The Late Period, 664-323 B.C.
The Late Period includes the last periods during which
ancient Egypt functioned as an independent political entity.
During these years, Egyptian culture was under pressure from
major civilizations of the eastern Mediterranean and the Near
East. The socioeconomic system, however, had a vigor, efficiency,
and flexibility that ensured the success of the nation during
these years of triumph and disaster.
Throughout the Late Period, Egypt made a largely successful
effort to maintain an effectively centralized state, which,
except for the two periods of Persian occupation (Twenty-seventh
and Thirty-first dynasties), was based on earlier indigenous
models. Late Period Egypt, however, displayed certain
destabilizing features, such as the emergence of regionally based
power centers. These contributed to the revolts against the
Persian occupation but also to the recurrent internal crises of
the Twenty-eighth, Twenty-ninth, and Thirtieth dynasties.
The Twenty-sixth Dynasty was founded by Psammethichus I, who
made Egypt a powerful and united kingdom. This dynasty, which
ruled from 664 to 525 B.C., represented the last great age of
pharaonic civilization. The dynasty ended when a Persian invasion
force under Cambyses, the son of Cyrus the Great, dethroned the
Cambyses established himself as pharaoh and appears to have
made some attempts to identify his regime with the Egyptian
religious hierarchy. Egypt became a Persian province serving
chiefly as a source of revenue for the far-flung Persian
(Achaemenid) Empire. From Cambyses to Darius II in the years 525
to 404 B.C., the Persian emperors are counted as the Twentyseventh Dynasty.
Periodic Egyptian revolts, usually aided by Greek military
forces, were unsuccessful until 404 B.C., when Egypt regained an
uneasy independence under the short-lived, native Twenty-eighth,
Twenty-ninth, and Thirtieth dynasties. Independence was lost
again in 343 B.C., and Persian rule was oppressively reinstated
and continued until 335 B.C., in what is sometimes called the
Thirty-first Dynasty or second Persian occupation of Egypt.
Data as of December 1990