The Egyptian Civilisation
Egypt.; The Gift Of Nile
The Egyptian civilization emerged in the valley of the river Nile and flourished for more than 2000 years. The river Nile has proved to be such a great boon for Egypt that the greek historian, Herodotus called Egypt ”The Gift Of Nile”. If the river Nile would not have been there, Egypt would have been a part of the vast Sahara desert.
Historians have divided the history of Egypt into three phases;
1. The Old Kingdom
lasted from 3000 to 2000 BCE. Memphis, situated near modern Cairo, was the capital of the Empire. During this period many pyramids were constructed.
2. The Middle Kingdom
(2000 to 1700 BCE) . During this period, the Egyptian civilization made great advances in art, religion, and science. Around 1700 BCE, it was invaded by Hykksos, a nomadic tribe from western Asia that ruled over Egypt for a century.
3. The New Kingdom
(1600 to 1100 BCE) . This period saw Egyptian power at its peak when they conquered Palestine and Syria. Rameses 2 was the last powerful ruler of Egypt after whose reign the Egyptian power begin to decline.
After the collapse of the New Kingdom, Egypt was invaded by the Babylonians, Assyrians, Persians, and finally in 332 BCE by Alexander the Great of Macedonia. He founded the city of Alexandria. After the death of Alexander, one of his generals, Ptolemy, and his descendants ruled over Egypt.
The last of Ptolemy’s descendants was Egyptian Queen Cleopatra, famous for her beauty and intelligence. She was defeated by the Romans after which Egypt became a province of the Roman Empire.
Egyptian society, like other ancient societies, had a hierarchical social order with distinct classes.
- The upper class consisted of the royal family, rich landowners, high-ranking priests, government officials, and doctors.
- The middle class consisted of merchants, manufacturers, craftspeople, and the lower clergy.
- The lower class consisted of peasants. At the bottom of the social hierarchy were the slaves who were mainly prisoners of war.