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    Traces of early man were found in Egypt dating back as early asyears ago. Egypt and ancient Canaan to the north probably served as the bridges by which successive waves of humans: Ancient Egyptians used a phonetic-pictograph writing called hieroglyphics by the Ancient Greeks.

    This system evolved from portrayal of pictures of objects to using stylized representation of objects to represent sound combinations and compose words, to a phonetic alphabet much like our own.

    Ancient Egypt boasted considerable achievements in art, medicine, astronomy and literature, and was the hub of civilization in much of the Near East and North Africa. The unique history of ancient Egypt and visible monuments to that history helped Egyptians to preserve a distinct national consciousness, and to remain a separate entity during the years of Arab, Mameluke and Ottoman conquest.

    Mummy Until the conversion to Christianity, Egyptian polytheistic religion centered around the after life. Pharaohs and rich Egyptians built elaborate tombs in caves or in Pyramids, decorated with elaborate art on the interior and containing jewelry and objects that would be needed in the after-life, and in some cases servants and slaves who were interred with their master.

    The walls of pyramids were decorated with elaborate stylized frescos such as the one at right, in which noble persons were shown as larger than slaves, and subjects were drawn in profile. In other periods, all subjects were shown in frontal view only.

    The king or noble person had his or her body embalmed, wrapped in linen, and enclosed in an elaborate carved coffin as a mummy.


    The ancient Greek historian Herodotus wrote that Egypt is the gift of the Nile, meaning that it flourished on the top soil that was formed from silt brought by the recurrent floods of the Nile. Indeed, Egypt is the gift of the Nile, and it was founded and developed around that river, for there is no rain in Egypt.

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    The Ancient Egyptians developed an elaborate irrigation system to distribute the waters of the Nile, and convert their arid land into the breadbasket of the Near East. Egypt was divided into a "lower" kingdom in the north of the Nile, and a southern kingdom that extended into modern Sudan Nubia.

    Egyptian history to the time of the Arab conquest is organized into several dynasties and periods.

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    The ancient periods are dated differently by different authors, and the numbering of dynasties is somewhat controversial. In what follows, we shall attempt to telescope years of history into a relatively brief account. Map of Ancient Egypt Predynastic Period - BC, includes Naqada and other sites excavated by Flinders Petrie and others, who found objects like the one at right, indicative of a highly developed civilization.

    The emblem of Hor'aha is shown at right. This was the period of great pyramid building, beginning with the Pharaoh Djoser, who built the step pyramid.

    The pyramid tombs rapidly evolved into much more sophisticated structures built by Senefru Khufu CheopsMenkaure and others and visible today at Giza and elsewhere. A period of great confusion when numerous Pharaohs reigned in succession. Mentuohotep I succeeded in reuniting the kingdom.

    The Pharoahs of the 12th dynasty all built pyramids, evidence of relative prosperity. There were simultaneous rulers at Memphis and Thebes, and the Hyksos, an invading, possibly Semitic people who had domesticated horses, apparently ruled Egypt at this time. The New Kingdom BC - 18th - 20th Dynasty - The New Kingdom represents the high tide of Egyptian history and empire, and the historical record is fairly complete, including wonderfully preserved mummies of most of the rulers.

    The map at right shows the disposition of troops and the possible routes. Thutmose ignored advice to take circuitous southern or northern routes and attacked through the direct Aruna route. He attempted to suppress the ancient religion of Egypt and to institute a monotheistic worship of the Sun God. He ruled for about 15 years from his capital at Amarna. Akhnaton largely neglected the tasks of empire, and Egyptian fortunes suffered accordingly.

    After he died or was killed, he was replaced by his queen, Nefertiti. After Akhnaton, the old gods were reinstated and most traces of sun worship were obliterated. Aknaton, Nefertiti and Sun God Ramses II ruled from to BC and is known for his prodigious building projects, which raised temples, statues and other monuments throughout Egypt.

    He fought the battle of Qadesh Kadesh with the Hittites about and signed the first Peace Treaty to be recorded in history with the Hittites, in He is thought to be the Pharoah of the biblical Exodus story who built cities such as pi-Ramses as recorded in the Old Testament, using a conscripted labor system. When the Aswan high dam was built, it created a lake that would have flooded Abu Simbel under water forever.

