Outline of Egyptian History, Ancient Egyptian Language

Outline of Egyptian History

We owe the division of Egypt’s ancient history into thirty royal Dynasties from Menes to Alexander the Great to an Egyptian historian called Manetho,who lived in the reign of PolemyII (285-247BC). The Dynasties were subsequently combined and grouped into three main periods: the Old Kingdom or Pyramid Age, the Middle Kingdom, and the New Kingdom .These have been further divided by modern historians into:

Early Dynastic Period -----------------------------------------3100-2686 BC

1st Dynasty

2nd Dynasty

Old Kingdom----------------------------------------------------2686-2181 BC

3rd Dynasty

4th Dynasty

5th Dynasty

6th Dynasty

First Intermediate Period------------------------------------2181-2133 BC

7th /8th Dynasties

9th to early 11th Dynasties

Middle Kingdom------------------------------------------------2133-1786 BC

11th Dynasty

12th Dynasty

Second Intermediate Period---------------------------------1786-1567 BC

13th to 17th Dynasties

New Kingdom----------------------------------------------------1567-1080 BC

18th Dynasty

19th Dynasty

20th Dynasty

Third Intermediate Period------------------------------------1080-715 BC

(Period of Decline)

21st to 24th Dynasties

Late Period

25th Dynasty ( Kushite) ----------------------------------------750-656 BC

26th Dynasty ( Saite)--------------------------------------------664-525 BC

27th to 30th Dynasties

(Mostly Persian)-------------------------------------------------525-332 BC

It is perhaps not surrising,in view of the more hostile environment in Upper Egypt and the economic attraction of the fertile Delta,the the trust towards unification was always spearheaded from Upper Egypt.

Menes came from ancient Thinis, near Abydos, and according to Manetho the first and second dynasties were ruled by eight kings of Thinis and nine kings of Thinis respectively. This was a period in which were appears to have been active resistance against unity.

Once consolidated, however, Egypt embarked on a period of economic prosperity, technical achievement, productivity and inventiveness.

During the Old Kingdom (2686-2345 BC) a series of vigorous monarchs established and maintained a highly centralized government. This was when the Pharaohs Khufu (Cheops),Khafre (Chephren) and Menkaure( Mycerinus) raised the Great Pyramids on the Giza plateau.

Unfortunately, forces of internal erosion finally reduced the country to lawlessness, and the monarchy fell. The provincial lords who had gained prestige under the great Pharaohs agitated for independence. The country fragmented into small provincial Kingdoms, and though several leaders governed independently during the First Intermediate Period, none was powerful enough to rule the Two Lands.

It was an Upper Egyptian from the Theban area, Luxor, who provided the stimulus to reunify the country and pave the way for the Middle Kingdom (2133-1786 BC), the second cultural peak. Four Pharaohs by the name of Amenemhet and three calledSenusert (Sesostris) ruled during the 12thDynasty, a period of great prosperity. It was comparable to, but in many ways different from, the Old Kingdom .Fine monuments were raised throughout the land; arts and crafts again flourished, and irrigation projects were carried out. Furthermore, Egypt extended its frontiers well into Kush, where a series of enormous frontier fortress were established.

As before, there was a breakdown in the central governments. Petty kings ruled simultaneously from Luxor in Upper Egypt and from some centers in Lower Egypt. Rapid decline set in and the country soon passed under the domination of the Hyksos,” ruler of foreign countries”, warlike tribes from western Asia.

The Hyksos occupation lasted for a bout century. Again it was a family from Thebes area, Luxor,who triggered the war of liberation and provided the galvanic response to pursue the enemy right into their own camp,which was situated in the north-eastern Delta. Having successfully defeated the enemy and driven them out of Egypt, a liberated ,reunited country could embark  on its third cultural peak.

Under the rulers of the New Kingdom (1567-1080 BC), Egypt developed into an important power. The successful wars against Hyksos had already transformed the country into a military state with a standing army. Now it remained to create an empire and extend the frontiers southwards to Kush and north-east wards to the countries of Palestine and Syria. The monuments raised throughout the land during the New Kingdom, particularly those in Upper Egypt, reflect the wealth and prosperity of the nation. Unfortunately, the Pharaohs fell under the domination of the high priests of Amon at Thebes, until eventually one of them seized the throne.

In the 21th Dynasty, the country was once more divided: Upper Egypt was ruled by the high priests at Thebes, and Lower Egypt by a family in Tanis. Under a divided and weakened rule, Egypt succumbed again to foreign invasion: tribes of Libyan origin, Kushites from beyond Nubia, the Assyrian conquest and then, following by a short-lived revival known as the Saiteperiod, came the Persian invasions, and finally the Greek and Roman occupations.

In times of strong central government, the Two Lands of Upper and Lower Egypt were united. In times of weakened rule they broke apart. When united, the culture was built on strong foundation of inherited values and traditions. When divided, the Delta, Lower Egypt, was open to diverse foreign influences, while it was in Upper Egypt, and in neighboring Nubia, that the traditional spirit of ancient Egypt survived.


The ancient Egyptian language is the oldest indigenous language and considered to be a branch of the Afro-Asiatic languages plus it is related to the Berber and other Semitic languages such as Arabic, Amharic, and Hebrew. It is one of the oldest recorded languages known alongside Sumerian. Its first known records date back to the mid-3rd millennium BC during the old kingdom of Egypt in 3400 BC, it was in use in the form of demotic and until the 17th century in the middle ages in the form of Coptic. The language was accompanied by hieroglyphs which became the official writing system. The national language of the modern –day Egypt has become Egyptian Arabic which has taken over after the Muslim conquest in the 7th century.


