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One of the most impressive ancient civilizations we know about:
As mentioned before, rivers were
essential to many ancient civilizations.
The Nile was the lifeblood of Ancient
Egypt. It flooded very predictably, and
flows for 4000+ miles. Around it, it is
surrounded by desert. Vid
Because of the flooding, the narrow
band of land nearest the river is very
fertile, and makes growing crops easy.
The delta, or fan at the end of the river
going into the ocean, is also very fertile
as well. Cataracts are areas of rapids.
In fact, the name Egypt means “Black
Land”, so named for the dark silt that
provides nourishment for the plants and
people of Egypt.
A powerful group or family that maintains its position for a
number of years.
The history of ancient Egypt is divided into several different
eras, with three main periods, which were:
the Early Dynastic Period (3,100-2,700 B.C.E.)
the Old Kingdom (about 2,700-2,200 B.C.E.)
the Middle Kingdom (2,050-1,800 B.C.E.)
the New Kingdom (about 1,550-1,100 B.C.E.).
The New Kingdom was followed by a period called the Late
New Kingdom, which lasted to about 343 B.C.E.
(Intermediate kingdoms — those without strong ruling
families — filled the gaps of time in between the Old, Middle,
and New Kingdoms.)
First Egyptian Dynasty:
Dates from 3100 BCE (in other words, it is REALLY old)
Has some of the earliest hieroglyphics known.
Is believed to show the unification of Egypt by the King
Narmer / aka Menes
Shows Narmer on one side wearing the bulbed white
crown of Upper aka Southern Egypt
On the other side, he is wearing the red crown of lower
(northern) Egypt
Earliest known depiction of an Egyptian king
The Egyptologist Bob Brier has referred to the Narmer
Palette as "the first historical document in the world"
It was divided into two main parts:
Upper (Southern) Egypt, whose
leader used a white crown that
looked like this:
Lower (Northern) Egypt, whose
leader used a red crown that looked
like this:
Notice that each one of these
crowns is depicted in the Narmer
Palette? See if you can find it:
As far as we know, Narmer (aka Menes) was
the first Pharaoh to unite both Upper and
Lower Egypt.
As a symbol of the two lands, the later
Pharaohs wore a crown that combined the
two former crowns, as shown.
Much of this era is shrouded in mystery. New
discoveries continue to give us new info.
Why is it important to keep an open mind
when it comes to history?
Pretend you are an archaeologist, and you
have made an important new discovery about
ancient history; write down that discovery.
Now, share it with a classmate.
about 2,700-2,200 B.C.E.
The Old Kingdom Intro
About 300 years after Narmer / Menes
united Egypt, (c. 2650 BCE) its rulers formed
a central government in which they held
supreme power. This was the beginning of
the Old Kingdom. (Kings tend to rule from a
central place, which is why the early dynastic
period is not technically considered a
During the Old Kingdom, pyramid building
flourished. Cheops had the six-million-ton
Great Pyramid of Giza constructed as his
tomb. Under Chephren, a Fourth Dynasty
ruler, the Great Sphinx was built.
The end of the Old Kingdom was marked by
civil wars between pharaohs and nobles.
What is a pyramid? Definition:
Geometry. a solid having a
polygonal base, and triangular
sides that meet in a point.
Just like the geometric
definition, many of the ancient
pyramids were shaped exactly
like this.
They changed over time,
getting to this point. The first
pyramids were more like
ziggurats, eventually evolving
to look like the traditional
pyramid shape we know today.
For many years, many different
theories were suggested:
Some thought that they were
rolled on wooden rollers, to
ease friction.
Others thought that they used
a wooden track that was
And other weird ideas…
What do YOU think they did, in
order to move those giant
stones? Write down your
answer on an index card,
The actual answer may
surprise you: Water
Pyramids were built for religious
purposes. The Egyptians were one
of the first civilizations to believe in
an afterlife.
They believed that a second self
called the ka lived within every
human being. When the physical
body expired, the ka (or spirit)
enjoyed eternal life.
Those fortunate enough to pass the
test of Osiris (we’ll discuss later)
wanted to be comfortable in their
lives beyond earth. The Great
Pyramids were simply grand tombs
of powerful pharaohs.
Additionally, the Egyptians believed
that you could take your earthly
belongings with you to the afterlife.
Hence the chambers inside the
pyramids where you find all sorts of
goodies hidden away with the
pharaohs and others who were
In the early days, dead nobles were
often buried with their living slaves
and animals. This practice
eventually proved too costly, though
So, artists instead depicted scenes
of human activity on the inside
walls. Some pyramids were even
equipped with a rest room for the
Great precautions were taken to protect
the tombs from looters. Egyptians believed
that a defiler of a pharaoh's resting place
would be cursed for eternity. VID
The entrance to the inner chambers was
carefully hidden. The pharaoh's mummy
was placed in a huge coffin called a
sarcophagus, which was made of the
hardest known stone blocks. But despite
such warnings and precautions, tombs
were raided over the years by grave
The pyramids, however, have stood the test
of time. Although their outer limestone
layers have long since been stripped or
passed into dust, the pyramids still stand.
About 80 dot the horizons of modern Egypt.
They remain as time capsules cast forward
by a once-great civilization. Vid
(2,050-1,800 B.C.E.)
Montuhotep II (2,007-1,956 B.C.E.), an
Eleventh dynasty pharaoh, was the last
ruler of the Old Kingdom and the first
ruler of the Middle Kingdom. He and his
successors restored political order.
