The oldest surviving traces of settlement on Egyptian soil date from around 60,000 BC when the Sahara dried up and the Nile Valley formed. The Paleolithic culture of Egypt arose in connection with the western European and Mediterranean cultures.
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Early to late
Around 3000 BC Egyptian hieroglyphic writing emerged, and written evidence of the country’s history has existed since then. Between 3000 BC and the conquest by Alexander the Great in 332 BC. Egyptian history is divided into three major empires and corresponding intermediate or transitional periods: Old Empire (2900 to 2130 BC), Middle Kingdom (2040 to 1650 BC) and New Empire (1551 to 1075 BC).). The division of Egyptian history into 30 dynasties goes back to the Hellenistic-educated priest Manetho, who around 250 BC. wrote down.
Around 3200 BC the Pharaoh Menes, whose real existence is currently in doubt, is said to have united Upper and Lower Egypt. Under the pharaoh Djoser, the first pharaoh of the 3rd dynasty, the Egyptian empire was divided into 42 counties, the center was Memphis (near today’s Cairo). According to AbbreviationFinder, the step pyramid of Sakkara dates from the time of Djoser. From the time of his successors, trade relationships have been handed down to the Near East. During the 4th Dynasty (until 2563 BC) the pharaohs Cheops, Chephren and Mykerinos ruled, who had the great pyramids of Giza built. Under the 5th dynasty pharaohs (Userkaf, Sahure, Unas), the Egyptian empire extended to the south of Aswan. The pharaohs were considered sons of the revered sun god Re.From 2260 BC
After a so-called interim, the kings of Thebes (now Luxor) united from 2160 BC. Egypt became a great empire again (beginning of the 9th dynasty or the Middle Kingdom). After a short time, Memphis became the center again in the north of the country. In the Middle Kingdom there was an expansion to Nubia up to the third Nile waterfall (Nile cataract), but these areas had to start from around 1785 BC. to be abandoned again when the Middle Kingdom began to disintegrate for an as yet unexplained cause.
In an intermediate phase, an Asian group (Hyksos) ruled Egypt, its center was Auaris in the eastern Nile Delta. They probably brought horses and chariots into the country.
With the end of the Hyksos rule, the New Kingdom started around 1550 BC. (18th-20th Dynasty), in which Egyptian pharaohs reigned and the country rose to become a great power. Under Amenophis I and Thutmosis I, the empire extended to Nubia and the Euphrates. After the pharaoh Hatshepsut ruled Thutmose III, who could assert and secure the empire against competing peoples (Babylonians, Assyrians, Hittites). A cultural and economic wedding of the New Kingdom is today in connection with the pharaohs Amenophis III. (1403-1365) and Amenophis IV seen: The latter called himself Akhenaten (wife: Nefertiti) and raised the sun god Aton to the sole god (for the first time: monotheism). Under Akhenaten, Tell el-Amarna was the center of the Egyptian empire. Akhenaten’s son Tutenchamun was persuaded by the angry priesthood to abolish monotheism in favor of a trinity of the divine principle. The last great pharaoh of the New Kingdom was Ramses II (20th dynasty, approx. 1290 to 1224 BC), who was able to recapture previously lost areas in Asia. In the period that followed, the slow decline of the Egyptian empire began, triggered by peoples repeatedly attacking from outside and the resulting wars and by internal unrest. In the following period (approx. 1075-715 BC), several regional power centers emerged again. who was able to recapture previously lost areas in Asia.In the period that followed, the slow decline of the Egyptian empire began, triggered by peoples repeatedly attacking from outside and the resulting wars and by internal unrest. In the following period (approx. 1075-715 BC), several regional power centers emerged again. who was able to recapture previously lost areas in Asia. In the period that followed, the slow decline of the Egyptian empire began, triggered by peoples repeatedly attacking from outside and the resulting wars and by internal unrest. In the following period (approx. 1075-715 BC), several regional power centers emerged again.
From 745 BC kings from Nubia ruled Egypt, followed by the Assyrians. Pharaoh Psammetich I (26th Dynasty, 664-610 BC) ended their reign. Egypt was again under foreign rule in 525, this time it was the Persians who, apart from brief interruptions until the conquest by Alexander the Great, occupied the country in 332.
