Intricate carvings on a limestone block showing a sun with large wings above two lines of hieroglyphs.

Student and teacher resource

Timeline of ancient Egypt

Student and teacher resource

Ages 9+ (upper KS2)

For teachers to use with their students.
For children to use with an adult's help – see disclaimer

Curriculum links

KS2 History: the achievements of the earliest civilisations – ancient Egypt.

Explore the timeline below to learn about key moments in ancient Egyptian history.

The civilisation of ancient Egypt lasted for over three thousand years and was located in northeastern Africa along the river Nile. The ancient Egyptians left behind a legacy of impressive monuments, such as pyramids and temples – and invented hieroglyphic writing. It's a fascinating civilisation to discover!  

Teacher tip
To learn about ancient Egyptian time periods – such as the Early Dynastic Period or the Old Kingdom – view our timeline of ancient Egyptian time periods

Content warning
Please note that an image of human remains features at the top of this page.

When learning about ancient history, your students or children may come across imagery, terms or phrases that are related to death, the deceased and human remains. If you are concerned, please read the webpage before your student does. 

Find out about human remains at the British Museum.

Ancient Egyptian timeline

By 11,000 BC

Settling in the Nile valley

Grey pottery model of four cows standing side by side, facing right, on a flat oval base.
Pottery model of cattle, Egypt, about 3500 BC. 
People begin to settle in the Nile valley. At first they hunt and gather food. Later, they begin to grow crops, keep animals and build homes on the banks of the river Nile. 
Paleolithic and Neolithic periods (before 5500 BC)

About 3400 BC

Natural mummies

Preserved human remains in a grave. The body lies in a crouched position with pots and bowls around it.
Natural sand dried human body (mummy), Egypt, about 3400 BC. About human remains at the British Museum
Early Egyptian burials take the form of a grave dug in the ground with the body placed in a curled-up position, with jars and baskets for food and drink for the afterlife.
Predynastic period (about 5500–3100 BC) 

About 3250 BC

The invention of writing

Rectangular ivory label. A man stands with his right arm raised and his left hand grasping the hair of the man kneeling in front of him.
Ivory label for king Den's sandals using early hieroglyphic writing, Egypt, about 2985 BC. 
Writing using hieroglyphic signs develops. The ancient Egyptians use hieroglyphs for over 3,600 years to record important information. 
Predynastic period (about 5500–3100 BC) 

About 3100 BC

Egypt is united

A grey, flattened vase shaped cast of a memorial with decoration depicting an ancient Egyptian king slaying an enemy.
Stone palette showing Narmer defeating his enemies, Egypt, 1st Dynasty. 
Narmer is among the first Egyptian kings to conquer and rule over both Upper and Lower Egypt. 
Early Dynastic Period (about 3100–2686 BC)

About 2700 BC

Evolution of writing

Papyrus with hieratic and hieroglyphic writing written mainly in black, but a little in red. The scripts include pictures of birds and people on horses.
Papyrus with writing in hieratic and hieroglyphic script, Egypt, about 2400 BC.
Hieratic script (cursive hieroglyphic signs) is now fully developed so that everyday information can be written more quickly and easily. 
Early Dynastic Period (about 3100–2686 BC)

About 2700 BC

Artificial mummification

A roll of light brown, loosely woven linen fabric. There is a small oval yellow label at bottom at the bottom, with the British Museum number 6556 written on it in black ink.
Roll of linen fabric probably used to wrap an early mummy, Egypt, 3000–1000 BC. 
Artificial preservation of bodies, which may have begun in earlier periods, continues to be developed. The Egyptians advance mummification by removing organs and drying the body using natron (natural salt), as well as applying oils and wrappings. 
Old Kingdom (about 2686–2181 BC) 

