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science differed, there was a common emphasis on astronomy and related mathematics, which produced durable findings about

units of time and measurement. Both Mesopotamia and Egypt changed only slowly by the standards of more modern societies. Details of change have not been preserved, but it is true that having developed successful political and economic systems there was a strong tendency toward conservation. Change, when it came, was usually brought by outside forces - natural disasters or invasions. Both civilizations demonstrated extraordinary durability in the basics. Egyptian civilization and a fundamental Mesopotamian culture lasted far longer than the civilizations that came later, in part because of relative isolation within each respective region and because of the deliberate effort to maintain what had been achieved, rather than experiment widely. Both civilizations, finally, left an important heritage in their region and adjacent territories. A number of smaller civilization centers were launched under the impetus of Mesopotamia and Egypt, and some would produce important innovations of their own by about 1000 B.C.

Paleolithic Egypt
In the Paleolithic Era, the Sahara and the Nile River valleys were far different then we know it today. The Sahara did not consist of sand but rolling grass lands that sprang forth with abundant vegetation and food. This period of ample vegetation and rainfall lasted until about 30,000 BC. Then the climate began to dry up and the rolling grass lands started to recede and the food supply began to vanish. The people then made their trek to the Nile Valley with its readily available water, game, and arable land. The period marked the change from hunting and gathering to the time of farming. Additionally, this period is believed to have been much more temperate and rainy than the Nile Valley of today. The earliest evidence for humans in Egypt dates from around 500,000 - 700,000 years ago. These hominid finds are those of Homo erectus. Early Paleolithic sites are most often found near now dried-up springs or lakes or in areas where materials to make stone tools are plentiful. One of these sites is Arkin 8, discovered by Polish archaeologist Waldemar Chmielewski near Wadi Halfa. These are some of the oldest buildings in the world ever found. The remains of the structures are oval depressions about 30 cm deep and 2 x 1 meters across. Many are lined with flat sandstone slabs. They are called tent rings, because the rocks support a domelike shelter of skins or brush. This type of dwelling provides a permanent place to live, but if necessary, can be taken down easily and moved. It is a type of structure favored by nomadic tribes making the transition from hunter-gatherer to semi-permanent settlement all over the world. By the Middle Paleolithic, Homo erectus had been replaced by Homo neanderthalensis. It was about this time that more efficient stone tools were being made by making several stone

tools from one core, resulting in numerous thin, sharp flakes that required minimal reshaping to make what was desired. The standardization of stone toolmaking led to the development of several new tools. They developed the lancelet spear point, a better piercing point which easily fit into a wooden shaft. The next advancement in tool making came during the Aterian Industry which dates around 40,000 BC. The Aterian Industry improved spear and projectile points by adding a notch on the bottom of the stone point, so it could be more securely fastened to the wooden shaft. The other breakthrough in this period is the invention of the spear-thrower, which allowed for more striking power and better accuracy. The spear-thrower consisted of a wooden shaft with a notch on one end where the spear rested. The development of the spear-thrower allowed for increased efficiency in hunting large animals. They hunted a wide variety of animals such as the white rhinoceros, camel, gazelles, warthogs, ostriches, and various types of antelopes. The Khormusan Industry, which overlapped the Aterian Industry, started some time between 40,000 and 30,000 BC. The Khormusan Industry pushed advancement even farther by making tools from animal bones and ground hematite, but they also used a wide variety of stone tools. The main feature that marks the Khormusan Industry is their small arrow heads that resemble those of Native Americans. The use of bows by the Aterian and Khormusan industries is still questioned; to date there is no set proof that they used bow technology. During the beginning of the Upper Paleolithic around 30,000 BC, the pluvial conditions ended and desertification overtook the Sahara region. People were forced to migrate closer to the Nile River valley. Near the Nile, new cultures and industries started to develop. These new industries had many new trends in their production of stone tools, especially that of the miniaturization and specialization. The Sebilian Industry that followed the Khotmusan Industry added little advancement to tool making, and some aspects even went backwards in tool making. The Sebilian Industry is known for their development of burins, small stubby points. They started by making tools from diorite, a hard igneous rock which was widely found in their environment. Later on they switched over to flint which was easier to work. The Sebilian Industry did coexist with another culture called the Silsillian Industry which did make significant advancements in tool technology. The Silsillians used such blades as truncated blades and microliths. The truncated blades are made for one specific task and are of irregular shape. The microliths are small blades used in such tools as arrows, sickles, and harpoons. The micro blade technology was most likely used because of the small supply of good toolmaking stone, such as diorite and flint. The Qadan Industry was the first to show major signs of intensive seed collection and other agriculturally similar techniques. They used such tools as sickles and grinding stones. These tools show that by this time people had developed the skills for plant-dependent activities. The use of these tools astonishingly vanished around 10,000 BC for a small period of time, perhaps as a result of climatic change. This resulted in hunting and gathering returning as the adaptive strategy.

