Welcome young historians to the world of Ancient Egypt. Travel with us as we explore this exciting ancient world of Pharaohs, Pyramids, Mummies and much more!
Where is Egypt?
You can find Egypt on the northeast corner of Africa. It is located along the great river Nile which is the longest river in the world! It is thought that people settled here as early as 7500BC. When the land started becoming dry, the Egyptians started moving closer to the river bank and the river became their source of life. They would use the river banks for farming.
To communicate with each other and keep a record of important things that happened, the Egyptians created ‘Hieroglyphics’ which is a language made up of symbols. In this way, they would write down their history, and everything they knew on walls and onto scrolls of a special type of paper called papyrus which comes from the papyrus plant.
At first Egypt was divided into two lands – upper Egypt and lower Egypt but then, around 3100BC a ruler called Menes conquered Lower Egypt, uniting the two lands and becoming the first Pharaoh of Egypt. King Menes built a capital city called Memphis.
The Nile River
The river Nile played an important part in the daily life of Ancient Egyptians. This river banks had fertile land that the Egyptians used for farming. Some people would work as farmers. Others would have the job of writing things down on papyrus paper or painting them onto walls. These people were called scribes. Other people would make mud bricks so they could use them to build houses and buildings. Egyptian boys would learn craft and trading skills from their fathers while girls would learn household duties, such as cooking and clothes making from their mothers.
So life in Egypt involved a lot of hard work! But life was not always the same for everybody. The families of Noble men enjoyed a more wealthy and comfortable life style with servants and house maids to look after them and their children. The families of farmers and servants had a more difficult life style and worked in extremely difficult conditions.
Mummies and Pharaohs
The Egyptians believed that if they were ‘mummified’ after death and their bodies were put inside of a tomb with all their belongings they would be protected and live forever in the after-life. For this, they built Pyramids. Pharaohs and Egyptians who had a lot of money would be buried in tombs inside of a Pyramid. Poor people who couldn’t afford to pay to be buried in a pyramid would be buried in the sand.
It was important for the dead person’s body to be preserved and stay the same so they could use them in the after-life. To do this, the Egyptians used a process called mummification. This meant washing the body, taking out all the organs except for the heart and then filling it with stuffing and things that helped the body to stay the same. The body was then wrapped in a white cloth called a shroud and then placed in a big stone coffin. This was called a Sarcophagus.
You can find many of these in Museums today. A famous mummy that has been discovered is the body of a very young Pharaoh called Tutankhamun. He was found with many treasures in his tomb.
Ancient Egyptians believed there were many Gods. They used animals to represent different powers. So, images of their Gods sometimes showed a human body with the head of an animal. There was Bastet, a goddess of love and protection. ‘Bastet’ is usually shown in the form of a cat. ‘Anubis’ was their god of Mummification. The most important god was ‘Ra’ the god of the sun and the lord of all the gods.
From 1500BC, Egyptians kings decided to build their tombs in a valley called the ‘Valley of the Kings’. This is where Tutankhamun was buried. There was also Rameses II. Nefertiti and Cleopatra were both women who ruled as Pharaohs.
In 332BC Egypt was conquered by Alexander the great. He was made Pharaoh and he built Alexandria as his capital city and Egypt was ruled by Greeks after this period.