    A prodigious engineering project sponsored by Unesco saved the temple by moving it to high ground and reconstructing it. The Pharoah Sheshonq who tried to besiege or aid Jerusalem and was carried off as a captive apparently, was one of the most important rulers of this period. Alexander conquered Egypt in the autumn of BC.

    He founded Alexandria in BC and it became a major center of civilization and trade in the Hellenistic ancient world. The Ptolemy dynasty succeeded Alexander. The Ptolemies apparently founded the custom of marrying their sisters and ruling jointly with them as king and queen.

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    Augustus annexed Egypt as a province of the Roman empire and it was ruled by the Romans until AD. During the Roman period, Christianity came to Egypt. The Egyptian branch of the Christian church, known as Coptic, is one of the oldest in the world. During Roman times Egypt apparently prospered at times, but was burdened by heavy Roman taxation.

    In particular, Egypt, together with North Africa, supplied a large portion of the grain of the Roman Empire, including the grain given out free to citizens on the dole in Rome. Al-Mukaukis communicated with 'Amr and asked him for peace and a truce for a time; but 'Amr refused. Al-Mukaukis then ordered that the women stand on the wall with their faces turned towards the city, and that the men stand armed, with their faces towards the Moslems, thus hoping to scare them.

    It was not by mere numbers that we conquered those we have conquered. We have met your king Heraclius, and there befell him what has befallen him. They have chased our king from his kingdom as far as Constantinople. It is much more preferable, therefore, that we submit. The Moslems fought fiercely against them and invested them for three months. At last, 'Amr reduced the city by the sword and plundered all that was in it, sparing its inhabitants of whom none was killed or taken captive.

    He reduced them to the position of dhimmis like the people of Alyunah. He communicated the news of the victory to 'Umar through Mu'awiyah ibn-Hudaij al-Kindi later as-Sakuni and sent with him the fifth. Salah Eddin is famous for driving the crusaders out of Palestine, concluding treaties with them that were eventually broken. He and his successors fought against the crusaders until their expulsion. The Mamelukes - The last Ayubbid ruler died in battle against the Crusaders in The Mamelukes, a slave caste imported into Egypt, took the opportunity to seize power and ruled in Egypt, Palestine and Syria for several hundred years, fighting and defeating the Mongols and preventing them from entering the Middle East.

    Baybars then proceded to kill the reigning Sultan and become Sultan in his place. The Mamelukes were a feudal-slave society. Children and wives did not usually inherit and so many Mamelukes passed into Egyptian society. Two groups of Mamelukes, the Bahri and the Burgi named after the location of their barracks ruled Egypt in succession untilwhen their reign ended with the Ottoman conquest of Egypt under Sultan Selim.

    Ottoman Rule - The Ottoman Turks conquered Egypt inand inaugurated a long but mostly undistinguished period in Egyptian history. The Ottomans ruled through a mixture of Janissary and Mameluke soldiers. Copts and Jews found a place in Egypt as merchants and intellectuals, clerks and civil servants. Ottoman rule deteriorated considerably in the 18th century. InEgypt revolted against the Ottomans and achieved a semi-independent status within the Ottoman empire.

    However, conditions did not improve. According to some historians, a laborer earned about one-seventh of a piaster per day. The leading Mameluke, Murad Bey, took in fifteen hundred piasters daily for expenses. Coptic villages in Upper Egypt refused to pay their taxes, and in the anarchy of the time, apparently no one tried to collect from them.

    Napoleon - The arrival of Napoleon Bonaparte to Egypt on July 2ndinitiated a new phase in Egypt's history and in the history of the Middle East, shocking the Egyptians and the Ottoman Turks out of their complacency. The Egyptians were hitherto totally uninformed about European culture and technical achievements. Murad Bey sent a poorly equipped and poorly trained force to meet the Napoleonic army of 40, After being roundly defeated, he left Cairo in haste and ordered the city to be burnt.

    Napoleon brought with him a number of scientists who made a complete encyclopedic survey of Egypt, known as "Description de l'Egypte".

    The expedition contributed significantly to the study of ancient Egyptian history through the discovery of the Rosetta Stone and the consequent deciphering of Hieroglyphics. The Napoleonic invasion caused a drastic revision in the thinking of Egyptian and Ottoman rulers, who finally understood the industrial and technical superiority of the West, and some of its implications. French technology, military techniques and culture were adopted as models, and French instructors were imported to train modern armies.

