Ancient Egypt



Why is Upper Egypt Located in the Southern Part of the Country?
Unlike most rivers, the Nile flows in a northern direction (from Lake Victoria) because of the many mountains located in central Africa. Simply put, the Nile is flowing in a downward direction.
Some other famous northern flowing rivers: The Indus River, St. John’s River, Snake River,Yukon River etc.

The Nile Advantage
How Can There Be Such Fertile Soil in the Desert?
The Nile flooded every June (until the Aswan Dam was built in 1970).
Egypt was separated into 2 contrasting lands- “black land” (mineral rich soil from the melting snow in the mountains) and the scorching “red land” (desert).

Nile Ways of Life
Landowners along the Nile learned to rely on each other. People had to be careful not to pollute water upstream at the expense of their neighbor. They had to repair canals and avoid being overly greedy (sound familiar?) Pharaohs oversaw a lot of these issues. Pharaoh- The Egyptian Leader. The word directly translated means “new house.” First pharaoh? Menes (King from Upper Egypt- who conquered the Lower Egypt) or Narmer (Known for his palette showing military victories.) 3100 BCE.

Adapting to Floods
As mentioned, the early Egyptians initially struggled with yearly floods. Crops, houses and lives were often destroyed. (Believed to be messages from the Gods).
However, once they figured out that the floods took place at the same time every year, they developed methods for using the mineral rich silt. Egyptian life was split into 3 seasons: flooding, planting and harvesting season. Detailed records of the water levels (cubits) were kept- hieroglyphics?

How Did the Nile Shape the Egyptian Landscape
The Nile provided the new settlers with other gifts besides food and drink.
Papyrus reeds grew on the banks of the Nile which was used to make paper, build boats and houses which were originally made of papyrus reeds with thatched roofs. Later, mud brick houses were developed.

Were any animals living around the Nile?
Fish, ducks, crocodiles, hippos , giraffes, ostriches and geese were some of the animals that lived in the Nile River and delta region.
Many of these animals became delicious meals. Others did not!

How did the Nile River help trade?
With the passage of time, Egyptians could produce more food than they needed. The Nile was the region’s super highway! Horses and wheeled vehicles don’t show up for years. Boats were eventually created which could travel from place to place on the Nile. Goods uncommon in certain areas (such as wood in Egypt) could be easily transported back and forth.

Relief from heat
Egypt received very little rain.
The temperature was hot and dry all year-similar to summer. Egyptians often relied on the Nile for personal relief from the heat. No doubt, it also provided entertainment for people, but watch out for the alligators!

Let’s Take A Tour
All Aboard! We’re now going to hop onto a boat and take a ride down the Nile River, making six stops to visit some sites and learn about certain Egyptian pharaohs.

Stop 1: Monument-Giza
Egypt’s most famous monument: The Great Pyramid at Giza. The Great Pyramid was the center of a huge complex of statues, temples, monuments and tombs. The Great Pyramid was made of white limestone. The pyramid was originally 481 feet tall, but it has lost some 30 feet. It covers 13 acres. Inside the pyramid are burial chambers for a king and queen. How were they built? Long ramp? Spiral ramp? 2,300,000 blocks were used.
Pyramid Facts
100,000 men spent twenty years building the pyramid.
Over 80 other pyramids have been found in Egypt. Most are near ruined, buried in the sand.
The Great Sphinx is located at Giza. The head is believed to be that of Khafre’s.
Great Pyramid- Only standing “wonder”
4 sides of the Great Pyramid are aligned exactly with the true points of NEWS.

Stop 1: Pharaoh-Khufu (Cheops) (2551-2528 BCE)
Khufu, ruled during the Old Kingdom (2686-2160 BCE). He was a harsh ruler, but little else is known about him because few written records exist. There is evidence that he led some military invasions, but little else. His pyramid is the largest of the three at Giza, although his son, Khafre built one that looks taller because it was built on higher ground. His grandson Menkaure built the third.

Stop 2: Monument-Step Pyramid at Saqqara
The Step Pyramid at Saqqara is considered the world’s first complete stone building. It was designed and built by the architect Imhotep. It originally was designed to be one mastaba (an old tomb).
It is 203 feet high. Stairway to the sky?

