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Egyptian Civilization - The Gift of the Nile
Terms in this set (32)
The Nile River
* crucial to development of Egyptian civilization
* longest river in the world
* starts in Africa and runs north to the Mediterranean Sea
* predictably floods yearly in Sept/Oct and leaves a silt deposit that enriches soil (fertile)
* fertile land aka 'Black Land'
* deserts to the east and west of the river aka 'Red Land'
* Rural civilizations along the Nile because it didn't need state built irrigation systems to make the land farmable
* Nile splits into 2 major branches forming a triangular-shaped territory called Lower Egypt
* Egypt's important cities developed here
* the land upstream to the south
Benefits of the Nile River
* surplus of food grown made Egypt prosperous
* The Nile was the fastest way to travel through the land (good for transportation and communication)
Egypt's Natural Barriers
* Gave it isolation, protected it from invasion, and gave it a sense of security
* Deserts to the east and west of the Nile
* cataracts (rapids) on the southern part of river
* Mediterranean Sea to the north
3 Major Periods of Egyptian History
* Old Kingdom
* Middle Kingdom
* New Kingdom
** These were periods of long term stability with strong monarchical authority, competent bureaucracy, freedom from invasion, construction of temples and pyramids and intellectual and cultural activity
* Times in between the 3 major periods where there was weak political structure, rivalry for leadership, invasions, a decline in building activity and a restructuring of society.
Compare stability of Mesopotamia to Egypt
Mesopotamia was constantly being conquered by a new group while Egypt mostly maintained a unified state for most of its history.
The Old Kingdom
* lasted from 2686 to 2180 BCE
* an age of prosperity and splendor - Sphinx, large pyramids built, discoveries in art, science
* Pharaohs viewed as an inaccessible god-king with complete power
1st Pharaoh in the Old Kingdom who united Upper and Lower Egypt into a single kingdom in 3100 BCE
means great house of the King
reports to king and is a steward of the land
administration of government, officials
The Middle Kingdom
* from 2000 to 1550 BCE
* known as the golden age
* the Pharaoh was viewed as a shepherd of the people to take care of them with public works projects like draining swampland and building canal between Nile and Red Sea
* Expanded into Nubia
* Traded with Kush, Syria, Mesopotamia, Crete
*Hyksos invaded Egypt in horse-drawn war chariots and bronze weapons; their rule lasted 70 yrs
Society and Economy in Old and Middle Kingdoms
*God-King at top
*surrounded by an upper class of nobles and priests that ran the government
*next were the merchants and artisans
* bottom were the largest number of people that worked the land, serfs or common people. They paid taxes (crops) to kings, nobles, and priests; lived in small villages, provided military service and forced labor.
Egyptians were polytheistic
Belief in many gods
* Sun god - Atum in human form; Re with human body and head of a falcon
* built during the Old Kingdom period
* they were cities of the dead
* a large pyramid for the king's burial, smaller pyramids for his family and tombs for his noble officials
* Egyptians believed humans had 2 bodies, a physical one and spiritual one called ka. If they mummified the physical body and stocked the pyramid with supplies of regular life, the ka could return and live.
A process of slowly drying a dead body to prevent it from decomposing
* in tombs was supposed to assist the journey of the dead into the afterworld
*sacred characters used as picture signs that depicted objects and had a sacred value at the same time
*never developed into an alphabet
The New Kingdom
* From the Hyksos, the Egyptians learned to use bronze in making farming tools and weapons and the use of horse-drawn war chariots
* used these new weapons to get rid of the Hyksos and reunite Egypt.
* from 1550 - 1075 BCE
* became the most powerful state in the Middle East
* built new temples
* Thutmose came to power, when he died, his daughter took over
* Daughter of Thutmose
*During the New Kingdom, she was one of the first women to become a pharaoh.
*She sent out military expeditions, encouraged mining, fostered agriculture and sent a trading expedition up the Nile.
* She ruled for Thutmose III, but when he came of age, he took over for her and possibly killed her
* Ruled during New Kingdom
* He was a great ruler
* Expanded south further into Nubia with military expeditions
Amenhotep, aka Akhenaton
* Ruled during New Kingdom
* Became Pharaoh in 1379 BCE
* Tried to bring about social and religious changes in Egypt; believed in monotheism rather than polytheism; he only worshipped Aten; caused a lot of anger with Egyptians
* Forced out of power and Egypt returned to polytheism
Tutankhamun or King Tut
* the boy-pharaoh (10 yo) who restored the old gods after Akhenaten
Women in Egypt
* their property and inheritance remained in their hands even in marriage
* most careers and public office not allowed for women
* some women did operate businesses
* marriages arranged by parents with chief purpose to produce children, esp. sons.
* marriages could end in divorce
* women found guilty of adultery could have their noses cut off or be burned at the stake
Spread of Egyptian Influence
*merchants traveled to Nubia to trade for ivory, ebony, frankincense.
* at one point, Nubia became part of Egypt.
* After the New Kingdom failed, Nubia became an independent state of Kush. The Kushites continued the Egyptian religious beliefs, pyramids and hieroglyphs.
* Kushite monarchs took control of Egypt during the 2nd half of the 8th century. In 663 BCE, the Kushites were kicked out of power.
Intellectual Achievements of Egyptians
*engineering, mathematics, medicine, geometry, 365 day calendar, 12 months
theocracy in Ancient Egypt
*In ancient Egypt , this was a form of government in which the government claims to rule on behalf of a god. A powerful king would promote the belief that he had the support of the gods, so no one would try to remove him and risk the displeasure of the gods. From this grew the idea of divine kingship, that the king was the divine representative of a god on earth.
* the greatest ruler of Egypt.
* reigned 1290 to 1224 BCE (67 yrs)
* fought in Syria at Battle of Kadesh against Hittites
* built many monuments and temples
Reasons for Decline of Egypt
* Because Ramsses II had ruled for so long, he left Egypt unprepared to be led by someone new; most of the people had been born during his reign.
* Invaders of Egypt included the Assyrians, Kushites and Sea People from the North
* Cleopatra was last Pharaoh of Egypt; after her death, it was conquered by Rome in 31 BCE
* Stone with writing on it in two languages (Egyptian and Greek), using three scripts (hieroglyphic, demotic and Greek).
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