When was the New Kingdom? Ancient Egypt
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Egypt's New Kingdom


With the reunification of Egypt by the southerner Ahmose (Kamose died before it was united) and the expulsion of the Hyksos, Egypt began a new period of prosperity under the 18th dynasty. At this time there was a great deal of trade with West Asia, and Egyptian armies even conquered much of Israel and Syria, though they were constantly fighting the Hittites and Assyrians to keep control of it. Great temples were built all over Egypt.

The Egyptian queens were very powerful at this time, and in 1490 BC one of them, Hatshepsut, became Pharaoh herself. Hatshepsut's reign was long and peaceful, and she built up many trading agreements with African kingdoms south of Egypt (often also ruled by women) that made Egypt much richer than before.


In 1363 BC there was a famous Pharaoh named Akhenaten, who built a new capital at Amarna and seems to have worshipped a new sun god, and developed new art styles.


His wife was Nefertiti. Akhenaten had no sons, and his successor was his son-in-law Tutankhamon. However, by 1333 BC the Pharaohs went back to the old religion.


In 1303 BC a new northern dynasty or family of Pharaohs took over, the 19th Egyptian dynasty. Their first king, Rameses, moved the capital back to Memphis in the north. Priests became very powerful. Fighting with the Hittites in West Asia continued, but also a lot of trade. This is the time when the Bible says the Jews were slaves in Egypt.

The 20th dynasty Pharaohs, around 1200 BC, continued the same policies, and were all called Rameses. There were many attacks on Egypt, first from Libya to the west and then from West Asia, by a group that the Egyptians called the Sea Peoples. The Hittites were destroyed, though around 1100 BC the Egyptians fought off the Sea Peoples in a great naval battle. But the trouble in West Asia seems to have caused a general economic depression in the whole Eastern Mediterranean and West Asia, and soon afterwards the New Kingdom collapsed.

On to the Third Intermediate Period

Bibliography and further reading about New Kingdom Egypt:

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.

Rulers of Ancient Egypt, by Russell Roberts (1999). Includes chapters on Hatshepsut, Akhenaten, Tutankhamon, Rameses II, and (oddly) Cleopatra, who ruled much later. Easy reading.

Chronicle of a Pharaoh: The Intimate Life of Amenhotep III, by Joann Fletcher (2000). Amenhotep III was the father of Akhenaten. For high schoolers.

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)

Professor Carr

Karen Eva Carr, PhD.
Assoc. Professor Emerita, History
Portland State University

Professor Carr holds a B.A. with high honors from Cornell University in classics and archaeology, and her M.A. and PhD. from the University of Michigan in Classical Art and Archaeology. She has excavated in Scotland, Cyprus, Greece, Israel, and Tunisia, and she has been teaching history to university students for a very long time.

Professor Carr's PSU page

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