Egypt

– Aastha Joshi

The history of Egypt has been long and wealthy, due to the flow of the Nile River with its fertile banks and delta, as well as the accomplishments of Egypt’s native inhabitants and outside influence. Much of Egypt’s ancient history was a mystery until Egyptian hieroglyphs were deciphered with the discovery and help of the Rosetta Stone. Among the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World is the Great Pyramid of Giza. There was seen political unification of Upper and Lower Egypt under the first king of the First Dynasty, Narmer. Predominantly native Egyptian rule lasted until the conquest by the Achaemenid Empire in the sixth century BC. In 332 BC, Macedonian ruler Alexander the Great conquered Egypt as he toppled the Achaemenids and established the Hellenistic Ptolemaic Kingdom, whose first ruler was one of Alexander’s former generals, Ptolemy I Soter The Ptolemies had to fight native rebellions and were involved in foreign and civil wars that led to the decline of the kingdom and its final annexation by Rome. The death of Cleopatra ended the nominal independence of Egypt resulting in Egypt’s becoming one of the provinces of the Roman Empire. Egypt remained entirely Ottoman until 1867, except during French occupation from 1798 to 1801. Starting in 1867, Egypt became a nominally autonomous tributary state called the Khedivate of Egypt. However, Khedivate Egypt fell under British control in 1882 following the Anglo Egyptian War. After the end of World War I and following the Egyptian revolution of 1919, the Kingdom of Egypt was established. While a de jure independent state, the United Kingdom retained control over foreign affairs, defense, and other matters. British occupation lasted until 1954, with the Anglo-Egyptian agreement of 1954. The modern Republic of Egypt was founded in 1953, and with the complete withdrawal of British forces from the Suez Canal in 1956, it marked the first time in 2500 years that Egypt was both fully independent and ruled by native Egyptians.

President Gamal Abdel Nasser introduced many reforms and created the short lived United Arab Republic (with Syria). His terms also saw the Six-Day War and the creation of the international Non-Aligned Movement. His successor, Anwar Sadat changed Egypt’s trajectory, departing from many of the political, and economic tenets of Nasserism, re-instituting a multi-party system and launching the Infitah economic policy. He led Egypt in the Yom Kippur War of 1973 to regainEgypt’s Sinai Peninsula, which Israel had occupied since the Six-Day War of 1967. This later led to the Egypt-Israel Peace Treaty. The pharaoh’s role in Egypt was both political and religious pharaohs were generally thought to be imbued with divinity and were effectively regarded as intermediaries between the gods and people, the pharaohs were also responsible for the more earthly concerns of leadership, and each pharaoh had a unique legacy; some were architectural innovators or revered military leaders while others were brilliant diplomats. Djoser is perhaps the most famous Third Dynasty pharaoh he oversaw the construction of the famous step pyramid at Saqqara, a hugely significant milestone in ancient Egyptian architecture. This pyramid, in which Djoser was buried, was the first structure to realise the iconic step design. A Fourth Dynasty pharaoh, Khufu’s greatest legacy is undoubtedly the Great Pyramid of Giza, one of the Seven Wonders of the World. The monumental structure is a testament to the bewildering sophistication of Egyptian architecture and, remarkably, remained the tallest man-made structure in the world for the best part of 4,000 years. Only the second woman to assume the role of pharaoh, Hatshepsut was the wife of Thutmose II and reigned in the Eighteenth Dynasty. Her step-son Thutmose III was just two years old when his father died in 1479 and so Hatshepsut soon took on the role of pharaoh. The son of Amenhotep III, Akhenaten was named Amenhotep IV at birth but changed his name in accordance with his radical monotheistic beliefs. Akhenaten’s wife, Nefertiti, was a strong presence during his reign and played a significant part in his religious revolution After Akhenaten’s death, Egypt rapidly returned to polytheism and the traditional gods he had disowned. The youngest pharaoh in Egyptian history when he ascended to the throne at just nine or 10 years old, Tutankhamun became the most famous pharaoh of all. The cause of his death remains a mystery to Egyptologists. Ramses II’s reign was undoubtedly the greatest of the 19th Dynasty Ramses II went on to declare himself a god, while earning a reputation as a great warrior, fathering 96 children and ruling for 67 years. The last active ruler of the Ptolemaic Kingdom of Egypt, Cleopatra presided over the dying days of the Egyptian empire, yet her fame has lived on through folklore, Shakespeare and Hollywood. It’s hard to disentangle the real Cleopatrafrom the legend but scholars suggest that her portrayal as a stunningly beautiful seductress undersells her brilliance as a leader. Egypt specially grabs attention of people because of its mysteries and Pharos.