    However, the reform was not thorough. Weapons were imported, but the means of achieving an independent industrial capability were not imported. The printing press was not introduced until very late and literacy was low. It was inevitable that these poor societies, including Egypt, would bankrupt themselves trying to pay for the imported Western industrial goods. Mohamed Ali - After the French were defeated by the British, Mohamad Ali, who was an officer in the Ottoman Army, rose to power with the support of the Egyptian people.

    His rule extended from to was an eventful period in Egypt's modern history. He is regarded as the father of modern Egypt who set the country on the march towards modernization. He was an efficient ruler and was able to supplant the Ottoman Turks in Palestine, and withdrew only when forced to do so by the British. Khedive Ismaila member of Mohamad Ali's dynasty, rose to power in If Mohamad Ali had started the process of modernization, it was Ismail who completed it.

    He had boundless ambitions to bring Egypt up to the same level of culture, civilization and development which was enjoyed by most nations of Europe. The Canal was built by a British and French company, and was vital to the maintenance of the British Empire in India, as well as to Western trade.

    Unfortunately, Ismail and other Khedives overspent, and Egypt very nearly went bankrupt. They were forced to allow Great Britain and France an increasing role in their government in order to protect the investments made by those countries in Egypt.

    At the same time, the Khedives requested the intervention of the British, or were induced to request their intervention, to protect their rule in the south of Egypt and Sudan.
    Check in for your overnight flight for Cairo Day 2: Arrive in Cairo, where East and West come together in a wonderful mix of old and new. After customs formalities, you'll be met by our representatives in Cairo then escorted to your centrally located 5-star hotel overlooking the Nile River.

    You'll have the rest of the afternoon to explore independently. This evening, enjoy a guided walk along El Moez Street, one of the oldest and most amazing streets in Cairo, dating back to the Fatimid period.

    Begin at Azhar mosque, one of the best medieval architectural treasures in the Islamic world. Continue to Bab Zuweila, a medieval gate in Cairo considered one of the major landmarks of the city, and Al Hussein Mosque, named for the grandson of the Prophet Muhammed, it is one of the holiest Islamic sites in Cairo.

    Walk by Al Hakim Mosque, Bab al-Fetouh, and Bab al-Nasr, a massive fortified gate with rectangular stone towers flanking the semicircular arch of the eastern Portal.

    Proceed to Mosque-Madrassa of Sultan Hassan, remarkable for its size and innovative architectural components, Al-Rifa'I Mosque, then to the Mosque of Ibn Tulun, the oldest mosque in the city surviving in its original form. Get to know your fellow travelers during a welcome dinner at a local restaurant.

    This morning enjoy a half day tour to the Egyptian Museum, where you'll see, among other treasures, the priceless antiquities of Tutankhamen's tomb. The remainder of the day is at leisure to explore the city on your own, or take advantage of our optional excursions.

    Have an in depth view of the well-preserved Royal mummies at the Egyptian Museum. Enjoy an optional guided tour of Cairo's Old City, including the Citadel of Saladin, built on the remains of a Crusader-style fortress and the Alabaster Mosque. Continue to the famous Khan El Khalili Bazaars, where the sights, sounds, spices and exotic clothing and jewelry, hand-hammered copper, ceramic ware and other treasures await your deft bargaining to win them at astounding prices.

    See the marvelous luminary display of the Pyramids and the Sphinx. Price includes escort and transportation. This morning, after breakfast, your guide will escort you on a fascinating tour of the most famous of all sites in Egypt—the Pyramids of Cheops and Chephren.

    These monuments have stood for 46 centuries and are considered one of the Seven Wonders of the World, possibly the most visited monuments of Egypt. The Sphinx, a feline character with the body of a lion and the face of Khufu Cheops in Greek is 50 meters long and 22 meters high. Carved from a single stone, it lies just before the Pyramids, and even today its meaning and origin remain shrouded in mystery.

    This evening, join your fellow travelers on an optional dinner cruise with entertainment aboard a floating Nile River restaurant. Take advantage of a unique opportunity to explore the interior of the pyramids. This minute visit of the interior is unguided and will take place during the guided exterior visit. You must be in good physical condition to fully enjoy this tour, which involves traversing narrow passages and steep stairways.

