New Kingdom

New Kingdom

The New Kingdom, sometimes referred to as the Egyptian Empire, is the period in ancient Egyptian history between the 16th century BC and the 11th century BC, covering the Eighteenth, Nineteenth, and Twentieth Dynasties of Egypt. The New Kingdom (15701070 BC) followed the Second Intermediate Period and was succeeded by the Third Intermediate Period. It was Egypt’s most prosperous time and marked the zenith of its power.


Possibly as a result of the foreign rule of the Hyksos during the Second Intermediate Period, the New Kingdom saw Egypt attempt to create a buffer between the Levant and Egypt, and attain its greatest territorial extent. It expanded far south into Nubia and held wide territories in the Near East. Egyptian armies fought Hittite armies for control of modern-day Syria.

The eighteenth Dynasty contained some of Egypt's most famous Pharaohs including Ahmose I, Hatshepsut, Thutmose III, Amenhotep II, Akhenaten and Tutankhamun. Queen Hatshepsut concentrated on expanding Egypt's external trade, sending a commercial expedition to the land of Punt. Thutmose III ("the Napoleon of Egypt") expanded Egypt's army and wielded it with great success, creating the largest empire Egypt had ever seen.

One of the best-known 18th Dynasty pharaohs is Amenhotep IV, who changed his name to Akhenaten in honor of the Aten and whose exclusive worship of the Aten is often interpreted as history's first instance of monotheism (and was argued in Sigmund Freud's Moses and Monotheism to have been the ultimate origin of Jewish monotheism). Akhenaten's religious fervor is cited as the reason why he was subsequently written out of Egyptian history. Under his reign, in the 14th century BCE, Egyptian art flourished and attained an unprecedented level of realism.

Towards the end of the 18th Dynasty, the situation had changed radically. Helped by Akhenaten's apparent lack of interest in international affairs, the Hittites had gradually extended their influence into Syria and Palestine to become a major power in international politics. A power that both Seti I and his son Ramesses II would need to deal with.

Arguably Ancient Egypt's power as a nation-state peaked during the reign of Ramesses II ("the Great") of the 19th Dynasty. He sought to recover territories in the Levant that had been held by the 18th Dynasty. His campaigns of reconquest culminated in the Battle of Kadesh, where he led Egyptian armies against those of the Hittite king Muwatalli II and was caught in history's first recorded military ambush, but thanks to the arrival of the Ne'arin, Ramesses was able to rally his troops and turn the tide of battle against the Hittites. Ramesses II was also famed for the huge number of children he sired by his various wives and concubines; the tomb he built for his sons, many of whom he outlived, in the Valley of the Kings has proven to be the largest funerary complex in Egypt.

His immediate successors continued the military campaigns, though an increasingly troubled court—which at one point put a usurper (Amenmesse) on the throne—made it increasingly difficult for a pharaoh to effectively retain control without incident. The last "great" pharaoh from the New Kingdom is widely regarded to be Ramesses III, a Twentieth Dynasty pharaoh who reigned several decades after Ramesses II. In Year 8 of his reign, the Sea Peoples, invaded Egypt by land and sea. Ramesses III defeated them in two great land and sea battles. He claimed that he incorporated them as subject peoples and settled them in Southern Canaan, although there is evidence that they forced their way into Canaan. Their presence in Canaan may have contributed to the formation of new states in this region such as Philistia after the collapse of the Egyptian Empire. He was also compelled to fight invading Libyan tribesmen in two major campaigns in Egypt's Western Delta in his Year 6 and Year 11 respectively.

The heavy cost of these battles slowly exhausted Egypt's treasury and contributed to the gradual decline of the Egyptian Empire in Asia. The severity of these difficulties is stressed by the fact that the first known labor strike in recorded history occurred during Year 29 of Ramesses III's reign, when the food rations for the Egypt's favoured and elite royal tomb-builders and artisans in the village of Deir el Medina could not be provisioned. Something in the air prevented much sunlight from reaching the ground and also arrested global tree growth for almost two full decades until 1140 BC. One proposed cause is the Hekla 3 eruption of the Hekla volcano in Iceland; but the dating of this remains disputed.

Following Ramesses III's death there was endless bickering between his heirs. Three of his sons would go on to assume power as Ramesses IV, Ramesses VI and Ramesses VIII respectively. However, at this time Egypt was also increasingly beset by a series of droughts, below-normal flooding levels of the Nile, famine, civil unrest and official corruption. The power of the last pharaoh, Ramesses XI, grew so weak that in the south the High Priests of Amun at Thebes became the effective defacto rulers of Upper Egypt, while Smendes controlled Lower Egypt even before Ramesses XI's death. Smendes eventually found the Twenty-First dynasty at Tanis.


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DateFormat = yyyy Period = from:-1560 till:-1050 TimeAxis = orientation:horizontal ScaleMajor = unit:year increment:100 start:-1560 ScaleMinor = unit:year increment:25 start:-1560

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 from: -1550   till:    -1292   color: 18   text:Eighteenth dynasty of Egypt
 from: -1292   till:    -1190   color: 19   text:Nineteenth dynasty of Egypt
 from: -1190   till:    -1077   color: 20   text:Twentieth dynasty of Egypt

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 from: -1550 till: -1525 color:18 text:"Ahmose I"
 from: -1525 till: -1504 color:18 text:"Amenhotep I"
 from: -1504 till: -1492 color:18 text:"Thutmose I"
 from: -1492 till: -1479 color:18 text:"Thutmose II"
 from: -1479 till: -1457 color:18 text:"Hatshepsut"
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 from: -1425 till: -1399 color:18 text:"Amenhotep II"
 from: -1399 till: -1389 color:18 text:"Thutmose IV"
 from: -1389 till: -1351 color:18 text:"Amenhotep III"
 from: -1351 till: -1344 color:18 text:"Akhenaten"
 from: -1336 till: -1334 color:18 text:"Smenkhkare"
 from: -1334 till: -1325 color:18 text:"Tutankhamun"
 from: -1325 till: -1321 color:18 text:"Ay"
 from: -1321 till: -1292 color:18 text:"Horemheb"

 from: -1292 till: -1290 color:19 text:"Ramesses I (1292 BC to 1290 BC)"
 from: -1290 till: -1279 color:19 text:"Seti I (1290 BC to 1279 BC)"
 from: -1279 till: -1213 color:19 text:"Ramesses the Great (1279 BC to 1213 BC)"
 from: -1213 till: -1203 color:19 text:"Merneptah (1213 BC to 1203 BC)"
 from: -1203 till: -1199 color:19 text:"Amenmesse (1203 BC to 1199 BC)"
 from: -1203 till: -1197 color:19 text:"Seti II (1203 BC to 1197 BC)"
 from: -1197 till: -1191 color:19 text:"Siptah (1197 BC to 1191 BC)"
 from: -1191 till: -1190 color:19 text:"Twosret (1191 BC to 1190 BC)"

 from: -1190 till: -1186 color:20 text:"Setnakhte"
 from: -1186 till: -1155 color:20 text:"Ramesses III"
 from: -1155 till: -1149 color:20 text:"Ramesses IV"
 from: -1149 till: -1145 color:20 text:"Ramesses V"
 from: -1145 till: -1137 color:20 text:"Ramesses VI"
 from: -1137 till: -1130 color:20 text:"Ramesses VII"
 from: -1130 till: -1129 color:20 text:"Ramesses VIII"
 from: -1129 till: -1111 color:20 text:"Ramesses IX"
 from: -1111 till: -1107 color:20 text:"Ramesses X"
 from: -1107 till: -1077 color:20 text:"Ramesses XI"


See also


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