History Files
 

 

African Kingdoms

Ancient Egypt

 

 

 

Ancient Egypt
34th Century - 30 BC

Ancient Egypt was a narrow valley bordered on either side by extensive deserts. From around 9000 BC, the hunter-gatherer inhabitants of the fertile Nile Valley enjoyed the milder post-glacial conditions, domesticating animals and increasing in number. In the late sixth millennium BC farming villages appeared, as did rock art in some of the region's caves, and the following two millennia saw the gradual formation of small states.

FeatureAfter 4000 BC, thanks to the sudden desiccation of the grass plains of the Sahara and an influx of people towards the Nile, there was a substantial increase in population, and villages sizes increased accordingly. From around 3500 to 3000 BC there were great and very sudden advances in craftsmanship and technology, which culminated in the working of copper, stone mace heads and ceramics. The first walled towns appeared at Naqada and Heirakonpolis (circa 3300 BC), and were associated with rich tombs, probably the resting places of the rulers of Upper Egypt (to the south). One of these rulers was the first to unite the whole valley, from the first cataract near the Nubian Desert to the Mediterranean, as a single kingdom in about 3400 or 3100 BC.

There are two main schools of thought regarding the dating of Egyptian dynasties. The earlier one is used here in the main chart, but a more recent (and increasingly accepted) version is shown where data is available in the left-hand column. There are also other, far more radical theories being proposed which either dramatically length or shorten the timescale shown here. None of them are entirely conclusive or widely accepted. One of the oldest known civilisations, the rulers of Egypt were known as pharaohs (meaning Great House). Many early records from outside of Egypt are Greek in origin, so in many cases the Greek version of names are shown in brackets.

Archaic Period

FeatureThe Archaic period includes the Early Dynastic Period, when Lower Egypt and Upper Egypt were ruled as separate kingdoms, and the First and Second Dynasties.

Highly interesting new research that was published in the Proceedings of the Royal Society in 2013 established what was possibly the most accurate timeline for early Egypt. Previous records had suggested that the pre-Dynastic period, a time in which early groups began to settle along the Nile and farm the land, began in 4000 BC. But the new analysis revealed this process to have started later, between 3700 or 3600 BC. By the thirty-second century, Egypt had transformed into two kingdoms, north and south, and these were quickly merged into one.

New Dating

Early Dynastic (Lower Egypt)

Lower Egypt, the area nearest the Mediterranean, was known as the Black Land, and consisted of the northern Nile and the Nile Delta. The following list is probably incomplete.

Tiu

Thesh

Hsekiu

c.3150 BC?

Wazner

c.3250 - 3125 BC

Early Dynastic (Upper Egypt)

Upper Egypt was known as the Red Land, and consisted of the southern Nile and the deserts. The following list is probably incomplete, as there are many more names which are of uncertain existence.

c.3250 BC?

Serket I

Oldest tomb at Umm el-Qa'ab had scorpion insignia.

c.3200 BC?

Iry-Hor

Kingship uncertain.

c.3150 BC?

Ka

c.3150 BC?

Serqet II (King Scorpion)

Very uncertain. May be same as Menes or Narmer.

c.3125 - 2890 BC

First (Thinite) Dynasty
3400 - 3200 BC

FeatureThe Old Kingdom was a theocratic state dominated by a divine king. Belief in life after death was a fundamental religious tenet, and both kings and courtiers built increasingly elaborate tombs to reflect this belief. Mummification was already being practised.

FeatureEgypt was governed by ministers who were answerable to the pharaoh and headed by the vizier, responsible for administration, justice and taxation. The country was divided into provinces (nomes), each ruled by a provincial governor, who became increasingly independent of central control.

New research that was published in the Proceedings of the Royal Society in 2013 established what was possibly the most accurate timeline for early Egypt, placing the accession of its first unified ruler at about 3100 BC. The formation of Egypt was unique in the ancient world in that it was a territorial state of the modern type which straight away formed borders. Until now, the chronology of Egypt's earliest days had been based on rough estimates, but with no written records from this very early period, the timeline was based on the evolving styles of ceramics unearthed from human burial sites. The 2013 research used radiocarbon dating of excavated hair, bones and plants alongside established archaeological evidence and computer models to pinpoint when the ancient state came into existence.

c.3125 BC

c.3400 BC

Menes / Meni (Min)

United North & South kingdoms.

c.3125 BC

According to Herodotus, Memphis is founded as the capital of Egypt by Menes. According to other sources the capital is at the city of 'This' near Abydos, which itself dates back to prehistory. Perhaps the confusion arises from the fact that Menes has tombs at both Saqqara, close to Memphis in Lower Egypt, and at Abydos in Upper Egypt.

First Dynasty Egyptian Basketwork coffin
Coffins started to be used in Egyptian graves from about 3000 BC, and could be made of wood, basketry or pottery. This First Dynasty basketwork coffin comes from Tarkhan

c.3300 BC

Narmer

Important in the unification of Egypt.

The Narmer Palette shows the pharaoh Narmer wielding the unified symbols of both Upper and Lower Egypt. Some theorise that Narmer and Menes are in fact the same person; others that Menes had inherited an already-unified kingdom from Narmer; while others suggest that Menes had completed a process of unification which Narmer had begun. The view that Narmer actually succeeded Menes seems to be an older one, and is used here.

c.3100 BC

Aha / Hor-Aka

Son.

In 2013, a new timeline for the origin of ancient Egypt is established by scientists. A British team finds that the transformation from a land of disparate farmers into a state ruled by a king had been more rapid than was previously thought. Using radiocarbon dating and computer models, they believe the civilisation's first ruler - King Aha - comes to power around 3100 BC.

c.3000 BC

The first evidence of Egyptian hieroglyphics - already very advanced in form - appears at this time.

Djer

Ruled a united Egypt. Reigned for 41 years.

Djer's reign of forty-one years is perhaps unfeasibly long for this time period, raising the possibility that he dies much sooner and the kingdom collapses, if only briefly. The king rules in name simply because no one else has replaced him, leading later generations to assume that he is alive for this entire period.

Djet / Wadj/Zet/Uadji (Uenephes)

Den (Dewen)

First to use the title 'King of Upper and Lower Egypt'.

Merneith

Female regent or queen.

Anedjib / Enezib / Andjyeb

Reigned for 10 years.

Semerkhet

Possible usurper. Reigned for 9 years.

2916 - 2890 BC

c.3200 BC

Qa'a / Ka'a

Reigned for 26 years.

2890 - 2686 BC

Second (Thinite) Dynasty
3200 - 2980 BC

Little is known about the start of the Second Dynasty. It is possible that Hotepsekhemwy reached office by marriage to a princess, so it isn't known if he was related to the old Thinite line of rulers or not. He is not thought to be the son of Qa'a, but could possibly be his son-in-law. He made offerings in memory of the man and was possibly responsible for Qa'a's funeral. Seals with the name of 'Hotepsekhemwy' have been found outside the tomb of Qa'a at Abydos. His tomb has been identified in Saqqara; the substructure has survived but there are no remains of a superstructure.

2890 - ? BC

c.2915 BC

Hotepsekhemwy (Boethos)

Raneb (Nebra)

Possibly reigned for 39 years.

Nynetjer

Reigned for 40 years.

Wneg

Reigned for 8 years.

Senedj

Reigned for 20 years.

Seth-Peribsen

Reigned 17 years. Possibly only ruled Upper Egypt.

While Sekhemi-Perenmaat seems to be fairly securely recognised as the predecessor of the final second dynasty pharaoh, Khasekhemui, Seth-Perinsen is much harder to pin down. It is likely that he ruled the southern half of Egypt only, while Perenmaat rules the northern half and succeeds to the rest upon Peribsen's death.

Egyptian Second Dynasty vase
The vase on the left is of sedimentary stone and dates from the Second Dynasty, while the other two are stone vases with gold-covered handles, First or Second Dynasty

Sekhemib-Perenmaat

Possibly only ruled Lower Egypt.

2704 - 2686 BC

Khasekhemui (Khasekhemwy)

Reigned for 18 years.

Old Kingdom

Egypt attained its first continuous peak of complexity in its civilisation and achievements with its administration centralised at Memphis, where Zoser established his court. The Old Kingdom is perhaps best known for the large number of pyramids which were constructed at this time as pharaonic burial places. For this reason, the Old Kingdom is frequently referred to as 'the Age of the Pyramids', and for much of its existence, it achieved a remarkable level of stability, not only for its ruling elite but for Egyptians in general.

