Ancient Egypt History > First Intermediate Period of Egypt

First Intermediate Period of Egypt

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Background

During the successful reigns of the previous kings the population of Egypt had grown to be over 1 million people by 2250 BCE. The intensification of agriculture and the massive population left many more mouths to feed and the famine left not enough food to feed them.

The fall of the Old Kingdom is often described as a period of chaos and disorder by some literature in the First Intermediate Period, but mostly by literature written in successive eras of ancient Egyptian history. The causes that brought about the downfall of the Old Kingdom are numerous, but some are merely hypothetical. One reason that is often quoted is the extremely long reign of Pepi II, the last major pharaoh of the 6th Dynasty. He ruled from his childhood until he was very elderly (at least into his nineties), outliving many of his heirs and therefore, created problems with succession in the royal household.[4] Thus, the regime of the Old Kingdom disintegrated amidst this disorganization.[5][6] Another major problem was the rise in power of the provincial nomarchs. Towards the end of the Old Kingdom the positions of the nomarchs had become hereditary, so families often held onto the position of power in their respective provinces. As these nomarchs grew increasingly powerful and influential, they became more independent from the king.[7] They erected tombs in their own domains and often raised armies. The rise of these numerous nomarchs inevitably created conflicts between neighboring provinces, often resulting in intense rivalries and warfare between them. A third reason for the dissolution of centralized kingship that is mentioned was the low levels of the Nile inundation which may have resulted in a drier climate and lower crop yields bringing about famine across ancient Egypt

The First Intermediate Period is classified by the 7th, 8th, 9th, 10th and part of the 11th dynasties of Egypt and there is little archaeological evidence that survives from this period. There was no major construction of monuments and the power appears to be shared by two major groups. The first was the power center in Lower Egypt based out of Heracleopolis and the second power center for Upper Egypt was based out of Thebes.

Eventually in 2,134 BCE the city of Thebes conquered the northern territories under the reign of Mentuhotep II and defeated the Lower Egyptian leaders. During this time temples and villages were pillaged, artwork vandalized and many statues and monuments destroyed in the ensuing chaos. Eventually Egypt would become reunified once again under a single ruler for the second part of the eleventh dynasty. This would eventually transition into the Middle Kingdom period.

First Intermediate Period of Egypt

Sources

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