EGYPTIAN HISTORY SUMMARY
The Sahara desert used to be green and fertile savannah and home to a nomadic population who hunted wildlife and raised cattle, as portrayed in rock drawings found by archaeologists in the western desert near the Libyan border in the 1930's. Historians believe this evidence indicates that Egypt was inhabited around the PALEOLITHIC period of 25,000 BC.
3100 - 2180 BC - OLD KINGDOM
Narmer-3000, Zoser-2650, Sekhemker, Sneferu-2575, Khufu-2551, Djedefra 2528, Khafre-2520, Menkkaure-2494, Userkaf, Sahure, Neferrirkare, Shepseskare, Raneferef, Nyuserra, Unas, Teti, Peppi l-2289, Peppi ll-2246
As the climate in the western desert became increasingly dry, nomadic inhabitants began to migrate towards the fertile Nile Valley. The need to organize all the people led to the invention of the first form of writing– HIEROGLYPHS around 3250 BC. At the time Egypt was polarized into two separate kingdoms North (lower) and South (upper) and they were unified around 3100 BC by KING NAMER (who created the world’s first state) and MEMPHIS (just outside Cairo) became the capital city. It was a vibrant, cosmopolitan City with palaces and gardens until the 7th century when a combination of the Islamic conquest, centuries of builders quarrying for stones, and silky deposits from the annual Nile flood completely vanished the Pharonic city. Today the former city of MEMPHIS is buried under the modern city of MITRAHINA. KING NAMERS successors organized the country into forty two provinces and amassed great wealth through a taxation system based on the collection and redistribution of the countries abundant grain supplies.
MUMMIES- Ancient Egyptians believed in the afterlife. The body was mummified by a chief priest embalmer who wore the mask of the Jackel headed God ANUBIS (God of the dead). The following were removed- brains, lungs, stomach, intestines, liver, heart and placed in conopic jars. This included animals, so that they would follow their owners to the afterlife. The inside of the body would be rinsed with wine and spices then covered with salt. After 40 days it would be stuffed with linen to give it some shape. Then at 70 days it would be wrapped in bandages and placed inside its coffin.
2650 BC - KING DJOSER SAKARA PYRAMID
ROYALTY chose to be buried close to MEMPHIS which was Egypt's capital in the first dynasty, in the area of SAKARA. Deceased pharaohs, family members and sacred animals were ceremoniously transported from Memphis to be permanently enshrined in one of the myriad temples, pyramids and tombs at Sakara. This area was virtually ignored by archaeologists until the mid 19th century. Even the massive funerary temple surrounding Zosers step pyramid wasn’t discovered until 1924. There are 42 niches within the 20 columns which may have been intended to represent Egypt's 42 provinces. The STEP PYRAMID of KING ZOSER at Sakara began as a simple MASTABA (bench shaped) tombs. But the pharaohs chief architect Imhotep added 8 meters on the north side. Then came two layers followed by three more layers and the first step pyramid was created. It rose to over 60 meters and was covered in fine limestone. Other notable sights in the area are the remains of St Jeromes (5th century ad) Monastery, beyond the boat pits, which was ransacked by the Arab invaders. Recently the wall paintings and carvings were moved to the Coptic museum. Some of the deepest tombs are also found in this area which were dug during the persian rule between 300 and 400 BC. The intention was to discourage grave robbers, but that did not work. Up to that point most burial materials were made of mud. This was the first revolution in stone development mastered by Inhotep.
2680-2565 KING SNEFERU BENT & RED PYRAMIDS
KING SNEFERU built three large and possibly a fourth small pyramid. The first one at MEIDUM had serious design faults. The weight of the pyramid, instead of being directed downwards and inwards, was directed outwards; it was destroyed by its own lateral forces. With its smooth sides it had an angle of 52 degrees but it crumbled slowly over time. He then built 2 more pyramids at DASHUR. The first known as the BENT pyramid (rising for 70 % of its bulk at the same 52 degree angle then abruptly alters to 43.5 degrees ). Most of its outer casing is still intact and the inside has 2 burial chambers. In the same area you can see the BLACK pyramid built by AMENEMHAT lll during his reign (1855-1808 BC). It has collapsed due the stripping of its limestone casing during the medieval times but the mud brick remains contain a maze of passageways. Although thieves stole most of the valuables, in 1993 archeologists found a number of precious funerary valuables. KING SNEFERU also built the RED PYRAMID which received its name from the redish, rusty limestone rock used in its casing (at a constant 43.5 degrees). The total area of the structure is only slightly less than the Great Pyramid. Between all his pyramids Sneferu shifted 1/3 more stones then his son who built the biggest pyramid in Giza. The RED PYRAMID is the first geographically true pyramid. Parts of human remains were found and may possibly be the remains of Sneferu.
2589 BC KHUFUS GREAT PYRAMID OF GIZA
The Egyptians built the 3 great pyramids of GIZA in less then 100 years to serve as tombs for their dead Kings. After their death they were brought by boat on the Nile to Giza where they were held in the temple then brought up the causeway and buried under or inside the pyramid. Each pyramid contained all the Kings personal possessions and wealth which would accompany him in the afterlife. KING SNEFERU'S son KHUFU, ALSO KNOWN AS CHEOPS, built the greatest of all the pyramids at Giza using the techniques perfected by his father in building the RED PYRAMID. Its original height was 137.2 meters, today it stands about 9 meters shorter. The smooth limestone outer casing was removed by the Arabs and Turks and used to build Cairo. The pyramid entrance is on the North side through a 9th century opening. Inside the pyramid from the ascending corridor you enter the great gallery which leads up to the KINGS CHAMBER (42.5 meters above the surface bedrock). Above this are four stress relieving chambers (with workers graffiti) topped off by a cantilevered roof to help distribute the weight of the stones above. Underneath the Kings chamber is the QUEENS CHAMBER and under the base ground level is the unfinished chamber. Recent studies have shown the rocks to be numbered at each placement. Khufus only surviving statue is a 3 inch ivory statue foundin 1909 can be seen in the Egyptian museum. Of the original 7 wonders of the world, the pyramids of Giza are the only ones still standing. The three great pyramids were topped with gold covered pyramid shaped capstones.
