Traces of early man were found in Egypt dating back as early asyears ago. Egypt and ancient Canaan to the north probably served as the bridges by which successive waves of humans: Ancient Egyptians used a phonetic-pictograph writing called hieroglyphics by the Ancient Greeks.
This system evolved from portrayal of pictures of objects to using stylized representation of objects to represent sound combinations and compose words, to a phonetic alphabet much like our own. Ancient Egypt boasted considerable achievements in art, medicine, astronomy and literature, and was the hub of civilization in much of the Near East and North Africa. The unique history of ancient Egypt and visible monuments to that history helped Egyptians to preserve a distinct national consciousness, and to remain a separate entity during the years of Arab, Mameluke and Ottoman conquest.
Mummy Until the conversion to Christianity, Egyptian polytheistic religion centered around the after life. Pharaohs and rich Egyptians built elaborate tombs in caves or in Pyramids, decorated with elaborate art on the interior and containing jewelry and objects that would be needed in the after-life, and in some cases servants and slaves who were interred with their master.
The walls of pyramids were decorated with elaborate stylized frescos such as the one at right, in which noble persons were shown as larger than slaves, and subjects were drawn in profile. In other periods, all subjects were shown in frontal view only. The king or noble person had his or her body embalmed, wrapped in linen, and enclosed in an elaborate carved coffin as a mummy. The ancient Greek historian Herodotus wrote that Egypt is the gift of the Nile, meaning that it flourished on the top soil that was formed from silt brought by the recurrent floods of the Nile.
Indeed, Egypt is the gift of the Nile, and it was founded and developed around that river, for there is no rain in Egypt.
The Ancient Egyptians developed an elaborate irrigation system to distribute the waters of the Nile, and convert their arid land into the breadbasket of the Near East. Egypt was divided into a "lower" kingdom in the north of the Nile, and a southern kingdom that extended into modern Sudan Nubia. Egyptian history to the time of the Arab conquest is organized into several dynasties and periods.
The ancient periods are dated differently by different authors, and the numbering of dynasties is somewhat controversial. In what follows, we shall attempt to telescope years of history into a relatively brief account.
Map of Ancient Egypt Predynastic Period - BC, includes Naqada and other sites excavated by Flinders Petrie and others, who found objects like the one at right, indicative of a highly developed civilization. The emblem of Hor'aha is shown at right.
This was the period of great pyramid building, beginning with the Pharaoh Djoser, who built the step pyramid. The pyramid tombs rapidly evolved into much more sophisticated structures built by Senefru Khufu CheopsMenkaure and others and visible today at Giza and elsewhere.
A period of great confusion when numerous Pharaohs reigned in succession. Mentuohotep I succeeded in reuniting the kingdom. The Pharoahs of the 12th dynasty all built pyramids, evidence of relative prosperity.
There were simultaneous rulers at Memphis and Thebes, and the Hyksos, an invading, possibly Semitic people who had domesticated horses, apparently ruled Egypt at this time. The New Kingdom BC - 18th - 20th Dynasty - The New Kingdom represents the high tide of Egyptian history and empire, and the historical record is fairly complete, including wonderfully preserved mummies of most of the rulers.
The map at right shows the disposition of troops and the possible routes. Thutmose ignored advice to take circuitous southern or northern routes and attacked through the direct Aruna route.
He attempted to suppress the ancient religion of Egypt and to institute a monotheistic worship of the Sun God. He ruled for about 15 years from his capital at Amarna. Akhnaton largely neglected the tasks of empire, and Egyptian fortunes suffered accordingly. After he died or was killed, he was replaced by his queen, Nefertiti. After Akhnaton, the old gods were reinstated and most traces of sun worship were obliterated.
Aknaton, Nefertiti and Sun God Ramses II ruled from to BC and is known for his prodigious building projects, which raised temples, statues and other monuments throughout Egypt.
He fought the battle of Qadesh Kadesh with the Hittites about and signed the first Peace Treaty to be recorded in history with the Hittites, in He is thought to be the Pharoah of the biblical Exodus story who built cities such as pi-Ramses as recorded in the Old Testament, using a conscripted labor system. When the Aswan high dam was built, it created a lake that would have flooded Abu Simbel under water forever.
A prodigious engineering project sponsored by Unesco saved the temple by moving it to high ground and reconstructing it. The Pharoah Sheshonq who tried to besiege or aid Jerusalem and was carried off as a captive apparently, was one of the most important rulers of this period. Alexander conquered Egypt in the autumn of BC.
He founded Alexandria in BC and it became a major center of civilization and trade in the Hellenistic ancient world. The Ptolemy dynasty succeeded Alexander. The Ptolemies apparently founded the custom of marrying their sisters and ruling jointly with them as king and queen.
Augustus annexed Egypt as a province of the Roman empire and it was ruled by the Romans until AD. During the Roman period, Christianity came to Egypt. The Egyptian branch of the Christian church, known as Coptic, is one of the oldest in the world. During Roman times Egypt apparently prospered at times, but was burdened by heavy Roman taxation. In particular, Egypt, together with North Africa, supplied a large portion of the grain of the Roman Empire, including the grain given out free to citizens on the dole in Rome.
Al-Mukaukis communicated with 'Amr and asked him for peace and a truce for a time; but 'Amr refused. Al-Mukaukis then ordered that the women stand on the wall with their faces turned towards the city, and that the men stand armed, with their faces towards the Moslems, thus hoping to scare them.
It was not by mere numbers that we conquered those we have conquered. We have met your king Heraclius, and there befell him what has befallen him. They have chased our king from his kingdom as far as Constantinople. It is much more preferable, therefore, that we submit. The Moslems fought fiercely against them and invested them for three months.
