The Second Intermediate Period (1704-1540 BC)
Just as the accomplishments of the Old Kingdom were followed by the disastrous and chaotic First Intermediate Period, so the rebuilding and reforming of the unified nation which occurred in the Middle Kingdom disintegrated again into an anarchic and disorganized Second Intermediate Period. This was characterized by dynasties where the names of the Pharaohs are mostly unknown. Egyptologists are forced to delineate this period as a time of “many kings” rather than important individuals. The 14 th , 15 th , 16 th and 17 th dynasties are assigned to this period but very few of the names that are known are familiar to other than serious students of Egyptian history. Therefore, we encountered the same situation with this period of history as with the First Intermediate Period. We probably passed by artifacts and statues from this time when we visited various Museums in our travels but none were pointed out to us as particularly important or characteristic of Egyptian historical evolution.
The New Kingdom (1540-1069 BC)
The three dynasties which comprise the New Kingdom are the most famous among visitors to Egypt, casual readers of Egyptian history, and amateur historians. The Pharaohs who ruled during these three dynasties have the names which roll across the pages of Egyptian history for most of us. Pharaohs like Ramses II (Ramses the Great), Tutankhamen (The Boy King), Amenhoteps I, II, and III, Thutmose I, II, III, and IV, Akhenaton (The Heretic Pharaoh), and Hatshepsut (The Female Pharaoh). First time visitors to Egypt are taken to the sites associated with these names most often and most commonly because these are names that resonate. And our trip was no different: these are the Pharaohs we “visited” often in their various sites and monuments and tombs and temples. Most Egyptologists agree that the most glorious period in the history of Ancient Egypt is comprised of the 18 th , 19 th and 20 th Dynasties of the New Kingdom. Egypt was at the height of its powers, the country was at its most unified, religion was strongest among all the people, prosperity reached the most people, the greatest monuments and structures were built and the art was at its highest development. The New Kingdom time frame was the true Golden Age of Ancient Egypt. And because of all this building and artwork, we have the most written records and examples of the civilization of Egypt during this period. We know the most about these Pharaohs because they left so any monuments
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