Some people believe that Khufus and Khafras enormous and precise structures could only have been built by unearthly beings from another planet. These believers insist that the exact measurements in relation to the stars and landmarks were only possible from measurements taken from the sky in spaceships. Some examples:
1- The two diagonals of Khufus pyramid extended to the North/East and North/West encases all the Niles branches from Cairo to the Mediterranean.
2- Khufus pyramid lines up exactly with the magnetic North Pole.
3- On the evening of the summer solstice the sun sets exactly in between the 2 biggest pyramids. To do this the builders would have to know the exact length of the year (365.25 days) as well as the day of summer solstice (the longest day of the year).
4- The three pyramids of Giza are exactly aligned with the position of the 3 stars in the Belt of Orion, both in position and in size, based on their positions around 10,500 BC as opposed to 2500 BC. At that same time the constellation of Leo the lion was directly behind the Sun (behind the Sphinx). On the winter solice the sun rises on the left side of the sphinxs head and sets on the right side. The human head was actually a lions head that eroded because of water erosion around the last time the Nile flooded the area in 10,500 BC
5- The perimeter Khufus pyramid divided by two times its height gives you the PI number 3.14159 to the fithteenth digit.
6- The sides Khufus pyramid form a perfect square off by less then 2 centimeters.
7- The height Khufus pyramid (481 feet) is almost exactly 1/1 billionth of the distance from the Earth to the Sun (480.6 Billion feet)
8- Some shafts are perfectly aligned and point to the constellations.
9- The southeast corners lie on a perfect diagonal and their sides align with true north. All these alignments are consistent with ancient Egyptian beliefs that the king’s soul would rise up to join the eternal stars.
Recently, a builders settlement area was found behind the pyramids complete with comfortable lodging, medical facilities and large scale food production. Based on these recent findings it is obvious that Egyptian astronomers determined the axis of the pyramids, Architects designed the plans and 30,000 labourers did the lifting.
2558 BC KHAFRE SECOND PYRAMID OF GIZA
KHUFUS son KHAFRE (Chephren) built his pyramid at Giza with its current complex the oldest surviving temple in Egypt. This second pyramid seems larger because it stands on a higher ground but it is actually about 3 meters smaller then the great pyramid Cheops.
For years it was believed that Chephren also shaped a figure into the abandoned soft yellow limestone into a figure known as the SPHINKS- lion's body, God's face, perhaps Chephren's face and wearing the royal headdress with uraeus (secret serpent). However, recent discoveries point to KHUFUS older son DJEDEFRA as the one most likely responsible for the building of the SPHINKS. Its body was buried under the sand right up to the mid 1900s which helped to preserve the body. Since 1990 the body has started to deteriorate most likely due the pollution and has been restored several times.
2494 BC MENKAURE
The third of the three great pyramids was built by KHAFRES son MENKAURE and is markedly smaller then the ones built by his father and grandfather. The builder tried to encase the lower portion in granite, but did not complete the task. This may have been due to the early death of the king. A large gash on the North side was an attempt by Saladin's son MALEK ABDEL AZIZ to dismantle this pyramid but he gave up after eight months. A beautifully decorated sarcophagus was discovered in the early 19th century but was lost at sea off the Spanish coast while being shipped to the British Museum.
The three great pyramids are complemented by smaller ATTENDANT PYRAMIDS and MASTABAS for royal wives, nobles and royal relatives. The remains of temples and causeways, solar boat pits and the sphinx finish off the GIZA area. Near the desert edge the cultivated and fertile fields with the Nile River coming up to the temples the SOLAR BOATS were used to transport the bodies to the funerary temples and causeways. Three empty boat pits lay around the main pyramid but in 1954 a fourth pit revealed a dismantled SOLAR BOAT of Syrian cedar. This famous solar boat was put together and can be seen in the air conditioned site right beside the great pyramid. Kufus ship is the oldest known vessel in the world. Another solar boat was recently discovered and for now has been left under the sand to keep it preserved.
Centuries of large pyramid building and a series of poor harvests severely depleted the economy and led to a decline in royal power which was reflected in small size of later pyramids built at ABUSIR and SAKARA.
The symbolism of the pyramids carried on in lesser forms, such as OBELISKS.
2278 BC PEPPI ll
The incredibly long reign of PEPPI ll (94 years) further weakened Egyptian royalty with the pharaoh seen as a feeble old man. This was the end of the old kingdom. He was buried in a pyramid in the southern edge of Sakara beside 3 of his queens.
2180 -1550 BC MIDDLE KINGDOM
Montuhotep ll, lll, lV, Amenemhat l, Senustret l,ll,lll, Sesostrisl, Amenemhat ll, Sesostris ll, lll, Amenemhat lll, lV, Hyksos Rulers,
The Middle Kingdom saw the decline and eventual breakdown of central royal power and the growth of small kingdoms with their own private armies. Low Nile, bad harvests, foreign invasions, civil war and led to the collapse of the unifying central royal government. The country was split with northern Egypt ruled by HERACLEOPOLIS and southern Egypt formed its own independent monarchy at THEBES (LUXOR). Theban warlord MONTUHOTEP ll reunited the country when he defeated his northern neighbours. The largest new structure since the great pyramids era was built by Montuhotep ll in the form of a massive temple at DEIR AL-BAHRI.
