published on 28 April 2011
The historical records of ancient Egypt begin with Egypt as a unified state, which occurred sometime around 3150 BCE. According to Egyptian tradition Menes, thought to have unified Upper and Lower Egypt, was the first king. This Egyptian culture, customs, art expression, architecture, and social structure was closely tied to religion, remarkably stable, and changed little over a period of nearly 3000 years.
Egyptian chronology, which involves regnal years, began around this time. The conventional Egyptian chronology is the chronology accepted during the 20th century CE, but it does not include any of the major revision proposals that also have been made in that time. Even within a single work, archaeologists often will offer several possible dates or even several whole chronologies as possibilities. Consequently, there may be discrepancies between dates shown here and in articles on particular rulers or topics related to ancient Egypt. There also are several possible spellings of the names. Typically, Egyptologists divide the history of pharaonic civilization using a schedule laid out first by Manetho's Aegyptiaca (History of Egypt) that was written during the Ptolemaic era, during the third century BCE.
Prior to the unification of Egypt, the land was settled with autonomous villages. With the early dynasties, and for much of Egypt's history thereafter, the country came to be known as the Two Lands. The rulers established a national administration and appointed royal governors.
According to Manetho, the first king was Menes, but archeological findings support the view that the first pharaoh to claim to have united the two lands was Narmer (the final king of the Protodynastic Period). His name is known primarily from the famous Narmer Palette, whose scenes have been interpreted as the act of uniting Upper and Lower Egypt.
Funeral practices for the elite resulted in the construction of mastaba tombs, which later became models for subsequent Old Kingdom constructions such as the Step pyramid.
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3150 BCE - 2686 BCE