Egypt is one of the earliest civilizations in the world. Started along the banks of the Nile River thousands of years ago, it occupied part of Eastern Africa. In time, ancient Egypt grew to become an advanced and powerful empire. Ancient Egypt was first divided into Upper and Lower Egypt until it was unified under the leadership of the Pharaohs. The peak of ancient Egypt was reached during the New Kingdom. The Pharaoh Dynasty ended when it fell under the Roman Empire. Even then, Egypt flourished up to the modern age. One of the reasons for their success was because of the bountiful nutrient rich sediments brought to their lands by the floods of the longest river in the world. They developed irrigation that led to increased production of crops which fueled the development of society and culture.
Blessed with vast resources, the Egyptians set out to explore nearby valleys and desert areas. They developed their own writing, construction, military, and agriculture systems. The society was divided into scribes, leaders, and administrators that worked under the Pharaoh. It was to ensure that they worked for the unity of the Egyptian people who were strongly influenced by supernatural beliefs. The Egyptian civilization has made some important contributions such as surveying, construction methods, quarrying, math, medicine, irrigation, and more. Today, there is a lot of research done in Egypt including excavation and scientific experiments. Let’s look at the history, religion, government, language, hieroglyphics, art, and architecture of the Egyptians in more detail.
Ancient Egyptian history was divided into three different time periods, namely, the Old Kingdom, the Central Kingdom, and the Modern Kingdom. Each period has its own contributions that led to one event from another. Pharaohs ruled the kingdom. The Egyptians believed the idea that they were the chosen race. For over 300 years, Ancient Egypt was a dominant civilization in the Mediterranean region, stretching to the time of its unification until the conquest of Alexander the great. The Old Kingdom was defined by pyramids, stable government, and prosperity. The Middle Kingdom was the time period when ancient Egypt started to conquer other lands. The New Kingdom was defined by military and foreign invasion.
Religion is very important in the lives of people in ancient Egypt. It’s inspired by temples and other wonders of nature. They strongly believed in spiritual worlds, afterlife, and different gods like Ra which is the Sun God and Osiris, the Ruler of Underworld. They also believed in different kinds of deities. Most of their traditions were derived from the orders of the Pharaohs. One central belief was the burial tradition which was only for workers and government officials. They believed in the mummification process. Ancient Egyptians also believed that the cat represented death. The old religion of Egyptians faded when Christianity start to dominate in early AD.
The government of Ancient Egypt was dominated by one man alone, and that was the Pharaoh. They believed that gods appointed a man to control the affairs of the society. Some famous Pharaohs are Sneferu, Khufu, Amenhotep III, Akhenaten, Tutankhamun, and Ramesses II. In times where no suitable men could be installed as Pharaoh, a Queen would rise to the throne. Some famous Ancient Egyptian Queens are Ashotep, Hatshepsut, Nefertiti, and Cleopatra. Pharaohs and Queens usually had advisors and ministers who were considered to be the only persons ordained to carry out the commands of god king. There were also government officials known as the vizier or prime minister, treasurer, tax collectors, army commander, and ministry of public works. The land was divided in “nomes” which were controlled by duly appointed governors. During those times, taxes were paid through labor and goods. There were also citizens who were called to serve the army and others were slaves who were tasked to construct monuments. Religion and government are united and for this reason, Ancient Egypt became very powerful.
Language & Hieroglyphics
Ancient Egyptian language is a history in itself. It has undergone a lot of changes that resulted in the modern day Coptic language which is used now. Hieroglyphics is known to be the ancient language, using pictographs inscribed in stones. They are found in pyramids and monuments. It literally means “sacred language”. The early Egyptians didn’t have a written language. In fact, they drew pictures that would help them in communicating their ideas so people could understand. This was something that symbolized the primitive culture of Egyptians. As the culture progressed, the language became more refined. Hieratic is known to be the first written form of the Egyptian language. It’s more cursive compared to hieroglyphics. Based on pictograms, it resembles modern written language in some ways. Demotic language is proven to be complicated and it’s used by people of the higher classes. Finally, Coptic language came about as the Greek language became more prevalent.
Sculptures and paintings were produced during the earlier dynasties of Ancient Egypt. The art reflected the country’s political history. Art was strongly influenced by religious beliefs. It’s easy to find that some of the most spectacular Ancient Egyptian art were made solely for the Pharaohs, using gold, silver, and precious stones. Most of the art conveyed the strong relationship between the citizens, the Pharaoh, and gods. Egyptian art could be defined by geographical factors. They used every element found in the surroundings like desert, mountains, and the Nile River. In search of precious metals like gold and silver, the Egyptians established trading with other civilizations, leading to the enrichment of Egyptian culture.
Ancient Egypt produced some of the most astounding architectural monuments in the history of mankind. Just like their art, Egyptian architecture was strongly influenced by their religious beliefs. The royal palaces, temples, pyramids, and the Sphinx were extensions of Egyptian religion. To build their massive monuments, the Egyptians used stone and sun-baked mud bricks. Ancient Egyptians used mud from the Nile River to build their houses. Today, the Great Pyramid of Giza, the Great Sphinx of Giza, the Temple of Horus, the Luxor Temple, and Karnak are some of the surviving architectural monuments from Ancient Egypt.