From the ceramic and alabaster vessels of the pre-Dynastic period (pre-3100 BCE) to the immense, iconographically rich world of the pyramids and mummification, this civilization along the Nile spanned millennia. During periods of stability known as the Old Kingdom (ca. 2686 to 2181 BCE), the Middle Kingdom (ca. 2055 to 1650 BCE), and the New Kingdom (ca. 1550 to 1077 BCE), Egypt under the pharaohs developed a complex religion centered on funerary rituals. Fabulous objects granted safe passage into the afterlife and prevented a life of servitude to Osiris once the dead arrived there. Other kingdoms coveted Egypt’s wealth, centered around the yearly agricultural cycle of the fertile Nile, and periods of instability saw it conquered by foreign rulers including Alexander the Great (332 BCE). Despite this, its unique religion continued into the Roman era, when Cleopatra’s death (30 BCE) finally ended the nearly 3000 year rule of the pharaohs.