The prehistory of Egypt is linked not only to the Nile
but also to the whole of northeastern Africa. Changes in the
course of the Nile and of temperature and precipitation,
especially at the end of the Pleistocene, resulted in drying
of varying degrees, from the highlands of eastern Africa to
upper Egypt, with consequences in the form of significant
differences in the Nile floods in central and lower Egypt.
The earliest finds from the production of stone
implements in Egypt come partly from finds collections in
disturbed stock sequences on the Nile River terraces, partly
from undated quarries and manufacturing sites found in situ
near Wadi Halfa and probably from the acheulé. See abbreviationfinder for geography, history, society, politics, and economy of Egypt. Utility
complexes from the later levalloisia-mustache tradition have
been found upstream of Luxor. Downstream, tools from the
Middle Paleolithic must have been found along with bones of
wild beasts; The findings show kinship with the Athenian
culture in Southern Sahara. Finds of later implements, e.g.
at Khour Mousa, dated to about 37,000 BC, encompasses
chip-based complexes similar to those of the Daban culture.
These are followed by a number of distinct gear complexes
from the period 15,000–10,000 years ago and indicate more
diversified nutritional traps than before, among other
In the Nile Valley, pollen analyzes from Esna indicate
that some crops such as wild grains may have taken place
some 12,000 years ago. Livestock was probably domesticated
in North Africa (Sahara) about 9,000 years ago, from where
livestock management later spread to the Nile Valley.
Remains of round huts with stone foundation indicate that a
more settled life began 9,000 years ago in the Dakleh oasis.
About 8,000 years ago barley was grown and livestock
management in Nabta Playa, today desert. The settlement
consisted of house rows and storage pits. contained wild
sorghum and millet. An increasing number of bones of sheep
are found in 7,000 year old bargains. At the same time,
pottery appears in Nubia and has been found in both Upper
and Middle Egypt, eg. in the Badare region. About 6,000
years ago, Fayyum and the delta area were populated by small
peasant groups living in oval huts in settlements of up to
18 ha, e.g. Merimda Beni Salama. Barley, bucket and flax
were grown and the domesticated animals included cattle,
goats, pigs and donkeys.
About 6,000 years ago, upper and middle Egypt began to
develop a cultural phase, Nagada I, which was characterized
by expanded village development, population growth and
changed social organization. is reflected in funeral
customs. About 5,600 years ago, smaller cities emerged, e.g.
Hierakonpolis, Naqada and This. At the same time, changes in
religion took place. Regional states were established and
followed 5,000 years ago (ie, about 3000 BC) by the first
united state in Egypt.
Ancient Egypt lacks its own real history writing; the
first coherent account was made by Herodotus in the 14th
century BC The division of the Pharaohs' time into dynasties
(see table) was made about 280 BC. by the priest Manetho,
based on preserved lengths of the cave; Consequently, a very
varied source material must be used in the preparation of
the country's history.
Dynasties and important Pharaohs
|Archaic period (ca. 3000-2700 BC)
||Narmer, "Scorpio", Aha, Khasekhemwy
|The Old Kingdom (ca. 2700–2270 BC)
||Sneferu, Cheops, Chefren, Mykerinos
||Userkaf, Sahure, Neuserre, Unas
||Teti, Pepi, Pepi II
|First intermediate period (ca.
|The Middle Kingdom (c. 2040–1675 BC)
||Mentuhotep I – III
||Amenity I, Sesostris I, Amenemeth II, Sesostris
Sesostris III, Amenemeth III, Amenemeth IV
|Second Intermediate Period (ca.
||Partial Hyksos reign: Khian, Apopis
|The New Kingdom (c. 1575–1087 BC)
||Ahmose, Amenhotep I, Thutmosis I, Thutmosis II,
Thutmosis III, Amenhotep II, Thutmosis IV, Amenhotep
Akhenaton (= Amenhotep IV), Smenkhare, Tutankhamun,
||Ramses I, Sethos I, Ramses II, Merenptah
||Sethnakht, Ramses III, Ramses IV-XI
|Third Intermediate Period (1087–663
||Smendes, priest kings of Thebe: Herihor
||Libyan Pharaohs: Sheshonk I, Osorkon II
||Nubian Pharaohs: Pianchi, Shabaka, Taharka
|The Late Times (663–343 BC)
||Psammetichos I, Necho, Psammetichos II, Apries,
||Persian great kings as pharaohs: Cambyses,
Xerxes, Artaxerxes, Dareios II
||Nektanebos I – II
|Ptolemy (305-30 BC)
||Ptolemy I – XV, Cleopatra VII
|Roman times (30 BC – 395 AD)
|Byzantine (East Roman) Time
Archaic Age (Dynasty 1–2, ca. 3000–2700 BC)
The geographical space of Pharaonic Egypt was the Nile
Valley north of the first cataract of Assuan and Delta. The
archaic kingdom meant a consolidation of the cultural
uniqueness developed during the Naqada cultures. With the
dominion over Lower and Upper Egypt followed the central,
administrative recovery of the country's natural resources,
the regulation of the Nile's annual floods, the opening of
quarries and mines (copper and gold) and the organization of
the country's labor force. Scripture was introduced to serve
the administration, and in architecture and art new forms of
language were created to express the needs of power and
Menes, the first pharaoh (the same as king), was for
later Egyptians a legendary cultural hero, though his
historical existence is questionable. The items that may
best express the history of early Egypt are the ceremonial
makeup palettes and club heads, which tell in relief about
the national unification. Kings like Narmer, "Scorpio" and
Aha in the 1st Dynasty emerge as foreground figures. They
ruled under the patronage of Horus the god, by which the
king was divine; world ruler, however, was the sun god Re.
The two regions included two residences, Abydos and
Memphis (Saqqara). The early kingdom had trade contacts with
Sinai (copper mining), Palestine, Syria (timber) and Nubia
(gold) south of the first cataract. During the 2nd dynasty
the center of gravity came to the north, where the kings'
tombs lay. Towards the end of the dynasty, increasing use of
stone in architecture and art led to a first monumentality.
Old Kingdom (Dynasty 3–6, ca. 2700–2270 BC)
Often the dynasties came to change through mediation on
the female side, which through inheritance law passed the
line. Then the 3rd dynasty's greatest pharaoh Djoser came to
power. With him began a new era; he "opened the stone".
