Liberal age[edit] Main article: Liberalism in Egypt

Mustafa Kamil (1874−1908), an anti-colonial nationalist famous for coining the phrase, "If I had not been an Egyptian, I would have wished to become one".

Egyptian self-government, education, and the continued plight of Egypt's peasant majority deteriorated most significantly under British occupation. Slowly, an organized national movement for independence began to form. In its beginnings, it took the form of an Azhar-led religious reform movement that was more concerned with the social conditions of Egyptian society. It gathered momentum between 1882 and 1906, ultimately leading to a resentment against European occupation.[83] Sheikh Muhammad
Muhammad
Abduh, the son of a Delta farmer who was briefly exiled for his participation in the Urabi revolt and a future Azhar Mufti, was its most notable advocate. Abduh called for a reform of Egyptian Muslim
Muslim
society and formulated the modernist interpretations of Islam
Islam
that took hold among younger generations of Egyptians. Among these were Mustafa Kamil and Ahmed Lutfi el-Sayed, the architects of modern Egyptian nationalism. Mustafa Kamil had been a student activist in the 1890s involved in the creation of a secret nationalist society that called for British evacuation from Egypt. He was famous for coining the popular expression, "If I had not been an Egyptian, I would have wished to become one." Egyptian nationalist sentiment reached a high point after the 1906 Dinshaway Incident, when following an altercation between a group of British soldiers and Egyptian farmers, four of the farmers were hanged while others were condemned to public flogging. Dinshaway, a watershed in the history of Egyptian anti-colonial resistance, galvanized Egyptian opposition against the British, culminating in the founding of the first two political parties in Egypt: the secular, liberal Umma (the Nation, 1907) headed by Ahmed Lutfi el-Sayed, and the more radical, pro-Islamic Watani Party (National Party, 1908) headed by Mustafa Kamil. Lutfi was born to a family of farmers in the Delta province of Daqahliya in 1872. He was educated at al-Azhar where he attended lectures by Mohammed Abduh. Abduh came to have a profound influence on Lutfi's reformist thinking in later years. In 1907, he founded the Umma Party newspaper, el-Garida, whose statement of purpose read: "El-Garida is a purely Egyptian party which aims to defend Egyptian interests of all kinds."[84] Both the People and National parties came to dominate Egyptian politics until World War I, but the new leaders of the national movement for independence following four arduous years of war (in which Great Britain declared Egypt
Egypt
a British protectorate) were closer to the secular, liberal principles of Ahmed Lutfi el-Sayed and the People's Party. Prominent among these was Saad Zaghlul
Saad Zaghlul
who led the new movement through the Wafd Party. Saad Zaghlul
Saad Zaghlul
held several ministerial positions before he was elected to the Legislative Assembly and organized a mass movement demanding an end to the British Protectorate. He garnered such massive popularity among the Egyptian people that he came to be known as 'Father of the Egyptians'. When on March 8, 1919 the British arrested Zaghlul and his associates and exiled them to Malta, the Egyptian people
Egyptian people
staged their first modern revolution. Demonstrations and strikes across Egypt
Egypt
became such a daily occurrence that normal life was brought to a halt.[85] The Wafd Party
Wafd Party
drafted a new Constitution in 1923 based on a parliamentary representative system. Saad Zaghlul
Saad Zaghlul
became the first popularly elected Prime Minister of Egypt
Egypt
in 1924. Egyptian independence at this stage was provisional, as British forces continued to be physically present on Egyptian soil. In 1936, the Anglo-Egyptian Treaty was concluded. New forces that came to prominence were the Muslim
Muslim
Brotherhood and the radical Young Egypt Party. In 1920, Banque Misr
Banque Misr
(Bank of Egypt) was founded by Talaat Pasha Harb as "an Egyptian bank for Egyptians
Egyptians
only",[86] which restricted shareholding to native Egyptians
Egyptians
and helped finance various new Egyptian-owned businesses.

King Farouk I, Queen Farida and their first-born daughter Princess Ferial c. 1940.

