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Egyptian Civilization


Ironically, our greatest royal treasure from ancient Egypt comes from a short lived boy king. ... as practiced in ancient Egypt was governed by definite ... – PowerPoint PPT presentation

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Title: Egyptian Civilization

Egyptian Civilization
  • The Nile
  • Dynastic Egypt
  • Religion
  • Writing

The Nile
  • The basic element in the lengthy history of
    Egyptian civilization is geography.
  • The Nile River rises from the lakes of central
    Africa as the White Nile and from the mountains
    of Ethiopia as the Blue Nile.
  • The White and Blue Nile meet at Khartoum and flow
    together northward to the Nile delta, where the
    4000 mile course of this river spills into the
    Mediterranean Sea

Farming and The Nile
  • Less than two inches of rain per year falls in
    the delta and rain is relatively unknown in other
    parts of Egypt. Most of the land is
  • These geographical factors have determined the
    character of Egyptian civilization.
  • People could farm only along the banks of the
    Nile, where arid sand meets the fertile soil.
  • The river overflows its banks and floods the land
    with fresh water and deposits a thick layer of
    rich alluvial soil.
  • The land would then yield two harvests before

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Proto Kingdoms of Egypt
  • Proto-Kingdoms of Upper Egypt
  • Nagada, ca. 5500.
  • walled town with cemetaries.
  • capital of a major chiefdom.
  • Hierakonpolis, ca. 5500
  • City of the Falcon
  • city-states with royal tombs.
  • Maadi, ca. 5650.
  • outskirts of modern Cairo
  • major trading center.
  • This, ca. 5500.
  • little is known.

Unification of Upper and Lower Egypt
  • ca. 5000 B.C.
  • Rulers of Hierakonpolis conquered the area
  • Gradual process of Egypt formed into political
    and social units.
  • Intensification of Agriculture
  • may have been a consequence of unification.
  • irrigation became more complex

  • Nagada was a city in pre-dynastic Upper Egypt,
    representing a major culture of that time. 
    Nagada is usually broken up into three separate
    cultures Amratian (Nagada I, 4200 - 3700 BC),
    Gerzean A (Nagada II, 3700 - 3250 BC), and
    Gerzean B (Nagada III, 3250 - 3050 BC).
  • In 1894-1895, 28 kilometers northwest of Luxor,
    Flinders Petrie unearthed three cemeteries at
    Nagada that contained 2200 graves, the largest
    mortuary in pre-dynastic Egypt. 
  • Along with the human remains, Petrie found
    mudbricks, dog bones, and pottery.  In later
    excavations, piles of mudbrick from collapsed
    walls were found. 
  • This suggests that Nagada was the precursor to
    the burial monuments constructed by later
    Egyptian civilizations.

Nagada cond
  • During the Nagada II period, people buried
    several objects with the dead, characteristic of
    that period. 
  • These items included copper, ivory, bone and
    shell jewelry, and small model figurines of
    humans, oxen and boats, together with model
    weapons and food.  These item were believed to
    have magical purposes and helped with ensure that
    the dead would have a content afterlife.
  • The people who lived in Nagada were followers of
    the god Seth, the god who killed Osiris, the god
    of the dead. 
  • Nagada is considered to be the center for the
    followers of Seth.

  • Hierakonpolis is the most important
    archaeological site for understanding the
    foundations of ancient Egyptian society.
  • Well before the construction of the pyramids,
    Hierakonpolis was one of the most important
    settlement along the Nile - a vibrant, bustling
    city with many features that would later come to
    typify Dynastic Egyptian civilization.
  • Stretching for over 2 miles along the edge of
    the Nile flood plain, it was a city of many
    neighborhoods and quarters.

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Hierakonpolis Mummies
  • Over the past five years the Hierakonpolis
    Expedition has been excavating a cemetery (HK43)
    of Predynastic Hierakonpolis working class
  • Among the 260 burials so far uncovered we have
    found some which revealed evidence for what may
    be the very beginnings of artificial
  • This took the form of wrapping the head and hands
    with pads of linen. Pottery found in association
    with these burials indicates a date not later
    than Nagada IIb (c. 3600BC)-a good 500 years
    before the next evidence of mummification will be
    found in a tomb of a king.

