Ancient Egypt. The Gift of the Nile. The Nile was also home to one of the earliest civilizations in history. Today, more than sixty million people live along the banks of the Nile, the world’s longest river. The Nile was also home to one of the earliest civilizations in history.
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The Nile was also home to one of the earliest civilizations in history. Today, more than sixty million people live along the banks of the Nile, the world’s longest river. The Nile was also home to one of the earliest civilizations in history.
Ancient Egypt could not have existed without the great river. Every year, the snow in the mountains of East Africa melts, sending a torrent of water that overflows the banks of the Nile. The river picks up bits of soil and plant life called silt. The silt is dropped on the banks of the Nile as the flood recedes, and creates excellent topsoil that provides two or three crops every year. The Nile was also home to one of the earliest civilizations in history. Today, more than sixty million people live along the banks of the Nile, the world’s longest river. The Nile was also home to one of the earliest civilizations in history.
What we know about ancient Egypt comes mainly from their great pyramids. The pyramids were stone structures built as tombs and monuments to their pharaohs.
The Egyptians believed that death led to an afterlife where the dead person cultivated their Elysian Field. As long as the body existed, a person continued to live in the afterlife. The Egyptians carefully buried their dead in dry sand with their most treasured possessions. Children were buried with their toys so that they could play in the afterlife. The Egyptians were very careful to say only good things about the dead.
The Egyptians believed their leader, the pharaoh, was their link to the afterlife, so they took particular care in preserving the pharaoh’s bodies as mummies. Egyptian mummification was an expensive and time-consuming process, so it was used only for the pharaoh and the very rich. The body was cut on the side to remove the intestines, liver, stomach, and lungs. The organs were then wrapped in linen and stored in jars. The brain was removed through the nose using long hooks. The Egyptians did not understand the importance of the brain, so they often discarded it.
The entire process of mummification took 70 days to complete. Several embalmers conducted the task in the special embalming shop or per nefer. The chief embalmer was known as the hery seshta. He wore a jackal mask to represent Anubis, the god of mummification. Assistants called wetyw bandaged the body and carried out other tasks of the embalming process.
The Egyptians believed that all body parts would be magically reunited in the afterlife and the body would become whole again, just like the god Osiris. According to Egyptian mythology, the god Osiris was murdered by his jealous brother Set and hacked into pieces. The goddess Isis reassembled the pieces and Osiris was magically restored, and went on to become the god of the afterlife.
The stoppers of canopic jars were shaped like the heads of the four sons of the god Horus. Each son protected the organ placed inside his respective jar
Duamutef, who had the head of a jackal, guarded the jar that contained the stomach. Qebehsenuf, who had the head of a falcon, watched over the intestines. Hapi, the baboon-headed son of Horus, protected the lungs, while human-headed Imseti was in charge of protecting the liver.
Although it didn't get its own canopic jar, the brain was another organ that was taken out of the body. The bone that separates the nasal cavity from the brain was broken open by ramming a sharp instrument up the nose. Next, a long hook was used to stir up the brain until it was liquefied. Then the embalmers would turn the body face down to allow the brain to ooze out the nostrils. The Egyptians were so rough on the brain because they didn't realize its importance. They thought its sole purpose was to produce snot!
After the mummy was wrapped, a mask was fitted over the head and shoulders. The faces on these funeral masks resembled those of the dead. Funeral masks were made out of solid gold (like King Tut's), wood, or cartonnage (a material similar to paper-mâché). Wooden and cartonnage masks could be painted or gilded with gold- the look of solid gold at a fraction of the price!
The Egyptians believed their pharaoh was both a god and a monarch. A monarch is a king or a queen.
Menes (pronounced MEE-nes) is the first pharaoh we know about. Menes united two kingdoms, called Lower Egypt and Upper Egypt and established what we now call the “Old Kingdom” about 3100BC. Menes’ tomb wasn’t discovered until 1897