Egypt: the First Dynasty

Stretching back to almost the dawn of civilization, Egypt was a pinnacle of human accomplishment, reigning as the first and most prominent kingdom for over 3,000 years.

Though there is little record of Egyptian civilization during the Predynastic and Neolithic periods (the Stone Age), the tribes in northeast Africa were quick to abandon the nomadic hunting/gathering methods for agriculture and the creation of settlements; setting Egyptians ahead of many other societies.  Eventually two of the most prominent settlements erupted in conflict.  The war begun by the southern leader, King Scorpion was ended by King Menes a century later, as he defeated the northern kingdom and united the country, establishing civilization’s first dynasty.

During the Archaic Period (Early Dynastic Period) the foundations of the dynasty were first established, including the kingdom capital, the social hierarchy, and the first forms of writing as hieroglyphs.  Advances in irrigation and knowledge of fertilization lead to overall economic prosperity through the next age (The Old Kingdom).   During this age, Egypt embarked on many empirical conquests, in which their success swelled Egypt’s coffers.  Then began the construction of the pyramids, meant both as monuments and tombs for the Egyptian pharaohs.  But the cost of building the pyramids depleted the king’s wealth and gave way to political instability.  The ages that followed which would bring a dramatic cycle of military expansion with lapses into struggles for power and fractions of civil war.

Egypt later became part of the Persian Empire but then was later invaded by Alexander the Great.  The following Greek rule gave way to Roman rule as Octavian’s armies defeated Marc Anthony and Cleopatra’s Greek army occupying Egypt.

For thirteen centuries, the written and spoken language of Egypt was Arabic; but today, Egyptian language and culture, while maintaining its roots, is continuously evolving.  Egyptian culture is inclusive with much of its history still present in the languages spoken, such as Arabic, Coptic, Turkish, Persian, French, English, Italian, and Greek.  Egyptian culture emphasizes verbal learning and communication through the spoken word is the primary method of communication.  Education is highly valued in their society, and a gateway to social mobility within the community.  Most Egyptians pursue an “honorable” lifestyle, and by this practice cultural values of honesty, loyalty (especially to their family), generosity, and modesty.  Being “truthful to your word,” is critically important within the community.  While the religious beliefs of Ancient Egypt were polytheistic, serving a multitude of deities; modern-day Egyptians primarily identify as Muslim, with most belonging to the Sunni variant.

Though Egyptian and Arabic culture are separate entities, Egypt is also a capital of the world for Arabic literature, and is a key location for the origins of many modern, prominent Arabic writers.  Among these writers include Naguib Mahfouz, the first Arab to win a Nobel Prize for literature; he published 34 novels, over 350 short stories, five plays, and dozens of movie scripts.  Tawfiq Al Hakim was another prominent writer, and is recognized as a pioneer in modern Arabic Literature.  Other famous writers include Yusuf Idris and Ihsan Abdul Quodous, whose literary works served as inspiration for political development.

Egyptians are generally proud of their history and still uphold traditions that have roots in their ancient culture, like a sense of personal honor and your word being your truth.  Though modern-day Egypt carries with it the influences of many other cultures that it has integrated with, the core of its culture remains tied to its historical origins.  The standard framework of societal leadership today, with our hierarchy of leadership and delegation of duties, is built upon Egypt’s historical structure and Egypt’s creation of the first dynasty.