    Some areas have very low ceilings preventing visitors from standing upright. This excursion is not recommended to anyone suffering from heart conditions, back problems, asthma, or claustrophobia. It was then that Luxor became a grand city of luxurious palaces, huge temples, large gardens, as well as an important diplomatic and trade center of the ancient world. Transfer from the airport to the pier for embarkation aboard your deluxe Nile cruise ship.

    Settle into your cabin and enjoy lunch aboard. This afternoon, visit the East Bank of the Nile. Highlights of today's tour include visits to the Temple of Karnak, one of the most significant monuments of the Pharaonic legacy, with work carried out on the temples over a period of years, and Luxor Temple, strikingly graceful and added to over the centuries by Tutankhamen, Ramses II, Alexander the Great, and others.

    After breakfast, disembark and board your touring coach to visit the West Bank of the Nile and the Valley of the Kings, where 64 of Egypt's Pharaohs have their royal tombs hewn into the sheer rock.

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    Continue to the impressive Deir El Bahari mortuary Temple of Queen Hatshepsut, an architectural wonder built against the backdrop of a looming cliff face and the Colossi of Memnon, two huge seated statues of Amenhotep III. Afterwards, discover the ancient tomb of King Tutankhamun.

    Explore the rooms covered in mural paintings, and to the burial chamber, which still contains the pharaoh's mummy in its original sarcophagus. Wake up early to embark on a Hot Air Balloon ride for an incredible bird's eye view over the Nile. Your cruise ship sails from Esna to Edfu. As you go south, you will have an opportunity to view rural life in Egypt. The crops, methods of farming, animals and irrigation systems have changed little from 4, years ago.

    Here you best appreciate the fascinating contrast of ancient and modern ways of life, which coexist in Egypt and make it one of the world's most interesting of travel destinations.
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    Greywacke statue of the pharaoh Menkaure and his queen consortKhamerernebty II.

    The royal capital of Egypt during this period was located at Memphiswhere Djoser — BCE established his court. The Old Kingdom is perhaps best known, however, for the large number of pyramidswhich were constructed at this time as pharaonic burial places. For this reason, this epoch is frequently referred to as "the Age of the Pyramids. It was in this era that formerly independent states became nomes districts ruled solely by the pharaoh.

    Former local rulers were forced to assume the role of nomarch governor or work as tax collectors. Egyptians in this era worshiped the pharaoh as a god, believing that he ensured the annual flooding of the Nile that was necessary for their crops. The Old Kingdom and its royal power reached their zenith under the Fourth Dynasty. Sneferuthe dynasty's founder, is believed to have commissioned at least three pyramids; while his son and successor Khufu Greek Cheops erected the Great Pyramid of GizaSneferu had more stone and brick moved than any other pharaoh.

    Khufu, his son Khafra Greek Chephrenand his grandson Menkaure Greek Mycerinus all achieved lasting fame in the construction of the Giza pyramid complex. To organize and feed the manpower needed to create these pyramids required a centralized government with extensive powers, and Egyptologists believe the Old Kingdom at this time demonstrated this level of sophistication. Recent excavations near the pyramids led by Mark Lehner have uncovered a large city that seems to have housed, fed and supplied the pyramid workers.

    They apparently worked while the annual flood covered their fields, as well as a very large crew of specialists, including stonecutters, painters, mathematicians and priests.

    The Fifth Dynasty began with Userkaf c. Consequently, less efforts were devoted to the construction of pyramid complexes than during the Fourth Dynasty and more to the construction of sun temples in Abusir. The decoration of pyramid complexes grew more elaborate during the dynasty and its last king, Unaswas the first to have the Pyramid Texts inscribed in his pyramid.

    Egypt's expanding interests in trade goods such as ebonyincense such as myrrh and frankincensegold, copper and other useful metals compelled the ancient Egyptians to navigate the open seas. Evidence from the pyramid of Sahuresecond king of the dynasty, shows that a regular trade existed with the Syrian coast to procure cedar wood.

