There is evidence of Neolithic habitation along the Nile and there was agricultural activity by 6000 BC. Around 3100 BC Menes united Upper and Lower Egypt and so began the rule of 31 successive pharaonic dynasties. This period was marked by three phases. The Old Kingdom, which lasted from c. 2575–2150 BC, was governed centrally from Memphis and saw the construction of the Giza pyramids. The Middle Kingdom (c. 2050–1650 BC) saw Egypt reach its zenith culturally and intellectually. The era finished with the incursions of the Hyksos, a nomadic Asiatic tribe. The New Kingdom came into being with the expulsion of the Hyksos around 1550 BC and lasted until 1050 BC. It saw Egypt achieve its greatest territorial dominance, with Syria, Palestine and northern Iraq all under Egyptian jurisdiction.
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