Early Dynastic Period (Egypt)

For the period of the same name in Mesopotamia, see Early Dynastic Period (Mesopotamia).
"Thinite Period" redirects here. It is not to be confused with Thinite Confederacy.
Early Dynastic Period of Egypt

c. 3150 BC – c. 2686 BC
Double crown.svg
CapitalThinis then Memphis
Common languagesAncient Egyptian
Religion
Ancient Egyptian religion
GovernmentMonarchy
Pharaoh 
• c. 3100 BC
Narmer (first)
• c. 2690 BC
Khasekhemwy (last)
History 
• Established
c. 3150 BC 
• Disestablished
 c. 2686 BC
Preceded by
Succeeded by
Lower Egypt
Upper Egypt
Old Kingdom of Egypt
Today part of Egypt
Part of a series on the
History of Egypt
All Gizah Pyramids.jpg
Prehistoric Egyptpre–3150 BC
Ancient Egypt
Early Dynastic Period3150–2686 BC
Old Kingdom2686–2181 BC
1st Intermediate Period2181–2055 BC
Middle Kingdom2055–1650 BC
2nd Intermediate Period1650–1550 BC
New Kingdom1550–1069 BC
3rd Intermediate Period1069–664 BC
Late Period664–332 BC
Greco-Roman Egypt
Argead and Ptolemaic dynasties332–30 BC
Roman and Byzantine Egypt30 BC–641 AD
Sasanian Egypt619–629
Medieval Egypt
Rashidun Egypt641–661
Umayyad Egypt661–750
Abbasid Egypt750–935
Tulunid dynasty868–905
Ikhshidid dynasty935–969
Fatimid dynasty969–1171
Ayyubid dynasty1171–1250
Mamluk dynasties1250–1517
Early modern Egypt
Ottoman Egypt1517–1867
French occupation1798–1801
Muhammad Ali dynasty1805–1953
Khedivate of Egypt1867–1914
Late Modern Egypt
British occupation1882–1922
Sultanate of Egypt1914–1922
Kingdom of Egypt1922–1953
Republic1953–present
Flag of Egypt.svg Egypt portal
Dynasties of Ancient Egypt
All years are BC

The Archaic or Early Dynastic Period of Egypt (also known as Thinite Period, from Thinis, the supposed hometown of its rulers[1]) is the era immediately following the unification of Upper and Lower Egypt c. 3100 BC. It is generally taken to include the First and Second Dynasties, lasting from the end of the Naqada III archaeological period until about 2686 BC, or the beginning of the Old Kingdom.[2] With the First Dynasty, the capital moved from Thinis to Memphis with a unified Egypt ruled by an Egyptian god-king. Abydos remained the major holy land in the south. The hallmarks of ancient Egyptian civilization, such as art, architecture and many aspects of religion, took shape during the Early Dynastic period.

Before the unification of Egypt, the land was settled with autonomous villages. With the early dynasties, and for much of Egypt's history thereafter, the country came to be known as the Two Lands. The pharaohs established a national administration and appointed royal governors. The buildings of the central government were typically open-air temples constructed of wood or sandstone. The earliest Egyptian hieroglyphs appear just before this period, though little is known of the spoken language they represent.

Cultural evolution

N16
N16
tȝwy 'Two Lands'
in hieroglyphs

By about 3600 BC, Neolithic Egyptian societies along the Nile had based their culture on the raising of crops and the domestication of animals.[3] Shortly after 3600 BC Egyptian society began to grow and advance rapidly toward refined civilization.[4] A new and distinctive pottery, which was related to the pottery in the Southern Levant, appeared during this time. Extensive use of copper became common during this time.[4] The Mesopotamian process of sun-dried bricks, and architectural building principles—including the use of the arch and recessed walls for decorative effect—became popular during this time.[4]

