Egypt: Historical, Descriptive and Picturesque – Georg Ebers
Wherein lies the mysterious attraction which is peculiar to the land of the Pharaohs? Why is it that its name, its history, its natural peculiarities, and its monuments, affect and interest us in a quite different manner from those of the other nations of antiquity? Not only the learned and cultivated among the inhabitants of the Western world, but every one, high and low, has heard of Egypt and its primeval wonders. The child knows the names of the good and the wicked Pharaoh before it has learnt those of the princes of its own country; and before it has learnt the name of the river that passes through its native town it has heard of the Nile, by whose reedy shore the infant Moses was found in his cradle of rushes by the gentle princess, and from whose waters came up the fat and lean kine. Who has not known from his earliest years the beautiful narrative, which preserves its charms for every age, of the virtuous and prudent Joseph, and heard of the scene of that story—Egypt—the venerated land where the Virgin, in her flight with the Holy Child, found a refuge from His pursuers? To answer these and more questions the writer of these pages, who knows and loves Egypt well, has with pleasure undertaken the task of collecting all that is most beautiful and venerable, all that is picturesque, characteristic, and attractive, in ancient and modern Egypt, for the enjoyment of his contemporaries and for the edification and delight of a future generation.
Egypt: Historical, Descriptive and Picturesque.
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Basics on Egyptian history (from Wikipedia):
The history of Egypt has been long and rich, due to the flow of the Nile river, with its fertile banks and delta. Its rich history also comes from its native inhabitants and outside influence. Much of Egypt’s ancient history was a mystery until the secrets of ancient Egyptian hieroglyphs were deciphered with the discovery and help of the Rosetta Stone. The Great Pyramid of Giza is the only one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World still standing. The Lighthouse of Alexandria, one of the other Seven Wonders, is gone. The Library of Alexandria was the only one of its kind for centuries.
Human settlement in Egypt dates back to at least 40,000 BC with Aterian tool manufacturing. Ancient Egyptian civilization coalesced around 3150 BC with the political unification of Upper and Lower Egypt under the first pharaoh of the First Dynasty, Narmer. Predominately native Egyptian rule lasted until the conquest by the Achaemenid Empire in the sixth century BC.
In 332 BC, Macedonian ruler Alexander the Great conquered Egypt as he toppled the Achaemenids and established the Hellenistic Ptolemaic Kingdom, whose first ruler was one of Alexander’s former generals, Ptolemy I Soter. The Ptolemies had to fight native rebellions and were involved in foreign and civil wars that led to the decline of the kingdom and its final annexation by Rome. The death of Cleopatra ended the nominal independence of Egypt resulting in Egypt becoming one of the provinces of the Roman Empire.
Roman rule in Egypt (including Byzantine) lasted from 30 BC to 641 AD, with a brief interlude of control by the Sasanian Empire between 619-629, known as Sasanian Egypt. After the Muslim conquest of Egypt, parts of Egypt became provinces of successive Caliphates and other Muslim dynasties: Rashidun Caliphate (632-661), Umayyad Caliphate (661–750), Abbasid Caliphate (750-909), Fatimid Caliphate (909-1171), Ayyubid Sultanate (1171–1260), and the Mamluk Sultanate (1250-1517). In 1517, Ottoman sultan Selim I captured Cairo, absorbing Egypt into the Ottoman Empire.
Egypt remained entirely Ottoman until 1867, except during French occupation from 1798 to 1801. Starting in 1867, Egypt became a nominally autonomous tributary state called the Khedivate of Egypt. However, Khedivate Egypt fell under British control in 1882 following the Anglo-Egyptian War. After the end of World War I and following the Egyptian revolution of 1919, the Kingdom of Egypt was established. While a de facto independent state, the United Kingdom retained control over foreign affairs, defense, and other matters. British occupation lasted until 1954, with the Anglo-Egyptian agreement of 1954.
The modern Republic of Egypt was founded in 1953, and with the complete withdrawal of British forces from the Suez Canal in 1956, it marked the first time in 2300 years that Egypt was both fully independent and ruled by native Egyptians. President Gamal Abdel Nasser (president from 1956 to 1970) introduced many reforms and created the short-lived United Arab Republic (with Syria). His terms also saw the Six-Day War and the creation of the international Non-Aligned Movement. His successor, Anwar Sadat (president from 1970 to 1981) changed Egypt’s trajectory, departing from many of the political, and economic tenets of Nasserism, re-instituting a multi-party system, and launching the Infitah economic policy. He led Egypt in the Yom Kippur War of 1973 to regain Egypt’s Sinai Peninsula, which Israel had occupied since the Six-Day War of 1967. This later led to the Egypt–Israel Peace Treaty.
Recent Egyptian history has been dominated by events following nearly thirty years of rule by former president Hosni Mubarak. The Egyptian revolution of 2011 deposed Mubarak and resulted in the first democratically elected president in Egyptian history, Mohamed Morsi. Unrest after the 2011 revolution and related disputes led to the 2013 Egyptian coup d’état.
(The text of the last section was taken from a Wikipedia entry and is available under the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License.)
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