Week Two Reading
WEEK TWO - ANCIENT EGYPTIAN CIVILIZATION
RISE OF THE NILE
Nile River Valley
The Nile River Valley, located in the Sahara Desert of Africa, is home to the longest river in the world and was an excellent candidate for early civilization. The fertile delta and annual flooding season created ideal conditions for agriculture.
Writing System and Religious Beliefs
Egyptians wrote on papyrus, a paper-like material made from reeds found along the Nile. Their writing system, hieroglyphics, was a type of pictograph used for administration and religious purposes. Egyptians were polytheistic and practiced syncretism, combining deities like Amon-Ra. The Amarna Cult, led by Pharaoh Akhenaten, temporarily introduced monotheism in Egypt.
Afterlife and Religious Structures
Egyptians believed in a positive afterlife, practicing mummification to preserve bodies for the soul. They also created the Book of the Dead, containing religious writings for the dead. Religious structures included tombs, such as pyramids, the Valley of the Kings, and temple tombs.
RISE OF THE DYNASTIES
Egyptian Time Periods and Calendar
Egyptians used a calendar with 30 days per month, 12 months per year, and 5 extra days inserted annually. Dynastic periods refer to the rule of 31 dynasties of pharaohs from 3000 B.C. to 30 B.C., separated into historical periods.
Early Dynastic Period and Old Kingdom (3100 – 2200 B.C.)
During the Early Dynastic Period, Upper and Lower Egypt united, and the office of the Pharaoh grew powerful. The Old Kingdom saw theocratic governance and the construction of the Giza pyramids.
First Intermediate Period and Middle Kingdom (2200 – 1700 B.C.)
The First Intermediate Period was marked by civil war and famine, with weak pharaohs and power in the hands of administrative nobles. The Middle Kingdom saw political power return to the pharaohs and stability in Egypt.
Second Intermediate Period and New Kingdom (1700 – 1100 B.C.)
The Second Intermediate Period involved an invasion by the foreign Hyksos people, while the New Kingdom, started by Ahmose, marked the height of the Egyptian Empire. The New Kingdom saw conflicts and peace treaties with the Hittite Empire, including the famous Battle of Megiddo and the Battle of Kadesh.