Portal:Ancient Egypt

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THE ANCIENT EGYPT PORTAL

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Golden funeral mask of king Tutankhamun, a symbol for many of ancient Egypt.

Ancient Egypt was an ancient civilization of eastern North Africa, concentrated along the lower reaches of the Nile River in what is now the modern country of Egypt. The civilization coalesced around 3150 BC with the political unification of Upper and Lower Egypt under the first pharaoh, and it developed over the next two millennia. Ancient Egypt reached its pinnacle during the New Kingdom, after which it entered a period of slow decline. Egypt was conquered by a succession of foreign powers in this late period, and the rule of the pharaohs officially ended in 31 BC when the early Roman Empire conquered Egypt and made it a province.

Egypt has left a lasting legacy for all to see. Its art and architecture has been widely copied, and its antiquities have been carried off to the far corners of the world. Egypt's monumental ruins have inspired the imaginations of travelers and writers for centuries. A newfound respect for antiquities and excavations in the early modern period led to the scientific investigation of Egyptian civilization and a greater appreciation of its cultural legacy for the earth.

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Mummified pre-dynastic man in reconstructed Egyptian grave-pit (photo taken in 2008)

The Gebelein predynastic mummies are six naturally mummified bodies, dating to approximately 3400 BC from the Late Predynastic period of Egypt and were the first complete pre-dynastic bodies to be discovered. The well-preserved bodies were excavated at the end of the nineteenth century by Wallis Budge, the British Museum Keeper for Egyptology, from shallow sand graves near Gebelein in the Egyptian desert. Budge excavated all the bodies from the same grave site. Two were identified as male, one female with the others being of undetermined gender. The bodies were given to the British Museum in 1900. Some grave-goods were documented at the time of excavation as "pots and flints", however they were not passed on to the British Museum and their whereabouts remain unknown. Three of the bodies were found with coverings of different types (reed matting, palm fibre and an animal skin), which still remain with the bodies. The bodies were found in foetal positions lying on their left side. From 1901 the first body excavated has remained on display in the British Museum.

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Did you know...

Amenemhat I

  • ... that pharaoh Amenemhat I (pictured) was assassinated by his own guards when his son, co-regent and heir to the throne was leading a campaign in Libya?
  • ... that the goddess Nut was perceived by ancient Egyptians as a star-covered nude woman arching over the earth?
  • ... that pharaoh Psamtik III was forced to drink bull's blood to punish him for his involvement in a conspiracy against Cambyses I?

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Nofretete Neues Museum.jpg
Credit: Xenon 77

Bust of Nefertiti. She was the Great Royal Wife of the Egyptian Pharaoh Akhenaten. She was the mother-in-law and the stepmother of the Pharaoh Tutankhamun. She was made famous due to Nefertiti bust (pictured) currently on display in the Neues Museum.

Selected biography

Outline tracing of the figure representing Darius in the Behistun Inscription

Darius I, known as Darius the Great, was the third "king of kings" (emperor) of the Achaemenid Empire. Darius held the empire at its peak, then including Egypt, northern India, and parts of Greece. The decay and downfall of the empire commenced with his death and the coronation of his son, Xerxes I.

Darius ascended the throne by assassinating the alleged usurper Bardiya with the assistance of six other Persian noble families; Darius was crowned the following morning. The new emperor met with rebellions throughout his kingdom, and quelled them each time. A major event in Darius's life was his expedition to punish Athens and Eretria for their aid in the Ionian Revolt and subjugate Greece. Darius expanded his empire by conquering Thrace and Macedon, and invading the Saka, Iranian tribes who had invaded Medes and had previously killed Cyrus the Great.

Darius organized the empire, by dividing it into provinces and placing governors to govern it. He organized a new uniform monetary system, along with making Aramaic the official language of the empire. Darius also worked on construction projects throughout the empire, focusing on Susa, Pasargadae, Persepolis, Babylon, and Egypt. Darius created a codification of laws for Egypt. He also carved the cliff-face Behistun Inscription, an autobiography of great modern linguistic significance. After becoming aware of the Persian defeat at the Battle of Marathon, Darius began planning another expedition against the Greek-city states. Darius had spent three years preparing men and ships for war when a revolt broke out in Egypt. This revolt in Egypt worsened his failing health and prevented the possibility of leading another army himself; soon, Darius was dead. In October 486 BC, the body of Darius was embalmed and entombed in the rock-cut sepulcher which had been prepared for him several years earlier.


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News

January 2011: Archaeologists discovered a tomb - KV64 - in the Valley of the Kings. The coffin found in the tomb contained an intact mummy of Nehmes Bastet, a temple singer during Egypt's 22nd Dynasty.(1)


November 2010: The Supreme Council of Antiquities in Egypt says archaeologists have unearthed 12 more sphinx statues along the ancient avenue connecting Luxor and Karnak temples.(2)


April 2010: A new 19th Dynasty tomb in Tell el-Maskhuta is discovered. The tomb belongs to a noble named Ken-Amun


March 2010: A new translation of the Philae Victory Stele reveals the name of Augustus in cartouches.


March 2010: More statues of Amenhotep III are found at Kom el-Hettan.


March 2010: The ruins of the pyramid of Queen Behenu are discovered.

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Things to do

  • Needed articles.

We should have an article on every pyramid and every nome in Ancient Egypt. I'm sure the rest of us can think of other articles we should have.

  • Cleanup.

To start with, most of the general history articles badly need attention. And I'm told that at least some of the dynasty articles need work. Any other candidates?

  • Standardize the Chronology.

A boring task, but the benefit of doing it is that you can set the dates !(e.g., why say Khufu lived 2589-2566? As long as you keep the length of his reign correct, or cite a respected source, you can date it 2590-2567 or 2585-2563)

  • Stub sorting

Anyone? I consider this probably the most unimportant of tasks on Wikipedia, but if you believe it needs to be done . . .

  • Data sorting.

This is a project I'd like to take on some day, & could be applied to more of Wikipedia than just Ancient Egypt. Take one of the standard authorities of history or culture -- Herotodus, the Elder Pliny, the writings of Breasted or Kenneth Kitchen, & see if you can't smoothly merge quotations or information into relevant articles. Probably a good exercise for someone who owns one of those impressive texts, yet can't get access to a research library.

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