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Ancient Egypt

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Egyptian history is kind of complicated.  A historian made it a little easier by dividing its history into 30 different dynasties. They are rulers who are in the same family. (It would kind of be like if my grampa Leonard ruled Egypt, and then when he died, if my Papa ruled and then if he died, Dad would rule and if he died, I would be the ruler. It's kind of like that.)

The first dynasty began around 3000 B.C. It ended at 2650 B.C.  One ruler back then was Aha. There was another one, Menes, who was also called Narmer. There was a carved piece of stone with his picture on it. His body was a certain way.  It's theway you see all Egyptian people drawn or carved.  The body is facing front but the head and eyes are to the side. All the artists from the rest of the dynasties copied the artists from the first dynasty.

Pharoahs were always a god to their people. They thought he was the son of Amon-Ra, who was the sun god. They worshiped more than 80 gods. They thought many kinds of animals were sacred and holy.

First Dynasty Kings were not buried in pyramids yet. They were buried in tombs, but they weren't pyramids. Sometimes the tombs were underground. Bricks covered their graves. Many of them were buried in Abydos. It is near the Western Desert. Ancient Egyptians called it the Land of the Dead. Sometimes boats were buried near the graves so that the dead Kings could use them in their afterlife (even though we know that's not true). When King Aha was buried, some of his servants poisoned themselves so they could serve him in the afterlife. 

Then there was the Old Kingdom.  It was from about 2650 - 2150 B.C. King Zoser was the ruler. A man named Imhotep was his first minister. He knew how to make buildings and he was really smart.  He was probably the one who thought of how to make the Step Pyramid.  That was the first stone building and everybody else copied that pyramid too and sometimes they made changes as they got smarter.

The Step Pyramid was the tomb for Zoser's family and for Zoser too. It is 200 feet tall. It was made of limestone which is a soft rock. There is a maze and secret chambers inside it.  It was packed with all kinds of supplies the King thought he'd need for his afterlife.

After the Step Pyramid, other kinds of Pyramids got built.  There are three really important pyramids at a place called Giza.  It is by the west bank of the Nile River, which is in Africa.  These pyramids were made for three different pharoahs.  They were Cheops, Chephren, and Mycerinus.  Also there was a temple attached to each pyramid. That is where the dead king was worshiped. They were made between 2660 and 2560 B.C.

King Cheops lived in Egypt.  He wanted a stone tent for his burial chamber. The stone tent is really a very large stone pyramid.  Thousands of his slaves and servants helped him build the stone tent. It 481 feet high.  It is as tall as 800 stairs. It takes up 13 acres of land.  That is so large it can fill 8 football fields. He wanted it to be as big as a mountain. He wanted his people to remember his power too. Because it is made out of stone, the great pyramid still stands.  It is called one of the ancient 7 wonders of the world.  That's why people come from around the world to see it.

They probably used sleds or stuff like ramps to move big stones that weighed as much as 4 cows. They actually somehow put it together. And they used the final stone for the top.  It took them 20 years to make it. Because of all the techonology we have now, it would take less than a year to build a great pyramid.

The Egyptians made tombs that had flat roofs for dead important people. They were called nobles. These tombs are called mastabas.  Sometimes they were made of mud brick or of limestone.

A temple for sun worship was found near Giza.  There was an altar in the middle of it.  Also there was a religious and sacred symbol of the sun in the middle. It is called an obelisk.

Maybe the most famous sculpture in Egypt is the Great Sphinx at Giza. It is huge. It has a lion's body and the head of a man. It is as tall as a 7 story building. Egyptians also made all kinds of different
sculptures. They did wall carvings of things from their regular life.  Sometimes the wall carvings inside the tombs looked a lot like paintings.

These great artists whose names are unknown are the ones who figured out the shape of the pyramids in the first place. Burial chambers had lots of treasures and colors inside; gems, rubies, sapphires, emeralds, diamonds. There was lots of other cool stuff too.

Then there was the Middle Kingdom.  It was from 2040 - 1640 B.C. The oldest temple was found in a city called Thebes. It was like a capital city.  It was the tomb for King Menuhotep II.  There was a lot of sculptures made too. There were some of huge statues of kings made out of granite and other hard rocks. They made little scupltures of people to put in the tombs.  The Middle Kingdom ended because they kept getting invaded by people from other countries.

