Ancient and Modern Egypt
Union College's Egypt Miniterm (December 2014)
Ashraf Ghaly, Professor of Engineering
Olin 102D, 518-388-6515
ghalya@union.edu
Introduction

Egypt has one of the oldest civilizations of the world. Its history is rich with events and its land still hides a lot of mystery. With the Mediterranean Sea to the north and the Red Sea to the east, Egypt enjoys a strategic location on the map of the world. This made it always desired by empires looking to widen their reach.

Many of the monuments and temples constructed thousands of years ago are still standing, and are continuously maintained to preserve them in good shape. A survey of existing artifacts and archeological sites of ancient Egypt reveals an impressive inventory of Pharaonic, Greek, Roman, Jewish, Christian, and Islamic heritage and cultures. Egypt has also a remarkable array of modern wonders including the largest earth dam in the world, the Suez Canal that connects the Mediterranean and Red Seas, subways, roads, bridges, tunnels, and huge energy generation, water storage, massive irrigation, and giant land reclamation projects. Faced with an explosion of population increase, the effort of upgrading existing infrastructure and constructing new ones for the many new cities presently under construction is unparallel. Furthermore, for its beautiful nature, mild weather, endless beaches, and rich history, Egypt is a major tourist attraction with countless hotels and resorts that cater to every taste and budget.

The goal of this miniterm is to introduce the students to as many as time allows of the major features of ancient and modern Egyptian civilization. The variety of monuments and places to visit will make it possible for students to have a wide spectrum of possibilities to select a project of interest for their term paper. Topics selected by students are required to have cultural as well as engineering features. From Ancient Egypt, the Pyramids, for instance, qualify as a project in this miniterm since they were built based on the cultural belief in the re-incarnation, and the structures themselves physically constitute an engineering miracle on any scale. As a modern Egypt project, the High Dam, for instance, would qualify because of its giant engineering scope and its many other social impacts including flood prevention, power generation, availability of water for year-round irrigation, safe navigation, preservation of communities near the Nile banks, and creation of new industries that rely on hydropower, which impacted the standard of living and changed the fabric of Egyptian society.

Photo Gallery of Past Miniterms: [2012] [2011] [2010] [2009] [2008] [2007]

General

Egypt covers an area of approximately 1,001,450 sq. km (386,662 sq. mi) in northeastern Africa, its northern coastline along the Mediterranean Sea, and its eastern coastline along the Red Sea. Libya shares its western border and Sudan its southern border.

Egypt is overwhelmingly a desert country bisected by the
River Nile. Over 90% of the land area is formed by a convergence of deserts -- the Libyan Desert to the west, the Sahara and Nubian Deserts to the south and the Arabian Desert to the east. There are oases scattered across this wasteland and a swathe of land along the Suez Canal which is cultivated, but it is mainly the land fed by the River Nile -- the Nile valley and the Nile Delta -- that is both habitable and arable.

The Sinai Peninsula is formed of sand desert and spectacular mountains rising as high as 2,637m (8,652ft) above Red Sea level. The beaches, marine life, and coral reefs in this area are beyond imagination.

The Nile

The Father of Rivers, more than any other feature of the country, characterizes Egypt. The Nile emanates from Ethiopia and Sudan in the south, flowing north through the country for 1,545km (960mi), emptying into the Mediterranean Sea and all along its course provides Egypt and her people with life and sustenance.

Throughout history the Egyptian Nile Valley has been defined as two distinct regions -- Upper Egypt which extends south of Cairo to the Sudanese border, and Lower Egypt, which encompasses the Nile Delta, which begins north of Cairo.

 

PROGRAM
Union's International Programs will offer a 3-week Mini-Term course abroad in Egypt (tentatively scheduled Dec. 1-22). This miniterm intends to give the students extensive exposure to ancient and modern Egypt. Monument and temple visits of Pharaonic, Greek, Roman, Jewish, Christian, and Islamic sites are planned. The goal is to explore both the cultural and engineering aspects of this civilization.
 