The royal residences once again moved back to MEMPHIS. Here Pharaohs such as SENUSTRET lll and AMENEMHAT lll constructed impressive pyramids at Sakara and Dashur were they were buried alongside their relatives with all their belongings. The BLACK PYRAMID of AMENEMHAT lll, made out of sun dried mud bricks, can be seen from the bent pyramid. The once massive building collapsed and remained empty because the ground it was built on was not strong enough as well as the stripping of its limestone casing.
The Egyptian empire also expanded south into Nubia. Huge mud brick fortresses were built to control and protect the southern region but are now all submerged under the man made Lake Nasser which was formed after the building of the great aswan dam in the early 1960s.
ABRAHAM made his mark around 2000 BC at the same time the Hebrews settled in the Nile delta. The MIDDLE KINGDOM ENDED around 1650 BC, when the HYKSOS (Mostly Palestinians absorbed into Egyptian society) took temporary control by slowly infiltrating government positions. The HYKSOS introduced the use of horses and chariots to the Egyptian culture. By 1550 BC the Theban warlords led by SEQENENTRE TAA ll and his sons KAMOSE and AHMOSE reunited the country once again and drove the Hyksos out.
1550-1069 BC NEW KINGDOM
Ahmose, Amenhotep l, Tutmosis l, Tutmosis ll, Tutmosis lll, Hatshepsut, Amenhotep ll, Tutmosis lV, Amenhotep lll, Akhenaten, Nefertiti, Tutankhamun, Horemheb, Ramses l, Seti l, Ramses ll, Merneptah, Seti II, Ramses lll, Psusennes l
The NEW KINGDOM began with AHMOSE (1550-1525 BC) reuniting the north and South with THEBES as the religious and political centre of this era. While the older capital of MEMPHIS took care of administration. This age also saw the new state god "AMUN-RA". Amun was the Theben God and Ra was the great Sun God of Heliopolis. The enormous wealth gathered was then used for massive building projects around THEBES. The magnificent temple of KARNAK was enlarged and embellished by almost all the successive pharaohs from the middle kingdom to the Romans, by adding on rooms, halls or pylons. Each monarch tried to outdo their predecessors. A holy sacred lake, located at the south end was used in religious ceremonies. At the south end corner is a large granite scarab symbolizing creation and conception. The tip of the Obilesque built by Hatshepsut also lays there.
1500 BC VALLEY OF THE KINGS AND QUEENS
Other pharaohs built funerary temples on the west bank of the Nile including the VALLEY OF THE KINGS and THE VALLEY OF THE QUEENS which became the royal burial grounds in 1500 BC. TUTMOSIS l took over Nubia and invaded Palestine and Syria before his death and was the first King to be buried in the Valley of the Kings. The succession of TUTMOSIS pharaohs began. They were men born to minor wives of the king who strengthened their claim to the throne by marrying into the female royal line.
TUTMOSIS l extended Egypts boundaries. TUTMOSIS ll was succeeded by his wife and half sister HATSHEPSUT who was also daughter of TUTMOSIS l. HATSHEPSUT was the first female Egyptian pharaoh. She was portrayed as a bearded pharaoh to make her look more like a man. She was responsible for initiating Egypts artistic revival, as seen in her temple building of HATSHEPSUT. Built into the mountain close to the valley of the Kings. She reigned for 20 years until her stepson, TUTMOSIS lll (the true heir to the throne) reached adulthood and took over the crown. She was killed as a result and he went on to destroy all the buildings and statues associated with her. Her temple was excavated in the late 1800's and they are still rebuilding it. Its original appearance included lush green gardens, plants and exotic trees with a causeway of grand sphinxes leading to the temple. Successive pharoes defaced the monuments to suit their new beliefs. The CHRISTIANS also took it over and turned it into a monestary and defaced the pagan beliefs (the name DEIR EL BAHRI means MONESTARY OF THE NORTH). When TUTHMOSIS lll grew up and took over the crown he expanded the Empire to Syria and Western Asia. His exploits were listed on the Karnak walls. He was buried in the Valley of the Kings. His tomb was well concealed, however it seemed that no matter what initiatives pharaohs took to protect their tombs, robbers were sure to find them. In 1898 when his tomb was discovered all they found was a carved sarcophagus and some remains of smashed furniture and wooden statues. His mummy was not found in the tomb. It had been found in 1881 in the great royal cache at DEIR-EL-BAHRI.
1300 BC AMENHOTEP
His son AMENHOTEP II shared his warlike nature. Followed by AMENHOTEP III who reigned peacefully for 38 years. He enlarged most of LUXOR TEMPLE (on the site of an older sanctuary built by Hatshepsut). Over the centuries King Tut, Ramses ll, Alexander the Great and the Romans also added on to the structure. King AMENOPHIS lll started the construction of the LUXOR TEMPLE which is connected by the recently discovered and partially dug up avenue of sphinxes. Two black granite statues of RAMSES ll guard the entrance. He was also responsible for building 76 columns in the hallway. The mosque of ABU AL-HAGGAG built in the 12th century AD sits in the northeast corner and is still used to this day.
