The history of ancient Egypt is broken into several periods or eras. There are stretches of time in Egyptian society that we know more about than others. During the well-known periods, Egyptians left enduring records of their society in the form of buildings and hieroglyphs that describe the period. These times were the most stable, with peaceful succession of rulers. From the lesser-known periods, few records remain. Out of the well-known periods there are three that are extensively studied: the Old Kingdom, the Middle Kingdom, and the New Kingdom. The Old Kingdom period, which lasted from about 2700 B.C.E. to about 2000 B.C.E., saw the construction of the first great monuments of Egyptian architecture: the great stone pyramids at Giza on the west bank of the Nile near the current Egyptian capital of Cairo. During the Old Kingdom Egyptians developed an accurate solar calendar much like the one we use today, and they made great achievements in art and culture. The Middle Kingdom period lasted from about 2000 B.C.E. to about 1500 B.C.E. It is known for achievements made in literature and for the increasing contacts that Egyptians made with surrounding cultures in the greater Middle East. Egyptians borrowed customs from other cultures and incorporated them into their lives.
The New Kingdom period lasted from about 1500 B.C.E. to about 750 B.C.E. During this time Egypt truly became an empire. It conquered its neighbors to the south and expanded its control into other parts of Africa. Egypt became very rich during the New Kingdom, and it displayed its wealth in lavish temples and more highly decorated clothes. Egyptian society began to break down after about 1000 B.C.E., and it was conquered by Macedonian leader Alexander the Great (356-323 B.C.E.) in 332 B.C.E. From that point on the stable and distinctive culture of ancient Egypt slowly disappeared.
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