With over three thousand years of history, Egypt boasts a vast array of kings and dynasties. While we have previously covered the different eras of this civilization, we have compiled a dedicated table that outlines the chronology of the Egyptian pharaohs. This timeline serves as a useful reference guide when exploring cities or monuments. While our knowledgeable guides can provide context and anecdotes, having a structured timeline like this can help you organize dates and other pieces of information you encounter during your travels. We recommend keeping this resource close at hand to quickly clear up any doubts or questions that may arise during your trip.
This is the basic outline of the periods in which Ancient Egypt is divided, which we will expand on below:
It is important to acknowledge that there is not always a consensus among experts regarding the chronology and dates of the Egyptian pharaohs, particularly in the early dynasties of Egypt, due to a lack of reliable and precise documentation. Furthermore, there is not complete precision in terms of names, so the following list of monarchs includes the different variants that have been used throughout history.
Despite this, there are several documentary sources that are given greater consideration, including the list compiled by Manetho, a priest of Heliopolis, in the 3rd century BC, the royal list of the temple of Seti I in Abydos, the Palermo Stone, the Saqqara Royal List, and the fragments of the Turin Egyptian Museum papyrus, also known as the Turin Canon.
This is the time when Ancient Egypt was formed, with reigns and periods that are challenging to date, often blending history with mythology.
This period is also known as the Thinite Period, named after Thinis, which was the initial capital of this united kingdom and the place of origin of the ruling monarchs.
The Old Kingdom is a period in Egyptian history that includes four dynasties. It is commonly referred to as the Period of the Pyramids, as the most notable aspect of this era was the construction of these magnificent funerary structures.
During this period, Egypt experienced a significant decentralization of power in the nomes, causing the country to lose its unity. The dynasties overlapped, and the nominal power rested with Memphite rulers, while the actual power was held by nomarchs from various regions. The period was marked by instability and military conflicts between different territories.
During the Middle Kingdom, the pharaohs once again held power over the entire unified country, with Thebes (or Waset, modern-day Luxor) serving as the capital.
This marks a turbulent time in the history of ancient Egypt, characterized by the rise of new dynasties that failed to assert their authority and the domination of the country by foreign invaders known as the Hyksos (dynasties XV and XVI). The Kingdom of Kush also posed a threat, extending its reach up to the first cataract of the Nile.
During the New Kingdom, Egypt was reunited after the defeat of the Hyksos and several dynasties ruled over the entire territory, marking one of the most glorious periods in Egyptian history.
Following the conclusion of the Ramesside Period and the New Kingdom, a new era of division and fragmentation began in Egypt. Different centers of power emerged contemporaneously, leading to the rise of various Egyptian dynasties from the XXI to the XXV, mostly of Libyan origin, who combined their own traditions with the Egyptian culture.
Furthermore, the High Priests of Amun in Upper Egypt were an institution that held effective power. These priests had amassed great power throughout the New Kingdom, and they now served as top officials of a large territory around their capital, Thebes. Some high priests also became pharaohs and are included in the chronology of Egyptian pharaohs, such as Psusennes III (who was the pharaoh of the XXI dynasty under the name Psusennes II), Sheshonq II (XXII dynasty), and Osorkon III (XXIII dynasty).
During this era, foreign powers formed or dominated the dynasties of Egypt.
In 332 BC, Egypt was under Persian domination, but also caught the attention of Alexander the Great. After conquering several cities in the Near East, he entered Egypt and was hailed as a liberator. This marked the beginning of the Hellenistic period, which saw the rise of two dynasties in Egypt:
Following the Battle of Actium, Egypt became a Roman province governed by a prefect under the authority of the Roman emperor, and dynasties in Egypt could no longer exist. Thus, no new names could be added to this chronology of Egyptian pharaohs. However, some Roman emperors continued to show fascination for Egyptian civilization, and various prefects built temples in the region.