    Pharaohs also launched expeditions to the famed Land of Puntpossibly the Horn of Africafor ebony, ivory and aromatic resins. During the Sixth Dynasty — BCEthe power of pharaohs gradually weakened in favor of powerful nomarchs. These no longer belonged to the royal family and their charge became hereditary, thus creating local dynasties largely independent from the central authority of the pharaoh.

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    His death, certainly well past that of his intended heirs, might have created succession struggles and the country slipped into civil wars mere decades after the close of Pepi II's reign. The final blow came when the 4. First Intermediate Period[ edit ] Main article: After the fall of the Old Kingdom came a roughly year stretch of time known as the First Intermediate Period, which is generally thought to include a relatively obscure set of pharaohs running from the end of the Sixth to the Tenth and most of the Eleventh Dynasties.

    Most of these were likely local monarchs who did not hold much power outside of their nome. There are a number of texts known as "Lamentations" from the early period of the subsequent Middle Kingdom that may shed some light on what happened during this period. Some of these texts reflect on the breakdown of rule, others allude to invasion by "Asiatic bowmen".

    In general the stories focus on a society where the natural order of things in both society and nature was overthrown. It is also highly likely that it was during this period that all of the pyramid and tomb complexes were robbed.

    Further lamentation texts allude to this fact, and by the beginning of the Middle Kingdom mummies are found decorated with magical spells that were once exclusive to the pyramid of the kings of the Sixth Dynasty. A rival line, the Eleventh Dynasty based at Thebesreunited Upper Egyptand a clash between the rival dynasties was inevitable. The period comprises two phases, the Eleventh Dynasty, which ruled from Thebes, and then the Twelfth Dynastywhose capital was Lisht.

    These two dynasties were originally considered the full extent of this unified kingdom, but some historians now [16] consider the first part of the Thirteenth Dynasty to belong to the Middle Kingdom. The earliest pharaohs of the Middle Kingdom traced their origin to two nomarchs of Thebes, Intef the Elderwho served a Heracleopolitan pharaoh of the Tenth Dynasty, and his successor, Mentuhotep I.

    The successor of the latter, Intef Iwas the first Theban nomarch to claim a Horus name and thus the throne of Egypt.

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    He is considered the first pharaoh of the Eleventh Dynasty. His claims brought the Thebans into conflict with the rulers of the Tenth Dynasty. Intef I and his brother Intef II undertook several campaigns northwards and finally captured the important nome of Abydos. Warfare continued intermittently between the Thebean and Heracleapolitan dynasties until the 39th regnal year of Mentuhotep II, second successor of Intef II.

    At this point, the Herakleopolitans were defeated and the Theban dynasty consolidated their rule over Egypt. Mentuhotep II is known to have commanded military campaigns south into Nubia, which had gained its independence during the First Intermediate Period. There is also evidence for military actions against the Southern Levant.

    The king reorganized the country and placed a vizier at the head of civil administration for the country. His reign saw the realization of some of the finest Egyptian carvings.

    Despite being absent from various lists of pharaohs, his reign is attested from a few inscriptions in Wadi Hammamat that record expeditions to the Red Sea coast and to quarry stone for the royal monuments. The leader of this expedition was his vizier Amenemhat, who is widely assumed to be the future pharaoh Amenemhat Ithe first pharaoh of the Twelfth Dynasty.

    Amenemhat is therefore assumed by some Egyptologists to have either usurped the throne or assumed power after Mentuhotep IV died childless. Amenemhat I built a new capital for Egypt, Itjtawythought to be located near the present-day Lisht, although Manetho claims the capital remained at Thebes. Amenemhat forcibly pacified internal unrest, curtailed the rights of the nomarchs, and is known to have at launched at least one campaign into Nubia.

    His son Senusret I continued the policy of his father to recapture Nubia and other territories lost during the First Intermediate Period. The Libu were subdued under his forty-five year reign and Egypt's prosperity and security were secured. Senusret III — BC was a warrior king, leading his troops deep into Nubia, and built a series of massive forts throughout the country to establish Egypt's formal boundaries with the unconquered areas of its territory.

    Egypt's population began to exceed food production levels during the reign of Amenemhat III, who then ordered the exploitation of the Faiyum and increased mining operations in the Sinai Peninsula. He also invited settlers from Western Asia to Egypt to labor on Egypt's monuments.