2686 - 2613 BC

Third (Memphite) Dynasty
2980 - 2900 BC

Sanakhte's name means 'strong protection'. He presumably gained his position by marriage to a daughter of Khasekhemui, with rule even at this early period being passed down through the female line.

Memphis was the capital of the first province (nome) of Lower Egypt, and it became the kingdom's capital, strategically situated as it was at the junction of the Nile Valley and the Delta. Memphis remained a major administrative centre, if not always the capital, until it was supplanted by Cairo in the seventh century AD. Its original Egyptian name was Ineb Hedj (The White Walls), while the name 'Memphis' was a Greek deformation of the Egyptian name of Pepi I's (Six Dynasty) pyramid, Men-nefer.

(Additional information on the incorrect dating of the Old Kingdom by Sean B.)

2686 - 2668 BC

Sanakhte / Nebka (Mesochris)

Egyptian (Greek) versions of same name.

2668 - 2649 BC

Zoser (Djoser)

Heralded the age of pyramids.

c.2650 BC

FeatureThe first Egyptian stepped pyramid (the 62 metre high stone stepped Pyramid of Zoser) is built at the Saqqara necropolis opposite Memphis. The chief architect for the project is Imhotep (or variously Immutef, Ii-em-Hotep, or Imuthes, the latter being a Greek variation).

Zoser pyramid in Egypt
The Zoser pyramid shows the development towards the later Great Pyramid of Khufu

2649 - 2643 BC

Sekhemkhet

One school of thought on the dating of the early Egyptians and the Israelites suggests that evidence proves that the Third Dynasty (and therefore the rest of the Old Kingdom) is dated too early, with Menes more accurately being placed about 2300 BC. That would allow Sekhemkhet to be claimed as Joseph of the Israelites, vizier to the pharaoh, Zoser.

2643 - 2637 BC

Khaba

2637 - 2613 BC

Huni

2613 - 2498 BC

Fourth (Memphite) Dynasty
2900 - 2750 BC

The fourth dynasty saw the flowering of pyramid construction. Central administration continued to be based at Memphis. Trading links were established with the Canaanite trading city of Gebal (if they hadn't already been established as early as 3000 BC).

2613 - 2589 BC

c.2920 BC

Sneferu (Snefru)

2589? BC

Son? Mentioned by inference: Khufu is 'third to rule'.

2589 - 2566 BC

2900 - 2877 BC

Khufu (Cheops)

Brother? One of the earliest great pharaohs.

c.2550 BC

FeatureConstruction of the 147 metre high Great Pyramid of Khufu is completed at Giza.

FeatureAt this time the desiccation of the Sahara region is increasing.

2566 - 2558 BC

DedefrÍ / Djedefra (Radjedef)

FeatureSon.

2558 - 2532 BC

KhafrÍ (Chephren)

Son of Snefru. Built 2nd Great Pyramid.

Bikheris

Mentioned by the historian Manetho.

2532 - 2503 BC

2800 BC

Menkure (Mycerinus)

Built 3rd (Lesser) Great Pyramid.

c.2500 BC

Egyptians begin to move into Nubia, importing their culture and setting up trading centres.

2503 - 2498 BC

Shepseskaf

Built 3rd (Lesser) Great Pyramid.

Thampthis

Mentioned by the historian Manetho.

2498 - 2345 BC

Fifth (Memphite) Dynasty
2750 - 2625 BC

FeatureThe circumstances behind the founding of this dynasty seem to be completely unknown at present, but considering Userkaf's grandfather, he was probably from a secondary line of the pharaonic royal family. Userkaf started the tradition of building sun temples at Abu Sir, just south of Cairo.

2498 - 2491 BC

Userkaf / Shepseskaf (Weserkef)

Grandson of KhafrÍ.

2491 - 2477 BC

Sahure

Probable son.

2477 - 2467 BC

Nefererkere Kakai

Probable brother.

2467 - 2460 BC

Shepseskare Isi

2460 - 2453 BC

Neferefre

2453 - 2422 BC

Nyuserre Ini

2422 - 2414 BC

Menkauhor Kaiu

2414 - 2375 BC

Djedkare Isesi

2400 BC

Royal power is in decline and the size of the pyramids decreases accordingly. Regional governors have become so powerful that they treat their provinces as petty kingdoms, and are buried in impressive rock-cut tombs at provincial centres up and down the Nile Valley.

2375 - 2345 BC

Unas

2345 - 2181 BC

Sixth (Memphite) Dynasty
2625 - 2475 BC

This dynasty was founded by Teti, who married Iput, commonly believed to be the daughter of Unas of the fifth dynasty. Under it, there was trade with the relatively newly-established city states of Syria, including Ebla. Towards its end the dynasty descended into uncertainty and decline, as natural disaster combined with social disorder to end the Old Kingdom Period in Egypt.

2345 - 2333 BC

Teti

2333 - 2332 BC

Userkere (Weserkere)

2332 - 2283 BC

2590 - 2570 BC

Pheops (Pepi) I Merire

Feature

2283 - 2278 BC

Merenre Nemtyemsaf I

2278 - 2184 BC

2566 - ? BC

Pheops (Pepi) II Neferkere

Son of Pepi I. Possibly reigned while the next 4 ruled.

2200 - 2199 BC

Neferka

Child. Co-regent.

2197 - 2193 BC

Nefer

Reigned for 2 years, 1 month and a day.

2193 - 2176 BC

Aba

Highly unlikely.

?

Unknown and uncertain pharaoh.

2184 BC

Merenre Nemtyemsaf II

Uncertain pharaoh.

2184 - 2181 BC

Nitiqret

Uncertain queen.

First Intermediate Period

The First Intermediate Period, beginning around 2200 BC, was Egypt's Dark Age, heralding a period of disunity and relative cultural decline. Traditional thinking says that the Old Kingdom rapidly collapsed after the death of Pheops II. He had reigned for 94 years, longer than any monarch in history, and he died aged a hundred. The latter years of his reign were marked by inefficiency due to his advanced age, and when he was gone the Union of the Two Kingdoms fell apart amid bitter in-fighting to select his successor. Regional leaders had to cope with the resulting famine.

FeatureIn fact, there seems to have been a general climate-induced collapse around this time in the Middle East, as Sumerian cities were also affected in the twenty-second century BC. A much more all-encompassing theory about the collapse of the Old Kingdom can be tied to this same extreme climate change event, and the effect it had on Egypt. The event was triggered by the onset of a mini ice age (known to occur in Europe every 1,500 years or so, and lasting for about 200 years). Due to reduced rainfall at the Nile's headwaters, the river suffered a series of low or completely failed annual floods which destroyed Egypt's crop supply. Sandstorms fed by the increased desiccation of formerly green or semi-green areas on the edge of the Sahara smothered the land.

The large inland lake known today as Birket Qarun was linked during this period to the Nile by a tributary. When the Nile flood arrived each year, the lake would greatly expand. During the First Intermediate, the lake did not expand. In fact, the lack of sediments for this period show that it died up completely, and all of the previous Old Kingdom sediments were blown away by the winds and the scouring desert sands. This is the only time in its entire history that the lake has dried up completely.

Communities in the Nile Delta were reduced to absolute poverty, not knowing where their next meal would come from. Some were reduced to fighting amongst themselves for the smallest scraps, including corpses, carrion, dogs, and waste. One account, on the walls of the tomb of a local governor named Ankhtifi, relates that people were even eating their children in their desperation to survive. A first-hand account by a doctor who was in Old Cairo in AD 1200 describes much the same thing for another, much more brief famine, supporting the evidence for this earlier famine.

(Additional information from the BBC documentary series, Ancient Apocalypse: Death on the Nile, first broadcast 26 July 2001.)

2181 - 2160 BC

Seventh & Eighth (Memphite) Dynasties
2475 - 2445 BC

A time of confusion and collapse, records are sparse and details unclear. The Nile floods, always erratic, now proved to be consistently low, causing drought and turmoil. Half a century of disastrous famine caused organised society to fall apart and there followed a period in which provincial officials engaged in power struggles and twenty short-lived pharaohs ruled in a state of feudal strife that lasted for a century. (This table is based on the Abydos Table from the Temple of Seti I and is not conclusive.)

Neferkara I

The combined seventh and eight dynasties survive as little more than a series of names, and not even all of those are accepted by all scholars as valid pharaohs. After perhaps twenty years of famine and chaos, Egypt is still suffering vastly reduced Nile floods and its people are starving. There seems to be no end in sight of their suffering, and it will be a further century and-a-half before the situation recovers appreciably.

