Ancient Egypt



Ancient Egypt
Ancient Egypt
 Writing in Egypt originated for economical purposes but developed for the service of the elite. but developed for the service of the elite
 Increased social inequality lead to everything being devoted to the service of the elite including writing
devoted to the service of the elite, including writing
 North‐east corner of Africa
 Mediterranean Sea to the north
 Desert to the south, east and D
t t th th t d west.
 Civilization of Ancient Egypt Ci ili ti f A i t E
t existed between 3500 BC and 30 BC.
The Nile
• Water flows from south to north
• Opens up into a wide, triangular, O
i id i
l green delta criss‐crossed by shallow waterways
• Settled near the Nile •Floods revitalized agricultural lands
•Abundant resources
•Wild and domesticated animals
Wild and domesticated animals
 Great means of transport throughout Egypt
 Ships were propelled either by oar or sail
Shi ll d i h b il
 Current runs from south to north, into the Mediterranean Sea
 Prevailing wind blows from north to south
 Easy travel along Nile
 Drift downriver and travel north with the current
 Sail upriver and travel south with the wind
 Facilitates cultural uniformity and political unity
 Compared to Mesopotamia, with towns scattered over a plain
 The Nile floods regularly every year
 It covers the farmland with water
 Farmers plant in the mud as the water recedes
 Keep the fields wet with small‐scale systems of ditches and retaining ponds.
 A system for measuring the height of the Nile in various parts of the country. This monitoring allowed them to compare daily river levels with years past and to predict with some accuracy the coming year s high mark.
to predict with some accuracy the coming year's high mark
The nilometer on Elephantine Island, Aswan, consists of stairs and staff gauges
 Varieties of stone and metal
 Settlements along the g
Nile didn’t lack basic materials like stone for building and carving, the way Mesopotamian sites did i did  Wood was somewhat scarce
 During the New Kingdom (1552‐1070 BC), monuments D i th N Ki d (
BC) t were decorated with lists of past kings and a few words about their achievements going back to the Old about their achievements, going back to the Old Kingdom (2686‐2250 BC)
 Only some written sources on early Egyptian history
 List on papyrus (the Turin papyrus) is fragmentary, but gives durations of reigns in the Old Kingdom
 A large fragment of a stele known as the Royal Annals of the Old Kingdom of Ancient Egypt. It contains records of the kings of Egypt from the first dynasty through the fifth dynasty.
 Engraved toward the end of the fifth dynasty, in the 25th century BC
 Inscribed on both sides with the earliest known Egyptian text
 Briefly records the principal achievements of the kings of the first 5 dynasties
 Manetho, an Egyptian historian of the 3rd century BC, used documents like these to compile a history of kings and events
 Contained many errors due to being written almost 3000 years later
 Yet much stands up to excavated evidence.
 He must have had access to documents and monuments that are now lost, while we may have some that were buried or unknown to Manetho
 These records provide a chronological framework starting very early but don’t say much about life and society until later periods
 Unlike Mesopotamia, where early documents are accounting records which initially don’t help much with chronology or history but do shed hi h i i i ll d ’ h l h i h h
b d h d some light on economic activities and occasionally other aspects of life
 Speculations:
l ti
 Human‐like beings might have been in the Nile Valley around 700,000 years ago, if not earlier
d if t li
 Egypt were covered in treed savanna and with many h d
 Hunter‐gatherers
 Time between the hunter‐gatherers of before and the appearance of the true Time between the hunter gatherers of before and the appearance of the true farming of the village‐dwelling cultures after 5500 BC. Most of the information from this era comes from the site of El Kab, located between the eastern bank of the Nile and the Red Sea Hills.
 The camps at El Kab
Th t El K b were most likely occupied only during spring and summer. t lik l i d l d i i d The annual floods of the Nile, especially given how massive it was then, would make it next to impossible to live in those locations year round. It is apparent that these tribes were still largely nomadic, hunting and gathering, following seasonally available wild plants and game. Despite this, the camps enjoyed ll il bl ild l
d D i hi h j d many times of prosperity, living near the cool Nile and benefiting from its supply of fish, supplemented by the traditional hunting of savanna wildlife such as wild cattle and gazelles.
 These seasonal camps merged together and grew into large concentrations of dwellings over time. There is evidence in these later Epipaleolithic sites of a population explosion around 5500 BC, possibly due to the development of true agriculture as well as animal domestication.
agriculture as well as animal domestication
 5500 BC, evidence of organized, permanent settlements 5500 BC evidence of organized permanent settlements focused around agriculture. Hunting was no longer a major support for existence now that the Egyptian diet was made up of domesticated cattle sheep pigs and goats as well as up of domesticated cattle, sheep, pigs and goats, as well as cereal grains such as wheat and barley. Artifacts of stone were supplemented by those of metal, and the crafts of basketry pottery weaving and the tanning of animal hides basketry, pottery, weaving, and the tanning of animal hides became part of the daily life.  Transitioning from primitive nomadic tribes to traditional civilization.