Mummies, cond
  • Burial 71was found covered in matting and buried
    with seven pots, one still with its lid in place.
    In one pot, placed behind her head beneath the
    matting, there were round loaves of bread almost
    6000 years old.
  • Beneath the matting, her body was covered in a
    linen shroud, but in addition, her neck and her
    hands were found bound in linen. Examination of
    this resin-soaked linen has revealed that this
    wrapping was carefully done. Only the finest
    linen was against the skin, while outer wrappings
    became progressively coarser.
  • Further examination of her remains has revealed
    what appears to be one of her internal organs
    also wrapped in resin-soaked linen before being
    returned to the chest cavity where it was
    recovered. This suggests that at this time,
    evisceration, perhaps in order to retard
    putrefaction, was being practiced, making this
    lady truly one of Egypt's first mummies.
  • Aged 20-25 at the time of her death, she had the
    second richest burial with regard to the number
    of grave goods so far found.

Burial 71
  • In Lower Egypt, a predynastic site was uncovered
    in the 1930's by Menghin and Amer. It was named
    Maadi and had apparently been occupied from 3600
    BC to 3000 BC. It is located near the southern
    suburbs of Cairo, Egypt.
  • Maadi is a unique predynastic site. It is located
    on what used to be the Wadi el-Tih, an historical
    route to the copper mines of the Sinai Peninsula.
  • There is also evidence of foreign house styles
    and pottery, domesticated donkeys, intricate
    storage facilities and an advanced copper
  • In 3600 BC, foreign trade goods started to reach
    Egypt having a great effect on the communities in
    Lower Egypt. The prosperity of the trade networks
    later lead to vast settlements in Egypt such as
    Memphis and the settlement at Cairo.

Maadi, cond
  • The Maadi settlement covered about 45 acres of
    land. Almost all of the houses were oval in shape
    and constructed with post walls and mud-daub
    wicker frame. Some of the homes were constructed
    underground.  These homes had entrances through a
    slanting passage with steps that were faced in
  • Unlike many of the grave sites in Egypt, the
    Maadi culture had very simple burials.  These
    types of burials have distinguished the Lower
    societies from the Upper societies in Egypt. 
    generally, the grave sites are located south of
    the settlement about 1 km. In the 1950s, 468
    burials were discovered over an acre of land. 

  • Narmer unified Upper and Lower Egypt and
    established his capital at Memphis (Thebes)
    around 3000 B.C..
  • By the time of the Old Kingdom, the land had been
    consolidated under the central power of a king,
    who was also the "owner" of all Egypt.
  • Considered to be divine, he stood above the
    priests and was the only individual who had
    direct contact with the gods.
  • The economy was a royal monopoly and so there was
    no word in Egyptian for "trader."
  • Under the king was a carefully graded hierarchy
    of officials, ranging from the governors of
    provinces down through local mayors and tax
  • The entire system was supported by the work of
    slaves, peasants and artisans.

Chronology of Egypt
Old Kingdom
  • The Old Kingdom reached its highest stage of
    development in the Fourth Dynasty.
  • The most tangible symbols of this period of
    greatness are the three enormous pyramids built
    as the tombs of kings at Giza between 2600 and
  • The largest, Khufu (called Cheops by the Greeks),
    was originally 481 feet high and 756 feet long on
    each side.
  • Khufu was made up of 2.3 million stone blocks
    averaging 2.5 tons each.
  • In the 5th century B.C. the Greek historian
    Herodotus tells us that the pyramid took 100,000
    men and twenty years to build.
  • The pyramids are remarkable not only for their
    technical engineering expertise, but also for
    what they tell us about royal power at the time.
  • They are evidence that Egyptian kings had
    enormous wealth as well as the power to
    concentrate so much energy on a personal project.

