Egypt

"The gift of the Nile"
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Egypt & Nile
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Pyramids

Art

  • Royal Tombs for the Pharaohs: decorated by stories of the journey to the underworld
  • Pyramids--large, triangular stone monument, burial place for the King. Held the idea that proper burial of the ruler would ensure a continuous prosperous life in the otherworld.
Social/Culture
  • Status of wealth & power but no definite social structure
  • Women still subordinate to men, but treaded equally and respectfully, still lacked in some rights (can't own or give property), but overall, much better off than Mesopotamian women
  • Marriage monogamous: man or woman could end the relationship; women had rights over her dowry
  • Have Taxes
  • Hierarchy:
    • Pharaoh & High-ranking officials
    • Local leaders & priests & professionals & artisans & farmers
    • Peasants (majority of population)--did agricultural work (sowing, plowing, reaping...) maintained irrigation channels, basins and dikes

Political

  • Monarchy/ Isolationists/Not a big military: fairly vulnerable
  • Pharaoh--"Ruler of the Two Lands": the central figure in the ancient Egyptian state, revered as a God on earth: a link between the people & their God, absolute power to maintain Egypt's prosperity & safety.
  • Ma'at--'order'--Egyptian term for divinely maintained & created order in the universe: Pharaoh's mission on Earth sent from the Gods is to 'maintain order.'
  • Upper & Lower Egypt united early
  • Memphis--capital of the Old Kingdom of Egypt near head of the Nile Delta, central power base
  • Thebes--Capital city of Egypt during the Middle & New Kingdom

Religion

  • Journey to the Afterlife--BIG DEAL--large Pyramids for the Kings of Egypt--given supplies for journey after death
  • Had many Gods: Sun God Ra, Osiris, Isis, Seth, Horus: depicted with animal heads
  • Believed in the Underworld
    • Prepared the dead for their journey: mummificationThe Egyptian Book of the Dead: rituals and spells to protect the spirit
      • Mummy--dehydrated body, preserved body in chemicals, vital organs in jars, wrapped in linen
    • Judgement: weighing of the spirit's heart to determine where the spirit would end up
    • Pyramids constructed for Kings--prepared way before death--filled with treasures

Ideas/Technology

  • PAPER & HIEROGLYPHICS, Sails, ropes, nets for fish, dams, irrigation channels, pottery, levers, pulleys, rollers...
  • Hieroglyphics--a system of writing through symbolic pictures, used for monumental inscriptions, a select few Scribes and administrators were literate in hieroglyphs
  • Papyrus--a reed that grows on banks of Nile River, paper was created from this and used by many in ancient Mediterranean & Middle East--great trade!!!
  • Mummification & doctors--knowledge of human anatomy
  • Mathematics--measure fields, calculate quantity of agricultural produce owed to the state
  • Used stars to predict floods

Trade/Economy

  • Government had monopoly over economy & long distance trade.
  • Focus on Trade instead of conquering: coastal trading: import (cedar wood, gold, incenses, ivory, dark ebony wood, exoticanimals) & export (grain, papyrus, gold)

Environment

  • Isolated by natural barriers of desert (Sahara) and sea marsh
  • Created a unique culture
  • Did not have much affect on other civilizations for some time
  • The Nile--world's longest river-floods-provides nutrients and new silt for Egyptians' plantations
    • Most of Egypt's population lived along the river
    • Means of travel & communication
    • Nile Valley-fertile ground people moved to when Sahara became too dry.
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      Ancient Hieroglyphs, the balance & judgement of a soul's heart
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      Sarcophagus