1480 BC COLOSSI MEMNON
AMENHOTEP lll also built possibly the greatest temple in Egyptian history but today has vanished and only 2 lone statues guarding the complex stand (colossi of Memnon). Because of earthquakes, Nile floods and looting the temple is buried in pieces underneath the 2 statues. The 2 statues were tourist attractions as far back as the Greco-Roman times. The Greeks believed they were statues of the legendery MEMNON, King of Ethiopia and son of the dawn goddess EOS. Memnon was slain by ACHILLES during the TROJAN WAR. The Northern statue was the most attractive because at sunrise it would make a haunting noise that the Greeks believed was Memnon greeting his mother who in turn would weep at her sons early death. Paintings of the site as recent as 1900 show the 2 statues flooded and surrounded by the Nile waters. Today much of the underground complex is covered with sugar cane and corn fields. Starting in 1999 the Egyptian authorities started to excavate the area and hope to reconstruct the temple and re-erect statues of Amenhotop III.
His son AKHENATEN almost brought the country to ruin by relocating the capital and trying to change traditional religious beliefs. Upon his death , his wife QUEEN NEFERTITI restored order by returning to THEBES and establishing the traditional religion as she prepared the throne.
1336 BC KING TUT
AKHENATENS son, KING TUTANKHAMUNS tomb was discovered in1922 by HOWARD CARTER. King Tut was a minor pharaoh who was on the throne from the age of 9 to 18. The cause of his death is still unknown. His claim to fame is that the valuables in his burial chamber were almost untouched. Evidence has shown that the entrance was broken into but repaired on 2 occasions. His almost untouched valuables make him today's most famous King buried in the Valley of the Kings. The valley was lost from the historical records for several hundred years. In 2005 a study revealed that King Tut died from a leg infection caused by a fall. A 2010 study also found he had malaria. They also found that he was a product of incest between his father AKHENANTEN and one of his sisters. Inbreeding was popular amongst Egyptian royals as they hoped to maintain pure bloodlines leading to their belief that they were descendents of Gods. It is believed that this led to higher incidents of congenital defects such as king Tuts club foot and cleft palate. The boy King married his half sister and two child mummies were foundin his tomb. The 2010 DNA tests suggest that both were his children, with one stillborn. He left no heirs to his throne which may have been caused by the incestual marriage that conceived offspring with fatal congenital disorders. Politically he reversed two of his fathers unpopular changes. The King restored the God Amun as the most inportant God (instead of God Aten) and moved the capital back to THEBES (from Aten).
1279-1213 BC KING RAMSES ll
An aged general named RAMSES I was succeded by his son SETI l (1294-1279) and grandson KING RAMSES ll (1279-1213 ) who brough back wealth to Egypt through their Asian campaigns. RAMSES II (also known as Ramses the great) built the Great temple of ABU SIMBEL on a solid cliff which was buried there in the sand for centuries and was discovered in 1813. Abu Simbel is a set of two temples near the border of Egypt with Sudan. The temples were cut from the rock and shifted to higher ground in the 1960s as the waters of Lake Nasser began to rise following completion of the Aswan High Dam. The Temple is dedicated to RAMSES ll with a statue of him seated with his favourite wife as well as 2 other gods. He also made notable additions to Luxor and Karnak temples. There are more statues of RAMSES II then any other King in the history of Egypt. RAMSES ll also fathered more children than any other pharoeh (over 100). He was nearly defeated in Syria against the HITTITES who had surrounded the Egyptian army with their stronger iron weaponry as opposed to the weaker Egyptian bronze.
The exodus from Israel under MOSES probably took place around the time of Ramses II or that of his son MERNEPTAH. His son and 4 more pharoes succeeded him. 9 KINGS named RAMSES followed. One of the most powerful was RAMSES lll who built a huge temple that is still standing on the West Bank of Luxor in MEDINAT HABU.
1069-332 BC DECLINE
Saw the decline of Egyptian kingdom due to disunity which led foreign rule. Lybian Kings took over the west, Nubians the south and Persions the Nile valley and ruled around 500 BC followed by a brief Egyptian rule around 400 BC and back to the Persians from 343 BC to 332 BC when Alexander the great liberated Egypt.
332-31 BC ALEXANDER & PTOLOMYS l-Xll, CLEOPATRA
ALEXANDER THE GREAT was looked upon as a liberator of Egypt due to the brief and unpopular Persian rule. He conquered Egypt and set up Alexandria as a major city. The City was unmatched as a centre of science and learning with its original library holding over 400 ancient scrolls. PHAROES LIGHTHOUSE over 200 feet tall (one of the original seven wonders of the world) was built on the tip of Alexandria to help guide navigating ships around the coast. It was ordered built by PTOLOMY l but was most likely completed by PTOLOMY ll. The bottom floor was on a square ground plan and was used for lodgings and storing fuel. The main entrance was octagonal and located on the second floor. The third floor was circular and contained the lantern mechanism. The roof was crowned by a statue of, Poseidon , god of the sea. The tower collapsed under a series of earthquakes around the 11th century. In 1996 an team of archeologists discovered several colossal grand statues that were most likely used at the entrance facing the Mediteranian. Ptolomy II is also known for inviting the Jewish people to settle in Alexandria.
It is believed the remains were used to build Fort QAITBAY around 1480 AD.
After Alexanders death in 332 BC his childhood friend and general, Ptolemy l, took over and started a dynasty that lasted 3 centuries and ended with Cleopatras reign.
During the Greek time period they were also responsible for building KOM OMBO a perfectly symmetrical temple. Half the temple was dedicated to HORUS the falcon headed sky god and the other half to SOBEK the crocodile god.
