Egypt was without question the first great civilization in Africa. Surrounded by the hostile desert, Egypt arose as a populous settlement as a "gift of the Nile River," which flooded surrounding plains and thus supported game and wild plants. Straddling the strategic land crossroads between Africa, Asia, and Europe, Egypt also became a point for interchange between the Mediterranean and Red seas and the Persian Gulf. Many developments affecting the rest of Africa took place in or near the Nile Valley, such as the cultivation of plants and the development of metal smelting. Thus, Egypt's major role in forming early African civilizations has been well established.
In modern times, scholars often underestimated the contributions of ancient Egypt to European civilization. More than two millennia ago, when the Ptolemaic Greeks came to rule Egypt, they extensively adopted and interpreted Egyptian spiritual, material, political, aesthetic, and intellectual systems. Although later Greek authorities freely acknowledged their cultural debt to Egypt, during the nineteenth century many European writers, limited by their ethnocentrism and racism, decided that black Africa could have had nothing to do with Europe's rise to greatness. Some treated Egypt as Middle Eastern and divorced it from the rest of Africa, whereas others went further, asserting the preeminence of northern Aryan sources of Greek civilization to the virtual exclusion of Semitic, African, and Egyptian influences.
Beginning in ancient times, Egypt was a genuine crossroads of peoples and cultures, and its peoples were multiethnic and multiracial, as depicted in dynastic drawings of their rulers. They came from as far way as Asia Minor and Nubia, in the upper Nile Valley. As a prosperous, advanced society with an enviable commercial and strategic location, Egypt attracted many conquerors who would come with their booty and advance technology. In the past three millennia, for example, Egypt has been ruled by the Kushites, Libyans, Assyrians, Persians, Greeks, Romans, Christians, Arabs, Turks, French, and English. as a prime cradle of human development, in some sense Egypt indeed belongs to all peoples.1
Links on Egypt
Index of Egyptian Sites
Egyptian Life and History-Links
Color Tour of Egypt
See Your Name in Hieroglyphs
Egyptian Museums and Collections