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Egypt in the Old Kingdom

The Old Kingdom covers the Third to the Sixth Dynasty (about 2700 - 2200 BC). The period is famous for the massive pyramids that were built as tombs for the kings. It is one of the three main classical periods of Egyptian culture and history.

The most prominent ruler of the Third Dynasty is Netjerikhet, later named as Djoser; his principal minister was Imhotep, and he was buried at Saqqara in the Step Pyramid, the earliest pyramidal structure surviving in Egypt, and the first architectural complex made entirely in dressed stone blocks. The Third Dynasty covers less than a century; the brevity of the reigns of kings following Djoser is indicated by the fact that their own pyramid complexes were laid out on the same large scale, but never finished. King Snefru is the first ruler of the Fourth Dynasty. At Meydum he built the first true pyramid. Later in his , for unknown reasons, he built two other pyramids at Dahshur. Snefru's successor was Khufu, who built the great pyramid at Gizeh. In the Fifth Dynasty the pyramids of the kings were on a smaller scale. The cult complex of most Fifth Dynasty kings included a sun temple at a separate site, perhaps to provide a visual link between the burial place and the centre of the sun cult at Iunu/Heliopolis. Sometimes a distinction has been drawn between the solar devotion of the Fourth and Fifth Dynasty; however, the worship of the sun god Re, which was closely connected to the cult of the ruling king, was already central to kingship in the Fourth Dynasty and earlier. Kingship-cult sun temples were no longer built in the Sixth Dynasty. At the end of the Sixth Dynasty in the long reign of king Pepy II the central administration seems to have lost control over parts of Upper Egypt, and with this loss of unity the Old Kingdom effectively comes to an end.

meydum pyramid


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