Egypt is an African country in the northeastern part of the continent. The Nile River valley and delta, in Egypt’s heartland, was home to one of the ancient Middle East’s most important civilizations and, like Mesopotamia farther east, was one of the world’s first urban and literary societies. Pharaonic Egypt flourished for almost 3,000 years, surviving through a succession of local dynasties and brief periods of foreign administration. Urban Egypt became a vital element of the Hellenistic civilization after Alexander the Great conquered the region in 323 BCE. The city of Alexandria grew into an advanced literate society under the Greek Ptolemaic dynasty, but the Romans conquered Egypt in 30 BCE. It was a part of the Roman Republic and Empire and then became part of Rome’s successor state, the Byzantine Empire until it was conquered by Arab Muslim armies in 639–642 CE.