Middle Kingdom
  • During the period of the Middle Kingdom
    (2050-1800 B.C.) the power of the pharaohs of the
    Old Kingdom waned as priests and nobles gained
    more independence and influence.
  • The governors of the regions of Egypt (nomes)
    gained hereditary claim to their offices and
    subsequently their families acquired large
  • About 2200 B.C. the Old Kingdom collapsed and
    gave way to the decentralization of the First
    Intermediate Period (2200-2050 B.C.).
  • Finally, the nomarchs of Thebes in Upper Egypt
    gained control of the country and established the
    Middle Kingdom.

12th-17th Dynasty
  • The rulers of the Twelfth Dynasty restored the
    power of the pharaoh over the whole of Egypt
    although they could not control the nomarchs.
  • They moved the capital back to Memphis and gave
    great prominence to Amon, a god connected with
    the city of Thebes. He became identified with Re,
    emerging as Amon-Re.
  • The Middle Kingdom disintegrated in the
    Thirteenth Dynasty with the resurgence of the
    power of the nomarchs.
  • Around 1700 B.C. Egypt suffered an invasion by
    the Hyksos who came from the east (perhaps
    Palestine or Syria) and conquered the Nile Delta.
  • In 1575 B.C., a Thebian dynasty drove out the
    Hyksos and reunited the kingdom.

New Kingdom
  • One of the results of these imperialistic
    ventures of the pharaohs was the growth in power
    of the priests of Amon and the threat it posed to
    the pharaoh.
  • Egyptians begin burying their Rulers in the
    Valley of the Kings.
  • When young Amenhotep IV (1367-1350 B.C.) came to
    the throne he was apparently determined to resist
    the priesthood of Amon.
  • He moved his capital from Thebes (the center of
    Amon worship) to a city three hundred miles to
    the north at a place now called El Amarna.
  • Its god was Aton, the physical disk of the sun,
    and the new city was called Akhenaton.
  • The pharaoh changed his name to Akhenaton ("it
    pleases Aton"). The new god was different from
    any that had come before him, for he was believed
    to be universal, not merely Egyptian.

  • His chosen successor was put aside and replaced
    by Tutankhamon (1347-1339 B.C.), the husband of
    one of the daughters of Akhenaton and his wife,
  • The new pharaoh restored the old religion and
    wiped out as much as he could of the memory of
    the worship of Aton. He restored Amon to the
    center of the Egyptian pantheon, abandoned El
    Amarna, and returned the capital to Thebes. His
    magnificent tomb remained intact until its
    discovery in 1922.
  • The end of the El Amarna age restored power to
    the priests of Amon and to the military officers.
    Horemhab, a general, restored order and recovered
    much of the lost empire. He referred to Akhenaton
    as "the criminal of Akheton" and erased his name
    from the records. Akhenaton's city and memory
    disappeared for over 3000 years to be
    rediscovered by accident about a century ago.

The Boy King
  • Ironically, our greatest royal treasure from
    ancient Egypt comes from a short lived boy king.
    King Tutankhamun was not even in the same
    category of achievement as the great Egyptian
    kings such as Khufu (builder of the Great
    Pyramid), Amenhotep III (prolific builder of
    temples and statuary throughout Egypt), or
    Ramesses II (prolific builder and usurper), in
    terms of the length of his reign or the depth of
    his accomplishments. Indeed, it is his little
    known status that contributed to the successful
    hiding of his tomb, which was covered over by a
    later pharaoh who was clearing away an area in
    which to cut his own tomb.
  • On November 26, 1922, Howard Carter made
    archaeological history by unearthing the first
    Egyptian pharaonic tomb that still contained most
    of its treasures. Still, even this tomb had been
    robbed in antiquity, although the the robbery
    attempt was apparently thwarted before the
    thieves could make away with most of the
  • This tomb also yielded something else that had
    never been found in modern history - the pristine
    mummy of an Egyptian king, laying intact in his
    original burial furniture.
  • Thus, Tut's tomb gives us a unique opportunity to
    explore the life of King Tut and allows us to
    learn more about this essential period in New
    Kingdom Egyptian history.