The second biggest temple in Egypt (next to Karnak) is another Ptolematic temple of HORUS in Edfu (235-55 BC). A very well preserved temple due to the fact that it was buried under the sand for centuries and excavated in the 19th century.
The island temple of PHILAE combined Egyptian, Greek and Roman culture. The main part was built by the Ptolomies around 280 BC. It was dismantled and moved between 1972-80 because of the construction of the Aswan dam. The Ptolomies built all the temples to please the Egyptian priests but they are also known for connecting Egypt to the Meditaranean.
51-30 BC CLEOPATRA VII
She was appointed by her father PTOLOMY XII as a joint ruler with her brother PTOLOMY XIII. The 2 quarelled and fought for sole control. He won and she eventually fled to Syria. Around the same time JULIUS CAESAR entered Egypt, looking for his enemy POMPEY, who seeked refuge in Egypt. PTOLOMY Xlll had POMPEY executed and offered his head to JULIUS CAESAR. At the same time Cleopatra had returned and smuggled herself into caesars palace rolled up in a carpet. He quickly fell to her charm. When her brother Ptolomy was livid and after his death she was named QUEEN OF EGYPT and took over control of the country. She had one child with Julius Caesar (named LITTLE CAESAR) and followed him to Rome. Caesar was assassinated in 44 BC by fellow Romans who feared that he, under her influence, was going to return Rome to a monarchy. After Caesars death she looked to another Roman for military and romantic support. MARK ANTHONY and Cleopatra had three children during their 11 years. Marc Anthony was the most powerful Roman commander in the east but was challenged by OCTAVIAN (Caesars nephew who titled himself AUGUSTUS CAESAR) who felt he was the true heir to the great Caesar instead of his son from Cleopatra. OCTAVIAN was also the brother of MARC ANTHONYS first and ignored wife. This threat led to Marc Anthony and his queen being defeated by Octavian in the BATTLE OF ACTIUM. Both escaped but were unable to offer any other resistance towards Octavian. Marc Anthony took his own life in dramatic circumstances followed by his queen several days later (she took her own life by poisonous snake bite). OCTAVIAN then had her son with Julius Caesar executed. In 1996 French Archaeologists explored the submerged city of Alexandria beside Quait Bay and it is believed that the findings of statues and sphinxes may have belonged to one of Cleopatra's palaces. Cleopatra had the marble palace built on the island of Antirhodos, but the island, her palace and most of the rest of ancient Alexandria collapsed into the sea more than 1,600 years ago after a series of earthquakes and tidal waves hit the area. One of Cleopatra's temples was dedicated to Marc Anthony and most likely stood in on the edge of the shore in today's busy SAAD ZAGHLOUL square. It is thought that this is where Cleopatra committed suicide. the temple was later renamed to honour Marc Anthony's conqueror Caesar Augustus.
Two massive obelisks referred to as 'Cleopatra's needles" were transported and placed beside fort Quait Bay and near the palace in 10 BC by Augustus The earthquake of 1301 left one standing and the other down. The Obelisks were originally erected in Heliopolis by TUTMOSIS lll in honour of his father. They stayed in Alexandria the late 1800s when the British forces took them and transported one to London and the other to New York's central park.
30 BC-638 AD ROMAN EMPIRE
Egypt becomes a Roman Province. To insure rule and order amongst the Egyptians the Romans continued to worship Egyptian gods and follow traditions such as mummification of bodies. The Romans used Egypt as a trading post and set up the fortress of BABYLON IN EGYPT (built around 98 AD) along the banks of the Nile in the area that is today referred to as COPTIC CAIRO. Babylon had always been a stronghold for Christianity and it is estimated that more then 20 churches once stood in the area. The narrow cobbled alleyways and tall stone walls make the area very similar to old Jerusalem. When the Jews were exiled from the Holy Land around 70 BC many found refuge in this area. This area has 2 main entrances. A sunken staircase with 2 ROMAN TOWERS from the western part of Babylon, gives access to several Churches and the Synagogue. The Nile would have lapped right up to the edge of the fortress. The main entrance leads to the HANGING CHURCH and the Coptic Museum. This area has been hurt by annual Nile floods, the raising of the Nile caused by the Aswan Dam and the 1992 earthquake. The Hanging Church, dedicated to the Virgin Mary, was built on top of the Babylon Water gate. The interior of the 7th-9th century has been renovated many times over the centuries. Inside are 13 pillars representing Christ and his disciples (with one darker one representing Judas). In the baptistry off to the right the water gate and one of the gates twin towers can be seen through a cut panel on the floor.The Greek Orthodox MONASTERY and CHURCH OF ST GEORGE (Mar Girgis- the dragon slayer) is one of the most popular Saints amongst Egyptian Christians. He was a Palestinian conscript in the Roman Army who was executed in 303 AD for resisting the Roman Emperor Diocletian's decree forbidding the practice of Christianity. This church was built in 1909 but there has been a Church dedicated to him on or near this area since the 10th century. The CONVENT OF ST GEORGE dates back to the 15th Century and is currently closed to the public and inhabited by nuns. You can step into the chapel and the main hall where you enter a small room still used for chain wrapping rituals that are told symbolize the torture of St George by the Romans. The CHURCH OF ST BARBARA, who was beaten to death by her father for trying to convert him to Christianity. Beside that is the BEN EZRA SYNAGOGUE, the oldest known in Egypt and dates back to the 9th-12th Century but occupies the shell of a 4th-8th Century Christian Church. The church was destroyed and the site was given to a Jerusalem Rabbi named BEN EZRA. Repairs in the early 1900's found hundreds of Hebrew documents. The adjacent spring is supposed to mark the place where Moses was found in the reeds by the pharoe's daughter and were Mary drew the water to wash the baby Jesus. The CHURCH OF ST SERGIUS is the oldest know church inside the Roman walls. The pillars date back to the 3rd or 4th Century but the earliest known written reference is dated in the 9th century. It is said the Church is built over a cave that housed Joseph, Mary and the baby Jesus when they fled Israel to escape King Herod. The cave is flooded but can be seen by going down the stairs beside the alter. The holy family fled to Egypt to escape King Herod's massacre. The family also travelled to the southern town of ASYOUT. Also in that city is the CONVENT OF THE HOLY VIRGIN, built into a cliff above the valley and close to a cave where Coptic Christians believe that the holy family sought refuge
Several important Roman burial sites were discovered in Alexandria in early 1900's. The discovery of one was made when a boy on his donkey fell through the road into the burial area and landed about 35 meters below. The catacombs of KOM ESH-SHUGAFA consist of 3 layers and is decorated in a mixture of Egyptian, Greek and Roman styles. The catacombs are reached by a spiral staircase encircling a shaft that was used to lower the bodies for burial. The first level consists of a large banquet hall for people to gather and pay their last respects. The second level consists of burial chambers. The lowest level is in danger of being flooded by ground water. There are many pathways that lead to smaller chambers that stored the bodies.