Beginning after 13,000 BC, cemeteries and evidence of ritual burial are found. Skeletons were often decorated with necklaces, pendants, breast ornaments and headdresses of shell and bone. The Epipaleolithic Period dates between 10,000 - 5,500 BC and is the transition between the Paleolithic and the Predynastic periods in ancient Egypt. During this time, the hunter-gatherers began a transition to the village-dwelling farming cultures. The Nile Valley of the Paleolithic was much larger then it is today, its annual flooding made permanent habitation of its floodplain impossible. As the climate became drier and the extent of the flooding was reduced, people were able to settle on the Nile floodplain. After 7000 BC, permanent settlements were located on the floodplain of the Nile. These began as seasonal camps but become more permanent as people began to develop true agriculture.

Geography and Agriculture

The geography of Egypt is deeply important in understanding why the Egyptians centered their lives around the Nile. Both before and during the use of canal irrigation in Egypt, the Nile Valley could be separated into two parts, the River Basin or the flat alluvial (or black land soil), and the Red Land or red desert land. The River basin of the Nile was in sharp contrast to the rest of the land of Egypt and was rich with wild life and water fowl, depending on the waxing and waning cycles of the Nile. In contrast, the red desert was a flat dry area which was devoid of most life and water, regardless of any seasonal cycle.

The Nile in it's natural state goes through periods of inundation and relinquishment. The inundation of the Nile-a slightly unpredictable event- was the time of greatest fertility for Egypt. As the banks rose, the water would fill the man-made canals and canal basins and would water the crops for the coming year. However, if the inundation was even twenty inches above or below normal, it could have massive consequences upon the Egyptian agricultural economy. Even with this variability, the Egyptians were able to easily grow tree crops and vegetable gardens in the lower part of the Nile Valley, while at higher elevations, usually near levees, the Nile Valley was sparsely planted.

Agricultural crops were not the mainstay of the ancient Egyptian diet. Rather, the Nile supplied a constant influx of fish which were cultivated year around. In addition to fish, water fowl and cattle were also kept by the Egyptians. Flocks of geese were raised from the earliest times and supplied eggs, meat and fat. However, the domestic fowl didn't make its appearance until Ramesside times, and then in only very isolated places. The Egyptian farmers, in their early experimental phase, also tried to domesticate other animals such as hyenas, gazelles and cranes but gave up after the Old Kingdom. Cattle were also part of the staple diet of the Egyptians, suggesting that grazing land was available for the Egyptians during the times when the Nile receded. However, during the inundation, cattle were brought to the higher levels of the flood plain area and were often fed the grains harvested from the previous year. The Egyptian diet was by no means limited to tree crops and vegetables, nor was it limited to an animal or fish diet. The Egyptians cultivated barley, emmer wheat, beans, chickpeas, flax, and other types of vegetables. In addition, the cultivation of grains was not entirely for consumption. One of the most prized products of the Nile and of Egyptian agriculture was oil. Oil was customarily used as a payment to workmen employed by the state, and depending on the type, was highly prized. The most common oil (kiki) was obtained from the castor oil plant. Sesame oil from the New Kingdom was also cultivated and was highly prized during the later Hellenistic Period.