Djoser's burial ground in Saqqara became the first truly
monumental with an approximately 60 m high staircase pyramid
in the center. The surrounding private tombs give us
information about the growing administration, often
consisting of royal relatives. Religious and profane offices
were often combined; Djoser's "vesir", Imhotep, was a
prominent example of this. Some more insignificant kings
followed after Djoser, of whom Huni had built a fortress on
the island of Elefantine at the southern border of the
During the 4th Dynasty, rural Egypt reached its prime
flowering. There were no real wars, as organized opponents
were missing, but the army carried out expeditions against
Libyans and Nubians, and the trade relations by sea with
Syria (Byblos) were also maintained. Egypt was not a
distinct slave society; the great efforts that the pyramid
builds entailed, first at Dahshur with the Snofrus pyramids
and then at Giza with Cheops, the Heads of the Chief and
Mykerino, may be regarded primarily as religiously founded
works. The population lined up during the flood of the Nile,
when farm work was largely down.
Such investments, and also other administration, required
extensive administration, which now became an independent
power factor. In addition, the religious sphere of power
grew, which became apparent in the king's ever greater
dependence on the sun god (named "Res son"). The end of the
Old Kingdom was characterized by a refined culture; art and
literature experienced a glamorous period, while
restructuring in society took place. The royal power was
weakened, religious institutions gained more power, e.g. Re
in Heliopolis, and large sun temples were built at Abusir.
The civil service bureaucracy prospered, but power spread to
several local centers; the county chiefs could no longer be
controlled by the king. They established local dynasties,
with their own residences, courts and tombs.
Among the new groups in the community, craftsmen, priests
and civil servants at the local courts, there was the need
for urbanization and the breeding ground for new religious
tendencies. The Osirian cult grew, which is also reflected
in the royal inscriptions, mainly the so-called pyramid
texts in the kings' tombs from the end of the 5th dynasty.
We know the names of all kings but know little about
individual historical events. The state trade, associated
with looting trains, continued, and the first Red Sea
expeditions to Punt (probably on the Somali coast) were
made. Teti, the creator of the 6th dynasty, marries a royal
daughter of the 5th dynasty. Pepi II, the last of the
family, reigned 94 years.
First Intermediate Period (Dynasty 7-10, c. 2270-2040
During the 7th-8th dynasties a large number of kings
appeared; however, real power had passed to the county
chiefs, who gradually expanded their domains. During the
9th-10th dynasties, Herakleopolis in the middle and Thebes
in southern Egypt were the most important centers. A century
of internal strife ended with Thebes victory and the
establishment of the new Egypt.
Middle Kingdom (Dynasty 11–13, c. 2040–1675 BC)
Pharaoh Mentuhotep I was the portal figure, during whose
51-year reign the newly unified Egypt was fortified from the
Thebe residence. During the 11th and 12th dynasties, the
country's foreign relations came to flourish like never
before. The gold assets in Nubia, which were increasingly
coming under Egyptian control, were the country's commercial
political strength. 11th Dynasty's last ruler Mentuhotep III
fell victim to a coup d'état. Vesir Amenemhet seized power
and began the 12th Dynasty. Thus the royal ideology was
renewed; it was no longer based on the innate divinity of
the ruler but on his power of deeds.
Amenemhood justified itself by referring to its war
happiness and charity. He initiated a firm colonial policy
against Nubia, which was continued by his son and successor
Sesostris I. The borders were strengthened; the fortress in
Buhen in Nubia was a big company, as were the border
garrisons against the Asian and Libyan Bedouins. The
residence was moved to the Memphis area, where the kings
also built their graves (mainly at al-Lisht), some of the
last pyramid buildings. With the exception of minor
conflicts in Nubia and Palestine, the country was marked by
peace and prosperity, exemplified by the cultivation of the
Fayyumoa, a very significant achievement.
The king's power was greatly strengthened during
Sesostris III, which broke the power of the county chiefs.
After Amenemhet IV, for the first time, a woman came to the
throne, Sobeknofrure. The 13th dynasty constituted a
perpetually rich period, a continuation of the cultural
prosperity of the 12th dynasty, but the many short reigns
could not assert the country's integrity. Control over Nubia
was lost, and in the north Asians gained a foothold.
Second Intermediate Period (Dynasty 14-17, c. 1675-1575
A lateral dynasty, the 14th, was founded in the Western
Delta. The Pharaohs of the 13th Dynasty were confined to
Upper Egypt. Asian ethnic groups formed the so-called
hyksos ("the rulers of the foreign countries"). These
created their own dynasties in Avaris (15th-16th) and
claimed all of Egypt.
Some powerful Hyksos kings like Chian and Apopi
successfully claimed themselves as Pharaohs and resumed,
among other things. trade with Nubia, which detached itself
from Egyptian control. With the hyksos, the horse, the
chariot and the compound bow came to Egypt. At the same
time, the Theban 17th Dynasty claimed the Pharaoh title.
Seekenrere Taa II rebelled against Apopi but was killed.
Kamose's son continued and managed to defeat Hyksos. Brother
Ahmose ended the fight and began the 18th dynasty.
New Kingdom (Dynasty 18–20, c. 1575–1087 BC)
Ahmose reached southern Palestine and returned to Nubia
as a province, now with his own deputy king. An
administration without county princes was built, Thebe
became the capital and religious center. The son Amenhotep I
was a great builder and founder of the Theban Tomb, whose
patron he became.
From a sideline came the successor Thutmosis (Thothmes)
I, who placed the military center of gravity on Memphis. He
conquered and fortified southern Nubia. To the east,
Thutmosis reached as far as the Euphrates, where he
confronted the mighty Mitannic kingdom. He was the first to
be buried in the Valley of the Kings in Thebes.
The son of Thutmosis II was married to his half-sister
Hatschepsut. A son of Thutmosis II with a side goal became
as minor Pharaoh Thutmosis III; Hatschepsut, however, took
power himself. During her 20-year reign there was mainly
peace; trade was extensive, from Punt to Crete. After her
death, Thutmosis III erased the memory of her efforts and
took the place himself as a legitimate ruler.