297 POMPEYS PILLAR
Made of red Aswan granite was erected around 297 AD in tribute to a Roman emperor Diocletian. The monuments name probably came from medieval travelers who thought that POMPEI was buried there after he was murdered in Egypt in 48 BC. The pillar was actually a part of the Ptolemaic temple. The bare hill where the pillar stands gives little indication of the massive main temple of Alexandria that once stood there. Surrounding the column are a variety of statues that were found in the city.
KOM EL DIKA
In 1964 a n area that was used for guarbage collection and Napolean's old barracks were being torn down to make way for an apartment complex. However they soon found lying under the barracks a Roman theater and huge baths. The area is known as KOM EL DIK. The seats are arranged in 13 rows and can accommodate about 800 people.
KOM EL SOGAFA
In the same are of Alexandria a Greek and Roman catacombs burial ground was discovered when in the erly 1900s, a boy on a donkey fell through the street and landed in the burial area.
323 CHRISTIANITY IN EGYPT
Christianity arrived in Egypt in 40 AD with the teachings of St Mark. Around 200 AD the Roman empire was under strict edict to not embrace christianity. Under the reign of roman emperor DECIUS, christians were killed to the point that it marks the beginning of the year of Martyrs with the start of the COPTIC CATHOLIC CALENDAR YEAR. Ancient Egypt ended around 323 AD, as the Roman Empire accepted Christianity as the official religion and closed all temples. Starting 330 AD, MONESTARIES started to be built in the desserts along side the famous temples. COPTIC CHRISTIANS believed that Jesus Christ was DIVINE only, whereas the BYZANTINE EMPIRE (Eastern Roman) believed he was human and divine. The coptic church was expelled from the main body of Christianity.
394 ROMAN EMPIRE ACCEPT CHRISTIANITY
Roman empire acepts Christianity as the official religion when emperor Constantine defeats his opponents against insurmountable which he credits to using the Christian cross on their shields.
527 ST KATHERINE'S MONASTERY
In Sinai had its roots around 330 AD when the Roman empress HELENA had a small chapel and refuge built for some local hermits beside what is believed to be the burning bush from which God spoke to MOSES. A fortress and monastery were added to the location in the 6th century by the Emporer Justinian.
640 ARAB OCCUPATION
The founder of Islam MOHAMMED was born in Mecca, Saudi Arabia. According to Islamic doctrine he was sent by god to comfirm all previous prophets such as Abraham, Mosses and Jesus. By the time he died at Mecca in 632, all of Arabia had been united under his religion. After his death Islam split into the SUNNI led by Mohameds blood relative ABU BAKR and SHIA led by ALI who married into the blood line. Islamic army under AMR IBN-ALAAS invades and conquers Persia, Syria , Jerusalem and Egypt. Once Islam arrived, Egypt's famous cities (Memphis, Alexandria, Thebes) declined greatly in all areas that included population. Their famous monuments became quarries for the stone required to build new ISLAMIC CAIRO.
The FATIMIDS from Tunisia seized Egypt and founded the city of Al-QAHIRA (Cairo). They were an Arab dynasty who claimed to be SHIA by being descendents of Mohameds daughter. Opposing themselves to the SUNNI dominated muslims in baghdad.
1170 SALAH EL DIN
The Fatimid reign ended 200 years later when a Syrian warrior general named SALAH AD-DIN becomes ruler of Egypt and builds the citadel between 1176 and 1183 to protect the city from the CRUSADERS. The first CRUSADE took JERUSALEM in 1099. The citadel became home for Egypts rulers and armies for the next 700 years. Saladin recaptured Jerusalem from the crusaders but they continued to try and regain control of the holy land for several decades. Salah El Din defeated the Christians led by Richard the Lion heart in Palestine. Unlike the Crusadres who killed all the Arabs, Salah El Din allowed all the Christians to leave Palestine.