The transformative history of the ancient Egyptian language can be divided into six major chronological parts:


It is the reconstructed language of the early dynastic and the late predynastic period. It also contains the earliest examples of Egyptian hieroglyphic writings on many works of art like Naqada II pottery vessels.

OLD EGYPTIAN (2600 – 2000 BC)

It became the official language of the old kingdom and the first intermediate period as it was used to write the pyramid texts which are the largest body of literature written in this language and was used to showcase the autobiographical writings representing old Egyptian. It is characterized by the tripling of ideograms, phonograms, and determinatives to indicate the plural.


It became known as Classical Egyptian as it was used to create a variety of textual writings in hieroglyphics and hieratic scripts that include various funerary texts like the coffin texts and wisdom texts that act as a guide on how any person can lead a life symbolizes the ancient Egyptian philosophical worldview. It was also used to tell the adventurous tales of certain individuals, medical and scientific texts such as Edwin Smith papyrus and the poetic texts or certain ancient Egyptian gods or ancient Egyptian pharaohs. The language was so powerful and very common within the public; the Egyptian dialect began to change to match the classical middle Egyptian. The grammatical structure of this language doesn’t differ much from the language of the old kingdom.


This language appeared in Egypt new kingdom which is considered to be the golden age of ancient Egyptian civilization. It contained many rich religious passages and secular literature and various classicisms appeared in historical and literary texts during this period. The difference between the middle languages is far bigger than the middle and the old. It also offers a perfect example of the spoken language. It also saw a massive expansion of its graphemic inventory by the hieroglyphic orthography.

DEMOTIC (600 BC – 400 AD)

It is a name of the ancient Egyptian vernacular of the late and Ptolemaic periods. It was used for more than 1000 years. The word demotic is derived from the northern forms of hieratic (writing system) used in the delta. It had three stages during its time:


It was developed in Lower Egypt between 650 and 400 BC as most texts were written in the 26th dynasty and the following Persian period. The demotic language was used for administrative, legal and commercial passages and texts.


It is a stage of writing that was massively used for literary and religious texts. At the end of the third century, Greek was used as an administrative language of the country.


Greek became the semi-official language texts, religious texts, mummy, and graffiti-like the ones on the walls of the temple of Isis on Philae that you can visit during your trips to Egypt and demotic began to disappear but there is a number of literary texts from the first and second centuries AD but unfortunately, most of the demotic texts decreased after the rise of greek.


The Coptic language is the final phase of transformation as it is the last direct descendant of the ancient Egyptian language. Despite the fact that the language can be written in Egyptian hieroglyphics and demotic scripts, the Coptic alphabet was highly modified by the Greek alphabet. The language became the official language of the land from 200 AD to 1100 AD and the last record of it being spoken was during the 17th century. The language was able to survive thanks to the European scholars who learned it from the native speakers during the Renaissance and can be only found today as a liturgical language of the Coptic Orthodox Church.

Egypt has elevated the process of cultural transformation to whole new levels. The majestic cities of Cairo, Alexandria, Luxor, and Aswan offers the once in a lifetime chance to witness true wonder and magic in their fullest light and if you want to make your experience more memorable then you can board an enchanting Nile cruise on the beating heart of Egypt with our Egypt tours and Egypt travel packages.


Q-What are the Must be Visited Places in Egypt? A-The entire country of Egypt deserve to be seen with its every heavenly detail but there are places that must be seen such as the breathtaking Hurghada's red sea, The wonders of Cairo the pyramids of Giza, the great sphinx, the Egyptian Museum, Khan El Khalili, the wonders of Luxor like Valley of the Kings, Karnak and Hatshepsut temple and the wonders of Aswan like Abu Simbel temples, Philea temple, Unfinished obelisk and The Wonders of Alexandria like Qaitbat Citadel, Pompey's Pillar and Alexandria Library.

Q-What are Egypt's Visa Requirements? A-If you want to apply for a Visa On Arrival that lasts for 30 days then you should be one of the eligible countries, have a valid passport with at least 6 months remaining and pay 25$ USD in cash, as for the E-Visa for 30 day you should have a valid passport for at least 8 months, complete the online application, pay the e-visa fee then print the e-visa to later be presented to the airport border guard. You could also be one of the lucky ones who can obtain a free visa for 90 days.

Q-What is the Top Traditional Egyptian Food?A-Egypt has a variety of delicious cuisines but we recommend “Ful & Ta’meya (Fava Beans and Falafel)”, Mulukhiya, “Koshary”, a traditional Egyptian pasta dish, and Kebab & Kofta, the Egyptian traditional meat dish.

Q-What is the Best Time to Visit Egypt?A- The best time to travel to Egypt is during the winter from September to April as the climate becomes a bit tropical accompanied by a magical atmosphere of warm weather with a winter breeze. You will be notified in the week of your trip if the weather is unsafe and if any changes have been made.

Q-What to Pack for Your Egypt Tour?A-You should pack everything you could ever need and but in a small bag so you could move easily between your destinations.

Q-Evening entertainment on a Nile Cruise? A-Most Nile Cruises have a bar or lounge and will host a galabiyya party, where all are encouraged to dress in the traditional Egyptian men’s robe (sold onboard). Some boats feature local musicians.

Q-Nile Cruise facilities? A-Reception area & Lounge bar with panoramic view | Restaurant located on the lower deck | Swimming pool, bar & Sun deck | Boutique & Jeweler shop |Massage room with charge| Wi Fi with charge| Laundry & dry cleaning facilities with charge| Credit cards are accepted on board.