2nd millennium BC
The 2nd millennium BC spanned the years 2000 through 1001 BC. In the Ancient Near East, it marks the transition from the Middle to the Late Bronze Age; the Ancient Near Eastern cultures are well within the historical era: The first half of the millennium is dominated by the Middle Kingdom of Egypt and Babylonia. The alphabet develops. At the center of the millennium, a new order emerges with Minoan Greek dominance of the Aegean and the rise of the Hittite Empire; the end of the millennium sees the transition to the Iron Age. Other regions of the world are still in the prehistoric period. In Europe, the Beaker culture introduces the Bronze Age associated with Indo-European expansion; the Indo-Iranian expansion reaches the Iranian plateau and onto the Indian subcontinent, propagating the use of the chariot. Mesoamerica enters the Pre-Classic period. North America is in the late Archaic stage. In Maritime Southeast Asia, the Austronesian expansion reaches Micronesia. In Sub-Saharan Africa, the Bantu expansion begins.
World population rises possibly surpassing the 100 million mark for the first time. Please see the article on Chronology of the ancient Near East for a discussion regarding the accuracy and resolution of dates for events of the 2nd millennium BC in the Near East. Spending much of their energies in trying to recuperate from the chaotic situation that existed at the turn of the millennium, the most powerful civilizations of the time and Mesopotamia, turned their attention to more modest goals; the Pharaohs of the Middle Kingdom of Egypt and their contemporary Kings of Babylon, of Amorite origin, brought good governance without much tyranny, favoured elegant art and architecture. Farther east, the Indus Valley civilization was in a period of decline as a result of intense, ruinous flooding. Egypt and Babylonia's military tactics were still based on foot soldiers transporting their equipment on donkeys. Combined with a weak economy and difficulty in maintaining order, this was a fragile situation that crumbled under the pressure of external forces they could not oppose.
About a century before the middle of the millennium, bands of Indo-European invaders came from the Central Asian plains and swept through Western Asia and Northeast Africa. They were riding fast two-wheeled chariots powered by horses, a system of weaponry developed earlier in the context of plains warfare; this tool of war was unknown among the classical civilizations. Egypt and Babylonia's foot soldiers were unable to defend against the invaders: in 1630 BC, the Hyksos swept into the Nile Delta, in 1595 BC, the Hittites swept into Mesopotamia; the people in place were quick to adapt to the new tactics, a new international situation resulted from the change. Though during most of the second half of the 2nd millennium BC several regional powers competed relentlessly for hegemony, many developments occurred: there was new emphasis on grandiose architecture, new clothing fashions, vivid diplomatic correspondence on clay tablets, renewed economic exchanges, the New Kingdom of Egypt played the role of the main superpower.
Among the great states of the time, only Babylon refrained from taking part in battles due to its new position as the world's religious and intellectual capital. The Bronze Age civilization at its final period of time, displayed all its characteristic social traits: low level of urbanization, small cities centered on temples or royal palaces, strict separation of classes between an illiterate mass of peasants and craftsmen, a powerful military elite, knowledge of writing and education reserved to a tiny minority of scribes, pronounced aristocratic life. Near the end of the 2nd millennium BC, new waves of barbarians, this time riding on horseback, wholly destroyed the Bronze Age world, were to be followed by waves of social changes that marked the beginning of different times. Contributing to the changes were the Sea Peoples, ship-faring raiders of the Mediterranean. Ancient Near East Middle Kingdom of Egypt New Kingdom of Egypt Old Assyrian Empire Middle Assyrian Empire Elam Hittites Old Kingdom in Anatolia Vedic India Kuru Kingdom Bronze Age China Shang Dynasty Zhou Dynasty Most people known by name from this period are kings or emperors: First Babylonian Dynasty: Hammurabi Middle Assyrian Empire: see List of Assyrian kings Ancient Egypt: see list of pharaohs Bronze Age China: Shang dynasty, Zhou dynastyAn exception is may be Sinhue, protagonist of an Egyptian tale set in the 20th century BC, although the general consensus considers him a fictional character.
