The New Kingdom
The Nineteenth Dynasty (1320-1200BC) was established by the Horemheb's wazir, or minister, Ramses I who reigned for two years. Ramses and his descendants were warrior kings who recaptured territories lost under Akhenaten. His successor Seti I regained control over Egypt's eastern colonies in Palestine, Nubia and the Near East. Seti I also began construction on a majestic temple at Abydos which was completed by his son Ramses II who reconquered Asia Minor. Ramses also constructed monumental structures like the Ramesseum in Thebes and the sun temples of Abu Simbel. His son Merneptah spent much of his reign driving back invaders from Libya and the Mediterranean but he is believed to be the biblical Pharaoh described in Exodus. Seti II was the last king of the Nineteenth Dynasty.
The Twentieth Dynasty (1200-1085BC) was to be the last of the New Kingdom and was first established by Sethnakhte. By the reign of his successor Ramses III, the kingdom was occupied with defending itself against Libyan and "Sea People" invasions. Ramses III constructed the enormous palace temple of Medinet Hebu but the empire had begun to disintegrate with strikes, assassination attempts and provincial unrest. His successors, who were all named Ramses, presided over the decline of their empire until Ramses XI withdrew from active control over his kingdom, delegating authority over Upper Egypt to his high priest of Amun, Herihor, and of Lower Egypt to his minister Smendes. These two rulers were the last of the New Kingdom.
The Twenty-First Dynasty was established by successors of Herihor and Smendes who continued to rule Upper and Lower Egypt separately from Thebes and Tanis. But by this period external threats from Libyan invaders and others were eroding Egypt's power to defend itself. Eventually both Upper and Lower Egypt succumbed to foreign invasions. The Tanites were driven from power by Libyan warriors who established their own Twenty-Second Dynasty. Upper Egypt held out longer against Nubian invaders until being overrun by the armies of their ruler Piankhi all the way to Memphis. Piankhi's brother Shabaka marched north to conquer the Delta and reunite Upper and Lower Egypt under the Twenty-Fifth Dynastyof Nubian Kings (747-656BC). During this period there was an artistic and cultural revival. The Twenty-Fifth Dynasty ended when Assyrian armies captured Memphis and attacked Thebes, driving the Nubian pharaoh Tanutamun back to Nubia. The Assyrians found a willing Egyptian collaborator in the form of a prince from the Delta. Psammetichus I governed on behalf of the Assyrians until they were forced to withdraw their forces to wage war against the Persian Empire. On the departure of the Assyrians, Psammetichus I declared himself pharaoh and established the Twenty-Sixth Dynasty, ruling over a re-united Egypt from his capital at Saïs in the Delta. This was to be the last great Pharaonic age which witnessed the revival of majestic art and architecture and the introduction of new technologies. Gradually, though, the power of the kingdom was eroded through invasion, ending ignominiously when Amasis, "the Drunkard", was forced to depend on Greek forces to defend his Kingdom against the onslaught of Persian imperial armies. The Persians first invaded Egypt in 525BC, initiating a period of foreign domination of the country which lasted until 1952, when an Egyptian republic replaced the monarchy of King Farouk. The conquering Persians established the Twenty-Seventh Dynasty (525-404BC) which ruled Egypt with an iron hand. The Persians, under the emperors Cambyses and Darius, completed a canal connecting the Nile with the Red Sea which had been started by the Twenty-Sixth Dynasty king Necho II. They also constructed temples and a new city on the site of what is now called Old Cairo. This was called Babylon in Egypt. The harshness of Persian rule resulted in revolts against the Persian satraps Xerxes and Artaxerxes which led to the Twenty-Eighth dynasty of the Egyptian ruler Amyrtaeus and his successors. The Egyptian kings of succeeding dynasties were under continual attack by Persians until the Thirtieth and final Pharaonic dynasty was overthrown by Artaxerxes III, remaining under Persian domination until the arrival of Alexander the Great in 332BC.