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Social Sciences
Learner's Book • Grade 5 Term 3
All photographic images obtained through Creative Commons:
An ancient African
– Egypt
In this unit you will:
• Describe how the environment influenced where people lived
• Copy and complete a map of Egypt
• Explain how an Egyptian farmer lifted water from the Nile
• Create mimes about the life of a farmer
• Find out about different historical sources in Egypt
• Interpret and write about an Egyptian painting
• Compare Egyptian religious beliefs to your own beliefs
• Discover more about pharaohs and the social structure in Ancient Egypt
• Create a pyramid from a net
• Invent your own system of hieroglyphics
• Measure your classroom using an Egyptian ruler
• Give a talk about one of your artefacts from home
• Write a newspaper article about the discovery of Tutankhamun’s tomb
• Practice bartering
• Make a brochure about Ancient Egypt
All photographic images obtained through Creative Commons:
The Nile River and how it
influenced settlement
About 10 000 years ago, North Africa was covered in
grasslands and the hunter-gatherers known as ‘nomads’ used
to roam around hunting and gathering their food. They
learned 6000 years ago how to keep animals and plant crops.
As time went on, the rain became less and the land became
desert-like. There was not enough water for man or beast to
survive, so the people started to move towards the rivers. They
settled in villages along the banks of rivers. Soon they started
to grow wheat and barley and they farmed with animals.
The Nile River was a popular place to settle. It is the longest
river in the world. It begins in the high mountains of
central Africa and travels through Egypt where it joins the
Mediterranean Sea. The Nile valley is a thin strip of land. The
Egyptians used the Nile for drinking water, irrigation, fishing,
mud and reeds and they sailed around it to transport goods.
These boats transported cattle, stone, wood and people.
Activity 1: Map exercise
Use an Atlas to complete the map of Egypt and answer the following:
1. Describe how the environment influenced where people lived. (2)
2. Copy the map of Egypt into your classwork book. (1)
3. Label the Mediterranean Sea and colour it blue. (1)
4. Label the Red Sea and colour it red. (1)
5. Label the Nile River and colour it blue. (1)
6. Label the Nile Delta.(1)
7. Look at the map and write down the countries that surround Egypt. (3)
8. Imagine that you are sailing down the Nile River
towards the Nile Delta. Write a diary entry about what
you noticed on your cruise. (10)
Total (20)
The Nile used to flood its banks every summer
which brought rich fertile soil, called silt, to the
valley. The waters retreated in autumn leaving
soil that was rich in minerals and excellent
for farming. The crops flourished in this area.
Soon the farmers were farming wheat, barley,
lentils, beans, vegetables and date palms. They
kept fig and apple orchards and they farmed
with cattle and sheep. The grazing spots also
thrived because of the silt.
The Egyptian’s used shadufs to lift water from the Nile.
The Egyptians built houses close together on
high land so that they would be safe when the
Nile flooded its banks every year. The farmers
had to move further inland. They built canals
and started irrigation so that they could water
their crops. They used ‘shadufs’ (an irrigation
tool) and filled buckets of water from the Nile
to pour them into the irrigation ditches.
The farmers also used the ‘Archimedean Screw’
All photographic images obtained through Creative Commons:
to lift water. The screw was lowered into the water. The farmer turned the handle
and as the bottom end of the tube turned, it scooped up a volume of water
which travelled up the spiral tube until it finally poured out from the top to feed
the irrigation systems.
Activity 2: How to get water from the
river to the land
1. Draw and label a picture to explain how a ‘shaduf’ helps to get water from the river to the land. (5)
2. Draw and label pictures explaining how an Archimedean Screw lifts water from the river to the land. (5)
3. Why do you think early settlements were built next to big rivers? (2)
4. How were the Egyptian people able to use the rivers to their advantage? (3)
Total (15)
Archimedean Screw
How the Nile valley was farmed
When the Nile flooded its banks every year from June to September,
the farmers moved their herds and went to work for the king.
When the waters retreated from October to February, the farmers
ploughed the earth and planted barley, wheat and other crops.
The farmers used hoes, picks, sickles and ploughs pulled by oxen.
They also planted flax and trees.
Farmers grew vegetables such as onions, leeks, cabbages, beans,
cucumbers and lettuce.
All photographic images obtained through Creative Commons:
From March to May, farmers harvested the crops and repaired the
irrigation canals.
The scribes measured the land to calculate how much the farmers
owed the king.
The farmers grew grapes and made wine. They used pottery wine
jars to store the wine.
Farmers stored their grain in large silos. Scribes recorded how
much grain there was so that it could not be stolen.
