This entry is part 3 of 3 in the series Around the world. Most beautiful places. Egypt.

 Elements of relative and absolute chronology of ancient Egypt.

The history of the Egyptian state has been divided since antiquity over several periods. Manethon, the great Egyptian priest at the end of the sec. IV BC, chose as the criterion of this periodization the succession of the 31 pharaonic dynasties. Modern historiography has preserved this criterion for establishing the relative chronology, grouping the dynasties into several historical periods, each of them presenting elements of unity: a) The pre-Byzantine period (3300-3100); b) The thin period (dynasties I-II, 3100-2778); c) The Age of the Old Kingdom (Dynasties III-VI, 2778-2423); d) Middle Kingdom period (dynasties XI-XIII, 2060-1780); e) The period of the new kingdom (dynasties XVIII-XX, 1580-1085). The two intermediate periods, corresponding to the VII-X, XIII-XVIIIth dynasties, characterized by the stamping of the central authority, constitute an era of stagnation and regression; f) the pharaoh period of the pharaohs of Libyan, Nubian, Saitas and Persian pharaohs (dynasties XXI-XXXI, 1085-333), when Egypt lost its position of great political power, after being conquered by Persians at 525 BC.


For the establishment of the absolute chronology, there are some suremarks. The Egyptians had a solar calendar that has as a key element the simultaneous elevation of the sun and star Sirius (Sothis). This astronomical phenomenon that marks the beginning of the year can be calculated by the specialists and there are three such records. In a calendar of the time of Thutmes III, engraved at Elephantina, it is noted that the feast of Sothis’s ascension fell on the 28th day of the month Epiphi, instead of the 1st of the month of Thot. Astronomical calculations offer possible data for the years 1471 and 1474 BC. The ruler of this pharaoh must encompass these years. Another text (Ebers Papers) notes that in the 9th year of the reign of Pharaoh Amenhotep I the helium lifting of the Sothis star took place on the 9th of Epiphim. This detail was appreciated, by calculation, as having taken place between 1550-1547. Starting from this, it is appreciated that the beginning of the reign of Amenhotep I can be placed between 1558-1555 BC, and the 18th dynasty and the New Kingdom are said to have taken place around 1580 BC . Another third (Kahun Papyrus), written during Senusret III, mentions that in the 7th year of his reign, the feast of Sothis was held on the 16th of the month of Pharmuti instead of 1 Thot. Based on the aforementioned gap, the event is appreciated by astronomy specialists that took place between 1882-1879 BC. This framing would require placing the beginning of the 12th Dynasty around 2000 BC. At present, the data provided by a multidisciplinary research on ancient Egypt requires the acceptance of a lower data for the beginnings of history, of the state structure in the Nile Valley. Method C14 attempted to fit the early stages of Egyptian history (constitution of the united kingdom) by sensible descending of data (the first dynasties 0 and I prethinite being placed around 4000-3500, and the I / Manethon dynasty at 3400 BC). ), without these, considered too high, to be unanimously accepted.


The origins of Egyptian civilization. The emergence of the first political parties.

Egypt as a political entity has several distinctive features. It represents, in contrast to the Near East, the Anatomical State Model, “centralized. Due to the natural framework, which determined a certain way of initially organization, the Nile valley recorded, with a certain periodicity, the disintegration of the unitary structures, and the initial political structures were reactivated. From this point of view, in this process, the most viable area was Upper Egypt, and the only way to restore statehood was conquest. Another major feature is that the Nile area has only begun to be inhabited since the introduction of the irrigation system for agricultural land. The beginnings of Egyptian civilization can be traced over time on the basis of the archaeological finds from the time of the first Neolithic settlements (the V-IV centuries BC), the ancient nuclei of the great settlements of ancient Egypt. Thus, the first Neolithic cultures appear, in which the preconceptions of the specific forms and ideas for Egyptian society and culture are still distinguished. In the Delta region the Mériddian culture was identified, and on the Tassian Nile course. They identify the first forms of quasi-urban dwelling, the beginnings of what was called the urban revolution, as well as the first burials that distinguish the preoccupation for the preservation of the earthly remnants of the deceased. Around the year 4000 BC, the metallurgy of the copper was adopted in the Nile Valley. This is the beginning of the Eneolithic Age which, due to its evolved appearance, was also called the pre-Instinct period.

