Hammurabi was the sixth king of the First Babylonian Dynasty, reigning from 1792 BC to 1750 BC. He was preceded by Sin-Muballit, who abdicated due to failing health. During his reign, he conquered Elam and the city-states of Larsa and Mari, he ousted Ishme-Dagan I, the king of Assyria, forced his son Mut-Ashkur to pay tribute, bringing all of Mesopotamia under Babylonian rule. Hammurabi is best known for having issued the Code of Hammurabi, which he claimed to have received from Shamash, the Babylonian god of justice. Unlike earlier Sumerian law codes, such as the Code of Ur-Nammu, which had focused on compensating the victim of the crime, the Law of Hammurabi was one of the first law codes to place greater emphasis on the physical punishment of the perpetrator, it prescribed specific penalties for each crime and is among the first codes to establish the presumption of innocence. Although its penalties are harsh by modern standards, they were intended to limit what a wronged person was permitted to do in retribution.
The Code of Hammurabi and the Law of Moses in the Torah contain numerous similarities, but these are due to shared background and oral tradition, it is unlikely that Hammurabi's laws exerted any direct impact on the Mosaic ones. Hammurabi was seen by many as a god within his own lifetime. After his death, Hammurabi was revered as a great conqueror who spread civilization and forced all peoples to pay obeisance to Marduk, the national god of the Babylonians, his military accomplishments became de-emphasized and his role as the ideal lawgiver became the primary aspect of his legacy. For Mesopotamians, Hammurabi's reign became the frame of reference for all events occurring in the distant past. After the empire he built collapsed, he was still revered as a model ruler, many kings across the Near East claimed him as an ancestor. Hammurabi was rediscovered by archaeologists in the late nineteenth century and has since become seen as an important figure in the history of law. Hammurabi was an Amorite First Dynasty king of the city-state of Babylon, inherited the power from his father, Sin-Muballit, in c. 1792 BC.
Babylon was one of the many Amorite ruled city-states that dotted the central and southern Mesopotamian plains and waged war on each other for control of fertile agricultural land. Though many cultures co-existed in Mesopotamia, Babylonian culture gained a degree of prominence among the literate classes throughout the Middle East under Hammurabi; the kings who came before Hammurabi had founded a minor City State in 1894 BC which controlled little territory outside of the city itself. Babylon was overshadowed by older and more powerful kingdoms such as Elam, Isin and Larsa for a century or so after its founding; however his father Sin-Muballit had begun to consolidate rule of a small area of south central Mesopotamia under Babylonian hegemony and, by the time of his reign, had conquered the minor city-states of Borsippa and Sippar. Thus Hammurabi ascended to the throne as the king of a minor kingdom in the midst of a complex geopolitical situation; the powerful kingdom of Eshnunna controlled the upper Tigris River while Larsa controlled the river delta.
To the east of Mesopotamia lay the powerful kingdom of Elam which invaded and forced tribute upon the small states of southern Mesopotamia. In northern Mesopotamia, the Assyrian king Shamshi-Adad I, who had inherited centuries old Assyrian colonies in Asia Minor, had expanded his territory into the Levant and central Mesopotamia, although his untimely death would somewhat fragment his empire; the first few decades of Hammurabi's reign were quite peaceful. Hammurabi used his power to undertake a series of public works, including heightening the city walls for defensive purposes, expanding the temples. In c. 1801 BC, the powerful kingdom of Elam, which straddled important trade routes across the Zagros Mountains, invaded the Mesopotamian plain. With allies among the plain states, Elam attacked and destroyed the kingdom of Eshnunna, destroying a number of cities and imposing its rule on portions of the plain for the first time. In order to consolidate its position, Elam tried to start a war between Hammurabi's Babylonian kingdom and the kingdom of Larsa.
