Saturday, October 6, 2007

Ancient Egypt: The New Kingdom

The time of Ancient Egypt in which rulers reigned with proficiency and also with great wealth, which was boasted unashamedly, is referred to as the New Kingdom (1567 B.C. - 1085 B.C.). The preceding era of the New Kingdom is known as the Second Intermediate Period, a time of strife, lawlessness, and foreign dominance, and which consisted of the Fifteenth, Sixteenth, and Seventeenth Dynasties. The defeat of the Hyksos led the pulling away of the Second Intermediate Period and the beginning of the Eighteenth Dynasty, hence the start of the New Kingdom. In addition to the Eighteenth Dynasty, the Nineteenth and Twentieth Dynasties were a part of the New Kingdom.

"...it was their tactical employment of this weapon[the chariot] in combination with their development of armour for horse and crew that did much to influence not only the armies of Egypt but also those of the Hittites and Assyria. (New Kingdom Egypt, Healy p.13)

The Hyksos conquered Egypt with the exploitation of horse-drawn chariots, bronze weapons, and other military tactics, which gave them the capability of dominating Egypt during the Fifteenth and Sixteenth Dynasties. Other foreigners took also advantage of Egypt during the Second Intermediate Period, however, the Hyksos were the main focus of the threat. The Egyptians took action; they also learned to utilize bronze weapons and horse-drawn chariots which gave way to the defeat of foreign rule and the exodus of the Second Intermediate Period.

Begun by Ahmosis, the Eighteenth Dynasty (1567 B.C. - 1320 B.C.) was the start of the exponential growth of wealth and power of the New Kingdom of Egypt. Through the course of the Eighteenth Dynasty (also during the Nineteenth and Twentieth Dynasties) the empire of Egypt was expanded greatly; its territories stretched far south into Nubia as well as expanding into the Near East. Hatshepsut, Thutmose III, Akhenaten, and Tutankhamen were all well-known and efficient pharaohs (with the exception of Akhenaten, the monotheist) whose reigns were all comprised in the Eighteenth Dynasty. Hatshepsut was the second recorded female pharaoh in history (the first being Sobekneferu of the Twelfth Dynasty), and is greatly recognized as the greatest female ruler. She was the fifth pharaoh of the Eighteenth Dynasty and had a significantly long reign which lasted for about twenty-two years, throughout which she first ruled as a co-regent with her step-son Thutmose III, but soon was deemed as pharaoh of Egypt. Another renown pharaoh of the Eighteenth Dynasty is Amenhotep IV (Akhenaten), however, not known for the benefit he contributed to the empire, but for the drastic changes he made in honor of the god Aton (also spelled Aten).

"Akhenaten had dedicated his new city to the Aten, and the public worship of the god must have been the central feature of daily life of the court." (Ancient Egyptian Literature: Volume II: The New Kingdom, Lichtheim p.90)
When Amenhotep IV was recognized as pharaoh, after his first four years of reign he began to push the movement of monotheism of the Egyptian god Aton, who wasn't a newly introduced god to the Egyptians. In Amenhotep's honor of Aton he changed his name to Akhenaten, meaning "it is well with Aton" or "effective spirit of Aton". Akhenaten's radical movement towards the worship of Aton was based on his defying of the god Amun and other gods, and is also the first grand scale worship of monotheism, that is, forced worship, in recorded history, however, Atonism is sometimes categorized as a form of henotheism. Akhenaten's movement included the relocation to Amarna, where he made the new capital of Egypt, Akhetaten; the construction of this city took several years. All the while, people of Egypt whose loyalty still dwelt in other gods saw Akhenaton's actions as heresy, and immediately after his death his successor, Tutankhaten (which is later changed to Tutankhamun), re-establishes the worship of the old gods, which ultimately deems all of Akhenaten's actions as worthless.

Reason for Egypt's great wealth is the invasion and conquering of Nubia, whose amount of gold was vast; this created a constant and relatively consistent flow of gold and other items of worth into Egypt's inventory. The Nineteenth Dynasty (1320 B.C. - 1200 B.C.) is considered to be the peak of abundance of power and wealth. One of the most famed pharaohs of Egypt, Rameses II "the Great", rules during the Nineteenth Dynasty. He begins his reign quite young, and is inexperienced as a leader of an empire. His first military expedition is what triggers his incredible fame and is considered to be somewhat of a miracle, as he was ambushed and survives amazingly by calling for reinforcements prior from coming close to defeat. Rameses' reign continued to flourish, with wealth and power alike prolonging to stay abundant. Rameses II was undoubtedly a pharaoh of precision and proficiency; his reign was of the longest lasting and was so great that it caused his successors to fail miserably as they attempted to follow in his path of prominence.

During the Twentieth Dynasty (1200 B.C. - 1085 B.C.) pharaohs were named after Rameses the Great (as far as Rameses XI) despite the fact that he was of a different dynasty. The rulers of the Twentieth Dynasty were forced to fight against and withstand Libyan invasion along with attacks from a group only known as the "Sea peoples". Soon control was lost, with the great ruler Rameses II dead, and his successors had no effect for the benefit of Egypt and were insufficient, and ultimately the reason for the collapse of the New Kingdom. Following the New Kingdom was yet another time of loss of true leadership and foreign rule known as the Third Intermediate Period.

Healy, Mark. New Kingdom Egypt. Great Britain: Osprey Publishing 1992.

Lichtheim, Miriam. Ancient Egyptian Literature: Volume II: The New Kingdom. Los Angeles, California: University of California Press, 1976.

The New Kingdom. ArabNet. 2002. October 6th, 2007. <http://www.arab.net/egypt/et_newkingdom.htm>

The New Kingdom. Mark Millmore. 1997 - 2007. October 6th, 2007. <http://www.discoveringegypt.com/dynasty3.htm>

The New Kingdom of Egypt. Kelley L. Ross. 1999 - 2003. October 6th, 2007. <http://www.friesian.com/notes/newking.htm>

New Kingdom. Jacques Kinnaer. 2007. October 6th, 2007. <http://www.ancient-egypt.org/index.html>

The New Kingdom. Richard Hines. 1999. October 6th, 2007. <http://www.wsu.edu/~dee/EGYPT/NEW.HTM>

History of Egypt. InterCity Oz Inc. 1996. October 6th, 2007. <http://www.touregypt.net/ehistory.htm>

2 comments:

Still Thinking said...

5,5,5

Awesomepossum said...

Wow! These are amazing pictures! Did you take all of these? I know you're amazing with a camera anyway, so it wouldn't surprise me...