Ancient Egypt

By: Taylor Jones

Introduction to Egypt

You're about to journey into the world of ancient Egypt! Some of the Information covered will range from discussing the famous Nile River, pharaoh kings, religious beliefs in gods, and even a stone used for writing! Did you know that Egyptians believed that mummification of the dead was one of the most important ways to have a happy afterlife? That's just one little fact that can be learned. Enjoy reading about the mysterious and amazing ways of ancient Egypt!

The Nile River

The country of Egypt felt that their Nile River was so important that they considered it an "Egyptian Blessing". The Nile is the longest river (over 4132 miles long) in the world! It begins in central Africa and ends at the Mediterranean Sea. Because there was heavy flooding of the Nile at the same time every year, the farm land around the river would get the fertile silt that helped the farmers with nourishment for their crops and farming. Even though there was heavy flooding every year, the rich delta area helped to develop new communities. Another reason communities grew around the Nile was for the ability to fish and feed the families. They were also able to get the rich mud from the delta that assisted in making pottery. The Nile was a way to transport goods and crops up and down the river to other parts of the country. This would also lead items to the Mediterranean Sea. The rocky cataracts in the Nile caused damage to the boats if not carefully navigated. It would be like a mine field if the boulders hit the boats. The Nile River even provided a means of protection for the people living along its shores. Both sides of the Nile are the deserts of Egypt, the Western and Eastern deserts. The Nile protected the Egyptians from invaders. Invaders would have to cross the river, some parts of it were pretty wide, and the Egyptians on the land could see them coming. The Egyptians could stand on the sides of the river and fight them by throwing spears or rocks! An interesting fact is that the east bank of the Nile was the side of birth (where the sun rises) and the west was the side of death (where the sun sets). Because of this belief, all ancient Egyptian tombs and pyramids were built on the west side of the Nile!

Social Hiearchy

There were levels to the social hierarchy of Egypt that ranged from slaves up to pharaohs. 1. The lowest social class were the slaves, laborers, and pheasants. This was 80% of the Egyptian population. They worked the crops, as palace servants, and helped be the workers and builders of the ancient pyramids and temples. 2. The next class were the Craftsmen, who were skilled laborers, supervisors to the pharaohs, and foremen to the building of pyramids. 3.The Officials and scribes were the ones that wrote the letters and prepared the educated writings. These people were highly respected for their intelligence. 4. The high priests and nobles were the next group. Priests were the religious leaders and focused on pleasing the gods and following the important rituals. They were respected and powerful. The nobles held government positions and profited from the actions of government and anyone they could persuade with their power. 5. The Viziers were special advisers and confidants to a pharaoh. They assisted them in everyway. 6. The highest level of the social hierarchy was the pharaoh. He was the ruler and controlled everything that happened in Egypt. They were looked up to as gods and treated as total royalty.

Rosetta Stone

The Rosetta Stone is a stone with writing on it in two languages (Egyptian and Greek), using three scripts (hieroglyphic, demotic, and Greek). The Rosetta Stone is written in three scripts because when it was written, there were three scripts being used in Egypt. The first hieroglyphic which was the script used for important or religious documents. The second was demotic which was the common script of Egypt. The third was Greek which was the language of the rulers of Egypt at that time. The Rosetta Stone was written in all three scripts so that the priests, government officials, and rulers of Egypt could read what it said.

When the Rosetta Stone was later found in 1799 in the Delta, Jean-Francois Champollion figured out the hieroglyphs and enabled the world to understand more about the ancient Egyptians' lives.

