Egypt History – New Kingdom

Egypt History – New Kingdom

The XVIII dynasty (1550-1292) inaugurated the “imperial” phase of Egyptian history. Once the domination of the hyksos was over, it was necessary to restore the entire state machinery to efficiency. For many decades the Egypt it was a military country. The policy of broadening the conquests to the South and expanding into Asia, initiated by Thutmose I, was carried out by Thutmose III, who reached the Euphrates with a series of expeditions. Military talent was combined with political intelligence: the conquered countries (Phenicia, Palestine) retained their structure, the king limiting himself to establishing on the spot Egyptian inspectors and to impose an annual tax and liens for the maintenance of the troops. Thanks to the practice of leading the children of local notables to carry out their education in Egypt and to the intense development of trade, the Egyptian culture also spread through a path other than that of arms. Thus began an age of great exchanges, during which traditional doctrines spread to other territories, while political, social and economic internationalism and religious universalism produced effects of innovation and hybridization also in Egypt. The new cosmopolitan society linked to urban centers became more heterogeneous and secularized, renouncing the classical and social elements that had always regulated the life of the Egyptians.

According to a2zdirectory, a parenthesis was represented by the reign of Amenhotep IV (1351-1334), who left Thebes by transferring the capital to a new city, Akhetaton (now Tell el-Amarna), and changed its name to Akhenaten. Amenhotep launched a radical religious reform, aimed at the exclusive worship of Aten (the solar disc), which was placed before Amon, until then protector of the dynasty and of Egypt. In addition to being religious, atonism also had a political significance, aiming on the one hand at the economic and political downsizing of the priests of Ammon and on the other at the foundation of a cult of the providential creator of the Sun, in whose system the sovereign was given a demiurgic function., and therefore a more absolute authority. Neither purpose was achieved: Akhenaten was misunderstood even by the people who remained tied to the old traditions, and at his death the ancient cults were restored, the new city was razed to the ground and, with Tutankhamun, the capital returned to Thebes. Meanwhile, under the pressure of the new Hittite power, the empire in Asia was crumbling. The first important reign of the nineteenth dynasty was that of Sethi I (1290-1279 / 8), who initiated a policy of reconquest in Asia, confronted the Hittites with some success and made the military road through the Sinai desert safer and more functional., making use of guard posts and the surveillance of water supply points: each source along the road was guarded by a tower, migdol, with a permanent presence. His successor Ramses II (1279-1213) found himself having to face the Hittites again.

The battle, in Qadesh, was of uncertain outcome, but the threat of Assyrian power led the rivals to conclude a treaty that placed the two empires on an absolutely equal footing, forging an agreement that ensured nearly 50 years of peace in the East. During this period Tanis, in the Nile Delta, assumed particular importance: not far from Asia and the Mediterranean, the site of the new administrative capital seemed preferable for the international interests of Egypt and for the reconquest of the empire. Thebes remained the religious center and the holiday residence of the sovereign. Meanwhile, massive migrations, which began around 1400, they had brought peoples of various origins from the northeastern Indo-European districts to the coastal regions of the Mediterranean: these were the “peoples of the sea” who destroyed the balance existing in the ancient East, giving rise to new civilizations, including the Mycenaean. Although, during the twentieth dynasty, Ramses III (1183 / 2-1152 / 1) managed to avoid the danger of an invasion of the Egypt, consolidating also in Palestine and Syria, the spread of the peoples of the sea in Anatolia, Cilicia and northern Syria, with the annihilation of the Hittite empire, constituted for the Egypt a serious threat, as the ancient and safe procedure of the exchange of Egyptian wheat and gold against Anatolian silver, as well as the trade in iron that came from the land of the Hittites, entered into crisis. In a condition of general weakness, under the other pharaohs of the dynasty, from Ramses IV to Ramses XI, Egypt he lost authority outside the borders and prosperity inside. On the death of Ramses XI the state was divided into two kingdoms and only a compromise allowed the reunification.

Between the twenty-first and twenty-fifth dynasty (1070-655 / 3) the process of decline was accentuated. Bands of Libyan mercenaries settled in Egypt, which was no longer configured as an efficient state, but as a set of small states linked by commercial relations. The dominion was reduced to the government exercised in the Delta by the merchant princes of Tanis and that exercised in Thebes by the princes-priests of Amone, while a new factor of power emerged with the growing influence of Libyan princes originating from the Fayyum. THE. he was attacked by the Assyrians who sacked Thebes twice (in 666 and 664 BC). The crisis was followed by a period of rebirth with the Saite era (XXVI dynasty, 664-525), of which Psammetichus I was the founder, who took advantage of the rebellion of Lydia against the Assyrians to get rid of their dominion and with shrewd initiatives favored trafficking commercial in the very active Delta area. Strong inside, the Egypt he returned to intervene in the Asian area with the aim of occupying Phenicia. In the following century, however, the pharaohs were unable to resist the new power that emerged in Asia, that of the Persians. Psammeticus III was defeated in Pelusio and Memphis (525) and Egypt became a province of the Persian empire. Historically, the Persian invasion identifies the event that put an end to the Egyptian civilization. The new rulers, initially attentive to local customs and cults,

Egypt History - New Kingdom

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