This course is open to all students and satisfies the Language and Cultural Competency (LCC) requirement of Union's Core Curriculum.

The course also involves four to six orientation meetings/seminars in the Fall term to prepare students for the cultural and social topics that will be encountered in Egypt. There will be two or three meetings during the Winter term for students to make their oral presentations.

 
ELIGIBILITY REQUIREMENTS
(a) Certification by the Dean of Students and approval of the Office of International Programs.
(b) An overall cumulative average of 2.5 or greater. Seniors having higher academic cumulative averages overall will be given preference. The above is only a brief description. Visit Application Page for more details.
 
EXPENSES
The fee is $3,500, which covers room, board, course trips, visits to all sites, and visas. The fee does not cover personal expenses, travel to and from Egypt, or independent travel. Students on financial aid programs should contact the Financial Aid Office (388-6123).The above is only a brief description. Visit Application Page for more details.
 
APPLICATIONS
Interested students should apply by filling out an Application Form.

ASSIGNMENT
This miniterm is packed with activities and visits to monuments, historical sites, museums, temples, synagogues, churches, and mosques. The visit will also cover modern features such as dams, hydropower plants, canals, tunnels, and other infrastructure projects. Students are required to write a paper on a subject of their selection. The topic could be based on an ancient or a modern theme. The paper is expected to cover the cultural as well as the engineering aspect of the selected topic. Selected subjects should be cleared with course instructor. Papers are expected to be about 10-page of text (Word document, 12 point Times font, double spaced, with 1 inch margin on all sides). Students may include in their paper figures, graphs, charts, or tables but the total length of a paper may not exceed 20 pages. All sources used in writing the paper should be clearly documented in the paper. Students may use all kinds of media to supplement their reports. In addition, students are required to produce a journal documenting notes and observations of site visits.
 
EVALUATION
The given grade in this course will be based on the involvement and participation of the student during the trip, comprehensiveness and accuracy of the journal document and the written report, and on the final oral presentation.

CALENDAR

Date Activity
April 18, 2014 Application Deadline (International Programs Office, Old Chapel, Third Floor).
May 20, 2014 $350 non-refundable course deposit due at Cashier's Office and receipt brought to the International Programs Office.
May 19, 2014 (tentative) Acceptance meeting and information
June 6, 2014 Airline ticket payment for group airline ticket (suggested).
Fall Term, 2014 Four required orientation meetings/seminars - Mondays 7:00-8:30 PM (tentative).
December 1, 2014 (tentative) Program begins in Egypt.
December 22, 2014 (tentative) Program ends in Egypt.
Winter Term, 2015 One or two meetings for oral presentations of term paper.
Spring Term, 2015 Presentations at Union's Steinmetz Symposium (optional).

Visit the places listed in the table below (Photo Gallery):[2012] [2011] [2010] [2009] [2008] [2007]
DETAILED PROGRAM (TENTATIVE) [Click here for presentation of scheduled activities]
All scheduled activities as shown will be included but may be rearranged to different days to accommodate local circumstances and availability of trains, buses, and cruises.

Day 1: Cairo

  • Arrival Cairo international Airport and transfer to hotel.
  • Nile Cruise dinner with entertainment.

Day 2: Giza

  • Giza Pyramids.
  • Valley Temple and the great Sphinx.
  • Papyrus Museum.
  • Perfumery Factory.

Day 3: Cairo - Sakkara - Memphis

  • Memphis, the first capital of ancient Egypt and alabaster Sphinx.
  • Saqqara, Step Pyramid.
  • Evening Sound and Light Show at Giza Pyramids.

Day 4: Cairo

  • The Citadel.
  • Alabaster Mosque.
  • Hanging Church.
  • Ben Ezra Synagogue.
  • Overnight sleeper train to Aswan.

Day 5: Aswan

  • High Dam.
  • Temple of Isis on Philae Island.
  • Unfinished Obelisk.
  • Felucca tour around Elephantine Island.
  • Botanical Gardens and Kitchener Island.

