Chronology of the Development of Boys' Clothing Styles: Ancient Egyptian Dynastic History


Figure 1.--This is a tomb painting from Thebes. The tomb was for a high ranking New Kingdom (18th Dynasty) official. He and his familt are depicted hunting in the marshes. This was apparently an activity the man enjoyed and hoped to continue in his afterlife. His wife is behind him and a child underneath. he Egyptians were te first civilization to create detailed depictions of children. The Egyptian convention was to indicate children by drawing them notably smaller in size. Source: The British Museum.

Ancient Egypt is one of the principal fountainheads of Western civilization. Egypt was not the first of the great civilizations to emerge. Cities and advanced civilizations first develoved in Mesopotamia in the Tigris-Euprates Valley. Summerian cities emerged in the 5th millennium while culture in the Nile Valley had not emerged from the stone age. Egypt in the pre-dynastic era was settled by Hamitic people of the Caucasian race. Gradually once the Upper and Lower Kingdoms were united Africans played a significant role in Egypytian society as can be discerned by the African features on art work representing some pharaohs. This was an aspect of Egyptian civilization largelyignored or even suppressed by Egyptologists and the racial aspect of ancient Egypt is still a poorly understood area. Early Egyptian civilization must have borrowed heavily from Mesopotamia. Scholars differ, however, on the extent and nature of the exchanges between Egyptian and Mesopotamian civilizations. The chronological dating of Egyptian dynasties after about 2,000 BC is increasingly relaible. The dating of earlier dynasties is much more open to conjecture. The dating of New Kingdom dynasties for the most part are believed to be realtively reliable. One factor that has to be considered in dating the reigns of specific momarchies is the overlap as a result of coregencies. Government through coregencies is a matter of debate among Egyptologists, but was prevalent during most Egyoptian dynasties. The role of Egyptian princess is another distinctive dynastic development of some importance.

Distinctive Monarchy

There are many different types of monarchy that developed in diferent cultures. Many common patterns appear with detinct individual characteristics. There are two major aspects of Egyptian monarch throuh the different dynasties that are highly destinctive. Government through coregencies is a matter of debate among Egyptologists. Coregencies were clearly prevalent during most Egyptian dynasties. How these coregencies operated, however, is not entirely clear and a subject of ongoing investigation. The role of Egyptian princess is another distinctive dynastic development of some importance. While the crown was inherited through the male line, Egyptian princecesses came to play a key role in legitimizing a new pharoah. This is another topic of discussion among Egyptologists. This is not surprising as in confused the neighboring states around Egypt at the time.

Coregency

Egyptian government through coregencies is a matter of debate among Egyptologists. Coregencies were clearly prevalent during most Egyptian dynasties. How these coregencies operated, however, is not entirely clear and a subject of ongoing investigation. The role of Egyptian princess is another distinctive dynastic development of some importance.

Marriage partners

While the crown was inherited through the male line, Egyptian princecesses came to play a key role in legitimizing a new pharoah. This is another topic of discussion among Egyptologists. This is not surprising as in confused the neighboring states around Egypt at the time. Egyptian princeses appeared to have conveyed the throne. This meant of course family inbreading, often with brother-sist marriages (usually half brothers and sisters). This did not mean that Egyptian pharoah and princes did not marry foreign princesses. These were, however, primarily diplomatic arrangmnents and the forign princesses rarely achieved any important status among pharohs wives. The important wives, especially the chief wife, was almost always Egyptian--normally a family member--a sister or half sister. [Aldred, p. 91.] These foreign princes, however, seem to have had some impact on wider Egyptian socity. [Aldred, p. 54.]

Historical Eras

Ancient Egypt is one of the principal fountainheads of Western civilization. Egypt was not the first of the great civilizations to emerge. Cities and advanced civilizations first develoved in Mesopotamia in the Tigris-Euprates Valley. Summerian cities emerged in the 5th millennium while culture in the Nile Valley had not emerged from the stone age. Egypt in the pre-dynastic era was settled by Hamitic people of the Caucasian race. Gradually once the Upper and Lower Kingdoms were united Africans played a significant role in Egypytian society as can be discerned by the African features on art work representing some pharaohs. This was an aspect of Egyptian civilization largelyignored or even suppressed by Egyptologists and the racial aspect of ancient Egypt is still a poorly understood area. Early Egyptian civilization must have borrowed heavily from Mesopotamia. Scholars differ, however, on the extent and nature of the exchanges between Egyptian and Mesopotamian civilizations. The chronological dating of Egyptian dynasties after about 2,000 BC is increasingly relaible. The dating of earlier dynasties is much more open to conjecture. The dating of New Kingdom dynasties for the most part are believed to be realtively reliable. One factor that has to be considered in dating the reigns of specific momarchies is the overlap as a result of coregencies.

