By Ms. Jazmin Venice R. Lasala

The Old Kingdom is the name given to the period in the 3rd millennium BC when Egypt attained its first continuous peak of civilization – the first of three so-called "Kingdom" periods, which mark the high points of civilization in the lower Nile Valley (the others being Middle Kingdom and the New Kingdom). The term itself was coined by nineteenth-century historians and the distinction between the Old Kingdom and the Early Dynastic Period is not one which would have been recognized by Ancient Egyptians. Not only was the last king of the Early Dynastic Period related to the first two kings of the Old Kingdom, but the 'capital', the royal residence, remained at Ineb-Hedg, the Ancient Egyptian name for Memphis. The basic justification for a separation between the two periods is the revolutionary change in architecture accompanied by the effects on Egyptian society and economy of large-scale building projects. The Old Kingdom is most commonly regarded as the period from the Third Dynasty through to the Sixth Dynasty (2686 BC – 2181 BC). Many Egyptologists also include the Memphite Seventh and Eighth Dynasties in the Old Kingdom as a continuation of the administration centralized at Memphis. While the Old Kingdom was a period of internal security and prosperity, it was followed by a period of disunity and relative cultural decline referred to by Egyptologists as the First Intermediate Period. During the Old Kingdom, the king of Egypt (not called the Pharaoh until the New Kingdom) became a living god, who ruled absolutely and could demand the services and wealth of his subjects. The numerous references to the Old Kingdom kings as pharaohs in this article stems from the ubiquitous use of the term "pharaoh" to describe any and all Ancient Egyptian Kings. Under King Djoser, the first king of the Third Dynasty of the Old Kingdom, the royal capital of Egypt was moved to Memphis, where Djoser established his court. A new era of building was initiated at Saqqara under his reign. King Djoser's architect, Imhotep is credited with the development of building with stone and with the conception of the new architectural form—the Step

.Pyramid. but during the building of the "great pyramids" at Giza. and the Pharaoh on earth worked to ensure the stability of those cycles. Sneferu was succeeded by his son. After Khufu's death his sons Djedefra (2528–2520 BC) and Khafra (2520–2494 BC) may have quarreled. However. the full development of the pyramid style of building was reached not at Saqqara." THIRD DYNASTY The first king of the Old Kingdom was Djoser (sometime between 2691 and 2625 BC) of the third dynasty. Imhotep. believing that he ensured the annual flooding of the Nile that was necessary for their crops. at North Dahshur. The latter built the second pyramid and (in traditional thinking) the Sphinx in Giza. Indeed. It was in this era that formerly independent ancient Egyptian states became known as nomes. Saqqara. They also perceived themselves as a specially selected people. under the rule of the pharaoh. Alternatively. Egyptian views on the nature of time during this period held that the universe worked in cycles. Recent reexamination of evidence has led Egyptologist Vassil Dobrev to propose that the Sphinx has been built by Djedefra as a monument to his father Khufu. the Old Kingdom is frequently referred to as "the Age of the Pyramids. which began with Sneferu (2613–2589 BC). Using more stones than any other pharaoh. For this reason. who ordered the construction of a pyramid (the Step Pyramid) in Memphis' necropolis. Khufu (2589 . he built three pyramids: a now collapsed pyramid in Meidum. Egyptians in this era worshipped their pharaoh as a god. and the Red Pyramid. FOURTH DYNASTY The Old Kingdom and its royal power reached a zenith under the Fourth Dynasty (2613 – 2494 BC). the Bent Pyramid at Dahshur. An important person during the reign of Djoser was his vizier. the Sphinx has been proposed to be the work of Kafra and Khufu himself.2566 BC) who built the Great Pyramid of Giza. the Old Kingdom is perhaps best known for the large number of pyramids constructed at this time as pharaonic burial places. The former rulers were forced to assume the role of governors or otherwise work in tax collection.

