Friday, July 25, 2008

Egypt's Colonial Period

French Occupation

Napoleon Bonaparte sailed to Egypt in the 1790's while on his way to India.
The French and the British had been fighting and having wars, trying to expand their borders for foreign trade. When Napoleon landed in Egypt, the farmers and peasants fought him. He finally made it to Cairo and demanded to set up a ruling government of 10 people to oversee the country. The Egyptians were shocked by their new rulers, not knowing that the previous Mameluke rulers had failed to defend their country.
Napoleon brought the city of Cairo into civil war, the people fighting against him and against themselves. Muslims and Jews, as well as some women were sentenced to death and visibly killed as Napoleon tried to hold onto his rule in Egypt.
The Syrians and Turks were giving some trouble to the French, and more wars erupted. French Occupation of Egypt ended with Mohammed Ali of Albania being elected pasha, because of a revolt against the Turks.

British Occupation

The British did not get control of Egypt until 1882, when they took on Alexandria. There were no outward changes, because by then, Britain had been ruling Egypt indirectly for many years. The British did not do anything to try to promote the Egyptian people.
No pure water wells were drilled, no medical services were created, and no education was in place, all while the Europeans in Cairo lived very well. It was during World War II that the Egyptians finally began to receive some training and education, because the British were unable to get all of their supplies shipped from Britain.
As the War ended, Egypt lost a lot of the glamour of being supported by the British. They now had to work on liberating and ruling themselves.

Egypt's Archaic Islamic Period

Islam started in the Arabian Peninsula about the same time the Christians were being persecuted by the Romans for their beliefs.
Islam spread quickly, and it was not long before the Arab Islamic State was able to free Egypt from the horrible reign of terror by Rome. Amr Bin Al Aas conquered the Romans in 640 AD and Egypt was bound to Islam as its greatest supporter.

There were several different periods to the Islamic rule of Egypt:
Abbasid Era
Fatimid Era
Ayyubid Era
Mameluke Era
Bahri Mameluke Era
Burgi Mameluke Era
Ottoman Turk Era

Egypt's Greco-Roman Period

Alexander the Great's liberation of Egypt from Persian rule was the end of the Egyptian kings for quite some time. He built a new capital in Egypt where the Nile meets the Mediterranean sea, and called it Alexandria.
After Alexander's death the empire split into many parts, with the most powerful generals each ruling a section. Egypt eventually fell under the reign of Ptolemy. The Greeks did adopt some of the Egyptian customs and traditions, but they still spoke Greek and held onto their Greek customs.
"Egypt" is a Greek word that has survived the centuries. The Egyptian word for "Egypt" is "kmt" or "kemet." The Greek rulers and people thought that they were better than the lower class Egyptians.

The Romans became involved when Cleopatra VII argued with her half-brother as to who should succeed the throne. She invited Julius Caesar and the Romans to step in to settle the dispute. Cleopatra sided with Mark Antony and lost against Augustus Caesar and Rome took over Egypt's rule. No foreigners were hated as much as the Romans were. Christianity in Egypt came about because of Roman rule.
The early Egyptian Christians were called Copts. It was the Copts who used religion as a tool to stir up trouble in the Roman empire.

Egypt's Dynastic Period

Predynastic Period (5500 - 3100 BC)
In the Predynastic Period of Ancient Egypt, people evolved from hunters and gatherers using stone weapons into an organized central society.
Animals such as donkeys are tamed and used in daily life, not just for food. Egyptians trace their roots back to a land they called Punt. At first, Egypt is ruled by many kings, each one fighting with others to try to take over and rule more kingdoms.

Early Dynastic Period (2920 - 2650 BC)
Ancient writing came about during the Early Dynastic period in the form of hieroglyphs. By the end of the Early Dynastic period, Egypt will be unified into one kingdom and ruled by a pharaoh.The Early Dynastic period consists of dynasties 0 through 2 usually, and lasted about 300 years. There were at least 30 kings during the Early Dynastic period and some of the first monuments and temples were built at Saqqara and Abydos during this time.

Old Kingdom (2650 - 2152 BC)
The Old Kingdom contained the 3rd through the 6th Dynasties, or about 500 years of rule. The capital was in Northern Egypt, in Memphis, and the rule was held solidly by the pharaohs. During this time, some pharaohs were even considered to be gods, and were worshipped as religious figures. The first pyramids were built as step pyramids of mud bricks early in the Old Kingdom period. The true pyramids were later constructed of stone blocks, forming the ancient monuments that we still study today. Ancient doctors knew quite a lot about the body, antiseptics and surgery. Artists were showing great talent in painting, carving and sculpting.

