Recorded history in Egypt began around 4,000 B.C. when nomadic hunters
settled in the Nile Valley. But it was in 3,100 B.C. that Egypt crowned her
first Pharaoh, Menes, who later unified the country's two regions, Lower Egypt
(The Delta) and Upper Egypt (from Giza to Aswan in the South). Egypt's history
can be summarized as follows:
C 5,000-3,200 B.C.
C 3,200-2,700 B.C. Development of society, Law, and religion.
The Old Kingdom
C 2,700-2,260 B.C. Great achievements especially in the fields of
administration, astronomy and architecture.
The Middle Kingdom
C 2,260-1,780 B.C. An era of prosperity and expansion of political strength
and economic horizons. Thebes became the capital. Later, Egypt was invaded by
the Hyksos, coming from Caucasia, who remained for 150 years until finally
The New Kingdom
C 1,580-1,085 B.C. Four centuries of splendor, prosperity and spiritual and
artistic achievements. Architecture reached heights.
C 1,090-332 B.C. The country fell under the influence or priests. In 525
B.C., Egypt was conquered by the Persians.
The Greco Roman Period
C 332 B.C.-640 A.D. In 332 B.C. Alexander the Great took possession of
Egypt, called himself a Pharaoh, and founded the City of Alexandria. After his
death, the Ptolemaic Dynasty was founded, and Alexandria flourished. Disputes
and fratricidal wars ended the Greek domination marked by Cleopatra's suicide.
Afterwards, Egypt became a Roman Province.
The Coptic Period
30 B.C.-640 A.D. In 61 A.D. Christianity was introduced to Egypt by
St. Mark who founded the Patriarchate of Alexandria, and by 190 A.D. there was
a large and flourishing Christian community. After the Roman Empire was
officially divided in 395 A.D., Egypt became a part of its Eastem portion,
known as the Byzantine Empire whose religion was Christianity. A few years
later, the Alexandria Patriarch preached a doctrine of Christianity which was
rejected by the Byzantine Church. Consequently, the Coptic Christians in Egypt
were persecuted by the Melkite Orthodox.
The Islamic Period
In 641 A.D., the Byzantines were defeated by Arab Moslem armies led by Amr
Ibn El-As who built his capital near present-day Cairo. Egypt became an Arab
country with a Moslem majority and religious freedom was accorded to people.
Later, Egypt was invaded by Ottoman sultans who relied on Mamelouks
(slaves) to govern the country. In 1798, Napoleon conquered Egypt but had to
withdraw after his defeat at the naval battle of Abu-Kir, near Alexandria. An
Albanian officer in the Ottoman service called Mohamed Ali declared himself
ruler of the country, and during his reign (1805- 1849) in many fields, Egypt
made tremendous progress; however, under the rule of his grandson, Khedive
Ismail, the necessity for foreign capital to finance digging the Suez Canal
lead to British rule in Egypt.
The 1952 Revolution
In 1952, the royal dynasty established by Mohamed Ali came to an end when a
group of army officers forced the abdication of King Farouk, and in 1954 Gamal
Abdel-Nasser became Egypt's president. Egypt was proclaimed a republic. After
his death in 1970, Nasser was succeeded by Mohamed Anwar El-Sadat who was
assassinated in 1981. Mohamed Hosni Moubarak was elected to Presidency.