A period of ancient Egypt’s history tied to a framework of 30 dynasties (ruling houses) of kings, or pharaohs, who ruled from the time of the country’s unification into a single kingdom in c. 3100 bc until its conquest by Alexander the Great in 332 bc. The two Predynastic kingdoms of Upper and Lower Egypt were united by the legendary king Menes, possibly to be identified with the historical King Narmer. The Dynastic period was followed by a Greek period when the country was ruled by the Ptolemys, descendants of Alexander the Great’s general. The Ptolemaic period and Egypt’s independence were brought to an end in 30 bc when Queen Cleopatra VII died and the country was absorbed into the Roman Empire. The political history, largely derived from written sources, has a detailed and, for the most part, precise chronology. From the 21st dynasty onwards, Egypt’s cohesion broke, and from the 11th to 7th centuries bc Libyan, Asian, and Nubian contenders vied with Egyptians for control of the state. The divine ruler, the pharaoh, was ultimately responsible for the complex bureaucracy and was also the figurehead of the official religion, the personification of the sun god Ra, counterpart of Osiris, the god of the land of the dead. Because of their belief in the afterlife, the royal tombs of the pharaohs in particular reflect the great wealth and concentration of resources at the pharaoh’s disposal. Much of our information about ancient Egyptian history comes from the records that were carefully maintained by the Egyptians themselves, notably by the priests who were regarded as the guardians of the state’s accumulated wisdom.