Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Old Kingdom


The Old Kingdom is most commonly regarded as the period of time when Egypt was ruled by the Third Dynasty through the Sixth Dynasty (2686 BC – 2181 BC). Many Egyptologists also include the Memphite Seventh and Eighth Dynasties in the Old Kingdom as a continuation of the administration centralized at Memphis. While the Old Kingdom was a period of internal security and prosperity, it was followed by a period of disunity and relative cultural decline referred to by Egyptologists as the First Intermediate Period.


During the Old Kingdom, the king of Egypt (not called the Pharaoh until the New Kingdom) became a living god, who ruled absolutely and could demand the services and wealth of his subjects.

Under King Djoser, the second king of the Third Dynasty of the Old Kingdom, the royal capital of Egypt was moved to Memphis, where Djoser established his court. A new era of building was initiated at Saqqara under his reign. King Djoser's architect, Imhotep is credited with the development of building with stone and with the conception of the new architectural form the Step Pyramid.

The Old Kingdom is perhaps best known for the large number of pyramids constructed at this time as pharaonic burial places. For this reason, the Old Kingdom is frequently referred to as "the Age of the Pyramids."

Architects and masons mastered the techniques necessary to build monumental structures in stone. Sculptors created the earliest portraits of individuals and the first life size statues in wood, copper, and stone. They perfected the art of carving intricate relief decoration and, through keen observation of the natural world, produced detailed images of animals, plants, and even landscapes, recording the essential elements of their world for eternity in scenes painted and carved on the walls of temples and tombs. The royal capital of Egypt during the Old Kingdom was located at Memphis, where Djoser established his court.

The Old Kingdom and its royal power reached their zenith under the Fourth Dynasty. Sneferu, the dynasty's founder, is believed to have commissioned at least three pyramids; while his son and successor Khufu erected the Great Pyramid of Giza, Sneferu had more stone and brick moved than any other pharaoh. Khufu, his son Khafra , and his grandson Menkaura , all achieved lasting fame in the construction of their pyramids. To organize and feed the manpower needed to create these pyramids required a centralized government with extensive powers.

Egyptologists believe the Old Kingdom at this time demonstrated this level of sophistication. Recent excavations near the pyramids have uncovered a large city which seems to have housed, fed and supplied the pyramid workers. Although it was once believed that slaves built these monuments, a theory based on the biblical Exodus story, study of the tombs of the workmen, who oversaw construction on the pyramids.


Old Kingdom
Old Kingdom
Old Kingdom
Old Kingdom
Old Kingdom
Old Kingdom
Old Kingdom
Old Kingdom
Old Kingdom
Old Kingdom
The First Intermediate Period,often described as a dark period in ancient Egyptian history, spanned approximately one hundred years after the end of the Old Kingdom from 2181 to 2055 BC. It included the seventh, eighth, ninth, tenth, and part of the eleventh dynasties.
The First Intermediate Period was a dynamic time in history where rule of Egypt was roughly divided between two competing power bases. One of those bases resided at Heracleopolis in Lower Egypt, a city just south of the Faiyum region. The other resided at Thebes in Upper Egypt. It is believed that during this time, the temples were pillaged and violated, their existing artwork was vandalized, and the statues of kings were broken or destroyed as a result of this alleged political chaos.
These two kingdoms would eventually come into conflict, with the Theban kings conquering the north, resulting in reunification of Egypt under a single ruler during the second part of the eleventh dynasty.
After Egypt's central government collapsed at the end of the Old Kingdom, the administration could no longer support or stabilize the country's economy. Regional governors could not rely on the king for help in times of crisis, and the ensuing food shortages and political disputes escalated into famines and small-scale civil wars. Yet despite difficult problems, local leaders, owing no tribute to the pharaoh, used their newfound independence to establish a thriving culture in the provinces.
Once in control of their own resources, the provinces became economically richer a fact demonstrated by larger and better burials among all social classes. In bursts of creativity, provincial artisans adopted and adapted cultural motifs formerly restricted to the royalty of the Old Kingdom, and scribes developed literary styles that expressed the optimism and originality of the period. Free from their loyalties to the pharaoh, local rulers began competing with each other for territorial control and political power. By 2160 BC, rulers in Herakleopolis controlled Lower Egypt, while a rival clan based in Thebes, the Intef family, took control of Upper Egypt. As the Intefs grew in power and expanded their control northward, a clash between the two rival dynasties became inevitable. Around 2055 BC the Theban forces under Nebhepetre Mentuhotep II finally defeated the Herakleopolitan rulers, reuniting the Two Lands and inaugurating a period of economic and cultural renaissance known as the Middle Kingdom.
The First Intermediate Period

The First Intermediate Period

The First Intermediate Period

The First Intermediate Period

The First Intermediate Period


The First Intermediate Period


The First Intermediate Period

2 comments:

  1. Thanks, I really enjoyed the pictures and the information.

    ReplyDelete

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...