What Caused The Decline Of Ancient Egypt


Most experts agree that the declining economy of ancient Egypt was the primary cause of its demise. When viewed in global terms, the ancient Egyptians achieved a significant level of economic power in the span of their 3000-year reign. It is generally accepted that the failure of central governance and the decline of trade routes were major contributors to the decline of the power of ancient Egyptians.

First and foremost, the centralized government of ancient Egypt could not keep up with the changing times. As they grew in economic powere, the control that the authorities had over the country began to erode away. This resulted in a lack of necessary reforms which lead to the steady decline of the economy. The unwillingness of the government to reform the structure of the laws and taxation, increased corrupt practices which deepened the crisis.

Another key factor was that the trade routes that the ancient Egyptians relied on slowly started to become unprofitable. This meant that commodities that other countries depended on no longer reached them, and the markets became increasingly saturated. The surrounding geographical area of ancient Egypt was also increasingly hostile due to emerging civilizations such as the Assyrians, and their rise to power led to the disruption of the trade routes.

The combination of a central government failing to reform, hostile powers disrupting trade routes, and economic stagnation, is ultimately what caused the decline of ancient Egypt. Without a functioning government or a viable market, their economy gradually fell apart until their civilization was no more.


The Egyptian military was also an important factor in the decline of their civilization. The military was a key tool in the protection of the ancient Egyptian borders, as well as their trade routes. In the years leading up to the decline, the military, in part due to limited resources, slowly became degraded due to the lack of maintenance and training of its soldiers. This was in part due to the decline of economic power of Egypt, as well as the constant infighting that was occurring.

The Assyrian King, Ashurnasirpal II, was one of the primary figures in the decline of the powerful military of Egypt. During his reign, he led a campaign against Egypt, which saw the implementation of a siege on many Egyptian fortresses, which gradually caused them to deteriorate. This was one of the primary factors in the weakening of the military of Egypt, and eventually led to its weakened state prior to its decline.

Historians agree that the weakening of the Egyptian military was a key factor in their downfall. Without the protection of fortifications, their soldiers were exposed to attack on many fronts. It is clear that although their economy was a key contributing factor to their demise, their military’s weakened state played a big role in their downfall as well.


The religion of ancient Egypt was also a contributing factor to its decline. The religious practices and rituals of Egypt evolved over many centuries, culminating in the polytheistic culture that they possessed in the latter part of their rule. This polytheism slowly contributed to their decline as well, and it was during this time that the Akhenaten movement was introduced.

The Akhenaten movement was a fundamental change in religion that involved the abandonment of traditional polytheism in favor of a sole god worship that was centered around the worship of the sun-disk. This movement was ultimately a foreign concept for many Egyptians, and it ultimately did not gain the support of the majority of the people. Some historians even go as far as to state that this movement was one of the primary causes of the decline of ancient Egypt.

The religion of Egypt changed drastically over the course of its existence, and its impact on the decline of its civilization is still a matter of debate. Nevertheless, it is generally accepted that the religious reforms and foreign concepts introduced by the Akhenaten movement, such as the sole worship of a sun-disk, ultimately had a negative effect on their society and was a contributing factor in their eventual downfall.

Societal Rigidity

The conservatism of ancient Egypt’s societal structure and its inability to innovate was also a contributing factor to its decline. The rigid social hierarchy of Egypt made it difficult for change to occur, as the most powerful figures in society had the greatest influence over the decisions being made. This resulted in a stagnant system, with no room for growth or innovation.

The lack of diversity in ancient Egypt also meant that any form of change was met with resistance. This further contributed to the difficulty in making improvements to their system, resulting in a lack of progress over the course of its long history. This resistance to innovation and change ultimately hindered their development and contributed to their decline over the centuries.

When viewed in the larger context of their history, it is clear that the rigidity of their social structure contributed significantly to the decline of ancient Egypt. Without any real chance for growth or improvement, the stagnation of their civilization was inevitable.

Environmental Changes

The environmental climate of ancient Egypt was also a contributing factor in its decline. During the peak of its reign, the climate of Egypt was incredibly favorable. The yearly flooding of the Nile provided them with an abundance of fertile soil, leading to a flourishing agricultural industry.

However, as the centuries passed, the flooding of the Nile became more scarce in certain areas due to climate change. This meant that the fertility of the soil decreased over time, causing the agricultural industry to become less successful than it once was. Ultimately, this shortage of resources as well as the consequential starvation of many led to a weakening of their civilization.

It is a testament to the power of the ancient Egyptians that they managed to survive for such a long period of time despite the environmental trends that had an effect on them. However, in the end, the changes in the environment played a significant role in their eventual decline.

Geopolitical Instability

The geopolitical landscape of ancient Egypt also played an integral role in its decline. The powerful nations of the ancient world were constantly vying for wealth and power, and Egypt was no exception. They were in a constant state of militarized competition with their surrounding nations, primarily Assyria and Persia.

The constant warfare and intrigue that Egypt was forced to engage in, over time weakened their military, resources, and economic power. This led to their ultimate weakening and eventual demise, as their decline left them unable to defend against the power of their rival nations.

The geopolitical conflicts that Egypt found itself in was a major contributing factor to its downfall. It is clear that without these rival nations vying for power, their civilization would have likely seen a different outcome.

Disease and Illness

The prevalence of disease and illness was also a significant factor in the decline of ancient Egypt. The rise of the Black Death and other diseases had an enormous impact on the population of Egypt, resulting in huge numbers of deaths and a slowing of the economic and cultural growth.

The plague in particular was especially devastating, with a mortality rate up to 75%, leading to the death of a huge portion of the population. This, in combination with the weakened state that the military and economy of Egypt was in, contributed to the ultimate destruction of the powerful society that had been in place for so long.

Given the scale of the impact of disease on the population of ancient Egypt, many historians agree that it was one of the primary contributing factors in the decline of the civilization.

Clarence Norwood

Clarence E. Norwood is an author and scholar specializing in the history and archaeology of ancient peoples. He has written extensively on the civilizations of the Near East, Egypt, and the Mediterranean. He has authored numerous books and articles on a wide range of topics, including the evolution of the alphabet, the rise of the ancient nations, and the impact of ancient cultures and religions on modern society. He has also conducted archaeological field research in North Africa, the Middle East, and Europe.

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