Activity 3: The life of an Egyptian farmer
In a group, create mimes about the life of an Egyptian farmer. Present your mimes to the rest of the class and allow them to
guess what the mime is about. Total: 10
Think about the evidence that historians use
Everything we find out about ancient culture comes from different historical sources. For example, archaeologists discover objects when
they dig. These are called ‘artefacts’. Some of these artefacts are models and statues. Paintings tell us a lot about the culture. Papyrus scrolls
and literature tell us something about writing and events in times past. Mummies exposed what they knew about the body. As you read
information always ask, “how do historians know that?” and see if you can discover what sources were used. As you learn History, always
ask – who, what, why, where, when and how.
Activity 4: Questions about different historical sources in Egypt
Create six questions you would like to ask different historical sources about life in Egypt using the method, ‘who, what, why, where,
when and how’.
Total: 6
All photographic images obtained through Creative Commons:
Archaeologists’ gained most of
their information on Egyptians
through their paintings. There
are many paintings about
daily life in Egypt. The walls of
Egyptian tombs are covered
in paintings. Paintings were
often found on papyrus scrolls
in the tombs. These paintings
were done by the scribes.
They described the deceased
person and also showed what
they thought would happen
to the person in the afterlife.
Activity 5:
Interpret this
Look at this painting. Write
a paragraph about what
you think the painting tells
us about farming life in
Ancient Egypt.
Total: 10
Beliefs and religion
Life in Egypt was strongly influenced by religion. The Egyptians believed that everyone had a soul that lived on after death. The Egyptians
worshiped in temples. They had thousands of gods. Some of their gods were very important, such as the sun god, Ra. He was usually
shown in human form with a falcon head crowned with the sun disc encircled by the sacred cobra. Some of their gods were linked to
birds or a special animal and had an animal head. They believed the gods came to earth as animals or cats. For example, there was Heket,
the goddess of childbirth who had the head of a frog. Tefnut, the goddess of moisture and rain, had the head of a lioness. Anubis, the
god of mummification, had the head of a jackal. It was believed that people who displeased the gods would be punished with sickness,
starvation, poor harvests and defeat in battle. The Egyptians had a strong belief in life after death. They believed that ordinary people
would go to the world of Osiris (afterlife). The Egyptians believed that only the Pharaohs would go to the land of the sun god and prepared
the body in a special way when the Pharaoh died.
Examples of Egyptian gods
All photographic images obtained through Creative Commons:
Activity 6: What do the Egyptians believe?
1. Match the gods in the pictures to their descriptions and write their names in your class workbook. (4)
2. List some of the things that the Egyptian’s believed. (3)
3. Explain to the class what the Egyptians believed without looking at your textbook and how this differs from what you believe. (3)
The Egyptians believed that when a king or pharaoh died he would live with other gods, so his body had to be embalmed in a special
way, known as mummification, which turned them into what is known as a ‘mummy’. This was a long process that lasted for 70 days. The
mummy was placed in a coffin and buried in a vault in a pyramid along with the pharaoh’s treasures, food, water, weapons, and the boat
he would need in the afterlife.
Activity 7: All about Egyptian mummies
1. Use a long crepe bandage and practice wrapping your partner like a mummy!
2. Name ten items you would like to be buried with and why would you want them?
3. How do we know that the Egyptians used the mummification process and therefore had mummies? Discuss this with
a partner.
Pharaohs and the social structure in
Ancient Egypt
There was a class system in Egypt. The Egyptian word for the greatest ruler (king
or queen) of Ancient Egypty, was ‘pharaoh’. The pharaoh was the richest and most
powerful person in the land. They owned all the land and had many assistants. The
people believed that the pharaoh was like a god and that every person and every
thing belonged to them. They were seen as the only person on Earth who could
communicate directly with the gods. The pharaoh was usually the eldest son of a
royal family, but woman had a lot of power in Egypt and could also be pharoahs. In
fact, the last pharoah to rule Anciet Egypt was Cleopatra VII Philopator. The pharoah
also acted as chief priest, head of the army and the head of government.
