Upper and Lower Egypt • Ancient Egypt was divided into two regions: Upper and Lower Egypt. • Lower (northern) Egypt consisted of the Nile River’s delta made by the river as it empties into the Mediterranean. • Upper (southern) Egypt was the long, narrow strip of ancient Egypt located south of the Delta.
Nubia • Land to the south of Egypt between the Nile’s first and sixth cataracts • Cataracts are steep descents of the water of a river, usually making navigation difficult or impossible • Lacked Egypt’s broad floodplain and therefore was less able to agriculturally support a large population
Characteristics of a Civilization • Intensive agricultural techniques • Specialization of labor • Cities • A social hierarchy • Organized religion and education • Development of complex forms of economic exchange • Development of new technologies • Advanced development of the arts. (This can include writing.)
Agriculture The Nile River Basin: A Ribbon of Green
Agriculture • Herodotus called Egypt the “Gift of the Nile” • Egyptians took advantage of the Nile’s annual floods to become an especially productive agricultural region • After the floods receded in late summer, cultivators could go into the floodplains and sow their seeds without extensive preparation of the soil Nile River Delta
rivers agriculture populations cities specialization hierarchy Agriculture • Expanded agriculture led to expanded populations and demand for increased production • Cultivators moved beyond the Nile’s immediate floodplains building dikes to protect their fields from floods and catchment basins to store water for irrigation
Shaduf • To lift water from the canal Egyptians used a shaduf, a large pole balanced on a crossbeam with a rope and bucket on one end and a heavy counter weight at the other. • When the rope was pulled, the bucket would be lowered into the canal. • The counterweight would raise the bucket. • The farmer would then carry the bucket to the field and water it.
Specialization Brewing and Breadmaking Plowing and Sowing Sailing Harvesting papyrus and Herding
Specialization • Nile societies were much slower than their Mesopotamian counterparts to adopt metal tools and weapons • Did develop pottery, textile manufacture, woodworking, leather production, stonecutting, and masonry occupations Egyptian pottery makers
Specialization • Building a pyramid would require • Laborers • Architects • Engineers • Craftsmen • Artists
Cities • Relatively few cities and high administrative centralization • Memphis • Founded by Menes around 3100 BC as capital of a united Upper and Lower Egypt • Located at the head of the Nile River Delta • Thebes • Administrative center of Upper Egypt • Seat of worship for Amon
Religion and Education • Two main gods were Amon (Thebian deity associated with the sun, creation, fertility, and reproductive forces) and Re (the sun god worshipped at Heliopolis) • Eventually the two were combined in the cult of Amon-Re
Brief Period of Monotheism • For a brief period Akhentan challenged the Amon-Re cult by proclaiming Aten as the one and only true god • Once Akhenaten died, traditional priests restored the Amon-Re cult • The sun disc Aten shining on the names of the royal family
Mummification • In order to prepare a person for the long and hazardous journey before they could enjoy the pleasures of the afterlife, the body of a dead person was preserved by a process called mummification.
The Judgment • The Egyptians viewed the heart as the seat of intellect and emotion. • Before entering the pleasures of eternity, the dead person had to pass a test in which Anubis, the god of the dead, weighed the person’s heart against Ma’at, the goddess of justice and truth, who was represented by a feather.
The Judgment • If the deceased’s good deeds outweighed the bad, then his heart would be as light as the feather (heavy hearts bore the burden of guilt and evil), and Osiris would welcome the newcomer to the next world. • If the deceased fell short in his judgment, his body would be eaten by a monster that was part crocodile, part lion, and part hippopotamus.
Osiris • Patron of the underworld, the dead, and past pharaohs • Cult of Osiris demanded observance of high moral standards • As lord of the underworld, Osiris had the power to determine who deserved the blessing of immortality and who did not
Social Hierarchy • Pharaoh • Egyptian kings of a centralized state • Claimed to be gods living on earth in human form • Bureaucrats • Because the pharaoh was an absolute ruler there was little room for a noble class as in Mesopotamia • Instead professional military forces and an elaborate bureaucracy of administrators and tax collectors served the central government • Patriarchal • Vested authority over public and private affairs in men • However, more opportunities for women than in Mesopotamia as evidenced by Queen Hatshepsut reigning as pharaoh • Peasants and slaves • Supplied the hard labor that made complex agricultural society possible • Among the slaves were the Hebrews
Pharaohs Tutankhamun (King Tut) 1334 and 1325 BC Ramesses II 1279-1213 BC
Bureaucrats • Below the pharaoh, the most powerful officer in the hierarchy was the vizier, the executive head of the bureaucracy • All royal commands passed through the vizier before being transmitted to the scribes in his office. • The scribes dispatched orders to the heads of towns and villages, including rules related to the collection of taxes.
Economic Exchange • The Nile provided excellent transportation which facilitated trade. • Nile flows north so boats could ride the currents from Upper to Lower Egypt. • Prevailing winds blow almost year-round from the north so by using sails, boats could then make their way back upriver.
Economic Exchange • Egypt needed to trade because, beside the Nile, it had few natural resources • For example, Egypt had very few trees so all its wood came from abroad, especially cedar from Lebanon • Much trade between Egypt and Nubia • Importance of trade was reflected in the names of southern Egyptian cities • Aswan comes from the ancient Egyptian word swene which means “trade” • Elephantine owed its name to the elephant ivory trade
New Technologies Ramps and stone-cutting required to build pyramids
New Technologies • Papyrus • The raw material came from the plant Cyperus papyrus which grew along the banks of the Nile • Used not only in the production of paper but also used in the manufacture of boats, rope and baskets • Shipbuilding • Wooden boats • Multiple-oars • Sails • Rope trusses to strengthen hulls
Art and Writing • Pyramids • Symbols of the pharaoh’s authority and divine stature; royal tombs • Pyramid of Khufu involved the precise cutting and fitting of 2,300,000 limestone blocks with an average weight of 2.5 tons • Estimated construction of the Khufu pyramid required 84,000 laborers working 80 days per year for 20 years The Sphinx and Great Pyramid of Khufu at Giza.
Art and Writing • Hieroglyphs • Pictures that were used to write the ancient Egyptian language • Originally used to keep records of the king’s possessions. Scribes could easily make these records by drawing a picture of a cow or a boat followed by a number. • As the language became more complex, more pictures were needed. Eventually the language consisted of more than 750 individual signs.