About 5500-3000 B.C.
Climatic change about 7,000 years ago turns most of Egyptexcept for along the Nileto desert. Farming begins and communities form along the river, with important population centers at Buto, Naqada, and Hierakonpolis. Egypt remains divided into Upper and Lower (southern and northern) Egypt.
Consolidation of Upper and Lower Egypt and founding of Memphis, the first capital. Calendar and hieroglyphic writing created. Royal necropolis located at Abydos; vast cemeteries at Saqqara and other sites.
|Old Kingdom |
Age of pyramids reaches zenith at Giza; cult of the sun god Re centered at Heliopolis. Cultural flowering; trade with Mediterranean region and brief occupation of Lower Nubia.
|First Intermediate Period |
Political chaos as Egypt splits into two regions with separate dynasties.
|Middle Kingdom |
Reunification by Theban kings. Dynasty XII kings win control of Lower Nubia; royal burials shift north to near Memphis. Major irrigation projects. Classical literary period.
|Second Intermediate Period|
Asiatic Hyksos settlers rule the north, introducing the horse and chariot; Thebans rule the south.
|New Kingdom |
Thebans expel the Hyksos and reunite Egypt. In this "age of empire," warrior kings conquer parts of Syria, Palestine, and Lower Nubia.
|Third Intermediate Period |
Egypt is once again divided. The high priests of Amun control Thebes; ethnic Libyans rule elsewhere.
|Late Period |
Nubians from Kush conquer Egypt; Egypt reunited under Saite dynasty. Persia rules in fifth century B.C. Egypt independent from 404 to 343 B.C.
332 B.C.-A.D. 395
Ptolemies rule after the death of Alexander the Great in 332 B.C. Dramatic growth of population and agricultural output. Roman emperors build many temples, depicting themselves in the Egyptian style.
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Predynastic pottery photograph by Gianni Dagli Orti/Corbis. Narmer Palette, Mentuhotep II, and chariot relief photographs by Archivo Iconografico, S.A./Corbis. Great Pyramid photograph by Carmen Redondo/Corbis. King Tut photograph by Robert Holmes/Corbis. Gold plaque of Psusenne I and bust of Cleopatra by Sandro Vannini/Corbis.