Under the parliamentary monarchy, Egypt
Egypt
reached the peak of its modern intellectual Renaissance that was started by Rifa'a el-Tahtawy nearly a century earlier. Among those who set the intellectual tone of a newly independent Egypt, in addition to Muhammad
Muhammad
Abduh and Ahmed Lutfi el-Sayed, were Qasim Amin, Muhammad
Muhammad
Husayn Haykal, Taha Hussein, Abbas el-'Akkad, Tawfiq el-Hakeem, and Salama Moussa. They delineated a liberal outlook for their country expressed as a commitment to individual freedom, secularism, an evolutionary view of the world and faith in science to bring progress to human society.[87] This period was looked upon with fondness by future generations of Egyptians
Egyptians
as a Golden Age
Golden Age
of Egyptian liberalism, openness, and an Egypt-centered attitude that put the country's interests center stage. When Egyptian novelist and Nobel Prize
Nobel Prize
laureate Naguib Mahfouz
Naguib Mahfouz
died in 2006, many Egyptians
Egyptians
felt that perhaps the last of the Greats of Egypt's golden age had died. In his dialogues with close associate and journalist Mohamed Salmawy, published as Mon Égypte, Mahfouz had this to say:

Egypt
Egypt
is not just a piece of land. Egypt
Egypt
is the inventor of civilisation ... The strange thing is that this country of great history and unsurpassed civilisation is nothing but a thin strip along the banks of the Nile
Nile
... This thin strip of land created moral values, launched the concept of monotheism, developed arts, invented science and gave the world a stunning administration. These factors enabled the Egyptians
Egyptians
to survive while other cultures and nations withered and died ... Throughout history Egyptians
Egyptians
have felt that their mission is to tend to life. They were proud to turn the land green, to make it blossom with life. The other thing is that Egyptians invented morality long before the major religions appeared on earth. Morality is not just a system for control but a protection against chaos and death ... Egypt
Egypt
gave Islam
Islam
a new voice. It didn't change the basic tenets of Islam, but its cultural weight gave Islam
Islam
a new voice, one it didn't have back in Arabia. Egypt
Egypt
embraced an Islam
Islam
that was moderate, tolerant and non-extremist. Egyptians
Egyptians
are very pious, but they know how to mix piety with joy, just as their ancestors did centuries ago. Egyptians
Egyptians
celebrate religious occasions with flair. For them, religious festivals and the month of Ramadan are occasions to celebrate life.[88]

Republic[edit]

The Free Officers Movement overthrew the Egyptian monarchy. The bottom row from left to right includes the Gamal Abdel Nasser, the movement's operational leader and Egypt's second president, Muhammad
Muhammad
Naguib, Egypt's first president, Abdel Hakim Amer
Abdel Hakim Amer
and Anwar Sadat, Egypt's third president

