In the period of the 3rd dynasty (c. 2650 – c. 2575 BC), many of the principles of hieroglyphic writing were regularized. From that time on, until the script was supplanted by an early version of Coptic , the system remained virtually unchanged. Even the number of signs used remained constant at about 700 for more than 2000 years. Its classical form is known as Middle Egyptian, the vernacular of the Middle Kingdom of Egypt which remained the literary language of Egypt until the Roman period.
The history of ancient Egypt is full of mystery and insights into the ancient world. Early dynastic contributions to art and literature help us understand how this great civilization rose. And the traces of ancient Nile Valley kingdoms present in modern-day Nubians offer us clues.
Neighboring cultures in the ancient Near East and Mediterranean wrote about its god-like kings and its seemingly endless supply of gold. Historians usually group the history of Ancient Egypt into three major kingdoms called the Old Kingdom, the Middle Kingdom, and the New Kingdom. The 13th dynasty marked the beginning of another unsettled period in Egyptian history, during which a rapid succession of kings failed to consolidate power.
From Ramses II to the glory of Luxor, from the predynastic periods to the middle kingdom and new kingdoms, Egypt continues to hold our interest. While upper and lower Egypt may have given way to modern incarnations, the civilization still holds the knowledge of the ancients. Colossal pyramids, imposing temples, golden treasures, enigmatic hieroglyphs, powerful pharaohs, strange gods, and mysterious mummies are features of Ancient Egyptian culture that have fascinated people over the millennia.
The pharaohs held absolute power and provided a stable central government; the kingdom faced no serious threats from abroad; and successful military campaigns in foreign countries like Nubia and Libya added to its considerable economic prosperity. After the death of the sixth dynasty’s King Pepy II, who ruled for some 94 years, the Old Kingdom period ended in chaos. BC Egyptian priest Manetho grouped the long line of kings from Menes to his own time into 30 dynasties, a system still used today. He began his official history with the king named “Meni” who was believed to have united the two kingdoms of Upper and Lower Egypt.
There was no period in which the gods did not play an integral role in the daily lives of the Egyptians and this is clearly seen from the earliest times in the country’s history. The Early Dynastic Period in Egypt (c. c. 2613 BCE) saw the unification of the north and south kingdoms under the king Menes of Upper Egypt who conquered Lower Egypt in c. This version of the early history comes from the Aegyptica by the ancient historian Manetho who lived in the 3rd century BCE under the Ptolemaic Dynasty ( BCE). Although his chronology has been disputed by later historians, it is still regularly consulted on dynastic succession and the early history of ancient Egypt. During the third and fourth dynasties, Egypt enjoyed a golden age of peace and prosperity.
As a consequence, during the Second Intermediate Period Egypt was divided into several spheres of influence. The official royal court and seat of government was relocated to Thebes, while a rival dynasty , centered on the city of Xois in the Nile delta, seems to have existed at the same time as the 13th. Osiris and his sister-wife Isis were the original monarchs who governed the world and gave the people the gifts of civilization. Osiris’ brother, Set, grew jealous of him and murdered him but he was brought back to life by Isis who then bore his son Horus. Osiris was incomplete, however, and so descended to rule the underworld while Horus, once he had matured, avenged his father and defeated Set. This myth illustrated how order triumphed over chaos and would become a persistent motif in Egyptian religion, mortuary rituals, and religious texts, and art.
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