The Old Kingdom (c. 2675-2130 BC)

The Old Kingdom was the period of Ancient Egypt that spanned from c. 2675 to 2130 BC and encompassed the Third to the Eighth Dynasties. It is known as the period in which the Pyramids of Egypt were built.

The Step Pyramid of Djoser, Saqqara. (c) Berthold Werner

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King Djoser, the first king of the Third Dynasty (c. 2675-2625 BC), moved the royal capital of Egypt to Memphis, where he established his court. Djoser continued to use Saqqara, the necropolis of Memphis, as a royal burial ground and constructed his famous Step Pyramid there, which was built by his chancellor Imhotep.

The kings of the Fourth Dynasty (c. 2625-2500 BC) took Djoser’s funerary ambition one step further. King Sneferu, the first king of the Fourth Dynasty, constructed the Bent Pyramid and later the Red Pyramid at Dahshur. The Pyramids of Giza were constructed by his descendants, Khufu, Khafre and Menkaure.

The Pyramids of Khufu, Khafre and Menkaure, Giza. (c) Ricardo Liberato

There is little information from the Fourth to the Eighth Dynasties of Egypt. The information that we do know has been gleaned from the monuments of the period and their inscriptions. Internal disorders set in during the long reign of Pepi II . His death may have caused succession issues and Egypt fell into a period of civil wars. The Drought of the 22nd c. BC, which resulted in a drastic drop in precipitation and prevented the normal flooding of the Nile may have also caused the decline and fall of the Old Kingdom.

While the Old Kingdom was viewed as one of the Golden Ages of Ancient Egypt, it was followed by a period of disunity and relative cultural decline known as the First Intermediate Period.

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