Pre-historic Egypt

There is evidence of rock carvings along the Nile terraces and in desert oases. In the 10th millennium BC, a culture of hunter-gatherers and fishers replaced a grain-grinding culture. Climate changes and/or overgrazing around 8000 BC began to desiccate the pastoral lands of Egypt, forming the Sahara. Early tribal peoples migrated to the Nile River where they developed a settled agricultural economy and more centralized society.

By about 6000 BC a Neolithic culture rooted in the Nile Valley.During the Neolithic era, several predynastic cultures developed independently in Upper and Lower Egypt. The Badarian culture and the successor Naqada series are generally regarded as precursors to dynastic Egypt. The earliest known Lower Egyptian site, Merimda, predates the Badarian by about seven hundred years. Contemporaneous Lower Egyptian communities coexisted with their southern counterparts for more than two thousand years, remaining culturally distinct, but maintaining frequent contact through trade. The earliest known evidence of Egyptian hieroglyphic inscriptions appeared during the predynastic period on Naqada III pottery vessels, dated to about 3200 BC.

Ancient Egypt

Giza Pyramids

A unified kingdom was founded c. 3150 BC by King Menes, leading to a series of dynasties that ruled Egypt for the next three millennia. Egyptian culture flourished during this long period and remained distinctively Egyptian in its religion, arts, language and customs. The first two ruling dynasties of a unified Egypt set the stage for the Old Kingdom period, c. 2700−2200 BC., famous for its many pyramids, most notably the Third Dynasty pyramid of Djoser and the Fourth Dynasty Giza Pyramids.

The Great Sphinx and the Pyramids of Giza, built during the Old Kingdom, are modern national icons that are at the heart of Egypt's thriving tourism industry.

The First Intermediate Period ushered in a time of political upheaval for about 150 years.Stronger Nile floods and stabilization of government, however, brought back renewed prosperity for the country in the Middle Kingdom c. 2040 BC, reaching a peak during the reign of Pharaoh Amenemhat III. A second period of disunity heralded the arrival of the first foreign ruling dynasty in Egypt, that of the Semitic Hyksos. The Hyksos invaders took over much of Lower Egypt around 1650 BC and founded a new capital at Avaris. They were driven out by an Upper Egyptian force led by Ahmose I, who founded the Eighteenth Dynasty and relocated the capital from Memphis to Thebes.

The New Kingdom c. 1550−1070 BC began with the Eighteenth Dynasty, marking the rise of Egypt as an international power that expanded during its greatest extension to an empire as far south as Tombos in Nubia, and included parts of the Levant in the east. This period is noted for some of the most well-known Pharaohs, including Hatshepsut, Thutmose III, Akhenaten and his wife Nefertiti, Tutankhamun and Ramesses II. The first historically attested expression of monotheism came during this period as Atenism. Frequent contacts with other nations brought new ideas to the New Kingdom. The country was later invaded and conquered by Libyans, Nubians and Assyrians, but native Egyptians eventually drove them out and regained control of their country.

The Thirtieth Dynasty was the last native ruling dynasty during the Pharaonic epoch. It fell to the Persians in 343 BC after the last native Pharaoh, King Nectanebo II, was defeated in battle.

Ptolemaic and Roman Egypt

Main articles: History of Ptolemaic Egypt and Egypt (Roman province)

The Ptolemaic Kingdom was a powerful Hellenistic state, extending from southern Syria in the east, to Cyrene to the west, and south to the frontier with Nubia. Alexandria became the capital city and a center of Greek culture and trade. To gain recognition by the native Egyptian populace, they named themselves as the successors to the Pharaohs. The later Ptolemies took on Egyptian traditions, had themselves portrayed on public monuments in Egyptian style and dress, and participated in Egyptian religious life.

The last ruler from the Ptolemaic line was Cleopatra VII, who committed suicide with her lover Mark Antony, after Caesar Augustus had captured them. The Ptolemies faced rebellions of native Egyptians often caused by an unwanted regime and were involved in foreign and civil wars that led to the decline of the kingdom and its annexation by Rome. Nevertheless Hellenistic culture continued to thrive in Egypt well after the Muslim conquest.

