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Ancient Egypt was an ancient civilization of Northeastern Africa, concentrated along the lower reaches of the Nile River in what is now the modern country of Egypt . Egyptian civilization coalesced around 3150 BC (according to conventional Egyptian chronology ) [ 1 ] with the political unification of Upper and Lower Egypt under the first pharaoh . [ 2 ] The history of ancient Egypt occurred in a series of stable Kingdoms , separated by periods of relative instability known as Intermediate Periods : the Old Kingdom of the Early Bronze Age , the Middle Kingdom of the Middle Bronze Age and the New Kingdom of the Late Bronze Age . Egypt reached the pinnacle of its power during the New Kingdom, in the Ramesside period where it rivalled the Hittite Empire , Assyrian Empire and Mitanni Empire , after which it entered a period of slow decline.