2600–2500 BC

The Great Pyramid

Landscape with a large stone sphinx on the left with a tall stone pyramid to the right against a bright blue sky.
Photographic slide showing the pyramid of Khafre and the sphinx at Giza, England, 1964. 
Three large stone pyramids are built at Giza (near present-day Cairo). The pyramid built for the king Khafre is guarded by a huge stone sphinx with the body of a lion and the king's head.  
Old Kingdom (about 2686–2181 BC) 

About 2100 BC

Journey to the underworld

Internal view of a wooden coffin looking towards one of the ends. The interior is painted with symbols and writing with patterned borders. The floor of the coffin is plain wood.
Inside of a wooden coffin covered in writing and pictures, Egypt, Middle Kingdom. 
Coffin texts are first used. These spells help the dead person travel through the underworld to the afterlife. They are written on the coffins of wealthy ancient Egyptians. 
First Intermediate Period (about 2181–2055 BC) 

About 2055 BC

Upper and Lower Egypt are reunited

Carved and painted sandstone head. The face is painted dark red, the eyes and eyebrows are painted black and white. The white crown retains traces of white paint.
Sandstone head of Mentuhotep II, Thebes, Egypt, 11th Dynasty. 
In about 2200 BC the government in Egypt collapses and Upper and Lower Egypt have different rulers. Around 2055 BC, Mentuhotep II becomes king of Upper Egypt. He later takes control of all of Egypt. 
First Intermediate Period (about 2181–2055 BC) 

About 2055–1650 BC

Provisions for the dead

Painted wooden model of a boat. The boat has a mast with a fabric sail and a small barrel-shaped cabin at the back (left end) of the deck. There are people standing on the deck with black hair and wearing white kilts. The two people at the back are steering with a large oar and the others adjust the sail.
Wooden model of people preparing meat and beer, Egypt, Middle Kingdom. 
During the Middle Kingdom, wealthy people have wooden models of people preparing food or sailing on a boat put in their tombs to ensure good meals and safe travel in the afterlife. 
Middle Kingdom (about 2055–1795 BC) 

About 1860 BC

Peace and prosperity

Black stone statue of an ancient Egyptian king. The lower legs and arms are missing. The bare-chested figure wears a pleated kilt and a striped head dress tucked behind their ears.
Statue of Senusret III wearing the royal nemes head-dress, Egypt, about 1850 BC.
Senusret III rules as king. He expands the territory controlled by Egypt and, during his 39-year reign, ancient Egypt is wealthy and powerful.
Middle Kingdom (about 2055–1795 BC) 

About 1799–1795 BC

A woman on the throne

White cylinder covered with blue symbols and hieroglyphic writing.
Cylinder seal inscribed with the name of Neferusobek, Egypt, 1799–1795 BC.  
Queen Neferusobek is one of the first female rulers of Egypt. She is the first ruler associated with the crocodile god Sobek by name. 
Middle Kingdom (about 2055–1795 BC) 

About 1700 BC

The Book of the Dead

Papyrus with black ink pictures and hieroglyphic writing in narrow columns. Two figures of a man and a woman standing, facing right.
Book of the Dead showing Nebseny and his sister, Egypt, 18th Dynasty.
The Book of the Dead, a collection of about 200 spells to protect the dead during their journey to the afterlife, is first used. It is usually written on papyrus and put in a coffin or in a small hollow statue. 
Second Intermediate Period (about 1795–1550 BC) 

About 1550–1525 BC

Expelling the enemy

White stone figure of an ancient Egyptian king. He has his arms crossed over his chest and wears a striped head-dress. The feet are broken off. There is a black British Museum number, 32191, written on the front of the legs.
Shabti of Ahmose, Egypt, about 1550 BC.
Ahmose rules as king. In about 1550, Ahmose defeats the foreign Hyksos rulers, who control Lower Egypt, and becomes king of all Egypt. 
Second Intermediate Period (about 1795–1550 BC) 