Day 6: Aswan – Abu Simbel

  • Abu Simbel, Temple of Ramses, Queen Nefertari Temple
  • Evening visit of Nubian Village.
  • Sail towards Luxor.

Day 7: Nile Cruise – Kom Ombo – Edfu

  • Kom Ombo Temple, Temple of Sobek and Haroeris.
  • Edfu Temple.
  • Esna Lock.

Day 8: Luxor West Bank

  • Valley of the Kings.
  • Temple of Hatshipsut.
  • Colossi of Memnon.
  • Evening Sound and Light show at Karnak Temple.

 

Day 9: Luxor – Dendara - Abydos

  • Temple of Abydos.
  • Temple of Dendara.
  • Temple of Hathor.

Day 10: Luxor East Bank

  • Luxor Temple
  • Karnak Temple
  • Temple of Amon.

Day 11 - 13: Hurghada

  • Relax and enjoy magnificent nature and the Red Sea.
  • Many excursions available (Safari, Quad Motor Bike, Diving, Snorkeling).

Day 14 - 16: Sharm El-Sheikh

  • Fly to Sharm El-Sheikh.
  • Relax and enjoy magnificent nature and the Red Sea.
  • Many excursions available (Horseback Riding, Swim with Dolphins, Safari).

Day 17: St. Catherine

  • Enjoy 4 hours bus ride in beautiful desert landscape.
  • Arrive late afternoon, have early dinner.
  • Prepare for midnight hike up Mount Sinai.

Day 18: St. Catherine – Cairo

  • Observe sunrise from top of Mount Sinai.
  • Hike down Mount Sinai.
  • Monastery of Saint Catherine, Burning Bush.
  • Moses Springs
  • Open Air Military Museum.

Day 19: Alexandria

  • Montazah Gardens and Palace.
  • Roman Amphitheater.
  • Greek and Roman Catacombs of Kom El-Shoqafa.
  • Pompeii's Pillar.
  • Library of Alexandria.
  • Seaside Citadel.

Day 20: Cairo

  • Egyptian Museum.
  • Khan El-Khalili Bazaar.
  • End-of-Term Party.

Day 21: Cairo – USA

  • Cairo International Airport, fly home with wonderful memories.

History of Egypt

Pre-dynastic history
Archaeological evidence suggests that hunters inhabited Egypt over 250,000 years ago when the region was green grassland. The Paleolithic period around 25,000BC brought climatic changes, which turned Egypt into a desert. The inhabitants survived by hunting and fishing and through a primitive form of cultivation.
 
Desertification of Egypt was halted by rains, which allowed communities of cultivators to settle in Middle Egypt and the Nile Delta. These farmers grew wheat, flax and wove linen fabrics in addition to tending flocks.
 
