Egyptian history spans over five millennia -- more, if you count the earliest paleolithic civilizations However, most chronologies start with the first "written" king, a semi-mythical figure names "Menes" who unified the country into a single political and economic entity.
"Menes" is the first King of Egypt, although which king is still under discussion. Some believe that this was Narmer (he of the Narmer Palette) and some his successor, a king called Horus Aha. Egyptian history has always been deduced from inscriptions, which are now usually viewed as ritual or formulaic writings and not historical fact -- making much of the basis of Egyptian history pure supposition. We're trying to describe a culture based on one aspect of their life -- how they treated death. It would be like trying to examine American culture solely from the contents of billboards or obituary notices. You might get some things right, but then again, you may not.
A few things seem odd right off the bat -- writing in the form of hieroglyphs just sort of appeared, fully formed, after the pre-dynastic period, which showed now signs of organized writing. While it might seem that hieroglyphs are a crude form of writing -- using little pictures to denote words seems easy enough -- it is, in fact, a complex, nuanced written language able to express complicated ideas. Other than some crude name-sigils from the earlier periods, it appears as if "writing" occurred very quickly.
Another is the appearance of monumental architecture that appears suddenly in the 3rd Dynasty. Before Djoser, buildings were mud brick and quite small. The enormous bulk of the Step Pyramid is as out of place as a steel I-beam in a sand castle.
What changed that suddenly allowed these tremendous advances to occur? What leap of logic and intellect happened? Who is responsible? No one really knows the answers to these questions-- we can only investigate the ruins, read the inscriptions, and continue to argue about what life must have been like.
The pages in this section of the site outline some basic information about how the current picture of Egypt was developed. It also links to a (much too) large part of the site with all of the pharaohs detailed -- it's linked back to the photos and travelogue, but it was part of the scope creep that always strikes my projects and not really an original part of the plan! I've consolidated information from multiple sources (books, online, etc) into reference for the pharaohs and how they are linked to each other.
The links on the left point to each of these pages. Main sections include
Tomb Lists and Locations
Pharaohs of Egypt