About 1500 BC

Magical afterlife assistance

Painted wooden shabti-box containing four figures decorated like ancient Egyptian mummies and four outside the box. There is hieroglyphic text on the box and shabti figures.
Shabtis and their box from the tomb of the priestess Henutmehyt, Egypt, 19th Dynasty.
Some ancient Egyptians have small figures called shabtis placed in their tombs to magically work for them in the afterlife. From about 1500 BC onwards, the number of shabtis in royal tombs increases. By 1000 BC, many wealthy people are buried with hundreds of them.
New Kingdom (about 1550–1069 BC) 

About 1500 BC

Expanding the empire

On a white background three men walk to the left carrying a chain of gold rings, logs, animal tails, a large bowl of red stones and a leopard skin. There is a decorative pattern along the top of the picture.
Tomb wall decoration with Nubians bringing tribute to the Egyptian king, Sheikh Abd el-Qurna, Thebes, Egypt, about 1400 BC.   
The ancient Egyptians take full control of Nubia, a region to the south of Egypt with valuable natural resources such as gold and semi-precious stones. 
New Kingdom (about 1550–1069 BC) 

About 1473–1458 BC

The female pharaoh

Broken piece of pottery covered in bright blue glaze. Black line drawing of a horned cow wearing a collar, with a lotus flower hanging down, looking at black plant stems.
Blue glazed pottery showing the goddess Hathor as a cow, found at the Temple of Hatshepsut, Deir el-Bahri, Thebes, Egypt, 18th Dynasty.
Hatshepsut rules Egypt, initially because her stepson Thutmose III is too young to rule. Her most famous monument is a funerary temple opposite Thebes (present day Luxor).  
New Kingdom (about 1550–1069 BC) 

About 1352–1336 BC

Rise and fall of the Aten

Carved and painted portrait of an ancient Egyptian king on a fragment of a stone slab. The king is topless and is seated on a low-backed chair.
Carved and painted portrait of Akhenaten, el-Amarna, Egypt, 18th Dynasty.
Akhenaten is king. He believes that the sun disc, Aten, should be worshipped as the only Egyptian god, and he discourages the worship of other gods and goddesses – particularly Amun. Many people do not agree and, after Akhenaten dies, his monuments are destroyed, his name is removed from statues, and the original religion is restored.
New Kingdom (about 1550–1069 BC) 

About 1336–1327 BC

Tutankhamun – the boy king

Two finger rings. The ring on the left is bright blue. The smaller ring on the right is light brown. The oval bezel of both rings is marked with hieroglyphic symbols.
Finger rings marked with the name of Tutankhamun (left) and his wife Ankhesenamen (right), Egypt, 18th Dynasty. 
Tutankhamun becomes king at the tender age of nine years. In 1922, the archaeologist Howard Carter discovers Tutankhamun's nearly intact tomb in the Valley of the Kings. 
New Kingdom (about 1550–1069 BC) 

About 1279–1213 BC

Ramses the Great

Top section of a stone statue of an ancient Egyptian king shown facing slightly to the left. The head is a lighter colour than the chest area. The man wears a striped head-dress and crown. He is bare chested, with his arms by his side.
Statue of Ramses II, Thebes, Egypt, 19th Dynasty. 
Ramses II rules for 66 years. He builds temples everywhere and has many statues of himself put up within Egypt and in conquered lands. 
New Kingdom (about 1550–1069 BC)   

After 1000 BC

New embalming techniques

Painted wooden jars with lids in the shapes of the heads of different ancient Egyptian gods. A column of black hieroglyphs is painted down the front of each jar.
Set of four solid canopic jars, Egypt, 25th Dynasty.
The mummification process changes and instead of placing the internal organs into special canopic jars, the organs are put back into the body after being dried. However, the ancient Egyptians continue to put empty or solid 'model' canopic jars in tombs.
New Kingdom (about 1550–1069 BC)