Pre-Byzantine Age (3300-3100 BC) 

Characteristic for this period are the Badarian culture, named after the Badari locality, characteristic of the Egyptian meridional area, dating from the beginning of the 4th millennium BC. Settlements and graveyards of the Cuban culture are located in the desert edge area. Halfway through the same millennium, Naqada will evolve. The archaeological discoveries, as well as the first pictographic writings, reveal that during the pre-Hindu (Naqada culture) a demographic explosion and population concentration in the Nile Valley, by the appearance of the hereditary elites, who hold the economic force, assumes the task of leadership. This evolution is particularly characteristic of the Upper Egypt that seems to have a preeminence in the area. Only in the last phase of the Naqada (III) culture, dating back to 3300 BC, the Delta could be seen, where animal husbandry was predominant in this cultural process. The emergence of elites and the acquisition of political power by them is associated with the development of a royal ideology with the core of Hathor and Horus, the formation of religious centers (Hierakonpolis, Abydos) and the appearance of the elements of the royal insignia (the red crown, the emblem of Lower Egypt , the maceau, the scepter, the white crown, the emblem of the Upper Egypt). The Egyptian territory is divided into territorial, economic and political units that bear the name of nome. Through a natural evolution, these territorial units will unite, constituting two states of Upper Egypt and Lower Egypt. The two areas of Egypt – Delta (Lower Egypt) and central and meridional (Upper Egypt) have retained a certain specific character for centuries. Information about this start-up period is sporadic, often confusing. The tradition, reinforced by archaeological discoveries, shows the existence of two kingdoms during the pre-Nazian period: a) one in the Delta region (Lower Egypt) and another (b) in the central region (Upper Egypt). From the pre-Hindu age, there is an increase in economic exchanges between the Nile and Palestine, along a route that crosses the Sinai Peninsula, with intermediate points, some of which can be considered true “Egyptian Acolons” (Tel Erani, Tel Halif).


The thin period (dynasties I-II, 3100-2778 BC)

This period is called the thinness after the name of This town, near Abydos, where the necropolis of the kings belonging to it was discovered. The thin age comprises the first two dynasties of Egypt. The tradition, outlined by Manethon and Herodotus, claims that the first king of unified Egypt would be Menes, the founder of the thinnest dynasty, who founded Memphis, a natural boundary between the two Egyptians. Menes’ name meets two tabs found at Abydos and Nagada. On the other hand, old written documents and archaeological testimonies recall the name and activity of King Narmer, ruler of Upper Egypt. To him, it seems to be the merit of establishing, by conquering the rival kingdom of Lower Egypt, a single Egyptian state. It was also hypothesized that the two royal characters – Menes and Narmer – would be one and the same, but bearing two names. The state takes steps to unify the irrigation system that becomes unitary. Attention is also paid to organizing the defense system. The Pharaohs in the Dynasty I adopted a new method for purchasing raw materials (Arama, Turcois), namely the organization of real expeditions led by them. From a pharaoh from the I dynasty, Aha, Ivory fragments of Egyptians and Libyans were preserved, bringing tribute to the king as a sign of obedience. The name of another pharaoh, Uadji, appears dug in a rock in the Arabic desert, probably following a military expedition, on the road that would later pass the caravans to the Red Sea. From another pharaoh, Udimu, we have left an ivory tabletop with the scene of the massacre of a prisoner and a legend indicating Aprima when Estal was overcome. ” It was probably an expedition in Sinai, against the Bedouins with whom the Egyptians will fight for centuries, for the possession of the malachite and copper mines. The second major direction of expansion was Nubia, south of the first cataract. The first military actions in this area are undertaken by Pharaoh Aha. As a result, during this period, Egypt begins to assert itself in the history arena as a new power.


***All images are mine

The circumstances in which the second dynasty took the place of the previous one are unknown. The names of the pharaohs of this dynasty, as well as the events that took place, are recorded by the stone in Palermo. It is noteworthy that the thin age marks the assertion of the authority of the Pharaohs by the centralization of Egypt and the initiation of a timid conquest policy.

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