1250-1517 TURKISH MAMLUKS
The Turkish slave soldiers the MAMLUKS take power and fought against the Mongols, Syrians, Turks and the Portugese. 47 Mamluks take power most of whom die a violent death. Egypt was being defended by Sultan AYYUBS wife after he died, however she could only rule by marrying the chief of the MAMLUK army in 1250. The word Mamluk means one who is owned and reflects their origin as as slaves brought to Egypt to become palace guards.The Mamluk army expanded the the Citadel by adding palaces and harems. When the OTTOMANS took over between 1517-1798 they added to the Citadel but left the Mamluk palaces to deteriorate. They did not have a system of hereditary lineage instead it was survival and rule of the strongest. Their ruthless military strength led them to controlling Palestine and Syria. The Mamluk's grew very rich by controlling the East West trade through a canal that connected the Red sea with the Nile around Cairo. With their riches they built some of Cairo's most amazing and colourful Mosques. such as the one that still stands today in the Northern cemetery in the City of the Dead. In 1291 the Mamluks evicted the crusaders from the holy land.
A massive wheel powered AQUEDUCT was built from the Nile to the centre of the citadel. This can still be seen in small pieces in Cairo.
1380 KHAN EL KHALILI
Around 1380 Khan El Khalili bazaar built by Garkas El Khalili. Cairos oldest cofee house, FISHAWIS has been open day and night for the past 2 centuries. Located at the bus drop off the MOSQUE EL-HUSSEIN, the holiest site in Cairo contains the head of HUSSEIN, the grandson of the prophet MOHAMMED. Built in 1870 on the site of a 12th century mosque. Across the street trough the underpass is the MOSQUE OF AL AZHAR built in 970 AD has been and still is a madrassa of Islamic studies. BAB EL FUTUH at the Northern gate was the main entrance to medieval Cairo.
From the mid 13th to the 16th Century Egypts Christians and Moslems were fighting with each other. Destroying churches and mosques. To survive many COPTICS converted to Islam.
1468-1496 QUAIT BAY
Reign of Sultan QAITBEY 1468-1496 AD (formerly a Mamluk slave boy). He was known for his brutal and violent reign often punishing people with his own hands. He built fort Qaitbey in Alexandria around 1480 and was modernized by Mohamed Ali 350 years later. There is proof that some of the pharos lighthouse stones were used to build the fort. The fort was built in the 3rd century and destroyed by several earthquakes in the early 1300's. The Mamluk empire forced the European traders to find a different rout to the Orient by sailing to the southern tip of South America at the CAPE OF GOOD HOPE. At the same time CHRISTOPHER COLUMBUS had discovered a new interest in the NORTH AMERICA. Egypts thriving fortunes started to decline. At the same time the Turks were starting to take over some of the Northern Mamluk empire.
Turkish Ottomans defeat the Mamluks and SULTAN QANSUSH EL-KHOURY. They take control of Egypt in their quest to unite the Islamic world. During the Otttoman rule Egypt's riches were once again shipped to a foreign country (Constantinople). The Mamluks stayed on as lords or BEYS and still had some power. Reign of SULEIMAN THE MAGNIFICENT (1520-1566) was followed by a succession of weak Ottoman rulers which led to the brief return of the Mamluks in 1650 who stopped all payment of taxes to Turkey. Internal feuding prevented the Mamluks from exploiting the power vaccum. This led to economic decline and comined with recurring plagues (1719) further weakened the country.
1528 the first Ottoman Mosque built at the Citadel
1798 Egypt was invaded by Napoleon Bonaparte who looked at the occupation as a way of threatening British rule in India. The French with their musket armed forces were no match for the sword weilding Mamluks and defeated them at the battle of the pyramids. Napoleon established a French style government and had several hundred scholars who gathered information on Egypt's many monuments published into a 24 volume set (description de L'Egypt). The French reign only lasted a few years when Napoleon’s fleet was destroyed at ABU QIR by admiral Nelsons British Navy. The British and Turks had allied to form a stronger front against the French. Napolean's submerged wreckage was found in the late 1990's (8 KM off shore and 11 M under). A special museum is being built in Abu Quir to house the findings.
A French soldier discovered a stone in the town of ROSETTA. This stone was deciphered by Champolion in 1822 and translated hyrogliphics that opened up Egyptian history to the world. Around 3000 BC, the ancient Egyptians first form of writting was known as Hyroglyphics , a pictographic scrypt used to record historical events on temple walls. This was simplified with the use of Papayrus to the Hieratic form. Around the 8th century it evolved into the DEMOTIC form which was replaced by Greek writing around the Christian era.
THONIS-HERAKLEION AND MENOUTHIS
Two sunken cities were also found in Abu Quir, THONIS-HERAKLEION and MENOUTHIS. Herakleion, dating back almost 2500 years, was the main port in the time of the pharoes and up to its discovery in 2001 it was only known through Greek legends. This city is located about 6 KM East of the Abu Quir coastline. The city most likely existed between 8th century BC to 8th century AD when it sunk due to a series of diverse natural catastrophies. It was an obligatory port for anyone entering Egypt from the Mediterranean. The only mention that it existed was in ancient classic Greek texts and the odd archeological inscription. Greek historian Herodotus (5th century BC) mentions a great temple were Greek hero Herakles first set foot in Egypt. Also mentioned is Helens visit to her lover Paris just before the Trojan War.
1805 MOHAMED ALI
A Turk of Albanian decent named MOHAMED ALI wins control of Egypt soon after the French retreat. Ali brough in European teachers and experts to educate Egyptians. He looked to the country as his own personal conquest and the only possible threat to his reign were the Mamluks. This threat was viciously eliminated when he invited over 500 Mamluks on March 1, 1811 to a massive dinner celebration in honour of his son who was to depart to Mecca. When the feast ended the Mamluk's were leaving the Citadel and were cornered when the gates were shut closed and were all killed from above with reigning bullets. He was to lead Egypt into a more industrialized era. With Cotton eventually being a major crop, during the American civil war. Mohamed Ali mosque built within the Citadel.