EuropeEurope is still within the prehistoric era. Aegean civilization Cycladic culture Helladic period Minoan civilization Mycenaean Greece Beaker culture Terramare culture Tumulus culture Unetice culture Urnfield cultureCentral AsiaAndronovo culture Oxus civilizationEast AsiaErlitou culture Wucheng cultureSouth AsiaOchre Coloured Pottery cultureAmericasOlmecSub-Saharan AfricaThe desiccation of the Sahara is complete. Neolithisation of Sub-Saharan Africa is initiated via expansion from the dried Sahara, reaching West and East Africa. In the 2nd millennium, pastoralism is spread to Central Africa via the Bantu migration. Iron metallurgy in Africa may arise towards the end of the millennium. Kerma culture Savanna Pastoral Neolithic Nok culture c. 2000 BC—Seima-Turbino Phenomenon c. 1700 BC–1300 BC—Palace complex in Knossos, was built. C. 1700 BC earthquake damages palaces at Phaistos. 1627 BC Minoan eruption c. 1600 BC–1360 BC Egyptian domination over Canaan and Syria. C. 1575 BC Nubian Kerma sacks Egypt.
1520 BC Egypt conquers Nubia. 1478 BC Battle of Megiddo 1269 BC
Heracles, born Alcaeus or Alcides was a divine hero in Greek mythology, the son of Zeus and Alcmene, foster son of Amphitryon. He was a half-brother of Perseus, he was the greatest of the Greek heroes, a paragon of masculinity, the ancestor of royal clans who claimed to be Heracleidae, a champion of the Olympian order against chthonic monsters. In Rome and the modern West, he is known as Hercules, with whom the Roman emperors, in particular Commodus and Maximian identified themselves; the Romans adopted the Greek version of his life and works unchanged, but added anecdotal detail of their own, some of it linking the hero with the geography of the Central Mediterranean. Details of his cult were adapted to Rome as well. Many popular stories were told of the most famous being The Twelve Labours of Heracles, his figure, which drew on Near Eastern motifs such as the lion-fight, was known. Heracles was the greatest of Hellenic chthonic heroes, but unlike other Greek heroes, no tomb was identified as his.
Heracles was both god, as Pindar says heros theos. The core of the story of Heracles has been identified by Walter Burkert as originating in Neolithic hunter culture and traditions of shamanistic crossings into the netherworld, it is possible that the myths surrounding Heracles were based on the life of a real person or several people whose accomplishments became exaggerated with time. Based on commonalities in the legends of Heracles and Odysseus, author Steven Sora suggested that they were both based on the same historical person, who made his mark prior to recorded history. Heracles' role as a culture hero, whose death could be a subject of mythic telling, was accepted into the Olympian Pantheon during Classical times; this created an awkwardness in the encounter with Odysseus in the episode of Odyssey XI, called the Nekuia, where Odysseus encounters Heracles in Hades: Ancient critics were aware of the problem of the aside that interrupts the vivid and complete description, in which Heracles recognizes Odysseus and hails him, modern critics find good reasons for denying that the verses beginning, in Fagles' translation His ghost I mean... were part of the original composition: "once people knew of Heracles' admission to Olympus, they would not tolerate his presence in the underworld", remarks Friedrich Solmsen, noting that the interpolated verses represent a compromise between conflicting representations of Heracles.
In Christian circles a Euhemerist reading of the widespread Heracles cult was attributed to a historical figure, offered cult status after his death. Thus Eusebius, Preparation of the Gospel, reported that Clement could offer historical dates for Hercules as a king in Argos: "from the reign of Hercules in Argos to the deification of Hercules himself and of Asclepius there are comprised thirty-eight years, according to Apollodorus the chronicler: and from that point to the deification of Castor and Pollux fifty-three years: and somewhere about this time was the capture of Troy." Readers with a literalist bent, following Clement's reasoning, have asserted from this remark that, since Heracles ruled over Tiryns in Argos at the same time that Eurystheus ruled over Mycenae, since at about this time Linus was Heracles' teacher, one can conclude, based on Jerome's date—in his universal history, his Chronicon—given to Linus' notoriety in teaching Heracles in 1264 BCE, that Heracles' death and deification occurred 38 years in 1226 BCE.
