The First Intermediate Period (around 2180–2040 BCE) began after the collapse of the Old Kingdom.
Several written sources describe it as a time of great political unrest.
A literary piece called the Admonitions of Ipuwer or simply the Ipuwer Papyrus, tell us how hit by famine and disease, the poor rose up against the rulers, and many people lived in fear for their lives.
Because of that, the first intermediate period is sometimes called a “dark period.”
Other sources, however, state that everyday life, art, culture, and administration did not change a lot when this period began, and that famine, poverty, regional turmoil, and tomb robbing occurred in other periods as well.
Various “king lists” tell us that there were many kings who ruled Egypt during this period, but they left no contemporary trace.
It seems that royal monuments such as pyramids were not built at all.
That doesn’t mean there was no building activity; it is just that they had little to do with royal families.
For about one hundred years, two kings from two separate dynasties ruled different parts of Egypt.
One dynasty ruled the North of the country (Lower Egypt) from Heracleopolis, and another – founded by the nomarch of Thebes who named himself King Antef I – was located in Thebes in the South (Upper Egypt).
Eventually, the northern king Montuhotep I managed to unite Egypt under his sole kingship.
When did the First Intermediate Period begin?
It began around 2181 BCE, when the Old Kingdom collapsed.
What was the main characteristic of the First Intermediate Period?
Egypt was not unified and different lines of kings ruled from different cities.
Which cities were the capitals of the dynasties who ruled during the First Intermediate Period?
Those were Memphis, Heracleopolis, and Thebes.
When and how the First Intermediate Period Ended?
It ended when Mentuhotep II conquered Heracleopolis and reunited Egypt, around 2040 BCE.