During a long reign, he emerged as the great warlord,
trustee and organizer. Mitanni with allies threatened Egypt,
prompting 17 campaigners to secure Egypt's supremacy in
Palestine and Syria; at Megiddo and Kadesh there were
significant battles. Egypt became a great power that ruled
the Ancient Orient and Nubia, now with the southern border
at the fourth cataract. The kingdom was inherited by the son
Amenhotep II. During Thutmosis IV, peace was achieved with
Mitanni, threatened from the north by the Hittites. Egypt's
rule was maintained during Amenhotep III through gold
deliveries to the Asian princes. During his time, the
Hittites began to become a threat to Egypt.
The royal power was continually weakened during the 18th
dynasty through Amun's priesthood, which managed large land
estates donated to the shrine in Karnak. The ideological
contradiction between the conquest policy of the kings and
the priests' claim to power culminated under Amenhotep IV.
He proclaimed the Sun album Aton as the only god, founded a
new capital (Akhetaton) at Amarna, and erected a few years
of Aton temples all over Egypt at the expense of other gods'
monuments, especially Amuns. Foreign policy was neglected
and the Asian provinces were partially dissolved, but the
danger to Egypt was not imminent because Mitanni played its
role as a great power.
Akhenaton (Echnaton), named after Amenhotep IV after his
religious revolution, was succeeded by his son-in-law
Tutankhamun. A religious restoration was carried out and the
country returned to old order. After Tutankhamun, the chief
Eje took the role of Pharaoh, supported by General Horemheb,
who in turn succeeded Eje. Horemheb moved the residence to
Memphis and secured the garrisons in Syria and Nubia. With
him ended the 18th dynasty.
During Horemheb, an officer and vesir named Paramessu
served. Like Ramses I, he initiated a new dynasty. The son
of Sethos I reaffirmed Egypt's empire in Palestine, Lebanon
and Syria. His son Ramses II reigned for 66 years. Ramses'
war against the Hittites was, despite large-scale,
traditional-style victory reports on temple reliefs and
inscriptions, lost. The Great Battle of Kadesh in 1285
largely ended in a draw, and the relationship with the
Hittites was settled in a peace treaty in 1270.
The religious capital was still Thebe, where both Sethos
I and Ramses II were responsible for the largest buildings
since the time of the pyramids, especially in the Karnak
Temple. In Nubia, Ramses II had the temple cut out at Abu
Simbel. Pharaoh was now considered equal to the gods Amun,
Re-Harakhte and Ptah and enjoyed special cult. In the delta
(at Qantir) lay the residence, at which it is believed that
Israel's captive population worked.
During Ramses II 's successor Merenptah, the first
attacks came from the so-called seafarers, while the
Hittites no longer posed any threat. The dynasty was
dissolved during internal battles.
The origin of the 20th dynasty is unknown. Pharaoh
Sethnakht ruled only a few years, while his son Ramses III
was the last great ruler of the New Kingdom. In 1180 and
1174 he won against the Libyans, 1177 against the seafarers.
Egypt, however, was domestically in administrative and
economic decay and could no longer assert itself as a trade
political power. New factors came into play, including the
lack of own iron production at a time when iron was the most
important metal in the international market.
Ramses III was responsible for very large construction
works, among others. the tomb temple in Thebe (Madinat
Habu), which was also a palace and fortress. He was murdered
by a conspiracy in 1153. During a long line of kings by the
name of Ramses (IV - XI), Egypt went to dissolution, and
local civil war broke out.
Third Intermediate Period (Dynasty 21–25, 1087–663 BC)
In Delta the real power was held by Smendes, founder of
the 21st dynasty, while Amun's high priest in Thebe,
Herihor, founded a "god state" which, however, recognized
Smendes; the two ruling groups maintained a good
In Tanis, the kings of the 21st dynasty had their
residence and their graves. Many Libyan rulers in the Delta
had real power that the kings could not overlook, and
Libyans from Bubastis emerged as Pharaohs of the 22nd
Dynasty with Tanis as residence and tomb. Scheschonk I
(945–924) was recognized by the Theban “god state,” and a
son of him was made high priest there, which was put in the
system by subsequent Libyan pharaohs. The royal house,
however, came to be dissolved and divided into two branches.
The 23rd and 24th dynasties consisted of rulers with little
In the 7th century, the Cushitic kingdom at the Nile's
fourth cataract prevailed. With the capital Napata as the
center, the black rulers there had created a kingdom with a
pharaonic mark, they were worshipers of Amun and built tombs
in pyramid form. Their prince Kashta gained some recognition
in Egypt. His son Pianchi occupied Thebe and subdued Memphis
and participated, where the Libyan princes recognized him.
The successors Shabaka and Taharka were responsible for
great construction, especially in Thebe.
In 671, the Assyrian king Assarhaddon attacked Egypt and
captured Memphis. Two years later, the Assyrians returned,
partially aided by Delta chiefs, but Taharka succeeded in
regaining Memphis. In the year 667, however, Egypt was
conquered by Assurbanipal, who inaugurated the sound king
Necho in Sais. Taharka died in 664, and Necho's son
Psammetichos I (664-610) pursued the Cushites, who, however,
still had influence in southern Egypt for some years.
Late times (dynasties 26-30, 663–343 BC)
The Saitian 26th Dynasty, with Psammetichos I as founder,
ruled all over Egypt with Memphis as its capital. Time
became a renaissance for the ancient pharaonic ideals, both
ideologically and artistically. Egypt's foreign policy
supported Assyria in the fight against Babylon.
Necho II won supremacy over territories in Asia but lost
them to Nebuchadnezzar. Psammetichos II eliminated the
danger of the Cushites by marching towards Napata, after
which they moved further south to a new seat, Meroe. Pharaoh
Apries joined the covenant of Judah King Zedekia and
Phoenician princes against Nebuchadnezzar. After mutiny in
the army, General Amasis became Pharaoh in 570. He and his
son Psammetichos III are included in the 26th dynasty.
