Egypt, Part 3: Kingdom Along the Nile

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Later Kingdoms of Egypt. Pyramids

Text of Egypt, Part 3: Kingdom Along the Nile

  • 1. Egypt, Part 3 Kingdom Along the Nile, Online

2. Archaic Kingdom (3000-2575 BC)

  • First known pharaoh: Horus Aha
  • Consolidation in which pharaohs assumed role of divine kings
  • Centralized authority over labor, food storage, and taxation
  • Sponsored spectacular feasts/rituals
  • Translated into large-scale, well-designed architecture of which the pyramids were examples
  • Introduction of hieroglyphic writing
  • One function: To propagate the pharaonic religion at the expense of local cults
  • Scribes held enormous power, as the few who could read and write

3. Hieroglyphic Writing

  • Definition: Writing system in which
  • Pictorial symbols are used to
  • Convey particular sound, object, and/or idea
  • Original known use: accounting
  • Gunter Dreyer found the oldest evidence ofEgyptian writing
  • 200 small bone and ivory tags attached to containers holding linen and oil
  • Attributed to a leader called Scorpion I
  • Date: 5200 BP
  • Location: Abydos, 250 miles below Cairo

4. Hieroglyphic Writing

  • Note that hieroglyphs would stand for a sound
  • Still relied on pictographic writing

5. Complexity of Hieroglyphic Writing

  • There is some indication that hieroglyphs were more important for recording rule and kinship
  • than the were for economic transactions
  • Over time, hieroglyphic writing became more and more complex
  • Writing was reserved for the scribes, ranked third below the pharaoh and priests

6. Old Kingdom (2575-2134)

  • Further consolidation of empire
  • Construction of Pyramids
  • Zoser (Djoser): stepped pyramid at Saqqara
  • Khufu (Cheops) of Giza: smooth-sided pyramid, largest in the world
  • Lesser pyramids
  • Khafre (Chephren)
  • Menkaure (Mycerinus)
  • Sphinx (likeness of Khafre)
  • Complex covered 25 miles on the western side of the Nile

7. Pyramids: Analysis

  • Pharaonic institution probably the most successful of cults
  • Pharaohs were divine, capable of controlling Nile flood pattern of Nile, rise of sun, and other natural forces
  • Source of law (no codified law) and top of a complex bureaucracy
  • At death, said to dwell in the tomb while his double moved on to the other world
  • Pyramids was the divine house of the ruler
  • Never meant for any ritual purpose

8. Pyramids: Construction

  • Function in all locations: to inspire awe among population
  • Constructed during flood season
  • Reinforced power by feeding the builders
  • Egyptian pyramids were build in one continuous process of solid stone blocks
  • Constructed, as in Mesoamerica, in a four-sided design
  • Contained passageways and tombs, including a fake chamber
  • Like all pyramids, involves
  • Massive inputs of manpower
  • Sophisticated planning and organization

9. Other Pyramids

  • Most New World pyramids were constructed in stages (as were Near Eastern ziggurats)
  • Teotihuacan: Rubble covered with stone facades
  • Base was as wide as Khufus pyramid
  • Half as high
  • Moche: Adobe bricks, roughly rectangular
  • Cahokia: Earthen mounds
  • Monks Mound is largest in North America
  • After Cholula and Pyramid of the Sun

10. First Intermediate Period (2134-2040)

  • The Old Kingdom underwent decline
  • Long droughtprobably damaged pharaonic divinity claims
  • High cost of pyramid construction in labor and resources
  • Dominance by warring regional kingdoms
  • Provincial powers increased
  • Smaller tombs constructed in various localities.

11. Middle Kingdom (2040-1640 BC)

  • Thebes of Upper Egypt rises
  • Pharaohs
  • Made fewer claims to divinity
  • More approachable than past pharaohs
  • Less despotic
  • Increased efficiency
  • Expanded irrigation systems
  • Stockpiled granaries
  • Other Changes
  • Expanded overseas trade
  • Secured Egypts borders
  • Effectiveness of leadership still relied on personal attributes

12. Second Intermediate Period (1640-1530 BC)

  • Succession disputes erupted
  • Thousands of Asians (Hyksos) invaded Lower Egypt
  • Divided again into Upper and Lower Egypt
  • Lower Egypt under traditional pharaohs
  • Upper Egypt under Hyksos
  • Hyksos introduced new technology
  • Bronze
  • Horse-drawn chariots
  • New weapons

13. New Kingdom (1530-1075 BC)

  • Ahmose the Liberator created militaristic state
  • Imperial power lay between the Asians to the north and Africans to the south
  • Thebes again capital
  • Amun again worshipped as sun god
  • Temple built at Karnak, west bank of Nile
  • Valley of Kings arose at that site

14. Pharaohs After Ahmose

  • New Kingdom after Ahmose
  • Akhenaten: the heretic who worshipped the sun disk Aten
  • Aten was the sole god: precedent of monotheism
  • Tutankhamun: boy king who lasted 10 yearstomb of King Tut; advisors restored old order
  • Ramses II engaged in military expansion; lost in Syria to Hittites

15. Late Period (1070 BC-30 BC)

  • A period of political weakness
  • Attacks from Nubians to south (controlled Egypt during 8 thCentury BC
  • Invasions by Assyrians and Persians
  • Alexander the Great takes over Egypt in 332 BCrule by Ptolemy I and his successors
  • Roman conquest in 30 BC

16. Egypt and Mesopotamia: Subsistence Base

  • Subsistence base
  • Both based on irrigation
  • Both relied on staples such as wheat and barley
  • Egypt had steadier water supply than Mesopotamia
  • Tigris and Euphrates were subjected to drought

17. Egypt and Mesopotamia: Government and Law

  • Mesopotamia:
  • Priest kings represented the gods; they were not divine beings themselves
  • Codified Law, solidified by Hammurabis time
  • Egypt
  • Divine Pharaohs
  • Law derived from Pharaohs
  • Precedent was based on their personal decision

18. Egypt and Mesopotamia: Writing

  • Mesopotamia: Ideographic cuneiform
  • These consisted of wedges
  • The symbols were not phonetic
  • Egypt: Pictographic hieroglyphics
  • Some of the pictographs represented consonants and vowels of spoken language

19. Egypt and Mesopotamia: Architectural Megastructures

  • Near East: Multifunctional ziggurats
  • Ritual butalso administrative centers
  • Egypt: Funerary pyramids
  • Sole purpose: to house the pharaoh

20. Conclusion

  • Egypt was one of the most stable kingdoms in the world
  • There were few wars in its history
  • The regularity of the Nile in water supply and seasonal flood was the ecological factor
  • The society was equally stable, being isolated and yet well endowed with water, fertile soil, and resources such as workable stone and precious metals.
  • Mesopotamia, provides a stark contrast with Egypt