The ancient Greeks celebrated the festival of the Heracleia, which commemorated the death of Heracles, on the second day of the month of Metageitnion. What is believed to be an Egyptian Temple of Heracles in the Bahariya Oasis dates to 21 BCE. A reassessment of Ptolemy's descriptions of the island of Malta attempted to link the site at Ras ir-Raħeb with a temple to Heracles, but the arguments are not conclusive. Several ancient cities were named Heraclea in his honor. Although the Athenians were among the first to worship Heracles as a god, there were Greek cities that refused to recognize the hero's divine status. There are several polis that provided two separate sanctuaries for Heracles, one recognizing him as a god, the other only as a hero; this ambiguity helped create the Heracles cult when historians and artists encouraged worship such as the painters during the time of the Peisistratos, who presented Heracles entering Olympus in their works. Some sources explained that the cult of Heracles persisted because of the hero's ascent to heaven and his suffering, which became the basis for festivals, ritual and the organization of mysteries.
There is the observation, for example, that sufferings gave rise to the rituals of grief and mourning, which came before the joy in the mysteries in the sequence of cult rituals. Like the case of Apollo, the cult of Hercules has been sustained through the years by absorbing local cult figures such as those who share the same nature, he was constantly invoked as a patron for men the young ones. For example, he was considered the ideal in warfare so he presided over gymnasiums and the ephebes or those men undergoing military training. There were ancient towns and cities that adopted Hera
The Exodus is the founding myth of the Israelites. Spread over the books of Exodus, Leviticus and Deuteronomy, it tells of the enslavement that befell the children of Israel in Egypt, their liberation through the hand of Yahweh and the revelations at Sinai, their wanderings in the wilderness up to borders of Canaan, the land their God has given them, its message is that Israel was delivered from slavery by Yahweh and therefore belongs to him through the Mosaic covenant, the terms of which are that Yahweh will protect his chosen people for all time, so long as they will keep his laws and worship only him. The narrative and its laws remain central to Judaism, recounted daily in Jewish prayers and celebrated in festivals such as Passover, as well as serving as an inspiration and model for non-Jewish groups from early Protestants fleeing persecution in Europe to African-Americans striving for freedom and civil rights. Scholars are broadly agreed that the Exodus story was composed in the 5th century BCE.
The traditions behind it can be traced in the writings of the 8th-century BCE prophets, but it has no historical basis. Instead, archaeology suggests a native Canaanite origin for ancient Israel; the story of the Exodus is told in the books of Exodus, Leviticus and Deuteronomy, the last four of the five books of the Torah. It begins with the Israelites in slavery, their prophet Moses leads them out of Egypt and through the wilderness to Mount Sinai, where Yahweh reveals himself to his people and establishes the Mosaic covenant: they are to keep his torah, in return he will give them the land of Canaan. The Israelites accept the covenant and receive their laws, with Yahweh now present in their midst, journey on from Sinai, towards the promised land, but when told that the land is filled with giants they refuse to go on, Yahweh condemns them to remain in the desert until the generation that left Egypt passes away. After thirty-eight years at the oasis of Kadesh Barnea the next generation travel on to the borders of Canaan, where Moses addresses them for the final time, reviewing their travels and giving them further laws.
