The ancient Egyptian civilization flourished along the banks of the Nile River, which supplied the waters that ensured a prosperous and lengthy agricultural vitality over the course of thousands of years. On the strength provided by this rich agricultural productivity, the Egyptian civilization was able to develop into one of the foremost and notable ancient empires, excelling in architecture (including the use of the ramp and the lever in construction), science, medicine (including the art of mummification), mathematics, writing (hieroglyphic script), art, engineering, stone masonry, irrigation techniques, and commerce. See also: Africa; Agricultural science (animal); Agricultural science (plant); Agriculture; Anthropology; Archeology; Architectural engineering; Inclined plane; Irrigation (agriculture); Lever; Masonry; Mathematics; Medicine; River; River engineering; Science; Scientific methods; Stone and stone products
Nomads in this region made some initial settlements along the Nile River as early as 8000 BC. The organization of farming communities, which grew into independent urban city-states, began about 5000 BC. By 3100 BC, these communities were unified into a single kingdom ruled by a king, known as a pharaoh. Through a series of dynastic kingdoms that followed, ancient Egypt remained an independent and stable powerhouse lasting almost 2500 years. See also: Domestication (anthropology)
One of the most important periods of ancient Egypt was the Old Kingdom, which lasted from approximately 2680 to 2180 BC. During this era, numerous spectacular architectural monuments were constructed, such as the pyramids [including the Great Pyramid of Cheops (Khufu), one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World] and the Great Sphinx at Giza. The Middle Kingdom (2055–1650 BC), when the pharaohs ruled from Thebes (modern-day Luxor), was another notable period, during which art and culture blossomed greatly, and trade expanded. The last great period of ancient Egypt was the New Kingdom (1550–1069 BC), which also centered in Thebes, during which further examples of architectural excellence were erected, including the temples of Abu Simbel, the temple complexes of Karnak, and the tombs located throughout the Valley of the Kings and the Valley of the Queens. The boundaries of Egypt also reached their greatest extent during this period, incorporating territories in present-day Palestine, Syria, and Sudan (Nubia).
It was not until the Assyrian invasions during the 7th century BC that Egypt was finally conquered, which then opened the way for subsequent invasions by the Persians, Alexander the Great (who established the city of Alexandria in 331 BC), and the Romans.