Terms to Know Delta – triangle-shaped mouth of a river where silt accumulates

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Terms to Know

  • Delta – triangle-shaped mouth of a river where silt accumulates

  • Cataracts – rocky stretches of a river where water moves rapidly

  • Pharaoh – the Egyptian king

  • Theocracy – a state ruled by religious figures

  • Bureaucracy – highly structured organization managed by officials


  • Egypt is mostly desert, except along the Nile River, where the land is really fertile

  • Nile river is over 4,000 miles long and flooded on a predictable schedule

  • Because the Nile is so long, the river’s delta is one of the largest and most fertile in the world

  • The cataracts prevented invasions because the river was too treacherous to move troops

  • Land is divided into Lower Egypt (in the North) and Upper Egypt (in the South)

  • Different kingdoms emerged in Lower and Upper Egypt

Two Kingdoms

  • The Northern kingdom occupied the Nile delta where the climate was milder

  • This area was known as Lower Egypt because it was lower in elevation

  • They worshipped a cobra goddess and the kingdom’s symbol was a snake

  • The Southern Kingdom stretched from the bottom of the delta to the first cataract

  • These people worshipped a vulture goddess and used the vulture as their symbol

The Old Kingdom

  • Period in Egyptian history marked by strong and stable rulers

  • Created many of the structures that characterize Egypt today (pyramids)

  • Since Egypt was so big, the pharaoh relied on other people to help him rule

  • Old kingdom lasted for about 500 years

The Pharaohs

  • Term literally means “great house”

  • Pharaohs had absolute power in Egypt and owned all of the land – they also made all of the laws and ran the military

  • Egyptians believed that the pharaoh was a god in human form

  • He worked with priests to perform daily rituals to ensure prosperity for Egypt

  • The Egyptian government became a theocracy


  • Egypt was too complex for just one person to govern

  • He created a group of people to carry out his wishes and make the country run smoothly – they did not have any official power

  • There were very powerful government officials, though

  • The Vizier was the most powerful advisor to the pharaoh and helped him carry out important orders

  • There were also hundreds of lesser officials and census takers

The Middle Kingdom

  • Came to power 200 years after fall of Old Kingdom, lasted for around 400 years

  • Increased trade with neighboring civs

  • Tried to increase defense, but fell to invaders

The New Kingdom

  • Rulers strengthened the military for defense

  • Conquered lands to create a buffer zone around the heart of the empire

  • Ramses II ruled for 60 years, built many temples and monuments

  • He became the most admired pharaoh

  • His successors could not rule the empire nearly as well

Creation Myth (continued)

  • Geb and Nut had relations, and Nut got pregnant

  • Shu got really mad at his kids and separated them; he also forbade Nut from having a child on any day of the year

  • Nut bargained with the moon god to have 5 days added to the year; she gave birth to five children, one on each day

  • Two of those children, Osiris and Isis, became very powerful gods

  • They married and had a child, Horus

  • Osiris, Isis and Horus are the most powerful Egyptian gods

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