Carter outside Tuts tomb
Tuts sarcophagus And funeral mask
Some Jewelry and Ornaments from King Tuts Tomb
  • The priests, an important body within the ruling
    caste, were a social force working to modify the
    king's supremacy.
  • Yielding to the demands of the priests of Re, a
    sun god, kings began to call themselves "sons of
    Re," adding his name as a suffix to their own.
  • Re was also worshipped in temples that were
    sometimes larger than the pyramids of later kings.

  • The creator of all things was either Re, Amun,
    Ptah, Khnum or Aten, depending on which version
    of the myth was currently in use.
  • The heavens were represented by Hathor, Bat, and
    Horus. Osiris was an earth god as was Ptah. The
    annual flooding of the Nile was Hapi.
  • Storms, evil and confusion were Seth. His
    counterpart was Ma'at, who represented balance,
    justice and truth.
  • The moon was Thoth and Khonsu.
  • Re, the sun god, took on many forms, and
    transcended most of the borders that contained
    the other gods. The actual shape of the sun, the
    disk (or, aten), was deified into another god,

God Ptah (from Tuts Tomb)
God Horus (from Tuts tomb)
The Afterlife
  • The Egyptians had a very clear idea of the
    afterlife. They took great care to bury their
    dead according to convention and supplied the
    grave with things that the departed would need
    for a pleasant life after death.
  • The pharaoh and some nobles had their bodies
    preserved in a process of mummification. Their
    tombs were decorated with paintings, food was
    provided at burial and after. Some tombs even
    included full sized sailing vessels for the
    voyage to heaven and beyond.
  • At first, only pharaohs were thought to achieve
    eternal life, however, nobles were eventually
    included, and finally all Egyptians could hope
    for immortality.

  • The actual process of embalming as practiced in
    ancient Egypt was governed by definite religious
    ritual. A period of seventy days was required for
    the preparation of the mummy, and each step in
    the procedure was co-ordinated with relevant
    priestly ceremonies.
  • The embalmers' shop might be a fixed place, as in
    the case of those connected with the larger
    temples. Often, however, it was a movable tent -
    which could be set up near the home of the
  • Removal of those parts most subject to
    putrefaction was the initial step in preparing a
    corpse for mummification. The embalmers placed
    the body on a narrow, table-like stand and
    proceeded to their task. The brain was removed
    through the nostrils by means of various metal
    probes and hooks. Such a method necessarily
    reduced the brain to a fragmentary state, and, as
    no remains of it are associated with mummies, we
    may assume that it was discarded. An incision was
    then made in the left flank of the body to permit
    removal of the viscera, with the exception of the
    heart, which was left in the body.
  • The liver, the lungs, the stomach, and the
    intestines were each placed in a separate jar,
    the Canopic Jars , and consigned to the
    protection of a particular divinity.

Canopic Jars
  • Next came the preservation of the body itself.
    This was accomplished in a manner somewhat
    similar to that of drying fish.
  • But instead of common salt, natron, a mixture of
    sodium carbonate and sodium bicarbonate, with
    sodium chloride (common salt) and sodium sulphate
    as impurities, was used. Natron occurs in Egypt
    in a few places. Water containing natron in
    solution comes to the surface and is evaporated,
    leaving the natron as surface deposits.
  • Small parcels of natron wrapped in linen were
    placed inside the body. The outside was covered
    with loose natron or packages of linen-wrapped
    natron. The dry atmosphere of Egypt accelerated
    the desiccation process.
  • After the body moisture had been absorbed by the
    natron, the packs were removed and the corpse was
    given a sponge bath with water. The skin was
    anointed with coniferous resins, and the body
    cavity was packed with wads of linen soaked in
    the same material. The body was then ready to be
    bound into that compact bundle we know as a

Wrapped Mummy And Sarcophagus
  • Pyramids
  • Valley of the Kings
  • Valley of the Queens

The Pyramid of Menkaure, son of Khafre.
King Sneferus Bent Pyramid
Khufu, son of King Sneferu. The Great Pyramid is
the only surviving member of the Seven Wonders of
the World (Height 138.75 m (455.21 ft)Length of
Side 230.37).
Valley of the Kings
Entry to the Valley of the Kings
The central area of the Valley of the Kings.
Tutankhamun's tomb is just left of the shelter
in the centre.
Mortuary Temple of Ramesses III at Medinet Habu
The Queen
  • Nefertari, the favorite Queen of Ramses II, is
    known from myriad of her representations in the
    temple reliefs and colossi of the great king.
  • The dedication to her, jointly with the goddess
    Hathor, of the small rock temple to the north of
    the great temple at Abu Simbel, shows how great
    her influence with Ramses II must have been.