Sandstorm over the Sphinx
This impression of a sandstorm (by Johann Jakob Frey, 1813-1865) around the Sphinx conveys something of its oppressiveness, but this is a brief, single event that cannot be compared to the two centuries of suffering experience in Egypt at this time

Neferkara Nebi

Djedkara Shemai

Neferkara Khendu

Merenhor

Not accepted by all scholars.

Neferkamin Seneferka

Nikara

Neferkara Tereru

Neferkahor

Neferkara Pepyseneb

Neferkamin Anu

Qakare Ibi

Neferkara II

Neferkawhor Khuwihap

Neferirkara

2160 - 2130 BC

Ninth (Herakleopolitan) Dynasty
2445 - 2415 BC

In around 2160 BC, a new line of pharaohs tried to reunite Lower Egypt from their capital at Herakleopolis Magna, the twentieth nome (province) of Egypt. A rival line based at Thebes was reuniting Upper Egypt and a clash between the two rival dynasties was inevitable.

2160 - ? BC

2445 - ? BC

Meryibre Khety (Achthoes I)

Nomarch (provincial ruler). Founded the dynasty.

Meribre Khety II

Neferkare III

Nebkaure (Acthoes II)

Setut

Wakhare Khety I / AchthoŽs

Merykare

Wankhare Khety II

Menethoupe I

Wankhare Khety III

Khety II

Daughter.

- 2130 BC

Merikare's daughter.

2130 - 2040 BC

Tenth (Herakleopolitan) Dynasty
2415 - 2160 BC

The Tenth Dynasty continued at Herakleopolis Magna, while Egypt remained fragmented. Only four names are known here, although there is the possibility that more actually reigned. The rulers of Thebes quickly became major rivals for power.

2130 - ? BC

Meryhathor

Neferkare IV

Wankare (Acthoes III)

- 2040 BC

Merykare

Middle Kingdom

The Middle Kingdom can be noted for the expansion of trade outside of the kingdom that occurred during this time, including maintaining a presence along the Mediterranean coast, in Canaanite cities such as Gebal and Syrian cities such as Carchemish. This opening of trade eventually led to the downfall of the Middle Kingdom, induced by an invasion by the Hyksos.

2040 - 1991 BC

Eleventh (Theban) Dynasty
2160 - 1991 BC

The Eleventh Dynasty was based at Thebes (the Greek version of the Egyptian word niwt-rst, 'Southern City') and began as a rival to the Herakleopolitan Tenth Dynasty. In around 2055 BC, Mentuhotep II defeated the Herakleopolitan pharaohs, reunited the Two Lands, founded the Eleventh Dynasty and ruled as Mentuhotep II, the first pharaoh of the Middle Kingdom.

2134 - ? BC

Mentuhotep I

Founded the dynasty in Thebes.

? - 2118 BC

Sehertawy Intef I (the Great)

Son of Iku. Nomarch of Thebes.

2118 - 2069 BC

Wahankh Intef II

Claimed to rule over all Egypt.

Intef II is the first of the dynasty to claim to rule over the whole of Egypt, which brings the Thebans into conflict with the rulers of Herakleopolis Magna. Intef undertakes several campaigns northwards, and captures the important nome (province) of Abydos.

2069 - 2061 BC

Nakhtnebtepnefer Intef III

2061 - 2010 BC

Nebheteprac Mentuhotep II

Reunited Egypt.

The reunification of Egypt is effected under Mentuhotep II. Nubia is occupied as far as the Second Cataract.

2010 - 1998 BC

Sankhkara Mentuhotep III

1998 - 1991 BC

Nebtawyra Mentuhotep IV

Died mysteriously.

1991 - 1802 BC

Twelfth (Theban) Dynasty
1991 - 1788 BC

The reign of the last king of the Eleventh Dynasty is something of a mystery. Contemporary records refer to 'seven empty years' following the death of Mentuhotep III, which correspond to the reign of Nebtawyra Mentuhotep IV. Modern scholars identify his vizier, Amenemhat, with Amenemhat I as part of a theory that Amenemhat became king during a palace coup.

The dynasty founded a new capital at El-Lisht. Middle Kingdom rulers were buried in desert-edged pyramids nearby.

1991 - 1962 BC

1991 - 1970 BC

Amenemhet I (Ammenemes)

Vizier of the previous pharaoh.

1971 - 1926 BC

1970 - 1938 BC

Senusret I (Sesostris)

Son.

c.1950 BC

Senusret I officially establishes the southern border of Egypt 'in order to prevent' any people from the Nubian kingdom of Kerma 'crossing the frontier, by water or by land unless for trading or other approved purposes'.

1926 - 1895 BC

1938 - 1903 BC

Amenemhet II

Son.

1897 - 1878 BC

1903 - 1887 BC

Senusret II

Son.

1878 - 1860 BC

1887 - 1849 BC

Senusret III

Son. Most powerful of the Middle Kingdom pharaohs.

c.1850 BC

The heavily policed Egyptian border is used as a launch pad for a series of raids under Senusret III against Kerma in Nubia. A canal is built around the Nile's first great series of rapids (the First Cataract) near Aswan to facilitate troop movements. The pharaoh launches a series of invasions and boasts of his exploits in the kingdom of Kerma.

1860 - 1815 BC

1849 - 1801 BC

Amenemhet III (Moarith)

Son.

c.1800 BC

The horse is introduced into Egypt.

Wall painting of Nubians
Egyptian wall painting depicting Nubians bringing offerings of gold in around 1850 BC

1815 - 1807 BC

1801 - 1792 BC

Amenemhet IV

Son. Had a co-regency for one year.

1807 - 1803 BC

1792 - 1788 BC

Sebeknefrure (Nefrusobek)

Queen. Applauded as a national heroine.

1803 BC

1788 BC

The Middle Kingdom falls.

Second Intermediate Period

The Second Intermediate Period is best known as the point at which the Hyksos made their appearance in Egypt, whose reign comprised the Fifteenth and Sixteenth Dynasties. Seventy pharaohs ruled in a disrupted Egypt during this period, and for much of that time, they paid homage to the Hyksos. To the south, the Nubian kingdom was at its height, freed from interference by Egypt.

1803 - 1600 BC

Thirteenth (Theban) Dynasty
1788 - ? BC

In later texts, this period is usually described as one of chaos and disorder. However, the period may have been more peaceful than was once thought since the central government in Itj-tawy near the Faiyum was sustained during most of the dynasty and the country remained relatively stable. However, the pharaohs were unable to prevent a break-away dynasty forming in the north.

Unfortunately it is difficult to ascertain an accurate chronology for this as there are few monuments dating from the period. Many of the kings' names are only known from an odd fragmentary inscription or from scarabs.

1803 - 1799 BC

Wegaf Khutawyre

Sekhemre

Brother.

1795 - 1792 BC

Ameny Intef IV (Amenemhet V) Sankhibre

? - 1790 BC

Sehetepre

Iufni

Seankhibre

Semenkare

Sewadjkare

Nedjem

Reigned for 7 months.

Sobekhotep I

c.1775 BC

Renseneb

Reigned for 4 months.

c.1775? BC

Hor Auyibre I

Sedjefakare

Reigned for 5-7 years. A well-attested ruler.

c.1767 BC

Sobekhotep II (Amenmehet VI) Sekhemre Khutawy

c.1765 BC

Khendjer Userkare

Reigned at least 4 years and 3 months.

Imyremeshaw

Antef V

c.1755 BC

Sobekhotep III Sekhemre Sewadjtawy

Reigned for 4 years and 2 months.

1751 - 1740 BC

Neferhotep I Khasekhemre

Reigned for 11 years.

1740 - 1730 BC

Sobekhotep IV Khaneferre

Reigned for 10 or 11 years.

1720 BC

The Hyksos make their first appearance during the reign of Sobekhotep IV, and around now they take control of the town of Avaris (the modern Tell ed-Dab'a / Khata'na).

c.1730 BC

Sobekhotep V

c.1725 - 1714 BC

Wahibre Ibiau

Reigned 10 years and 8 months.

c.1714 - 1691 BC

Ay Merneferre

Reigned 23 years and 8 months.

Merhetepre Ini

Reigned 2 years and 2 months.

Neferhotep II Sekhemre Sankhtawy

Precise dates unknown.

Mersekhemre Ined

Sewadjkare Hori

The position of the following kings is uncertain.

c.1654 BC

Dudimose I

The Hyksos, led by Salitis, the founder of the Fifteenth Dynasty, overrun Egypt during the reign of Dudimose I.

