Pyramids Of Pharaohs

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Pyramids of Pharaohs


Until about 3000 B.C.E., Egypt divided into two kingdoms: the northern kingdom, also called Lower Egypt, which included the Nile delta and the land from present-day Cairo to the sea; and the southern kingdom, or Upper Egypt, which covered the area south of Cairo to Aswan. The legendary king Menes unified the two kingdoms and inaugurated the beginning of early Egypt's golden age, or Old Kingdom. This was the time that witnessed the building of the pyramids and the rule of the pharaohs.


This kingdom lasted from 2663 to 2195 B.C.E., and it is most dramatic artistic expression, the pyramids, directly derived from the social and political beliefs that informed Egyptian society. Built with limestone and a complex organization of the workforce, the pyramids are a tribute to the pharaohs' immense power. Such power stemmed from the belief that the pharaohs were divine descendants of the sun god Ra. This belief also supported by closely knit social networks of priests and soldiers that actively worked to support the pharaohs' power. These rulers governed from the strategically located city of Memphis, which allowed them to control both the Lower and the Upper Kingdoms.


Egypt divided into 40 provinces led by governors appointed by the pharaoh. During the Old Kingdom, Egyptians promoted regional trade networks, which included Arabia, Nubia, Lebanon, and Syria. Some of these networks also benefited from maritime trade, and Egyptian records provide the first written testimony of this form of commerce.

Pyramids of Pharaohs

The increasing independence of the provinces from the central government made the Egyptian state weaker and eventually destabilized the rulers of the Old Kingdom. In addition, climate changes led to a substantial diminution in rainfall in Upper Egypt and consequently to scarce harvests and starvation. This caused lasting social unrest and political turmoil, which eventually brought, the Old Kingdom to an end.

The rulers of the Twelfth Dynasty eventually succeeded in quenching the disorders and restored a strong central rule, thus creating the Middle Kingdom (2080-1640 B.C.E.) and moving the capital from Memphis to Thebes. During this era, Egypt extended its influence over Palestine and Nubia, and the cult of Amon-Ra became the chief religious creed. The Middle Kingdom brought to an end by the invasion of the Hyksos, a Semitic population, who established an independent kingdom in the Nile Delta around 1640 B.C.E.

The Hyksos established new trade networks with the Semitic and Indo-European people of the Mediterranean and Mesopotamia and introduced important military innovations such as the use of horse-drawn chariots in battle. Using these military innovations a new dynasty of enterprising pharaohs began a policy of expansion as well as of social and religious reforms. Thanks to its position as the main supplier of gold in the region, Egypt enjoyed a position of dominance and conducted military campaigns in Palestine, Syria along the Euphrates River, and in Nubia.

During the kingdom of Amenophis (1353-33 B.C.E.), is the cult of Amon-Ra replaced with that of Aton, who became the only god, in addition to the ...
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