The first indigenous civilizations in Egypt have been identified in the south of the country through archaeological excavations. The Badarian culture is the earliest known developed Egyptian civilization based on farming, hunting and mining. Badarians produced fine pottery and carved objects as well as acquiring turquoise and wood through trading.
The Early Dynastic or Archaic Period (3100-2686BC)
This period is shrouded in mythology. Little is known of Menes and his descendants outside of their divine ancestry and that they developed a complex social system, patronized the arts and constructed temples and many public buildings.
The foundation of Memphis, the world's first imperial city, is attributed to Menes. From Memphis the third and fifth kings of the First Dynasty, which extended from 3100 to 2890BC set out to conquer the Sinai. During the First Dynasty culture became increasingly refined. The royal burial grounds at Saqqara and Abydos became sites of highly developed mastabas.     
The Second Dynasty lasting from 2980 to 2686BC was characterized by regional disputes and a decentralization of Pharaonic authority, a process that was only temporarily halted by the Pharaoh Raneb, also called Hotepsekhemwy.
The Old Kingdom (2686-2181BC)
Pharaonic burial practices continued to develop during the Third Dynasty, lasting from 2686-2613BC, which marked the beginnings of the Old Kingdom. The first of Egypt's pyramids were constructed during the 27th century BC. The Step Pyramid of Saqqara built for King Zoser by his chief architect Imhotep, who later generations deified, is considered by many to be the first pyramid ever constructed in Egypt.
Prior to this, most royal tombs were constructed of sun-dried bricks. Zoser's gargantuan step pyramid attested to the pharaoh's power and established the pyramid as the pre-eminent Pharaonic burial structure. During Zoser's rule the Sun God Ra attained a supra-eminent place over all other Egyptian deities. 
The Fourth Dynasty (2613-2494BC) was characterized by expansionism and pyramid construction. King Sneferu constructed the Red Pyramid at Dahshur near Saqqara and the Pyramid of Meidum in Al-Fayoum.
He also sent military expeditions as far as Libya and Nubia. During his reign trading along the Nile flourished. Sneferu's descendants, Cheops (Khufu), Chephren (Khafre) and Mycerinus (Menkaure) were the last three kings of the Fourth Dynasty. These three pharaohs built the pyramids of Giza. 
Egypt under Cheops became the first state in the history of the world to be governed according to an organized system. The Fourth Dynasty also extended trade relations with the Near East and mined and smelted copper in Nubia.
The Fifth Dynasty (2490-2330BC) was marked by a relative decline in Pharaonic power and wealth, evidenced by the smaller pyramids of Abu Sir built during this period. The pharaohs ceased to be absolute monarchs and began to share power with the aristocracy and high officials. As the independence of the nobility increased, their tombs became larger and were built at increasing distances from the pharaohs.
Worship of the sun god Ra also spread during the Fifth Dynasty. It was during the reign of Unas that religious texts were placed in the pyramids bearing descriptions of the afterworld, which were later gathered into the Book of the Dead.
 
Decentralization of Pharaonic authority increased during the Sixth Dynasty (2330-2170BC) as small provincial principalities emerged to challenge Pharaonic power. The Sixth Dynasty kings were forced to send expeditions as far as Nubia, Libya and Palestine to put down the separatists, but these campaigns served to further erode the central authority. By the reign of the last Sixth Dynasty Pharaoh Pepi II, the Old Kingdom had become a spent force.

The First Intermediate Period (2181-2050BC)
The demise of the Old Kingdom brought a period of chaos and anarchy, which characterized the Seventh Dynasty (2181-2173BC). During this brief period over 70 rulers were said to have laid claim to the throne. The Eighth Dynasty (2173-2160BC) followed the same pattern. Civil disorders multiplied and a drought struck Egypt.  
Out of the turmoil and Pharaonic inertia, principalities within the realm raised up to challenge the authority of the kings. Achthoes, ruler of Heracleopolis, seized control of Middle Egypt, seized the throne and founded the Ninth Dynasty (2160-2130BC).
The kings of Heracleopolis maintained control over northern Egypt through the Tenth Dynasty (2130-2040BC).     
However, the rulers of Edfu and Thebes fought over control of Upper Egypt. Thebes won the battle over Upper Egypt and its ruler Inyotef Sehertowy founded the Eleventh Dynasty (2133-1991BC) with the aim of extending his power over all the land. 