Dudimose II

Senebmiu

Mentuhotep V

Senaayeb

c.1705 - 1690 BC

Fourteenth Dynasty

The provincial ruling family in Xois (Avaris), located in the marshes of the western Delta, broke away from the central authority to form the Fourteenth Dynasty. As a result, some dates overlap with those of the preceding dynasty. The Turin King List provides an additional 25 names, some fragmentary, and no dates. None are confirmed elsewhere, and all are of very dubious provenance. The dynasty was a very-short-lived one, being swiftly conquered by the Hyksos.

c.1705 BC

Nehesy

Khakherewre

c.1704 BC

Nebefawre

Sehebre

c.1699 BC

Merdjefare

Sewadjkare

c.1694 BC

Nebdjefare

Webenre

?

Unknown pharaoh.

--djefare

c.1690 BC

--webenre

c.1705 - 1534 BC

Fifteenth (Hyksos/Shepherd Kings) Dynasty
c.1650 - 1580 BC

The Hyksos, Semitic Sea Peoples who based themselves at the Nile Delta, made their capital at Avaris, the captured Fourteenth Dynasty capital. They ruled Lower Egypt directly, and exacted tribute from Upper Egypt, treating it as a subject satellite state. While Hyksos was formerly taken to mean 'shepherd king', modern thinking translates it as 'foreign king', and the Hykos are usually accepted as being refugees from Palestine, although Edom has also been claimed for the source.

It is possible that the Hyksos were driven to invade Egypt by the same famine in the Middle East that caused the Israelites to migrate towards Egypt. Hurrians were also beginning to campaign into Syria and the Levant and may have pushed refugees southwards. At the same time as Memphis fell to the Hyksos, the native Thebans set up the rival Seventeenth Dynasty which fought to free Egypt.

c.1705 - 1685 BC

Salitis

Reigned for 20 years.

Sakir-Har

Named as an early king but position uncertain.

c.1674 - 1671 BC

Sheshi

Reigned for either 3 or 1 years.

Yakubher

c.1620 BC

Khyan

Reigned 30-40 years.

c.1580 - 1540 BC

Apepi I

c.1550 - 1540 BC

Apepi II?

May be the same man as Apepi I.

c.1540 - 1534 BC

Khamudi

Obscure.

c.1663 - 1555 BC

Sixteenth (Theban) Dynasty
c.1663 - 1555 BC

This Theban dynasty was a local group based on the north coast of the Sinai (Pelusium), and cover a period of time when Egypt was split into a set of small Hyksos-ruled kingdoms. The rulers were contemporary with the Fifteenth Dynasty.

They are known mainly from their entries in the Turin King List, and are mostly unknown elsewhere. Dates and in some cases, order of reign, are also unknown. It s unclear how the names listed in green fit in with the rest of the list, except that all but the last reigned before Bebankh, as he is mentioned in both lists.

Anat-her

User-anat

Semqen

Djehuty (Sekhemresementawy)

Reigned for 3 years. May be the same as Semqen.

Zaket

Wasa

Qar

Pepi III

Sobekhotep VIII (Sekhemresewosertawy)

Reigned for 16 years.

Neferhotep III (Sekhemresankhtawy)

Reigned for 1 year.

Mentuhotepi (Sankhenra)

Reigned for 1 year.

Nebiryraw I (Sewadjenra)

Reigned for 26 years.

Nebiryraw II

Reigned for 3 months?

? (Semenra)

Reigned before Bebankh for 1 year?

Bebankh / Bebiankh (Sewoserenra)

Reigned for 12 years.

? (Sekhemreshedwaset)

Reigned after Bebankh for 3 months?

Nebmaatre

Nikare II

Aahotepre

Nubankhre

Nubuserre

Khauserre

Khamure

Jacob-Baal

Yakbam/Sekkhaenre?

Yakbam is an Amorite name.

Yoam

Amu

1650 - 1550 BC

Seventeenth (Theban) Dynasty
1680 - 1580 BC

At around the time Memphis fell to the Hyksos, the native Egyptian ruling house in Thebes declared its independence and set itself up as the Seventeenth Dynasty. This dynasty eventually drove the Hyksos out of Egypt. The last two pharaohs of the dynasty opposed the Hyksos rule over Egypt and initiated a war that would rid Egypt of the Hyksos kings and began a period of unified rule which is known as the New Kingdom.

Rahotep Sekhemrewahkhaw

Intef V the Elder

Reigned for 3 years.

Sobekemsaf I Sekhemreshedtawy

The Theban kings of the Seventeenth Dynasty locate their tombs in part of the Theban necropolis now known as Dra Abu el-Naga. They incorporate small pyramids in their building. Though the position of some tombs is known by the early nineteenth century AD, they are subsequently lost.

Seventeenth Dynasty Theban sarcophagus
A sarcophagus from the Theban necropolis

Antef VI Sekhemrewepmaat

Antef VII Nebkheperre

Intef VIII Sekhemreherhermaat

Sobekemsaf II Sekhemrewadjkhaw

Reigned for 7 years.

Thuty

Reigned for 1 year.

Mentuhotep VI

Reigned for 1 year.

Nebiryerawet I

Reigned for 6 years.

Nebiryerawet II

Semenmedjatre

Seuserenre

Reigned for 12 years.

Shedwast

Intef VII

1559 - 1558 BC

Tao I the Elder Senakhtenre

Reigned for 1 year.

1558 - 1554 BC

Tao II the Brave Seqenenre

Reigned for 4 years.

1554 - 1549 BC

Kamose

Second son. Reigned for 5 years.

fl 1580 BC

Apophis of Avaris

Position unclear, but reigned at end of the dynasty.

1580 BC

Egypt is freed from Hyksos rule by Kamose. Nubia is regained.

New Kingdom

With the Hyksos thrown out of Egypt and the country reunited under native rule, the Seventeenth Dynasty pharaohs formed the Eighteenth Dynasty. Possibly as a result of the foreign rule of the Hyksos during the Second Intermediate Period, the New Kingdom saw Egypt attempt to create a buffer between the Levant and Egypt through military dominance abroad, creating Egypt's greatest territorial gains. It expanded far into Nubia in the south, and held wide territories in the Middle East. Egyptian armies fought against Hittite armies for control of ancient Syria.

1550 - 1292 BC

Feature Eighteenth (Diospolite) Dynasty
1580 - 1315 BC

FeatureThe Eighteenth Dynasty had its capital at Thebes, although much of the administration probably remained at Memphis. The dynasty contained some of Egypt's most famous pharaohs including Ahmose I, Hapshepsut, Thutmose III, Amenhotep III, Akhenaten and Tutankhamun. Queen Hatshepsut concentrated on expanding Egypt's external trade, sending a commercial expedition to the land of Punt. Thutmose III ('the Napoleon of Egypt') expanded Egypt's army and wielded it with great success, militarising the eastern border and ensuring Egypt was properly defended.

1550 - 1525 BC

1580 - 1557 BC

Amasis (Ahmosi I)

Son of Kamose.

New Kingdom pharaohs begin the practice of burial in rock-cut tombs in the Valley of the Kings. They also immediately take control of the Canaanite city of Hazor.

1525 - 1504 BC

1557 - 1540 BC

Amenhotep I

Son.

1504 - 1492 BC

1540 - 1505 BC

Tuthmosis I (Thotmes)

Son. Re-conquered Nubia.

1504 - 1503 BC

With the resurgence in Egyptian power, attention is turned again towards Nubia, where locals had created their own state or states during the Egyptian Intermediate Period, and now openly rebel when Tuthmosis gains the throne. A campaign south sees Nubia defeated and Egypt resumes control there. A swift campaign through Canaan and Syria follows in the pharaoh's second year.

1492 - 1479 BC

1505 - 1501 BC

Tuthmosis II (Thotmes)

Son. Died aged 24.

1479 - 1458 BC

1501 - 1479 BC

Hatshepsut

Regent and queen. Reasons for death unknown.

1477 BC

1503 BC

Following the sudden, and unexpected early death of Tuthmosis II, Hatshepsut, the daughter of Tuthmosis I and half-sister and wife of the dead king, acts as regent to the infant Tuthmosis III for the first two years of her reign. He is the son of Tuthmosis II and a junior wife who is unsuitable to act as regent. In 1503 Hatshepsut declares herself pharaoh and reigns for twenty-two years in a 'Gloriana' reign equivalent to that of Elizabeth I's of England.

1479 - 1425 BC

1501 - 1447 BC

Tuthmosis III (Thotmes)

FeatureBuilt first Egyptian empire.

1478 BC

Tuthmosis begins to permanently extend Egypt's influence in the Middle East by conquering Palestine, and Canaan and entering into Syria on the southern borders of Mitanni.

