Unit 1: Ancient Africa - The Cradle of Civilization
(200,000 B.C. - 476 B.C.)

Unit 1: Class 8: Ancient Kemet (Egypt): The Old Kingdom & First Intermediate Period (3150 B.C. – 2055 B.C.)

Ancient Egypt: Old Kingdom (2700 - 2200 B.C.) and First Intermediate Period (2181 - 2055 B.C.) 

People To Know
Pharaoh Djedefre (2580 B.C.E.). Djedefre was the son of Khufu. He is the first Pharaoh to introduce the royal title Sa-Rê (meaning “Son of Ra”) and the first to connect his cartouche name with the sun god Ra.
The founder of the Ninth Dynasty, Wankhare Kheti I, is described in legend as an evil and violent ruler who caused much harm to his subjects, was seized with madness and was killed by a crocodile. His successors Wankhare Kheti II and Wankhare Kheti III restored order to the Delta, although their power and influence was never significant compared to that of the Old Kingdom pharaohs.

Herakleopolis Magna, the Greek name of the capital of Heracleopolis, was a cult center of Heryshaf, whom the Greeks identified with Herakles (Hercules).

Legend suggests that a vast labyrinth lay beneath Herakleopolis. During the 1940s, a British archaeological team was rumored to have discovered the labyrinth but were unable to complete the excavation due to a previously unknown curse, which caused illness among team members and the disappearance of one of the team leaders. The exact location of the labyrinth still remains a mystery.

A 2008 excavation of the site conducted by the Egyptian Supreme Council of Antiquities uncovered burial chambers that had been deliberately burned during ancient times (during military expeditions? by pillagers?). Amid the charred rubble, excavators found finely carved and painted panels decorated with "false doors," including one inscribed with the royal name Khety, that served as portals for communicating with the dead. 

Rise of the Theban Kings. Evidence suggests that an invasion of Upper Egypt occurred, simultaneous with the founding of the Heracleopolitan kingdom, which established the Theban line of kings, who comprise the Eleventh and Twelfth Dynasties. This line of kings is believed to have been descendants of Intef or Inyotef (reign ? – 2118 BC), who was the nomarch of Thebes, called the “keeper of the Door of the South”. He is credited for organizing Upper Egypt into an independent ruling body in the south, although he did not claim the title of king. His successors in the Eleventh and Twelfth Dynasties would later do so for him. One of them, Intef II (reign 2118–2069 BC), began the assault on the north at Abydos. Intef III (reign 2069–2061 BC) completed the attack on the north and eventually captured Abydos, moving into Middle Egypt against the Heracleopolitan kings. The first three kings of the Eleventh Dynasty — all named Intef — were also the last three kings of the First Intermediate Period and were succeeded by a line of kings who were all called Mentuhotep. Mentuhotep II (reign 2061–2010 BC), also known as Nebhepetra, eventually defeated the Heracleopolitan kings around 2033 BC.

The end of the First Intermediate Period occurred when Mentuhotep II defeated the Heracleopolitan kings of Lower Egypt and reunited Egypt under a single ruler. This act ushered in a period of great wealth and prosperity known as the Middle Kingdom.

United States Department of Defense
Cultural Property Training Resource

Sneferu's Pyramids
Close-up of Pharaoh Djedefre
It is believed that Djedefre built the Great Sphinx in the likeness of his father to oversee his father's Great Pyramid at Giza. His pyramid at Giza was completely destroyed as late as the 2nd century C.E.




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