Hammurabi and the king of Larsa made an alliance when they discovered this duplicity and were able to crush the Elamites, although Larsa did not contribute to the military effort. Angered by Larsa's failure to come to his aid, Hammurabi turned on that southern power, thus gaining control of the entirety of the lower Mesopotamian plain by c. 1763 BC. As Hammurabi was assisted during the war in the south by his allies from the north such as Yamhad and Mari, the absence of soldiers in the north led to unrest. Continuing his expansion, Hammurabi turned his attention northward, quelling the unrest and soon after crushing Eshnunna. Next the Babylonian armies conquered the remaining northern states, including Babylon's former ally Mari, although it is possible that the conquest of Mari was a surrender without any actual conflict. Hammurabi entered into a protracted war with Ishme-Dagan I of Assyria for control of Mesopotamia, with both kings making alliances with minor states in order to gain the upper hand.
Hammurabi prevailed, ousting Ishme-Dagan I just before his own death. Mut-Ashkur, the new king of Assyria, was forced to pay tribute to Hammurabi. In just a few years, Hammurabi succeeded in uniting all of Mesopotamia under his rule; the Assyrian kingdom survived but was forced to pay tribute during his reign, of the major city-states in the region, only Aleppo and Qatna to the west in the Levant maintained their independence. However, one
Assyria called the Assyrian Empire, was a Mesopotamian kingdom and empire of the ancient Near East and the Levant. It existed as a state from as early as the 25th century BC until its collapse between 612 BC and 609 BC - spanning the periods of the Early to Middle Bronze Age through to the late Iron Age. From the end of the seventh century BC to the mid-seventh century AD, it survived as a geopolitical entity, for the most part ruled by foreign powers such as the Parthian and early Sasanian Empires between the mid-second century BC and late third century AD, the final part of which period saw Mesopotamia become a major centre of Syriac Christianity and the birthplace of the Church of the East. A Semitic-speaking realm, Assyria was centred on the Tigris in Upper Mesopotamia; the Assyrians came to rule powerful empires in several periods. Making up a substantial part of the greater Mesopotamian "cradle of civilization", which included Sumer, the Akkadian Empire, Babylonia, Assyria reached the height of technological and cultural achievements for its time.
At its peak, the Neo-Assyrian Empire of 911 to 609 BC stretched from Cyprus and the East Mediterranean to Iran, from present-day Armenia and Azerbaijan in the Caucasus to the Arabian Peninsula and eastern Libya. The name "Assyria" originates with the Assyrian state's original capital, the ancient city of Aššur, which dates to c. 2600 BC - one of a number of Akkadian-speaking city-states in Mesopotamia. In the 25th and 24th centuries BC, Assyrian kings were pastoral leaders. From the late 24th century BC, the Assyrians became subject to Sargon of Akkad, who united all the Akkadian- and Sumerian-speaking peoples of Mesopotamia under the Akkadian Empire, which lasted from c. 2334 BC to 2154 BC. After the Assyrian Empire fell from power, the greater remaining part of Assyria formed a geopolitical region and province of other empires, although between the mid-2nd century BC and late 3rd century AD a patchwork of small independent Assyrian kingdoms arose in the form of Assur, Osroene, Beth Nuhadra, Beth Garmai and Hatra.
The region of Assyria fell under the successive control of the Median Empire of 678 to 549 BC, the Achaemenid Empire of 550 to 330 BC, the Macedonian Empire, the Seleucid Empire of 312 to 63 BC, the Parthian Empire of 247 BC to 224 AD, the Roman Empire and the Sasanian Empire of 224 to 651 AD. The Arab Islamic conquest of the area in the mid-seventh century dissolved Assyria as a single entity, after which the remnants of the Assyrian people became an ethnic, linguistic and religious minority in the Assyrian homeland, surviving there to this day as an indigenous people of the region. Assyria was sometimes known as Subartu and Azuhinum prior to the rise of the city-state of Ashur, after which it was Aššūrāyu, after its fall, from 605 BC through to the late seventh century AD variously as Achaemenid Assyria, referenced as Atouria, Ator and sometimes as Syria which etymologically derives from Assyria according to Strabo, Assyria and Asōristān. "Assyria" can refer to the geographic region or heartland where Assyria, its empires and the Assyrian people were centered.