High Official Tomb:
Amenemhet III (1817-1772 B.C.E was
responsible for the construction of two
great projects. He completed the building
of the giant waterwheels of the Faiyum
region that diverted the floodwaters of the
Amenemhet also constructed the Pyramid
of Hawara, which became known as the
Labyrinth. It contained about 3,000
rooms. VID
The Middle Kingdom is
remembered as a time of
flourishing arts, particularly
in jewelry making. Egypt
became a great trading
power during this period and
continued massive
construction projects.
Eventually, the long reign of
prosperity gave way to old
problems: crop failures,
economic woes, dynastic
power struggles, and foreign
(about 1,550-1,100 B.C.E.)
Who were the Hyksos?
The Hyksos, a Semitic-Asiatic group, invaded the
Nile Delta region around 1720 BCE. These
advanced warriors used new tools for war: bronze
weapons, laminated bows and horse-drawn
chariots. They defeated the Egyptians, who fought
on foot with copper-and-stone weapons.
They ruled for 150 or so years, maintaining much
as it had been before, before finally being
expelled from Egypt by the native Egyptians in
1550 BCE, who utilized the same technology to
defeat them.
Imagine that you are a native Egyptian. Flip that
index card over, and write your response: Even
though the Hyksos are pretty good rulers (they
respected local customs, adopted Egyptian ways,
etc.), why might you feel the need to kick them
out of your country? Give three reasons you might
feel this way. Do things like this occur today?
After successfully rebelling against
the Hyksos, the Egyptians decided
the best way not to get bullied was
to become the bully themselves.
They built an empire that extended
south into Kush, a kingdom further
up the Nile, and into Palestine as
well. Trade flourished, and these
areas would serve as a buffer zone
should anyone try to take over Egypt
They also created Egypt’s first
permanent army, adopting the
archers and charioteers that the
Hyksos had used to subject them.
As a result of all this, trade and the
kingdom flourished.
Women in Egypt had many rights VID. Hatshepsut
wanted more.
Queen Hatshepsut holds the title of the longest reign of
a female ancient Egyptian ruler. She lived from 15001458 BC and ruled over Egypt for 21 of those years. VID
Hatshepsut went to great lengths to become queen of
Egypt. She used her bloodline and concocted a story
about being co-regent with her father, Thutmose I. The
Royal Steward, Senemut, named her: “God’s Wife, King’s
Daughter, King’s Sister, Great Royal Wife Hatshepsut” in
an inscription at Aswan. She also claimed that her father
declared her his heir before he died.
To further instill the idea in the ancient Egyptians’ minds
that she was no less a king than any other, she dressed
up in men’s clothing and wore a false beard. She also
insisted that people address her as “King” and “His
Majesty”. She is known for her peaceful reign and for the
building of many monuments, including the mortuary
complex at Deir el-Bahri.
It was a time of renaissance in artistic creation, but also as
the end of dynastic rule. Lots of corruption in this period.
Amenhotep IV and his wife Nefertiti triggered a religious
revolution. Before Amenhotep's rule, Egypt was a
polytheistic society that believed in many gods, the most
important named Amon. VID
They believed only in Aton, the sun god. Belief in only one
god (monotheism) was a radical notion. To show his
devotion to Aton, the pharaoh changed his name to
Akenhaton ("he who is loyal to Aton"). Akenhaton moved his
capital from Thebes, where Amon was worshipped, to Tell
el Amarna.
If you were one of the traditional priests, imagine how you
might feel about these changes. Would you resist them?
Naturally, the priests who represented the other gods did
not like this change one bit. Many Egyptians also did not
like the pharaoh discrediting their gods. After the death of
Akenhaton, the powerful priests forced the new capital to
be moved back to Thebes .
The pharaoh who moved the capital
back to Thebes was a boy-king. He
ruled for nine years, attempted to
pacify the priests, and was
responsible for some modest
building projects. He began his
reign at the age of 10 but died of a
head injury at 19. VID
But, his name is famous:
Tutankhamun, or more familiarly,
King Tut. Tut is mostly remembered
because of his beautiful tomb —
one of the very few that was not
pillaged by grave robbers.
Video about King Tut
Ramses II, or Ramses the Great, was another important
ruler during this period. He died about 1,213 B.C.E. at
age 96. His nearly 200 wives and concubines bore him
150 children.
He also built two temples at Abu Simbel, a covered hall
of giant pillars at Karnak, additions at the Luxor Temple,
and the Ramesseum, a compound consisting of two
temples and a palace. Last great Egyptian Pharaoh. VID
After Ramses' rule, Egypt fell into steady decline. Today,
his 3,000-year-old mummy lies in a display case on the
second floor of the Egyptian Museum in Cairo, Egypt's
Over the course of the next nine centuries, the Nubians,
the Assyrians, and the Persians bounded into Egypt and
ravaged the area. When Pharaoh Nectanebo II retreated
to Memphis to avoid death at the hands of oncoming
Persian invaders in 343 B.C.E., he became the last
Egyptian-born pharaoh, ending over 2,500 years of
Egyptian self-rule.
Read Ch. 3.2 Egyptian Culture (for next time)
What was daily life like for the Egyptians?
 Blast from the Past Letter:
 Write a letter, as if you went back in time. You can focus
on the Egyptians, or any of the other civilizations we
have discussed thus far.
 Due Monday (the Letter)
 See the handout (also online)
 Pick a pharaoh, that you think was most influential /
important and why. Research, and report on Monday!