First Intermediate Period (2150 - 1986 BC)
All of the successes of the Old Kingdom began to fall apart during the First Intermediate Period. The Nile River was flooding, causing trouble for those living off of the land there. Crops were either being washed out from the floods, or not getting any water at all due to issues with irrigation. There was widespread hunger and death. The pharaoh had lost control of the lands to the local governments, some of which were corrupt.

Middle Kingdom - (1986 - 1759 BC)
Intef and Mentuhotep from Luxor were able to reunite the broken lands under local rule into rule by one king again. This began the 11th Dynasty. While the pharaoh never really regained power over the local governments, foreign trade started to happen again. Irrigation projects were fixed and completed. In fact, it could be dangerous to be the pharaoh. One of the Middle Kingdom kings was killed by a group of local governors who wanted to keep their power. It was well into the Middle Kingdom before power was restored to the pharaoh. Egyptians enjoyed wealth again, and the population began to grow.

Second Intermediate Period (1759 - 1539 BC)
Immigration of people who weren't born as Egyptians eventually led to the Second Intermediate Period. These people moved to Egypt from their countries and set up towns and communities which followed their own rules. They did not live by the Egyptian laws, nor did they recognize the rule of the pharaoh. During the Second Intermediate Period, Egypt was ruled by a string of foreign kings. Amosis, a military general, set off wars against these foreigners and the foreign rule, and eventually put Egypt back under Egyptian control, starting up the 18th Dynasty.

New Kingdom (1539 - 1069 BC)
After the Second Intermediate Period, the kings of the 18th Dynasty vowed that they would never want to see Egypt under a foreign king again. The kings of the 18th Dynasty were fierce military generals, fighting to keep Egypt ruled by Egyptians. They fortified the Egyptian borders to ward against foreign attacks. Egypt became wealthy and powerful again, and the kings taxed all foreigners and foreign trade heavily. Foreigners were treated badly.As the 19th Dynasty started, Egypt began to fail again. Foreign relations were not good, and the foreign rulers were waging war on Egypt. The strongest king of the time was Ramses II, but after his death there were many weak kings, pushing Egypt back into political chaos and disorder.

Third Intermediate Period (1070 - 657 BC)
Upon the death of Ramses XI, a man from Tanis named Smendes assumed the throne of Egypt. No one was really in charge at this point, and there was much chaos and confusion. The 22nd Dynasty was made up of Chiefs from Libya, and they ruled at the same time as the pharaohs of the 23rd Dynasty. This political strife lasted for several hundred years.

Late Kingdom - (664 - 332 BC)
Egypt was invaded by Nubia, as the southern Nubians rushed the northern Egyptians. The Nubians won, and for a short while began to restore old Egyptian traditions and religious practices. It was not long before the Assyrians conquered the Nubians.An Egyptian leader was put on the throne and the 26th Dynasty began.Peace came about by the second or third generation of kings, but Egypt never returned to the power and glory that it once had. Egypt was then conquered by Persia, and the Egyptians suffered badly.During this time the Greeks conquered Persia, and the rule of Egypt passed to Greece. Alexander the Great was welcomed into Egypt and recognized as the liberator of Egypt from Persian rule. It would be 2000 years before another Egyptian would hold the throne of Egypt again, in the 18th Century AD.

Egypt's Prehistory

The prehistoric times of Egypt were a very long time ago. It was the time before the pharaohs, and before anyone knew how to write.
Prehistory dates from as far back as you can imagine, think millions of years, to about 3000 B.C. when the 1st Dynasty of Egyptian pharaohs began their rule.
There is not much that is known about prehistoric Egyptians. Egypt was not one big desert with a river giving it life such as it is now.
The land was green and grassy and there was rain. The people hunted with stone axes and bone spears, in search of fresh game to eat.
They made their clothing from the skins of these animals. These tribes of people lived in groups of about 8000 and learned to grow crops to add to their diet of hunted meat. Over thousands of years it began to rain less and less in Egypt, and the crops would no longer grow.
The grasslands died out from lack of water, and sand slowly replaced the plains, turning Egypt into the sandy desert that we know it as today.

Egypt's Past

We can divide up Egypt's past into a number of parts, but it is important to remember that there is history, and the time before history, called prehistory. History is the period of time when humans made records by writing about events, while prehistory, is the time before people could write. Overall, we can divide Egypt's long past as:

Prehistory - The time before writing
The Dynastic Period - The time of Egyptian Pharaohs or Kings
The Greco-Roman Period - Egypt ruled by Greek Kings and Roman Emperors
The Archaic Islamic Period - After the Arab Invasion
The Colonial Period - Egypt ruled by Europeans