3. Hellenistic to Byzantine period
Under Alexander the Great, Egypt was part of the Macedonian Empire, which at the time included all of Asia Minor and the Near East, and until Alexander’s death was expanded to include almost the entire empire of the Persians. Then a general of Alexander, Ptolemy, took over the administration of the country as king of Egypt. The Ptolemaic dynasty ruled Egypt for almost 300 years. The center was the city of Alexandria on the Mediterranean coast. In 31 BC the fleet of the last Egyptian Queen Cleopatra VII lost a decisive naval battle against the Romans, Egypt became a Roman province. After the division of the Roman Empire, the country belonged to the Byzantine Empire (Eastern Roman part) and was partially Christianized.
In the 7th century AD, the Islamic Arabs came to Egypt and colonized the entire Nile Valley, the country became part of the Caliphate. The city of Cairo was founded in 969 under the Fatimids. In the 12th century, Cairo became the center of Muslim resistance to the Christian crusades. Around 1250, the Mameluke Palace Guard (mercenaries and slaves, most of whom came from Turkey) took power in Egypt, which they held until the first half of the 16th century. In 1517, Egypt became a largely autonomous province of the Ottoman Empire, which included the current states of Lebanon, Syria, Iraq, Israel and Jordan.
In 1798, French troops under Napoleon Bonaparte conquered Egypt and drove out the Mamelukes, but the French were driven out of Egypt three years later by Turkish and British soldiers. The Turkish officer Mehmed Ali made himself governor of Egypt in 1805. He ruled the country, which was under Turkish sovereignty until 1849, and carried out successful military actions on behalf of the Ottoman Empire (eg against the Wahhabi Empire in what is now Saudi Arabia from 1812 to 14). The construction of the Suez Canal (1859-69) led to extremely high foreign indebtedness in Egypt and to the disruption of public finances. Great Britain appropriated the majority of shares via the Suez Canal in 1875 in order to secure the connection to India.After civil unrest and an attempted military revolt, Egypt was occupied by British troops in 1882.
In 1888, an agreement was signed in Istanbul on the international use of the Suez Canal, which guarantees the passage for merchant and warships of all nations and prohibits acts of war against the canal. In 1922 Britain was forced by a broad independence movement to give up its rule over Egypt without losing its rights to secure the Suez Canal. British troops remained stationed in the country until 1946.
The coming decades were determined by the conflict between the new monarchy under King Fuad I (Faruk from 1936) and the Wafd party as the bearer of the independence movement. The Wafd party had won a majority in the first general election in April 1923 and was the leading political force in Egypt. In March 1945, Egypt was one of the founding members of the “Arab League”, the aim of which was to improve economic, political and military cooperation between the Arab states. In 1948 the attempt to prevent the establishment of the State of Israel failed. Domestically, unemployment and mass poverty led to social tensions and strikes, and extra-parliamentary forces such as the Communists and the reactionary Muslim Brotherhood gained increasing influence.
In 1952 there was a bloodless coup under Colonel Gamal Abd el-Nasser (Arabic: Gamal Abd An Nasir), the military took power in Egypt. The constitution of 1923 was overridden and a land reform was carried out. The republic was proclaimed in June 1953. A year later, Gamal Abd el-Nasser became the country’s prime minister and president. The rights of the President were further expanded by the 1956 constitution. Nasser attempted the path of Arab socialism, built a one-party system led by the Socialist Union, and maintained close contact with the Soviet Union, which supported Egypt financially, technically, and militarily.
When Nasser nationalized the Suez Canal in July 1956, there was a confrontation with Great Britain and France, the channel company’s two main shareholders. Only the intervention of the United States and the Soviet Union prevented a war when Israel reacted to the concentration of Egyptian troops in Sinai by occupying the peninsula. An intermezzo remained the connection with the “United Arab Republic” that was closed with Syria in 1958, which was again broken up by Syria in 1961. In the so-called “Six Day War” against Israel in June 1967, Egypt suffered a devastating military defeat: Israel conquered the Syrian Golan Heights, the Gaza Strip, the Sinai Peninsula and the West Bank.
Nasser’s successor as President was Muhammad Anwar As Sadat in 1970. In the same year the construction of the Aswan Dam was completed after 12 years, with which the water balance of the Nile could be controlled in the future. Sadat initially sought diplomatic solutions to the liberation of the Sinai Peninsula in the conflict with Israel. In October 1973, Egypt and other Arab states attacked Israel (Yom Kippur War). The loss-making was ended in the same month with a ceasefire agreement controlled by the United Nations. There had been no major changes in the situation on the Sinai through the war.
