Ancient Civilizations 101 : The Old Kingdom of Ancient Egypt II



Foreword


We cannot be sure of how human mentality led to the development of civilizations. Until today, this remains a popular topic among historians and anthropologists, and it is a significant scholarly debate. This 101 series brings to the spotlight some of the oldest civilizations that have ever existed. Undoubtedly, modern-day culture and society owe a lot to the previous ones. Each civilization, discussed in this 101 series, contributed in many ways to: new inventions, new ideas, new cultures, new philosophies, and lifestyles. In this article, the author will examine the civilization of ancient Rome; Rome, a city built on the lowest point of the Tiber River, gradually expanded as the power of its inhabitants grew. The monarchy of the early years gave way to democracy, which was later replaced by the imperial power of Augustus. At this time, the city acquired the first outstanding monuments, while at the same time some remarkable technical structures were built, such as aqueducts, sewers, and public toilets.

Ancient Civilizations 101 So Far Is Divided Into 5 Chapters


  1. The Rise and Fall of Mayans

  2. The Mycenaeans

  3. The Old Kingdom of Ancient Egypt I

  4. The Old Kingdom of Ancient Egypt II

  5. The Roman Empire from Caesar to Augustus I


Ancient Egypt was a vast kingdom of the ancient world. It was united around 3100 BC and lasted as a leading economic and cultural force throughout North Africa and parts of the Levant until it was defeated by Alexander the Great in 332 BC. Today Egyptologists; archaeologists who concentrate on this ancient civilization have learned a great deal about the rulers and the ancient Egyptian society based on artifacts and other archaeological findings of ancient Egypt. The history of ancient Egypt transpired as a set of stable kingdoms, separated by periods of relative instability known as Intermediate Periods. The first one is the Old Kingdom of the Early Bronze age, analyzed in the 101 series. Following the Old, Kingdom is the Middle Kingdom of the Middle Bronze Age and the New Kingdom of the Late Bronze age.


(2017). Ancient Egypt – old kingdom, Egyptian gods and goddesses. [Photograph]. Classical Academy. https://sloclassical.org/2017/10/09/monday-mix-ins-ancient-egypt-old-kingdom-egyptian-gods-and-goddesses/


The Old Kingdom


The Old Kingdom of Ancient Egypt is the grounds upon which all of Egypt's long and legendary history has been built. The truth is that the origin of many concepts and practices can be traced to earlier periods. However, during the Old Kingdom period, they evolved into the forms that would define and influence the rest of pharaonic history. From 2686 to 2181 BC, people living in the Nile Valley began to produce the art and architecture that still is counted among the most impressive ancient achievements in the history of ancient civilizations. Several artistic, historical, and religious trends distinguished this period. However, the specific elements and displays of these overarching commonalities changed dramatically over time.

Consequently, the artistic sense at the end of the Old Kingdom differed remarkably from the beginning of the period. The Old Kingdom consisted of Pharaoh Dynasties, with an overall of 25 Pharaohs. For over 400 years, Ancient Egypt had a strong central government and economic system. The most remarkable achievement of that period is the construction of the pyramids. Thus, the period is known as "the age of the pyramids" or "the age of the pyramid builders." Although several remarkable settlement sites provide insight into everyday life, our knowledge of Old Kingdom culture is mainly based on funerary evidence.


The Fifth Dynasty 2465–2323 BC


The Fifth Dynasty began with the ruler Userkaf. This period was marked by the growing importance of the worship of the sun god Ra. During this period, six kings had sun temples in Abusir. This was a new type of achievement that these kings built in addition to their pyramid complexes. While the honor of the sun god was the primary purpose of these temples, they were also closely connected to the devotion of the late, and possibly the living, king. King Userkaf was succeeded by his son Sahure. The pyramid complex of Sahure is unusually well preserved and offers an excellent example of the types of decorations that usually cover the temple walls. These depicted the king triumphing over foreign enemies, interacting with divinities, and getting long lines of offering conveyors.


Consequently, during the fifth Dynasty, more energy was applied to the construction of pyramid complexes. The wealth and power of high officials seem to have increased around this time. The tomb complexes, erected in Saqqara, Giza, and Abusir, had more rooms, expanded decoration with new scenes, and multiple statues in different syntheses, poses, or materials. For example, during this period, scenes of daily life became extremely common, scenes that depict hunting and agricultural activities. This decoration works symbolically to ensure that the deceased will successfully be transitioned to the afterlife. Another significant point of the fifth Dynasty was the dramatic change in the artistic style. The so-called Second Style expression is known for large eyes, slightly slanted lips, thin shoulders, and a lack of musculature. All these elements will also be seen later through the sixth Dynasty. By the end of the fifth Dynasty, the worship of the new god Osiris had gained force. The last two kings chose not to build sun temples, while the royal cemetery was moved back to Saqqara.



Kneeling captive. [Photograph]. The Met. https://www.metmuseum.org/art/collection/search/543906


The Sixth Dynasty and the End of the Old Kingdom


During the Sixth Dynasty, the power of the Pharaoh gradually weakened in favor of powerful regional governors. The funerary apartments of all following Old Kingdom kings were inscribed with Pyramid Texts, and by the end of the sixth Dynasty, queens' pyramids had them too. Their funerary temples became larger and more complex, and they could be buried under pyramids, a practice that previously had been limited to queen mothers. Effectively, the last king of the sixth Dynasty was Pepi II, who, according to tradition, ruled for more than ninety years. His reign was undoubtedly long. According to some recent assumptions, this was a primary reason for the following breakdown of the central government. Although the dynastic issues may have played an important role in the collapse of the Old Kingdom, there were many other known factors. Firstly, the increasing decentralization, countrified policies, growing hostility, and tension from Nubian populations to the south. While the climate change and the desiccation of the region should not be unnoticed. As the governors of the areas became autonomous, the Old Kingdom came to an end.

References: HISTORY.COM EDITORS. Ancient Egypt. https://www.history.com/topics/ancient-history/ancient-egypt P.F. Dorman. Ancient Egypt. Britannica. https://www.britannica.com/place/ancient-Egypt


Society. Ancient Egypt. https://www.nationalgeographic.org/topics/resource-library-ancient-egypt/?q=&page=1&per_page=25

The Met. Egypt in the Old Kingdom (ca. 2649–2130 B.C.) https://www.metmuseum.org/toah/hd/oking/hd_oking.htm Wikipedia. Old Kindom of Egypt. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Old_Kingdom_of_Egypt

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Anna-Aikaterini Bati

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