The Middle Kingdom came to an end in 1786 B.C. when Egypt was invaded by the Hyksos (hik´ sōs), a people from western Asia. The Hyksos crossed the dessert in horse-drawn chariots and used weapons made of bronze and iron. Egyptians had always fought on foot with weapons made of copper and stone and were defeated.
The Hyksos ruled Egypt for about 150 years. They copied some Egyptian customs but most Egyptians hated them. Around 1550 B.C., an Egyptian prince named Ahmose (ah mo´ suh), using Hyksos weapons, led an uprising and drove the Hyksos out of Egypt.
Section 3 Assessment
- How did the Middle Kingdom come about?
- What ended Hyksos rule?
Section 4-The New Kingdom
Ahmose founded another line of pharaohs and began the period known as the New Kingdom. During this time, Egypt became richer and its cities grew larger.
During the New Kingdom, most pharaohs were no longer content to remain within the Nile valley but marched their armies into the lands to the east. It was during this period that the Egyptian empire was founded. One warrior-pharaoh, Thutmose III (thūt mō' suh), with an army of 20,000 archers, spear throwers, and charioteers, extended Egyptian control into Syria (sir' ē uh) and Palestine (pal' uh stīn).
One of the few pharaohs who was not interested in war and conquest was Hatshepsut (hat shep' sūt), Thutmose III's stepmother, who had ruled Egypt before her stepson. Her chief interests were trade and the building of temples. During her rule, Egyptian traders sailed along the coast of east Africa to the land of Punt. In the land of Punt, the Egyptians traded beads and metal tools and weapons for such things as ivory, a black wood called ebony (eb' uh nē), monkeys, hunting dogs, leopard skins, and incense, or material burned for its pleasant smell. The Egyptians had never seen most of these things. They welcomed the returning traders with a huge reception.
Ancient Egyptian Hieroglyphics on Papyrus Paper
The Egyptians of the New Kingdom began to worship a new god. As the god of the city Thebes, he had been called Amon. When Thebes became the capital of Egypt, however, the Egyptians combined Amon with the sun god Re. They called the new god Amon-Re (ah' muhn ŕa'). Amon-Re became the most powerful god of all. People built many temples in his honor. These were built, in part, by enslaved persons who had been captured by the warring pharaohs.
The temples were more than houses of worship. They were industrial centers. They gave work to sculptors and artisans who carved statues, built furniture, and made clothes for priests. They were treasuries, filled with copper, gold jewelry, glass bottles, bundles of grain, dried fish, and sweet-smelling oils. The temples were also schools-places where young boys were trained to be scribes. The right to become a scribe was passed on from father to son.
Scribes wrote religious works in which were spells, charms, and prayers. They kept records of the pharaohs' laws and list of the grain and animals paid as taxes. They copied fairy tales and adventure stories and wrote down medical prescriptions.
There were several kinds of Egyptian writing. One was hieroglyphic (hī uhr uh glif' ik), or a kind of writing in which pictures stand for words or sounds. The Egyptians carved and painted hieroglyphs, or picture symbols, on their monuments. However, scribes needed an easier form of writing to keep records. So, they developed two other kinds of writing in which hieroglyphs were rounded off and connected.
Decline of Egypt
Over time, the priest of Amon-Re gained much power and wealth. They owned one third of Egypt's land and began to play a major role in the government. As time passed, the pharaoh's power declined.
C. 1369 B.C.-1351 B.C.
Egyptian Pharaoh nicknamed the "boy king," Tutankhamen came to power at age 9. He pleased the priests by rejecting Akhenaton's religion. Although frail, he loved to race chariots and hunt animals. When he died at age 18, officials placed him in a treasure-filled tomb. The tomb's beautiful contents, discovered in 1922, made "King Tut" one of Egypt's most famous pharaohs.
The Egyptians made many contributions to other civilizations. One was a paper called papyrus (puh pī' ruhs). It was made from a reed also called papyrus. In order to write on papyrus, the Egyptians invented ink. The dry climate of Egypt preserved some writings so well that they can still be read today.
Papyrus had other uses. It was made into baskets and sandals. It was also tied in bundles to make columns for houses. Even rafts and riverboats were made of papyrus.
Other contributions of the Egyptians lay in the field of mathematics. They used a number system based on ten. They also used fractions and whole numbers. They used geometry to survey, or measure, land. When floods washed away the boundary markers that separated one field from the next, the Egyptians surveyed the fields to see where one began and the other ended.
The Egyptians knew the Nile flooded about the same time every year. They used this knowledge to make a calendar. The calendar had three seasons of 120 days each, and 5 special feast days for the gods.
The Egyptians also made contributions in the field of medicine. As dentist, eye doctors, animal doctors, and surgeons, Egyptian doctors were the first specialists in medicine. They were the first to use splints, bandages, and compresses. They were masters at sewing up cuts and at setting broken bones. The Egyptians also treated such problems as indigestion and hair loss. For indigestion, they used castor oil. For hair loss, they used a mixture of dog toes, dates, and a donkey hoof.