The Old Kingdom (3500?-2445 BC)

Egyptian history generally begins with the foundation of Dynasty I and the Old Kingdom, the unification of the Lower and Upper Kingdoms by Menes about 3,500 BC. Also attributed to Menes is the foundation of Memphis and the introduction of the basin system of irrigation. Some time around the end of the Dynasty II, about 3,000 BC, the first mastaba, above the ground tombs, appear in Egypt. Some art at the time was heavily influenced by Mesopotamia with which there were extensive commercial relations. The greates era of the Old Kingdom was achieved during the reign of Zoser who founded the Thir Dynasty beginning about 2980 BC. Zoser's Dynasty III was the first Memphite Dynasty because his capital was located at Memphis. Zoser extended Egyptian control into the Suani and ptomoted art and science. His chief advisor, Imhotep, probably designed the Step Pyramid--the first important stone structure in history. This technological achievement culminated in Dynasty IV with the Great Pyramids at Giza. Zoser's successor was Snefru, Egypt's first important warrior king. He made Egypt the most prosperous center of the ancient world and conducted successful military expeditions against the Syrians to the north east and the Nubians to the south. Egyptian government by the time of Snefru had evolved into a theocracy in which pharoah was both absolute ruler and god. This centralized authority made possible the maintenace of the irrigation system as well as clossal building projects like the pyramids. The three Great Pyramids at Giza were built by the pharaohs following Snefru, Khufu, Khafre, and Menkure over a span of 150 years. Besides these impressive achievements in architecture, comparable achievements were also made in astronomy, industrial arts and scences, mathematics, navigation, painting, and sculpture. Our modern solar calendar of 365 days divuded into 12 months was developed during this period. Inperfections however are thecause of much confusion concerning Egytian chronology. Other achievenents were the sun dial, the water cloick, and mathematical fornula (suchb as computing the area of a circle). There were also graet advances in medicine, including a sophisticated undersyanding of physiology, surgery, and the circulatory. The Old Kingdom survived for centuries after Dynasty IV, but few important advances were made in learning and culture. The Egyptians around 2,625 BC during Dynasty V initiated the practice of inscribing religious texts on the inner walls of tombs, thus preserving some of their earliest writing. During Dynasty VI the authority of the Pharaoh Pepi was challenged by the nobility leading to an era of feudal strife. The internal bickering led to growing instability and a collapse of central authority. Partially as a result, little is known about the Dynasties VII and VIII.

Middle Kingdom (2445-1580 BC)

The pharaohs of Dynasty IX and X managed to restore some order, but nothing appraoching the glories of Dynasty IV. These dynasties are known as HeracleopolitanDynasties because their caputal was situated at Heraclepolis. This changed when Count of Thebes managed to outmaneuver rivals and seized power about 2,160 BC and founded Dynasty XI. This was the first of three successive Thebian dynasties which goverened Egypt for four centuries. The Thebian pharoahs promoted what was at the time a rather obsure loval diety--Amun. Amun Re became the central diety in the Egyptian pantheon. [Stewart, p. 80.] A vigorous cultural revival occurred in this period, The most importantb pharoahs of this era were Amenemhet and Sesostris. Considerable territory was acquired, nuch of it inn the south in Nubia. A canal today called the Ismailia Canal was dug conecting the Nile with the Red Sea, which at the time served the purpose of the modern Suez Canal. A major engineering project in Faiyym was complered, reclaiming a vast flooded area. Art anf jewelry design reached high levels and the era is coinsidered the golden age of Egyptian literature. Some scholars beleve that the Hebrew patriarch Abraham visited Egypt during this era, about 1935 BC. The noblity during Dyasty XIII and XIV again disputed the pharaoh's authority, plunging Egypt into another period of internal disorder. As a result, the Hyksos, a people whose origins are not well understood, were able to invade and conquer Egypt around 1700 BC. It was at thus time that the Hebrews appear in Egypt. The Hykos during Dynasties XV and XVI only directly ruled Lower Egypt. Upper Egypt was ruled by tributary native princes. One of these princes, the viceroy of Thebes rebelled and founded Dynasty XVII. Thebian Ahmose I about 1,580 BC succeeded in finally driving the Hykos out of Egypt.

New Kingdom (1580-332 BC)