At last, 'Amr reduced the city by the sword and plundered all that was in it, sparing its inhabitants of whom none was killed or taken captive. He reduced them to the position of dhimmis like the people of Alyunah.
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He communicated the news of the victory to 'Umar through Mu'awiyah ibn-Hudaij al-Kindi later as-Sakuni and sent with him the fifth. Salah Eddin is famous for driving the crusaders out of Palestine, concluding treaties with them that were eventually broken. He and his successors fought against the crusaders until their expulsion. The Mamelukes - The last Ayubbid ruler died in battle against the Crusaders in The Mamelukes, a slave caste imported into Egypt, took the opportunity to seize power and ruled in Egypt, Palestine and Syria for several hundred years, fighting and defeating the Mongols and preventing them from entering the Middle East.
Baybars then proceded to kill the reigning Sultan and become Sultan in his place. The Mamelukes were a feudal-slave society. Children and wives did not usually inherit and so many Mamelukes passed into Egyptian society. Two groups of Mamelukes, the Bahri and the Burgi named after the location of their barracks ruled Egypt in succession untilwhen their reign ended with the Ottoman conquest of Egypt under Sultan Selim.
Ottoman Rule - The Ottoman Turks conquered Egypt inand inaugurated a long but mostly undistinguished period in Egyptian history. The Ottomans ruled through a mixture of Janissary and Mameluke soldiers. Copts and Jews found a place in Egypt as merchants and intellectuals, clerks and civil servants. Ottoman rule deteriorated considerably in the 18th century.
InEgypt revolted against the Ottomans and achieved a semi-independent status within the Ottoman empire. However, conditions did not improve. According to some historians, a laborer earned about one-seventh of a piaster per day.
The leading Mameluke, Murad Bey, took in fifteen hundred piasters daily for expenses. Coptic villages in Upper Egypt refused to pay their taxes, and in the anarchy of the time, apparently no one tried to collect from them. Napoleon - The arrival of Napoleon Bonaparte to Egypt on July 2ndinitiated a new phase in Egypt's history and in the history of the Middle East, shocking the Egyptians and the Ottoman Turks out of their complacency.
The Egyptians were hitherto totally uninformed about European culture and technical achievements. Murad Bey sent a poorly equipped and poorly trained force to meet the Napoleonic army of 40, After being roundly defeated, he left Cairo in haste and ordered the city to be burnt. Napoleon brought with him a number of scientists who made a complete encyclopedic survey of Egypt, known as "Description de l'Egypte". The expedition contributed significantly to the study of ancient Egyptian history through the discovery of the Rosetta Stone and the consequent deciphering of Hieroglyphics.
The Napoleonic invasion caused a drastic revision in the thinking of Egyptian and Ottoman rulers, who finally understood the industrial and technical superiority of the West, and some of its implications. French technology, military techniques and culture were adopted as models, and French instructors were imported to train modern armies.
However, the reform was not thorough. Weapons were imported, but the means of achieving an independent industrial capability were not imported.
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The printing press was not introduced until very late and literacy was low. It was inevitable that these poor societies, including Egypt, would bankrupt themselves trying to pay for the imported Western industrial goods.
Mohamed Ali - After the French were defeated by the British, Mohamad Ali, who was an officer in the Ottoman Army, rose to power with the support of the Egyptian people.
His rule extended from to was an eventful period in Egypt's modern history.
He is regarded as the father of modern Egypt who set the country on the march towards modernization. He was an efficient ruler and was able to supplant the Ottoman Turks in Palestine, and withdrew only when forced to do so by the British.
Khedive Ismaila member of Mohamad Ali's dynasty, rose to power in If Mohamad Ali had started the process of modernization, it was Ismail who completed it. He had boundless ambitions to bring Egypt up to the same level of culture, civilization and development which was enjoyed by most nations of Europe. The Canal was built by a British and French company, and was vital to the maintenance of the British Empire in India, as well as to Western trade.
Unfortunately, Ismail and other Khedives overspent, and Egypt very nearly went bankrupt. They were forced to allow Great Britain and France an increasing role in their government in order to protect the investments made by those countries in Egypt. At the same time, the Khedives requested the intervention of the British, or were induced to request their intervention, to protect their rule in the south of Egypt and Sudan.
The British were extremely unpopular because they banned the lucrative slave trade. The Mahdi The Mahdi and the British Occupation - A very gifted renegade and religious fanatic, Mohammed Ahmed-Ibn-el-Sayed, proclaimed himself to be the Mahdi, or 12th Caliph Muslim equivalent of Messiah in some beliefs and routed Egyptian and British forces sent to put down his rebellion.
Inafter a long siege, he defeated and beheaded General Gordon, who had been sent with an inadequate force of 7, to oversee the safe evacuation of British troops. The Mahdi died in the following year of an illness, and Kitchener successfully pacified the Sudan.
Egypt became a British protectorate untilwith British troops guarding the Suez canal and other vital British interest. Mustafa Kamel, Sa'ad Zaghloul, Mustafa El Nahas and many others were prominent figures who strove to achieve two national objectives; independence and constitutional reform.
After repeated riots and unrest, the British formally terminated the protectorate and declared Egypt independent. Inthe first Constitution was promulgated and Sa'ad Zaghloul formed the first representative government of Egypt. However, British troops continued to guard the Suez Canal. Sign up, click the link in the confirmation email, and you're ready to go! Use our search tool to find the perfect match nearest you to hook up with! Come see; getting laid has never been easier!
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