 
The Middle Kingdom (2050-1786BC)
Mentuhope II reigned over Egypt for fifty years and re-established political and social order, which in turn revived the economic and artistic development that characterized the glory of the Pharaohs. Trading was resumed and mines were reopened. Expansionist campaigns were re-launched against Libya, Nubia and the Bedouins of the Sinai.  
His successors Mentuhope III and Mentuhope IV continued to rule from Thebes, maintaining the strength of the Eleventh Dynasty, building and expanding their kingdom until Amenemhat, a minister during the Eleventh Dynasty, assumed the throne and founded the Twelfth Dynasty (1991-1786BC). 
Amenemhat moved his capital from Thebes back to Memphis. From here he annexed Nubia and extended his kingdom to the land of Sham, as far as Syria and Palestine. Al Fayoum became the capital of the Middle Kingdom during the reign of Amenemhat's son Senusert I. His successors Amenemhat II and Senusert III built the last pyramids in Lahun, Lisht and Hawara.
The Second Intermediate Period (1786-1567BC)
The Thirteenth and Fourteenth Dynasties were powerless to put down the Hyskos, tribal warlords with foreign support who seized control of the Delta, establishing the capital of Avaris and moving south. Despite their alien origins (Hyskos means "Princes of Foreign Lands") and foreign ties, the Hyskos assumed an Egyptian identity and ruled as pharaohs.
The Hyskos dominion was shaken by Thebes, which established the Seventeenth Dynasty and, under Wadikheperre Kamose, laid siege to Avaris. When his successor Ahmosis expelled the Hyskos from Egypt in 1567BC, the New Kingdom was born.
The New Kingdom (1567-1085BC)
Ahmosis founded the Eighteenth Dynasty (1567-1320BC), which reigned over the first part of a prosperous and stable imperial period during which Pharaonic culture flowered and Egypt became a world power.
During the Eighteenth Dynasty Nubia was subdued and its wealth of gold, ivory, gemstones and ebony flowed into Egypt. Pharaonic armies conquered the Near East, Syria and Palestine and workers from these new-established colonies, and a cultural cross-fertilization took place as artisans and intellectuals transplanted their knowledge, skills and culture onto Egyptian soil.
The temple of Karnak at Thebes grew with the expansion of empire. Tuthmosis I constructed the first tomb in the Valley of the Kings. His daughter reigned as pharaoh and built the temple of Deir Al-Bahri. Tuthmosis III expanded the empire beyond Nubia and across the Euphrates to the boundaries of the Hittites.

The Nineteenth Dynasty (1320-1200BC)
Was established by the Horemheb's wazir, or minister, Ramses I who reigned for two years. Ramses and his descendants were warrior kings who recaptured territories lost under Akhenaten. His successor Seti I regained controls over Egypt's eastern colonies in Palestine, Nubia and the Near East. Seti I also began construction on a majestic temple at Abydos, which was completed by his son Ramses II who reconquered Asia Minor.
Ramses also constructed monumental structures like the Ramesseum in Thebes and the sun temples of Abu Simbel. His son Merneptah spent much of his reign driving back invaders from Libya and the Mediterranean but he is believed to be the biblical Pharaoh described in Exodus. Seti II was the last king of the Nineteenth Dynasty.
The Twentieth Dynasty (1200-1085BC) was to be the last of the New Kingdom and was first established by Sethnakhte. By the reign of his successor Ramses III, the kingdom was occupied with defending itself against Libyan and "Sea People" invasions. Ramses III constructed the enormous palace temple of Medinet Hebu but the empire had begun to disintegrate with strikes, assassination attempts and provincial unrest.
His successors, who were all named Ramses, presided over the decline of their empire until Ramses XI withdrew from active control over his kingdom, delegating authority over Upper Egypt to his high priest of Amun, Herihor, and of Lower Egypt to his minister Smendes. These two rulers were the last of the New Kingdom.
The Late Period (1085-322BC)
The Twenty-First Dynasty was established by successors of Herihor and Smendes who continued to rule Upper and Lower Egypt separately from Thebes and Tanis. But by this period external threats from Libyan invaders and others were eroding Egypt's power to defend itself. Eventually both Upper and Lower Egypt succumbed to foreign invasions. Libyan warriors who established their own Twenty-Second Dynasty drove the Tanites from power.
Upper Egypt held out longer against Nubian invaders until being overrun by the armies of their ruler Piankhi all the way to Memphis. Piankhi's brother Shabaka marched north to conquer the Delta and reunite Upper and Lower Egypt under the Twenty-Fifth Dynasty of Nubian Kings (747-656BC). During this period there was an artistic and cultural revival. The Twenty-Fifth Dynasty ended when Assyrian armies captured Memphis and attacked Thebes, driving the Nubian pharaoh Tanutamun back to Nubia.
The Assyrians found a willing Egyptian collaborator in the form of a prince from the Delta. Psammetichus I governed on behalf of the Assyrians until they were forced to withdraw their forces to wage war against the Persian Empire. On the departure of the Assyrians, Psammetichus I declared himself pharaoh and established the Twenty-Sixth Dynasty, ruling over a re-united Egypt from his capital at Sais in the Delta. This was to be the last great Pharaonic age, which witnessed the revival of majestic art and architecture and the introduction of new technologies.
Gradually, though, the power of the kingdom was eroded through invasion, ending ignominiously when Amasis, "the Drunkard", was forced to depend on Greek forces to defend his Kingdom against the onslaught of Persian imperial armies.
The Persians first invaded Egypt in 525BC, initiating a period of foreign domination of the country, which lasted until 1952, when an Egyptian republic replaced the monarchy of King Farouk. The conquering Persians established the Twenty-Seventh Dynasty (525-404BC), which ruled Egypt with an iron hand.

