Key Points

The Old Kingdom is the name commonly given to the period when Egypt obtained in complexity and also achievement, spanning from the third Dynasty with the Sixth empire (2686-2181 BCE).The royal resources of Egypt throughout the Old Kingdom was located at Memphis, where the first notable king that the Old Kingdom, Djoser, created his court.In the 3rd Dynasty, formerly independent ancient Egyptian states ended up being known together Nomes, which to be ruled solely by the pharaoh. The former rulers of these states were subsequently compelled to i think the role of governors, or otherwise work-related in taxation collection.Egyptians throughout this dynasty worshipped their pharaoh together a god, and believed the he ensured the security of the cycles the were responsible for the annual flooding of the Nile. This flooding was important for their crops.The Fourth empire saw multiple large-scale building projects under pharaohs Sneferu, Khufu, and Khufu’s boy Djedefra and also Khafra, including the famous pyramid and Sphinx in ~ Giza.The Fifth dynasty saw changes in religious beliefs, including the climb of the cult of the sun god Ra, and also the divine being Osiris.

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Terms

Ra

The sun god, or the supreme Egyptian deity, worshipped as the creator of all life, and also usually depicted with a falcon’s head bearing a solar disc.

Osiris

The Egyptian god the the underworld, and also husband and also brother of Isis.

Nomes

Subnational, administrative division of ancient Egypt.

nomarchs

Semi-feudal rulers of old Egyptian provinces.

Old Kingdom

Encompassing the 3rd to Eighth Dynasties, the name generally given come the period in the 3rd millennium BCE, once Egypt attained that is first consistent peak that complexity and also achievement.

Djoser

An ancient Egyptian pharaoh of the third Dynasty, and also the founder of the Old Kingdom.

necropolis

A cemetery, especially a huge one belong to an ancient city.

Sneferu

A king of the fourth Dynasty, who used the biggest mass that stones in structure pyramids.


The Old Kingdom is the name commonly given to the duration from the third Dynasty with the Sixth dynasty (2686-2181 BCE), as soon as Egypt acquired in complexity and achievement. The Old Kingdom is the very first of 3 so-called “Kingdom” durations that note the high points of civilization in the Nile Valley. Throughout this time, a new type of pyramid (the step) to be created, and also many various other massive structure projects, consisting of the Sphinx. Additionally, trade became more widespread, new religious ideas were born, and the strong central government to be subtly weakened and also finally collapsed.

The king (not yet referred to as Pharaoh) the Egypt throughout this duration resided in the brand-new royal capital, Memphis. That was thought about a living god, and was thought to certain the yearly flooding of the Nile. This flooding was vital for chop growth. The Old Kingdom is perhaps best known for a big number that pyramids, i m sorry were built as royal funeral places. Thus, the duration of the Old Kingdom is often called “The age of the Pyramids.”

Egypt’s Old Kingdom was also a dynamic period in the development of Egyptian art. Sculptors developed early portraits, the an initial life-size statues, and perfected the art of carving intricate relief decoration. These had actually two primary functions: to ensure an ordered existence, and also to defeat fatality by preserving life in the next world.

The Beginning: 3rd Dynasty (c. 2650-2613 BCE)

The an initial notable king that the Old Kingdom to be Djoser (reigned native 2691-2625 BCE) of the 3rd Dynasty, that ordered the construction of the action pyramid in Memphis’ necropolis, Saqqara. It was in this era that previously independent old Egyptian states came to be known as nomes, and also were ruled specifically by the king. The previous rulers that these states were compelled to i think the function of governors or tax collectors.

Golden Age: Fourth empire (2613-2494 BCE)

The Old Kingdom and also its imperial power got to a zenit under the fourth Dynasty, which began with Sneferu (2613-2589 BCE). Utilizing a greater mass that stones than any other king, he built three pyramids: Meidum, the bending Pyramid, and the Red Pyramid. He likewise sent his military into Sinai, Nubia and also Libya, and also began come trade through Lebanon for cedar.

Sneferu was flourished by his (in)famous son, Khufu (2589-2566 BCE), who built the great Pyramid the Giza. After ~ Khufu’s death, among his sons built the second pyramid, and the Sphinx in Giza. Developing these substantial projects forced a centralized government with strong powers, sophistication and prosperity. Home builders of the pyramids were not slaves yet peasants, working in the farming off-season, in addition to specialists like stone cutters, mathematicians, and also priests. Each family members needed to carry out a worker because that these projects, return the wealthy could have a substitute.


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The Pyramid that Khufu at Giza. The good Pyramid the Giza was built c. 2560 BCE, by Khufu throughout the 4th Dynasty. It was built as a dig for Khufu and also constructed end a 20-year period. Contemporary estimates place building efforts to require an median workforce that 14,567 people and also a height workforce the 40,000.


Great Sphinx of Giza and also the pyramid the Khafre. The Sphinx is a limestone statue of a reclining mythical creature v a lion’s body and a human head that stands top top the Giza Plateau ~ above the west financial institution of the Nile in Giza, Egypt. The challenge is generally believed to stand for the challenge of King Khafra.


The later kings the the Fourth empire were king Menkaura (2532-2504 BCE), who built the smallest pyramid in Giza, Shepseskaf (2504-2498 BCE), and perhaps Djedefptah (2498-2496 BCE). Throughout this period, there to be military expeditions into Canaan and Nubia, dispersing Egyptian influence along the Nile into modern-day Sudan.

Religious Changes: Fifth dynasty (2494-2345 BCE)

The 5th Dynasty began with Userkaf (2494-2487 BCE), and also with several religious changes. The cult that the sun god Ra, and also temples constructed for him, began to flourish in importance throughout the 5th Dynasty. This lessened initiatives to construct pyramids. Funerary prayers on royal tombs (called Pyramid Texts) appeared, and the cult the the divine being Osiris ascended in importance.

Egyptians started to develop ships to trade throughout maritime routes. Goods included ebony, incense, gold, and also copper. Castle traded with Lebanon for cedar, and also perhaps with modern-day Somalia for various other goods. Pearls were organized together through tightly bound ropes.

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Decline and Collapse: The Sixth dynasty (2345-2181 BCE)

The power of the king and central government decreased during this period, while the of nomarchs (regional governors) increased. These nomarchs to be not part of the imperial family. They passed down the title v their lineage, thus creating local dynasties that were no under the regulate of the king. Internal disorder result during and also after the long reign that Pepi II (2278-2184 BCE), early out to sequence struggles, and eventually brought about civil war. The last blow was a significant drought in between 2200-2150 BCE, i beg your pardon prevented Nile flooding. Famine, conflict, and also collapse beset the Old Kingdom because that decades.