Egypt is south of the Mediterranean Sea and west of the Red Sea. The Nile River, the Red Sea, and the Mediterranean Sea allowed Egyptians to travel and trade. The Nile River valley was ideal for human settlement and growth because of its fertile soil and nearby sources of water.
The Egyptians had a different language and form of writing from the Mesopotamian people. They had two different ways to write: Coptic and hieroglyphic. The hieroglyphic was the writing of nobility and priests and the Coptic language was the everyday writing of the people. Eventually both languages were lost to time, but found once more and translated in modern times by scholars. Because we can read the writings of the ancient Egyptians, we know a great deal about them.
Like Mesopotamia, Egypt was another cradle of civilization.
The Nile River provided enough water and very fertile farmland, making it possible for cities to grow up. Egyptian civilization
flourished along the banks of the Nile. The people specialized
scribes, priests, weavers, miners, merchants, embalmers, and
potters. Egyptians developed two nations: Upper Egypt (to the
south) and Lower Egypt (to the north). Eventually the two
nations were combined through conquest into one.
The Egyptian kings were called pharaohs. The Egyptians considered their pharaohs to be gods. Cheops, Hatsheput, and
Tutankhamen (sometimes called King Tut) were some of the best known pharaohs. The religion of ancient Egypt, like the religions of most people on earth, defined their everyday life. Temples and priests were central to their lives. The taxes collected supported the priests and the temples, as well as the army and rulers.
The Pyramids: The pyramids are perhaps the things ancient Egyptians are best remembered for. The pyramids were tombs for pharaohs and other important people. Pharaohs were mummified and then buried in tombs filled with treasures and things for the pharaoh to use in the afterlife. The Pyramid of Khufu is the biggest of all the pyramids of Egypt and the only wonder of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World that still stands today.
Egypt’s Old Kingdom began around 2600 b.c. The ruler of Egypt was called a pharaoh. The pharaoh was the political and religious leader of the people. During the Middle Kingdom (c. 2055-1650 b.c.), Egypt took over nearby lands. The additional farmland and wealth helped Egypt’s population to grow.
• The arts became important during the Middle Kingdom, as pharaohs ordered the building of new temples, tombs, and other structures. Egypt declined in the 1600s b.c. when it fell under the rule of the Hyksos. Egyptians learned new fighting technology from the Hyksos and later overthrew them.
• During the New Kingdom, Queen Hatshepsut expanded Egypt’s boundaries peacefully through trade, and King Thutmose III expanded it through war.
• In the late 1300s b.c., King Amenhotep IV decided to change the Egyptian religion. The people did not like the change, and Egypt grew weak.
• King Tutankhamen restored the traditional religion, but he died young. He is famous today because of the treasures found in his tomb during the early twentieth century.
• Ramses II returned Egypt to greatness by conquering Syria and signing a peace treaty with the Hittites. He rebuilt temples, which helped Egypt’s economy.