The Late Period (525-331 BC)
Conditions in Egypt during this period really mirrored those in the Third Intermediate Period. Some historians place the 26 th Dynastic in the Late Period and other put it in the Third Intermediate Period. That confusion alone reveals how similar the situation was. All Egyptologists agree that the 26 th Dynasty was the last in which Egypt was ruled by native kings (Pharaohs). After that time, the rulers often adopted and mimicked leadership styles and traditions of earlier Pharoanic times but this was the time in Ancient Egypt where the country was led by native rulers. After a brief interlude in which the Assyrians were driven out, the Persians came in and conquered the country. It took Alexander the Great to dislodge the Persians from their control of the country. We were not taken to see any monuments or buildings related to the Late Period and that is probably because construction was not a primary concern of the rulers coming from other countries even though they did honor many Egyptian traditions. It is probably true that we saw artifacts and art works at the Museum of Egyptian Antiquities which dated from the Late Period but they were not pointed to as having great significance for our visit. We were told that Egyptian art during this period became much more centered on individuality of subjects—both human and animal. There was greater emphasis on specific details of animal bodies in sculptures, in an effort to create exact likenesses of the creatures rather than generalized formations. Human beings, even from lower social strata than the kings and noblemen, were particularized in carvings and paintings. We definitely saw some statuary in the Museum of Egyptian Antiquities that reflected that shift in artistic goals.
The Thirty-first Dynasty (331-323 BC)
Alexander the Great has a dynasty all his own in the Egyptology timeline. Of course, that shouldn't be a surprise since he conquered the known world during his time, including Egypt. When he defeated the Persians in their own lands, he also took control of Egypt. Though his reign was short in time, it was much longer lasting in influence. His successor rulers would be the Ptolemaic kings, those Pharaohs of Greek ethnicity, whose defeat during Roman times (30 BC) would conclude the story of Ancient Egypt.
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