1473 BC

Deir el-Medina is founded as a village of craftsmen responsible for Egyptian royal tombs.

1458 BC

1479 BC

Tuthmosis III gains the throne and immediately sets about removing any evidence of his stepmother's reign, bricking over her obelisks in the Luxor Temple and ordering images of her and cartouches bearing her name to be chiselled off walls.

c.1400's BC

Egypt is expanded to the Euphrates and the Fourth Cataract of the Nile.

1453 BC

Tuthmosis defeats Mitanni at the battle of Megiddo. Cyprus is also brought under Egyptian control. Egypt's territories in the Levant and Syria reach up to Amurru and include Canaan.

1425 - 1400 BC

1447 - 1420 BC

Amenhotep II

Son.

1400 - 1388 BC

1420 - 1411 BC

Tuthmosis (Thotmes) IV

Son. Marries daughter of the Mitanni king.

1388 - 1352 BC

1411 - 1375 BC

Amenhotep III

Son. Nicknamed 'the debauched'.

c.1385 BC

Amenhotep first marries the daughter of the Mitanni king Shuttarna II and later marries the daughter of a successor, Tushratta.

Tushratta tablet to Amenhotep III
The cuneiform tablet inscribed with a letter from Tushratta to Amenhotep III

1352 - 1334 BC

1375 - 1358 BC

Amenhotep IV / Akhenaten

FeatureSon.

1371 BC

Akhenaten institutes monotheism in the fourth year of his reign and the following year he founds a new capital at Amarna.

During his period of rule from there the Amarna letters are written - diplomatic correspondence with Assur-Uballit I of Assyria, the Kassite rulers of Babylonia, plus Mitanni, the Hittites, Alashiya, Arzawa, and the city states of Syria and Canaan - which includes descriptions of the disruptive activities of the 'habiru'.

1352 - 1339 BC

1375 - 1361 BC

Nefertiti

FeatureWife & Co-regent.

1334 - 1333 BC

1358 - 1357 BC

Smenkhare (Sakere)

Son-in-law of Akhenaten (or Nefertiti renamed?).

1333 - 1324 BC

1357 - 1352 BC

Tutankhamun

FeatureProbable son of Akhenaten.

The eight year-old Tutankhamun's accession is probably handled by Ai, the priest and master of horse for Akhenaten. To ensure that no outside interests gain a foothold in what is now his power base, he chooses the boy pharaoh's elder sister to be the queen.

1324 - 1320 BC

1351 - 1350 BC

Ankhesenamen / Kheperkheprure

Wife of Tutankhamun. Also known as Eje.

1320 - 1316 BC

1350 - 1346 BC

Ai

Regent to Tutankhamun & Ankhesenamen?

1316 - 1292 BC

1346 - 1315 BC

Djeserkheperure Horemheb

Former C-in-C of Army (this is disputed).

1292 - 1186 BC

Nineteenth (Diospolite) Dynasty
1315 - 1198 BC

Djeserkheperure Horemheb was the last pharaoh of the Eighteenth Dynasty. After seizing back his position of designated crown prince from the 'usurper', Ai, and because he had no heir of his own, he appointed his vizier, Paramesse as his chosen successor before his death. Paramesse employed the name Ramses I upon assuming power. The Nineteenth Dynasty set about erasing the name of Tutankhamun from history.

1292 - 1290 BC

1315 - 1314 BC

Ramses I

FeatureArmy general.

1290 - 1279 BC

1313 - 1292 BC

Seti I

FeatureSon.

1279 - 1213 BC

1292 - 1225 BC

Ramses II (the Great)

FeatureSon. Co-regent 1292.

1275 BC

1286 / 1258 BC

Ramses reaches a stalemate with the Hittites at the Battle of Kadesh, after which the earliest known peace treaty is signed in 1258 BC. Ramses limits his control to southern Palestine, where he draws a firm and fortified boundary.

Ramses II is known during his reign as the oppressor of the Israelites, but whether this episode occurs at this point in time is still unproven and highly debatable. Egyptian control over the Levant (including Canaan) gradually slips away, and Ramses constructs a series of forts close to the Egyptian border.

Egyptian jackal-headed deity
Wooden figure of a jackal-headed deity from the Valley of the Kings, Nineteenth or Twentieth Dynasty, representing either Anubis or Duamutef, one of the four sons of Horus

1213 - 1203 BC

1225 - 1215 BC

Merneptah

Son.

1208 BC

In his fifth year, Merneptah claims to successfully repel an attack by Libyans and an assortment of people from the north (including a detachment of the Lukka), whom he calls 'of the countries of the sea', or Sea Peoples. They try to enter Egypt by force, but also bring their families and cattle, clearly intending to stay.

1203 - 1200 BC

Amenemses

c.1200 BC

Egypt gains overlordship of Canaan, and perhaps the Israelites and Philistines, both of which are only just settling in the region.

1200 - 1194 BC

1215 - 1212 BC

Seti II

1194 - 1188 BC

1215 - 1209 BC

Siptak

Rival Regent.

1188 - 1186 BC

Tausret (Pielady)

Queen.

1185 - 1069 BC

Twentieth (Diospolite) Dynasty
1198 - 1150 BC

As happened under the later Nineteenth Dynasty, this group struggled under the effects of the bickering between the heirs of Ramses III. However, at this time Egypt was also increasingly beset by a series of droughts, below-normal flooding levels of the Nile, famine, civil unrest and official corruption - all of which would limit the managerial abilities of any king. The kingdom declined, and with it, Egyptian influence outside its own borders.

The power of the last king, Ramses XI, grew so weak that in the south the High Priests of Amun at Thebes became the effective de facto rulers of Upper Egypt, while Smendes controlled Lower Egypt even before Ramses XI's death. Smendes would eventually found the Twenty-First dynasty at Tanis. In fact, the whole region, from Syria and the Levant, to the Hittites in Anatolia, and Assyria and Babylonia, was at this time in the grip of a dark age resulting from the general instability of circa 1200 BC, and a new people, the Aramaeans, were migrating into Mesopotamia and Syria, exacerbating the situation.

1185 - 1183 BC

1198 BC

Setnakhte

1183 - 1152 BC

1198 - 1167 BC

Ramses III

Son. Last great pharaoh.

1178 - 1175 BC

1193 - 1190 BC

In his fifth year (1179 BC), Ramses fights off attacks from people from the north, almost certainly the Sea Peoples. In his eighth year (1176 BC), as well as defeating another attack, he provides an overview of the general collapse in the eastern Mediterranean in the face of attacks by the Sea Peoples. The twelfth year (1172 BC) sees another attack. However, Ramses may be claiming the victories of his predecessor, Merneptah, although his statements do highlight Egypt's loss of influence outside its own borders by this date.

1152 BC

1167 BC

A plot to extract revenge is hatched by Tey (or Tiye), one of Ramses' wives, who has been overlooked for the position of principal wife when the pharaoh had chosen another wife, Isis. The plot results in the murder of Ramses and an armed uprising. Isis and her son, Ramses IV, defeat the uprising and the conspirators, including many senior figures, are sentenced to death. The eldest son of Tey, Pentawere, is the only one of Ramses' sons to join the uprising. He is tried and found guilty, and subsequently takes his own life. Modern CT scanning techniques have revealed that Ramses has his throat slit to kill him, and the embalmers who mummify his body embed a Horus eye in the wound, a charm that is most probably intended to promote healing. Pentawere seems to have been strangled, possibly meaning that he has someone else end his life on his orders.

The mummy of Ramses III
The mummy of Ramses III revealed the fact that his throat had been slit to a width of seven centimetres, more then enough to kill him instantly

1152 - 1146 BC

1167 - 1161 BC

Ramses IV

Son. Lost Philistia and part of Syria to Assyria.

1146 - 1142 BC

1161 - 1157 BC

Ramses V

1142 - 1134 BC

Ramses VI

1134 - 1126 BC

Ramses VII

1150 - 1090 BC

Partition of Egypt into the power domains of the High Priests of Ammon in Thebes and the Pharaohs in Tanis.

1126 - 1124 BC

- 1142 BC

Ramses VIII

1124 - 1106 BC

1142 - 1123 BC

Ramses IX

1115 - 1077 BC

Assyria takes complete control of Syria and Armenia from a weakened Egypt.

1106 - 1102 BC

Ramses X

1102 - 1069 BC

1118 - 1090 BC

Ramses XI

Stripped of power by High Priest of Amun Herihor.

c.1100 BC

The Onomasticon of Amenemope document appears to confirm that the former Sea Peoples, the Peleshet, Sherden, and Tjekker, are still settled in Philistia.