Before Egypt became part of the Byzantine realm, Christianity had been brought by Saint Mark the Evangelist in the 1st century. Diocletian's reign marked the transition from the Roman to the Byzantine era in Egypt, when a great number of Egyptian Christians were persecuted. The New Testament had by then been translated into Egyptian. After the Council of Chalcedon in AD 451, a distinct Egyptian Coptic Church was firmly established.

Arab and Ottoman Egypt


Selim I (1470-1520), Egypt conquered
The Hanging Church of Cairo, first built in the third or fourth century AD, is one of the most famous Coptic Churches in Egypt.

The Byzantines were able to regain control of the country after a brief Persian invasion early in the 7th century, until in AD 639, Egypt was absorbed into the Islamic Empire by the Muslim Arabs. When they defeated the Byzantine Armies in Egypt, the Arabs brought Sunni Islam to the country. Early in this period, Egyptians began to blend their new faith with indigenous beliefs and practices, leading to various Sufi orders that have flourished to this day. These earlier rites had survived the period of Coptic Christianity.

Muslim rulers nominated by the Islamic Caliphate remained in control of Egypt for the next six centuries, with Cairo as the seat of the Caliphate under the Fatimids. With the end of the KurdishAyyubid dynasty, the Mamluks, a Turco-Circassian military caste, took control about AD 1250. By the late 13th century, Egypt linked the Red Sea, India, Malaya, and East Indies. They continued to govern the country until the conquest of Egypt by the Ottoman Turks in 1517, after which it became a province of the Ottoman Empire. The mid-14th-century Black Death killed about 40% of the country's population.

After the 15th century, the Ottoman invasion pushed the Egyptian system into decline. The defensive militarization damaged its civil society and economic institutions.The weakening of the economic system combined with the effects of plague left Egypt vulnerable to foreign invasion. Portuguese traders took over their trade. Egypt suffered six famines between 1687 and 1731.famine cost it roughly one-sixth of its population.The 1784

Battle of the Pyramids, July 21, 1798, by François-Louis-Joseph Watteau.

Muhammad Ali dynasty

Mosque of Muhammad Ali

The brief French invasion of Egypt led by Napoleon Bonaparte began in 1798. The expulsion of the French in 1801 by Ottoman, Mamluk, and British forces was followed by four years of anarchy in which Ottomans, Mamluks, and Albanians who were nominally in the service of the Ottomans, wrestled for power. Out of this chaos, the commander of the Albanian regiment, Muhammad AliKavalali Mehmed Ali Pasha) emerged as a dominant figure and in 1805 was acknowledged by the Sultan in Istanbul as his viceroy in Egypt; the title implied subordination to the Sultan but this was in fact a polite fiction: Ottoman power in Egypt was finished and Muhammad Ali, an ambitious and able leader, established a dynasty that was to rule Egypt until the revolution of 1952. In later years, the dynasty became a British puppet.

His primary focus was military: he annexed Northern Sudan (1820-1824), Syria (1833), and parts of Arabia and Anatolia; but in 1841 the European powers, fearful lest he topple the Ottoman Empire itself, forced him to return most of his conquests to the Ottomans, but he kept the Sudan and his title to Egypt was made hereditary. A more lasting result of his military ambition is that it required him to modernize the country. Eager to adopt the military (and therefore industrial) techniques of the great powers, he sent students to the West and invited training missions to Egypt. He built industries, a system of canals for irrigation and transport, and reformed the civil service.

The introduction in 1820 of long-staple cotton, the Egyptian variety of which became famous, transformed its agriculture into a cash-crop monoculture before the end of the century. The social effects of this were enormous: land ownership became concentrated and many foreigners arrived, shifting production towards international markets.

Muhammad Ali was succeeded briefly by his son Ibrahim (in September 1848), then by a grandson Abbas I (in November 1848), then by Said (in 1854), and Isma'il (in 1863). Abbas I was cautious. Said and Ismail were ambitious developers, but they spent beyond their means. The Suez Canal, built in partnership with the French, was completed in 1869. The cost of this and other projects had two effects: it led to enormous debt to European banks, and caused popular discontent because of the onerous taxation it required. In 1875 Ismail was forced to sell Egypt's share in the canal to the British Government. Within three years this led to the imposition of British and French controllers who sat in the Egyptian cabinet, and, "with the financial power of the bondholders behind them, were the real power in the Government."

