When was the First Intermediate Period in Ancient Egypt?
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First Intermediate Period

The end of the Old Kingdom, around 2100 BC, seems to have been caused by a major climate change which brought drought conditions to Egypt. Food shortages led to rebellions among the lower levels of the rich people, who thought that the Pharaohs weren't doing a good job.

Gradually the Pharaohs had become more and more dependent on the government officials under them, and these government officials grabbed power. Some of the organization of the country collapsed. Nobody could afford to build pyramids or fancy palaces anymore. Egyptian writers describe a time of upheaval, with noblemen and noblewomen working in the fields, men killing their parents, brothers fighting, and tombs being destroyed.

This terrible drought in Egypt probably also affected West Asia, where the Akkadian Empire fell apart, and Central Asia, where it may have forced the Indo-Europeans to begin a great migration, and India, where the Harappan civilization collapsed.

Go on to the Middle Kingdom

Bibliography and further reading about the First Intermediate Period:

Eyewitness: Ancient Egypt, by George Hart. Easy reading.

The Oxford History of Ancient Egypt, by Ian Shaw (2002).

History of Ancient Egypt: An Introduction, by Erik Hornung (1999). A college textbook. On the conservative side - not much on new developments.

Ancient Near Eastern History and Culture, by William H. Stiebing (2002). Expensive for a paperback, but brief and very up to date. And yes, it includes Egypt in the Near East.

Old Kingdom (2686-2160 BC)
First Intermediate Period (2160-2040 BC)
Middle Kingdom (2040-1633 BC)
Second Intermediate Period (1786-1558 BC)
New Kingdom (1558-1085 BC)
Third Intermediate Period (1085-525 BC)
Persian rule (525-332 BC)
Greek rule (332-30 BC) (also called the Hellenistic)
Roman rule (30 BC-700 AD)
Islamic rule (700 AD to present)


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Karen Carr is Associate Professor Emerita, Department of History, Portland State University. She holds a doctorate in Classical Art and Archaeology from the University of Michigan. Follow her on Instagram or Twitter, or buy her book, Vandals to Visigoths.
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