Old Kingdom

By Levi Clancy for Student Reader on
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EventTimeDescription

Old Kingdom

2700-2200 BC
2575-2125 BC

The Old Kingdom was a stable and prosperous period that followed Egypt's development during the Early Dynastic Period. Government power was held by the king, who was regarding as more divine than in any other period. The state religion focused on the sun-god Re, especially in the Fifth Dynasty when special solar temples were erected at Abu Gurab. From this date onwards every king bore the title Son of Re. Expeditions were sent outside Egypt's frontiers to obtain goods. Copper was mined in Sinai; diorite was brought in from quarries in Nubia; and trade was conducted with the Near East. Some tomb inscriptions of Sixth Dynasty nobles describe in detail the expeditions they commanded, some using force and others peace. Under the strain of reduced central authority and growing provincial power, the Old Kingdom collapsed at the end of the Sixth Dynasty following the long reign of King Pepi II.

Third Dynasty

2650-2575 BC

King Djoser

2630-2611 BC

Djoser built the Djoser Complex, his tomb at Saqqara. It was designed by the architect Imhotep and had the first pyramid as well as first use of columns.

Fourth Dynasty

2575-2450 BC

King Snefru

Snefru built three pyramids -- the Meidum Pyramid (exterior casing collapsed) at Meidum; the Bent Pyramid (the incline was changed midway to avoid collapse) at Dashur; and the Red Pyramid (first true accomplished pyramid ever) at Dashur.

Khufu

Khufu built the first and largest pyramid on the Giza plateau.

Radjedef

Khafre

Built the second pyramid at Giza. Despite being smaller, it was built on a higher elevation and its causeway passed the sphinx and led to a valley temple at the feet of the sphinx. Looking at the sphinx, his pyramid is visible looming in the background.

Menkaure

Menkaure built the third pyramid at Giza, which was on a smaller scale than Khafre's and Khufu's pyramids at Giza.

Shepseskaf

Fifth Dynasty

2450-2325 BC

Userkaf

Userkaf built a relatively small pyramid at Saqqara that fell within the enclosure of the Djoser Complex. Subsequent Dynasty V rulers built their complexes at Abusir.

Sahura

Neferirkara

Sheseskara

Raneferef

Neuserra

Menkauhor

Djedkara

Unas (Wenis)

Unas and the Dynasty VI kinds built their tombs at Saqqara. The burial chamber of Unas heralded the first appearance of Pyramid Texts.

Sixth Dynasty

2325-2125 BC

Teti

Pepy I

Merenra

Pepy II

Collapse

Rather than keep administrators of Egypt's nomes at the royal residence in Memphis, these officials were sent to reside in their respective districts. This streamlined the bureaucracy, but the local administrators of the nomes became nomarchs who grew too powerful for the central government to maintain hegemony. Thus, rulers at Memphis and throughout Egypt began to compete for power. The material culture in the provinces proliferated despite its shaky artistic quality.

Numerous Kings

Studies

Hamiton 2007, xxiii