Ancient Egypt
by: Wesley Gray Smith

The following contains information on Ancient Egypt. It will include details on topography, life in ancient Egypt, advancements, religion including afterlife, government, and kingdoms.
This video is a small introduction to the fascinations of Ancient Egypt.

This is a map of Ancient Egypt.
This is a map of Ancient Egypt.

Physical Map of Africa
The topography in Egypt was very efficient for the beginning of a civilization. The land had many natural barriers to keep out enemies which created a sense of security. Natural barriers around Ancient Egypt included a desert to the east and west, the Mediterranean Sea to the north, the Red Sea to the west, and rapids on the Nile.
The Nile River was extremely important to Egyptians. Because the Nile River rose every summer and deposited fertile soil and silt, Egyptains grew a surplus of food.
It is the largest river at 4,000 miles long. The Nile River flows North and empties into the Medeterranian Sea.

Egyptian society was organized like a pyramid. Pharaohs were at the top and they were considered to be gods. Merchants and artisans were in the middle of the pyramid. These were traders or artists who were creative and sold their goods for profit. At the bottom of Egyptain society were peasants. These farmers and laborers were the "backbone" of Egyptain society because they worked in the agricultural country of Egypt.
The pyramid above displays the Ancient Egyptian society
The pyramid above displays the Ancient Egyptian society

Marriage was arranged in Egypt and usually women were married by the young age of twelve. The husband was the "master". The wife was in charge of the household, the property, and educating the children. Some women were merchants, priestesses, and even pharaohs. Within a class, men and women had the same rights.

Styles in ancient Egypt are often displayed in the art work from this time period. Common people usually had short hair. Girls usually wore pigtails and boys would often shave their heads. Wigs were worn at functions such as parties by both men and women.
Clothes were made from linens. Men usually wore a skirt of kilt while women wore straight fitting dresses with straps. Children did not often wear clothes in the summer. To stay warm in the winter, children were wrapped with cloth or shawls. Kings and queens continued to wear kilts and dresses although they were known to be more decorative.
Kings usually wore kilts
Kings usually wore kilts

Hieroglyphics was the Egyptian writing system.These were also referred to as "priest carvings." Hieroglyphics is a combination of abstract pictures and symbols. Later, hieroglyphics were simplified and called "hieratic script."
These abstract figures were written on papyrus which is a material prepared from thin strips of the plant named Cyperus papyrus. This plant was layered together, soaked, and then dried.
Hieroglyphics are very important to scientists today that are researching and discovering information about ancient Egypt because Egyptians used this form of writing for record keeping, business transactions, and the general needs of daily life.
Scribes were the upper class males who knew how to write. Boys started to learn at age ten when they went to school.
Write your name in hieroglyphics!

Although there were other symbols for different animals, and other words, this was the simple Egyptian alphabet in hieroglyphics
Although there were other symbols for different animals, and other words, this was the simple Egyptian alphabet in hieroglyphics

Although ancient Egyptians had a common lifestyle, the advancements made in this time period were astounding.
Math advancements included the first calculations of area and volume. This helped with building the pyramids. Also, the 365 day calendar was produced.
Mummification was a process that was used on bodies after they were dead. (To learn more about mummification scroll down to RELIGION/AFTERLIFE.) Mummification led to advancements in anatomy. Other ancient civilizations learned from the Egyptians about organs and the increased knowledge of medicines. The functions of organs were also discovered by the mummification process. Their discoveries on organs were acurate except they had the brain's function and the heart's function reversed. Egyptians preformed the earliest known surgeries.
Papyrus discussed above in LIFE IN ANCIENT EGYPT was also a great advancement for this time.
The worlds earliest known glass was used for small beads and jewelry by the ancient egyptians.
The worlds earliest known glass was used for jewelry
The worlds earliest known glass was used for jewelry
knowledge of organ functions was an important advancement
knowledge of organ functions was an important advancement


The religion practiced by Egyptians was a polytheistic one, which means they worshiped more than one god. The Egyptians saw the actions of the gods behind all the elements and forces of nature. The Egyptians had as many as 2,000 gods and goddesses.
Egyptian gods and goddesses
Egyptian gods and goddesses

Horus, the sky god, had the head of a hawk, and body of a human. They considered animals such as the bull, the cat, and the crocodile to be holy. Temples were considered dwelling places for the gods. The purpose of the temple was to be a center in which men had communication with the gods. As the priests became more powerful, tombs became a part of great temples.
The priest duty was to care for the gods and atte​nd to their needs. The priest had many duties such as funeral rites, teaching school, supervising the artists and works, and advising people on problems.
Ancient Egyptians strongly believed in afterlife. The ancient Egyptian god of the underworld is Osiris.
The "ka" is a spiritual entity, an aspect of the individual, believed to live within the body during life and to survive it after death.
Offerings of food, drink, and other worldly goods were left for the
"ka" to use in the afterlife. Small mummy shaped statues made from clay limestone, faience, and painted wood were inscribed with offering prayers and placed inside coffins.
The "ba" was another aspect of the soul. The "ba" was how an individual acted or one's personality. The "ba" was represented as a bird with a human head.
Pyramids-LEARN MORE!

