Historical Perspective

Ramses the Great
Egypt is among one of the oldest civilization in the world beginning as nomads in the Nile river valley around 6000 B.C. Eventually forming the Kingdoms of Upper and Lower Egypt, which finally unified in 3400 B.C. They were best known for their awe-inspiring architecture and monuments. Among their rulers Ramses II or Ramses the Great as he was known, was their most prodigious builder. They were also advanced in art, science and literature. Possessing the most extensive library of the ancient world for almost a 1000 years. Their treasures were great and none represented this more then the child King, Tutankhamun, whose tomb when Howard Carter found it in 1922 A.D. has enthralled the world with its mystery and splendor ever since.

The Nile River was the wellspring of the Egyptian civilization and their Pharaoh was their god king on earth charged with the responsibility and had the divine power to ensure this life-giving river provided for its people. When this failed, it usually also signaled a change in the rulers for this ancient land. Indeed throughout its history, Egypt was ruled by thirty-two different dynasties, and sometimes by foreign rule. In fact from 342 B.C. the Egyptian were not to rule their own lands until modern times. Since then the Persians, Greeks, the Arabs, the Ottoman Turks, French, and then the British have ruled over Egypt. Finally regaining its independence in 1952 A.D.

Dynastic rule in Egypt began with the world's first imperial city of Memphis, under King Menes. This period, known as the "Archaic Period" which lasted until 2686 B.C., saw the Egyptian civilization began to take root, with the development of the capitol, and refinement of Egyptian culture. It also saw the conquest of the Sinai, and continuing solidification of central rule to keep the Kingdoms of Lower Egypt, whose patron deity Horus, and Upper Egypt, whose patron deity was Seth, intact. The third dynasty heralded the beginning of what is called "The Old Kingdom", lasting from 2686 B.C. to 2181 B.C. Attesting to the great power of the Pharaohs it is at this period that the Egyptians penchant for building grand monuments began with King Zoser's step-Pyramid. The annual flood of the Nile, which reinvigorated the land, created a religion that believed in rebirth after death, and an afterlife. The practice of mummification as a religious rite also began at this time to ensure this afterlife would take place. The worship of Ra the Sun god also attained primacy within the Egyptian religion at this time. The pharaohs of the forth dynasty continued the pyramid building tradition with the Giza pyramids. They also sent military expeditions to Nubia and Libya to extend Egypt's power and influence. However increasing expenditures to quell rebellions in these lands and the rising aristocracy saw the end of the "Old Kingdom", and Egypt entered into the "First Intermediate Period".

This period saw numerous rulers laying claims to the throne, the dissolution of Upper and Lower Egypt, as well as a drought upon the land that set the backdrop for the turmoil. Finally in 2050 B.C. Mentuhope II reunited the country and re-established Pharaonic rule over Egypt, launching military campaigns to recapture the lands that rebelled against Egypt. This period began what is known as the "Middle Kingdom". The last of the pyramid tombs were also built during this time. But yet again provincial governors eventually chipped away at the power of the Pharaoh until, a foreign tribe called the Hyskos managed to invade, and establish their own Pharaoh to rule over Egypt in what is called the "Second Intermediate Period", which lasted from 1786 B.C. to 1567 B.C.

Step Pyramid

The Hyskos was finally driven out of Egypt by King Ahmosis establishing the eighteenth dynasty, and what is called the "New Kingdom". It is at this time that the Egyptians became a world power, and Egyptian culture reached a new height in sophistication. The empire expanded under the conquests of various Pharaohs, conquering Nubia and into the borders the Hittite Empire. Many of the greatest Pharaonic structures were built at this time, including the Temple of Luxor. The Egyptian religion saw much turmoil during this time. Akhenaten and his queen Nefertiti went against millennia of established traditions and established monotheism with the god Aten. No sooners after his death did the Egyptians reject this, and denounced his reforms as heresy and reverted to their old polytheistic traditions. The child King Tutankhamun also ruled at this time, and in fact, it was during his and subsequent rulers' reign that any traces of Akhenaten and his religion was fervently eradicated. The latter period of the New Kingdom saw the reign of Ramses. He and descendants were warrior Kings who sought to regain the territory lost during the reign of Akhenaten. Ramses II was the best known of the Pharaohs of this period, not only because he was very prone to trumpet his accomplishments. But in his long life created many monuments which not only outnumbering all other Pharaohs, but also in grandeur. In his youth his expedition to conquer disputed territory between the Egyptian and the Hittites lead to the Battle of Kadesh. His personal bravery at the battle turned what would have been a defeat into a draw, which he conveniently spun into a glorious victory. However exaggerated and bombastic his style, he also managed to guide Egypt into a peace treaty in 1280 B.C. with the Hittites. It created a strong and relatively stable bond between the two superpowers of the ancient world until the Hittite Empire itself ended. He accomplishments were not the only reason for his fame, but it is believed also that he is Biblical Pharaoh described in Exodus who interacted with Moses. The New Kingdom period ended when again Egypt was divided into two kingdoms. This led to foreign invasions once again, and foreign rule.