    Late in his reign, the annual floods along the Nile began to fail, further straining the resources of the government. Second Intermediate Period and the Hyksos[ edit ] Main articles: The Second Intermediate Period marks a period when Egypt once again fell into disarray between the end of the Middle Kingdom and the start of the New Kingdom.

    This period is best known as the time the Hyksos made their appearance in Egypt, the reigns of its kings comprising the Fifteenth Dynasty. The Thirteenth Dynasty proved unable to hold onto the long land of Egypt, and a provincial family of Levantine descent located in the marshes of the eastern Delta at Avaris broke away from the central authority to form the Fourteenth Dynasty.

    The splintering of the land most likely happened shortly after the reigns of the powerful Thirteenth Dynasty pharaohs Neferhotep I and Sobekhotep IV c.

    The outlines of the traditional account of the "invasion" of the land by the Hyksos is preserved in the Aegyptiaca of Manetho, who records that during this time the Hyksos overran Egypt, led by Salitisthe founder of the Fifteenth Dynasty.

    More recently, however, the idea of a simple migration, with little or no violence involved, has gained some support. The Hyksos princes and chieftains ruled in the eastern Delta with their local Egyptian vassals. The Fifteenth Dynasty rulers established their capital and seat of government at Memphis and their summer residence at Avaris. The Hyksos kingdom was centered in the eastern Nile Delta and central Egypt but relentlessly pushed south for the control of central and Upper Egypt. Around the time Memphis fell to the Hyksos, the native Egyptian ruling house in Thebes declared its independence and set itself up as the Sixteenth Dynasty.

    Another short lived dynasty might have done the same in central Egypt, profiting from the power vacuum created by the fall of the 13th dynasty and forming the Abydos Dynasty. The latter was to prove unable to resist and Thebes fell to the Hyksos for a very short period c.

    From then on, Hyksos relations with the south seem to have been mainly of a commercial nature, although Theban princes appear to have recognized the Hyksos rulers and may possibly have provided them with tribute for a period. The Seventeenth Dynasty was to prove the salvation of Egypt and would eventually lead the war of liberation that drove the Hyksos back into Asia.

    The two last kings of this dynasty were Seqenenre Tao and Kamose. Ahmose I completed the conquest and expulsion of the Hyksos from the Nile Delta, restored Theban rule over the whole of Egypt and successfully reasserted Egyptian power in its formerly subject territories of Nubia and the Southern Levant. New Kingdom of Egypt Possibly as a result of the foreign rule of the Hyksos during the Second Intermediate Period, the New Kingdom saw Egypt attempt to create a buffer between the Levant and Egypt, and attain its greatest territorial extent.

    It expanded far south into Nubia and held wide territories in the Near East. Egyptian armies fought Hittite armies for control of modern-day Syria. Eighteenth Dynasty[ edit ] Golden mask from the mummy of Tutankhamun This was a time of great wealth and power for Egypt. Some of the most important and best-known pharaohs ruled at this time, such as Hatshepsut. Hatshepsut is unusual as she was a female pharaoh, a rare occurrence in Egyptian history.

    She was an ambitious and competent leader, extending Egyptian trade south into present-day Somalia and north into the Mediterranean. She ruled for twenty years through a combination of widespread propaganda and deft political skill. However, late in his reign, he ordered her name hacked out from her monuments.

    He fought against Asiatic people and was the most successful of Egyptian pharaohs. Amenhotep III built extensively at the temple of Karnak including the Luxor Templewhich consisted of two pylonsa colonnade behind the new temple entrance, and a new temple to the goddess Maat. During the reign of Thutmose III c.

    His exclusive worship of the Aten, sometimes called Atenismis often seen as history's first instance of monotheism. Atenism and several changes that accompanied it seriously disrupted Egyptian society.

    Akhenaten built a new capital at the site of Amarnawhich gives his reign and the few that followed their modern name, the Amarna Period. Amarna art diverged significantly from the previous conventions of Egyptian art. Under a series of successors, of whom the longest reigning were Tutankhamun and Horemheb. Under them, worship of the old gods was revived and much of the art and monuments that were created during Akhenaten's reign was defaced or destroyed.

    When Horemheb died without an heir, he named as his successor Ramesses Ifounder of the Nineteenth Dynasty.

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