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Ancient Egypt: An Overview Old Kingdom • 2650 BC – 2134 BC • Pharaohs organized a strong central state, were absolute rulers, and were considered gods. Egyptians built pyramids at Giza!! Middle Kingdom • 2125 BC – 1550 BC • Large drainage project created usable farmland. • Traders had contacts with Middle East and Crete. But corruption and rebellion were common!! New Kingdom • 1550 BC – 1295 BC • Powerful pharaohs created a large empire that reached the Euphrates River. – Hatshepsut encouraged trade. – Ramses II expanded Egyptian rule to Syria. • Egyptian power declined. Do you think Miss Cooney will be my girlfriend?? Geography • Egypt is located in northeastern Africa. • The Nile River runs the length of the country flowing south to north. • The climate is hot and dry, part of the Sahara Desert. Geography • Ancient Egypt was divided into two regions: Upper and Lower Egypt • Lower (northern) Egypt consisted of the Nile River's delta made by the river as it empties into the Mediterranean. • Upper Egypt was the long, narrow strip of ancient Egypt located south of the Delta. Google Earth shot of the Nile delta and flood plains! The Nile River • The Nile was the lifeblood of ancient Egypt. It made life possible in the otherwise barren desert of Egypt. • It is the longest river in the world (over 4,000 miles). • It served as a source of food for the people of ancient Egypt. • It was the major source of water for bathing and drinking. • The Nile was crucial for farming and transportation. Denial is not just a river in Egypt! Flood Plains • The flood plains were the low strips of fertile land located on either side of the Nile River. • The land was inundated (overwhelmed) with water during the annual floods. • When the inundation subsided, it left the earth soaked and overlaid with a fresh layer of black silt, which is why the area is referred to as “Black Land.” • This is where most of the farming occurred. Nile Delta • Located in northern Egypt where the Nile River spreads out and empties into the Mediterranean Sea. • Most fertile soil in Africa! Concerns about the Nile River • Upriver, there were • Sometimes, there light rains which was too much rain could result in at river’s source, flooding! which lead to: • The land was • Wild flooding baked in the sun • Crops washing so crops died. away • People and animals drowning Natural Barriers for Protection Bordered on the south, east and west by the Sahara Desert, and on the north by the sea, ancient Egypt was protected from outside influences. Let’s go swimming!! Religion • Egyptians were polytheistic, meaning they believed in many gods. – Amon-Ra: Sun God – Osiris: God of the Underworld and of the Nile • The pharaoh was believed to be a god as well as a ruler! Falcon Headed Sun God Religion • Egyptians used stories about the Gods to explain events in nature. • They believed the sun was a god that was born each day and died each night. The eye of Ra is watching you! No chit-chatting!! Religion • Book of the Dead: a description of the ancient Egyptian idea of the afterlife and instructions to allow the dead to pass through obstacles in the afterlife – Placed in the coffin or burial chamber of the deceased • Practiced mummification, the act of preserving a dead body from decomposition Mummy Dearest! • Preserving a body took about 70 days • All internal organs removed from body by a hook through the nose -- except the heart! – The heart was believed to be the home of the soul. • Body covered a type of salt to absorb the water and wrapped in linens. Mummy Dearest! • Egyptians were buried with all the possessions they might need in the afterlife. • The Egyptians believed the soul appeared before the god Osiris and a group of judges. • The dead person’s heart was placed on one side of a scale and the feather of truth Mummy Dearest • A balanced scale meant the soul would live forever. • An unbalanced scale meant the soul was heavy with sin. • Egyptians believed the sinful soul would be eaten by an animal that was part crocodile, lion, and hippopotamus! Book of the Dead Collection of spells, hymns, and prayers intended to secure a safe passage to the underworld for the deceased What is hieroglyphics? • Hieroglyphics is the picture-writing used in ancient Egypt. • The word ‘hieroglyphic’ is made up of two Greek words - hieros, which means sacred, and glyphe, which means carving. • The Egyptian hieroglyphic writing system consists of several hundred picture signs. – The signs can be divided into two classes: phonograms and ideograms . Phonograms represent sounds, much as alphabet letters do. Ideograms are signs that represent whole words or concepts. 2 Social Classes PHARAOH Earthly leader; considered a god HIGH PRIESTS AND PRIESTESSES Served gods and goddesses NOBLES Fought pharaoh’s wars MERCHANTS, SCRIBES, AND ARTISANS Made furniture, jewelry, and fabrics for pharaohs and nobles, and provided for other needs PEASANT FARMERS AND SLAVES Worked in the fields and served the pharaoh Clothing • Women: Long sleeveless linen dresses • Men: Knee-length linen skirts sometimes with short-sleeved shirts Men and women wore jewelry and makeup. Wealthy often wore fancy wigs, like mine! Jobs • Farmers worked • Women were in for the government charge of household during the flooding. matters. They could own property and had • Men were artists, full legal rights. carpenters, builders, and • Some women were stonecutters. craftworkers but most • They worked ten days were weavers. and had one day off. Children • Children were seen as gifts from the gods. • They played games such as leap frog, tug-of-war, and wrestling. • Girls learned weaving and household skills from their mothers. • Boys learned their father’s trade. Upper class children learned math, literature, and writing. Isn’t Social Studies fun!?