1075 BC

Egypt loses control of its dominions in Nubia.

1090 BC

End of the New Kingdom period.

Third Intermediate Period

The Third Intermediate Period marked the end of the New Kingdom after the collapse of the Egyptian empire and the political fragmentation of the country. A number of dynasties of Libyan origin ruled, giving this period its alternative name of the Libyan Period.

1060 - 945 BC

Twenty-First (Tanite) Dynasty
1090 - 945 BC

Based at the new Egyptian capital of Tanis (which was founded by the preceding dynasty) the Twenty-First Dynasty was a relatively weak group. Theoretically, they were rulers of all Egypt, but in practice their influence was limited to Lower Egypt.

1069 - 1043 BC

Nesbanebdjed I / Smendes I

Known by both names.

1043 - 1039 BC

Amenemnisu

1039 - 991 BC

- 945 BC

Psusennes I

993 - 984 BC

Amenemope

984 - 979 BC

Osorkon the Elder / Osochor

978 - 959 BC

Siamun

959 - 945 BC

Psusennes II

c.943 - 720 BC

Twenty-Second (Bubastite) Dynasty
945 - 745 BC

A series of Meshwesh Libyans ruled Egypt from circa 943 BC until 720 BC. They had been settled in Egypt since the Twentieth Dynasty. Although the dynasty seems to have originated at Bubastis, the kings almost certainly ruled from Tanis, which was their capital and the city in which their tombs have been excavated. The tomb of the first, and probably most powerful of them, Shoshenq I, was discovered intact at Tanis in 1938-39.

943 - 922 BC

c.945 - 920 BC

Shoshenq I / Shishak / Sheshonk

FeatureLibyan mercenary. Biblical Shisaq.

c.925 BC

Shesonk mounts a full-scale invasion of Judah and Israel, but concentrates his efforts mainly on the north. Jerusalem is relatively untouched following a short siege by the invaders. The Ark of the Covenant, contrary to some opinion, is not taken to Egypt.

922 - 887 BC

Osorkon I

Son.

887 - 885 BC

Shoshenq II

Possibly a brother.

885 - 872 BC

Takelot I

Son of Osorkon.

880 - 860 BC

Harsiese A

Harsiese is an independent king at Thebes who rules during the reigns of Takelot I and Osorkon II.

872 - 837 BC

Osorkon II

Son of Takelot.

853 BC

Osorkon is a member of an alliance of states which also includes Ammon, Arvad, Byblos, Damascus, Edom, Hamath, Kedar, and Samaria. Together they fight against Shalmaneser III of Assyria at the battle of Qarqar.

837 - 798 BC

Shoshenq III

Parentage unknown.

836 - 805 BC

At the start of Shoshenq's reign, a separate group of Libyans in Leontopolis gains power over the Middle and Upper Egypt area. By 805 BC a further group, the Libu, gain the western Delta around Sais.

798 - 785 BC

Shoshenq IV 'Quartus'

Parentage unknown.

Shoshenq IV is not to be confused with Shoshenq VI - the original Shoshenq IV in publications before 1993.

Djedkhonsefankh mummy
Cartonnage case containing the mummy of the vizier, Djedkhonsefankh, who held office at a point close to the 780s BC

785 - 778 BC

Pami

Parentage unknown.

785 BC

In Nubia, the kingdom of Kush is founded on Egypt's southern borders. Very soon the Nubians there are in a position to challenge for the control of Egypt itself.

778 - 740 BC

Shoshenq V

Son.

740 - 720 BC

Osorkon IV

Osorkon IV ruled concurrently from the eastern Delta with Tefnakhte of Sais and Iuput II of Leontopolis.

836 - 720 BC

Twenty-Third (Tanite) Dynasty
745 - 718 BC

The so-called Twenty-Third Dynasty was a localised offshoot of the previous one, again of Libyan origin, which was perhaps based in Upper Egypt, though there is much debate concerning this issue. All of its kings reigned in Middle and Upper Egypt including the Western Desert Oases, while another group of Libyans, the Libu, occupied the western Delta. The capital was located at Leontopolis.

837 - 813 BC

Takelot II

Previously thought to be a 22nd Dynasty pharaoh.

826 - 801 BC

Pedubast

A rebel who seized Thebes from Takelot II.

812 - 811 BC

Iuput I

801 - 795 BC

Shoshenq VI

Successor to Pedubast.

795 - 767 BC

Osorkon III

Son of Takelot II. Recovered Thebes and took throne.

773 - 765 BC

Takelot III

765 - 762 BC

Rudamun

762 - 728 BC

Iuput II

805 - 732 BC

The Libu

Not counted as forming a dynasty as such, the Libu were yet another group of western nomads (Libyans) who occupied the western Delta from Sais.

805 - 795 BC

Inamunnifnebu

795 - 780 BC

?

Unknown ruler.

780 - 755 BC

Niumateped

763 - 755 BC

Titaru

755 - 750 BC

Ker

750 - 745 BC

Rudamon

745 - 736 BC

Ankhor

736 - 732 BC

Tefnakht

Late Period

The Late Period runs from 732 BC until Egypt became a province of Rome in 30 BC, and includes the last flowering of native Egyptian rulers before periods of rule by various foreigners: Nubians, Persians, and Macedonians.

732 - 720 BC

Twenty-Fourth (Saite) Dynasty
718 - 712 BC

A short-lived group of pharaohs who had their capital at Sais in the western Nile Delta, the dynasty came to a sudden end. The authority of the second pharaoh was recognised in much of the Delta, including Memphis, but Shabaka, the second king of the Twenty-Fifth Dynasty, attacked Sais, captured Bakenrenef and burned him alive.

736 - 725 BC

Tefnakhte

725 - 720 BC

718 - 712 BC

Bakenrenef / Bocchoris of Sais

720 BC

712 BC

Egypt is conquered by Ethiopians/Nubians.

732 - 656 BC

Twenty-Fifth (Ethiopian/Nubian) Dynasty
712 - 663 BC

While the Twenty-Fourth Dynasty pharaohs attempted to rule from Sais, Nubians from the kingdom of Kush (with perhaps Ethiopian overlordship) invaded from the south and swiftly took over Egypt. The second of their pharaohs cleared the way for their complete rule of Egypt. Control was probably indirect, with local Egyptians in charge of administration.

They originated in Kush (now in northern Sudan) at the city state of Napata, from where they invaded and took control of Egypt under Piye (spelt Piankhi in older works). From Taharqa's reign onwards, the kings of this dynasty were driven back into Nubia, at first by the Assyrians, then by the pharaohs of the Twenty-Sixth Dynasty. Their successors settled back in Nubia, where they re-established their Kushite kingdom at Napata (c.750-590 BC) and then moved it to MeroŽ (590 BC-4th century AD).

732 - 721 BC

Piye / Piankhi

King of Nubia (747-721 BC).

721 - 707 BC

712 - 700 BC

Sabaka / Shabaka

King of Nubia (721-707 BC).

707 - 690 BC

700 - 688 BC

Shebitku / Sabataka

King of Nubia (707-690 BC).

690 - 670 BC

688 - 663 BC

Taharqa

FeatureNephew of Sabaka. King of Nubia.

671- 669 BC

Assyrian king Esarhaddon invades Egypt in a series of three campaigns and captures the capital at Memphis. A number of rulers of the Nile Delta region are made vassals. Assyrian control is weak, however, and by the time of the death of Esarhaddon, Taharqa manages to regain all of Egypt.

669 - 664 BC

Taharqa

Regained Egypt.

665 - 664 BC

Assyrian king Ashurbanipal re-invades Egypt, although he is delayed by a rebellion of the Nile Delta vassals. Using an army made up of units from Syro-Palestinian vassals such as Cyprus, Edom, Judah, Moab, and Phoenicia, the Kushites are expelled. One of the Nile Delta vassals, Neko, is reinstated and given special prominence. When Assyria's army departs, the new king of Nubia, Tantamani, returns to take control.

664 - 663 BC

663 - 656 BC

Tantamani

King of Nubia (664-653 BC).

664 - 663 BC

The Assyrians return with a major attack which reaches Thebes. Nubian influence in Egypt is brought to an end.

672 - 525 BC

Feature Twenty-Sixth (Saite) Dynasty
663 - 525 BC

FeatureThe Saite pharaohs were the last native dynasty to rule Egypt before the Persian conquest (although others followed). They had their capital at Sais, and also founded the city of Herakleion around this time.