About 728 BC

Kushite strength

Head and front paws of a stone sphinx with the face of an ancient Egyptian king.  The man wears a skull cap decorated with two snakes and has a lion’s mane. Hieroglyphs are carved on his chest between the front paws.
Sphinx of the king Taharqo, Kawa, Sudan, about 680 BC. 
Kings from a region to the south called Kush conquer Egypt. Kushite kings rule Egypt until about 664 BC. The last Kushite king of Egypt is called Tantamani.
Third Intermediate Period (about 1069–664 BC)

By 700 BC

Emergence of demotic script

Papyrus with rows of demotic script written in black ink.
Papyrus with writing in demotic script recording the lease of some farmland, Thebes, Egypt, 556-555 BC.   
Demotic script replaces hieratic script. Demotic script is faster and easier to write. It is used for business documents and everyday writing. 
Third Intermediate Period (about 1069–664 BC)

673–332 BC

The end of native rule

Grey-brown cylinder seal and its rectangular imprint showing a king on a chariot with lions, trees and an inscription in hieroglyphs.
Found in Egypt, this seal shows the Persian king Darius I, who also ruled as king of Egypt 522–486 BC, Thebes, Egypt, 6th-5th century BC. 
Egypt is controlled by rulers from other countries. The Assyrians invaded Egypt in 673 BC and controlled local Egyptian kings. The Persians directly rule Egypt from 525 to 404 BC and again from 343 to 332 BC.
Late period (664–332 BC)

332-30 BC

Legacy of Alexander the Great

A calcite statue of the head and shoulders of an ancient Egyptian king with the right arm and shoulder restored. The left side and lower body are missing.
Statue of a Ptolemaic king, Egypt, 286–246 BC
After King Alexander of Macedon conquers Egypt, the country is ruled by his general, who becomes King Ptolemy I. His descendants continue to rule for 300 years. Greek becomes the main government language, and official documents are now written in Greek as well as Egyptian. 
Ptolemaic period (332–30 BC) 

196 BC

The Rosetta Stone

Broken slab of stone with hieroglyphic, demotic and greek inscriptions.
The Rosetta Stone, el-Rashid, Egypt, 196 BC.
The Rosetta Stone is a broken monumental slab recording an agreement between Egyptian priests and King Ptolemy V. It is inscribed in three different scripts: hieroglyphs and demotic (both Egyptian), and Greek. 
Ptolemaic period (332–30 BC) 

51–30 BC

Cleopatra – the last 'Egyptian' queen

Silver coin showing a bust of Cleopatra and with writing around the edge.
Coin of Cleopatra VII and Mark Antony, Syria, 36 BC.
Cleopatra VII is the last independent ruler of Egypt. She speaks both Greek and Egyptian. When Cleopatra is defeated by Octavian, later Emperor Augustus, Egypt becomes part of the Roman Empire.
Ptolemaic period (332–30 BC) 

About AD 30–350

A new mummification tradition

Coffin case with a life-like portrait of a human face and mythological decoration in gold leaf and dark red across the rest of the coffin.
Coffin with a life-like portrait above traditional Egyptian imagery of gods, Egypt, early 2nd century AD.
When Egypt was part of the Roman Empire, people began to paint a more true to life portrait of a dead person on a board that was fitted to the outer wrappings of the mummified body.
Roman Egypt (30 BC – AD 395) 

AD 394

The last hieroglyph

View of temple in ruins behind a river with three boats on the right and two large birds in the foreground stood at the edge of the river.
Print of an etching showing the ancient Temple of Philae, Egypt, 1836. 
The last known hieroglyphic inscription is carved on a wall at the Temple of Philae in southern Egypt.
Roman Egypt (30 BC – AD 395) 

Disclaimer – for adults

Disclaimer – for adults

When learning about ancient history, your students or children may come across imagery, terms or phrases that are related to death, the deceased and human remains. If you are concerned, please read the webpage before your student does. 

Find out about human remains at the British Museum.