Foreign relations showed new combinations; Greece became
important politically and the Naukratis colony was founded
in the Western Delta. Persia now became a great power
against which Egypt was in alliance with Lydia, Babylon and
Sparta. Under Cambysian leadership, the Persians attacked
Egypt in 525. Amasis had just died, and Psammetichos III was
Egypt during the 27th dynasty was a Persian satrapi. When
Dareios II died in 404, a Libyan prince expelled the
Persians. The 28th-30th dynasties ended Pharaonic Egypt. The
last pharaoh, Nektanebos II, fled to Nubia when the Persians
returned 343 during Artaxerxes III Ochos. Some, however,
count the time until 332, when Alexander the Great conquered
Egypt, as the 31st dynasty.
Ptolemy (305-30 BC)
When Alexander's kingdom was dissolved, Egypt was taken
over by General Ptolemy, who became king in 305. From that
time, Egypt's history is associated with Greek and later
Roman and Byzantine history.
Ptolemy and his successors adapted to traditional royal
ideology and iconography. The gods of Egypt continued to
play a major role, especially Isis and Osiris as well as
theological innovation Serapis. Large temples belonging to
Egypt's best preserved monuments (including in Dandara, Idfu
and File) were erected under the Ptolemaic kings.
With Alexandria came a metropolis that was of great
importance to science and culture. A number of Greek
societies emerged, which, with their theaters, colleges,
etc., constituted a whole new cultural element in the
Pharaonic kingdom. Greek became the administrative language.
During the first Ptolemaic century, strong attempts were
made to maintain dominion even in Syria and Asia Minor
during conflicts with the keleukid kingdoms. Syria and Judea
lapsed around 200 BC, Kyrene 98 and Cyprus 58 BC In the
period after 200, the country was characterized by mutual
quarrels, both within the royal house and locally. The
Ptolemaic period ended when Cleopatra VII took his life when
Octavian conquered Alexandria in 30 AD.
Roman and Byzantine times (30 BC – 640 AD)
Egypt became the Roman emperor's own province. The royal
ideology remained intact and temple construction continued.
Alexandria continued to be of great importance, while the
rest of the country was depleted. Egypt became Rome's
largest supplier of cereals and was an important link in the
international route between India and Rome.
Greeks and Jews made their mark on Alexandria, and many
unrest was caused by their power struggle. Egypt adopted
Christianity very early, and the country became a hearth for
many different theological schools. The first monasteries
originated in Egypt, i.a. through Pachomios (dead 346) and
Schenute (dead 466).
The Christian Coptic culture gained a distinctive
character, since Egypt along with some other Eastern
churches went their own way at the church meeting in
Chalcedon 451. By then the Pharaonic temples had long since
been closed or transformed into churches. In the sixth
century, Egypt was conquered by the Persians during Khosru
II, but these were expelled in 626 by the Byzantine emperor
Herakleios. After 640, however, Egypt was definitely
incorporated into the Arab world.
Period 640–1798: The Middle Ages of Egypt.
During the Great Islamic Conquest after Muhammad's death
(632), General Amr ibn al-As, at the head of a few thousand
Arab riders, conquered Egypt from the Byzantine Empire. The
occupation was carried out without strong opposition from
the Christian population, the Copts, who were hostile to the
Byzantine Empire not least for religious reasons. Like
monophysites, they had been harassed by the Greek Orthodox
Church, which paid tribute to the two-nature doctrine. The
new Muslim rulers, on the other hand, did not interfere with
people's faith, both because Islam was in principle tolerant
of other scriptural religions and because they were still
too few to dominate.
The stage of Egypt's history that began when the country
was thus broken out of its context with the
Roman-Greek-Christian world and ended when it was violently
re-incorporated into a European power game, ie. 640-1798,
can be called the Middle Ages of Egypt. It can, in turn, be
divided into periods according to the headings below, after
a series of shifts of power; however, formal and real power
have far from always coincided.
Colony under the Caliphate (640–868).
During the first few centuries, when the governors of the
Caliphs ruled Egypt from their Fustat camp (in present-day
Cairo), the Arabic-speaking population grew steadily through
the influx of soldiers from Asia and through the immigration
of livestock tribes from Syria and Arabia. The Copts felt
their positions threatened and made a series of rebellions,
the last bloody blow about 830. It took several centuries
before they became a minority, usually tolerated and
financially influential, sometimes thwarted and persecuted.
The Greek administrative language had been replaced by
Arabic from the beginning; Gradually the Coptic was also
removed as a vernacular and preserved only as the liturgical
language of the Church. For half a millennium, Egypt had
been transformed from a Hellenistic and Christian state to a
core country in Islam.
Release under military governors (868–969).
After the political cohesion in Islam had broken, Egypt's
rulers began to increasingly oppose the Caliph in Baghdad in
the 8th century. In 868, Turkish General Ahmad ibn Tulun
stopped all tax payments to Baghdad and used Egypt's
resources to build a magnificent ruling city outside Fustat.
Most famous of his buildings is the mosque that bears his
Independent superpower during the Fatimids (969–1171).
However, Cairo as the capital of the first truly
independent Egypt since the time of the Pharaohs was a work
of a new dynasty a hundred years later, the Fatimids. They
had taken the name of Muhammad's daughter Fatima and
belonged to a radical phalanx, the Ismailites, within the
Shi'a anti-Caliphate insurgency minority in Islam. During
the 900s, they had submerged large parts of North Africa.
From there, they conquered 969 Egypt and founded Cairo, with
walls, gates, palaces and mosques, mainly among them
al-Azhar, a mission center for their sect, soon also a
renowned university. The Fatimids sought to conquer all of
Islam and came quite close to the goal during the first
century of the 1000s, when through their fleets they
dominated the Mediterranean with islands such as Sicily, as
well as Syria, Palestine and much of Arabia.
But the Ismailites never succeeded in winning either the
Egyptians or the Muslims of Asia for their beliefs, which
made their empire fragile. Attacks from seljuks in the east
and from Christian crusaders further weakened the kingdom.
Finally, the Fatimids faced the same fate as many former
rulers in Egypt, overthrown by their mercenaries.
The Empire of the Ayyubids (1171–1250).