Modern Egypt

Local dissatisfaction with Ismail and with European intrusion led to the formation of the first nationalist groupings in 1879, with Ahmad Urabi a prominent figure. In 1882 he became head of a nationalist-dominated ministry committed to democratic reforms including parliamentary control of the budget. Fearing a reduction of their control, the UK and France intervened militarily, bombarding Alexandria and crushing the Egyptian army at the battle of Tel el-Kebir.They reinstalled Ismail's son Tewfik as figurehead of a de facto British protectorate.

In 1914 the Protectorate was made official, and the title of the head of state, which had changed from pasha to khedive in 1867, was changed to sultan, to repudiate the vestigial suzerainty of the Ottoman sultan, who was backing the Central powers in World War I. Abbas II was deposed as khedive and replaced by his uncle, Hussein Kamel, as sultan.

In 1906, the Dinshaway Incident prompted many neutral Egyptians to join the nationalist movement. After the First World War, Saad Zaghlul and the Wafd Party led the Egyptian nationalist movement to a majority at the local Legislative Assembly. When the British exiled Zaghlul and his associates to Maltafirst modern revolution. The revolt led the UK governmentunilateral declaration of Egypt's independence on February 22, 1922. on March 8, 1919, the country arose in its to issue a

Kingdom

The new government drafted and implemented a constitution in 1923 based on a parliamentarySaad Zaghlul was popularly elected as Prime Minister of Egypt in 1924. In 1936 the Anglo-Egyptian Treaty was concluded. Continued instability due to remaining British influence and increasing political involvement by the king led to the dissolution of the parliament in a military coup d'etat1952 Revolution. The Free Officers Movement forced King Farouk to abdicate in support of his son Fuad. British military presence in Egypt lasted until 1954.

Republic

On June 18, 1953, the Egyptian Republic was declared, with General Muhammad Naguib as the first President of the Republic. Naguib was forced to resign in 1954 by Gamal Abdel Nasser  the real architect of the 1952 movement and was later put under house arrest. Nasser assumed power as President in June, 1956. British forces completed their withdrawal from the occupied Suez Canal Zone on June 13, 1956. He nationalized the Suez Canal on July 26, 1956, prompting the 1956 Suez Crisis.

Three years after the 1967 Six Day War, during which Israel had invaded and occupied Sinai, Nasser died and was succeeded by Anwar Sadat in 1970. Sadat switched Egypt's Cold War allegiance from the Soviet Union to the United States, expelling Soviet advisors in 1972. He launched the Infitah economic reform policy, while violently clamping down on religious and secular opposition.

In 1973, Egypt, along with Syria, launched the October War, a surprise attack against the Israeli forces occupying the Sinai Peninsula and the Golan Heights. It was an attempt to regain part of the Sinai territory Israel had captured 6 years earlier. Sadat hoped to seize some territory through military force, and then regain the rest of the peninsula by diplomacy. The conflict sparked an international crisis between the US and the USSR, both of whom intervened. The second UN-mandated ceasefire halted military action. While the war ended with a military stalemate, it presented Sadat with a political victory that later allowed him to regain the Sinai in return for peace with Israel.

Sadat made a historic visit to Israel in 1977, which led to the 1979 peace treaty in exchange for Israeli withdrawal from Sinai. Sadat's initiative sparked enormous controversy in the Arab world and led to Egypt's expulsion from the Arab League, but it was supported by most Egyptians.A fundamentalist military soldier assassinated Sadat in Cairo in 1981. He was succeeded by Hosni Mubarak.

In 2003, the Egyptian Movement for Change, popularly known as Kefaya, was launched to oppose the Mubarak regime and to establish democratic reforms and greater civil liberties.

In January 2011, a popular protest began against the Mubarak government. The objective of the protest was the removal of Mubarak from power. On 11 February 2011, the Vice President of EgyptOmar Suleiman announced that Mubarak had stepped down as President of Egypt as a result of the popular protests starting on January 25.

On February 13, 2011, the high level military command of Egypt announced that both the constitution and the parliament of Egypt had been dissolved. The parliamentary election was to be held in September.



 

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