Greek Rule (332-30BC)
After centuries of upheaval and foreign incursions, Egypt was in disarray when Alexander established his own Pharaonic rule, reorganizing the country's government, founding a new capital city of Alexandria and validating the religion of the pharaohs.
Upon his death in 323BC, the empire of Alexandria was divided among his Macedonian generals. Ptolemy I thus established the Ptolemaic Dynasty, which ruled Egypt for three centuries. Under the Ptolemys Greek became the official language of Egypt and Hellenistic culture and ideas were introduced and synthesized with indigenous Egyptian theology, art, architecture and technology. The Ptolemy's synthesis of religious ideas resulted in the construction of the temples of Edfu and Kom Ombo, among other sacred structures. Alexandria became a great capital, housing one of history's greatest libraries.
Gradually Ptolemaic rule was subverted by internal power struggles and foreign intervention. The Romans made inroads into Ptolemaic Egypt, supporting various rulers and factions until attaining total control over the country when Julius Caesar's armies attacked Alexandria.
Queen Cleopatra VII was the last of the Ptolemaic rulers who reigned under the protection of the Caesar with whom she had a son. With the assassination of Caesar, Mark Antony arrived in Egypt and fell in love with Cleopatra, living with her for 10 years and helping Egypt retain its independence. The fleets of Octavian Caesar destroyed the Egyptian navy in the battle of Actium, driving Antony and Cleopatra to suicide and Egypt became a province of the Roman Empire.

Roman and Byzantine Rule (30BC-AD638)
Octavian Caesar became the first Roman ruler of Egypt, reigning as the Emperor Augustus. Egypt became the granary of the Roman Empire and remained stable for about 30 years. The Romans, like their Greek predecessors, synthesized many Egyptian beliefs with their own, building temples at Dendara and Esna and Tranjan's kiosk at Philae. Hellenism remained a dominant cultural force and Alexandria continued to be a centre of Greek learning.
The Christian era began in Egypt with the spectacular biblical Flight of the Holy Family from Palestine. To this day shrines and churches mark the stages of the journey of Mary, Joseph and their infant Jesus. According to Coptic tradition, it was not until the arrival of Saint Mark that Christianity was established in Egypt during the reign of Nero. Saint Mark began preaching the gospel in about AD40 and established the Patriarchate of Alexandria in AD61.
The Egyptian Coptic Church expanded over three centuries in spite of Roman persecution of Christian converts throughout the Empire. In AD202 the Roman authorities, continuing for nearly a century, initiated persecutions against Copts. In AD284, during the reign of the Emperor Diocletian, a bloody massacre of Coptic    Christians took place from which the church has dated its calendar. Christianity was legalized and adopted as the official religion of the Roman Empire by the Emperor Constantine.
By the 3rd century AD the Roman Empire was in decline as a result of internal strife, famine and war, finally splitting into eastern and western empires. The Eastern Empire based in Constantinople became known as the Byzantine Empire. The Western Empire remained centered in Rome. The legalization of Christianity did not stop Roman persecution of the Coptic Christians because the Byzantine church was based upon fundamentally different beliefs than those of the Coptic Christian church which had adopted a Monophysite belief in the total divinity of Christ, as opposed to the Byzantine belief that Christ was both human and divine. The schism between the Byzantine and Coptic churches was never closed.
The Copts were formally excommunicated from the Orthodox Church at the Council of Chalcedon in AD451 and established their own Patriarchate at Alexandria. The fifth century was also a time when monasticism emerged and the Coptic monasteries of Saint Catherine, Saint Paul and Saint Anthony were established as well as those at Wadi Natrun and Sohaag.