The indigenous modern Eastern Aramaic-speaking Assyrian Christian ethnic minority in northern Iraq, north east Syria, southeast Turkey and northwest Iran are the descendants of the ancient Assyrians. As Babylonia is called after the city of Babylon, Assyria means "land of Asshur"Etymologically, Assyria is connected to the name of Syria, with both being derived from the Akkadian Aššur. Theodor Nöldeke in 1881 was the first to give philological support to the assumption that Syria and Assyria have the same etymology, a suggestion going back to John Selden. A 21st-century discovery of the Çineköy inscription confirmed that Syria, being a Greek corruption of the name Assyria, is derived from the Assyrian term Aššūrāyu. In prehistoric times, the region, to become known as Assyria was home to a Neanderthal culture such as has been found at the Shanidar Cave; the earliest Neolithic sites in what will be Assyria were the Jarmo culture c. 7100 BC, the Halaf culture c. 6100 BC, the Hassuna culture c. 6000 BC.
The Akkadian-speaking people who would found Assyria appear to have entered Mesopotamia at some point during the latter 4th millennium BC intermingling with the earlier Sumerian-speaking population, who came from northern Mesopotamia, with Akkadian names appearing in written record from as early as the 29th century BC. During the 3rd millennium BC, a intimate cultural symbiosis developed between the Sumerians and the Akkadians throughout Mesopotamia, which included widespread bilingualism; the influence of Sumerian on Akkadian, vice versa, is evident in all areas, from lexical borrowing on a massive scale, to syntactic and phonological convergence. This has prompted scholars to refer to Sumerian and Akkadian in the third millennium BC as a sprachbund. Akkadian replaced Sumerian as the spoken language of Mesopotamia somewhere after the turn of the 3rd and the 2nd millennium BC, although Sumerian continued to be used as a sacred, ceremonial and scientific language in Mesopotamia until the 1st century AD, as did use of the Akkadian cuneiform.
The cities of A
18th century BC
The 18th century BC was the century which lasted from 1800 BC to 1701 BC. 1800 BC: Iron age in India 1800 BC: Beginning of the Nordic Bronze Age in the period system devised by Oscar Montelius. C. 1800 BC: Sedentary Mayan communities in Mesoamerica c. 1800 BC: Hyksos start to settle in the Nile Delta. They had the capital at Avaris in northeastern Nile Delta. 1800 BC Adichanallur urn-burial site in Tirunelveli district in Tamil Nadu. In 2004, a number of skeletons dating from around 3,800 years ago. 1800 BC Indo-Aryan migration 1800 BC – 1700 BC: Decline of the Indus Valley Civilization 1800 BC – 1300 BC: Troy VI flourishes. C. 1792 BC – 1750 BC: – Hammurabi rules Babylonia and has to deal with Mari, which he conquers late in his career. C. 1792 BC – 1750 BC: – Stela of Hammurabi, from Susa is made. It is now in Paris. 1787 BC – 1784 BC: Amorite conquests of Uruk and Isin. 1786 BC: Egypt: Queen Sobekneferu dies. End of Twelfth Dynasty, start of Thirteenth Dynasty, start of Fourteenth Dynasty. 1779 BC: Zimrilim, the King of Mari, starts to rule.
1770 BC: Babylon, capital of Babylonia becomes the largest city of the world, taking the lead from Thebes, capital of Egypt. 1766 BC: Shang conquest of Xia Dynasty. China. 1764 BC – 1750 BC: Wars of Hammurabi. 1757 BC: Mari sacked by Hammurabi. Zimrilim's palace is destroyed. 1757 BC: Zimrilim, the King of Mari, dies. 1750 BC: Hyksos occupation of Northern Egypt. 1750 BC: A colossal volcanic eruption at Mount Veniaminof, Alaska. C. 1750 BC: Vedic period starts in India. C. 1750 BC: Investiture of Zimrilim, facsimile of a wall painting on mud plaster from the Zimrilim palace at Mari, Court 106, is made. It is now in Paris. C. 1740–1720 BC: reigns of pharaoh Neferhotep I and his brother Sobekhotep IV, marking the apex of the Egyptian 13th Dynasty. 1749 BC – 1712 BC: Mesopotamian Rebellions. Early Unetice culture, beginning of the Bronze Age in Central Europe. Minoan civilization: phase II of the Middle period. C. 1700 BC: The last species of mammoth became extinct on Wrangel Island. C. 1700 BC: Indus Valley Civilization comes to an end but is continued by the Cemetery H culture c. 1700 BC: Minoan Old Palace period ends and Minoan Second Palace period starts in Crete.
