The history of Ancient Egypt is one of the most fascinating in the world, with a rich cultural heritage that dates to 5000 BCE and a history that has been preserved through thousands of years. It was first unified as one kingdom around 3100 BCE by King Menes, who founded the First Dynasty. The country would continue to be ruled by kings until 332 BCE, when it became part of Alexander's Macedonian Empire. After Alexander died in 323 BCE, Egypt was ruled by Ptolemy I Soter, who founded the Ptolemaic Dynasty, which lasted until 30 B.C. when Cleopatra VII committed suicide after being defeated by Octavian at the Battle of Actium. Early Dynastic Period (circa 3100 to circa 2686 BCE): The Early Dynastic Period was the first of three periods in Egyptian history. It began around 3100 BCE and lasted until 2686 BCE when Egypt became a unified country. Egyptian civilization dates to 5500 BCE, although there is evidence of human settlement along the Nile River dating back as far as 10,000 BCE. During this time, Egypt was ruled mainly by many different groups with varying levels of organization and power. By 3000 BCE, however, it had become an independent country under its first pharaoh: Menes (reign c. 2950-2910 BC).