After a struggle to expel the Hyksos from the Delta, Theban kings unified Egypt and founded the 18th Dynasty. Large territories to the south and to the north-east were conquered, establishing an Egyptian ‘empire' with tributary vassal states in Syro-Palestine and a firmly colonized Nubia. Several warrior pharaohs left records of military campaigns in Asia, while Egyptian settlements and temples were founded as far south as the fourth cataract [glossary]. The Egyptian territories were protected by a standing army. Friendly contacts with foreign rulers were established through trade, diplomatic correspondance, and intermarriages.
Thanks to a booming economy, many monuments were built and the arts flourished and reached new heights. The royal tombs of the New Kingdom were no longer pyramids but rock-cut tombs with separate mortuary temples. They were situated on the west bank at Thebes, and continued to be built there even after the foundation of the new capital, Pi-Ramesses, in the Delta during the reign of Ramesses II.