"The green meadow between two deserts"
The Greek historian Herodotus said: "For the Egyptians, Egypt is a gift from the Nile."
Egypt, the first state known in history, had the longest existence of all the slave states in history. He maintained for 3000 years. In the Antique Egypt there were 3 important periods: the formation and flourish of the Egyptian state; the great conquests: Tuthmes the IIIrd and Ramsess the IInd; the fall of Egypt and the loss of the independence (525 BC).
The formation and flourishing of the Egyptian state
To keep the slaves and the other oppressed categories of people calm, to defend the country and conquer new territories, the slave masters organized the state: the army, justice and religious cult.
For a long time, Egypt was divided in great regions, called nomes, lead by nomarchs. The nomes often fought against them. Between 3500-3200 BC the nomes united, forming 2 states: The Upper Egypt (in the middle Nile Valley) and The Lower Egypt (in the Delta). An age of bloody wars followed and at their end Lower Egypt was conquered by the Upper Egypt. By tradition, Menes united them, proclaiming himself pharaoh. The capital of the state was at Thinis.
The Egyptian state was a slave state. The leader of the state was the pharaoh, who had unlimited power over the subjects. Priests, militaries, functionaries and scribes helped him. This state, where the power was concentrated into the hand of a single man is called a monarchy (moons=one, single; arching= leadership).
The great conquests: Tuthmes the IIIrd and Ramsess the IInd
After a period of powerful internal struggles and foreign invasions, Egypt strengthened. The capital was moved to Thebes (where the cities of Luxury and Karnack are today).
The Egyptian Kingdom reached the peak during the conqueror pharaohs Tuthmes the III rd and Ramsess the II-nd. They assured the internal peace, organized the army and equipped it with new weapons. These pharaohs made great and bloody expeditions in Palestine, Fenicia and Syria, reaching the springs of Euphrates. They appended these territories, subdued them to great taxes, rubbed them without mercy and taken many prisoners, turning them to slaves. During 17 campaigns, Tuthmes conquers the entire Syria-Palestine Coast, crosses the Euphrates and goes deep into Mesopotamia. At his death, Tuthmes had an empire that lied between Nubia and Euphrates.
The fall of Egypt and the loss of the independence (525 BC)
The wars, internal riots and separations between the pharaohs and priests weakened the state, which entered into a long period of decline. He will be conquered step by step by other slave states: ~660 BC by the Assyrians; ~525 BC by the Persians; ~332 BC by Alexander Macedon.
The slave Egyptian state disappeared, but he left the mankind a wealthy cultural inheritance, created by a hardworking and talented people, by great artists and scholars.
The Egyptian Culture
The accomplishments of the ancient Egyptians in writing, literature, science and art represent the Egyptian culture. The development of culture was strongly tied to the economy and politics of the society. The Egyptian culture was strongly influenced by religious ideas.
Writing, literature, science. The Egyptians were among the first people that invented writing. It was one of the most important inventions of man, because it allowed him to leave his thoughts, to send them far away and keep them over the centuries. In the beginning the Egyptian writing was made by signs and pictures that represented things, occupations, aspects of nature. The Greeks called this writing hieroglyphic (holy writing).
The construction of pyramids, palaces, temples, and channels proves that the Egyptians possessed solid knowledge of architecture and geometry. Their custom to the dead means they knew anatomy, chemistry and medicine. Observing the sky and different nature phenomenon made a map of the sky and a calendar.
Art, architecture, sculpture. The monuments characteristic to the old Egyptian architecture are the pyramids. They were destined for the "eternal afterlife" of the pharaoh body after death. They represent the ancient believe of the rising of the soul to the sun, on a beam, from the top of the pyramid.
In front of the pyramid there were temples. These palaces build for the gods impressed everyone who saw them. The most famous temples were the ones of Karnack and Luxor, today in ruin.
Religion: polytheism (poly=more;tios=god), cult of the dead. The most important gods were: Osiris-god of fertility and Isis-his wife
Rich Egyptians conserved the bodies of the dead with different chemicals, they embalmed them, swaddled and put them in the coffins. These bodies are called mummies. Statues and the book of the dead were also put in the graves. Thatís how the cult of the dead was created.
|Influence of Egyptian culture|
The Antique Egypt history is important, because in this country formed , thousands of years ago, a very strong slave state, in which a advanced culture for those times. The ancient Egyptian culture had a high influence over the people on the Mediterranean basin, western Asia and Africa.