Civilization that flourished along the River Nile in nw
Africa from c.
3400 bc to 30 bc, when Egypt was annexed to Rome
. The dynasties number from 1 to 30. The semi-legendary Menes
united the kingdoms of Upper and Lower Egypt in c.
3100 bc. Ancient Egyptian history falls into a number of periods. The highlight of the Old Kingdom
was the building of the pyramids of Giza
during the 4th dynasty. The Great Pyramid was Khufu's; the other two pyramids were those of his son Khafre and grandson Menkaure. After the death of Pepy II in the 6th dynasty, central government disintegrated and Egypt was in general chaos. This was the First Intermediate Period
. Central authority returned in the 11th dynasty, and the capital moved to Thebes (now Luxor
). The Middle Kingdom
2040–1640 bc) saw Egypt develop into a great power. Amenemhet I, founder of the 12th dynasty (c.
1991 bc), crushed provincial opposition, secured Egypt's borders, and created a new capital. Art, architecture, and literature flourished. At the end of this period, Egypt once again fell into disarray (Second Intermediate Period
) and the Hyksos
seized control. The New Kingdom
began in c.
1550 bc, when Ahmose I founded the 18th dynasty. The New Kingdom (18th, 19th, and 20th dynasties) brought great wealth. Huge temples and tombs, such as Tutankhamun's
, were built. Wars with the Hittites under Ramses II
drained Egypt, and later weak rulers led to the decline of the New Kingdom. The 21st to 25th dynasties (Third Intermediate Period
) culminated in Assyrian domination. The Persians ruled from 525 until 404 bc, when the Egyptians revolted, and the last native dynasties appeared. In 332 bc, Egypt fell to the armies of Alexander the Great
, who moved the capital to Alexandria
. After Alexander's death, his general became ruler of Egypt, as Ptolemy I
. The Ptolemies maintained a powerful empire for three centuries, and Alexandria became a centre of learning. Roman power was on the ascendancy, and when Ptolemy
XII asked Pompey
for aid in 58 bc, it marked the end of Egyptian independence. Cleopatra
tried to assert independence through associations with Julius Caesar
and Mark Antony
, but she was defeated at Actium
. Her son, Ptolemy XV (whose father was probably Julius Caesar
), was the last Ptolemy; he was killed by Octavian
), and Egypt became a province of Rome.