The Early Islamic Period (640-969)
Under the first Khalif of Islam Abu Bakr As-Siddiq, the Prophet Muhammad's closest companion, the Muslim armies vanquished the Byzantines in AD636. They advanced toward Egypt under the command of Amr Ibn Al-As, one of the companions of the Prophet. The Muslims laid siege to Babylon-in-Egypt, which surrendered. They then took Heliopolis and in AD642 the Byzantine imperial capital of Alexandria. Amr Ibn Al-As established Fustat north of Babylon-in-Egypt as his military headquarters and seat of government.
Egypt became part of an expanding empire that was soon to stretch from Spain to Central Asia. The Umayyad Dynasty ruled Egypt from Damascus until the Abbassids took control of the Khalifate and shifted the political capital of Islam to Baghdad.
Ahmad Ibn Tulun who had been sent by the Abbassid Khalif Al-Mu'taz to govern Egypt in AD868, declared Egypt an independent state and successfully defended his new domain against the Abbassid armies sent to unseat him. His dynasty ruled Egypt for 37 years. Ibn Tulun built Al-Qitai, a new capital centered on a vast central mosque, the courtyard of which could accommodate his entire army and their horses. But Tulunid rule was quickly ended by the Abbassids, who retained direct control over Egypt until Mohammed Ibn Tughj was appointed governor over the province and granted the title Ikhshid, allowing him to rule independently of khalifa's controls.
The Ikhshidid Dynasty ruled from AD935-969 when Shi’a Fatimia armies from Tunisia invaded Egypt.
The Fatimia Period (969-1171)
The Fatimid Dynasty traced their lineage from the Prophet's daughter Fatima Zahra and her husband Ali Ibn Abu Talib. They embraced Shi'a doctrines which rejected the legitimacy of the first three Khalifs of Islam, Abu Bakr, Omar and Othman, who they claimed to be usurpers of Ali's right to succeed the Prophet in leading Islam.
At first the Shi'a, or Partisans of Ali, were loyal members of the Muslim umma who simply disagreed with the political decision to bypass Ali. However Umayyad machinations which lead to the assassination and martyrdom of Ali and his sons Hassan and Hussein, hardened Shi'a attitudes and led to a religious schism with metaphysical     overtones, which has persisted to this day. 
The Fatimids had separated themselves from the Sunni Khalifate and set up their own western khalifate, which, with their conquest of Egypt in AD969 extended across North Africa. The Fatimids established their imperial capital within the walls of a newly built imperial city called Al Qahira (Cairo), meaning "The Triumphant". Within the walls of the city were lavish palaces and the Mosque of Al Azhar and its University, which is now the world's oldest existing institution of learning.

Ayoubid Rule (1171-1250)
Salah al-Din Al-Ayyubi ("Saladin") assumed control of Egypt upon the death of the last Fatimid Khalif in 1171.
When the Crusaders attacked Egypt, burning part of Cairo, Salah al-Din fortified the city and built the Citadel. His reign was a golden age for Egypt and Salah al-Din is revered as one of the greatest heroes of Islam, for his humility, personal courage, brilliant military and administrative mind and for defeating the invading armies and treating the vanquished with dignity.
The Mamluke Period (1250-1517)
Baybars, one of the great Ayyubid commanders, seized power in the aftermath of Shagarat Ad-Durr's murder but his heirs were murdered by Qalawun, another Mamluke who established the Bahri Mamluke dynasty, named after the Mamluke garrison along the Nile River (Bahr Al-Nil). During his reign Sultan Qalawun became a great patron of architecture and constructed mosques, fortresses and other buildings in Cairo. Qalawun also established relations many foreign countries in Europe, Africa and Asia.    
Qalawun's son and successor, Mohammed An-Nasir who reigned for nearly half a century, from 1294-1340, was also a great patron of architecture.
Ottoman Rule (1517-1798)
Although the Ottoman Turks were brilliant military strategists and developed a rich Islamic civilization, they were poor colonial administrators. They ruled Egypt from Istanbul through Pashawat who were trained in Istanbul. Their direct involvement in government rarely extended to more than enforcing tax collection.
Otherwise the Ottomans exercised minimal control over their new province and relied on the Mamluke army whose ranks continued to expand with mercenary slaves brought in from the Caucasus.
This lack of concern manifested in neglect and deterioration, which opened the way for the French invasion of Egypt in 1798.