Pharaohs

In this passage you will be learn about only five of the Egyptian pharaohs: Ahmose, Akhenaton, Tutankhamen, Ramses ll, and Alexander the Great. AHMOSE of Thebes was a young pharaoh and ruled with his mother. He found the 18th dynasty. He was a brave warrior and fought to bring Egyptian rule into Thebes and gain more territory. His use of the chariot in military battle was accepted all over Egypt. He also repaired the canals and irrigation and rebuilt temples and the arts. AKHENATON was also a ruler of the 18th Dynasty. He was the famous ruler that tried to get rid of Egypt's polytheism and he said there was only one god, the sun god Aten. He banned many temples to the other gods. His wife was Nefertiti, and they were the parents of Tutankhamen. KING TUT, the nickname of TUTANKHAMEN, is well-known as "the boy king". He was put on the throne at the age of 9 and ruled until he was about 18. He was mysteriously killed, perhaps by having his skull bashed in. During his short time on the throne he tried to reinstate polytheism. His burial tomb is widely known for its elaborate treasures and even has a curse to anyone that may enter it. RAMSES ll ruled the longest and was respected for helping Egypt make peace with the Hittites. He was the pharaoh that built many temples. Finally, ALEXANDER THE GREAT is one of history's most famous and successful military leaders. He was the king of Ancient Greece and brought the Greek culture into Egypt. He died at 33 years old. He was very intelligent and never lost a battle, due to his smart military procedures. Alexander was taught by the famous Greek teacher, Aristotle! Each of the pharaohs was important in showing the importance of Egypt in the ancient world

Religion

The ancient Egyptians had strong religious beliefs in God and life after death. Their religious thoughts involved the power of the pharaohs and other gods. Pleasing their gods required making an offering and praying to a god. Gods were worshiped in slave-made temples that were cared for by the priests. This care was done on behalf of the pharaohs.

A major belief was that humans are made of their physical and spiritual parts. Egyptians believed that the heart was the place for emotions and thoughts. After death the religious desire was to reach a "blessed death" by uniting one's life force and soul. According to the afterlife, if good deeds were done in life then one's heart would become lighter. With a light heart, one's name written down as having doing good deeds, and a preserved body (mummified), then Ka and Ba (the 2 parts of a dead body) would help to unite the dead to a happy afterlife.

The religious idea of Ka and Ba affected all levels of the social hierarchy, especially the pharaohs (the rulers of Egypt). When a pharaoh died, he or she were expected to have a happy afterlife, so pyramids were built to store personal treasures with the mummified body. Because pharaohs were not only Kings/Queens, they were also considered a god. Temples were always built to honor gods and the dead. Egypt had a polytheistic religion. That means that ancient Egyptians believed in many gods (as many as 700 different gods and goddesses. They also worshipped forces like the sun. They even had a god dedicated to death, his name was Arubis.

Anubis was connected to the process of mummification. This god was suppose to be a man's body with the head of a jackal, so when mummifying was being done the person wore a mask of a jackal. Egyptians were really superstitious about everything, that included preparing for their body's afterlife. Burial rituals were carefully followed, with a body's internal organs removed, cleaned, and placed in canopic jars. These jars were then buried with the mummy and treasures in their tombs. Religious beliefs were so important to ancient Egyptians that these weird connections to the gods followed them from life into death!

Mesopotamia vs. Egypt

With the countries of ancient Mesopotamia and Egypt there are examples of similarities and differences to be found. Listed are only a few of the contrasts of the two countries. Both countries were developed in the areas of Mid Eastern and Northern Africa. Major rivers, the Nile (Egypt) and Tigris-Euphrates (Mesopotamia), had the countries developed on their banks. Fertile silt coming from flooded rivers helped with the irrigation and farming of both countries.

The Egyptians liked huge, fancy buildings and temples for their gods and rulers. They rooms were very decorated with art and bright colors. Mesopotamia also created temples, but their less fancy and simpler in construction. Egypt had huge boulders and stones on their land, so that may be why the structures were so gigantic. Mesopotamia didn't have that to use.

The social hierarchy in ancient Egypt had women in more important roles in society, even as their Queen! The Mesopotamians did treat women with as much respect as men. Egypt and Mesopotamia were very different on their government. Egypt had one leader-the pharaoh. Mesopotamia had separate political and economic parts for their country.

Another thing that the two countries had were superstitious ways when it came to death. Egypt believed in the afterlife and built temples and pyramids to honor the pharaohs. They believed that one of the ways to protect them from evil was to make sure that they were named in a book of good deeds. In Mesopotamia they built the ziggarets for the dead, but they carried an amulet to protect themselves from evil. Both countries were unique in the way they carried out their lives.

Conclusion to Egypt

I hoped you learned and enjoyed information on ancient Egypt. You have read of the sometimes mysterious and amazing facts of the country's influences of the Nile River, social hierarchy, Rosetta Stone, pharaohs, religious beliefs, and the influence of ancient Mesopotamia on ancient Egypt. Thanks for reading!
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