C. 1700 BC: Aegean metalworkers are producing decorative objects rivaling those of Ancient Near East jewelers, whose techniques they seem to borrow. C. 1700 BC: Lila-Ir-Tash started to rule the Elamite Empire. C. 1700 BC: Bronze Age starts in China. C. 1700 BC: Shang Dynasty starts in China. Hammurabi, ruler of the Babylonian Empire Tang of Shang overthrew emperor Jie, last ruler of the Xia Kingdom. 1750 BC—Hammurabi c. 1700 BC—Median date for the building of the Phaistos Disc. Its purpose and meaning, its original geographical place of manufacture remains unknown, making it one of the most famous mysteries of archaeology
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
The Hyksos were a people of diverse origins from Western Asia, who settled in the eastern Nile Delta some time before 1650 BC. The arrival of the Hyksos led to the end of the Thirteenth Dynasty and initiated the Second Intermediate Period of Egypt. In the context of Ancient Egypt, the term "Asiatic" may refer to people native to areas east of Egypt. Immigration by Canaanite populations preceded the Hyksos. Canaanites first appeared in Egypt at the end of the 12th Dynasty c. 1800 BC or c. 1720 BC and established an independent realm in the eastern Nile Delta. The Canaanite rulers of the Delta regrouped and founded the Fourteenth Dynasty, which coexisted with the Egyptian Thirteenth Dynasty and was based in Itjtawy; the power of the 13th and 14th Dynasties progressively waned due to famine and plague. In about 1650 BC, the Hyksos invaded the territory of both dynasties and established the Fifteenth Dynasty; the collapse of the Thirteenth Dynasty caused a power vacuum in the south, which may have led to the rise of the Sixteenth Dynasty, based in Thebes, of a local Abydos Dynasty.
The Hyksos conquered both, albeit for only a short time in the case of Thebes. From on, the 17th Dynasty took control of Thebes and reigned for some time in peaceful coexistence with the Hyksos kings as their vassals. Seqenenre Tao and Ahmose waged war against the Hyksos and expelled Khamudi, their last king, from Egypt c. 1550 BC. The Hyksos practised horse burials, their chief deity, their native storm god, they associated with the Egyptian storm and desert god, Set; the Hyksos were a mixed people of Semitic-speaking origin. The Hyksos are held to have contained Hurrian and Indo-European elements among the leadership, but this has been vigorously opposed in some quarters for political reasons; the Hyksos brought several technical innovations to Egypt, as well as cultural imports such as new musical instruments and foreign loanwords. The changes introduced include new techniques of bronze-working and pottery, new breeds of animals, new crops. In warfare, they introduced the horse and chariot, the composite bow, improved battle axes, advanced fortification techniques.
Because of these cultural advances, Hyksos' rule became decisive for Egypt's empire in the Middle East during the New Kingdom. The origin of the term "Hyksos" derives from the Egyptian expression heqau khaswet, used in Egyptian texts such as the Turin King List to describe the rulers of neighbouring lands; this expression begins to appear as early as the late Old Kingdom of Egypt to refer to various Nubian chieftains and in the Middle Kingdom to refer to the Semitic-speaking chieftains of Syria and Canaan. Unique in the Ancient Greek language, the word ὑκσώς is said to be derived from Egyptian, it is used with the unique meaning of "king shepherd", by Manetho and historian who wrote in Greek and knew the pre-Ptolemaic documents to support his history. Until the decipherment of hieroglyphics Manetho was the only available source for a list of the egyptian kings; as a proof of its non-Greek origin, the word ὑκσώς does not observe the rules of Ancient Greek accent, is one of the few Greek words with a kappa followed by a sigma, instead of the more common Xi.