In 1171, the Kurdish Salah ad-Din al-Ayyubi (Saladin)
took power in Egypt. He became one of Islam's greatest
heroes of all time as he withdrew Jerusalem from the
Crusaders and struck back the Third Crusade. The
Saladin-based Ayyubid dynasty restored the Sunni Orthodox in
Egypt. The capital city of Cairo became the foremost trading
city in Islam and al-Azhar its leading learning center. In
many places in the kingdom, religious institutions for study
and teaching (madrasa) were founded.
The costs of the many wars and the great construction
activity forced the Ayyubids to donate large parts of
Egypt's land to the Kurdish and Turkish officers who, with
their troops of slaves or released, were the mainstay of the
regime. These so-called mamluks (mamluk = property, slave)
became the country's true masters; the peasants descended in
impunity. The system became the fall of the dynasty. It was
cleared out of the road in 1250 by a mammal closure.
The epidemic of mammals (1250-1517).
The long Mamluk night in Egypt was a military
dictatorship, which, like previous regimes, could only exist
through the constant influx of slave soldiers from the Asian
countries of Islam. One of the first Mamluk rulers, Baybars,
halted the 1260 Mongol storm, which had just hit Baghdad and
ended the Abbasid caliphate. Abbasides took refuge in Cairo
as a puppet caliph, thereby highlighting Egypt's claim to
leadership. The holy cities of Islam, Mecca and Medina, were
also subject to the Mamluk Sultans. These launched an
offensive south toward the still Christian Nubia. Large
parts of Sudan became Muslim territory. During constant
mutual feuds and under growing internal disarray, which went
beyond the free peasants, the fellaher, the Mamluks
transformed Egypt into a private domain.
In the 15th century, however, Persia began to again
compete with Egypt for its position as an intermediary in
the east-west trade. Economic decline and growing disarray
with protracted mutual feuds made Egypt ripe for a new
conquest. In Asia Minor and the Balkan Peninsula, the
Turkish Ottomans had built up a great kingdom. At the
beginning of the 16th century, their Sultan Selim I
initiated the conquest of the Ancient Orient. In 1517, Egypt
was incorporated into the Ottoman Empire.
The Empire of the Ottomans (1517–1798)
For a short time, the Ottoman conquest brought about a
stir. Egypt regained its positions in international trade.
The Ottomans tried to improve the position of the Fellows
through reforms. But within a few decades, the decay began
again. The Ottoman Viceroy (vali or pascha) lost control of
the administration and the economy. The Mamluks took the
reins again. They were in control of the local
administration and again laid down most of the land, which
they raised through taxpayers (often Copts) the state
income, which largely stayed in the pockets of mamluk. Among
them, they fought as before, most devastatingly in the 18th
century. During this, the irrigation facilities were
neglected and the desert advanced. Infiltration of Bedouins
from the other side of the Red Sea contributed to the
pressure of the Fellows.
From 1798: new era.
When Egypt was brutally moved into Europe's politics at
the end of the 18th century, with devastating consequences
for all its conditions, a new era began in the history of
Egypt. Napoleon invaded the country as part of the fight
against Britain. The occupation was a brief episode, but
when the French evacuated the country they left behind
schools and hospitals, scientific institutions, improved
communications, sketches for modernized government and seeds
for a national Egyptian reaction to foreigners'
multi-millennial dominance in the country.
Modernization policy under Muhammad Ali and his family
During the continuing war between British, Ottomans and
Mamluks, he inherited a new foreign dynasty as heir to the
French reform program. The Macedonian officer Muhammad Ali,
supported by his Albanian troops, swung himself up to the
Viceroy (1805) and, six years later, finally ended the
Mamluk era when, after a party at the Citadel in Cairo, he
killed 500 of their leaders.
Muhammad Ali wanted to assert his independence from the
Sultan of Istanbul, as well as Europe's great powers, and
make Egypt the leading power of Islam. To this end, he
sought to build a modern army based on European model, which
in turn required administrative and economic reforms. The
feudal soil structure was vigorously attacked; the state,
that is, the paschan itself, became, at least in principle,
the owner of the land. Cotton was cultivated in the state
domains, which became Egypt's most important export
commodity. Textile and military industries, including state
monopolies, were set up. The cadre of all necessary
military, technical and administrative officials and
officials was obtained by importing experts from Europe,
Muhammad Ali led an expansive foreign policy. In the
1820s, he conquered Kurdufan in northern Sudan, not least in
order to fill his armies with Sudanese slaves. When things
went wrong, he recruited soldiers among the Egyptian
peasants. It was the first time in millennia that Egypt
contained anything but foreign troops. Paschan also waged
war in Arabia and was close to conquering Syria. But the
European superpowers, especially Britain, did not want any
strong power in the Middle East and forced him to return his
conquests to the Sultan. His state operation of Egypt was in
conflict with European trade interests. At that point, too,
he must retreat and open the Egyptian market. Soon the
Egyptian textile industry was out-competed by Europeans, and
Egypt became the predominant raw material supplier. The
state monopoly on land was loosened up when Muhammad Ali to
finance war and industrialization had to give land in loan
to high officials and to members of his own large family.
When he abdicated in 1848 (he died the following year) and
succeeded by sons and grandsons (Ibrahim Pasha 1848, Abbas
In 1848, Said 1854, Ismail Pasha 1863), all with inferior
political capacity, it became clear that many of the
modernization efforts had failed and that Egypt, contrary to
Pasch's intentions, had become economically dependent on
Europe. But Egypt's population had increased from perhaps 2½
to 4½ million, the cultivation area and trade had increased
even more and an Egyptian-educated elite emerged as a
counterweight to the dominant Turks and Europeans.
The European influence on the economy grew continuously.
In the 1850s, the British got a concession on a railway
between Cairo and Suez. In 1854, Ferdinand de Lesseps began
to build a channel between the Mediterranean and the Red
Sea. It was inaugurated in 1869, signified enough by the
French Empress Eugénie. The Suez Canal made Egypt an even
more desirable replacement in the ongoing imperialist
struggle for power and markets. It helped Egypt's foreign
debt burden grow avalanche. Huge amounts of day jobs had
been taken out by the fellaher at the canal building, to the
detriment of agriculture.
