Tuesday, 14 February 2012
Egypt - the Old Kingdom
The civilisation of ancient Egypt was one of the richest and most powerful of the ancient world. Farmers began living along the banks of the river Nile around 8,000bc. They used the river water to irrigate their fields. Goods and people travelled in boats along the river. If it had not been for the Nile, Egypt would not have existed.
The Land of Egypt
In ancient times Egypt itself was thought to have stretched along the banks of the Nile from the sea at Tanis south to Aswan. This area included the most fertile farming land. The lands south of Aswan were called Nubia, but this area was often ruled by Egypt.
By around 3,500bc rulers had united the Delta into a single kingdom: Lower Egypt. Other kings had united the valley to the south into Upper Egypt. In about 3100bc King Narmer of Upper Egypt conquered Lower Egypt. Narmer was followed by Menes who ruled all Egypt as the first pharaoh.
Dynasties and Kingdoms
The Pharaohs ruled Egypt for more than three thousand years until Egypt was conquered by Rome in 30bc. Historians have divided the pharaohs into 31 dynasties, or families. These are grouped into three kingdoms. The Old Kingdom lasted from 3100bc to 2750bc; the Middle Kingdom from 2025bc to 1627bc; the New Kingdom from 1539bc to 1070bc and the Late Period from 664bc to 30bc. In between were intermediate periods of civil war and chaos.
The First Pyramid
In 2650bc the first pyramid was built at Saqqara as the tomb of Pharaoh Djoser of the 3rd Dynasty. The pyramid was built of stone blocks arranged in a series of steps. The architect was the scribe Imhotep. Later Pharaohs of the Old Kingdom also built pyramids to be their tombs.
The Fall of the Old Kingdom
In about 2246bc Pepi II became pharaoh at the age of 6. He ruled for 94 years, longer than any other pharaoh. During his time the local governors, called nomarchs, began to grow in wealth and power until the pharaoh could not control them. A few years after the death of Pepi II the nomarchs rebelled and civil war engulfed Egypt.
Which was the first pharaoh to be buried in a pyramid?
All pharaohs had three names: a personal name, a religious name and a royal name. Historians are not always certain if different names in the early histories refer to different pharaohs or the same one.
from ACTION FILES - EGYPT by Rupert Matthews