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The Middle Kingdom Period

Time period : c. 1975 BC - c. 1630 BC
Dynasties : 11th Dynasty - 13th Dynasty

Museum exhibit of coinage from this periodAfter over a hundred and fifty years of unrest, Pharaoh Mentuhotep II of Thebes in Upper Egypt managed to conquer the northern lands of Lower Egypt, and reunite the empire.

For the next three hundred years, under the leadership of famous pharaohs such as Senusret III and Amenemhet III, Egypt began to extend its borders and waged war against its neighbors, including Nubia and Lybia.

In addition, trade and art began to flourish. Colonies and trade routes were established in foreign lands such as Syria and Crete, bringing valuable resources such as wood and precious metals back to Egypt.


The 2nd Intermediate Period

Time period : c. 1630 BC - c. 1540 BC
Dynasties : 14th Dynasty - 17th Dynasty

Hieroglyphs about a king of Upper EgyptAt the end of the Middle Kingdom period, the pharaohs started to gradually lose power, with the viziers controlling more and more of the administration.

When the Hyksos, conquerors from Asia, attacked Egypt, they met with little resistance. This was due in part because the Hyksos fought with chariots and bronze weapons, which the Egyptians did not have. Led by the chieftain Salitis, the Hyksos conquered northern Egypt.

The remainder of the Egyptian administration consolidated around the city of Thebes in the south, creating a new dynasty that existed during the same time as the Hyksos occupation. Famous pharaohs from this dynasty include Kamose, who is said to have driven the Hyksos out of Egypt and reunited the empire.


The New Kingdom Period

Time period : c. 1540 BC - c. 1070 BC
Dynasties : 18th Dynasty - 20th Dynasty

After the Hyksos were expelled from Egypt, another golden age came about. Trade, art and literature were expanded during this period. In addition, Egypt met with much military success, conquering lands such as Nubia to the south, and Israel and Lebanon to the north.

The famous gold mask of TutankhamunAmong the famous pharaohs of this period is Akhenaten, known for his attempt at monotheism. During the reign of Akhenaten and his queen Nefertiti, worship of all gods except the chosen god Aten was banned.

Another of the famous pharaohs was Tutankhamun. King Tutankhamun is best known because his was the only tomb that was discovered intact by modern archaeologists, providing them with much insight on the life and death of the Egyptian pharaohs.

Pharaoh Ramses II (Ramses the Great)Possibly among the most famous pharaohs of the New Kingdom period were Seti I, and his son Ramses II, also known as Ramses the Great.

The reign of Ramses II was filled with many military conquests. In addition, many great construction projects were undertaken, including the famous temples of Abu Simbel. Ramses II was a very successful pharaoh, with a reign lasting 67 years.

The biblical story of Moses and the exodus, and possibly that of Joseph son of Jacob, are estimated to have occurred during the reign of Ramses II. However, there are no Egyptian records that can confirm these events.

Want to know more about Egyptian history? Try this book from Amazon:

The Oxford History of Ancient EgyptThe Oxford History of Ancient Egypt

This book uniquely covers 700,000 years of ancient Egypt, from c. 700,000 BC to AD 311. Following the story from the Egyptians' prehistoric origins to their conquest by the Persians, Greeks, and Romans, this book resurrects a fascinating society replete with remarkable historical information.

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