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Dates in Ancient Egypt

Egyptologists (people who study Ancient Egypt) divide the history of Ancient Egypt into Periods, Kingdoms, Dynasties and Reigns, but the Ancient Egyptians themselves used only Reigns.


There were about three hundred and fifty Kings of Egypt from the time that Narmer first united Upper and Lower Egypt in about 2920 (all dates in Ancient Egypt are BCE so we do not usually bother to say this) until Alexander the Great conquered Egypt in 332. The last Egyptian King of Egypt was Nectabeno ii, who ruled from 360 to 343.

Some Kings reigned only a few months, and some many years. The longest reign was that of Pepi ii who became King when he was six years old and lived to be more than a hundred - his ninety four year reign is probably the longest reign of any King of any country at any time!

The Egyptians wrote down almost everything, and many Pharaohs had the names of all the Kings who had reigned before them carved on the walls of their temples. These are called King Lists - we get a lot of our information about Egyptian Kings from these King Lists, although as described in the next section sometimes they have been altered so are not always very reliable.


Usually when one King died his son succeeded him. The new King would normally keep many of his father’s advisers so there would not often be great changes to the way the country was run. The Kingship remained in one family, or Dynasty.

Sometimes however the new King was not a member of the old King’s family and did not keep all the old King’s advisers. There might be great changes in the way Egypt was run when a new family began to rule Egypt: we say a new Dynasty had begun.

It is usually considered there were thirty one Dynasties in Ancient Egypt, numbered 1 to 31 (or in Roman numerals I to XXXI). Some Dynasties lasted for nearly two hundred years and others for less than ten. The 31st Dynasty is sometimes called the Second Persian Period. The Pharaohs of this Dynasty were Persians not Egyptians.

Dynasties are often used today but remember the Ancient Egyptians themselves did not use them - the very last thing any new Pharaoh wanted to claim for himself was that he was not directly descended from a long line of Pharaohs - he might even add names to (or cut names out of) King Lists to prove that he was!


Today we divide what many people consider to be the most glorious parts of Ancient Egyptian history into three Kingdoms. The Old, Middle and New Kingdoms were the times of Egypt’s greatest power, wealth, stability, architecture, art, literature and culture.


Anything which is not a Kingdom is a Period! We call the whole of the nearly three thousand years from Narmer to Alexander the Great the Dynastic Period, but most Periods are much shorter.

Some approximate dates

Here are some approximate dates for some Reigns, Dynasties, Kingdoms and Periods.

Early Dynastic Period 2920 - 2575
1st Dynasty 2920 - 2770
Narmer (became King of All Egypt in about 2920)
2nd Dynasty 2770 - 2649
3rd Dynasty 2649 - 2575
Djozer (2630 - 2611)

Old Kingdom 2575 - 2134 (The Age of Pyramids)
4th Dynasty 2575 - 2465
Sneferu (2575 - 2551)
Khufu (2551 - 2528)
5th Dynasty 2465 - 2323
6th Dynasty 2323 - 2150
Pepi ii (2246 - 2152)

First Intermediate Period 2134 - 2040
9th Dynasty to 11th Dynasty (A)

This began with a great famine and thousands of people starved. The central government collapsed, and for the next hundred years there were lots of Pharaohs who had very little real power.

Middle Kingdom 2040 - 1640 (The Classical Age)
11th Dynasty (B) to 14th Dynasty

Second Intermediate Period 1640 - 1532 (The Hyksos Kings)
15th Dynasty to 17th Dynasty

New Kingdom 1550 - 1070 (The Empire)
18th Dynasty 1550 - 1307
Hatshepsut (1473 - 1458)
Akhenaten (1353 - 1335)
Tutankamen (1333 - 1323)
19th Dynasty 1307 - 1196
Ramesses ii (1290 - 1224)
20th Dynasty 1196 - 1070

Third Intermediate Period 1070 - 712
21st Dynasty to 25th Dynasty

Late Period 712 - 332
25th Dynasty to 31st Dynasty
30th Dynasty 380 - 343
Nectanebo iii (360 - 343)
31st Dynasty 343 - 332 (Second Persian Period)
Darius iii (335 - 332)

These dates are taken from Atlas of Ancient Egypt by John Baines and Jaromir Malek. You may find other books give different dates, and the reasons for this are discussed on another page - to link to it please click here scarab

A much more complete list of all the Pharaohs can be found on The Ancient History Timelines web site, but it does not use the same dates as I have done. To visit it please click here scarab

© Barry Gray September 2001