Its art and architecture were widely copied, and its antiquities carried off to far corners of the world.Its monumental ruins have inspired the imaginations of travelers and writers for centuries.
After Egypt's central government collapsed at the end of the Old Kingdom, the administration could no longer support or stabilize the country's economy.
Regional governors could not rely on the king for help in times of crisis, and the ensuing food shortages and political disputes escalated into famines and small-scale civil wars.
The third-century BC Egyptian priest Manetho grouped the long line of pharaohs from Menes to his own time into 30 dynasties, a system still used today.
The transition to a unified state happened more gradually than ancient Egyptian writers represented, and there is no contemporary record of Menes.
Egypt reached the pinnacle of its power in the New Kingdom, ruling much of Nubia and a sizable portion of the Near East, after which it entered a period of slow decline.