European conquest (1798-1802)
The armies of Napoleon crushed the Mamlukes at Imbaba and occupied Cairo. Napoleon's aim was to block British trade routes to India and to establish a Franco phonic society in Egypt. He imposed a French administrative system and implemented public works projects to clean up and renovate the long-neglected country, clearing blocked canals, cleaning the streets and building bridges.
The Dynasty of Mohammed Ali Pasha (1802-1892)
The French occupation destabilized Egypt and their defeat and withdrawal left the country vulnerable to an internal political struggle, which was won by Mohammed Ali, an Albanian lieutenant in the Ottoman army who, with Mamluke help, drove the British (temporarily) out of Egypt. The Ottomans elevate him to khedive or viceroy of Egypt. 
In order to consolidate his power, the new khedive realized he had to eradicate Mamluki power, which he did decisively and spectacularly. After six years as ruler he invited 470 Mamluke soldiers to a banquet at the Citadel. It was a trap. All were massacred and the Mamluke threat was ended.
British Occupation (1882-1952)
Ismail's son Tewfiq Pasha reformed the Egyptian economy and relinquished financial control to the British who began to run the government of the country. Egyptian nationalists, horrified at Tewfiq's submission to the British, forced him to appoint their leader Ahmed Orabi as Minister of War, but the European reaction was swift and violent. Alexandria was shelled and Ismailiyya occupied. Orabi's army was defeated at Tel El Kabir and the British reinstalled Tewfiq as a puppet. Orabi was driven into exile and Mustafa Kamil became the leader of the nationalist movement.
British influence over Egypt continued to increase. The country became an economic colony, totally dependent upon the import of British manufactured goods and the export of its raw cotton.
The rule of Nasser (1956-1970)
Gamal Abd-Al Nasser was a charismatic, ruthless, and brilliant political leader who transformed pan-Arab politics and left a troubled legacy to Egypt and the Arab world. There is little doubt that Nasser was a sincere Egyptian patriot who wanted to improve the lot of his people. But he was also a man utterly committed to the retention of power at any cost, which quickly evolved into a harsh, repressive socialist-style dictatorship. Those involved in political opposition were persecuted, driven underground, imprisoned, tortured, exiled, or executed. 
The rule of Sadat (1970-1981)
Anwar Saddat had been one of the original Free Officers and served as Nasser's vice-president and chosen successor, but he had never been taken seriously until he assumed control of the government. Saddat began to systematically reverse the failed socialist policies of his predecessor, ultimately expelling the Soviets and reforming the economy. But it was Saddat's surprise attack against Israeli forces in the Sinai Peninsula on October 6, 1973 that gave Sadat the credibility, which earned him the respect of his countrymen. The October War gave the Arab world a tremendous psychological boost. Although the war ended in a stalemate, Sadat emerged as a hero.
The rule of Mubarak (1981-2011)
Hosni Mubarak had been Sadat's vice-president since 1974. At first he continued Sadat's policies but with less flamboyance and more domestic sensitivity. At the same time, he accelerated the process of privatization and developed Egypt's tourist infrastructure, which enhanced its lucrative tourist industry.
The Egyptian Revolution (2011)
A period characterised by popular revolt and a desire for openness and transparency.

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