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1st Dynasty (2920 - 2770 BC)

Egypt's 1st Dynasty saw the emergence of a unified land stretching from the Delta to the first cataract at Aswan, a distance of over one thousand kilometers along the Nile Valley. The memorable years which gave Egyptologists their first glimpse of the predynastic period also brought them face to face for the first time with the earliest dynasties, which commenced areound 3,000 BC. The pioneer in this field was E. Amelineau, a Coptic scholar with no previous experience of excavating. Supported by funds from private sources he started operations at Abydos in 1895, working westwards until he reached a low...

2nd Dynasty (2770 - 2650 BC)

Manetho's SECOND DYNASTY of nine kings from Thinis presents even more intractable problems than its predecessor. Four of the Manethonian names are recognizable, despite grave distortion, in the Ramesside king-lists, though it needed a demonstration of great acumen to show how Manetho's Tlas originated in a King Weneg known only from fragments of bowls stored in the underground galleries of the Step Pyramid. The king-list enumerate eleven kings in place of Manetho's nine, but of these only four find confirmation in the monuments. The order of the first five kings is established with certainty, but the existing remains ignore Boethos...

3rd Dynasty (2650 - 2575 BC)

The Third Dynasty, which with the next three dynasties constitutes the Old Kingdom, is characterized by the grand line of pyramids running along the western desert from near the level of modern Cairo. The second king of Dynasty III was the monarch whom later generations knew by the name of Djoser, and whose importance as the founder of a new epoch, even though it was his brother Nebka who founded the dynasty, is marked in the Turin Canon by the exceptional use of red ink. Djoser's outstanding achievement was the Step Pyramid at Saqqara overlooking the great city of Memphis....

4th Dynasty (2575 - 2467 BC)

Of contemporary remains of Dynasty III, there is nothing more to record save some blocks of a temple built by Djoser at Heliopolis, so that we may now pass to the period which marked the apogee of Egyptian history. If its five great pyramids were all that the Fourth Dynasty had to show by way of accomplishment, these would still have to be viewed as a manifestation of purposeful power and technical genius unsurpassed in any age or clime. The excavations of the last sixty years have brought about an important modification in our conception of a pyramid. So far...

5th Dynasty (2465 - 2323 BC)

Whatever the origin of the Fifth Dynasty, there can be no doubt as to its changed and highly individual character. According to the tale, Reddjede's eldest son was foretold to become high-priest of the sun-god Re', the great city known to the Greeks a Heliopolis and now merely a northern suburb of Cairo. There is neither confirmation nor likelihood that Userkaf, the first king of the dynasty, ever exercised that office, but certain it is that under him the Heliopolitan priesthood began to wield an unprecedented influence. The Palermo Stone has little to record except gifts of land and offerings...

6th Dynasty (2323 - 2152 BC)

After Wenis the Turin Canon inserted a total of all the years from the accession of Menes down to that reign. The number is unfortunately lost, but the entry serves a useful purpose by showing that a great period was thought of as terminating here. Manetho is in agreement, starting his Sixth Dynasty of six Memphites at the same point, and naming as its king an Othoes who is obviously the Teti given as the successor of Wenis in the Abydos and Saqqara king-lists. Manetho had curiously and doubtless inaccurately designated Elephantine as Dynasty V's place of origin. He was...

First Intermediate Period (7th - 11th Dynasties) (2150 -1986 BC)

In the First Intermediate Period as the age separating Dynasty VI and XII is called, Manetho, or rather the Manetho known to us from the chronicles of his exceptors, is seen at his worst. His Seventh Dynasty consists of seventy kings of Memphis, who reigned for seventy days. His Eight Dynasty, likewise Memphite, comprises twenty-seven kings and 146 years of reign. Dynasty IX and X are both Heracleopolitan, with nineteen kings apiece and a total duration of 594 years. Dynasty XI is of Diospolite or Theban origin, counting sixteen kings with the meager allowance of forty-three years. Such is the...

11th Dynasty (1986 - 1937 BC)

Nothing very definite is known about the campaigns in which Menthotpe I regained the Double Crown, and so put an end to the internal anarchy which had finally given place to separate kingdoms in the north and the south. A tomb discovered by Winlock at Thebes contained the bodies of no less than sixty soldiers slain in battle doubtless at no great distance from the capital. Probably fighting was required upstream as well as downstream. There is an imposing rock-relief in the valley of the Shatt er-Rigal about 2 miles below Gebel Silsila showing Menthotpe I accompanied not only by...

12th Dynasty (1937 - 1759 BC)

At the close of Menthotpe I's glorious reign nothing seemed to suggest that the power of his family was nearing its end. Yet so it was. The Turin Canon concedes to S'ankhkare' Menthotpe III twelve years of rule, but makes him, though not quite accurately, the last king of Dynasty XI. Likewise in the Abydos and Saqqara king-lists S'ankhkare' is the immediate predecessor of Shetepibre' Ammenemes I, the founder of Dynasty XII and of what is known to us as the Middle Kingdom. Isolated inscribed blocks in many of the towns of Upper Egypt show that S'ankhkare' was active as...

Second Intermediate Period (13th - 17th Dynasties) (1759 - 1539 BC)

Since the passage of Time shows no break in continuity, nothing but some momentous event or sequence of events can justify a particular reign being regarded as inaugurating an era. What caused Sobeknofru, or Sobeknofrure' as later sources call her, to be taken as closing Dyn. XII will doubtless never be known. But the Turin Canon, the Saqqara king-list, and Manetho are unanimous on the point. The Abydos list jumps straight from Ammenemes IV to the first king of Dyn.XVIII. The date of Amosis I, the founder of Dyn. XVIII, being fixed with some accuracy, the interval from 1786 to...