In his Against Apion, the first-century AD historian Josephus debates the synchronism between the Biblical account of the Exodus of the Israelites from Egypt and two Exodus-like events that the Egyptian historian Manetho mentions. It is difficult to distinguish between what Manetho himself recounted, how Josephus or Apion interpret him. Josephus identifies the Israelite Exodus with the first exodus mentioned by Manetho, when some 480,000 Hyksos "shepherd kings" left Egypt for Jerusalem; the mention of "Hyksos" identifies this first exodus with the Hyksos period. Josephus provides the earliest recorded instance of the much repeated false etymology of the term Hyksos, as a Hellenised form of the Egyptian phrase Hekw Shasu, meaning "Shepherd Kings". Scholars have only shown that the term derives from heqa-khase, a phrase meaning "rulers of foreign lands". Apion identifies a second exodus mentioned by Manetho when a renegade Egyptian priest called Osarseph led 80,000 "lepers" to rebel against Egypt.
Apion additionally conflates these with the Biblical Exodus, contrary to Manetho alleges that this heretic priest changed his name to Moses. Many scholars do not interpret lepers and leprous priests as referring to a disease, but rather to a strange and unwelcome new belief system; the Hyksos are believed to have originated to the north of Palestine. They destroyed Amorite ruled Byblos in the 18th century BC, entered Egypt, bringing the Middle Kingdom to an end in the 17th century BC; as to a Hyksos "conquest", some archaeologists depict the Hyksos as an invading horde of Asiatics. Yet, others refer to a "creeping conquest", that is, a gradual infiltration of migrating nomads or semi-nomads who either took over control of the country piecemeal or by a swift coup d'état put themselves at the head of the existing government. Manetho's account, as recorded by Josephus, describes the appearance of the Hyksos in Egypt as an armed invasion by a horde of foreign barbarians who met little resistance, who subdued the country by military force.
He records that the Hyksos burnt their cities, d
19th century BC
The 19th century BC was the century which lasted from 1900 BC to 1801 BC. 1900 BC: Transition from Early Helladic III to Middle Helladic culture in Greece. C. 1900 BC: Minoan Old Palace period starts in Crete. C. 1900 BC: Fall of last Sumerian dynasty. C. 1900 BC: Late Harappan Phase of the Indus Valley Civilization begins c. 1900 BC: The Mokaya along the Pacific coast of present-day Chiapas, Mexico were preparing cacao beverages. C. 1900 BC: Port of Lothal is abandoned. Hittite empire in Hattusa, Anatolia. C. 1897 BC: Senwosret II started to rule. He built Kahun near his pyramide tomb complex at el-Lahun. C. 1895 BC–1878 BC: "Pectoral of Senwosret II", from the tomb of princess Sithathoryunet at el-Lahun was made. Twelfth Dynasty, it is now in the Metropolitan Museum of New York. C. 1880 BC: Pharaoh Senwosret II starts to rule. 1878 BC: Senwosret II died. C. 1878 BC: Senwosret III started to rule. 1876 BC: Israelites enter Egypt after two years of famine. C. 1874 BC: Pharaoh Senwosret II dies. C. 1874 BC: Pharaoh Senwosret III starts to rule.
