Which empires and kingdoms did Ancient Egypt have conflict with?
Ancient Egypt, with its rich history spanning over three millennia, encountered numerous adversaries, allies, and competitors. For example, tribes from Libya, to the west of Egypt, frequently clashed with the Egyptians.
While the list is extensive, here are some of the primary empires and kingdoms that Ancient Egypt had conflicts with throughout different periods of its history:
The western border of Egypt, adjacent to modern-day Libya, was historically a region where various Libyan tribes resided. These tribes often came into conflict with the Egyptians. These clashes could be over territory, resources, or other factors, and they occurred periodically throughout Egypt’s history.
The Third Intermediate Period is a phase in ancient Egyptian history that followed the end of the New Kingdom. It was characterized by political instability, foreign invasions, and division within Egypt. During this period of turmoil, Libyan chieftains gained power and influence in Egypt. Some of these Libyan leaders even managed to become pharaohs, effectively establishing the Libyan Dynasty. This dynasty is also known as the Twenty-Second Dynasty of Egypt.
The Libyan Dynasty ruled parts of Egypt from around 945 BC to 715 BC. While these rulers were originally from Libya, they assimilated into Egyptian culture and adopted Egyptian titles and customs. They established their rule in parts of the Nile Delta and Upper Egypt.
It’s worth mentioning that not all interactions between Egyptians and Libyans during this period were marked by conflict. In fact, there were periods of coexistence and cooperation between the two cultures, especially as Libyan rulers adopted Egyptian traditions.
The Libyan Dynasty eventually came to an end when the Assyrians, a powerful empire from the Near East, invaded Egypt and took control of the region. This marked the end of Libyan rule in Egypt.
The conflict between the Hittites and Egyptians culminated in the Battle of Kadesh around 1274 BC, which involved Ramses II (also known as Ramesses the Great) and Hittite king Muwatalli II. This battle is particularly noteworthy because it led to one of the earliest recorded peace treaties in history.
The Assyrian Empire, centered in the region of Mesopotamia (modern-day Iraq), was a powerful and expansionist empire during the late 7th century BC. Egypt, located to the southwest of Assyria, had a long history as a distinct and influential civilization.
Esarhaddon, an Assyrian king who ruled from 681 to 669 BC, initiated the invasion of Egypt. His campaign aimed to bring Egypt under Assyrian control. The Assyrian king’s military campaigns were characterized by the use of advanced military tactics and siege warfare, which allowed the Assyrians to capture key Egyptian cities.
Under Esarhaddon’s rule, the Assyrians achieved dominance over Egypt, effectively making it a vassal state of the Assyrian Empire. He installed a local Egyptian ruler, Necho I, as a puppet pharaoh to govern on his behalf. This allowed the Assyrians to exert control over Egyptian affairs.
Esarhaddon’s son, Ashurbanipal, continued to exert Assyrian control over Egypt during his reign, which lasted from 668 to 627 BC. Ashurbanipal maintained the vassal status of Egypt, and his rule was characterized by the collection of tribute and taxes from the Egyptian population.
The Assyrian domination of Egypt during the late 7th century BC had several historical consequences. It marked a period of direct foreign rule over Egypt by a non-Egyptian power, disrupting Egypt’s long history of independence.
Also, the conflict resulted in cultural and political interactions between the Assyrians and Egyptians, influencing Egyptian art, religion, and administration during this period.
The Assyrian domination of Egypt was part of a larger pattern of conquest and expansion by the Assyrian Empire in the ancient Near East.
Eventually, the Assyrian Empire itself faced decline and collapse due to various factors, including internal strife and external pressures.
The Assyrian Empire, which had been a dominant force in the ancient Near East, fell into decline and eventually collapsed during the late 7th century BC. This collapse was the result of a combination of factors, including internal strife, external pressures from rival powers, and rebellions by subject peoples.
Following the fall of Assyria, the Neo-Babylonian Empire, centered in the city of Babylon (in modern-day Iraq), emerged as a major regional power. Nebuchadnezzar II, one of the most famous Babylonian kings, played a significant role in the expansion and consolidation of Babylonian power.
Nebuchadnezzar II sought to extend Babylonian influence and control over neighboring regions, and one of his military objectives was the conquest of Egypt.
The attempts to invade Egypt were part of Nebuchadnezzar’s broader military campaigns, which aimed to secure Babylonian dominance in the eastern Mediterranean and western Asia.
The historical records provide varying accounts of Nebuchadnezzar’s success in his attempts to invade Egypt. Some sources suggest that he achieved limited success in gaining control over certain regions of Egypt, while others indicate that his campaigns faced resistance and were not entirely successful in securing Egypt under Babylonian rule.
Nebuchadnezzar II’s invasions of Egypt did not result in the complete subjugation of the entire Egyptian territory. Egypt remained a complex and fragmented land with various local rulers and centers of power.
These campaigns were part of a broader pattern of power shifts and territorial disputes in the ancient Near East during this period.
Cambyses II was the son of Cyrus the Great, the founder of the Achaemenid Persian Empire. In 525 BC, Cambyses II led a successful military campaign to conquer Egypt.
This conquest marked the beginning of the 27th Dynasty, also known as the First Persian Period. During this period, Egypt came under Persian rule, and the Persian kings ruled as pharaohs.
After a period of Persian rule, Egypt experienced a brief period of independence, known as the Egyptian Revolt, which led to the expulsion of the Persians.
However, in 343 BC, Artaxerxes III, a Persian king of the Achaemenid Empire, launched a campaign to reconquer Egypt.
This reconquest initiated the Second Persian Period in Egypt, during which the Persian Empire once again controlled the region.
The Persian conquests of Egypt were part of a broader expansion of the Achaemenid Persian Empire, which became one of the largest empires in ancient history.
Persian control over Egypt had significant political, economic, and cultural implications. The Persians introduced administrative changes and integrated Egypt into their empire, which had a lasting impact on Egyptian society.
These conquests also played a role in shaping the history and politics of the eastern Mediterranean and the broader region.
Around the end of the Bronze Age, mysterious naval raiders known as the Sea Peoples attacked various parts of the Eastern Mediterranean, including Egypt. Ramesses III of the New Kingdom fought these confederacies in a series of battles, which he depicted on the walls of the mortuary temple at Medinet Habu. The attacks mounted by the Sea Peoples targeted Egypt’s northeastern border along the Nile Delta, causing significant disruption and migrations.
Alexander the Great of Macedon conquered Egypt without significant resistance in 332 BC. After his death, one of his generals, Ptolemy I Soter, established the Ptolemaic Dynasty, which ruled until the Roman conquest in the first century BC.
READ MORE: Alexander the Great’s Conquest of Egypt
The final blow to Egypt’s independence came when the Romans, under Octavian (later Augustus), defeated Cleopatra VII and Mark Antony at the Battle of Actium in 31 BC. Egypt then became a province of the Roman Empire.
READ MORE: How the Romans conquered ancient Egypt