Following the fall of the Assyrian empire, Egypt attempted to reassert its former control in the Middle East, but was driven back by the Neo-Babylonians although they were prevented from entering Egypt itself. However, the Persian empire swept away all before it, Babylonians and Egyptians alike. A descendant of this dynasty eventually led the battle for the liberation of Egypt.

672 - 663 BC

670 - 663 BC

Neko / NechaŰ I (Nech / Checho)

Assyrian vassal. Killed by Tantamani of Kush.

672 - 525 BC

FeatureThe pharaohs of the twenty-sixth dynasty reopen the Fifth Dynasty necropolis at Abu Sir to begin their own internments there. By 663 BC they feel sufficiently strong to throw off Assyria's vassalage and Psamtik declares himself pharaoh of all Egypt.

663 - 610 BC

663 - 603 BC

Psamtik / PsammÍtichos I
(Psammetichus)

Son. Expelled the Syrians in 655 BC.

c.650 BC

A Jewish community has become established on the island of Elephantine in the middle of the Nile close to Aswan. Initially made up of settled mercenaries, it now appears to swell with an influx of Israelites probably leaving their homeland to escape the fervent paganism of their king, Manasseh. The enlarged population, living alongside Egyptians on the island, builds a Temple matching that of Solomon's in dimensions and scale.

614 - 612 BC

Egypt frees herself from the Assyrians, and in 605 BC attempts to prevent the westward expansion of Babylonia, but is expelled from Syria.

Painted wooden coffin for a man named Itineb
Painted wooden coffin for a man named Itineb dated to the Twenty-Sixth Dynasty or later, after 664 BC from Saqqara

610 - 595 BC

603 - 593 BC

Neko / Nccho II (Nech)

Son.

595 - 589 BC

593 - 588 BC

Psamtik II

Son.

593 - 588 BC

Psamtik sends an army south to fight the Kushites and the king of the Ethiopians. Some deserters remain in Western Abyssinia and settle there, according to Herodotus' Land of the Deserters.

589 - 570 BC

588 - 569 BC

ApriÍs / Uaphris (Wahibre)

Using Greek mercenaries, Babylonians are held off.

c.570 BC

The Libyans seek an alliance with Egypt in order to punish the flourishing and expanding Greek colony of Cyrene. The Egyptian troops who are sent by Pharaoh ApriÍs are wiped out by the Cyrenaeans at the Battle of the Well of Thestis, almost to a man due, according to Herodotus, to not taking the Greeks seriously as an opponent. The Greeks form an alliance with the successor of ApriÍs.

570 - 526 BC

569 - 525 BC

Amasis / Amhose II (Ahmosi)

526 - 525 BC

525 BC

Psamtik III / Petubastis III

Son. Carried to Susa in chains.

525 - 524 BC

Psamtik III is defeated at the Battle of Pelusium and Egypt is conquered by the Persian empire under Cambyses. It becomes a vassal state. Many Egyptian temples are destroyed, but Cambyses spares the Jewish Temple on Elephantine. However, it seems that Psamtik is not immediately captured. Instead he, or the bulk of his forces, seek refuge around the Dachla Oasis. Cambyses follows him with an army of 50,000 men and, according to Herodotus, the entire army disappears in the desert, presumably overcome by a sand storm (around 524 BC).

A highly favourable modern theory is that this story was created by Cambyses' successor to mask an embarrassing defeat. Psamtik manages to reconquer a large part of Egypt and is crowned pharaoh in the capital, Memphis. Cambyses' successor in Persia, Darius I, ends the Egyptian 'revolt' with a good deal of bloodshed two years after Cambyses' defeat, in 522 BC.

525 - 404 BC

Feature Twenty-Seventh (Achaemenid Persian) Dynasty
525 - 404 BC

Egypt was conquered by the Persian empire under Cambyses in 525 BC and annexed until 404 BC. This was not without a hiccup, as Cambyses was seemingly defeated by the now-rebel pharaoh, who enjoyed a brief resurgence before finally being crushed by Darius I. The Achaemenid shahs were acknowledged as pharaohs in this era, forming a twenty-seventh dynasty.

c.525 - 510? BC

Aryandes

Persian satrap of Egypt. Executed by Darius I.

521 BC

After dealing with a usurper at home, Darius the Great becomes the first official twenty-seventh Persian dynasty pharaoh of Egypt after the death of Cambyses, who appears to have spent much of the last years of his reign in Egypt. Darius also conquers Cyrene in Libya and exacts tribute from Nubia.

c.500 BC

FeatureA sarcophagus representing the symbolic tomb of Osiris is laid beneath the pyramid of Khafre.

c.510 - 484? BC

Pharandates

Persian satrap of Egypt.

484 - 460 BC

Achaemenes / Haxamanis

Son of Darius I. Persian satrap of Egypt.

fl c.424 BC

Arsames

Persian satrap of Egypt.

410 BC

With Persian influence weakening in Upper Egypt, the Egyptians on Elephantine destroy the Jewish Temple, convinced the Jews have been collaborating with the occupying power. The Jewish community is forced to leave. It seems that they move to Western Abyssinia, in Ethiopia, where they flourish.

404 BC

With the death of Darius II, Egypt is liberated from Persian rule by the twenty-eighth dynasty pharaohs.

404 - 398 BC

Twenty-Eighth (Saite) Dynasty
404 - 399 BC

This was a short-lived dynasty containing only one pharaoh. Amyrtaeus was a descendant of the Saite pharaohs of the Twenty-Sixth Dynasty who led a successful revolt against the Persians.

404 - 398 BC

404 - 399 BC

Amyrtaeus / Amyrteos of Mendes

400 BC

Correspondence between the Jews at Elephantine and Jerusalem ceases.

398 - 380 BC

Twenty-Ninth (Saite) Dynasty
399 - 380 BC

According to an account preserved on papyrus, Nefaaryd founded the dynasty by defeating Amyrtaeus in open battle, and later put him to death at Memphis. Nepherites made his capital at Mendes.

On the death of Nepherites, two rival factions fought for the throne: one behind his son Muthis, and the other supporting the usurper Psammuthes. Although the latter was successful, he only managed to reign for a year before he, too, was overthrown.

398 - 393 BC

399 - 393 BC

Nefaarud I / NepheritÍs I

393 BC

393 BC

Muthis

Son. Defeated by his rival, PsammŻthis.

393 BC

393 BC

PsammŻthis

Usurper.

393 - 380 BC

393 - 380 BC

AchŰris / Hakor

Usurper.

380 BC

380 BC

Nefaarud I of Sebennytus

Son.

380 - 343 BC

Thirtieth (Saite) Dynasty
380 - 343 BC

A dynasty which lasted nearly twice as long as the preceding one, it was started when Nekhtnebef deposed Nefaarud, but he spent much of his reign defending the country from Persian incursions. The recent spate of usurpations did nothing to make that task any easier.

380 - 362 BC

380 - 363 BC

Nekhtnebef / Nectanebos I

362 - 360 BC

362 - 361 BC

TakhŰs / Taos

Son. Regent (c.365-362). Overthrown.

360 - 343 BC

360 - 343 BC

Nekhtharehbe / Nectanebos II

Usurper.

343 - 332 BC

Thirty-First (Achaemenid Persian) Dynasty
334 - 332 BC

Egypt was briefly re-conquered by the Persian empire under Artaxerxes III, marking the end of around three thousand years of mostly native rule.

343 - 336 BC

343 - 336 BC

The Persians rule Egypt direct from the centre of their empire. For the last two of these years they only have power in Lower Egypt.

338 - 335 BC

338 - 335 BC

Khabbabash

Leader of a Nubian revolt in Upper Egypt.

336 - 335 BC

336 - 335 BC

The revolt of Khabbabash is ended and Upper Egypt is returned to Persian control.

? - 333 BC

Sabaces

Persian satrap of Egypt. Died at Issus.

333 BC

Sabaces joins Darius III at the Battle at Issus against the Macedonian Greeks. Although outnumbered two-to-one, the Greeks are victorious and Sabaces is killed.

333 - 332 BC

Mazaces

Persian satrap of Egypt.

332 - 305 BC

Egypt is handed over to Alexander the Great by Mazaces without a fight and falls under the control of the Greek empire. The city of Alexandria is founded.

332 - 309 BC

Argead Dynasty
332 - 309 BC

The Argead were the ruling family and founders of Macedonia, a kingdom in northern Greece. They reached their greatest extent under Alexander the Great and his two successors before the kingdom broke up into several Hellenic sections. Alexander's successors held no real power, being mere figureheads for the generals who really held control of Alexander's empire.