The Nile Legend
What Role Did The Gods Play in Ancient Egyptian Farming?
In 2600 BCE, food was scarce. Pharaoh Djoser turned to his chief advisor, Imhotep seeking help from the ram headed God Khnum. The Creator God, but also god of cataracts and fertile soil. Khnum appeared in a dream of Djoser’s. In return for a portion of the harvest, and an elaborate temple, Khnum promised to open the flood gates of the Nile. It worked.
Gods were believed to be responsible for all events that took place on earth.

Stop 2: Pharaoh Djoser (2630-2611 BCE)
Djoser led Egypt through a period of advanced trade, new developments in agriculture and the development of cities. He fought foreign invaders and expanded Egypt.
A large rock monument, the Famine Stela, marks Djoser’s work to end the seven year drought.

Stop 3: Monument- el-Amarna
El-Amarna contains the ancient ruins of Pharaoh Akhenaten. He built his city with the intention of worshipping the God Aten and no other Gods. (Aten is the sun disc itself in the purest form. Ra is considered the creator of the world. The rising sun was symbolic of Ra. The god Ra can be found within Aten.)The city once contained spectacular buildings, temples and palaces with works of realistic art.

Stop 3: Pharaoh Akhenaten (aka Amenhotep) (1353-1335 BCE)
Controversial ruler: Religious Beliefs. What do you suppose sparked those beliefs? Amon-Re?
When Akhenaten died, most of his creations (and perhaps even his body) were instantly destroyed in anger.
Known for changing art style. Works of art showed natural physical features in playful scenes.

Stop 4: Monument-Temple at Deir-el Bahri
A Female Ruler
Hatshepsut 1473-1458 BCE.
Initially ruled with and married half brother Thutmose II. He died and his heir (Thutmose III) was only ten, so Hatshepsut ruled. (Egyptian Pharaohs needed divine wife.)
Females- served equally in the past, but never with full power.
Is she male?
Most successful female leader until Cleopatra (1400 yrs.)
Some wars- Nubia from the south.
Where’d she go? We don’t know what happened to her body. Some believe her nephew killed her. Nephew did destroy many of her monuments.

H. brought back wealth.
Avoided unnecessary wars.
5 large cargo ships sent to Punt (Somalia)
Met prince, feasted, traded.
Incense, trees, black ebony wood, ivory, gold, eye cosmetics, exotic animals.

Deir el-Bahri
The temple of Pharaoh Hatshepsut.
This temple was cut into the limestone cliffs. It is considered a great architectural achievement and is decorated with beautiful sculptures (190 statues and carvings) devoted to a variety of Gods along with scenes highlighting events of her rule such as her trading expeditions. Unlike most temples, it is open to the sun which makes it a great tourist attraction.

Hatshepsut’s tomb is not located at Deir el Bahri. Past robberies prevented her from using such an obvious spot. Secrecy in the Valley of the Kings was the top priority. Long corridor leads to her tomb surrounded by unbelievable riches. It was built by her advisor Senmut who tried to engrave secret carvings of himself into the tomb walls.
What happened? Nephew? Murder? Depictions.

Stop 5: Karnak
Karnak is the largest temple complex ever built. Back in Egypt, it was considered a most sacred place. One site to see: The White Chapel where a grand event called the Sed Festival occurred. After 30 years of service, a pharaoh was honored to ensure that the pharaoh would continue to have a long reign in the afterlife.

Senusret I
Ruler of Egypt from 1971 to 1926 BCE.
Waged military campaigns which expanded Egypt’s southern and western borders.
Made elaborate improvements to shrines and temples- most notably the White Chapel (Jubilee Chapel).
Also added great literature and fabulous jewelry.
Abu Simbel

Stop 6: Abu Simbel
At Abu-Simbel, you will witness 65 foot statues (6 story building) of Pharaoh Ramses II which were cut directly from the sandstone cliffs.
It was originally built between 1290 and 1224 BCE, but it was moved between 1964 and 1968 (piece by piece) due to rising water levels from the Aswan Dam.

Ramses the Great (1290-1224 BCE)
Long time Egyptian ruler.
Lived well into his 80’s. 100 wives and children.
Constructed many monuments along the Nile.
Fought in many military battles; best known for defeating the mighty Hittites despite being outnumbered 2-1. Maintained Egyptian stability.