Slaves, Labourers and Peasants
The vizier (advisor) was the next person of high importance and he managed the
taxes and building projects. Next came the priests and nobles, followed by army
officials and scribes. After that were the skilled craftsmen, traders, artisans and
farmers. Finally there were the peasants, slaves and labourers. They were ordinary
people who were farm workers or servants. They paid the pharaohs by giving them a
portion of their crops and they built palaces and temples for them
Activity 8: The social structure in Egypt
1. Write a paragraph about the life of a Pharaoh. Give your paragraph a heading. (10)
2. Look at the information about the social structure in Egypt and capture this in your own picture or diagram. (10)
Total: 20
Pyramids, Sphinxes and temples
In Egypt, archaeologists discovered 35 major pyramids and 40 smaller ones. These were originally built as tombs for the bodies of dead
kings and queens. Pyramids were built from huge blocks of stone. People cut and moved these without wheels. They used human or
animal power. It took 20 years for 5000 workers and slaves to build a pyramid. The stone came from quarries. Some pyramids had sides
made of giant steps.
All photographic images obtained through Creative Commons:
The size of pyramids
The largest pyramid is The Great Pyramid at Giza. This was built for King Khufu and it used two million blocks of stone each weighing more
than 2 tons. It was 147 metres high, the size of a 50 story building. Some scientists say that the sloping sides of the pyramid represented
the slanting rays of the sun. The Egyptians believed the souls of the kings and queens would use the sun’s rays to climb to heaven. The
possessions of the kings and queens were buried with them and these range from chariots to jewellery and board games. This naturally
attracted robbers. The pyramids show us how much the Egyptians knew about mathematics.
Cross section of a pyramid
Diagram of a pyramid net
Activity 9: Make a pyramid from a net
Discuss with your partner:
How did the Egyptians move stone without wheels? Analyse the cross section of the pyramid diagram. What do you notice? Discuss
how you would build a pyramid.
Make a pyramid
Look at the diagram of a pyramid net. Make a larger version. Cut out the diagram, fold it and paste it to create your own pyramid.
Create your own story about who was buried in the pyramid and what was buried with that person. Tell your partner your
story. Total: 10
The Sphinx
The Sphinx is ancient Egypt’s most famous mythical monster.
It is usually shown as pharaoh’s head with the body of a lion.
Some Sphinxes, however, have heads of falcons or rams. The
reason that they created these Sphinxes was because they
believed that these creatures protected the rulers of Egypt.
The Egyptians often put Sphinxes at the entrance to royal
tombs to frighten robbers and evil spirits. The largest Sphinx
stands in front of the Pyramid of Giza. It is 73 metres long
and 20 metres high. The Egyptians used one enormous rock
when they carved this Sphinx.
A Sphinx at Giza
All photographic images obtained through Creative Commons:
Temples were an important part of the Egyptian way of life. The children
went to school in the temple. The women took food and goods to the
temple as offerings to the gods. Important visitors from other towns
stayed at the temple. Grain was stored in the temple to share with
those who needed it. Religion was very important to the Egyptians.
People prayed to their gods in the temple. The Temple of Hatshepsut,
known as ‘the most magnificent of the magnificent’ by the ancient
Egyptians. The temples were run by the chief priests who were rich
and powerful.
Temple of Hatshepsut
The Egyptians are famous for their system of writing known as ‘hieroglyphics’. This is a form of picture writing. In those times the scribes did
most of the writing as most of the population couldn’t write. They wrote on papyrus paper. The Egyptians invented papyrus which is the
world’s first form of paper. This enabled the scribes to write down things and create the first written documents.
How papyrus was made
To make papyrus, the Egyptians cut reed from the river into thin strips and placed them over each other in a ‘criss-cross’ manner. They then
covered them with cloth and hammered them straight.
credit: Carrie Mehaffy
There were four categories of hieroglyphics. Here is an example of the hieroglyphic alphabet.
• Each alphabetic sign represented a single sound
• The syllables were a representation of two or three letters
• The Egyptians had pictures for a whole object or a whole word. These were followed by an upward stroke to indicate that the one
sign meant one whole word
• The determinative was a picture of an object to illustrate an abstract idea. Often, a picture of a roll of papyrus that was sealed, was
used to indicate that the meaning of the word could not be expressed pictorially but it could still be expressed in writing
Activity 10: Have fun with hieroglyphics
Look at the hieroglyphics alphabet. Write a sentence to a friend and let them decipher it. (5)
1. Invent your own alphabet of hieroglyphics. (20)
2. Write your name in Egyptian hieroglyphics and then write your name using your own hieroglyphics alphabet. (5)
Total: 30
Mathematics and astronomy
The Egyptians were well known for their mathematical ability, astronomy and inventions.
The calendar
Did you know that the Egyptians invented the modern calendar? They learned to navigate their boats by the stars and used the changing
pattern of the stars to plan their year. They noticed that the same thing happened at the same time and worked out that there are 365
days in a year. They formed a calendar of twelve months. They also worked out that there are 24 hours in a day.
