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Egypt and the Persians


    Egypt most likely had some type of interaction with the Persian Empire throughout its history, but nothing as substantial as what occurred late in the history of the Egyptian Empire. Persia, which is now present day Iran, was expanding its already vast empire and had Egypt in its sights.

    During the Late Period (1085-322 BC) in Egyptian history, Egypt was conquered and ruled by many different invaders. Each tried to spread their influence throughout Egypt. Some were more successful then others. After the Assyrians forced the Nubian pharaoh out, bringing the Twenty-fifth Dynasty to an end, Psammetichus I governed for the Assyrians. He was an Egyptian prince from the Delta who carried out their orders. Later the Assyrians moved their troops out of Egypt to wage war on the Persians, and Psammetichus I declared himself pharaoh of Egypt and started the Twenty-sixth Dynasty. This was the last great dynasty in Egypt, and it saw the rebirth of art and architecture, as well as the introduction of new technologies to Egypt. This last great dynasty was not to last very long.

    By 525 BC, the Twenty-sixth Dynasty had lost all power and was soon invaded by the Persians. The Persian rulers were not interested in reliving any of the glory days of Egypt's past and instead instituted a strict, harsh rule over the Egyptian people. They made Egypt a satrapy, or province of the Persian Empire. They did however allow local traditions to continue. They also collected all the taxes that were paid by the Egyptian people. This rule over Egypt by the Persians was considered the Twenty-seventh Dynasty.

    The Persian leader who conquered Egypt in 525 BC was Cambyses. He was responsible for finishing a construction project, which started in the Twenty-sixth Dynasty that connected the Nile to the Red Sea through the building of a canal. There were many uprisings against Persian rule, and Egyptians sought further help from the Greeks. Around 400 BC, Amyrtaeus, an Egyptian was successful in driving out the Persians from Egypt. This began the Twenty-eighth Dynasty in which Egypt was ruled by native kings with the help of Greek mercenaries.

    The Persians did not give up their quest for Egypt so easily, and had conquered it again around 343 BC. This lasted about 10 years until the Egyptians welcomed their Greek conquerors. Alexander the Great took Egypt from the Persians and founded the city of Alexandria, leading to many years of Greek control over Egypt.







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