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Egypt Old History

 

Pyramids from several eras testify to one of the world's oldest civilizations: the kingdom of the Pharaohs, which emerged 3000 BC and dominated for two millennia. Eventually, Egypt came under foreign rule and at the beginning of our era it became part of the Roman Empire. Christianity took root early. In the 600s, Arab conquerors came with Islam. From the 16th century, Egypt was part of the loosely cohesive Ottoman Empire. From the 19th century, European powers dominated, and from 1882 to 1922 the country served as a British colony. Even then, the influence of the British was great.

  • AbbreviationFinder.org: Comprehensive guide to and popular abbreviations of Egypt, covering history, economy, and social conditions.

The Nile has a central role in Egypt's history. The river gave rise to one of the world's oldest civilizations, when nomads and collectors thousands of years ago settled on its fertile beaches. The need to work together to regulate the annual floods gave rise to a centralized state. About 3000 BC, Upper and Lower Egypt (Nile Delta) united and came to be ruled by a king, Pharaoh, who was seen as a god and guarantor of prosperity and peace. The country was rich in stone for construction, clay for pottery and gold for decoration.

Pharaonic Egypt is divided into three periods called the Old Kingdom, the Middle Kingdom and the New Kingdom. Cultural life flourished and countless monuments testify to high culture. During the Pharaonic period, the pyramids and the Sphinx were erected at Giza.

Old History of Egypt

First world power

In an intermediate period of internal divide, Egypt was conquered by Hyksos, an Asian people, around 1650 BC. Its empire did not last long and with the New Kingdom (1550-1085 BC) a new great flowering period began. Then Syria, Nubia (Sudan) and Palestine were conquered, and Egypt developed into history's first world power.

At the end of the New Kingdom, decay followed, when Egypt first fell under Assyrian and then for a couple of centuries Persian rule. The time as a Persian province came to an end in 332 BC when the Greek ruler Alexander the Great entered Egypt and proclaimed himself to Pharaoh. He founded Alexandria, which became the center of Hellenistic education and culture. After Alexander's death, the country was attacked by Macedonian Ptolemy, whose lineage ruled until 30 BC, when the Romans defeated Egypt's navy and army. As a result of the defeat, Queen Cleopatra committed suicide by being bitten by a poison worm.

Roman and Arab

Egypt was incorporated as a province in the Roman Empire and was exploited as a grain store and tax source. Christianity took root. The Christians were first subjected to the persecution of Rome, and after the power of the empire in the 400s was shifted to Constantinople and the Austro-Roman Empire (Byzantium), the Christians came into conflict with the Byzantine church. Religious liberty and hard tax pressure from Constantinople meant that the Egyptians did not offer much resistance when the Arab conquerors reached the country in 642.

An extensive Arab immigration took place. With it came Islam and the Arabic language that soon took over. During the Fatimid dynasty, the new capital of Cairo (al-Qahira, the victorious) was founded in 969. During the Kurdish Saladin rule in the 12th century, Egypt was the center of greater empire. Saladin became a hero when he conquered Jerusalem from Christian crusaders.

From the 1250s to the beginning of the 16th century, Egypt was ruled by so-called mamluks. They were initially Turkish slaves (mamluk = slaves) in Arab armies who were able to advance and build their own power. Baybars I, who played an important role when the Mamluks in 1260 defeated an oncoming Mongol army, is considered the founder of the Mamluk Empire.

the Ottoman Empire

In 1517, Egypt was invaded by the Turkish sultan Selim I and then formally entered the Ottoman Empire until 1914. But from the latter part of the 18th century, the country became largely independent.

When the French Emperor Napoleon began a conquest in 1798, Egypt was poor after repeated misguidance and famine. The French occupation lasted only three years, but the French left behind Western influence in the form of newly founded schools and scientific institutions.

A modernization of the country was initiated under Mohammad Ali, a Macedonian officer in Turkish service, who took power in 1805. Britain supported the Ottoman rulers' ambition to retain control of Egypt, thereby making trade gains at Egypt's expense. The Egyptian market was opened to European goods, which led to the country's textile industry being knocked out.

In the 1860s many projects were implemented to improve the infrastructure. With French engineering and Egyptian forced labor, the Suez Canal was built from the Mediterranean to the Red Sea. The channel was ready in 1869 (2019 celebrated its 150th anniversary). The channel company was dominated by France and the United Kingdom. The British involvement in Egypt's business grew over time, leading to a nationalist revolt among landowners, merchants and officers. The revolt was defeated in 1882 by a British invasion and Britain occupied the country.

British rule

The British invested in cotton cultivation for export to the UK and neglected domestic economic development. For Egypt, the result was underdevelopment. The hard occupation fueled nationalist sentiment, and in 1907 two Egyptian political parties were formed. Egyptians decided to form their own delegation, al-Wafd, to demand independence at the peace conference in Versailles after the First World War.

al-Wafd developed into a nationalist party for both Muslims and Christians under the slogan "Crescent and the Cross". The British imprisoned and deported leader Zaghlul Pasha and his associates, which led to a popular uprising in 1919 with strikes and violence that claimed over 800 lives.

Autonomy

The British gave up and declared Egypt independently in 1922, but retained responsibility for the country's defense and protection of foreign interests in the country. Fuad I, formerly the Sultan, became king and the new constitution prescribed parliamentary elections. The first election in 1924 gave al-Wafd its own majority in parliament, but the party was forced out of power following harsh demands from the British as a result of the assassination of the British commander over the Egyptian army. In 1928, the religiously inspired Muslim Brotherhood was founded and in 1933 The Young Egypt was created, a radical nationalist organization with fascist and Nazi sympathies.

By an agreement in 1936, the British began to take home their troops but were allowed to retain a strength in the canal zone. The evacuation was delayed by World War II (1939-1945) when Egypt became an important British base area. There were some crucial battles between the Allies and the Axis powers (Nazi Germany and Italy), not least the Battle of El-Alamein in 1942.

The war divided the Egyptians. Fuad's son, King Faruq, belonged to the Egyptians who had sympathies for Germany and Italy, while the Wafd Party stood behind the British for the price of its popular support as more and more Egyptians joined the militant right-wing organizations.

 
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