All photographic images obtained through Creative Commons:
Egyptian measuring system
1 palm = 4 finger widths
1 cubit = 7 palm widths
The Egyptian measuring system used the hand and the fingers.
Egyptian decimal system
The Egyptians invented a decimal system. They used 7 different
1 was represented by a single stroke.
10 was shown by drawing one hobble.
100 was shown with a drawing one coil of rope.
1,000 was represented by a drawing of one lotus plant. 10,000 was shown as one finger. 100,000 was represented by a drawing of one frog. (A hieroglyphic
of six frogs in a row would mean 600,000) 1000
1,000,000 was represented by the figure of a god with raised arms. 10,000
Activity 11: Egyptian Measurement
Make an Egyptian ruler and measure your classroom using the Egyptian measurement system. Can you guess the numbers from these
drawings? The first answer is given. Make five big numbers like this and test your friends. = 3,244
Total: 10
Medicine and physicians: diseases, anatomy, physiology and
clinical examinations
The Ancient Egyptians also made the first scientific discoveries about the human body. They noticed that the pulse in the wrist is linked to
ones heartbeat. The Egyptian doctors learned how to mend broken bones and the Egyptian dentists discovered how to fill holes in teeth –
they invented dental fillings. The Egyptians knew, from embalming, how to empty the skull through the nostrils by means of a long hook.
This showed a good knowledge of the anatomy of the head and brain.
A doctor spent many years training at the temple school about how to question a patient for symptoms and examine a body by touching
it. Some of the medicines are still used today. Laxatives such as figs, dates, and caster oil, were used then as they are still used now. Tannic
acid from the acacia nut is sometimes used in the treatment of burns. Common diseases of the eyes and skin were usually treated by the
doctor, but those that the Egyptian doctors did not know about were treated by the prayers of the priests.
Activity 12: Create medical role plays
Use one of the scenarios above to create a role play with a partner. Try to make your role play humorous. Allow the rest of
the class guess what you are doing.
The tomb of Tutankhamun
Who was Tutankhamun?
King Tutankhamun (known as ‘Tut’) was only nine years old when he became Pharaoh. He was only eighteen years old when he died.
What happened at Tutankhamun’s burial?
After experiencing the usual ceremony for a dead King, Tutankhamun was placed in his tomb. His tomb was filled with everything he
might need for a comfortable afterlife – furniture, jewellery, weapons, games, clothing, models of food, boats, animals and more. He was
also given four hundred figurines who could magically act as his servants in the afterlife.
All photographic images obtained through Creative Commons:
What was Tutankhamun’s tomb like?
The people did not have a lot of time to build Tutankhamun’s tomb. Tutankhamun’s
tomb was very small compared to the tombs of other pharaohs. He had been buried
with his furniture, clothing and jewellery to prepare him for the afterlife. As his tomb
was so small, it was overlooked for thousands of years.
Activity 13: Oral
When archaeologists find items that have been buried in a tomb they become
known as artefacts. Bring an ‘artefact’ from your home that could tell us
something about your family. This can be a family heirloom, a favourite toy, object
or tool you use every day. Share this with the class by presenting a short oral.
(Teacher to supply oral rubric from Teacher’s Guide).
What happened to Tutankhamun’s tomb for the 3000 – 4000 years before 1922?
Thieves broke into Tutankhamun’s tomb quite soon after his burial, but they were caught. Official inspectors
quickly re-organised the contents and then resealed the tomb. Soon after that, workmen who were building
the tomb of another pharaoh nearby, built their huts over the young king’s place of burial. Flooding in the
area removed any evidence of its existence. Tutankhamun’s tomb would thus remain hidden for more than
three thousand years.
How was Tutankhamun’s tomb discovered?
In 1922 the discovery of the century took place! A British archaeologist named Howard Carter found and
entered Tutankhamun’s tomb. He wrote these famous words, “…At first I could see nothing, the hot air
escaping from the chamber causing the candle flame to flicker but presently, as my eyes grew accustomed
to the light, details of the room within emerged slowly from the mist, strange animals, statues and gold—
everywhere the glint of gold…I was struck dumb with amazement, and when Lord Carnarvon, unable to
stand the suspense any longer, inquired anxiously, “Can you see anything?” it was all I could do to get out the
words, “Yes, wonderful things.” (quoted on
Top: Items found in
Tutankhamun’s tomb.
Above: Mask of
What did archaeologists find in the tomb?