1859 SUEZ CANAL
Ali ABBAS saw the construction of the railroad between Cairo and Alexandria and introduced the first national postal service. Under the next ruler ABBAS in 1859 construction of the Suez canal began under Frenchman FERDINAND DE LESSEPS.
1869 KHEDIVE ISMAIL
Mohamed Alis grandson continues to educate Egyptians by Europeans and builds the modern city of Cairo based on French and Parisian architecture. In 1859 Ismail hires, Frenchman FERDINAND DECLESSEPS, to start work on the Suez canal. The Suez Canal was built with money borrowed from the Europeans at exhorbitant interest rates but soon sold controlling interest to the British and the French because of his inability to pay off the debt. Ismail BANKRUPTED the country.
1882 BRITISH OCCUPY EGYPT
Egyptian Colonel AHMED ARABY led an uprising against the British, French and Turkish influence and hundreds of Europeans were killed. The British invaded Egypt. British troops then entered and occupied the country until it could repay its debts. The British allowed the HEIRS OF MUHAMED ALI to stay at the throne however they had control of the country. The real British motive was their desire to assure British use of the Suez Canal. The Egyptians were becoming more impatient with the British occupation, especially around WW l When their country was used as barracks for the troops. In 1919 the emergence of the politician SAAD ZAGHLOUL led to more unrest. To appease the Egyptian urge for independence the British allowed for the formation of a "Wafd" political party and granted Egypt its sovereignty. This was an empty gesture as the British held the reigns on the disliked KING FOUAD. The British retained responsibility for Egyptian defense, its foreign community and the Suez Canal. In 1936 they withdrew their army to the Suez canal area. However, they came back in full force during WW II and won a great victory over the Germans at ALAMEIN in 1942. This win changed the course of the war in North Africa. Hatred towards the British reached its peak in 1948 when the British mandate over Palestine ended and the Jewish Zionists from Europe established the state of Israel in Palestine. The hatred increased when in 1956 when the British , French and Israelis attacked Egypt in order to get back control of the Suez canal.
1922 HOWARD CARTER
discovers the untouched tomb of TUTANKHAMUN
1935 KING FAROUK
A corrupt KING FAROUK succeeds his father, King Fouad.
1952 EGYPTIAN INDEPENDENCE
After years of riots and demonstrations against foreign rule on January 26, 1952 known as "Black Saturday", mobs torched shops frequented by British troops. A few weeks later army officers led by future presidents Nasser, Sadat and Mubarak seized power, paving the way for an independent republic. On July 26, 1952 the Egyptian puppet King Farouk departed Alexandria on his yacht from his palace in MONTAZA with all his belongings and headed to Europe. Montaza palace was built by his father King Fouad and was then used in WW l by the red cross. Nasser turned the palace into a musseum to show King Farouks decadent lifestyle and the grounds as a public park. Sadat then turned it into a presidential palace and guesthouse. Egypt was finally ruled by Egyptians since the pharonic era ended in 330 BC. Nasser followed a loose Socialist philosophy with the support of the Russians.
1956 and 1967 WARS
To pay for the construction of the Aswan high dam (to regulate the flow of the Nile) President NASSER provokes the Suez Crisis in 1956 by Nationalizing the canal and he successfully faces down the invading French, British and Israeli forces. However the modern day "Robin Hood" and his country were attacked and defeated by the Israelis on June 5, 1967 in what history has called the "6 DAY WAR".
Because of the construction of the Aswan High Dam and Lake Nasser the temples of ABU SIMBEL and PHILAE were dismantled and reassembled at safe distances from their original sites.
In 1970 NASSER dies of a heart attack and is succeeded by ANWAR SADAT. Sadat looked to the US and their capitalist philosophies for support instead of the USSR. On October 1973 Sadat led the Egyptian army to a small but morally great victory in pushing the Israeli army back and crossing the Suez canal. Although these gains were reversed, Egyptian national pride was restored. This led to Sadat's historic visit to Israel in 1977 and the peace treaty signed in 1978. This peace was viewed by most of the Arab world as a betrayal.
Sadat is assassinated by the muslim brotherhood on October 6, 1981 as he was viewing an army parade and succeeded by HOSNI MUBARAK.
1996 CLEOPATRAS PALACE
French marine archaeologists explore the submerged royal city of Alexandria in 1996 finding one of Cleopatra’s palaces aand a multitude of statues, sphinxes and ceramics.
In 2009 a University graduate who could not find a job was selling fruit from his home made cart in Tunisia. The police confiscated his cart because he did not have the proper permits. To protest and out of frustration the man set himself on fire in front of the government buildings. He was hospitalized and died several months later. This incident sparked the flame that brought down the Tunisian government and spread across the Arab world to Libya, Egypt, Syria and other Arab countries that were led by military and/or dictatorial governments. Egyptians revolted in TAHRIR SQUARE until the president Hosni Boubarak resigned. Two years later the moslem brotherhood narrowly won the first "democratic" elections, however their hidden agenda of turning Egypt into a strict Islamic coutry was not well accepted by the Egyptian people. The moslem brotherhood had neglected the countries infrastructure, was in the process of selling the Suez canal to Katar and part of the Sinai to the US who was going to "dontate it to the Palestinien cause. The brotherhood were deposed by the Army and a second set of "democratic" elections took place with former army head turned politician won a landslide victory with more the 90% of the vote. Since 2013 Egypt under the new government has undergone a massive economic growth led by the expansion of the Suez Canal and repairs to the countries infrastucture.