First Age of Empires
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First Age of EmpiresChapter 4
The Empires of Egypt and Nubia CollideChapter 4 Section 1
During Egypts Middle Kingdom period (about 2080 1640 B.C.E.), trade with Mesopotamia and the Indus Valley enriched Egypt.
Meanwhile, up the Nile river, less than 600 miles south of the Egyptian city of Thebes, a major kingdom had developed in the region of Nubia. Nubia was located in located in northeastern Africa
For centuries, the Nubian kingdom of Kush traded with Egypt. The two kingdoms influenced each other.
After the prosperity of the Middle Kingdom, Egypt descended into war and violence. This was caused by a succession of weak pharaohs and power struggles among rival nobles.
The New Kingdom of EgyptThe weakened country fell to invaders who swept across the Isthmus of Suez in chariots, a weapon of war unknown to the Egyptians. These invaders, nomads called Hyksos, ruled Egypt from 1640 to 1570 B.C.
The Egyptians were forced to retreat south as the Hyksos took control of Lower Egypt. The Egyptians were forced to pay tribute to the Hyksos.
Around 1600 B.C.E., a series of warlike rulers began to restore Egypts power. Then they began some conquests of their own.
The Egyptians were sandwiched between two hostile enemies. They had the Hyksos to the north and the Nubians to the south.HyksosEgyptiansNubians
The Egyptians pharaoh, Seqenenre Tao II (the Brave) decided to go after the Nubians first. Once he defeated them, he would turn his sites on Lower Egypt and the Hyksos.
While fighting the Hyksos, Seqenenre Tao II was killed. His wife, Queen Ahhotep (ah HOH tehp) rallied the troops and maintained the pressure on the Hyksos to help drive them out of Egypt. Her sons would eventually finish the job.
After overthrowing the Hyksos rulers, the pharaohs of the New Kingdom (about 1570 1075 B.C.E) sought to strengthen Egypt by building an Empire. Egypt now entered its third period of glory in the New Kingdom.
Equipped with bronze weapons and two wheeled chariots, the Egyptians became conquerors. The pharaohs of the Eighteenth Dynasty (1570 1365 B.C.) set up an army.
As the army began conquering its enemies, they counted how many people they killed by counting their hands.
The symbols of royal power had always been the red crown and the white crown. Now the pharaohs added a new piece of royal headgear the blue crown, a war crown shaped like a battle helmet.
Among the rulers of the New Kingdom was Hatshepsut (hat SHEHP soot), she boldly declared herself pharaoh around 1472 B.C., This was unique. She took over because her stepson, the male heir to the throne, was a young child at the time.
Unlike other New Kingdom rulers, Hatshepsut spent her reign encouraging trade rather than just waging war.Hatshepsut was an excellent ruler of outstanding achievement who made Egypt more prosperous.
As pharaoh, she sent traders down the Red Sea to bring back gold, ebony, baboons, and myrrh trees. As male pharaohs had done, Hatshepsut planned a tomb for herself in the Valley of the Kings.
Carved reliefs on the walls of the temple reveal the glories of her reign. The inscription from Hatshepsuts obelisk (tall stone shaft) at Karnak trumpets her glory and her feeling about herself:
Hatshepsuts stepson, Thutmose III, proved to be a much more warlike ruler. In fact, in his eagerness to ascend to the throne, Thutmose III may even have murdered his stepmother, Hatshepsut.
Between the time he took power and his death around 1425 B.C., Thutmose III led a number of victorious invasions into Canaan and Syria. Under Thutmoses rule, Egyptian armies also pushed farther south into Nubia, a region of Africa that straddled the upper Nile River.
The Egyptians and the HittitesBy about 1400 B.C., Egyptian armies had crossed the Sinai Peninsula and conquered parts of Syria and Palestine. These conquests brought the Egyptians into conflict with the Hittite empire.
The Hittites (from Anatolia) had moved into Asia Minor around 1900 B.C. and later expanded southward.
After several battles, the Egyptian and Hittite armies met at the Battle of Qadesh around 1285 B.C. There the two armies fought each other to a standstill.