The New Kingdom invoked an era of imperial glory. Thebian Ahmose I founded Dynasty XVIII about 1,580 BC. His reign is considered the beginning of the New Kingdom. It was tghe first of the Diospolite dynasties, aned after Diopolis (the city of god). Under Pharaohs menhotep and Thutmose Egypt became an imperial power, controlling territry streaching from Nubia in the siyth east to Euphrates River. There were collosalm archetectural achievemebts, most notably te temple at Deir el-Bahri near Thebes. Cities were constructed at Luxor and Karnack, two ofvthevgraet Egyptian cities of antiquity. It was during this period that Amenhotep IV supressed the traditional religon and attempted to replae it with a kind of solar monotheism. This alienated the priesthood who were able to restore the old religion after the brief reign of Amenhotep's successor, the boy king Tutankhamen. (It was his unspoiled tomb that was discoivered in the Valley of the Kings in 1922.) Many of Egypt's imperail possessions were lost as a result of the disorders associated with the reign of Amenhotep IV and Tutankhamen. Egypt was ruled by capable pharaohs during Dynasty XIX, including Harmhab, Seti, and Ramses II, but they were unable to reclaim Egypt's imperial possesions. The Jewish exodus probably occurred about 1,290 BC during the reign of Ramses II. The paroahs of Dynasty XX were generally weak and incompetent and Egyptian soviety was increasingly dominated by the priesthood. A Libyan general Sheshonk overthrew Dynasty XXI and established Dynasty XII. He is probably the Biblical pharaoh known as Shihak (Kings I). Dynasty XXIII and XXIV were again a time of internal disorder with the nobility again contesting the authority of a series of weak, inefectual pharaohs. The Ethiopian pharaohs of Dynasy XXV became involved in a war with Assyria. After the Assyrians conquered Egypt inn 670 BC, Pharaoh Taharka took refuge in the extreme south of the coiuntry. The Assyrians installed Psamtik, a native prince, as regent in 663 BC. He rebelled in 660 BC against the Asyrians and also fought a war with Babalon, declaring Egyoptian independence and founding Dynasty XXVI. There was a brief cultural resurgence during this period. It was a pharoah, Necho, of this dynasty that defeated Josiah's army in Palestine about 608 BC. Necho was subsequently defeated by Babalonian King Nebuchadnezzar. Ahmose II turned back invasions by both Babalonians and Persians. His son Psamtik, however, was conquered by King Cambyses II of Persia in 525 BC. This effectively brought to an end the New Kingdom and three millenia of Egytian civilization. Egypt was ruled as a proivince of Persia for almost two centuries, a period referred to as Dynasties XXVII through XXX, aoeruiod during whicgbthere were some successful native insurgencies.

Helanistic Egypt (332-221 BC)

The period of Persian rule ended when Alexander thre Great after defeating the Persians occupied Egypt in 332 BC. Alexander died in 323 BC and Ptolemy, one of his generals, was appointed governor of Egypt and Libya. After a series of battles with other contending Greek genrals, Ptolemy decalred himself king of an independent Egypt in 305 BC. Alexandria under his rule became the foremost commercail and cultural center of the world.

Roman Egypt (221 BC - 4th century AD)

Under the reign of Ptolemy IV, Egypt became a virtual protecorate of Rome. This continued until Julius Ceasar met Cleopatra. She sought to create a kind of dual monarchy and the birth of their son, Cesarion, created the possibility for such a state. After Ceasar's assasination, Cleopatra fled Rome with Ceasrion. She again attempted to establish independence by supporting Anthony in the developing Roman civil war with Octavian (Augustus). Octavian defeated Cleopatra and Anthony at Actium--one of the great sea battles of history (31 BC). Cleopatra and Anthony fled to Egypt where both committed suicide (30 BC). Octavian had Ceasrion, still a boy, put to death. A live Cesarion as a son of Cesar would have been a threat to Octavian and Rome. With this Egypt became a proivince in the Roman Empire. Octavian, a consumate politican, depicted his rule as to the Egyptians as the successor to the pharaohs. He proceeded to dismantle the Ptolemaic monarchy and established his control. Egypt became his personal estate, an emense source of wealrh. He appointed a prefect to rule Egypt, but limited the terms. This essentially depoliticized the country. Egypt was ruled by Roman officials backed by a Roman garrisons strengthened by locl auxilaries. This continued for a decade until Roman rule was firmly established. Business was conducted along the principles and procedures of Roman law. The local administration was changed to the Roman liturgic system under which the ownership of property brought an obligation for public service. The political system formalized the privileges associated with Helanistic culture and social background. Egypt played an important role in the Roman Empire. It was an province that rivaled Gaul in value. Egypt's primary value was its agricultural richness and was a major supplier grain. Roman Egypt benefit from the stability of Roman rule and enjoyed an era of prosperity. Some trouble was caused by religious conflicts between the Greeks and the Jews, Rome's incorporation of Egypt inspired a fascination for Egyptian art and culture. Obelisks appeared in the fora. A small pyrmid was built in Rome. The cult of Isis, the Egyptian mother goddess, became a major force throughout the Empire. Marcus Aurelius brought oppressive taxation resulting in a revolt (139 AD). The Tomans supressed the revolt, but it took several years. This Bucolic War damaged the Egyptia economy and marked the beginning of economic decline of Roman Egypt. Even so, a series of Roman generals in Egypt declared themselves emperor and attempted to use Egypt as a base to seize control of the Empire.

Byzantine Egypt (4th-6th cetury)

The reign of Constantine brought the the founding of Constantinople as a new imperial capital. The Empire was divided in two (4th century AD). Egypt became part of the more prosperous Eastern Empire. This had a range of conswquences. Latin, never thoroughly established among the Greek populaion, gradually disappeared. Greek reasserted itself as the language of government and refined society. After the fall of Rome (5th century), Egypt continued to be a part of the the Eastern or Byzantine Empire until conquered by the Arab general Anru ibn-al-As (640-646 AD). Egypt thus became part f the Islamic Caliphate.

Sources

Aldred, Cyril. Akhenaten: Pharaoh of Egypt--A New Study (McGraw-Hill: New York, 1968), 272p.

Stewart, Doug. "Eternal Egypt," Smithsonian, date missing, pp. 74-84.






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Last updated: 4:47 AM 5/23/2010