Portal:Ancient Egypt

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Introduction

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

The pyramids of Giza are among the most recognizable symbols of the civilization of ancient Egypt.

Ancient Egypt was a civilization of ancient Northeastern Africa, concentrated along the lower reaches of the Nile River - geographically Lower Egypt and Upper Egypt, in the place that is now occupied by the countries of Egypt and Sudan. Ancient Egyptian civilization followed prehistoric Egypt and coalesced around 3100 BC (according to conventional Egyptian chronology) with the political unification of Upper and Lower Egypt under Menes (often identified with Narmer). The history of ancient Egypt occurred as a series of stable kingdoms, separated by periods of relative instability known as Intermediate Periods: the Old Kingdom of the Early Bronze Age, the Middle Kingdom of the Middle Bronze Age and the New Kingdom of the Late Bronze Age.

Egypt reached the pinnacle of its power in the New Kingdom, ruling much of Nubia and a sizable portion of the Near East, after which it entered a period of slow decline. During the course of its history Egypt was invaded or conquered by a number of foreign powers, including the Hyksos, the Libyans, the Nubians, the Assyrians, the Achaemenid Persians, and the Macedonians under the command of Alexander the Great. The Greek Ptolemaic Kingdom, formed in the aftermath of Alexander's death, ruled Egypt until 30 BC, when, under Cleopatra, it fell to the Roman Empire and became a Roman province.

The success of ancient Egyptian civilization came partly from its ability to adapt to the conditions of the Nile River valley for agriculture. The predictable flooding and controlled irrigation of the fertile valley produced surplus crops, which supported a more dense population, and social development and culture. With resources to spare, the administration sponsored mineral exploitation of the valley and surrounding desert regions, the early development of an independent writing system, the organization of collective construction and agricultural projects, trade with surrounding regions, and a military intended to defeat foreign enemies and assert Egyptian dominance. Motivating and organizing these activities was a bureaucracy of elite scribes, religious leaders, and administrators under the control of a pharaoh, who ensured the cooperation and unity of the Egyptian people in the context of an elaborate system of religious beliefs.

Selected article

Nubia in the early common era.

The Kingdom of Makuria was a kingdom located in what is today Northern Sudan and Southern Egypt. It was one of a group of Nubian kingdoms that emerged during the decline of the Aksumite Empire, of which it had been part. Makuria originally covered the area along the Nile River from the Third Cataract to somewhere between the Fifth and Sixth Cataracts. It also had control over the trade routes, mines, and oases to the east and west. Its capital was Dongola and the kingdom is sometimes known by the name of its capital. Makuria is much better known than its neighbor Alodia to the south, but there are still many gaps in our knowledge. The origins of Makuria are uncertain. Ptolemy mentions a Nubian people known as the Makkourae, who might be ancestors to the Makurians.[1] The kingdom is believed to have formed in the 4th or 5th century.

One of the most debated issues among scholars is over the religion of Makuria. Up to the fifth century the old Egyptian mythology seems to have remained strong, even while its counterpart in Egypt disappeared. In the fifth century the Nubians went so far as to launch an invasion of Egypt when the Christians there tried to turn some of the main temples into churches.

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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?

Selected picture

Karnacs2.jpg
Credit: David Roberts RA, artist and Haghe, Louis, 1806-1885, lithographer

Karnak: "Dromos or first court of the temple" colored lithograph of Karnak.

Selected biography

The Philosopher (c. 250–200 BC) from the Antikythera wreck illustrates the style used by Hecataeus in his bronze of Philitas.

Philitas of Cos (c. 340–c. 285 BC) was a scholar and poet during the early Hellenistic period of ancient Egypt. A Greek associated with Alexandria, he flourished in the second half of the 4th century BC and was appointed tutor to the heir to the throne of Ptolemaic Egypt. He was thin and frail; Athenaeus later caricatured him as an academic so consumed by his studies that he wasted away and died.

Philitas was the first major writer who was both a scholar and a poet. His reputation continued for centuries, based on both his pioneering study of words and his verse in elegiac meter. His vocabulary Disorderly Words described the meanings of rare literary words, including those used by Homer. His poetry, notably his elegiac poem Demeter, was highly respected by later ancient poets. However, almost all his work has since been lost. The 1st century AD rhetorician Quintilian ranked Philitas second only to Callimachus among the elegiac poets. Philitas' influence has been found or suspected in a wide range of ancient writing; Longus' 2nd century AD novel Daphnis and Chloe contains a character likely named after him. Hermesianax wrote of "Philitas, singing of nimble Bittis", and Ovid twice calls her "Battis". It is commonly thought that Bittis or Battis was Philitas' mistress, and that Hermesianax referred to love poetry; another possibility is that her name connoted "chatterbox", and that she was a humorous personification of Philitas' passion for words. Almost all that he wrote seems to have disappeared within two centuries, though, so it is unlikely that any writer later than the 2nd century BC read any but a few of his lines.

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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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