This article on the end of the ancient Egyptian civilization posits four different points at which the civilization ended:

Is it the definitive end of native Egyptian rule (at least until the 20th century)? In this case the answer would be the flight of King Nectanebo II in 342 BC. Is it Egypt's absorption into the Roman Empire in 30 BC? Or the last appearance of the ancient hieroglyphic script just before AD 400? Or the closure of the last pagan temples in the sixth century?

The article seems to argue that the final option, the closing of the last pagan temples is the most appropriate for the end of the civilization. I can find a lot of articles advocating that the end was when the civilization was absorbed into the Roman Empire, but I am wondering is this the majority view amongst academics, and does it make the most sense as the end of the civilization?

I realize this is somewhat opinion based (what history isn't?), but there should be someone who can articulate why one point is the accepted majority, if it exists at all.

  • 2
    "But what history isn't" :)
    – Russell
    Commented May 3, 2012 at 15:22

4 Answers 4


I think this probably falls into the same category as questions like "When did the Roman Empire Fall?" If you're ever on Jeopardy and somebody asks you that question, you should probably answer "476 AD," but there are entire books written about how and why that isn't the case.

Kind of the same deal here, especially depending on how you want to interpret the "fall" of "Ancient Egyptian Civilization."

I think the jeopardy-answer is probably going to be Rome's annexation of Egypt in 30BC, but since you specifically asked about the Civilization and not merely the State (or one of its various incarnations), if you're going to try and pick a date at all, I suppose the closing of the last temple might be more appropriate.

There are compelling arguments to be made for the date you're looking for to be based around the final Achaemenid conquest of Egypt circa 343 BCE, or Alexander's conquest (or liberation, depending on who you ask, I suppose) of the country circa 332 BCE.

It can be really hard to pin down solid dates on the "fall" of Ancient Egyptian Civilization specifically, since the culture was (and still is!) so infectious and pervasive, although I think by the time the last temples were being shut down and the old language was gasping its last breath in the 4th-5th centuries CE it is probably safe to say that by that point the ancient culture and civilization had at the very least ceased to be dominant and no longer existed in any sort of widespread fashion.


Egypt was civilized before 2000 BC. Egypt is still civilized today. Egypt has been civilized since before 2000 BC.

Nobody can point to a single year in Egyptian history since long before 2000 BC when Egypt was not civilized.

Therefore civilization never fell in Egypt. But the civilization in Egypt is no longer ancient Egyptian civilization. Therefore ancient Egyptian civilization did not fall but changed into other forms of civilization.

Egyptian civilization changed and mutated as it gradually merged into Hellenistic-Roman civilization and then Arab Muslim civilization and then the present world technological civilization.

Also note that ancient Egyptian civilization also changed a lot in at least 2000 years of history.

All questions about when past civilizations fell are meaningless unless the region in question actually became uncivilized and later became civilized again. Unless that process happened the civilization in question never fell but gradually merged into later and broader civilizations that eventually merged into the present world technological civilization.

And since one civilization becoming part of a larger civilization usually takes centuries there no one single time to choose for when that happened.


This is a no answer but the Egyptian civilization never completely ended, as many traditions are still alive today.


I cannot speak on behalf of academics and their supposed viewpoint-(or consensus) regarding the end of Ancient Egypt. I would say that based on my familiarity with the chronology that I tend to agree with the position that Ancient Egypt's official end came with the universal conversion to Christianity around 400 AD/ CE.

With the introduction of Christianity into Egypt, the centuries old pagan temples were either destroyed, closed or converted into Churches-(this was a similar pattern that was not limited to Egypt alone). This marked a major and truly historic transition and transformation of Egyptian culture for the next 300 years-(However, Islam, would serve as the subsequent transformation of Early Medieval Egyptian Christian culture, reducing the Christian population to a much smaller percentage through widespread conversion, as well as populating Egypt with Muslims from the neighboring Arabian peninsula).

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