Ancient Egypt

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The pyramids of Giza are among the most recognizable symbols of the civilization of ancient Egypt.

Ancient Egypt was a civilization of ancient North Africa, concentrated along the lower reaches of the Nile River in the place that is now the country Egypt. Ancient Egyptian civilization followed prehistoric Egypt and coalesced around 3100 BC (according to conventional Egyptian chronology) with the political unification of Upper and Lower Egypt under Menes (often identified with Narmer). The history of ancient Egypt occurred as a series of stable kingdoms, separated by periods of relative instability known as Intermediate Periods: the Old Kingdom of the Early Bronze Age, the Middle Kingdom of the Middle Bronze Age and the New Kingdom of the Late Bronze Age.


  • Egypt! from whose all dateless tombs arose
    Forgotten Pharaohs from their long repose,
    And shook within their pyramids to hear
    A new Cambyses thundering in their ear;
    While the dark shades of forty ages stood
    Like startled giants by Nile's famous flood.
    • Lord Byron, The Age of Bronze (1823), V; reported in Hoyt's New Cyclopedia Of Practical Quotations (1922), p. 218.
  • What curled and scented sun-girls, almond-eyed,
      With lotos-blossoms in their hands and hair,
      Have made their swarthy lovers call them fair,
    With these spent strings, when brutes were deified,
    And Memnon in the sunrise sprang and cried,
      And love-winds smote Bubastis, and the bare
      Black breasts of carven Pasht received the prayer
      Of suppliants bearing gifts from far and wide!
    This lute has out-sung Egypt; all the lives
      Of violent passion, and the vast calm art
        That lasts in granite only, all lie dead;
    This little bird of song alone survives,
      As fresh as when its fluting smote the heart
        Last time the brown slave wore it garlanded.
  • Alauddin had shed more innocent blood than any Pharaoh was guilty of.
    • Z. Barani writing about Alauddin Khalji, quoted from K.S. Lal, Indian Muslims: Who Are They (1990)
  • Since progress is the rare exception, and not the rule, among the communities of mankind, it is less important to speculate about the reasons for its cessation among the ancient Egyptians than to observe how the technological advances made in the Near East became by degrees more widely diffused until they penetrated Europe. Neither Mesopotamia nor Egypt had the resources which would have enabled it to develop its civilization on a basis of autarky. They had never been self-contained as regards timber or metals or even ivory: in the second millenium B.C. the development of larger ships and better organized land transport encouraged greater efforts to satisfy their needs by importations. In exchanging the products of their superior technology for raw materials they stimulated imitation. Moreover, in ancient as in modern times the needs of trade often stimulated the desire for conquest, which likewise left its mark upon the life of neighboring peoples long after the tide of conquest had receded. Aggression then provoked counter-aggression: some barbarian intruders were eventually absorbed into the life of the two empires, others clashed with them, and kept their independence.
    • T. K. Derry & Trevor I. Williams, A Short History of Technology: From the Earliest Times to A.D. 1900 (1960) Ch.1 General Historical Survey; "Mesopotamian and Egyptian Civilizations"
  • We are good fighters but lousy builders. Our last piece of original architecture was during ancient Egypt. What are we known for now?
  • The origins of diplomacy date back at least to the Bronze Age in the Near East. Caches of documents from the Euphrates kingdom in the mid–eighteenth century bc and from Akhenaten’s Egypt four centuries later reveal a regular exchange of envoys with neighboring states, prompted by the need for trade and the danger of war. This was hardly a fully fledged diplomatic “system.” Envoys were not resident ambassadors and they were not protected by agreed rules of immunity—but it was a recognizable form of diplomacy. Summitry, as we would understand it, was rare, being mostly confined to visits by minor rulers to pay homage at the courts of their overlords. This is hardly surprising because of the travel time required—six weeks for even a fast courier from Egypt to Babylon—and because of the hazards and insecurities en route. For a ruler to undertake such a journey was therefore a sign of his inferior status. Rulers of great powers, though they might address each other in letters as “dear brother,” would never meet unless one of them had become the booty of battle, which was not summitry but submission
    • David Reynolds, Summits: Six Meetings that Changed the Twentieth Century (2007), p. 11