Ancient Egypt Essay, Research Paper
Starting about 8,000BC, all of Northern Africa became a drier, more desert-like
place. Back then, man lived in nomadic groups of hunters and gatherer. The
climate forced man to migrate to more hospitable lands, some migrated to Nile
River Valley which is a vast land surrounding the Nile River. There in this
land abundant with life, there were plenty of food and water for these people.
During the Neolithic Revolution (10,000BC to 3,500BC) man discovered the art of
agriculture, this skill arrived in Egypt approximately 7,000BC. Humans were
finally able to use the rich silt brought by the yearly flooding of the Nile
River which annually flooded since 60,000 years ago.
The Nile River is the world’s longest river , it is approximately 4,160 miles
long and flows from the highlands in Central Africa to the Mediterranean Sea.
It is the main reason why the Ancient Egyptians were such a successful people,
the moisture from the river was the only thing keeping Egypt from change to a
desert. Even back then, everybody knew that without the river they had no
chance of survival. First of all the main food the Egyptians ate were bread
made from the grain grown with the precious silt and water from the Nile River.
Barges and boats made with papyrus reeds or wooden planks(used after 3,000BC)
were filled with different thing such as grains were floated downstream and
carried by the current, or if they needed to be floated upstream, you would
simply just raise the sails up and the ship would sail upstream, the Egyptians
invented sails at approximately 3,200BC. Although the Nile is such an abundant
source of life, it fertilize just a narrow strip of land, eventually the
Egyptians built large irrigation systems which would carry water into the desert.
Ancient cultures were often plagued with warfare and attacks from other cultures,
Egypt’s geography protected it from most of its neighbors. The Mediterranean
Sea, the Red Sea, the Nubian Desert, and the Libyan Desert surrounded Egypt, it
was very hard for an outside to even enter Egypt. In the Nile River there are
six cataracts, waterfalls or rapids, these prevented people from a region called
Kush which would be modern day Ethiopia from using the river to travel to Egypt
and attack it. Still there were invaders who would attack Egypt, from the Sinai
Peninsula invaders attacked Egypt, but Egypt also used this land as a path to
conquer other people.
The small villages that lined the river eventually became two kingdoms, Upper
Egypt and Lower Egypt. The name of the king that eventually united the two
kingdoms is Menes, he originally ruled just Upper Egypt, but by conquering Lower
Egypt, he not only increase his own power, he created one of the greatest
civilizations ever. His successors, the king after him, wore a double crown to
symbolize that they ruled both kingdoms.
Sometime between 1,554BC and 1,304BC, people began calling their kings
“pharaohs” which means “great house”. Egyptians believed that the pharaohs were
descendants of the sun god, Amon-Ra. A “dynasty” is a government where the
right to rule passes father to son. Occasionally these dynasties were
overthrown or died out and a new dynasty is formed. The first dynasty was said
to have been establish by King Menes who united Upper Egypt with Lower Egypt.
There are about 30 dynasties that ruled Egypt, historians and archeologists have
divided the history of Egypt into three parts based on these dynasties. The Old
Kingdom(2,700BC to 2,200BC), the Middle Kingdom(2,050BC to 1,800BC), and the New
Kingdom or Empire Age(1,570BC to 1,090BC).
With every ancient society we have seen a unique religion, the Egyptians are no
exception. Egyptian mythology or religion did not influence their culture as
religion did to other cultures much, a unified sense of faith never existed
among them. What I mean by this is that since each city worshipped a different
god or goddess, there wasn’t really a togetherness in their religion. So if I
use the word “worship” in this report, I am referring to the fact that they
thought that god or goddess was important. In fact the Egyptian religion
contains a remarkable amount of conflicting beliefs, this is probably base on
the fact that their religion is just a collection of stories and mythology
The earliest of the Egyptian gods to be invented were in the form of animals
such as the sacred cat of Babastis, these gods were worshipped before Egypt
united. Later however, gods were half human-half animal creatures, usually a
human with the head of some animals.
According to the Egyptian account of creation, only the ocean existed at first.
Then Ra, the sun(later confused by the Egyptians with Amon, this created a new
god Amon-Ra), came out of an egg (a flower, in some versions) that appeared on
the surface of the water. Ra brought forth four children, the gods Shu and Geb
and the goddesses Tefnut and Nut. Shu and Tefnut became the atmosphere. They
stood on Geb, who became the earth, and raised up Nut, who became the sky. Ra
ruled over all. Geb and Nut later had two sons, Set and Osiris, and two
daughters, Isis and Nephthys. Osiris succeeded Ra as king of the earth, helped
by Isis, his sister-wife. Set, however, hated his brother and killed him. Isis
then embalmed her husband’s body with the help of the god Anubis, who thus
became the god of embalming. The powerful charms of Isis resurrected Osiris, who
became king of the netherworld, the land of the dead. Horus, who was the son of
Osiris and Isis, later defeated Set in a great battle and became king of the
earth. The Ancient Egyptians also believed in life after death, in fact they
have the world’s most elaborate rituals. After a person dies the Egyptians
believes that the soul or ka live in the kingdom of the dead, but the believed
that the ka could not survive without the body. The Egyptians mummify the body
in order to keep it preserved, but in the event that the corpse is destroy there
are wood or stone replicas of the body which will serve as a body, the more
replicas in a tomb the better chances of the ka surviving.
