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What are the Sources of Egyptian history?

The written history of Egypt dates back to about 3100 BC when Egypt witnessed the birth of one of the oldest civilizations in human history.

But real history started thousands of years before that but unfortunately is not written. The Egyptian civilization began on the banks of the Nile River and lasted for more than two thousand years. It is thus considered one of the longest-lived human civilizations and the most extended throughout history.

How and who divided Egyptian history?

Back in the 3rd century BC, an Egyptian chief priest of the accursed temples of Egypt from the town of Sebennytos (Samannud) in the Nile delta called Manetho wrote the History of Egypt.

Manetho lived under the reign of Ptolemy II(Philadelphus) and wrote the history of Egypt based on ancient records. Unfortunately, his work has survived only in brief excerpts.

The priest Manetho wrote the history of Egypt in 3 books starting with the gods, and demigods and ending with the mortal kings who ruled Egypt down to Darius, king of the Persians.

The history of Manetho is indebted both to Egyptian and Greeks texts, the book called Aegyptiaca or the Egyptian Matters (a collection of three books about the history of Ancient Egypt).

How did Manetho get his sources about Egyptian history?

As mentioned before, Manetho was the chief priest of Egyptian temples and he had the access to the archives of these temples. Such places contained the secrets of Pharaonic Civilization and pharaohs besides different kinds of writings from mythological texts to official records.

In other words, he had all sources he needed to write down what he was asked to write besides the oral history he got from people, priests, and locals. However, that was the reason to find myths, and folk tales mixed with facts sometimes about ancient Egyptian history.

Where is the Aegyptiaca now?

Unfortunately, the original Aegyptiaca does not exist anymore and it never had been found what reached us was just the comments of the later authors. Indeed, Josephus, Africanus, Syncellus, and Eusebius are the most important ones.

The problem some of those writers have conflicting information at the same time, however, the original work was being abused, commented on, and falsified for political and religious reasons.

Many of the writers pretended that they were based on the original work but it is not true. It is really hard to differentiate the original work from the fake ones or separate the fat from the myth. Anyhow, Manetho’s Aegyptiaca becomes a valuable source for the study.

Who wrote a history of Egypt still used today?

Manetho’s history of Egypt and the way he divided Egypt’s history into dynasties are still acceptable to scholars. He provided a chronology that goes back to the earliest dynasties till the Persian era. He divided Egyptian history into 30 dynasties as following

Pre-dynastic Period

The Thinite Period

The Old Kingdom

The First Intermediate Period

The Middle Kingdom

The Second Intermediate Period

The New Kingdom

The Third Intermediate Period

The Late Period

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