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Ancient Egypt History

By Will Durant's Volume 1 of "The Story of Civilization"

The Old Kingdom - The Middle Kingdom - The Empire - The Heretic King - The decline and Fall



No one really knows exactly where these early Egyptians came from. Learned guesses incline to the view that they were a cross between Nubian, Ethiopian and Libyan natives on one side and Semitic or Armenoid immigrants on the other;





Ancient Egypt History

Egypt, the Gift of the Nile

Even at that time of history there were no pure races on the this planet.

Probably the invaders or immigrants from Western Asia brought a higher culture with them, and their intermarriage with the vigorous native stocks provided that ethnic blend which is often the prelude to a new civilization.

Slowly, from 4000 to 3000 B.C., these mingling groups became a people, and created the ancient Egypt history.



Begin Your Journey By Visiting:

Prehistoric Egypt Page
Since the radicals of one age are the reactionaries of the next, it was not to be expected that the men who created Egyptology should be the first to accept as authentic the remains of Egypt's Old Stone Age; after forty les savants ne sont pas curieux.


The Old Kingdom

The Pyramid Buidlers, The purpose of the Pyramids, Mummification


The Pyramid Builders of Ancient Egypt
Already, by 4000 B.C., these peoples of the Egypt had created a form of government. The population along the river was divided into "nomes," in each of which the inhabitants were essentially of one stock, acknowledged the same totem, obeyed the same chief, and worshiped the same gods by the same rites.

The purpose of the Pyramids of Egypt
Why did these people build the Pyramids? Their purpose was not architectural but religious; the pyramids were tombs, lineally descended from the most primitive of burial mounds.

The Art of the Tombs and Mumification
Herodotus describes the Egyptian embalmer's art: "First they draw out the brains through the nostrils with an iron hook, raking part of it out in this manner, the rest by the infusion of drugs."



The Middle Kingdom

The Feudal Age — The Twelfth Dynasty — The Hyksos Domination


The Feudal Age - The Twelfth Dynasty and The Hyksos Domination
Kings were never so plentiful as in Ancient Egypt History. History lumps them into dynasties, monarchs of one line or family; but even then they burden the memory intolerably.

One of these early Middle Kingdom Pharaohs, Pepi II, ruled Egypt for ninety-four years (2738-2644 B.C.) the longest reign in history. When he died anarchy and dissolution ensued, the Pharaohs lost control, and feudal barons ruled the nomes independently.





The Empire

The Great Queen Hatshepsut — Thutmose III — The Zenith of Egypt Civilisation


Queen Hatshepsut of Egypt
At the end of his thirty years reign(Thutmose I) he raised his daughter Hatshepsut to partnership with him on the throne.

Thutmose III The Great Pharaoh of Egypt
For twenty-two years Queen Hatshepsut ruled in wisdom and peace. Thutmose III followed with a reign of many wars. Syria took advantage of Hatshepsut's death to revolt; it did not seem likely to the Syrians that Thutmose, a lad of twenty-two, would be able to maintain the empire created by his father.

The Zenith of Egypt
After Thutmose III came another conqueror, Amenhotep II. Subdued again certain idolaters of liberty in Syria, and returned to Thebes with seven captive kings, still alive, hanging head downward from the prow of the imperial galley; six of them he sacrificed to Amon with his own hand.





The Heretic King

The Character of Ikhnaton — A Hymn to the Sun — Monotheism — The Death of Ikhnaton


The character of Ikhnaton and the New Religion
In the year 1380 B.C. Amenhotep III, who had succeeded Thutmose III, died after a life of wordly luxury and display, and was followed by his son Amenhotep IV, destined to be known as Ikhnaton.

A hymn to the sun and IKhnaton Songs to Aton
We cannot tell whether Ikhnaton had adopted his theory from Syria, and whether Aton was merely a form of Adonis. Of whatever origin, the new god filled the king's soul with delight; he changed his own name from Amenhotep, which contained the name of Amon, to Ikhnaton, meaning "Aton is satisfied"; and helping himself with old hymns, and certain monotheistic poems published in the preceding reign.

Monotheism, The New Religion
Ikhnaton conceives his god Aton as belonging to all nations equally, and even names other countries before his own as in Aton's care. This was an astonishing advance upon the old tribal gods of Ancient Egypt History.

Weakening the Empire and the Death of Ikhnaton
Had Ikhnaton been a mature mind he would have realized that the change which he had proposed from a superstitious polytheism deeply rooted in the needs and habits of the people...



Decline and Fall of the Egyptian Empire

"Tutenkhamon — the Romantic Rameses II — The Conquest of Egypt — Egyptian Contributions"


King Tutankhamun
Two years after Ikhnaton death his son-in-law, Tutankhamun, a favorite of the priests, ascended the throne. He changed the name Tutenkhaton which his father-in-law had given him to Tutankhamun, returned the capital to Thebes, made his peace with the powers of the Church, and announced to a rejoicing people the restoration of the ancient gods.

the romantic Rameses II
After Seti I, the romantic Rameses II, last of the great Pharaohs in Ancient Ehypt History, mounted the throne. Seldom has history known so picturesque a monarch. Handsome and brave, he added to his charms by his boyish consciousness of them; and his exploits in war, which he never tired of recording, were equaled only by his achievements in love.

The Conquest of Egypt and the End of the Empire
The Empire of Ancient Egypt History became a stagnant theocracy in which architecture and superstition flourished, and every other element in the national life decayed.

Summary of Egypt Contribution to Civilization
Nevertheless the sands have destroyed only the body of ancient Egypt; its spirit survives in the lore and memory of our race. The civilization of Egypt passed down to become part of the cultural heritage of mankind.


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