The Age of BuildersLike the Old Kingdom with its towering Pyramids, rulers of the New Kingdom erected magnificent palaces, temples, and tombs. In search of security in the afterlife, they hid their splendid tombs beneath desert cliffs.
In this way, the tombs of the pharaohs would not be plundered by grave robbers and looters. The site they chose was the remote Valley of the Kings near Thebes.
Ramses II, whose reign extended from approximately 1290 to 1224 B.C., stood out among the great builders of the New Kingdom. He lived to the age of 99 and was the father of 150 children.
At Karnak, he added to a monumental temple to Amon (AH muhn), Egypts chief god.
Ramses also ordered a temple to be carved into the red sandstone cliffs above the Nile River at Abu Simbel (AH boo SIHM buhl).
Egypts last great pharaoh ordered these temples decorated with enormous statues if himself.The ears alone measured over three feet.
The Empire DeclinesThe empire that Thutmose III had built and Ramses II had ruled came apart slowly 1200 B.C. as other strong civilizations rose to challenge Egypts power.
Shortly after Ramses died, the entire eastern Mediterranean suffered a wave of invasions around 1200 B.C.These invasions destroyed many kingdoms.
Invasions by Land and Sea The People of the Sea. A group of unknown invaders attacked both the Egyptian empire and the Hittite kingdom. Scholars have not conclusively identified these invaders, although they may well have been the Philistine often mentioned in the Bible. Whoever they were, the People of the Sea caused great destruction.
Egypts Empire FadesAfter these invasions, Egypt never recovered its previous power. Egypt broke apart into regional units. Isolated rural populations erected their own walled defenses.
In Egypts former empire numerous small kingdoms arose. Each was eager to protect its independence. As the empire faded to a distant memory, princes of these small kingdoms treated Egyptian officials with contempt.
Powerless at home and abroad, Egypt fell to its neighbors invasions. Libyans crossed the desert to the Nile delta. There they established independent dynasties.
From 950 to 730 B.C.E., Libyan pharaohs ruled Egypt and erected cities. Far from imposing their own culture, the Libyans embraced the Egyptian way of life.
Piankhi Captures the Egyptian throneIn 751 B.C., a Kushite king named Piankhi led an army down the Nile and overthrew the Libyan dynasty that had ruled Egypt for over 200 years.He united the entire Nile Valley from the delta in the north to Napata in the south.Known as the Black Pharaoh because of his darker skin.
Piankhi and his descendants became Egypts twenty fifth Dynasty. After his victory, Piankhi erected a monument in his homeland of Kush. It tells the story of his military triumph, which he viewed as the restoration of Egypts glory.
However, Piankhis dynasty proved short lived.In 671 B.C., the Assyrians, a warlike people from Southwest Asia, conquered Egypt.
The Golden Age of MeroAfter their defeat by the Assyrians, the Kushite royal family eventually moved south to Mero (MEHR oh EE). Far enough away from Egypt to provide security. Mero lay closer to the Red Sea than Napata did. This Kush city became active in the booming trade between Africa, Arabia, and India.
It was here that Kush made use of rich natural resources to thrive independently of Egypt for several hundred years. Unlike Egyptian cities along the Nile, Mero boasted abundant supplies of iron ore.The Wealth of Kush
Mero became a major center for the manufacture of iron weapons and tools. In Mero, ambitious merchants loaded iron bars, tools, and spearheads onto their donkeys.
They then transported the goods to the Red Sea, where they exchanged these goods for jewelry, fine cotton cloth, silver lamps, and glass bottles. As the mineral wealth of the central Nile valley flowed out of Mero, luxury goods from India and Arabia flowed in.
The Kushite kings lived like pharaohs, ruling from palaces, and spending the afterlife in splendid stone faced pyramids. Unlike the Egyptian pharaohs, their succession was determined by the agreement of the leaders and nobles.
After four centuries of prosperity, from about 250 B.C. to 150 A.D., Monroe began to decline. The rise of Aksum, a rival power located 400 miles southeast, contributed to Meros fall.
With a seaport along the Red Sea, Aksum now dominated North African trade. Aksum defeated Mero around A.D. 350.