Skip to main content
Select Source:

Egypt, ancient

Egypt, ancient Civilization that flourished along the River Nile in nw Africa from c.3400 bc to 30 bc, when Egypt was annexed to Rome. The dynasties number from 1 to 30. The semi-legendary Menes united the kingdoms of Upper and Lower Egypt in c.3100 bc. Ancient Egyptian history falls into a number of periods. The highlight of the Old Kingdom was the building of the pyramids of Giza during the 4th dynasty. The Great Pyramid was Khufu's; the other two pyramids were those of his son Khafre and grandson Menkaure. After the death of Pepy II in the 6th dynasty, central government disintegrated and Egypt was in general chaos. This was the First Intermediate Period. Central authority returned in the 11th dynasty, and the capital moved to Thebes (now Luxor). The Middle Kingdom (c.2040–1640 bc) saw Egypt develop into a great power. Amenemhet I, founder of the 12th dynasty (c.1991 bc), crushed provincial opposition, secured Egypt's borders, and created a new capital. Art, architecture, and literature flourished. At the end of this period, Egypt once again fell into disarray (Second Intermediate Period) and the Hyksos seized control. The New Kingdom began in c.1550 bc, when Ahmose I founded the 18th dynasty. The New Kingdom (18th, 19th, and 20th dynasties) brought great wealth. Huge temples and tombs, such as Tutankhamun's, were built. Wars with the Hittites under Ramses II drained Egypt, and later weak rulers led to the decline of the New Kingdom. The 21st to 25th dynasties (Third Intermediate Period) culminated in Assyrian domination. The Persians ruled from 525 until 404 bc, when the Egyptians revolted, and the last native dynasties appeared. In 332 bc, Egypt fell to the armies of Alexander the Great, who moved the capital to Alexandria. After Alexander's death, his general became ruler of Egypt, as Ptolemy I. The Ptolemies maintained a powerful empire for three centuries, and Alexandria became a centre of learning. Roman power was on the ascendancy, and when Ptolemy XII asked Pompey for aid in 58 bc, it marked the end of Egyptian independence. Cleopatra tried to assert independence through associations with Julius Caesar and Mark Antony, but she was defeated at Actium. Her son, Ptolemy XV (whose father was probably Julius Caesar), was the last Ptolemy; he was killed by Octavian ( Augustus), and Egypt became a province of Rome.

Cite this article
Pick a style below, and copy the text for your bibliography.

  • MLA
  • Chicago
  • APA

"Egypt, ancient." World Encyclopedia. . 17 Dec. 2017 <>.

"Egypt, ancient." World Encyclopedia. . (December 17, 2017).

"Egypt, ancient." World Encyclopedia. . Retrieved December 17, 2017 from

Dynasties of Ancient Egypt ( (table))

Dynasties of Ancient Egypt

Dynasties of Ancient Egypt
Old Kingdom (or Old Empire)
Dynasty Years Famous Rulers
I 3110–2884 BC Menes
II 2884–2780 BC  
III 2780–2680 BC Snefru
IV 2680–2565 BC Khufu (Cheops), Khafre, Menkaure. Age of the great pyramids.
V 2565–2420 BC  
VI 2420–2258 BC Pepi I, Pepi II
First Intermediate Period
VII, VIII 2258–2225 BC An obscure period.
IX, X 2225–2134 BC Capital at Heracleopolis.
XI 2134–c.2000 BC Capital at Thebes.
Middle Kingdom (or Middle Empire)
XII 2000–1786 BC Amenemhet I, Sesostris I, Amenemhet II, Sesostris II, Sesostris III, Amenemhet III, Amenemhet IV
Second Intermediate Period
XIII–XVII 1786–1570 BC The Hyksos. An obscure period.
New Kingdom (or New Empire)
XVIII 1570–c.1342 BC Amenhotep I, Thutmose I, Hatshepsut (with Thutmose II initially), Thutmose III, Amenhotep II, Thutmose IV, Amenhotep III, Amenhotep IV (Ikhnaton), Tutankhamen
XIX c.1342–1200 BC Horemheb, Ramses I, Seti I, Ramses II, Merneptah, Seti II
XX 1200–1085 BC Ramses III with Tiy. New Kingdom declines.
XXI 1085–945 BC Tanite dynasty (capital at Tanis).
XXII 945–745 BC Sheshonk I. Libyan dynasty (capital at Bubastis).
XXIII 745–718 BC Nubian dynasty with invasion of Piankhi (capital at Bubastis).
XXIV 718–712 BC Saïte dynasty (capital at Saïs).
XXV 712–663 BC Taharka. Assyrian invasions begin foreign domination.
XXVI 663–525 BC Psamtik, Necho, Apries, Amasis II (capital at Saïs).
XXVII 525–405 BC The Achaemenids of Persia in control. Cambyses II to Darius II. Egypt revolts.
XXVIII–XXX 405–332 BC Nekhtnebf, Nekhtharheb. Last native dynasties, ending with conquest by Alexander the Great. Capital at Saïs, then at Mendes, then at Sebennytos.

Cite this article
Pick a style below, and copy the text for your bibliography.

  • MLA
  • Chicago
  • APA

"Dynasties of Ancient Egypt ( (table))." The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed.. . 17 Dec. 2017 <>.

"Dynasties of Ancient Egypt ( (table))." The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed.. . (December 17, 2017).

"Dynasties of Ancient Egypt ( (table))." The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed.. . Retrieved December 17, 2017 from