The Exodus ends with the death of Moses on Mount Nebo and his burial by Yahweh, while the Israelites prepare for the conquest of the land. The climax of the Exodus is the covenant between God and Israel mediated by Moses at Sinai: Yahweh will protect Israel as his chosen people for all time, Israel will keep Yahweh's laws and worship only him; the covenant is described in stages: at Exodus 24:3–8 the Israelites agree to abide by the "book of the covenant" that Moses has just read to them. The laws are set out in a number of codes: Ethical Decalogue, Exodus 20 and Deuteronomy 5. Scholars are broadly agreed that the publication of the Torah took place in the mid-Persian period, echoing a traditional Jewish view which gives Ezra, the leader of the Jewish community on its return from Babylon, a pivotal role in its promulgation; the first trace of the traditions behind it appears in the northern prophets Amos and Hosea, both active in the 8th century BCE in northern Israel, but their southern contemporaries Isaiah and Micah show no knowledge of an exodus.
The story may, have originated a few centuries earlier the 9th or 10th BCE, there are signs that it took different forms in Israel, in the Transjordan region, in the southern Kingdom of Judah before being unified in the Persian era. Many theories have been advanced to explain the composition of the Torah, but two have been influential; the first of these, Persian Imperial authorisation, advanced by Peter Frei in 1985, holds that the Persian authorities required the Jews of Jerusalem to present a single body of law as the price of local autonomy. Frei's theory was demolished at an interdisciplinary symposium held in 2000, but the relationship between the Persian authorities and Jerusalem remains a crucial question; the second theory, associated with Joel P. Weinberg and called the "Citizen-Temple Community", proposes that the Exodus story was composed to serve the needs of a post-exilic Jewish community organised around the Temple, which acted in effect as a bank for those who belonged to it.
The Torah served as an "identity card" defining who belonged to this community, thus reinforcing Israel's unity through its new institutions. The Exodus is at the centre of Jewish identity, it is remembered daily in Jewish prayers and celebrated each year at the feasts of Pesach and Shavuot, the two being known as "the time of our freedom" and "the time our Torah was given". The two are linked, with Pesach announcing that the freedom it introduces is only realised with the giving of the law. A third Jewish festival, the Festival of Booths, commemorates how the Israelites lived in booths following the exodus from their previous homes in Egypt; the Exodus roots Jewish religion in history, in contrast to pagan religions which are oriented towards nature. The festivals now associated with the exodus (Passove
The 1250s BC is a decade which lasted from 1259 BC to 1250 BC. c. 1259 BC—Ramesses II makes peace agreement with the Hittites. C. 1258 BC—The Exodus as depicted in the Bible. 1251 BC—September 7, a solar eclipse on this date might mark the birth of legendary Heracles at Thebes, Greece. 1250 BC—Traditional date of the beginning of the Trojan War. 1250 BC—Wu Ding emperor of Shang Dynasty to 1192 BC. c. 1250 BC—Lion Gate, Greece, are made. Citadel walls are built. C. 1250 BC—Papyrus of Ani created, during the 19th dynasty of the New Kingdom of Egypt. Wu Ding Shang Dynasty emperor S. M. Stirling's Nantucket series is set in Bronze Age era, circa the 1250s BC
12th century BC
The 12th century BC is the period from 1200 to 1101 BC. The Late Bronze Age collapse in the ancient Near East and eastern Mediterranean is considered to begin in this century. 1200 BC: The first civilization in Central and North America develops in about 1200 BC in the coastal regions of the southern part of the Gulf of Mexico. Known as the Olmec civilization, its early site is at San Lorenzo. Read more 1200 BC: The Phoenicians found the port of Lisbon, Portugal 1197 BC: The beginning of first period by Shao Yong's concept of the I Ching and history. 1197 BC: Ramses III of Egypt repels attacks by northern invaders. 1194 BC: The beginning of the legendary Trojan War. 1192 BC: Wu Ding, King of Shang Dynasty, died. 1191 BC: Menestheus, legendary King of Athens, dies during the Trojan War after a reign of 23 years and is succeeded by his nephew Demophon, a son of Theseus. Other accounts place his death a decade and shortly after the Trojan War. 1186 BC: End of the Nineteenth dynasty of Egypt, start of the Twentieth Dynasty.
