|Egypt Table of Contents
Around the year 1600 B.C., a semi-autonomous Theban dynasty under the suzerainty of the Hyksos became determined to drive the Shepherd Kings out of the country and extend its own power. The country was liberated from the Hyksos and unified by Ahmose (ruled 1570-1546 B.C.), the son of the last ruler of the Seventeenth Dynasty. He was honored by subsequent generations as the founder of a new line, the Eighteenth Dynasty, and as the initiator of a glorious chapter in Egyptian history.
During the New Kingdom, Egypt reached the peak of its power, wealth, and territory. The government was reorganized into a military state with an administration centralized in the hands of the pharaoh and his chief minister. Through the intensive military campaigns of Pharaoh Thutmose III (1490-1436 B.C.), Palestine, Syria, and the northern Euphrates area in Mesopotamia were brought within the New Kingdom. This territorial expansion involved Egypt in a complicated system of diplomacy, alliances, and treaties. After Thutmose III established the empire, succeeding pharaohs frequently engaged in warfare to defend the state against the pressures of Libyans from the west, Nubians and Ethiopians (Kushites) from the south, Hittites from the east, and Philistines (sea people) from the Aegean-Mediterranean region of the north.
Toward the end of the Twentieth Dynasty, Egyptian power declined at home and abroad. Egypt was once more separated into its natural divisions of Upper Egypt and Lower Egypt. The pharaoh now ruled from his residence-city in the north, and Memphis remained the hallowed capital where the pharaoh was crowned and his jubilees celebrated. Upper Egypt was governed from Thebes.
During the Twenty-first Dynasty, the pharaohs ruled from Tanis (San al Hajar al Qibliyah), while a virtually autonomous theocracy controlled Thebes. Egyptian control in Nubia and Ethiopia vanished. The pharaohs of the Twenty-second and Twentythird dynasties were mostly Libyans. Those of the brief Twentyfourth Dynasty were Egyptians of the Nile Delta, and those of the Twenty-fifth were Nubians and Ethiopians. This dynasty's ventures into Palestine brought about an Assyrian intervention, resulting in the rejection of the Ethiopians and the reestablishment by the Assyrians of Egyptian rulers at Sais (Sa al Hajar), about eighty kilometers southeast of Alexandria (Al Iskandariyah) on the Rosetta branch of the Nile.
Source: U.S. Library of Congress