The rooms were filled with treasure. The room known as the ‘Antechamber’, was filled with huge gilded couches, alabaster vessels and
more. The Annex, another storage area, was filled with grave goods. Robbers might have already been there because a bag of gold rings
was found on the floor. They did not take everything because Carter and his team found many treasures inside the tomb including a solid
gold mask of King Tutankhamun’s face. It took close to six years to record and preserve the thousands of valuable artefacts that were
found there. One room alone contained 171 objects and pieces of furniture.
What the discovery revealed about ancient Egyptian society
The artefacts in Tutankhamun ‘s tomb informed archaeologists and scientists a great deal about ancient Egyptian daily life. Many people
all over the world became interested in learning more about ancient Egypt because of the exciting discovery of an ancient tomb full of
Activity 14: Write a newspaper article
Imagine you are a newspaper reporter. Write a newspaper article about the discovery of Tutankhamun’s tomb.
Total: 10
The spread of Egypt's advanced knowledge to other places,
such as Europe and the Middle East
Egypt developed advanced technology. The craftspeople made cloth, pottery and furniture. They Egyptians were known for their weaving,
spinning, brick making, musical instruments, glass blowing, carpentry, pottery, jewellery making and gold moulding. They exchanged
their goods with traders. They also took goods to other countries and bartered for goods they needed. The Egyptians did not use money.
Activity 15: Bartering
Bring something of yours that you don’t require any more to school. Have a bartering session where you swap what you have
for something else with a friend. Write a paragraph about this experience in your class workbook. What problems did you
experience? Did you enjoy the experience? Can you think of a better system than bartering?
Total: 10
All photographic images obtained through Creative Commons:
Activity 16: Make a brochure
Now that you are finished learning about Egypt, make a brochure. Use a piece of A4 paper and divide it into three double-sided
columns, which will be used both sides and Z-folded (zig-zag format). Choose an important heading for each of the six sections
(see example for three headings). Add information to each heading and draw a picture about it.
Total: 30
The example below illustrates one side of the brochure
The pyramids
Nullam turpis lorem,
tempor ut est vel, blandit
tempus urna. Etiam
semper a quam at sagittis.
Curabitur ac metus a nisi
dapibus tristique. Etiam
in consectetur lectus.
Duis tortor dolor, auctor quis velit eget,
sagittis malesuada nulla. Nam eget diam
nec lorem pretium laoreet. Sed ultrices
metus sit amet tellus mollis interdum eget
ac neque. Maecenas scelerisque fringilla
velit et volutpat. semper a quam at
sagittis. Curabitur ac metus a nisi dapibus
tristique. Etiam in consectetur lectus. Duis
tortor dolor, auctor quis velit eget, sagittis
malesuada nulla. Nam eget diam nec
lorem pretium laoreet. Sed ultrices metus
sit amet tellus mollis interdum eget ac
neque. Maecenas scelerisque fringilla velit
et volutpat. Maecenas auctor placerat
The Nile River King Tut’s tomb
est eget malesuada. Aenean a turpis arcu.
Nulla facilisi.
Integer in mi ligula. Nunc eget augue
turpis. Morbi nec orci leo. Morbi volutpat
velit et pharetra consequat. Suspendisse
vel vehicula quam. Sed dui risus, gravida
in pellentesque vitae, vehicula vitae tellus.
Praesent sit amet vehicula libero. Proin
blandit nulla id mi tempor, in eleifend
sapien varius. Pellentesque at libero blandit,
ullamcorper nunc vel, dignissim metus.
Proin tempus velit sapien, nec luctus mauris
cursus non. Phasellus ut tempor augue.
Nam et posuere erat, sit amet tincidunt
urna. Sed et eros accumsan, iaculis quam
et, consectetur ligula.
Praesent dui erat,
tincidunt vitae ligula
vitae, tempor interdum
Urna. Aliquam et dapibus
Nam eget diam nec lorem
pretium laoreet. Sed
ultrices metus sit amet
tellus mollis interdum eg
Nullam turpis lorem,
tempor ut est vel, blandit
tempus urna. Etiam
semper a quam at sagittis. Curabitur
ac metus a nisi dapibus tristique. Etiam
in consectetur lectus. Duis tortor dolor,
auctor quis velit eget, sagittis malesuada
nulla. Nam eget diam nec lorem pretium
laoreet. Sed ultrices metus sit amet tellus
mollis interdum eget ac neque. Maecenas
scelerisque fringilla velit et volutpat. Nullam
turpis lorem, tempor ut est vel, blandit
tempus urna. Etiam semper a quam at
sagittis. Curabitur ac metus a nisi dapibus
tristique. Etiam in consectetur lectus. Duis
tortor dolor, auctor quis velit eget, sagittis
malesuada nulla. laoreet.
All photographic images obtained through Creative Commons: