Egypt

Egipto by Federico Lara Peinado

By Federico Lara Peinado

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Not wishing to associate themselves with Rec, the patron of kings in the Old Kingdom, they promoted Amun, who had previously appeared in one of the Old Kingdom creation myths as a member of the Ogdoad (group of eight gods) at Hermopolis. However, at some time in the First Intermediate Period, his cult had been established at Thebes, where he became associated with Min, a local fertility god, represented as an ithyphallic male. To establish his right to supremacy, the kings now also associated him with Rec, and built him a great temple at Karnak, Thebes, where he acquired a consort.

Economic and political pressures weakened the king’s hold. The governors of distant provinces at one time held their posts on a non-hereditary basis and were therefore anxious to remain loyal to the king. However, since these became hereditary, passing from father to son without the need of the king’s consent, the local governors became increasingly independent in their attitude towards the centralised government at Memphis. They often no longer elected to be buried in mastabas near the king’s pyramid, but were buried in rock-cut tombs in the cliffs of their own localities.

By the Nagada II period, there was increased contact with other parts of the Near East, and gradually, villages and towns in the north and south of Egypt developed into two distinct kingdoms, one in the Delta, known as the ‘Red Land’, and one in Upper Egypt, known as the ‘White Land’. Each had its own king, who was the most powerful of the local chieftains in the area. It was the unification by a southern ruler of these two kingdoms—the ‘Two Lands’—in c. 3100 BC that ushered in the historical period, with the establishment of the 1st Dynasty.

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