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Thinite period


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First and second Dynasties

The name Thinite comes from the name of the city This , near Abydos, to which the first kings traced their origin lasting from 3150- 2700 BC. It is perhaps the most creative period of Egyptian history, in which the basic tenets that were to govern life for many centuries afterwards were formed.

The first king MENI, is credited with achievements that may have both preceded and followed him, although he was certainly a strong ruler who set the pattern for the intensive control of land and people.

There was warfare with Libya and Nubia during his reign. He worked hard to promote the new found unity of the two kingdoms, and had tombs at Saqqara, close to Memphis in lower Egypt and at Abydos in upper Egypt.

 The next highly known king in the first dynasty was king DEN. He was an energetic king whose attention seems to have been directed more across Sinai in the direction of Asia. Den, too, worked to placate Lower Egypt and establish full union. His rule may have lasted for as long as fifty years and was the first king to add the third name to his ser of titles: the nsw-bity, or ‘king of Upper and Lower Egypt name’.


During First Dynasty, stoneworking was introduced into Upper Egypt, with a stone temple being built at Hierakonpolis and a granite floor laid in the tomb of the Pharoah Usephais.

The last king of the First Dynasty was Ka’a.

The Second Dynasty located itself firmly at Memphis and Built up strong contacts with Delta region. In this era, Upper Egypt may have been neglected because of the fondness of the kings for northern deities and a separate line of priest-kings developed at Abydos.

This time marks the beginning of the substantial stone architecture, and opens the way to the achievements of the Third Dynasty.

Third Dynasty (2700- 2625BC)

We here come to the period of the Old Kingdom. This dynasty lasted for a period less than a century and was dominated by the Pharaoh Djoser or Zoser, and his vizier Imhotep. These were responsible of the first pyramid at Saqqara.

Old Kingdom  2658- 2185BC

The greatest time of the history of the Egyptian kingdom. Its five hundred year history spans four dynasties, from the Third Dynasty to the Sixth. The Third Dynasty, that of the first pyramid builders, represents a high point of culture and achievement that was never attained again. Up to that point, Egypt had shown inventiveness, an energy and a technical development that brought many advances of civilization into being.

Fourth Dynasty (2625- 2510BC)

This was the second dynasty of the old kingdom. Its first king was SNOFRU who ruled 2625- 2600BC , or perhaps longer. He had expedition into Nubia and fought the Libyans and extended Egyptian territories into Sinai. These campaigns had an economic value, as it gained access to mineral reserves as cooper, malachite and turquoise from Sinai.

Also the expeditions brought a lot of prisoners and cattle and protected the trade routes. Snofru was a shipbuilder and sent ships to Lebanon for timber, he also was a great builder in stone.

Three pyramids are ascribed to him, the first at Maidum near Saqqara, modeled on the step pyramid of Djoser. The other two are farther north at Dahshur.

His successor was king Khufu (Cheops), well known for his own monument, the Great pyramid of Giza. Most of his remains were robbed and actual details of his reign are obscure.

The next king was Khufu’s son Djedefre, and then to his half-brother, Chephren.

Chephren commissioned the sculpture of the sphinx. His son, Mycerinus (Menkaure), is the occupant of the third and smallest pyramid.

The last king of this dynasty was Shepseskaf, who changed his tomb from the traditional pyramid to a form of a giant SARCOPHAGUS in Saqqara. He attempted to unify the strands of the royal family by marrying queen Khetkawea, who was descended from Djedefre’s other half brother, Djedefhor.

Fifth Dynasty (2510- 2460BC) 

The fifth Dynasty kings had strong hereditary links with the preceding one. The first king, Userkaf retained officials from the previous one. He built a sun temple at Abusir. During his reign there were Egypt’s first contact with the Greeks, with luxury items including jars and furniture being exported. These times saw a growth in contact with countries beyond Egypt . 

His successor, Sahure, employed warships on the Mediterranean coast, although contacts on the whole were peaceful. The power and splendour of the pharaohs were becoming known to their neighbors, and Egypt was perceived as a source of marvelously made things, magic power and great knowledge.

During the later reigns of these kings the iron grip of control started to slip. The power of the provincial governors and the senior officials of the court became greater and more independent. Important people constructed their own monuments, as seen in the great Mastaba of Ti in Saqqara. He was Chief Barber to the royal household and controller of Lakes and Farmland.

Sixth Dynasty (2322-2151BC)

The first sixth dynasty king was TETI, who was married to the daughter of the last fifth dynasty king and thus acquired legitimacy as king. Teti was an active legislator and his rule was mainly focused on internal affairs. He appears to have died by assassination, an indication of growing disorder in the state.

The next notable king was PEPY I, who was king for 40 years, inheriting as a young boy. He worked hard to maintain the country and had done much building in Upper Egypt at sites as Abydos, Herakleopolis and Elephantine.

His son, MERENRA, carried on invasion into Palestine and Syria and also struggled successfully to retain control of Nubia against the local chieftains.

PEPY II followed Merenra, was fascinated by the exotic remoteness of the Upper Nile. His reign was very long, between 50 and 70 years, and its monuments steadily decreased, whilst ambitions of provincial governors grew. By the end of PEPY II  reign, the decline and later the collapse of the dynasty has become clear.


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