Few civilizations have left such an indelible mark on history as the Egyptians. They built the Pyramids of Giza and the Sphinx, and were among the first civilizations to brew beer. And let's not forget the mummy... think of where modern horror cinema would be had they not invented it! Throughout history, continuing into the present day, the Egyptians' craftiness, mysticism, and keen sense of fashion have fascinated and puzzled us.
Though the first settlers of the Nile valley are thought to have arrived as early as 7,000 B.C., it wasn't until the legendary king, Na'rmer (also called Menes), unified Upper and Lower Egypt in 3100 B.C. that the region began to develop a cohesive sense of culture and civilization. It was also around this time that the Egyptians' unique hieroglyphic writing style was developed. For the next 1500 years, a series of Egyptian pharaohs ruled the lands. Some of these pharaohs produced wondrous monuments, like Djoser (the famous step pyramid of Saqqara) and Kheops (the great pyramid of Giza). Others really dropped the ball, like Pepi II, whose 90-year stint during the 6th dynasty is generally considered the nail in the coffin of the Egyptian "Old Kingdom" system of central government.
Previous to 1700 B.C., no outsiders had ever significant power in Egypt. That all changed when the Hyksos, a Semitic people, invaded Lower Egypt. The Hyksos were eventually shown the door by the pharaoh Ahmose in the 15th century B.C., but it was too late: they had started an invasion craze that would later be embraced by the Nubians, Assyrians, and Persians, culminating with Alexander's conquest of Egypt in 332 B.C., the start of a long period of Greek rule.
After Alexander's death in 323 B.C., one of Alexander's generals and close friends, Ptolemy I, took control of Egypt. Though the Ptolemies were of Macedonian descent, they lived their lives as Egyptians, realizing that to do this would engender the trust and respect of the people they ruled over. The most famous of all the Ptolemaic rulers was Cleopatra, the romanticized and tragic queen.
Cleopatra's charm and beauty, which drew the attraction of both Caesar and Mark Antony, made her famous throughout the ancient world. Cleopatra was more than just a pretty face, however; she would not hesitate to have someone assassinated if they stood in her way. Her ambition rivaled that of Caesar's, and sadly, it served her no better. Her suicide in 30 B.C. marked the end of the pharaoh in Egypt and the beginning of Egypt's many years as a Roman province.
Egypt remained a Roman property for many years, though it largely fell out of favor during the Byzantine Era in favor of Constantinople. Eventually it was conquered by Arabs in 642, and, over the next 600 years, it became one of the important centers of the Muslim world.
In Civilization III, the Egyptians are considered an Industrious and Religious civilization, therefore, they start with Masonry and Ceremonial Burial, and have significant bonuses to building activities and religious pursuits. See the developer update on Civ-specific abilities for more on these bonuses.
Unique Unit: the War Chariot
When the Hyksos were booted out of Egypt by Ahmose in the years between 1580 and 1522 BC, they left behind a lot of things: pocket change, household items, and a few nifty little toys they called "chariots". Ahmose made the most of this opportunity. While we don't know what he did with the pocket change, we do know that he made the chariot the centerpiece of his new and improved Egyptian army, which dominated the Middle Eastern theatre of war for hundreds of years, until they were supplanted by horse-mounted soldiers, which were cheaper and more durable.
The War Chariot is a more powerful version of the standard chariot. It has twice the attack strength of a normal chariot, and the same movement rate. This allows the War Chariot to quickly close on an enemy and attack, with much better odds of inflicting damage.
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|Egyptian War Chariot||2||1||2|