332 - 323 BC

332 - 323 BC

Alexander III the Great

King of Macedonia. Conquered Persia.

323 - 317 BC

323 - 317 BC

Philip III Arrhidaeus

Feeble-minded half-brother of Alexander the Great.

317 - 309 BC

317 - 310 BC

Alexander IV of Macedonia

Infant son of Alexander the Great and Roxana.

323 - 305 BC

323 - 305 BC

Ptolemy I Soter I ('Saviour')

Satrap of Egypt. Became pharaoh in 305 BC.

305 - 30 BC

Hellenic Epoch / Ptolemaic Dynasty
305 - 30 BC

The Ptolemaic dynasty was an Hellenistic royal family which ruled in Egypt and Libya for nearly 300 years. Ptolemy, a Macedonian and one of Alexander the Great's generals, was appointed satrap of Egypt (which included Judah) after Alexander's death in 323 BC. When Antigonus (of Greater Phrygia) proclaimed himself king in 306 BC, all the other surviving generals proclaimed themselves the same, confirming the dismantling of the empire into various regional domains. Ptolemy later had the appendage 'Soter' (saviour) added to his name, and gained Cyprus and Phoenicia in 301 BC.

The Egyptians soon accepted the Ptolemies as the successors to the pharaohs of independent Egypt. The dynasty was characterised by complicated political in-fighting between various claimants, with them often sharing power.

305 - 285 BC

Ptolemy I Soter I ('Saviour')

General in Alexander's army. Abdicated. d.283 BC.

? - 285 BC

Berenice / Berenike I

Wife.

285 - 246 BC

Ptolemy II Philadelpus (Turamaya)

Son.

284/1 - c.274 BC

ArsinoŽ / Arsinoe I

Wife.

281 BC

The elder brother of Ptolemy II Philadelpus (or to be more accurate, half-brother) is Ptolemy Ceraunus. The latter becomes King Ptolemy II of Macedonia and Lysimacheia after marrying the widow of Lysimachus, ArsinoŽ (II). Then he kills two of ArsinoŽ's sons for conspiring against him (as did their mother), and ArsinoŽ flees to Egypt for protection from her brother-in-law.

Ptolemy I coin
An Hellenic-era Egyptian coin showing the head of Ptolemy I

277 - 270 BC

ArsinoŽ / Arsinoe II

Sister of Ptolemy II. Widow of Lysimachis of Thrace.

c.276 - 250 BC

After several attempts following the death of his stepfather, Ptolemy I, the governor of Cyrene, Magas, crowns himself king. In 274 BC he attacks Egypt, but has to call off his planned invasion thanks to a revolt of the native Libyan Marmaridae. The remainder of Magas' rule is concerned with maintaining his kingdom's independence, but following his death, Cyrene is almost immediately captured by Ptolemy II.

267 - 261 BC

Egypt backs a coalition of Greek city states in the Chremonidean War which include Athens and Sparta, who are fighting for the restoration of their independence from Macedonian influence. They are aided by Ptolemy II, who is naturally threatened not only by Antigonus' apparently peaceful rule of Greece, but by his friendship with the Seleucid empire. He temporarily loses control of most of the Greek city states to the south but, by 263 BC, has worn down both Athens and Sparta. Order and prosperity are restored in Greece.

261 - 256 BC

The interference by Ptolemy II continues in Greece, triggering the Second Syrian War. Antigonus II of Macedonia and Antiochus II of the Seleucid empire team up to combine their attacks. Egypt loses ground in Anatolia and Phoenicia, and is forced to cede lands which include its ally, the city of Miletus.

c.240 BC

Lycia comes under Ptolomaic control.

246 - 222 BC

Ptolemy III Euergetes

Son. ('Do-Gooder')

244/3 - 222 BC

Berenice / Berenike II

Wife.

221 - 203 BC

Ptolemy IV Philopator

Son.

220 - 204 BC

ArsinoŽ / Arsinoe III

Wife.

203 - 180 BC

Ptolemy V Epiphanes

Son. Upper Egypt was in revolt 207-186 BC.

198 BC

Control of Judah and Phoenicia passes to the Seleucid empire, and probably Lycia at this time, too.

193 - 176 BC

Cleopatra I

Wife. Co-regent with Ptolemy VI until he matured.

180 - 164 BC

Ptolemy VI Philometor

Son. d.145 BC. Lost true power to Ptolemy VIII.

173 - 164 BC

Cleopatra II

Wife. Later m Ptolemy VIII.

171 - 163 BC

Ptolemy VIII Euergetes II

Proclaimed king by Alexandrians. Ruled jointly.

163 BC

Upon being deprived of the throne, Ptolemy VIII Euergetes II claims the throne of Cyrene in Libya, which he retains throughout the rest of his life, even during two further periods of rule in Egypt.

163 - 145 BC

Ptolemy VI Philometor

Restored.

163 - 145 BC

Cleopatra II

m Ptolemy VIII. Co-regent with him from 145 BC.

145 - 131 BC

Ptolemy VIII Euergetes II

Restored.

145 - 144 BC

Ptolemy VII Neos Philometor

Proclaimed co-ruler by father, Ptolemy VIII.

145 - 127 BC

Cleopatra II

m Ptolemy VIII. Led revolt against him in 131 BC.

142 - 131 BC

Cleopatra III

Second wife of Ptolemy VIII.

131 BC

Cleopatra II leads a revolt against Ptolemy VIII, defeats him, and becomes sole ruler of Egypt. Ptolemy VIII survives, however, and continues to cause problems.

131 - 127 BC

Cleopatra II

Sole ruler.

131 BC

Ptolemy Memphitis

Proclaimed by Cleopatra II. Killed by Ptolemy VIII.

127 - 116 BC

Ptolemy VIII Euergetes II

Restored.

127 - 107 BC

Cleopatra III

Restored with Ptolemy VIII. Co-regent with P IX & X.

124 - 116 BC

Cleopatra II

Reconciled with Ptolemy VIII. Co-ruled.

116 - 110 BC

Ptolemy IX Soter II

Son of Ptolemy VII.

116 - 115 BC

Cleopatra IV

Shortly m to Ptolemy IX, pushed out by Cleopatra III.

110 - 109 BC

Ptolemy X Alexander I

Son of Ptolemy IX.

109 - 107 BC

Ptolemy IX Soter II

Restored.

107 - 88 BC

Ptolemy X Alexander I

Restored.

88 - 81 BC

Ptolemy IX Soter II

Restored.

81 - 80 BC

Berenice / Berenike III

Murdered.

80 BC

Ptolemy XI Alexander II

Young son of Ptolemy X Alexander. Installed by Sulla.

80 BC

Berenice III is forced to marry Ptolemy XI, but is murdered on his orders nineteen days later. Ptolemy XI himself rules for just 80 days before being lynched by his subjects for killing Berenice.

80 - 58 BC

Ptolemy XII Neo Dyonysus, Auletes

Son of Ptolemy IX.

? - 57 BC

Cleopatra V Tryphaena

Wife. Mother of Berenice IV.

? - 58 BC

Cleopatra VI

Daughter.

58 - 55 BC

Berenice / Berenike IV

Queen.

55 - 51 BC

Ptolemy XII Neo Dyonysus

Restored. Shared power briefly with daughter.

51 - 30 BC

Cleopatra VII Thea Philopator

Queen. Daughter of Ptolemy XII.

51 - 47 BC

Ptolemy XIII Dionysus

Brother.

48 - 47 BC

ArsinoŽ / Arsinoe IV

In opposition to Cleopatra.

47 - 44 BC

Ptolemy XIV Philopator

Brother-husband of Cleopatra.

44 - 30 BC

Ptolemy XV Caesarion

Son of Cleopatra VII & Julius Caesar. Murdered.

Alexander Helios

Twins of Cleopatra VII & Marcus Antonius. Cleopatra is a short-lived ruler of Cyrene. Both were allowed to live after 30 BC.

Cleopatra Selene

30 BC

Egypt and Libya become Roman provinces under Octavian. Sixteen year-old Ptolemy XV, the son of Julius Caesar, is presumably killed on the orders of the soon-to-be emperor of Rome.

c.30 - 1 BC

FeatureMummies of Egyptian dignitaries are being entombed at Bawiti.

AD 292/3

Uprisings against Rome.

296/7

There are further uprisings. Rome divides Egypt into several provinces which fall under the control of the Eastern Roman Empire.

639

The country is conquered by the Islamic empire, and Islamic Egypt is controlled directly by the caliphate.