Concurrent with these cultural advances, a process of unification of the societies and towns of the upper Nile River, or Upper Egypt, occurred. At the same time the societies of the Nile Delta, or Lower Egypt also underwent a unification process.[4] Warfare between Upper and Lower Egypt occurred often.[4] During his reign in Upper Egypt, King Narmer defeated his enemies on the Delta and merged both the Kingdom of Upper and Lower Egypt under his single rule.[5] Narmer is shown on palettes wearing the double crown, composed of the lotus flower representing Upper Egypt and the papyrus reed representing Lower Egypt - a sign of the unified rule of both parts of Egypt which was followed by all succeeding rulers. In mythology, the unification of Egypt is portrayed as the falcon-god, called Horus and identified with Lower Egypt, as conquering and subduing the god Set, who was identified with Upper Egypt.[6] Divine kingship, which would persist in Egypt for the next three millennia, was firmly established as the basis of Egypt's government.[7] The unification of societies along the Nile has also been linked to the end of the African humid period.

Funeral practices for the peasants would have been the same as in predynastic times, but the rich demanded something more. Thus, the Egyptians began construction of the mastabas which became models for the later Old Kingdom constructions such as the Step pyramid. Cereal agriculture and centralization contributed to the success of the state for the next 800 years.

It seems certain that Egypt became unified as a cultural and economic domain long before its first king ascended to the throne in the lower Egyptian city of Memphis where the dynastic period did originate. This would last for many centuries. Political unification proceeded gradually, perhaps over a period of a century or so as local districts established trading networks and the ability of their governments to organize agriculture labor on a larger scale increased, divine kingship may also have gained spiritual momentum as the cults of gods like Horus, Set and Neith associated with living representatives became widespread in the country.[8]

It was also during this period that the Egyptian writing system was further developed. Initially Egyptian writing had been composed primarily of a few symbols denoting amounts of various substances. By the end of the 3rd dynasty it had been expanded to include more than 200 symbols, both phonograms and ideograms.[7]

First Pharaoh

Modern Egypt with important sites of the Early Dynastic Period (clickable map)

According to Manetho, the first monarch of the unified Upper and Lower Egypt was Menes, who is now identified with Narmer. Indeed, Narmer is the earliest recorded First Dynasty monarch: he appears first on the necropolis seal impressions of Den and Qa'a.[11][12][13] This shows that Narmer was recognized by the first dynasty kings as an important founding figure. Narmer is also the earliest king associated to the symbols of power over the two lands (see in particular the Narmer Palette, a votive cosmetic palette showing Narmer wearing the crowns of Upper and Lower Egypt) and may therefore be the first king to achieve the unification. Consequently, the current consensus is that "Menes" and "Narmer" refer to the same person.[4] Alternative theories hold that Narmer was the final king of the Naqada III period[6] and Hor-Aha is to be identified with "Menes".

References

  1. ^ Nicolas Grimal, A History of Ancient Egypt. Blackwell Publishing, 1992, p. 49
  2. ^ Shaw, Ian, ed. (2000). The Oxford History of Ancient Egypt. Oxford University Press. p. 479. ISBN 0-19-815034-2.
  3. ^ Carl Roebuck, The World of Ancient Times (Charles Scribner's Sons Publishing: New York, 1966) p. 51.
  4. ^ a b c d e f Carl Roebuck, The World of Ancient Times (Charles Scribner's Sons: New York, 1966) p. 52-53.
  5. ^ Carl Roebuck, The World of Ancient Times (Charles Scribner's Sons Publishers: New York, 1966), p. 53.
  6. ^ a b Carl Roebuck, The World of Ancient Times, p. 53.
  7. ^ a b Kinnaer, Jacques. "Early Dynastic Period" (PDF). The Ancient Egypt Site. Retrieved 4 April 2012.
  8. ^ The Penguin Historical Atlas of Ancient Egypt pg 22-23 (1997) By Bill Manley
  9. ^ "Site officiel du musée du Louvre". cartelfr.louvre.fr.
  10. ^ Cooper, Jerrol S. (1996). The Study of the Ancient Near East in the Twenty-first Century: The William Foxwell Albright Centennial Conference. Eisenbrauns. ISBN 9780931464966.
  11. ^ Qa'a and Merneith lists http://xoomer.virgilio.it/francescoraf/hesyra/Egyptgallery03.html
  12. ^ The Narmer Catalog http://narmer.org/inscription/1553
  13. ^ The Narmer Catalog http://narmer.org/inscription/4048

Further reading

External links