Under Ismail's government, the financial situation
developed into a crisis. He had the ambition to Europeanise
Egypt and free it from all dependence on Turkey. By the
Sultan, he succeeded - for a high fee - to develop
succession rights for his branch of the dynasty and the more
noble title Kediv. He threw himself into a costly
expansionary policy in Sudan. Under British officers such as
Samuel White Baker and Charles Gordon, Egyptian troops
pushed all the way down to Lake Victoria in Central Africa.
In the west, Darfur was conquered, ports were acquired on
the Red Sea and on the Somali coast.
At the same time, the Kedives pursued a modernization
policy, which was mainly aimed at strengthening the
infrastructure: railways, telegraph lines, irrigation
canals, bridges and port facilities. Egypt's state income
and exports also increased significantly, but so did the
debt burden. Ismail had taken over a debt of £ 7 million; in
the 1870s it reached close to 100 million. During the
American Civil War, Egypt's cotton exports flourished, but
after 1865 the setback came. It did not help that Ismail
sold its shares in the Channel Company to the United Kingdom
(1875). Shortly thereafter, the foreign creditors forced
Egypt to place its debts under international management and
the entire financial system under French-British control.
Kediven must also share power with a government minister,
where a British and a French minister sat on key posts.
Ismail made one last attempt to assert its position. He
could, to some extent, rely on the advisory congregation
with representatives from the villages he set up himself and
on xenophobic attitudes within the army - often however as
much aimed at the Turk as the Europeans. But in 1879 the
superpowers persuaded the Sultan to oust him. Against
Ismail's successor Tawfiq, a national uprising broke out.
The leader, Colonel Urabi Pasha, called himself "the
Egyptian" and launched the slogan "Egypt for the Egyptians".
Tawfiq called France and Britain to help, and the British
took the chance. A British fleet bombed Alexandria, British
troops struck Urabi's army. The whole country was occupied
British Occupation (1882-1922, real until 1952)
The old governing body was maintained during the British
occupation, but the real ruler became the British "agent",
Evelyn Baring Cromer. His patriarchal and frugal government
for nearly a quarter of a century put Egypt on its feet,
reformed its administration, and to some extent improved the
position of the Fella Lords, all with the help of a growing
body of British officials, often with experience from India
of how natives would be treated and nurtured. The Kedives,
especially Abbas II, tried unsuccessfully to oppose Cromer.
When the World War broke out in 1914, the informal
patronage of Egypt was transformed into a formal one. The
economic consequences of the war brought renewed nourishment
for the Egyptian nationalists, who were, however, divided
into a Western-oriented middle-class falang and
fundamentalist Muslim movements among the masses. The
leadership of the previous direction, which loudly demanded
the independence of Egypt, was taken by Sad Zaghlul,
Egyptian farmer, lawyer and politician. He was deported by
the British but released after a while. In 1920 he
negotiated in London on Egypt's recognition as a sovereign
state, and in February 1922 the country became a kingdom
under Fuad I. But when Britain ruled Sudan and the canal
zone, the real power stayed with the British.
In the first elections under the new constitution (1924),
the Wafd Party won the leadership of Zaghlul. His politics,
on the one hand, focused on the king and the Turkish
overlord, on the other against the British. In this way,
Egyptian politics became a triangle drama. An agreement was
reached in 1936 to gradually evacuate the British troops
from the canal zone. But World War II came in between. The
Wafd Party supported the British war effort, which cost a
large part of its popular support. Anti-Western, religious
Orthodox and Arab-national movements, mainly the Muslim
Brotherhood, gained growing influence after 1945. Egypt was
active in the founding of the Arab League in 1945., whose
headquarters were located in Cairo. In May 1948, troops from
Egypt, Transjordan, Syria, Iraq and Lebanon invaded the
newly established Israel in the so-called Palestine War. It
ended with Israeli land enlargement, but at the standstill
(1949) Egypt retained the Gaza Strip.
Arab Republic (1953–2012)
Neither political parties nor religious organizations
took home the game in the internal power struggle. In 1952,
a revolutionary group, the Free Officers, conducted a coup
d'état under Gamal Abdel Nasser. King Faruq was deposed, and
in 1953 Egypt became a socialist and Muslim Arab republic
with General Mohammed Naguib as president. He was replaced
in 1956 by Nasser. Basically it was a military dictatorship.
Nasser inherited many former Egyptian greatness dreams. He
wanted to become the entire Arab world, the whole of Africa,
the whole of Islam. One step in that direction was the union
with Syria, the United Arab Republic, which lasted for only
three years (1958-61).
In Egypt, Nasser wanted to stabilize its board by giving
the rapidly growing population more tolerable conditions. A
land reform, which limited individual land ownership to 100
ha - later less - was proclaimed. But the cornerstone of
this policy was a huge dam construction at Assuan, which
would provide Egypt with new agricultural land and energy
for industrialization. When the Western world refused him a
loan for that purpose, he turned to the Soviet Union and
nationalized the Suez Canal in 1956. Britain, in alliance
with France and Israel, intervened in arms power but was
allowed to cancel the campaign under pressure from the US
and the Soviet Union. Nasser triumphed. His position was
briefly shaken by yet another unfortunate war against Israel
in 1967 (the Six Day War). But the Assuan dam (The High
Pond) was completed in 1970, the same year that Nasser died
as one of his country's and Arab's heroes.
The successor Anwar as-Sadat, one of the officers from
1952, was more moderate in domestic and foreign policy.
Admittedly, in 1973 he staged the October War (Yom Kippur
War) lost to Israel, but then entered into negotiations (see
Camp David Accords) and made peace with Israel in 1979, with
Egypt regaining Sinai, lost in the Six Day War. The
settlement with the arch-enemy incited him to the hatred of
the other Arab states and the domestic opposition. He was
murdered in 1981 by fanatics during a troop row. Egypt was
excluded from the Arab League, whose headquarters were moved
President again became an officer, Hosni Mubarak. He
pursued peace policy and at the same time succeeded in
reconnecting with several Arab states; Egypt has been a
member of the Arab League since 1989. Mubarak, too, fought
against Muslim fundamentalists and other opposition, but
above all against pressing economic problems in the
impoverished eighty million state. During Mubarak's time in
power, steps were taken towards civilian and more democratic
governance, but even though some political opposition was
tolerated, the president made sure that his own position of
power remained unharmed. The state of emergency introduced
after the murder of Sadat was never abolished by Mubarak,
but was extended one by one. The number of terrorist acts
against leading politicians, security forces, foreign
tourists and Christian Egyptians (Copts) increased.
