For almost 30 centuries—from its unification around 3100 B.C. to its conquest by Alexander the Great in 332 B.C.—ancient Egypt was the preeminent civilization in the Mediterranean world.
The dynastic period started with the reign of Egypt’s first king, Narmer, in approximately 3100 BCE, and ended with the death of Cleopatra VII in 30 BCE. During this long period there were times of strong centalised rule, and periods of much weaker, divided rule, but basically Egypt remained one, independent land.
Egypt’s first civilization lasted roughly 550 years. The next major period known as the Middle Kingdom begins around 2040 BC and ends around 1640 BC.
Around 5000 years ago the ancient Egyptians established an extraordinary and enduring civilisation. Enter their world.
The first pharaoh of the first dynasty was a ruler named Menes (or Narmer, as he is called in Greek). He lived over 5,000 years ago, and while ancient writers sometimes credited him as being the first pharaoh of a united Egypt, however archaeological research suggests that this is not true. 2
Then, around 2200 B.C., ancient texts suggest that Egypt’s so-called Old Kingdom gave way to a disastrous era of foreign invasions, pestilence, civil war, and famines severe enough to result in cannibalism.
The Roman Empire is considered to have been the most enduring in history. The formal start date of the empire remains the subject of debate, but most historians agree that the clock began ticking in 27 BC, when the Roman politician Octavian overthrew the Roman Republic to become Emperor Augustus.
An old missionary student of China once remarked that Chinese history is “remote, monotonous, obscure, and-worst of all-there is too much of it.” China has the longest continuous history of any country in the world— 3,500 years of written history.
By many accounts, the Republic of San Marino, one of the world’s smallest countries, is also the world’s oldest country. The tiny country that is completely landlocked by Italy was founded on September 3rd in the year 301 BCE.
Ramses II’s long life—he lived between 90 and 96 years —gave him ample opportunity to marry wives and beget children. He had over 200 wives and concubines and over 100 children, many of whom he outlived. His first and perhaps favorite wife was Nefertari, to whom he dedicated one of the temples at Abu Simbel.
The Eighteenth Dynasty spanned the period from 1550/1549 to 1292 BC. This dynasty is also known as the Thutmosid Dynasty for the four pharaohs named Thutmose. Several of Egypt’s most famous pharaohs were from the Eighteenth Dynasty, including Tutankhamun, whose tomb was found by Howard Carter in 1922.
Ancient history covers all continents inhabited by humans in the period 3000 BC – AD 500. The broad term “ancient history” is not to be confused with “classical antiquity”.
In 3,000 B.C.E., Egypt looked similar geographically to the way it looks today. The country was mostly covered by desert. But along the Nile River was a fertile swath that proved — and still proves — a life source for many Egyptians. The Nile is the longest river in the world; it flows northward for nearly 4,200 miles.
For almost 30 centuries —from its unification around 3100 B.C. to its conquest by Alexander the Great in 332 B.C.—ancient Egypt was the preeminent civilization in the Mediterranean world.