Ancient Egyptian Farming and Tools

Ancient Egyptians believed that after death a judge would ask them three questions before admitting them to eternal life. They would have to swear that they had not murdered, robbed, or built a dam during their time on earth. This does not mean that the Egyptians were opposed to irrigation. On the contrary, they did everything they could to take advantage of Egypt's limited water supply. That's why no individual was allowed to build a dam; the government strictly regulated every drop of water. The very first Egyptian farmers waited for the natural overflow of the Nile to water their crops. However, as early as 5000 BCE they had begun to figure out ways to control the great river. In doing this, they invented the worlds first irrigation systems. They began by digging canals to direct the Nile flood water to distant fields. (One of the first official positions in the Egyptian government was that of Canal Digger.) Later, they constructed reservoirs to contain and save the water for use during the dry season. The first reservoir in Egypt, and the first in the world, was at Fayum, a low-lying area of the desert. During flood season the Fayum became a lake. The Egyptians built about 20 miles of dikes around Fayum. When the gates in the dikes were opened, the water flowed through canals and irrigated the fields. The tops of the dams were leveled and used as roads. During the flood season the dams were broken so that the river could pour into the canals. The ancient farmers also invented a device for moving water from the canal to the fields. Some crops had to be watered continually and since the 16th century BCE the Shaduf came into use.

This was a long pole balanced on a horizontal wooden beam. At one end of the pole was a weight and on the other was a bucket. The weight made it easier to raise less than three liters of water for irrigation or drinking. Some historians believed that the Egyptians were also the first people to use a plow. Early tomb paintings show a bow-shaped stick that was dragged along the ground. Later, human beings were harnessed to the plow. One wall painting showed four people pulling and one directing the tool. By 2000 BCE, the oxen had taken over the heavy work. The harness was first slipped over the animals horn; eventually a neck collar was invented that did not interfere with the animals breathing. Hoeing was another way of loosening the soil. Because the handles of the hoes were very short (a feature of these tools even in southern countries), this was backbreaking work. The sower walked ahead of the team, a two-handled woven basket tied around his neck, his hands free for sowing. The plough covered the seeds with earth. Driving hogs or sheep over the field might serve the same purpose. Herodotus once said, It is certain however that now they gather in fruit from the earth with less labor than any other men and also with less than the other Egyptians; for they have no labor in breaking up furrows with a plough nor in the hoeing nor in any other of those labors which other men have about a crop; but when the river has come up of itself and watered their fields and after watering has left them again, then each man sows his own field and turns into it swine, and when he has trodden the seed into the ground by means of the swine, after that he waits for the harvest, and when he has threshed the corn by means of the swine, then he gathered it in (Herodotus, histories 11). Harvest time was a time of intense labor. People worked from sunrise to sunset, taking occasional breaks for drinking and eating. If they were working for somebody else, an overseer would see to it they did not dawdle. The payment for the harvest seasons work was generally the amount of grain a worker could reap in one day. To harvest wheat, wooden flint sickles were used and the wheat was left on the ground. Thus, the reapers did not have to bend over low. Women followed them gathering the sheaves into baskets. The local poor, mostly women and children, trying to pick up all the grain missed by the others and begging the reapers for alms, followed these in their turn. People or donkeys were used to transport the grain to the threshing floor, but mostly it was carried by two men in a sack, fastened to a wooden frame and connected to five meter-long carrying poles. The threshing floor was carefully cleaned and sheaves were raked into a thick carpet. Men wielding whips, treading the kernel out of the husks, drove cattle or sheep over the floor. Emmer, the first sort of wheat widely grown in Egypt, was more difficult to dehusk than the later wheat varieties. The straw was swept away with brooms and the wheat winnowed by throwing it into the air with a wooden scoop and letting the wind carry off the lighter chaff. The grain silos were in walled enclosures, carefully plaster-coated on the inside and whitewashed on the outside. In order to store the grain, the worker had to climb stairs to a small window near the top of the cone, carrying baskets. Through a little door at the bottom the grain could be taken out.

Scribes measured the harvest and recorded it on their tablets. A surveyor measured the field with a measuring rope in order to calculate the quantity of grain owed as taxes. