Ancient Egypt : Part 1 “Gift of the Nile” --Herodotus 5th century BC
What is it about Egypt that inspires odd behavior? What about ancient Egypt is a mystery to you?
Just a few common beliefs • Egyptians did not build the pyramids. They were helped by aliens. • Pyramids contain secret messages encode in their dimensions. • King Tuts curse: all who opened his tomb died. • Mummification brings immortality. • Egyptians are descended from survivors of Lost Atlantis. • Egyptians had knowledge of medicine now lost
Saqqara, Luxor, Thebes, Abu Simbal, Aswan, Cairo, Karnak, Memphis, Tanis…
Sources of historic information about Egypt • Tomb paintings • Egyptian inscriptions • The secular and religious writings of other nations (Sumerian inscriptions for example, Greek, and Roman, Judaic) • Monuments • Archaeology • Ancient historians (Herodotus for example) • Geoarchaeology • Paleoclimatology • Paleogenetics
Archaeology begins… • Interest in Egypt is ancient itself… • Writings of Herodotus… • Colonial empires encouraged antiquarian interest. • Independently wealthy of colonial class dabbled in archaeology: collected antiquities for estates.
Archaeology in the colonial period (late 1760s -1880’s) consisted mainly of museums and universities competing with one another for treasures and large exhibit pieces. • Systematic recovery of data was novel and the exception rather than the rule until at least 1820. More serious still after 1850.
Jean-Francois Champollion (1790-1832) Rosetta stone
View Gift of the Nile @ www.archaeologychannel.org • See also; Digital Egypt for universities
Environmental change • 250,000- 25,000 years ago Egypt was more watered, had wide expanses of grasslands • Environmental changes brought about desertification starting 25,000 years ago and continues today throughout North Africa. Expected to intensify with global climate change.
Neolithic settlement(Archaic Egypt) • In the region of the Fayum depression from about 5200 BC. Characterized by farming and domesticated animals. • Centered on oasis agriculture. • Known as Maadi and Badarian cultures through several phases 5500 BC - 4200 BC
Female figure. Fayum region 4500 BC Badarian culture. Carved from hippopotamus incisor. Similar figures from burials made of wood or clay.
4500 BC Nubian pottery Badarian pottery 3800-3100 BC
Sir W. Flinders Petrie Worked in Egypt from 1867-1933. Established the best chronology of pre-dynastic Egypt.
Chronology (abridged) • Pre-Dynastic 3200-2920 BC • Early Dynastic 2920 – 2575 BC • Djoser (pyramid construction begins) • Old Kingdom 2575 – 2134 BC • Khufu, Khafre, Menkaure (the Great Pyramids) • First intermediate 2134 – 2040 BC • (end of pyramids construction)
Middle Kingdom 2040-1640 BC • Second intermediate 1640-1550 BC • Hyksos invasion • New Kingdom 1550- 1070 BC Thutmose III, Hatshepsut, Amnenhtep III Akenaten, Tutankhamen, Ramses II • Late period 1070-332 BC
Egypt under Greek Rule • Persia conquers Egypt 525 BC • Alexander the Great conquers Persia, then Egypt, and installs his own General Ptolemy as Pharaoh. 332 BC • Cleopatra descendant of Ptolemy
Early pre-Dynastic • Early period is poorly known from archaeology. • Large cities are built over earlier settlements. • These early cultures are known principally by their burials, pottery, and carved art pieces.
Archaeological evidence strongly suggests that pre-Egyptian civilization in Sudan (South Nubia) from about 7000 BC is the source of burial practices commonly associated with Egypt. • These include, mummification, temple tombs, pyramid-like structures, Pharaohesque institutions. Also source of first iron industry in Africa.
Separate kingdoms begin to emerge along Nile, each having a different social structure and customs. • Namer tablet depicts the unification of the two kingdoms following a long period of conflict • Menes conquers the northern kingdom. Unifier of Egypt.
Egypt dependant on Nile • Agriculture dependant on annual floods • Rich soils deposited along the banks of river. • Nile offered easy transportation route. • Overland at the Wadi Hamatt provided a link to the red Sea
“Man fears time, yet time fears the pyramids” Arab proverb
Burial practices of the rich and famous • Nobility and high ranking officials could afford elaborate death rituals and tombs. • Royal personages were given the greatest tombs and mortuary rites • Common people were usually buried in mounds or underground family crypts.
Burial practices based on sacred Mastaba. Mastaba were large burial platforms.
Step pyramid, based on stacked mastaba design. These designs resemble Mesopotamian ziggurats.
Age of Pyramid building • The first pyramid complex: 2630 BC • The great pyramid during the old Kingdom • Pyramids not constructed after 2300 BC Zawi Hawass
“controversy” • Those who cannot accept or refuse to believe the Egyptians built the pyramids have focused most of their attention and efforts to the Great Pyramid. Bottom line premise: it is too large a monument to have been built without aid of sophisticated machinery or that the stones were too heavy to be moved with the technology available to the ancient Egyptians.
Therefore… • The Egyptians did not build them. The technology could only have been provided by extraterrestrial assistance.
Two contrasting hypotheses concerning construction. internal ramp models.
Zahi Hawass has made several major discoveries as Chief of Archaeology and Director of Antiquities and for Egypt. Most recent research may rewrite what is known about the Great Pyramid.