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Ancient Civilizations of North
Africa
Tara Madsen
Pharaohs and Egypt
•
The Egyptian civilizations grew up along the banks of the Nile River
•
Ancient Egypt is sometimes called the “gift of the Nile”
•
The Nile River Valley is located in the Sahara, a large desert in the northern part of
Africa.
•
The climate is hot and dry
•
Without the waters of the Nile, Egyptians could not have survived or planted their
crops
•
The Nile, like most rivers, flooded every year leaving behind fresh soil and silt that
made agriculture a very lucrative venture.
•
Ancient Egyptians had to build ditches to irrigate and control the waters of the Nile
so that their fields would not become flooded.
Pharaohs
•
Around 3100 BCE, Menes united the peoples along the Nile into the Kingdom of Egypt.
He began the first dynasty, or family of rulers.
•
Over time the Egyptian rulers became known as Pharaohs.
•
Pharaohs had absolute authority over their subjects.
•
Egyptians believed that the pharaoh’s power came from the sun god Ra.
•
The pharaoh represented the god on Earth and was considered divine
•
Histories divide ancient Egyptian history into three periods:
2700-2200 BCE – Old Kingdom
2050-1652 BCE – Middle Kingdom
1567-1058 BCE – New Kingdom
They all have the following features in common: Strong pharaohs, peace with Egypt’s
neighbors,
Large building projects, and great cultural and scientific achievements.
• Between these periods, Egypt suffered from
weak pharaohs and invasions by stronger
groups.
• The region was in a state of chaos and as a
result, there are few intellectual
achievements.
• There was also little money and time to build
temples for the deities and palaces for the
pharaohs.
Egyptian Religion
•
Religion was a very important part of Egyptian life, they were polytheistic.
• They worshipped gods in the world around them (examples: Ra- Sun God,
Osiris- God of the Nile)
• Egyptians believed in life after death- they thought it was similar to life on
Earth.
• As a result, they wanted to be buried with all of their belongings… even
their servants and pets were killed and buried with them.
• Their bodies were mummified… organs were removed and replaced with
spices… the body was then dried and wrapped with linen cloth… at first
only Pharaohs and nobles were mummified, later it was an Egyptian
custom.
• The pharaohs were then buried in large tombs
known as the pyramids.
• The Great Pyramid at Giza contains the tomb of
King Khufu and was finished about 2540 BCE… it
is made of over 2 million blocks of limestone.
Each block weighs about 2 tons.
• The Pyramids cover about as much ground as 12
football fields.
• They are the one of the greatest achievements of
the Egyptians.
Egyptian Society and Daily Life
•
At the top of Egyptian society was the pharaoh and other members of the royal
family.
•
Next came the priests and nobles (Priests took care of temples and religious
ceremonies, the nobles oversaw the government)
•
This ruling class was very small… aka an aristocracy.
•
The middle class was slightly larger and made up of: Merchants, craft workers, and
tax collectors.
•
The scribes kept records using hieroglyphics (a writing system that the ancient
Egyptians developed)
•
The largest class of people were peasants… farmers worked the fields for their
pharaoh… both men and women worked the fields… during non farming times,
they worked on the pharaoh’s building projects.
The Kingdom of Kush
• The land of Kush is south of Egypt.
• The area is today part of the nation of Sudan… Kush and Egypt were
connected for many centuries through trade and politics.
• NUBIA: The area that became Kush was first called Nubia… people
of Nubia were mainly farmers. (Some became wealthy by trade)
• As early as 2000 BCE Nubian merchants were trading luxury items
like ivory, ebony, leopard skins, and slaves with Egypt.
• During the New Kingdom, Egypt conqured Nubia (they wanted to
control their trading network) however, by 1000 BCE Nubia won its
independence.
Expansion of Kush
•
In 750 BCE King Piankhi of Kush succeeded in conquering Egypt and Kush succeeded in
spreading its power all the way to the Mediterranean Sea.
•
A dynasty of Kushite pharaohs took over the Egyptian throne… the rule of Kushite
pharaohs lasted 100 years.
•
In 663 BCE, the Assyrians from Mesopotamia invaded Kush and easily defeated the
Kushites.
•
The Assyrians had mastered iron working and were using iron weapons… iron is much
stronger than bronze
•
Around 500 BCE, the Kushites built a new capital at Meroe, its location was ideal for
two reasons: trade routes and iron…
•
Meroe was built near large deposits of iron ore… the Kushites had learned from the
Assyrians how to use iron… they began to use this iron and also export it to other
civilizations.
•
The Kingdom of Kush was ended around 350 CE, it was invaded and overtaken by its
neighbors from Axum.
Mesopotamians
Location:
Rivers:
Politics:
Economy:
Religion:
Writing:
Egyptians
Southwest Asia
North Africa
Tigris/Euphrates
Nile
City states: Kings
Empire:Pharaoh
Both were Farming with some trade
Polytheistic
Polytheistic
Cuneiform
Hieroglyphics