April 24, 1184 BC: Traditional date for the fall of Troy, Asia Minor to the Mycenaeans and their allies. This marks the end of the Trojan War of Greek mythology. 1181 BC: Menestheus, legendary King of Athens and veteran of the Trojan War, dies after a reign of 23 years and is succeeded by his nephew Demophon, a son of Theseus. Other accounts place his death a decade earlier and during the Trojan War. 1180 BC: The last Kassite King, Anllil-nadin-akhe, is defeated by the Elamites 1180 BC: Collapse of Hittite power in Anatolia with the destruction of their capital Hattusa. April 16, 1178 BC: A solar eclipse may mark the return of Odysseus, legendary King of Ithaca, to his kingdom after the Trojan War, he discovers a number of suitors competing to marry his wife Penelope, whom they believe to be a widow, in order to succeed him on the throne. He re-establishes himself on the throne. 1160 BC: Death of Pharaoh Ramesses V, from smallpox. 1159 BC: The Hekla 3 eruption triggers an 18-year period of climatic cooling.
1154 BC: Death of King Menelaus of Sparta. 1154 BC: Death of exiled Queen Helen of Sparta at Rhodes.. C. 1150 BC: End of Egyptian rule in Canaan. Rameses VI last Pharaoh acknowledged. 1147 BC: Demophon, legendary King of Athens and veteran of the Trojan War, dies after a reign of 33 years and is succeeded by his son Oxyntes. 1137 BC: Ramses VII begins his reign as the sixth ruler of the Twentieth dynasty of Egypt. 1135 BC: Oxyntes, legendary King of Athens, dies after a reign of 12 years and is succeeded by his elder son Apheidas. 1134 BC: Apheidas, legendary King of Athens, is assassinated and succeeded by his younger brother Thymoetes after a reign of 1 year. 1126 BC: Thymoetes, legendary King of Athens, dies childless after a reign of 8 years. He is succeeded by his designated heir Melanthus of Pylos, a fifth-generation descendant of Neleus who had assisted him in battle against the Boeotians. 1122 BC: Legendary founding date of the city of Pyongyang. C. 1120 BC: destruction of Troy VIIb1 1115 BC: Tiglath-Pileser.
1110 BC: Cádiz founded by Phoenicians in southwestern Spain. 1100 BC: Tiglath-Pileser I of Assyria conquers the Hittites. C. 1100 BC: The Dorians invade Greece. C. 1100 BC: Beginning of the proto-Villanovan culture in northern Italy. C. 1100 BC: Mycenaean civilization ends. Start of Greek Dark Ages. C. 1100 BC: The New Kingdom in Egypt comes to an end. Elamite invaders carry them in Susa. Fang ding, from Tomb 1004, Anyang, Henan, is made. Shang dynasty, Anyang period, it is now kept at Academia Sinica, Taiwan. Achilles, Greek hero of the Trojan War Amenemses, Pharaoh of the Nineteenth Dynasty of Egypt 1155 BC—Death of pharaoh Ramesses III of Egypt 1126 BC—Nebuchadnezzar I becomes king of Babylon 1100s BC—Alphabet developed by Phoenicians. See: List of sovereign states in the 12th century BC
14th century BC
The 14th century BC is a century which lasted from the year 1400 BC until 1301 BC. 1397 BC: Pandion I, legendary King of Athens, dies after a reign of 40 years and is succeeded by his son Erechtheus II of Athens. 1390 BC: In Mesopotamia, emergence of the Assyrians as an independent power. 1385 BC: Pharaoh Amenhotep III of Egypt marries Tiy, his Chief Queen. 1380 BC: Amenhotep III connects the Nile and the Red Sea with a canal. 1372 BC: The Hittites conquer all of the Kingdom of Mitanni west of the Euphrates. 1357 BC: Danish Egtvedpigen is buried. 1347 BC: King Erechtheus II is killed by lightning after a reign of 50 years and is succeeded by his younger brother Cecrops II. 1346 BC: Pharaoh Amenhotep IV of Egypt begins his Cult of Aten and begins construction of Amarna intended to be his new capital. 1345 BC: Amenhotep IV renames himself Akhenaten. 1336 BC: Akhenaten names Smenkhkare as a co-ruler. C. 1334 BC: Tutankhaten becomes Pharaoh of Egypt and marries Ankhesenpaaten and wife of his predecessor Akhenaton.
1331 BC: Tutankhaten renames himself to Tutankhamun and abandons Amarna, returning the capital to Thebes. 1324 BC: Pharaoh Ay is crowned king of Egypt 1320 BC: Egypt: End of Eighteenth Dynasty, start of Nineteenth Dynasty. C. 1310 BC: The Bhagavad Gita is written, according to some Hindu traditions. 1309–1300 BC: Cecrops II, King of Athens, dies after a reign of 40 years and is succeeded by his son Pandion II. Pandion II was driven into exile from Athens by the sons of Cecrops II's brother Metion, so that Metion could take power. Pandion II fled to Megara, where he married the King's daughter and inherited the throne. After his death, Pandion II's sons drove out the sons of Metion. 1307 BC: Adad-nirari I becomes king of Assyria. 1300 BC: The legendary King Pan Geng moved the capital of Shang Dynasty to Yin. c. 1300 BC: Rise of the Urnfield culture. Although many human societies were literate in this period, some individual persons mentioned in this article ought to be considered legendary rather than historical.
1398 BC—Birth of Tiy to Egyptian nobleman Yuya and his wife Tjuyu. She becomes the Chief Queen of Pharaoh Amenhotep III of Egypt and the matriarch of the Amarna family..1391 BC—Possible Birth of Prophet Moses 1391 BC—Pharaoh Amenhotep III started to rule. 1368 BC—Death of Erichthonius, mythical King of Dardania. 1366 BC—Birth of Princess Tadukhipa to Tusratta, King of Mitanni and his Queen Juni. She will be married to Amenhotep III and after his death to his son and heir Amenhotep IV Akhenaton, she is variously identified with Kiya. 1365 BC—Ashur-uballit I rises to the throne of Assyria. 1362 BC—Birth of the Pharaoh Amenhotep IV Akhenaton to Amenhotep III and his Queen Tiy. 1350 BC—Pharaoh Amenhotep IV Akhenaton rises to the throne of Egypt. 1341 BC/1340 BC—Birth of Tutankhaten Pharaoh of Egypt as Tutankhamun. 1338 BC—Queen Tiy of Egypt, Chief Queen of Amenhotep III and matriarch of the Amarna family, vanishes from the historical record. Presumed death. 1337 BC—Queen Nefertiti of Egypt vanishes from the historical record.
Presumed death. 1334 BC/1333 BC—Death of Smenkhkare, Pharaoh of Egypt and co-ruler with Akhenaton. 1334 BC/1333 BC—Death of Akhenaton, Pharaoh of Egypt. 1323 BC—Death of Pharaoh Tutankhamun of Egypt. 1320 BC—Birth of Pharaoh Ramses II of Egypt. 1300s BC—Seti I of Egypt. 1300s BC—Pan Geng of China. Suppiluliuma I, king of the Hittites. See: List of sovereign states in the 14th century BC
Egypt the Arab Republic of Egypt, is a country spanning the northeast corner of Africa and southwest corner of Asia by a land bridge formed by the Sinai Peninsula. Egypt is a Mediterranean country bordered by the Gaza Strip and Israel to the northeast, the Gulf of Aqaba and the Red Sea to the east, Sudan to the south, Libya to the west. Across the Gulf of Aqaba lies Jordan, across the Red Sea lies Saudi Arabia, across the Mediterranean lie Greece and Cyprus, although none share a land border with Egypt. Egypt has one of the longest histories of any country, tracing its heritage back to the 6th–4th millennia BCE. Considered a cradle of civilisation, Ancient Egypt saw some of the earliest developments of writing, urbanisation, organised religion and central government. Iconic monuments such as the Giza Necropolis and its Great Sphinx, as well the ruins of Memphis, Thebes and the Valley of the Kings, reflect this legacy and remain a significant focus of scientific and popular interest. Egypt's long and rich cultural heritage is an integral part of its national identity, which has endured, assimilated, various foreign influences, including Greek, Roman, Ottoman Turkish, Nubian.
Egypt was an early and important centre of Christianity, but was Islamised in the seventh century and remains a predominantly Muslim country, albeit with a significant Christian minority. From the 16th to the beginning of the 20th century, Egypt was ruled by foreign imperial powers: The Ottoman Empire and the British Empire. Modern Egypt dates back to 1922, when it gained nominal independence from the British Empire as a monarchy. However, British military occupation of Egypt continued, many Egyptians believed that the monarchy was an instrument of British colonialism. Following the 1952 revolution, Egypt expelled British soldiers and bureaucrats and ended British occupation, nationalized the British-held Suez Canal, exiled King Farouk and his family, declared itself a republic. In 1958 it merged with Syria to form the United Arab Republic, which dissolved in 1961. Throughout the second half of the 20th century, Egypt endured social and religious strife and political instability, fighting several armed conflicts with Israel in 1948, 1956, 1967 and 1973, occupying the Gaza Strip intermittently until 1967.
In 1978, Egypt signed the Camp David Accords withdrawing from the Gaza Strip and recognising Israel. The country continues to face challenges, from political unrest, including the recent 2011 revolution and its aftermath, to terrorism and economic underdevelopment. Egypt's current government is a presidential republic headed by President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi, described by a number of watchdogs as authoritarian. Islam is the official religion of Egypt and Arabic is its official language. With over 95 million inhabitants, Egypt is the most populous country in North Africa, the Middle East, the Arab world, the third-most populous in Africa, the fifteenth-most populous in the world; the great majority of its people live near the banks of the Nile River, an area of about 40,000 square kilometres, where the only arable land is found. The large regions of the Sahara desert, which constitute most of Egypt's territory, are sparsely inhabited. About half of Egypt's residents live in urban areas, with most spread across the densely populated centres of greater Cairo and other major cities in the Nile Delta.
The sovereign state of Egypt is a transcontinental country considered to be a regional power in North Africa, the Middle East and the Muslim world, a middle power worldwide. Egypt's economy is one of the largest and most diversified in the Middle East, is projected to become one of the largest in the world in the 21st century. In 2016, Egypt became Africa's second largest economy. Egypt is a founding member of the United Nations, Non-Aligned Movement, Arab League, African Union, Organisation of Islamic Cooperation. "Miṣr" is the Classical Quranic Arabic and modern official name of Egypt, while "Maṣr" is the local pronunciation in Egyptian Arabic. The name is of Semitic origin, directly cognate with other Semitic words for Egypt such as the Hebrew "מִצְרַיִם"; the oldest attestation of this name for Egypt is the Akkadian "mi-iṣ-ru" related to miṣru/miṣirru/miṣaru, meaning "border" or "frontier". There is evidence of rock carvings in desert oases. In the 10th millennium BCE, a culture of hunter-gatherers and fishers was replaced by a grain-grinding culture.
Climate changes or overgrazing around 8000 BCE began to desiccate the pastoral lands of Egypt, forming the Sahara. Early tribal peoples migrated to the Nile River where they developed a settled agricultural economy and more centralised society. By about 6000 BCE, a Neolithic culture rooted in the Nile Valley. During the Neolithic era, several predynastic cultures developed independently in Upper and Lower Egypt; the Badarian culture and the successor Naqada series are regarded as precursors to dynastic Egypt. The earliest known Lower Egyptian site, predates the Badarian by about seven hundred years. Contemporaneous Lower Egyptian communities coexisted with their southern counterparts for more than two thousand years, remaining culturally distinct, but maintaining frequent contact through trade; the earliest known evidence of Egyptian hieroglyphic inscriptions appeared during the predynastic period on Naqada III pottery vessels, dated to about 3200 BCE. A unified kingdom was founded c. 3150 BCE