Over 2 million Egyptians
Egyptians
protesting in Tahrir Square

Increased involvement by King Farouk in parliamentary affairs, government corruption, and the widening gap between the country's rich and poor led to the eventual toppling of the monarchy and the dissolution of the parliament through a coup d'état by a group of army officers in 1952. The Egyptian Republic was declared on June 18, 1953 with General Muhammad
Muhammad
Naguib as the first President of the Republic. After Naguib was forced to resign in 1954 and later put under house arrest by Gamal Abdel Nasser, the real architect of the 1952 movement, mass protests by Egyptians
Egyptians
erupted against the forced resignation of what became a popular symbol of the new regime.[89] Nasser assumed power as President and began a nationalization process that initially had profound effects on the socioeconomic strata of Egyptian society. According to one historian, " Egypt
Egypt
had, for the first time since 343 BC, been ruled not by a Macedonian Greek, nor a Roman, nor an Arab, nor a Turk, but by an Egyptian."[90] Nasser nationalized the Suez Canal
Suez Canal
leading to the 1956 Suez Crisis. Egypt
Egypt
became increasingly involved in regional affairs until three years after the 1967 Six-Day War, in which Egypt
Egypt
lost the Sinai to Israel, Nasser died and was succeeded by Anwar Sadat. Sadat revived an Egypt
Egypt
Above All orientation, switched Egypt's Cold War
Cold War
allegiance from the Soviet Union to the United States, expelling Soviet advisors in 1972, and launched the Infitah economic reform policy. Like his predecessor, he also clamped down on religious and leftist opposition alike. Egyptians
Egyptians
fought one last time in the 1973 October War in an attempt to liberate Egyptian territories captured by Israel
Israel
six years earlier. The October War presented Sadat with a political victory that later allowed him to regain the Sinai. In 1977, Sadat made a historic visit to Israel
Israel
leading to the signing of the 1978 peace treaty, which was supported by the vast majority of Egyptians,[91] in exchange for the complete Israeli withdrawal from Sinai. Sadat was assassinated in Cairo
Cairo
by members of the Egyptian Islamic Jihad in 1981, and was succeeded by Hosni Mubarak. Hosni Mubarak
Hosni Mubarak
was the president from 14 October 1981 to 11 February 2011, when he resigned under pressure of popular protest. Although power was ostensibly organized under a multi-party semi-presidential system, in practice it rested almost solely with the president. In late February 2005, for the first time since the 1952 coup d'état, the Egyptian people
Egyptian people
had an apparent chance to elect a leader from a list of various candidates, most prominently Ayman Nour. Most Egyptians
Egyptians
today were skeptical about the process of democratization and feared that power might ultimately be transferred to the president's first son, Gamal Mubarak. In 2003, the Egyptian Movement for Change or simply Kefaya
Kefaya
( Arabic
Arabic
for "Enough!") was founded as a grassroots mobilization of Egyptians seeking a return to democracy, a transparent government and greater equality and freedom. After the resignation of Hosni Mubarak
Hosni Mubarak
presidential powers were transferred to the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces, who relinquished power on 30 June 2012 when Mohamed Morsi became the first democratically elected head of state in Egyptian history. He was ousted in a revolution a year after and is on trial. In the presidential elections on 26–28 May 2014, Abdel Fattah el-Sisi won in a landslide, capturing 22 million of the nearly 23 million votes counted. Culture[edit] Main article: Culture of Egypt See also: Ancient Egypt Egyptian culture boasts five millennia of recorded history. Ancient Egypt
Egypt
was among the earliest and greatest civilizations during which the Egyptians
Egyptians
maintained a strikingly complex and stable culture that influenced later cultures of Europe, the Near East
Near East
and Africa. After the Pharaonic era, the Egyptians
Egyptians
themselves came under the influence of Hellenism, Christianity
Christianity
and Islamic culture. Today, many aspects of ancient Egyptian culture exist in interaction with newer elements, including the influence of modern Western culture, itself influenced by Ancient Egypt. Surnames[edit]

An Egyptian elder, 1860s

Today, Egyptians
Egyptians
carry names that have Egyptian, Arabic, Turkish, and Greek origins (especially Coptic ones) among others. The concept of a surname is lacking in Egypt. Rather, Egyptians
Egyptians
tend to carry their father's name as their first middle name, and stop at the 2nd or 3rd first name, which thus becomes one's surname. In this manner, surnames continuously change with generations, as first names of 4th or 5th generations get dropped.

