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Egypt

In: Historical Events

Submitted By mattdrank
Words 1455
Pages 6
Matt Cannis
Western Civilization
Essay question #1
October 13th, 2012
The main key to the civilization of Egypt was the Nile River. The Nile over flowed once a year leaving deposits of minerals and fertile black soil, which made it the richest agricultural region in the Mediterranean world(17). The whole civilization ran up and down the Nile, no more than fourteen miles away in either direction. Egyptian history was divided into three periods called kingdoms(Old, Middle, New and two intermediate periods).
Egypt was divided into two kingdoms, lower in the north and upper in the south, since the Nile flows from south to north. Two of the major cities were actually developed in Lower Egypt, Nekhen and Abydos(18). The two communities were pretty developed for their time. Pharaohs(which means “great household”) were appointed to rule over Egypt(19).They formed their own political organization, religion, industry, and new ideas.
We know the least about the history of the Old Kingdom. Historians relied on texts from the deceased. They came to discover that the Egyptians were very keen on the aspect of death. We do however find out a lot about the Pharaohs. They were considered the link between the land, people, and their gods(21). Taxes, trade, and labor were all administered by the Pharaoh as well. Even though the Pharaoh was in so much power, they needed help. So they appointed “governors” called nomarchs, which usually was from their family.
Since Egypt was so huge, communication was vital. This is another reason Egypt thrived due to its communication through hieroglyphics. Hieroglyphics were pictures and symbols that meant words or phrases. It was made by hammering and drying it into papyrus. The Egyptians even developed a form of cursive called hieratic(22)They even developed “short hand” for fast note taking. The production of hieroglyphics was one of the most important industries and provided many jobs. The use of papyrus was used all the way into the Middle Ages. It also gave jobs to people called Scribes. The Scribes were very important since they were the ones teaching literacy. People who could master the skill of reading and writing hieroglyphics were highly respected and usually way better off than people who could not.
One of the two amazing architectural additions from Egypt is the Step Pyramid of Djoser. A man by the name of Imhotep was the right-hand man of Djoser. He was far advanced in science, math, astronomy, and theology. He was basically an architect(22). He designed the Step Pyramid, which was the first building in history that was made out of all stone. It was built near the capital at Memphis. They believed in the after-life, which is why the Egyptians started building pyramids. They thought their spirit(“ka”) was going to live on, so they also built mazes and traps to protect against robbers(22).
After the Step Pyramid of Djoser was built, it set a standard that all other pharaohs should do the same. The second, and (one of the seven ancient wonders of the world), was the Great Pyramids of Giza. The actual Great Pyramid was build for Khufu(Cheops). Herodotus, a Greek historian, estimated that it took twenty years and 100,000 laborers to build it. It was originally thought that the pyramids were built by slaves, but it was really willing workers(23).
Egyptian society was divided into three groups, the pharaoh, the nobles and scribes, then basically everyone else. The nobles were extremely wealthy like the pharaoh and lived in luxury. They kept dogs, cats, and monkeys as pets(24). Everybody else lived in mud-brick homes in crowded communities. There was not really a middle class. Although one could be skilled in a profession and offer their family some measure of luxury, but not much(24). Women in Egypt actually had some freedom. They could file for divorce, defend themselves in court, and buy/sell property. Women were not allowed to be scribes or be a noble. Lastly the wealthy could just sleep around, even though Egyptians believed in monogamy. There was not much discrimination to women as there was in other cultures of the past and present times.
Religion in Egypt revolved around the pharaoh of that current dynasty. The people believed that the pharaoh had control over the Nile and to the gods. They did however have a myth of human creation, Osiris and Isis. Osiris was the first pharaoh and was killed by his jealous brother Seth. Then Osiris' sister found his body and revived it, creating the god Horus. Then Seth stole Osiris' body back and chopped him up and spread his remains over Egypt. Then Iris reassembled Osiris' body(which is where mummification came from). Then Horus defeated Seth, and Osiris was made god of the underworld(25).
The Middle Kingdom started with Mentuhotep II when he declared himself ruler of all Egypt. The main government was moved to Thebes instead of Memphis. Mentuhotep II appointed Amenemhet as his chief adviser, who later on became pharaoh after his death. It remained peaceful for 200 years. They began to expand their boarders to Nubia and parts of Arabia. Amenemhet built huge walls to protect Egypt from the east.
The attitudes of the pharaohs have changed during the Middle Kingdom. Unlike in the Old Kingdom the pharaohs were more of a good shepherd(26). They took care of their people and protected Egypt from outside intruders. We know this “peaceful time” from the literature and also a time of growth. Egypt wanted to expand out of their shell(26).
Around 1700 B.C.E. Egypt was invaded by people called Hyksos, which means “rulers of foreign lands. They eventually took over Lower Egypt, but later on a pharaoh named Ahmose drove them out which started the New Kingdom(31). During this time period the Egyptians focused on expanding their lands, and they did, all the way up the west coast of the Mediterranean to the east boarder of the Euphrates. This was all done under the ruler ship of Thutmose I(31). After Thutmose I passed, then came the first women pharaoh in history, Hatshepsut. She claimed herself to be the most beautiful women in history. She was very vital to Egypt's expansion in trade, wealth, more land, and art. Historians think that her tomb was the first one build in the Valley of the Kings(31).
Then came along Amenhotep, who changed his name to Akhenaten, meaning “He Who Is Profitable to the Aten”(33). He was big into religion and tried to make Egypt into a monotheistic society. He basically made himself out to be a god on earth, which distracted him from paying attention to the more important interests of Egypt(33). This led to his successor, Tutankhamen, the youngest pharaoh in history. He changed everything back to the way it was from what his father did regarding religion. He died very young and had a glorious tomb built for him, and was succeeded by Ramses.
In conclusion, Egypt gave not only to western civilization, but also to present times.
“The Egyptians and Mesopotamian peoples initiated ideas that are still associated with civilization today. These peoples began to progress with developing a written language, organizing cities, struggling with problems that arose with individuals now living closer to one another, being dependent upon one another for survival and wresting with politics and governmental structure”(Bonin).
Egypt really did get the ball rolling on more advanced civilization. We can still see their work today with the Great Pyramid of Giza. They seriously were a huge impact on the world. Egypt was the cornerstone to many generations to come.

Works Cited
“Ancient Greek Democracy.” 2012.The History Channel website. Oct 14 2012, 11:54 http://www.history.com/topics/ancient-greece-democracy.
"Ancient Greek People."Ancient Greece - Ancient Greek People, Playwrights, Philosophers, Poets, Military Leaders, Kings, Mathematicians.Ancientgreece.com, n.d. Web. 14 Oct. 2012. <http://www.ancientgreece.com/s/People/>.
Bonin, Angela. "The Influence of Ancient Civilizations on Western Civilization."Examiner.com. Examiner, 20 Jan. 2012. Web. 13 Oct. 2012. <http://www.examiner.com/article/the-influence-of-ancient-civilizations-on-western-civilization>.
Cole, Joshua, and Judith G. Coffin. Western Civilizations: Their History & Their Culture. New York: W.W. Norton &, 2012. Print. Gill, N. "Inventions and Discoveries of Ancient Greek Scientists."About.com Ancient / Classical History. About.com, n.d. Web. 14 Oct. 2012. <http://ancienthistory.about.com/od/sciencemedicine/tp/042810GreekScientificInventions.htm>.
YouTube. Perf. Sir Authur C. Clarke. YouTube. YouTube, 16 Aug. 2007. Web. 14 Oct. 2012. <http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uBDJJAJ94Gk>.

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