By Menna El-Dorry
Each list would include all the names of the kings that ruled from the beginning (starting Menes) to the currently reigning king. However, some kings were selective, choosing to omit names of rulers they did not think were fit, such as King Seti I’s king list in his temple in Abydos (South of Cairo) omits the heretic king Akhenaten. In more modern chronologies, scholars have given labels to certain periods, such as Predynastic, Early Dynastic, Old Kingdom, First Intermediate Period, Middle Kingdom, Second Intermediate Period, New Kingdom, Third Intermediate Period, and Late Period.
While scholars’ logic
behind this grouping is understood (the Kingdoms being time of stability
and productivity, the intermediate periods being time of foreign conquest
and instability), Manetho’s choices in selecting dynasties are not
understood. He created the break between a father and his son, and placed
successors of different families in one family. The chronologies can be
confusing because of each king being known by five different names (nomen,
prenomen, the two ladies, the two lands, and Horus of gold).
Old Kingdom: 2686-2181 BC
– Dynasties III, IV, V, VI
The Old Kingdom started with the rule of king Nebka (2686-2667), who was succeeded by King Djoser, who was also known as Netjeriket (2667-2648). Under Djoser’s reign, building large-scale stone monuments was introduced. Djoser’s renowned monument is the Step Pyramid, which is located in his pyramid complex at modern-day Saqqara. Built by Djoser’s architect Imhotep, the Saqqara Step Pyramid is the first attempt of pyramid building in Egypt. The pyramid initially took on the form of a mastaba tomb (a flat rectangular structure), which was gradually enlarged to its pyramidal shape. Djoser’s successors, Sekhemkhet (2648-2640) and Khaba (2640-2537) had plans for pyramids, but neither their pyramid complexes were completed, probably owing to both their short reigns (six years each). Little is known of the last two kings of the third dynasty, Sanakht and Huni.
Builder of the Great Pyramid of Giza, Khufu set a record for pyramid building. The Great Pyramid consists of an approximate number of 2,300,000 building blocks weighing around 2.3 tons each. Khufu was succeeded by Djedefra (2566-2558), who was the first king to start using the epithet “Son of Ra,’” integrating Ra’s name into his own. He started building a pyramid in Abu Rawash, which was never completed. Djedefra was succeeded by Khafra (2558-2532). He built another pyramid at the Giza Plateau next to that of his father’s, which is slightly smaller, yet it seems equal because it is built on a higher ground. In front of this pyramid stands a massive stone structure representing a sphinx. There is much debate about its dating, whether to Khufu or Khafra's reign.
representing a head of a man and the body of a lion.
The fifth dynasty rulers (Userkaf, Sahura, Neferirkara, Menkauhor, Djedkara-Isesi, Unas) were mostly buried at either Abu Sir or Saqqara. The earlier kings of the fifth dynasty built sun temples at Abu Sir, where the cult of the sun god Ra’ was celebrated, and gradually gained importance. The fifth dynasty is most remarkable for the appearance of Pyramid Texts, which are religious spells and texts that appear in the burial chambers of the pyramids.
The sixth dynasty is most known for the mastaba tombs that were the fashion at that time, and the increase in the popularity of the Pyramid texts. Moreover, the large amount of documents that date from dynasty six give an insight about the social, political, and religious practices and norms at that time. The Old Kingdom fell apart due to many changes that took place, from change in the climate and increase in dryness, to the rise of the power of the cult of Ra and its priests, resulting in decreasing the king’s power.
Kingdom: 2055-1650 BC -- Dynasties XI, XII, XIII
probably had no male heir to the throne, or his kingship was weak.
Amenemhat I was murdered, and was succeeded by his son Senusert I (1956-1911). The Hekanakhte Papers, which have survived from the reign of Senusert I give much evidence about the society at the time. They were letters written by an old farmer named Hekanakhte, to his family while he was away on business. They give us details about the agricultural life around his time, and also interfamily relations, where he scolded his oldest son for not giving his brother enough food. Senusert was I succeeded by Amenemhat II (1911-1877), who built a poorly preserved pyramid at Dahshur. He was succeeded by Senusert II (1870-1831) whose reign witnessed much trade with the Near East.
Senusert II was succeed by Senusert III (1870-1831) who was responsible large-scale brutal campaigns in Nubia. He destroyed the power of provincial nomes (governorates) by creating Warets. The warets were ministries each headed by an official and an assistant. There was a waret for each of Lower Egypt, Upper Egypt, and Nubia. He built a limestone-cased pyramid at Dahshur, and a complex at Abydos, which possibly could have been where his cult was celebrate for two centuries after his death. His remains were never found, so there is still much speculation about his actual burial place. He was succeeded by Amenemhat III (1831-1786), who led Egypt into a long reign of stability and cultural wealth. He built a pyramid at Dahshur (the Black Pyramid), which has cracked and crumbled.
III was succeeded by Amenemhat IV (1786-1777), his grandson. It is likely
that he ascended the throne as an old man because he died after only nine
years. He was succeeded by his wife/sister Queen Sobekneferu (1777-1773).
eighteenth dynasty was a period of prosperity and stability in ancient
Egypt. The arts flourished during this time, and literature was very
popular. During this time the god “Amun,” or “The Hidden One” gained
Amunhotep IV brought forth a new god, the Aton, which he believed was his deified father. Eventually, he changed his name to Akhenaten, abandoning Thebes as a capital and moving to “Akhenaten,” modern-day Tell El Amarna. He also banned the worship of all other gods, closing down the temples of Amun and erasing his name from the monuments. The art during his reign changed drastically, where humans were no longer shown in the idealized look of the previous kingdoms, but in an exaggerated, less formal look. Akhenaten reigned for around eighteen years, and was succeeded by Tutankhamun (1336-1327), who was either a son or a much younger brother.
ruled from the age of ten and died when he was around eighteen years old.
Tutankhamun’s successors, Ay (1327-1323) and Horemheb (1323-1295), were
both of non-royal origins, but still ruled, resorting the monuments that
were defaced under Akhenaton's reign.
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