A serpent charmer in Egypt, 1860s

It is not entirely unusual for families of Egyptian origin (especially Coptic ones) to have names or family names beginning with the Egyptian masculine possessive pronoun pa (generally ba in Arabic, which lost the phoneme /p/ in the course of developing from Proto-Semitic). For example, Bayoumi (variations: Baioumi, Bayoumi, Baioumy) "of Fayyoum", Fayyoum meaning "of the big water (yom)", Basyouni (of Aswan), Bashandi, Bakhoum ("the eagle"), Bekhit, Bahur ("of Horus") and Banoub ("of Anubis"). The name Shenouda, which is very common among Copts, means "child of God". Hence, names and many toponyms may end with -nouda, -noudi or -nuti, which means Of God in Egyptian and Coptic. In addition, Egyptian families often derive their name from places in Egypt, such as Minyawi from Minya and Suyuti from Asyut; or from one of the local Sufi
Sufi
orders such as el-Shazli and el-Sawy. More examples of prominent surnames are Qozman and Habib. With the adoption of Christianity
Christianity
and eventually Islam, Egyptians began to take on names associated with these religions. Many Egyptian surnames also became Hellenized and Arabized, meaning they were altered to sound Greek or Arabic. This was done by the addition of the Greek suffix -ios to Egyptian names; for example, Pakhom to Pakhomios; or by adding the Arabic
Arabic
definite article el to names such as Baymoui to el-Bayoumi. Names starting with the Egyptian affix pu ("of the place of") were sometimes Arabized to abu ("father of"); for example, Busiri
Busiri
("of the place of Osiris") occasionally became Abusir
Abusir
and al-Busiri. Some people might also have surnames like el-Shamy ("the Levantine") indicating a possible Levantine origin, or Dewidar indicating an Ottoman- Mamluk
Mamluk
remnant. Conversely, some Levantines might carry the surname el-Masri ("the Egyptian") suggesting a possible Egyptian extraction. The Egyptian peasantry, the fellahin, are more likely to retain indigenous names given their relative isolation throughout the Egyptian people's history. With French influence, names like Mounier, Pierre, and many others became common, particularly in the Christian
Christian
community. Genetic history[edit] Main article: Population history of Egypt Beginning in the predynastic period, some differences between the populations of Upper and Lower Egypt
Egypt
were ascertained through their skeletal remains, suggesting a gradual clinal pattern north to south.[92][93][94][95]

The mummy of 19th dynasty King Ramesses II.

When Lower and Upper Egypt
Egypt
were unified c. 3200 BC, the distinction began to blur, resulting in a more homogeneous population in Egypt, though the distinction remains true to some degree to this day.[96][97][98] Some biological anthropologists such as Shomarka Keita believe the range of variability to be primarily indigenous and not necessarily the result of significant intermingling of widely divergent peoples.[99] Keita describes the northern and southern patterns of the early predynastic period as "northern-Egyptian-Maghreb" and "tropical African variant" (overlapping with Nubia/Kush) respectively. He shows that a progressive change in Upper Egypt
Egypt
toward the northern Egyptian pattern takes place through the predynastic period. The southern pattern continues to predominate in Abydos, Upper Egypt
Egypt
by the First Dynasty, but "lower Egyptian, Maghrebian, and European patterns are observed also, thus making for great diversity."[100] A group of noted physical anthropologists conducted craniofacial studies of Egyptian skeletal remains and concluded similarly that "the Egyptians
Egyptians
have been in place since back in the Pleistocene and have been largely unaffected by either invasions or migrations. As others have noted, Egyptians
Egyptians
are Egyptians, and they were so in the past as well."[101] Genetic analysis of modern Egyptians
Egyptians
reveals that they have paternal lineages common to indigenous North-East African populations primarily and to Near Eastern peoples to a lesser extent—these lineages would have spread during the Neolithic
Neolithic
and were maintained by the predynastic period.[102][103] University of Chicago
University of Chicago
Egyptologist Frank Yurco suggested a historical, regional and ethnolinguistic continuity, asserting that "the mummies and skeletons of ancient Egyptians indicate they were Africans of the Afro-Asiatic ethnic grouping".[104] He writes:

