Over 3,500 years ago, Rome was no more than a soggy marsh and the Acropolis was just an empty rock, but Egypt was on the brink of its greatest age - the New Kingdom. There was an explosion of creativity, wealth and power in Egypt that would make it the envy of the world. After defeating the Hyksos invaders, successive Pharaohs expanded and maintained their Empire through both force and diplomacy. In the process, they won Egypt vast amounts of gold, influence and respect. They included; Ahmose, Hatshepsut, Tuthmosis III, Amenhotep III, Akenhaten, Tutankhamen and Ramesses III. Behind the power of the Egyptian empire lay a vast wealth of natural resources. Chief among these was the river Nile, the freeway of the ancient world, whose floodplains also provided huge expanses of fertile farming ground that kept Egypt self-sufficient and usually famine-free. Along the banks of the Nile, the humble papyrus plant was used to create a bureaucratic efficiency and cultural sophistication previously unknown to mankind.