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Egyptians

A culture of divine-touched pharaohs, fertile lands, and dreams of immortality. Unparalleled architects and administrators capable of transforming the land.

The Nile Valley and its delta form a fertile area naturally protected from the surrounding stretches of desert. Numerous pharaonic dynasties built an enduring civilization and massive architectural complexes here, the latter remaining some of the tallest in the world up until the mid-19th century.

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Ancient Egyptian civilization is known for its monarchical system under the rule of a pharaoh. Beginning in 3150 BCE, this poltiical structure would last thirty dynasties before collapsing in 30 BCE. Both Egyptian and foreign rulers took up some or all of the pharaonic traditions, symbols, and titles to ensure continuity of rule. The unified kingdom of Upper and Lower Egypt experienced several golden ages in the course of its long history. However, two periods are particularly noteworthy in terms of the scale of their conquests, architectural ambitions, and monuments: The Old Kingdom (2700–2200 BCE) and the New Kingdom (1500–1000 BCE). Both saw the rise of a centralized monarchical system that controlled and exploited the resources of vast territories. The great rulers of these two periods, such as Djoser, Khufu, Thutmose III and Akhenaten, were some of the most powerful in the history of Egypt. Seats of great political power, the sites of the Egyptian Empire’s capital cities still bear the traces of the monumental architectural structures that were erected to represent the power of the pharaohs. To build their tombs, the pharaohs made use of the tremendous resources available to them in terms of raw materials and labor. These dwellings for the afterlife came in many different shapes and styles depending on the period in which they were built: from imposing limestone pyramids to lavishly decorated burial chambers hidden in rock walls.

Did you know?

Although Cleopatra is one of the figures most associated with Ancient Egypt, she is actually descended from a Greek dynasty founded by Ptolemy, who was made ruler of Egypt when Alexander the Great’s Empire was divided up between his generals. Far from being a golden age, her reign marked the end of Egypt as an independent realm.