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The ancient Egyptians
thought of Egypt as
being divided into
two types of land,
the 'black land'
and the 'red land'.
The 'black land' was the fertile land on the banks of the Nile.
The 'red land' was the barren desert that protected Egypt
on two sides.
Lower Egypt is to the north and is that part where the
Nile Delta
drains into the Mediterranean Sea.
Upper Egypt is to the south from the Libyan desert
down to just
past Abu Simbel.
The ancient Egyptians built pyramids
as tombs for the pharaohs and their
queens. The pharaohs were buried in
pyramids of many different shapes
and sizes from before the beginning
of the Old Kingdom to the end of the
Middle Kingdom.
The most powerful person in ancient Egypt was the pharaoh.
The pharaoh was the political and religious leader of the
Egyptian people, holding the titles: 'Lord of the Two Lands'
and 'High Priest of Every Temple'.
All government administrators, ranging from personal staff to
imperial officials, were subject to the approval of the pharaoh.
Religion guided every aspect of Egyptian life. Egyptian religion
was based on polytheism, or the worship of many deities, except
for during the reign of Akenaton. The Egyptians had as many as
80 gods and goddesses. Some, such as Amun, were worshipped
throughout the whole country, while others had only a local
following. Often gods and goddesses were represented
as part human and part animal.
The priests duty was to care for the gods and attend to their
needs. The priests had many duties such as funeral rites, teaching
school, supervising the artists and works, and advising people on
The Egyptians saw death as a transitional stage in the progress to
a better life in the next world. They believed they could only
reach their full potential after death.
Pyramids & Tombs
When a pharaoh died he was buried in a tomb
designed to protect his body forever. This tomb
was called a pyramid. The theory behind the
tomb was that if a pharaoh’s body were
destroyed, his Ka (soul) would have nowhere to
go and would die. If his Ka died, he would not be
able to be united with the sun. This in turn would cause the gods to
become angry, and they would no longer protect the land or people of
the pharaoh. At least, this is what the pyramids started out to be. They
soon became not only a final resting place, but a symbol of power.
The first pyramid built was for King Djoser. This pyramid and a
few after were called Step Pyramids. These pyramids had steps
from the top to the bottom. This was supposed to represent a
gigantic stairway for the king to climb to join the sun god in the
The largest, and most famous, pyramid is the Great Pyramid
located in the Giza plateau, near Cairo. This pyramid was built
for the pharaoh Khufu (Cheops). Over two million blocks of
limestone were used, and it took over twenty years to
build. The base of the Great Pyramid covers the size of almost
ten football fields.
The Valley of the Kings in Upper Egypt contains many of the
tombs of pharaohs from the New Kingdom including
Tutankhamun and Ramesses the Great.
The pharaoh, as the living god, stood at the pinnacle of the social pyramid in
ancient Egypt. The people viewed pharoah as the owner of all lands and
citizens, the bestower of all public offices, the leader of all armies, and the
high priest of all gods.
The nobles and military leaders held the highest positions in the bureaucracy
or administrative departments of ancient Egypt. Important families
controlled the most influential offices and passed these positions along to
family members from generation to generation.
Priests and scribes were the eduacted class of ancient Egypt. Although the
pharaoh was high priest of every god, he or she could not be in all areas of
the empire at once. Religious functions were therefore delegated to the
Scribes were highly respected members of Egyptian society because of their
ability to read and write the Egyptian script called hieroglyphics.
A wide variety of skilled craftspeople earned a living in ancient Egypt,
including weavers, sandal-makers, mat-makers, incense moulders, potters,
brick-makers, jewellers, carpenters, stonemasons, silversmiths, and
The fellabin or peasant farmers were the common folk. They made up the
majority of the population. We know very little about them except that they
were illiterate and were with attached to the estate of the pharaoh, a temple,
or a rich landowner.
Slaves in ancient Egypt were prisoners of war brought back by the armies
during the Middle Kingdom and later. Female and child slaves did
household work for the wealthy. male slaves were put to work as soldiers,
farmers, or maintenance labourers around the household. Slaves in ancient
Egypt could own property or rent land, and could even be set free if their
masters chose to do so.
English is based on 26 characters--letters. Letters that are
combined into words...
and then into sentences...which tell a story.
Ancient Egyptian writing uses more than 2,000
hieroglyphic characters. Each hieroglyph represents a
common object in ancient Egypt. Hieroglyphs could
represent the sound of the object or they could represent an
idea associated
with the object.