C. 1860 BC: Senusret III inspects the Nubian frontier, he leads four punitive campaigns against the Nubians. C. 1860 BC: Amenemhat III starts to rule c. 1855 BC: Pharaoh Senwosret III dies. C. 1839 BC: Senwosret III died. 1836 BC-1818 BC: Head of Senusret III is made. Twelfth dynasty of Egypt, it is now kept at The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Kansas City, Missouri. 1807 BC–1797 BC—Amenemhat III of Egypt 1806 BC-1802 BC—Sobekneferu of Egypt
Ancient Egypt was a civilization of ancient North Africa, concentrated along the lower reaches of the Nile River in the place, now the country Egypt. Ancient Egyptian civilization followed prehistoric Egypt and coalesced around 3100 BC with the political unification of Upper and Lower Egypt under Menes; the history of ancient Egypt occurred as a series of stable kingdoms, separated by periods of relative instability known as Intermediate Periods: the Old Kingdom of the Early Bronze Age, the Middle Kingdom of the Middle Bronze Age and the New Kingdom of the Late Bronze Age. Egypt reached the pinnacle of its power in the New Kingdom, ruling much of Nubia and a sizable portion of the Near East, after which it entered a period of slow decline. During the course of its history Egypt was invaded or conquered by a number of foreign powers, including the Hyksos, the Libyans, the Nubians, the Assyrians, the Achaemenid Persians, the Macedonians under the command of Alexander the Great; the Greek Ptolemaic Kingdom, formed in the aftermath of Alexander's death, ruled Egypt until 30 BC, under Cleopatra, it fell to the Roman Empire and became a Roman province.
The success of ancient Egyptian civilization came from its ability to adapt to the conditions of the Nile River valley for agriculture. The predictable flooding and controlled irrigation of the fertile valley produced surplus crops, which supported a more dense population, social development and culture. With resources to spare, the administration sponsored mineral exploitation of the valley and surrounding desert regions, the early development of an independent writing system, the organization of collective construction and agricultural projects, trade with surrounding regions, a military intended to assert Egyptian dominance. Motivating and organizing these activities was a bureaucracy of elite scribes, religious leaders, administrators under the control of a pharaoh, who ensured the cooperation and unity of the Egyptian people in the context of an elaborate system of religious beliefs; the many achievements of the ancient Egyptians include the quarrying and construction techniques that supported the building of monumental pyramids and obelisks.
Ancient Egypt has left a lasting legacy. Its art and architecture were copied, its antiquities carried off to far corners of the world, its monumental ruins have inspired the imaginations of writers for centuries. A new-found respect for antiquities and excavations in the early modern period by Europeans and Egyptians led to the scientific investigation of Egyptian civilization and a greater appreciation of its cultural legacy; the Nile has been the lifeline of its region for much of human history. The fertile floodplain of the Nile gave humans the opportunity to develop a settled agricultural economy and a more sophisticated, centralized society that became a cornerstone in the history of human civilization. Nomadic modern human hunter-gatherers began living in the Nile valley through the end of the Middle Pleistocene some 120,000 years ago. By the late Paleolithic period, the arid climate of Northern Africa became hot and dry, forcing the populations of the area to concentrate along the river region.
In Predynastic and Early Dynastic times, the Egyptian climate was much less arid. Large regions of Egypt were traversed by herds of grazing ungulates. Foliage and fauna were far more prolific in all environs and the Nile region supported large populations of waterfowl. Hunting would have been common for Egyptians, this is the period when many animals were first domesticated. By about 5500 BC, small tribes living in the Nile valley had developed into a series of cultures demonstrating firm control of agriculture and animal husbandry, identifiable by their pottery and personal items, such as combs and beads; the largest of these early cultures in upper Egypt was the Badari, which originated in the Western Desert. The Badari was followed by the Amratian and Gerzeh cultures, which brought a number of technological improvements; as early as the Naqada I Period, predynastic Egyptians imported obsidian from Ethiopia, used to shape blades and other objects from flakes. In Naqada II times, early evidence exists of contact with the Near East Canaan and the Byblos coast.
Over a period of about 1,000 years, the Naqada culture developed from a few small farming communities into a powerful civilization whose leaders were in complete control of the people and resources of the Nile valley. Establishing a power center at Nekhen, at Abydos, Naqada III leaders expanded their control of Egypt northwards along the Nile, they traded with Nubia to the south, the oases of the western desert to the west, the cultures of the eastern Mediterranean and Near East to the east, initiating a period of Egypt-Mesopotamia relations. The Naqada culture manufactured a diverse selection of material goods, reflective of the increasing power and wealth of the elite, as well as societal personal-use items, which included combs, small statuary, painted pottery, high quality decorative stone vases, cosmetic palettes, jewelry made of gold and ivory, they developed a ceramic glaze known as faience, used well into the Roman Per