Timeline of Egypt and Mesopotamia

Ancient Mesopotamia and Ancient Egypt are the among the oldest civilizations in human history. Ancient Egyptian civilization began in Africa along the Nile River and lasted over 3,000 years from 3150 BCE to 30 BCE. Ancient Mesopotamia began between the Tigris and Euphrates Rivers near modern day Iraq.

Ancient Egypt began with two separate kingdoms: the Upper and Lower Kingdom. Each kingdom’s king had a distinct crown. The crown of Upper Egypt was white and shaped like a cone. The crown of Lower Egypt was red, flat, and had a point in the back with a spiral in the front.

In 2950 BCE, Menes, the first Pharaoh, united the Upper and Lower kingdoms. This was the beginning of the first dynasties of Ancient Egypt when the leadership of the Pharaoh moved from one family member to another. It was during this period in which the early writing system of hieroglyphics was created.

During the rise of Ancient Egypt in Africa, the earliest Mesopotamian civilization was also developing in Sumer. Although these civilizations did not make contact early on, they shared similar qualities. One was the importance of religion. Both were polytheistic, and worshipped multiple gods. Both civilizations built amazing structures to honor their gods. Egyptians built pyramids as tombs of their deceased Pharaohs.

The Great Pyramid of Giza is the largest of all pyramids and was built as a tomb for the pharaoh Khufu around 2580 BCE. It took 20 years and 20,000 workers to complete. Sumerians built temples called ziggurats where they performed religious rituals and ceremonies. Ziggurats were pyramid shaped buildings with a square base and steps leading up to several levels.

The Akkadians became the first empire in Mesopotamia beginning around 2300 BCE. With the use of his giant army, Sargon the Great was able to defeat many city-states and unite them into one empire. He kept his empire operating smoothly with the use of Akkadian bureaucrats positioned in every conquered city.

Eventually the Akkadian Empire fell and new empires arose in Mesopotamia. In 1792 The Babylonian Empire became the largest and most powerful empire in Mesopotamia. It’s ruler, King Hammurabi conquered all of the city-states of Mesopotamia. Babylon was the capital of the empire.

When King Hammurabi died, he left a great legacy behind him. His set of laws, known as Hammurabi’s Code, inspired other world leaders on how to govern their nations

Dynasties also rose and fell throughout Ancient Egyptian history. In around 1720 BCE, due to splitting the empire, Northern Egypt (Lower Kingdom) was invaded and taken over by the Hyksos. The Hyksos ruled until 1550 BCE. During the “wars of liberation” from 1570-1550 BCE, kings Kamos and Ahmose I from Southern Egypt (Upper Kingdom) joined forces with the Nubians and fought together to defeat the Hyksos and expel them from Egypt.

Although pharaohs were mostly men, there were several female pharaohs in Ancient Egypt. The most powerful woman pharaoh was Hatshepsut who ruled from around 1479- 1458 BCE. Hatshepsut accomplished many achievements during her reign. She was a powerful, intelligent, and gifted leader. She helped Egypt gain wealth by setting up trade with foreign countries. She constructed many buildings and temples in Egypt. Her reign is characterized by peace and prosperity.

One of the greatest pharaohs in Ancient Egypt was Ramses II (or Ramses the Great). He reigned from 1279 BCE to 1213 BCE. Ramses II was a military hero who defended Egypt against many attacks and expanded the Egyptian empire. He also built many great buildings and temples. He is known for the enormous statues of himself throughout Egypt. He was buried in the Valley of the Kings and had many traps created inside of the tombs to confuse grave robbers.

In Mesopotamia another empire was reaching its peak. During 1500 BCE, the empire of Phoenicia reached its height through a long history of sea trading and manufacturing. They became the most skillful shipbuilders and navigators of their time. They also made glass items, dyes, jewelry, and other highly valued and prized goods.

In 1050 BCE, Egypt once again found itself falling into division as the New Kingdom ended. Many kingdoms fought for power and control over Egypt during this time. In the mid-700s BCE, the Kingdom of Kush became the dominant power in Upper Egypt. The Kush was a civilization centered in the North African region of Nubia.

A while later in Mesopotamia, the Babylonian Empire was reaching its peak. In 604 Chaldean ruler Nebuchadnezzar II became king of Babylon. During his 43 year rule he rebuilt the city of Babylon by restoring temples and built amazing structures like the Hanging Gardens of Babylon, his palace, and refortified the walls of Babylon. Nebuchadnezzar II was a powerful conqueror and expanded the Babylonian Empire conquering cities like Jerusalem.

In 550 BCE the Babylonian Empire came to an end when Cyrus the Great conquered Mesopotamia and created the Persian Empire. He led his army in a surprise attack during the Babylonians national feast. Since the moats along the walls of Babylon were filled with water, Cyrus and his army rerouted the water making it hip level and easy for the army to walk through it. Cyrus and his men then marched into the city and took control. The Persians were tolerant rulers who allowed conquered peoples to keep their own languages, religions and laws.