What Was the Capital of Egypt in Ancient Times?

Egypt is a country steeped in history, with a rich cultural heritage that has fascinated people for centuries. One of the many intriguing aspects of ancient Egypt is its capital city, which changed several times throughout the country’s long and storied history.

Ancient Egypt

Ancient Egypt was one of the most advanced civilizations of its time, with a highly organized society and impressive technological achievements. The civilization emerged around 3100 BCE and lasted until the conquest of Egypt by Alexander the Great in 332 BCE.

The Early Dynastic Period

During the Early Dynastic Period (c. 3100-2686 BCE), Egypt was divided into two kingdoms: Upper Egypt and Lower Egypt. The first capital of a unified Egypt was Memphis, located in the north near modern-day Cairo. Memphis remained the capital of Egypt during the Old Kingdom (c. 2686-2181 BCE) and part of the First Intermediate Period (c. 2181-2055 BCE).

The Middle Kingdom

The Middle Kingdom (c. 2055-1650 BCE) saw a shift in power from Memphis to Thebes, located in central Egypt. The pharaohs of this period were buried in elaborate tombs in Thebes’ Valley of the Kings.

The New Kingdom

The New Kingdom (c. 1550-1070 BCE) was one of ancient Egypt’s most prosperous periods, marked by powerful pharaohs such as Hatshepsut and Ramses II. During this time, Thebes remained the capital city and grew into a cultural center with impressive temples such as Karnak and Luxor.

The Late Period

The Late Period (c. 664-332 BCE) saw several changes in power and capital cities, with periods of foreign rule by Nubians, Persians, and Greeks. The capital city during the Late Period was often located in the north, with cities such as Sais and Alexandria serving as centers of power.


In conclusion, the capital city of ancient Egypt changed several times throughout its long history, with Memphis, Thebes, and Alexandria all serving as centers of power at different times. Each capital left its mark on Egyptian history and culture, contributing to the rich legacy that still fascinates people today.