Egypt was strongly involved on the UN side in the Kuwaiti
crisis and the 1990-191 war. Relations with many Arab
states, especially Syria, were thereby improved, as was
Egypt's negotiating position with the Western creditors. The
country was in dire need of financial relief, as the war
caused a major disruption to tourism and forced many
Egyptian guest workers to return from Kuwait and Saudi
Arabia to Egypt, which already had an unemployment rate of
over 20 percent. Despite good average economic growth in
recent decades, a large part of Egyptians are still living
in poverty. Instead of the state, among other things, the
Muslim Brotherhood is taking over and other more radical
Islamist movements enter and engage in social work with
their own schools and health clinics. The Muslim
Brotherhood, for a long time the most important opposition
force in the country, has officially been banned, but has
nevertheless been allowed to operate.
Following the September 11 attacks in 2001, Egypt
declared that it would cooperate with the United States in
the investigation, but did not contribute troops in the war
on terror. The fact that the Mubarak regime was one of the
United States' most important allies in the Middle East
caused great dissatisfaction within the country. The
president was also criticized for what he saw as his attempt
to bring his son Gamal forward as his successor.
In the 2005 presidential election, for the first time,
other candidates were allowed to stand against Mubarak, who
has so far been approved four times in referendums without
counter-candidates. However, the nine other candidates
failed to mobilize sufficient resistance and Mubarak was
re-elected with 89 percent of the vote. Although the
opposition was harassed in various ways, candidates loyal to
the Muslim Brotherhood got about 20 percent of the mandate
in the parliamentary elections that year. Voting was low on
both occasions; just under one in four voters participated.
The opposition's success led to increased political
repression in the coming years.
From 2009, the opposition grew in strength when the
Mayhkomsh campaign (about 'he should not rule') was
launched. In addition to the opposition party al-Ghad
("Morning Day") included the Muslim Brotherhood and the
Facebook-based April 6 movement. Peace Prize laureate and
former Director General of the International Nuclear Energy
Agency (IAEA) Mohamed ElBaradei formed ahead of the 2010
parliamentary elections The National Coalition for Change
but, like al-Ghad, the coalition eventually chose to boycott
the election, preceded by harassment targeting the
opposition; Among other things, about 1,000 members of the
Muslim Brotherhood were arrested.
After several years without major terrorist acts, a large
number of tourists were killed in attacks during both 2004
and 2005. Three almost simultaneous bomb attacks in the
tourist resort of Sharm ash-Shaykh in July 2005 took at
least 88 people's lives. A ship accident in the Red Sea the
following year cost more than 1,300 people. In addition to
the political tensions within the country, widespread police
brutality, persecution of the Copts (the country's Christian
minority), violence against African migrants traveling
through the country, and the sexual harassment suffered by
most Egyptian women were also reported in the 00s.
National uprising, power vacuum and new military rule
Inspired by the so-called Jasmine Revolution in Tunisia,
in January 2011, large crowds gathered at the Tahrir Square
in Cairo to demonstrate against the regime (compare Arab
Spring). Despite attempts by the authorities to stop the
protests, both by violent police action and by shutting down
the internet and mobile phone traffic, the revolt continued,
not only at Tahrir Square but elsewhere in the country. The
powerful military chose to remain neutral and on February
11, Mubarak handed over power to a military council headed
by Field Marshal Hussein Tantawi. In June 2012, Mubarak was
sentenced to life imprisonment for failing to stop the
violence that took about 850 people's lives in connection
with the uprising against his regime; he appealed and was
released in 2017.
The protesters, who were united about the goal of
deposing Mubarak, turned out to have different perceptions
about which society would instead be built. In the
parliamentary elections held between November 2011 and
February 2012, the Islamists reaped great success, not only
the moderate Muslim Brotherhood's Party of Freedom and
Justice but also the strictly conservative Islamist party
al-Nur ('the light'), dominated by literate
Salafists. This caused concern among the many young and
Western-inspired people who were driving during the
revolution, especially at the beginning of the same.
The military council was already accused in the spring of
2011 of clinging to power and demonstrations again took
place at Tahrir Square, but these were beaten down with
force. Deadly attacks on Copts increased after Mubarak's
fall. In February 2012, 74 people were killed in connection
with a football match in Port Said. The unrest hit many
Egyptians financially, not least those who depended on
tourism for their livelihood; the number of foreign tourists
fell sharply in 2011.
In the spring of 2012, it turned out that the struggle
for power, mainly symbolized by the presidential post, stood
between the Islamists and representatives of the old regime
with close ties to the military. In June 2012, the Military
Council dissolved the Islamist-dominated parliament, citing
the Constitutional Court's failure to approve the election.
The presidential election, held in May-June of the same
year, became a struggle between the leader of the Freedom
and Justice Party Muhammad Mursi and Ahmed Shafiq, former
Air Force Chief and Air Minister and Mubarak's last Prime
Minister. In the end, it turned out that Mursi won a tight
victory with 52 percent of the vote. Mursi's membership in
the Muslim Brotherhood ended after the election victory.
In June 2012, the state of emergency that had expired
since 1981 expired without, as several times before, being
extended. In August, a border post was attacked between
Egypt and the Gaza Strip and 16 Egyptian soldiers were
killed. After another attack, several high-ranking soldiers
were fired, including Tantawi being fired as army chief and
defense minister. Mursi also repealed the June declaration
giving the military council the legislative power.