In 1974 there was a break between Egypt and the Soviet Union, in 1977 all Soviet military advisers had to leave the country. In 1977, the Egyptian President Sadat launched a peace initiative and visited Israel. The mediation of the American President Jimmy Carter led to an Egyptian-Israeli peace treaty (Camp David) after talks between Sadat and the Israeli Prime Minister Menachem Begin in 1978. Israel committed to returning the Sinai Peninsula to Egypt, while Egypt in return recognized the State of Israel under international law. This resulted in the isolation of Egypt in the Arab camp (exclusion from the Arab League) and domestic political strengthening of Muslim groups. In October 1981, Anwar As Sadat was shot by an Islamic fundamentalist.
His successor was the previous Vice President Hosni Mubarak. He tried to continue the peace process with Israel while at the same time moving closer to the Arab camp. In 1989 Egypt became a full member of the Arab League again. In the Gulf War in January 1991, the country sided with the multinational armed forces against Iraq, and in return the country and the oil peninsulas in the Arabian Peninsula granted the country almost $ 15 billion in debt relief. Another goal is to normalize relations with Sudan, which has repeatedly led to border conflicts. In June 2001, Egypt, Libya, Iraq and Syria decided to set up a free trade area to improve their economic cooperation.
In the 1980s and 90s, the fundamentalists who called for the establishment of an Islamic state based on the Koran and who were sentenced to secular Mubarak government gained increasing importance. There were repeated attacks, including foreign visitors, who were arrested and sentenced to death by the government. The government took more stringent measures, especially against the Muslim Brothers, one of the most influential Islamic fundamentalist movements in the Middle East.
Due to growing domestic and foreign political pressure, Mubarak revised the constitution for the presidential elections in 2005: for the first time, opposing candidates were admitted, over which the population could make direct decisions. However, Mubarak’s re-election and power remained unharmed. His fifth term started in September 2005.
In a referendum in March 2007, the people voted with a three-quarter majority for far-reaching constitutional changes that, among other things, prohibit parties based on religion, race or ethnicity. In addition, the President received further powers. The opposition had called for a boycott of the referendum.
In March 2008, Egypt began building a protective wall on the 14-kilometer border with the Gaza Strip after its residents had broken through the border two months earlier due to the Israeli economic blockade to stock up on food and medicine. The Egyptian military initially did not intervene, but started disputing the wall after disputes with Israel over border security.
In the same year, Egypt fought a food crisis. The high economic growth of around 7% did not go down well with the population, while the prices of bread and other foodstuffs increased dramatically. Supply shortages led to strike threats and protests, which were prevented by a massive police force.
The 2010 parliamentary elections, which were overshadowed by allegations of fraud, led to serious riots. The opposition was only able to maintain a few seats against the Mubarak National Democratic Party.
Revolution 2011 and state crisis 2013
Mubarak resigned on February 11, 2011 due to the open protests in the context of the Arab Spring in January / February 2011 and the dwindling support in the military. Around 850 demonstrators were killed in the protests. A Supreme Military Council took over Mubarak’s duties. The latter overruled the constitution and dissolved the parliament in order to lay the foundations for new elections. Mubarak was arrested and sentenced to life imprisonment in June 2012 for fatal violence against demonstrators.
Bloody clashes between Copts, radical Muslims and security forces in Aswan in October 2011 burdened domestic development. In November 2011 there were mass demonstrations against the ruling Supreme Military Council on Tahrir Square in Cairo and in other Egyptian cities. A new government was therefore appointed. Despite the crisis, elections to the People’s Assembly were held in December / January 2011/12, and the Islamist forces won more than two thirds of the seats. In July 2012, the constitutional court partially invalidated the law on the parliamentary election and thus the composition of the people’s representation was illegal. At the same time, the judges confirmed the legality of the presidential candidacy of the former general and head of government Schafiqs.The Supreme Military Council then dissolved the parliament and assumed legislative sovereignty. Muhammed Mursi, the candidate of the Muslim Brotherhood, won the runoff election for the presidency shortly afterwards against Schafiq.
In November 2012, the constitutional commission adopted the draft for the new constitution. This was adopted in a referendum. Nevertheless, the domestic political situation remained critical, and political resistance against the President and the Muslim Brotherhood associated with him increased. Mass demonstrations were overshadowed by acts of violence. In view of the escalation, the army chief gave all political groups an ultimatum to agree. After President Mursi opposed the ultimatum, the Egyptian military declared him deposed on July 3, 2013. The following day, it commissioned Constitutional Court President Adli Mansur with the government. This has presented a transition schedule. Hasem al-Beblawi was appointed interim prime minister on July 9, 2013 The interim cabinet was sworn in a few days later.