After Ramses II, Egyptian power slowly declined. Invaders, such as the Assyrians and the Persians, conquered the Nile region. Later Greek and Roman armies marched into the rich Nile Valley. Each new conqueror was eager to add the fertile Nile Valley to a growing empire.
Ramses II is known for the wars he waged with the Hittites and Libyans and for numerous building projects. He solidified the peace treaty with the Hittites by marrying a Hittite princess.
To the south of Egypt, the kingdom of Nubia had developed along the Nile. For centuries, Egyptians traded or fought with their southern neighbor. From Nubia, they acquired ivory, cattle, and slaves. During the New Kingdom, Egypt armies conquered Nubia. The pharaoh Ramses II used gold from Nubia to pay charioteers in his army. Nubians served in Egyptian armies and left their mark on Egyptian culture. Much Egyptian art of this period shows Nubian soldiers, musicians, or prisoners.
As Egypt declined, Nubia regained its independence. Then about 750 B.C., Nubian kings marched north, adding Egypt to their own lands. For 100 years, Nubian kings ruled an empire that stretched from what is today Sudan to the Mediterranean.
The Nubians saw themselves not as foreign conquerors but as restorers of Egyptian glory. They ruled Egypt like the pharaohs of earlier centuries. About 650 B.C., Assyrians, armed with iron weapons, descended on Egypt. They pushed the Nubians back into their original homeland, where Nubian monarchs ruled for 1,000 years more.
The ancient Egyptians believed in many gods and goddesses, each of whom had a role in maintaining peace and prosperity across Egypt.
In what ways was the Middle Kingdom turbulent?
Egyptians inherited from their earliest ancestors a variety of religious beliefs and practices. Inscriptions on monuments and wall paintings in tombs reveal how Egyptians appealed to the divine forces that they believed ruled this world and the afterlife.
In the sun-drenched land of Egypt, the chief god was the sun god Amon-Re (AH mun ray). The pharaoh, whom Egyptians viewed as god as well as king, was closely linked to Amon-Re. Only the pharaoh could conduct certain ceremonies for the sun god. Like many ancient civilizations, Egypt was a type of theocracy, or a system of government in which the ruler is a religious figure, such as a priest, or rules in the name of God or a god. For Egyptians, the pharaoh had religious authority to rule.