external image 100_ba_bird_over_mummy.jpg

Mummification was the process used on bodies after they were deceased to preserve them. The specific steps as to how mummies were made include:
1. First the undertakers cut the body open
2. They took out the lungs, liver, stomach, and intestines. The heart was left in the body. The organs they removed are placed in canopic jars which were later buried with the mummified body.
3. Next, the body was packed in natron which is like salt. This dried out the body and made it weigh significantly less than it did before because all the fluids were out after a few weeks. In addition, after being dried in natron the skin became harder and tighter.
4. The undertakers then tore fine white cloth into thin strips
5. They wrapped the strips around the entire body covering the cadaver from head to toe.
6. After the mummy was wrapped, the undertakers covered it with sticky sap from trees.
7. The sap dried and the mummy is as hard as a statue.
8. At last, it was time for the funeral. The mummy was put into a fancy, decorated coffin. This coffin was placed into another decorated coffin that resembeled the person who died.
Mural of Egyptian Mummy Preparation
Mural of Egyptian Mummy Preparation


In Ancient Egypt there were three major dynasties; the Old Kingdom, the Middle Kingdom, and the New Kingdom. Each of the kingdoms was marked by stability, strong leadership, no invasion, and rich cultural activity. The time between each kingdom proved to be a time of chaos.

3100 BC

King Menes was the ruler during the Old Kingdom. He united upper and lower Egypt into a single monarchy. King Menes also created the first royal dynasty.
2700-2200 BC
Pharaohs was the name for Egyptian monarchs. The word "pharaohs" means "great house." Pharaohs possessed absolute power and were even worshiped as gods! Although they were the main rulers, they did have help from the government bureacracy.
There were forty-two provinces run by governors in the first kingdom.
Viziers were the stewards of the whole land, and they were the ones in charge of the bureaucracy.
A great acheviement developed during the Old Kingdom were the pyramids which remain in Egypt today.
Pyramids were dedicated to the dead.
The largest pyramid was for the pharaoh. The smaller pyramid was for the royal family.
The largest pyramid is "Giza." This particular pyramid has a 756 foot base and is 481 feet high! It took 100,000 Egyptians over twenty years to complete this massive project. This pyramid is guarded by the Great Sphinx. The Great Sphinx is a statue of a reclining lion with a human head.
Tombs were well stocked with boats, weapons, games, dishes, food, and just about anything Egyptians thought the ka would need in the afterlife.
Check out satellite images of Giza

2055-1650 BC
The middle kingdom was the golden age of stability. During the middle kingdom land were expanded in the south.
The pharaohs were now regarded as shepherds. They were in charge of public works including major projects from the Nile River to the Red Sea.
The end of the Middle Kingdom took place because the Egyptians were invaded by Hyskos whose weapons were more advanced. When the Hyskos took over, the Egyptians actually learned from them. They learned helpful military tactics and how to use bronze for tools.
Once Egyptians gained all this information from the Hyskos they pushed them back out which led to the New Kingdom.
Bust of a Hyskos soldier
Bust of a Hyskos soldier

The New Kingdom began with a new militaristic path. The new empire became the strongest in South West Asia.
Pharaohs now had massive wealth and this was displayed by the elaborate new temples.
Hatsheput was a female pharaoh who built a great temple near Thebes. Hatsheput dressed as a man to receive the same amount of respect from the people.
Another ruler was Akhenaton who came in and destroyed all old gods. He established monotheism, the belief in one god. This main god he wanted everyone to worship now was "Aten", the sun disk god.
King Tutankhamen is one of the most commonly known Egyptian kings. He started his rule when he was ten years old and died at age fourteen. When King Tut began his rule he restored all the old gods and brought the people back to polytheism.
The New Kingdom was invaded by Romans who were referred to as "sea people." This ended the Egyptian Empire and the New Kingdom collapsed around 1070 BC.

Cleopatra tried to reestablish Egyptian independence but she was unsuccessful and Egypt became a province of Rome.

Work Cited
"Ancient Egypt" Copyright 1999. The British Museum. Accessed December 1, 2009

"Ancient Egypt for Kids" Jan 19, 2009. Karr, Karen. Portland State University. Accessed December 9,2009

"Egypt-Secrets of the Ancient World" Copyright 1996-2009. National Geographic. Accessed November 29, 2009

Spielvogel Ph.D, Jackson. Glencoe World History North Carolina Edition. McGraw-Hill Companies. Copyright 2008. Pages 34, 36,37,38,39,40,41,43