Most history textbooks open with a description of ancient Egypt as a towering civilization that, for more than a millennium, led mankind’s intellectual, political and cultural advancement. Each year, millions of visitors marvel at the pyramids jutting from Egypt’s dunes, at the mummified remains of the ancient pharaohs, and at Egypt’s mountains of other artifacts and relics—all testimony to the power the civilization once held.
But perhaps the most striking facet of Egyptian history is its precipitous fall.
Modern-day Egyptians, after all, are not descended from those ancient societies that constructed the Giza Pyramid Complex, the Great Sphinx, and other momentous structures. They have no connection to the early dynastic peoples that pioneered new frontiers in science, mathematics and art, and that once dominated the civilized world. Today’s Egypt is inhabited and ruled by Arabs; before that it was under British control; before that it was controlled by various Muslim peoples, including the Ottomans; before that it was the Romans; before that the Greeks; and before that the Persians.
Egypt has resurfaced intermittently in the past 2,500 years of world history,but always as the territory of a foreign nation or empire. What happened toancient Egypt—the unique and independent civilization established by the pharaohs, the nation that once reigned over mankind? That Egypt has clearly vanished.