However, dissatisfaction with the president grew ever
stronger. Violent protests erupted since Mursi issued a
decree in November that gave him extensive powers and also
deprived the judiciary of the opportunity to stop his
decision. The situation, with tens of thousands of
protesters at Tahrir Square, was similar to that when
Mubarak was overthrown. The following month, Mursi withdrew
The Islamist-dominated Constituent Assembly, which was
commissioned to draft a new constitution, approved a
constitutional proposal in November. The meeting was
boycotted by the liberal, secular and Christian members. The
constitutional proposal was criticized for being too Islamic
and not sufficiently respecting human rights. With 64 per
cent of the votes, the new constitution was approved in a
referendum, but only 33 per cent of the eligible voters
The discontent against President Mursi continued and in
connection with the two-year anniversary of the rebellion
against Mubarak, hundreds of thousands of people protested
at Tahrir Square and elsewhere, accusing the new regime of
betraying the revolution. In connection with the
demonstrations, hundreds of cases were reported in which
women were subjected to sexual harassment and abuse of
groups of men. Similar incidents have occurred both earlier
The protests against Mursi reached their peak in the
summer of 2013. Enormous crowds demonstrated from June 30 in
Cairo and elsewhere in Egypt. After four days of mounting
protests, the military led a coup d'etat and on July 3,
Mursi was dismissed from the presidential post. As acting
President, the President of Egypt's Constitutional Court,
Adli Mansour, was appointed.
In reality, however, the country's highest ruler was the
army chief and Defense Minister Abd al-Fattah al-Sisi. He
enjoyed great confidence in large sections of the
population, but the followers of Mursi and the Muslim
Brotherhood filled streets and squares in Cairo and demanded
that Mursi be reinstated. The new regime chose to disperse
two protest camps in Cairo by force, and during the second
half of 2013, several thousand protesters were killed and
many more were imprisoned, including Mursi and most of the
Muslim Brotherhood's leadership. The organization itself was
terrorist-stamped and banned. Since then, mass trials
against supporters of the Muslim Brotherhood have been held
and several hundred people, including Mursi, have been
sentenced to death.
Proposals for constitutional amendments were drafted in
the fall of 2013 and approved by 98 per cent of voters in a
referendum in January 2014. However, as in the May
presidential election, turnout was low, below 50 per cent.
This was largely due to the Muslim Brotherhood calling for
boycotts. In the presidential election, al-Sisi was waiting.
Without real challengers, he won 97 percent of the vote. He
received an equal share of the votes in the 2018 election,
when again there were no serious candidates. On both
occasions, turnout was below 50 percent.
al-Sisi's regime has been criticized both in Egypt and
internationally for the lack of human rights in the country.
Economic stagnation and increased cost of living due to high
inflation have in recent years caused dissatisfaction among
parts of the population.
|10000 BC – 5000
||The younger Stone Age: refined flint implements,
beginnings of arable farming, especially in northern
||The Merimde culture in the southwest
participated as the main exponent of arable
||Minor chiefdom merges into two major power
blocks in the north (Lower Egypt) and the south
(Upper Egypt). Princes from the south conquer the
delta and create "The Two Countries".
The script is invented.
||The Third Dynasty and Pharaoh Djoser consolidate
||The time of the great pyramid builders.
||The royal power is weakened, the provincial
princes form their own courts.
||The Theban princes unite the country again.
||The 12th Dynasty significantly expands Egypt's
borders, colonization policy in Nubia and Asia
Minor. Inner colonization in Fayyum. The county
chiefs are of little importance.
||Asians, so-called hyksos, gain significant
control over Egypt. They proclaim themselves
||Ahmose drives out hyksos. Queen Hatschepsut
reigns during Thutmosis III's minority. This extends
the borders of Egypt to the south and east.
During Amenhotep IV (Akhenaton), a religious
transformation takes place, when the king launches
the solar album Aton as the only god.
Ramses II tries to subvert the Hittites in the
Battle of Kadesh.
During Ramses III major attacks against the
||A cleric is founded in Thebe, which recognizes
pharaohs in the delta. Libyans will be pharaohs, as
will later coastal Hits from Sudan, 25th dynasty.
||After Assyrian conquest of the country, a new
dynasty is established in Sais. A cultural heyday.
In 525 Egypt is conquered by the Persians, who are
expelled 404. They return 343.
||Egypt is conquered by Alexander the Great.
||The country becomes a kingdom under Ptolemy I.
||Egypt is annexed by the Romans and becomes the
emperor's private colony.
||Hadrian visits Egypt (and founded Antinoopolis).
||The first Christian school is founded in
||Queen Zenobia of Palmyra invades Delta.
||The old temples are closed; Egypt becomes a
||Church Meeting in Chalcedon: Egypt will in the
future belong to a small group of Eastern churches
with a special attitude to the divine status of
||The Sasanid Persians conquer Egypt.
||Byzantine emperor Herakleios is returning the
||Arab riders conquer Egypt from the Byzantine
||Ahmad ibn Tulun makes Egypt truly independent of
the Caliph in Baghdad.
||The Fatimids conquer Egypt and establish Cairo
as the capital.
||The Fatimids are overthrown by Salah ad-Din al-Ayyubi,
who strikes back the Third Crusade.
||Mamluker overthrows the Ayyubids.
||Sultan Baybars I hit back the Mongol storm.
||The Ottomans under Selim I invade Egypt.
||Mamluker makes Egypt truly free from the
||Bonaparte conquers Egypt.
||The French evacuate Egypt.
||Muhammad Ali is proclaimed Deputy King.
||Mamluk night is finally crushed.
||Lesseps gets a concession on digging a canal
through the Suez lake.
||The channels are opened.
||Kediv Ismail is set aside after pressure from
the major powers.
||The British occupy Egypt; Lord Cromer becomes
the real ruler.
||Egypt formally becomes British protectorate.
||Egypt becomes a kingdom.
||Anglo-Egyptian agreement on the gradual
withdrawal of British forces; World War II prevents
||Egypt participates in the Palestinian war.
||"Free officers" overthrow King Faruq and abolish
||Nasser becomes president, nationalizing the Suez
Canal to fund a new Assuand dam.
British-French-Israeli attack on Egypt is suspended
under pressure from the great powers.
||Egypt participates in the Six Day War.
||Egypt participates in the October War (Yom
||Peace between Egypt and Israel.
||Sadat is murdered and replaced at the
presidential post by Hosni Mubarak.
||Islamic terrorists kill 58 tourists in Luxor.
||88 people are killed in blast attacks in Sharm
||President Mubarak is forced to step down after
||Muhammad Mursi wins Egypt's first free
||Mursi is overthrown and thousands of people are
killed or arrested in the protests that follow. Army
chief Abd al-Fattah al-Sisi, who was one of the
leaders in the coup, is elected new president.