"Certainly there was some foreign admixture [in Egypt], but basically a homogeneous African population had lived in the Nile
Nile
Valley from ancient to modern times... [the] Badarian
Badarian
people, who developed the earliest Predynastic Egyptian culture, already exhibited the mix of North African and Sub-Saharan physical traits that have typified Egyptians
Egyptians
ever since (Hassan 1985; Yurco 1989; Trigger 1978; Keita 1990; Brace et al., this volume)... The peoples of Egypt, the Sudan, and much of East Africa, Ethiopia
Ethiopia
and Somalia
Somalia
are now generally regarded as a [ Nile
Nile
Valley] continuity, with widely ranging physical features (complexions light to dark, various hair and craniofacial types) but with powerful common cultural traits, including cattle pastoralist traditions (Trigger 1978; Bard, Snowden, this volume). Language research suggests that this Saharan-[ Nile
Nile
Valley] population became speakers of the Afro-Asiatic languages... Semitic was evidently spoken by Saharans who crossed the Red Sea into Arabia
Arabia
and became ancestors of the Semitic speakers there, possibly around 7000 BC... In summary we may say that Egypt
Egypt
was a distinct Afro-Asiatic African culture rooted in the Nile
Nile
Valley and on the Sahara."[105]

A 2006 bioarchaeological study on the dental morphology of ancient Egyptians
Egyptians
by Prof. Joel Irish shows dental traits characteristic of indigenous North Africans and to a lesser extent Southwest Asian and southern European populations. Among the samples included in the study is skeletal material from the Hawara tombs of Fayum, which clustered very closely with the Badarian
Badarian
series of the predynastic period. All the samples, particularly those of the Dynastic period, were significantly divergent from a neolithic West Saharan sample from Lower Nubia. Biological continuity was also found intact from the dynastic to the post-pharaonic periods. According to Irish:

[The Egyptian] samples [996 mummies] exhibit morphologically simple, mass-reduced dentitions that are similar to those in populations from greater North Africa (Irish, 1993, 1998a–c, 2000) and, to a lesser extent, western Asia and Europe (Turner, 1985a; Turner and Markowitz, 1990; Roler, 1992; Lipschultz, 1996; Irish, 1998a). Similar craniofacial measurements among samples from these regions were reported as well (Brace et al., 1993)... an inspection of MMD values reveals no evidence of increasing phenetic distance between samples from the first and second halves of this almost 3,000-year-long period. For example, phenetic distances between First-Second Dynasty Abydos and samples from Fourth Dynasty
Dynasty
Saqqara (MMD ¼ 0.050), 11–12th Dynasty
Dynasty
Thebes (0.000), 12th Dynasty
Dynasty
Lisht (0.072), 19th Dynasty
Dynasty
Qurneh (0.053), and 26th–30th Dynasty
Dynasty
Giza (0.027) do not exhibit a directional increase through time... Thus, despite increasing foreign influence after the Second Intermediate Period, not only did Egyptian culture remain intact (Lloyd, 2000a), but the people themselves, as represented by the dental samples, appear biologically constant as well... Gebel Ramlah [ Neolithic
Neolithic
Nubian/Western Desert sample] is, in fact, significantly different from Badari
Badari
based on the 22-trait MMD (Table 4). For that matter, the Neolithic
Neolithic
Western Desert sample is significantly different from all others [but] is closest to predynastic and early dynastic samples.[106]

See also[edit]

Sa'idi people Religion in Egypt List of Egyptians Egyptian Americans Egyptians
Egyptians
in the United Kingdom Egyptians
Egyptians
in Germany Egyptian diaspora

References[edit]

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Egyptians
generally did not identify themselves as Arabs, and it is revealing that when the Egyptian nationalist leader [Saad Zaghlul] met the Arab delegates at Versailles in 1918, he insisted that their struggles for statehood were not connected, claiming that the problem of Egypt
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Bibliography[edit]

Barakat, Halim (1993). The Arab World: Society, Culture, and State. University of California Press. ISBN 0520084276.  Hinnebusch, Raymond A. (2002). The Foreign Policies of Middle East States. Lynne Rienner Publishers. ISBN 1588260208. 

Further reading[edit]

Wikimedia Commons has media related to People of Egypt.

Edward William Lane
Edward William Lane
(1837). An account of the manners and customs of the modern Egyptians: written in Egypt
Egypt
during the years 1833, −34, and −35, partly from notes made during a former visit to that country in the years 1825, −26, −27, and −28. Volume 1 of An Account of the Manners and Customs of the Modern Egyptians. C. Knight and co. Retrieved 2011-07-06. 

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