Great Pyramid and Sphinx at Giza

This period is called the "Late Period" which lasted from 1085 B.C. to 322 B.C. This period began with the Libyans taking over the north (Lower Egypt), and the Nubians from the south (Upper Egypt), who eventually reunited both Egypts. However with the help of resentful Egyptians, the Assyrians took over from the Nubians. The Assyrian war with the Persians forced them to withdraw and once again Egypt was ruled by an Egyptian when Psammethchus I declared himself Pharaoh. His reign also saw the revival of the traditions and culture of ancient Egypt, however this was not to last. The Persian invasion in 525 B.C. succeeded in resting control of Egypt, and they ruled until 332 B.C. The Persians had no interest in reliving ancient Egypt's past or ruling as Pharaohs as the past invaders had, and ruled the Egyptian as a subject people of the Persian Empire. Their rule was interrupted when an Egyptian rebellion managed to seize control between 425 B.C. and 342 B.C. But this would also be the last time Egypt would be ruled by Egyptians until the modern era.

Temple of Luxor

Cleopatra VII
Battle of Actium
Persian rule in Egypt was finally ended when Alexander the Great defeated the them in the Battle of Issus (in present day Turkey) in 333 B.C. When he entered into Egypt the next year the Egyptians welcomed him as their liberator accepted him as Pharaoh of Egypt. Establishing a new capitol for Egypt called Alexandria. When Alexander died shortly after, his Empire was left to his lieutenants. Thus Ptolemy became governor of Egypt, but he eventually declared his independence from the Macedonian Empire. He made himself Pharaoh and established the Ptolemaic dynasty. This time saw Greek become the official language of Egypt, and an integration of Greek culture, military traditions, and technology with Egyptian traditions. The library of Alexandria was built at this time; it eventually boasted the largest collection of books in the ancient world. It was also at this time that the Rosetta stone was carved, and what would allow the language of the ancient Egyptians to be translated into modern text, as the stone contained both ancient Egyptian hieroglyphs and Greek. However, the reign of the Ptolemaic Pharaohs eventually began to decline as a result of internal power struggles, and the emergence of Rome as a world power. Eventually seizing total control when Julius Caesar marched on the Egyptian capitol. The last of the Ptolemies was Cleopatra VII. She was an ambitious and able ruler who wanted to preserve Egypt's independence and restore its glory. So to this end she had a son with the Roman Caesar, then later became the wife of Mark Antony who was Julius Caesar's chief lieutenant. They managed to keep Egypt independent for 10 years before the next Roman Caesar; Octavian defeated the Egyptians at the battle of Actium in 31 B.C. driving Antony and Cleopatra to suicide.

This period ushered in the era of Roman rule, and continuing with the Byzantine Empire until 640 A.D. The Romans like the Greeks integrated their culture with the Egyptian. As before the Egyptians eventually adopted latin as their language, and was granted roman citizenship in 212 A.D. This period in Egyptian history can hardly be separated from that of the Roman Empire and like Rome saw the gradual emergence of Christianity in 37 A.D. In Egypt they establishment of the Coptic Church. Like Christians in the rest of the Empire they were persecuted but by the middle of the 4th century A.D. Egypt was largely Christian, as was the rest of the Roman Empire. After the fall of Rome, Egypt was ruled by the Byzantine Empire. But a schism between Egypt and Byzantium developed after the Council of Chalcedon in 451 A.D. on the nature of Christ. The Coptic Church refused to accept the council's interpretation and rejected any bishops sent from their Byzantine rulers. During this time the Roman Empire also saw Egypt as little more then a place to supply it with grain and riches, investing very little back into Egypt. So when the Arabs invaded in 639 A.D. the Egyptians offered skant resistance. Amr ibn al As, the Muslim Hero who seized Egypt from the Byzantines, then established a new capitol in Cairo.

The Arabs gave the Egyptians three choices: convert to Islam, retain their religion in exchange for tax payments, or death. The Egyptians took the second option. The Arabs ruled Egypt as a province and treated the Egyptians fairly well, leaving the Coptic Church to rebuild after years of persecution by the Catholic Byzantines. But eventually the Egyptians began to adopt Islam, and the Arabic language. Egypt became a center for learning this period marked a high point in the culture of both Egypt and its Arab rulers. Egypt under the Arabs also became a prominent trading nation around the Mediterranean. Political changes within the Arab Empire also saw Egypt regain autonomy if under various Arab rulers during 868 A.D. to 1168 A.D. However, Egypt was once again brought back into the fold of the Arab Empire by the Kurdish general Salah ad Din ibn Ayyub, better known as Saladin by the Europeans.