The New Kingdom went from 1550 - 1070 B.C.  The Egyptian kings were fierce warriors. They kept defeating the states around them. They made Egypt a rich and powerful empire. They had tons of gold, but they couldn't stop the pyramids from getting robbed of their treasures. So they stopped building pyramids. Instead they made their tombs in big rock cliffs in the city of Thebes.

Egyptian art got better. It looked more real than art from the other dynasties. Probably the artists were smarter and just got better. The paintings in Thebes were so great, the New Kingdom is called the Golden Age of Egyptian painting.

King Amenhotep III had a son. His name was Amenhotep IV, but he changed it to Akhenaten.  It means "servant of the Aten."  He did something that was strange in his time. He decided to not worship many gods. He worshiped only one god. The god he worshiped was the sun disk, Aten.  But after he died the Egyptians all worshiped a lot of gods again.  One of the gods they worshiped was named Osiris. He is the god of the dead.

After, a young boy became king. His name was Tutankhaten, but he changed it to Tutankhamun.  That means, "living image of Amun". Amun was a god he worshiped.  He was king for nine years. Then he suddenly died. His wife's name was Ankhesenamun. Her mother was Nefertiti. People thought the women were living goddesses.
King Tut's tomb is very famous and so is his mummy. King Tut probably died from getting sick, but nobody really knows for sure. He was buried in the Valley of the Kings. It is an Egyptian cemetery.  He ruled from 1361 - 1352 B.C.

While King Tut was still King, Moses was born. This happened in 1355 B.C. His mother put him in a basket made of reeds. She put him in the Nile River. His sister Miriam watched. An Egyptian princess found him and adopted him. Moses' mom got to nurse him though even though Pharoah didn't know she was really his real mom. (Exodus 2:1-10)

In 1275 B.C., Pharoah wouldn't listen to Moses about letting Jehovah's people go. The Israelites were slaves to the Egyptians. Moses was their leader. Jehovah told Moses and his brother Aaron to go to Pharaoh. They had to tell him to let the Israelites go free. Pharaoh didn't listen so Jehovah kept sending plagues. Jehovah sent one plague after another.  Finally after the 10th plague, Pharaoh let Jehovah's people go.

Here are the list of plagues:

  1.  Water turns to blood - Exodus 7:20
  2. Frogs - Exodus 8:6
  3. Gnats - Exodus 8:17
  4. Flies - Exodus 8:24
  5. Livestock plague - Exodus 9:6
  6. Boils and sores - Exodus 9:10
  7. Hail and lightning - Exodus 9:23
  8. Locusts - Exodus 10:13
  9. Darkness - Exodus 10:22
  10. Death of the firstborn - Exodus 11:5, 12:29  
The Late Periods of Egyptian history was between 712 and 332 B.C. Egypt was split up into two or more nations.  The Kushites invaded Egypt.  Pyramids were built again but they were a lot smaller.

Then there was the Ptolemaic Period from 332-30 B.C.  In 332 B.C. the King of Macedonia was Alexander the Great. After he died, one of his generals took over ruling Egypt. His name was Ptolemy. He was the first one of the Ptolemaic Dynasty.  That dynasty ruled Egypt for
300 years.  It kept the traditions of the pharaohs.  Most of the temples from Egypt that can be seen today are from this dynasty. The last leader of this dynasty was Cleopatra VII.  She is really famous.  She ended up losing her power to Rome. She killed herself because she didn't want to be a prisoner in Rome.

Click HERE to see Ancient Egyptian Gods & Goddesses


Ancient Civilizations.”  New Book of Knowledge.  2000 ed.
     Danbury, Connecticut: Grolier Inc. (Volume1A, pgs. 218-219, 222, 245-246)
Egypt.” New Book of Knowledge.   2000 ed.
     Danbury, Connecticut: Grolier Inc. (Volume 5E, pgs. 103-117)
Galvin, John. “ABYDOS: Life and Death at the Dawn of Egyptian Civilization.”
     National Geographic
The  Seven Wonders of the Ancient World.”  The Bookshelf for Boys and Girls.  1969 
     ed.New York:The University Society Inc.(Volume 6: Art and Music,  pg. 258)
Williams, A.R.  “Modern Technology Reopens the Case of King Tut.”  
National Geographic  June 2005: pgs. 2-21.
The Great Stone Tent.”  Childcraft How and Why Library.  1971 ed.
     Chicago, Illinois: Field Enterprises Educational Corp. (Vol. 14: Places to Know, pg. 11)