Some Egyptologists think she was probably a
daughter of King Seti 1, and thus sister or half
sister of Ramses II. Other Egyptologists,
however, think that her designation as
"Hereditary Princess" might be in some way
connected with her being representative of the
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Egyptian Hieroglyphics
  • The ancient Egyptians used many materials and had
    a much different writing system than their
    neighbors of Mesopotamia.
  • Egyptian texts in hieroglyphs were inscribed in
    wood and/or stone, and written on papyrus.
  • The word hieroglyph originates from the Greek
    word heiros meaning sacred and glyphs meaning
    sculpture. This was due to the fact that they
    were almost exclusively inscribed on the walls of
    sacred temples and public monuments.

Hieroglyphic Writing
  • Documented around 5100, may have been traded in
    from Mesopotamia.
  • Hieroglyphics which are pictographs and
  • written on papyrus, clay, buildings.
  • Egypt developed its own script.

Rosetta Stone
  • The Rosetta Stone- A royal decree promulgated
    by Ptolemy V in 196 BCE, written in hieroglyphic,
    demotic and Greek.- Found by the French at
    Rosetta (el Rashid) in the Delta in 1799.- Was
    crucial for the decipherment of hieroglyphs by
    Champollion in 1822.

Hieroglyphs in Tombs
  • Only fine quality stone such as limestone,
    granite, and Egyptian alabaster was used to build
    these sacred temples and pyramidal coffins.
  • Before decoration and inscription could begin,
    the walls were prepared and polished smooth. If
    there were any flaws in the stone they were
    filled with plaster. In portions of the wall with
    exceptionally poor stone, a thick layer of
    plaster would be applied.
  •  A grid was usually laid on the stone by holding
    a string dipped in paint at both ends and
    snapping it on the wall. Supervised draftsman
    then made preliminary sketches on the walls,
    using red paint. The final draft was approved by
    the master draftsmen and drawn in black.

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  • The writing medium most common to the ancient
    Egyptians was papyrus.
  • This paper-like material was easy to use, handle,
    transport, and make. The word papyrus comes from
    the Greek word payros, which is believed to have
    come from the ancient Egyptian word papuro, which
    means "the royal".
  • This name is believed to have originated due to
    the great monopoly the Egyptians had in the
    manufacturing of papyrus.

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Writing Development
  • Throughout their more than 3.000 year long
    history, the Ancient Egyptians used three kinds
    of writings to write religious and secular
  • hieroglyphic,
  • hieratic and,
  • from the 25th Dynasty on, demotic.

Nicely sculpted hieroglyphic signs on a piece of
stone at the Louvre Museum.
Hieroglyphic Cursive
The Papyrus of Ani uses a special, more cursive
form of hieroglyphic writing.
The 'Satire of Professions', boasting the
profession of scribe, found on a wooden board in
Deir el-Medina, written in hieratic.
26th Dynasty contract, written in demotic.
Changes in Writing
  • It is important to note that neither writing
    would entirely replace another, but it would
    merely restrict the other writings to specific
    domains and be restricted itself to other
    domains. Thus demotic would become the writing of
    the administration from the 26th Dynasty on, but
    it did not entirely replace hieratic as a
    handwriting, which was still being used in
    religious texts.
  • Hieratic, on its part, did not replace
    hieroglyphic either. From its beginnings,
    hieratic was hieroglyphic, but more cursive and
    written by a speedier hand. As the two writings
    evolved, practicality caused hieratic to be used
    when a text need not be written in the slow but
    detailed hieroglyphic signs and was used in
    administrative texts, texts that were not to be
    inscribed on monuments or on funerary objects