Saladin (Sketch by European Artist)

Ibrahim Pasha
General and Eldest Son of
Muhammad Ali
During this period Turkish tribes from central Asia began to migrate west towards the middle east, being employed by the various Arab caliphates as mercenaries who called them Mamelukes (or slaves). They eventually reduced their Arab employers to the state of puppet governments before seizing control themselves for their powerful Generals declaring themselves proudly as Mameluke Sultans. In 1258 A.D. the Mongols invaded Egypt. The Mamelukes defeated the Mongols at the battle of Ain Jalut, becoming the only military force in history to ever accomplish such a feat. The Mamelukes ruled Egypt until 1518 A.D. When the Ottomans under Selim I, defeated the Mamelukes at Ar Raydaniyah. The Mameluke while no longer rulers still retained much power and influence over Egypt. Eventually regaining control of Egypt in 1760 A.D, until France under Napoleon invaded and took control of Egypt in 1799 A.D. The French did not however have much impact on Egypt in their short occupation of Egypt but awoke Europe's fascination with Egypt when Napoleon's forces rediscovered the Rosetta stone. It also brought to light Egypt's strategic importance as the junction between the Mediterranean and the Persian Gulf. The conflict between France and Britain caused the British to ally with the Ottoman Empire to drive out the French, doing so in 1801 A.D.

This time Ottomans were more careful to remove the Mameluke power structure, and appointed Muhammad Ali, who has been called the "father of modern Egypt" to seized control of both Upper and Lower Egypt in 1805 A.D. He proceeded to modernize Egypt introducing industrialization on a broad scale. However he also had ambitions beyond the reunification of Egypt, in fact he wanted to achieve Egypt's independence from the Ottoman Empire under his rule. His forces were defeat by the combined forces the Ottomans and their European allies. Egypt was forced to accept an unfair trade pact, which eventually lead to Egypt's economic ruin.

Britain eventually used the huge debt this created and the resistance to European interference as a pretext to occupy the country in 1882 A.D. During this time, Egypt as part of the British Empire played a key role in World War II to stem the advance of the Germans in North Africa. After the war, Lt. Colonel Gamal Abdul Nasser led a group of officers in a revolution against the British occupation in 1952 A.D. Struggling to shake the shackles of European Imperialism, Egypt set a course for itself as a non-aligned nation during the cold war period, and strengthening ties with the Arab world. In the years that followed regional conflicts continued, but Egypt has managed to steer itself through the turmoil to become a respected regional power.

Overall Strategy for Players Using Egypt

Ramses II Riding Chariot into Battle
Egypt is equipped well for early game rushes with their War Chariots. The fast moving and ranged attacks of their chariots archers are an ideal rushing unit. These units are not only good in a rush, but also as a defensive or countering force, as they will beat all other likely rush units of the early ages. Their ability to counter enemy cavalry continues with their later Camel units.

The Egyptian civilizations inherent advantage is in their ability to build Wonders, and build more farms. They will need to take advantage of these in order to collect the bonuses afforded by these structures and the earlier the better, as the Egyptians do not possess any inherent economic bonuses. The Egyptian player would do well to corner these wonders for its own use (as once a wonder is built they can not be built by another civilization). They should be helped in accomplishing this task by their ability to build wonders cheaper. However they will need to be careful to defend their cities so an enemy won't be able to capture those important wonders. Their farming bonus amounts to a bonus of 40% which is a huge bonus. This should give them plenty of food to age up, and build plenty of troops. The surplus can also be a great asset to trade for other needed resources. Mainly for Egypt it should be to build a bigger army to overwhelm opponents as they do not have any inherent military bonuses. However a larger army size, and military wonders should be used to offset this.

In summary the Egyptian player should try to use their early powerhouse units like the War Chariot in a rush if possible but if it looks risky should attempt to build and boom instead. Playing defensively, accumulating enough of an economic base to create an army that can withstand an invading army through sheer numbers. While taking advantage of as many wonder bonuses as possible. But they should also strive to attack before the last few ages are reached. With the lack of special units in the later ages, late game victories will likely depend on being able to successful repel an invasion and counter-attacking with massive force while the opponent is licking its wounds.

Egypt as modelled in Rise of Nations

Unique units

  • Light Cavalry Line
Light Camel (Ancient Age)
beats all light cavalry units.

Camel Warrior (Medieval Age)

Elite Camel Warrior (Gunpowder Age)

  • Cavalry Archer Line
Chariot (Ancient Age)
costs the same but beats horse archers

Heavy Chariot (Medieval Age)

Mameluke (Gunpowder Age)

Royal Mameluke (Enlightenment Age)

Unique powers (Power of the Nile)

  • +10% Food Commerce Limit
  • Can build 7 farms instead of 5 per city, farms generate +2 wealth
  • Start with a granary and receive Granary upgrades for free
  • Wonders cost 25% less, can be built an age early, and you may build two per City

Written By: One Dead Angel


Minnesota State University, The British Museum,, Ragz International.