 4500 BC during Naqada I, growing influence of the peoples of the North on those of the South. Soon this would result in a truly mixed people and culture, that of the Late Predynastic, or Naqada III.  Dead were buried in simple oval pits
D d b i d i i l l it
 Black‐topped pottery is the typical ware
 Painted pottery appears
 Some individuals are buried in larger, more elaborate Some individuals are buried in larger more elaborate tombs
 stone vessels
 Metal
 Beginning of social inequality and different classes
 cemeteries include extremely wealthy burials, t i i l d t
l lth b i l revealing stark social differences.
 Cylinder jars are characteristic grave goods
C li d j h
t i ti d
 first writing appears
 Dates to Naqada III  Contained the largest and the oldest C
i d h l
d h ld 
inscribed artifacts so far found in Egypt. Found 200 small bone and ivory tags and more than 100 ceramic jars.
The number of signs on all is about 50. Limited yet well formed writing
Unlikely to be first writing→ Prompted excavators to search for earlier antecedents.
Writing as tags of exports
 Over a period of about 1,000 years, the Naqada
O i d f b t th N d
culture developed from a few small farming communities into a powerful civilization whose iti i t f l i ili ti h leaders were in complete control of the people and resources of the Nile valley.
f th Nil ll
 Emergence of complex societies and interactions among polities (subordinate civil authority) l
( b d
followed formation of a unitary state.  Increased social inequality
 Eventually, some places specialized in making certain kinds of goods that were traded up and down the Nile
 This must have been based on social factors, rather than better access to resources
 Some places had more specialists or larger workshops
 Some places developed reputations for certain goods
 Ancient Egypt was known as one of the wealthiest countries in 
the world. the world
Food produced by Egyptian was more than enough to feed their own people, and this surplus grains played an important role in Egypt's economy as well as fish
s economy as well as fish, fine linen, papyrus and an fine linen papyrus and an extended trade in perfume and fine oils. They developed trading routes to far away places. There is not much doubt that Egypt had reached Assyria (where Syria and h d bt th t E
t h d h d A
i ( h S i d Lebanon are located present days.) The first recorded mention of Greater Syria is in Egyptian annals detailing expeditions to the Syrian coastland to log the cedar pine and cypress of the Syrian coastland to log the cedar, pine, and cypress of the Ammanus and Lebanon mountain ranges in the fourth millennium. Egyptians imported timber applicable for carpentry on a large scale and for boat construction from Syria and Lebanon. They established trade with Nubia to obtain incense.
 The Naqada
Th N d culture manufactured a diverse array of lt f t d di
f material goods, reflective of the increasing power and wealth of the elite which included painted pottery wealth of the elite, which included painted pottery, high quality decorative stone vases, cosmetic palettes, and jewelry made of gold, lapis, and ivory They also and jewelry made of gold, lapis, and ivory. They also developed a ceramic glaze known as faience which was used well into the Roman Period to decorate cups, p,
amulets, and figurines.
 Transition between Predynastic and Dynastic was the result the new social structures such as cities and individual dwellings.  Technological evolution. T h l i l l ti  Stoneworking, particularly that involved in the making of blades and points, reached a level almost that of the Old Ki d i d
Kingdom industries that would follow. i h ld f ll  Furniture: many artifacts already resembling what would come.  Objects began to be made not only with a function, but also Obj
b d l i h f
i b l with an aesthetic value. Pottery was painted and decorated, particularly the black‐topped clay pots and vases that this era i t d f b
is noted for; bone and ivory combs, figurines, and tableware, d i
b fi i
d t bl
are found in great numbers, as is jewelry of all types and materials.  Political unification of Upper and Lower Egypt under the first pharaoh, and it developed over the next three millennia.
 31 BC when Egypt fell to the Roman Empire and BC h E
t f ll t th R
E i d became a Roman province
Roman emperor Augustus depicted as an Egyptian pharaoh
 The success of ancient Egyptian civilization was partly from its ability to adapt to the conditions of the Nile River Valley. The predictable flooding and controlled irrigation of the fertile valley produced surplus crops, which fueled social development and culture.  With resources to spare, the administration sponsored mineral exploitation of the valley and surrounding desert regions, the early development of an independent writing system, the organization of collective construction and agricultural projects, trade with surrounding regions, and a military intended to g g
defeat foreign enemies and assert Egyptian dominance.  A bureaucracy of elite scribes, religious leaders, and ad
administrators under the control of a pharaoh who ensured the st ato s u de t e co t o o a p a ao
o e su ed t e
cooperation and unity of the Egyptian people organizing these activities.
 The many achievements of the ancient Egyptians Th hi
t f th i t E
ti include the quarrying, and construction techniques that facilitated the building of monumental pyramids that facilitated the building of monumental pyramids, temples, and obelisks  They had a system of mathematics, a practical and They had a system of mathematics a practical and effective system of medicine, irrigation systems and agricultural production techniques and the first agricultural production techniques, and the first known ships.  Writing for economical purposes.
 Tomb U‐j was full of Palestinian exports‐
T b U j f ll f P l i i attached h d information to deliveries
 Writing to serve the pharos.
W iti t th h
 Writing used for records
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y/ gyp /
/ y
b h