The Nile Valley

According to the official history of a 3rd century BC priest, a king named Menes united the various kingdom of the Nile Valley for the first time under one government around 3100BC, beginning what archaeologists refer to as the Early Dynastic Period (3050—2686 BC).

The reliability of this version of history is questionable, but it is generally accepted that several civilizations that had lived and practiced agriculture along the river since the 6th millennia BC were united at this time under the influence of a capital at Memphis. Several centuries later, the strength of this central control and the influence that Memphis held over trade route to the south and northeast to the Levant led to the beginning of the Old Kingdom (2686—2181 BC).

This development was the beginning of nearly three thousand years of history during which thirty successive dynasties would control the Nile Valley, but not always from Memphis .

 The power centered on Memphis eventually waned, fractured, and then was reestablished again to begin the Middle Kingdom (2134—1690 BC) when power was based at a capital near modern day Fayoum. A third period of strong central control, known as the New Kingdom (1549—1069 BC), was center on the southern capital of Thebes.

Today we still admire the monuments that these great kingdoms constructed. The pyramids near Cairo and many monuments in and around modern Luxor (ancient Thebes) stand out as wonders of the ancient world. These most famous ancient sites were the grand burial sites of the pharaohs that built and rebuilt

Ancient Egypt under their control over the centuries, but architectural legacy of this powerful ancient civilization was not limited to these sites alone. There were other important cities and religious sites scattered up and down the Nile Valley where the monuments of the pharaohs and great temples of the ancient religion were built and where impressive ruins can still be viewed today.

Although they are further from the population centers of Cairo and Luxor, these sites are no less impressive or important to the history of Ancient Egypt than the more famous sites at Giza, Karnak, and Luxor and the Valley of the Kings.

They mark the sites of other ancient capitals from which pharaohs once ruled the entire region and the sites of religious cults, where the gods of Ancient Egypt were worshipped from the Early Dynastic Period into the first centuries AD, when Christianity gradually replaced the ancient religion as the popular faith of Egypt.

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