After leaving the tomb, the souls of the dead supposedly were beset by
innumerable dangers, and the tombs were therefore furnished with a copy of the
Book of the Dead. Part of this book, a guide to the world of the dead, consists
of charms designed to overcome these dangers. After arriving in the kingdom of
the dead, the ka was judged by Osiris, the king of the dead. The Book of the
Dead also contains instructions for proper conduct before these judges. If the
judges decided the deceased had been a sinner, the ka was condemned to hunger
and thirst or to be torn to pieces by horrible executioners. If the decision
was favorable, the ka went to the heavenly realm of the fields of Yaru, where
grain grew 3.7 m (12 ft) high and existence was a glorified version of life on
earth. All the necessities for this perfect existence, from furniture to
reading matter, were, therefore, put into the tombs. As a payment for the
afterlife and his benevolent protection, Osiris required the dead to perform
tasks for him, such as working in the grain fields. Even this duty could,
however, be obviated by placing small statuettes, called ushabtis, into the tomb
to serve as substitutes for the deceased.
Egypt had a very simple social structure consisting of only three classes. The
ruling class were on the top of the list followed by the middle class, and on
the bottom of the list were the peasants and slaves. The ruling class were the
most respected and well treated people in the society, besides the pharaoh the
preist were the most important people in the society because people thought that
they cuold talk to the gods who controled everything from life to death. The
priest often positions as governors of provinces, court officials, or tax
collectors. The chief minister, who administered the business of the country in
choosen from this class. The middle class were a small group of people who
consists of merchants, traders, and artisans. Traders brought dyes, gold, and
ivory which the merchants sold to the nobles, artisans were paid by nobles to
make things such as pottery, stone carvings, glass objects, wooden carvings, and
linen so fine that it looked like silk. Most Egyptians were farmers who does
the same thing each day over and over again, they waited for the Nile to flood
and then they plant their crops when the water recedes. The peasant live a
simple life with brick houses and few furniture, they paid half their harvest to
government tax. They were also require to work on palaces, temples, clear
irrigation ducts, and serve in the army. Slave were mostly descendants of war
prisoners some lived like free peasant and others llived in the houses of nobles
The ancient Egyptian society really respected women, women had the right to buy
or sell land. There weren’t many divorces, but women had the right to divorce
as well as men. The most important thing that makes it more equal for woman are
that property is inherited through the female line.
In the Egyptian society, there were few people who were not farmers besides the
nobles. Since the Egyptians didn’t have any money, worker were often paid in
wheat and barley or other goods, extra amounts could be traded for needed goods
or services. Farmer worked mostly on the land of the royal family, temples, and
other rich people, they got a small amount of the crop because a large amount
was taxed. Others rented lands of their own from rich landowners. Craftsmen
worked in small shops which they manufacture things such as pottery, bricks,
tools, glasses, weapons, furniture, jewelry, perfume, rope, basket, mats, and
writing materials. Miners mined for limestone, sandstone, copper, gold, tin,
gems, and granite for the construction of pyramid and monuments. Traders sailed
to different lands trading for stuff like silver, iron, horses, ivory, leopard
skins, copper, cattle, cedar logs, and spices. The royal family and temples
also employed other kinds of skilled workers such as architects,
engineers,carpenters, artists, sculptors, bakers, butchers, teachers, scribes,
accountants, musicians, butlers, and shoemakers.
The Egyptians had many different invention and contribution to future society.
First of all, all the Egyptian had many advances in the math and sciences. Each
year after the floods by the Nile River, farmers had to measure the boundary
lines all over again. This led them to develop advance ways to measure the land.
Geometry was the most advance field of mathematics they developed, they knew
how to figure out the volume of a circle or the area of a square. Needs to
predict the yearly flooding of the Nile forced them to look carefully at the
stars. Their priest-astronomers developed the first 365-day calendar; there
were 12 months, three seasons(the Nile flooding season, the planting season, and
the harvest season), each month had 30 days and the last month had 5 extra days.
The problem with their calendar is that they did not account for leap years,
later on, the Romans and Greeks modified this calendar to the one that we use
today. The stone cutting and medical techniques developed by the Egyptians were
also very impressive. They used hot fire and cold water make rock crack. They
had ways to treat bone and spinal injuries too, the Greeks and Romans learned
most of their medical knowledge form the Egyptian. These contribution as well
as the monument and marks left behind made Ancient Egypt such a renown place.
Nowadays, Ancient Egypt is gone and what is left behind is just a fraction of