incense such as myrrh and frankincense. He was followed by two shadowy short-lived kings Neferefre (2455–2453 BC) and Shepseskare Isi. perhaps. for ebony. Consequently fewer efforts were devoted to the construction of pyramid complexes than during the 4th dynasty and more to the construction of sun temples in Abusir. The last kings of the dynasty were Menkauhor Kaiu (2421–2414 BC). Ship builders of that era did not use pegs (treenails) or metal fasteners. gold. copper and other useful metals inspired the ancient Egyptians to build suitable ships for navigation of the open sea. These no longer belonged to the royal family and . who built the smallest pyramid in Giza. Userkaf was succeeded by his son Sahure (2487–2475 BC) who commanded an expedition to Punt. SIXTH DYNASTY During the sixth dynasty (2345–2181 BC) the power of pharaoh gradually weakened in favor of powerful nomarchs (regional governors). which was possibly modern day Somalia. They traded with Lebanon for cedar and traveled the length of the Red Sea to the Kingdom of Punt. in which case he might have usurped the throne at the expense Prince Netjerirenre. with Egyptian influence reaching up the Nile into what is today the Sudan. Djedkare Isesi (2414–2375 BC) and finally Unas (2375–2345). Shepseskare was deposed by Neferefre's brother Nyuserre Ini (2445–2421 BC). Planks and the superstructure were tightly tied and bound together. The later kings of the Fourth Dynasty were king Menkaure (2494–2472 BC). Djedefptah (2486–2484 BC). the earliest ruler to have the pyramid texts inscribed in his pyramid. Egypt's expanding interests in trade goods such as ebony. but relied on rope to keep their ships assembled. Sahure was in turn succeeded by Neferirkare Kakai (2475–2455 BC) who was either Sahure's son or his brother. ivory and aromatic resins.There were military expeditions into Palestine and Nubia. Shepseskaf (2472–2467 BC) and. FIFTH DYNASTY The Fifth Dynasty (2494–2345 BC) began with Userkaf (2494–2487 BC) and was marked by the growing importance of the cult of sun god Ra. the latter being possibly a son of Sahure.

They perfected the art of carving intricate relief decoration and. Architects and masons mastered the techniques necessary to build monumental structures in stone. His death. Internal disorders set in during the incredibly long reign of Pepi II (2278 – 2184 BC) towards the end of the dynasty. OLD KINGDOM CULTURE Egypt's Old Kingdom (Dynasties 3–6. recording the essential elements of their world for eternity in scenes painted and carved on the walls of temples and tombs. Egyptians also surrounded themselves with objects to enhance their lives in this world. . artists learned to express their culture's worldview. describes the pitiful state of the country when famine stalked the land. Sculptors created the earliest portraits of individuals and the first life-size statues in wood. through keen observation of the natural world. plants. and stone. The result was the collapse of the Old Kingdom followed by decades of famine and strife. produced detailed images of animals. might have created succession struggles and the country slipped into civil wars mere decades after the close of Pepi II's reign. finely carved and inlaid furniture. To these ends. The final blow was a severe drought in the region that resulted in a drastic drop in precipitation between 2200 and 2150 BC.their charge became hereditary. During this period. An important inscription on the tomb of Ankhtifi. while remaining flexible enough to allow for subtle variation and innovation. producing elegant jewelry.000 years. over a period of time. These images and structures had two principal functions: to ensure an ordered existence and to defeat death by preserving life into the next world. and even landscapes. 2649–2150 BC) was one of the most dynamic periods in the development of Egyptian art. thus creating local dynasties largely independent from the central authority of the pharaoh. a nomarch during the early First Intermediate Period. creating for the first time images and forms that endured for generations. which in turn prevented the normal flooding of the Nile. and cosmetic vessels and implements made from a wide range of materials. copper. Although much of their artistic effort was centered on preserving life after death. ca. certainly well past that of his intended heirs. Egyptian artists adopted a limited repertoire of standard types and established a formal artistic canon that would define Egyptian art for more than 3.

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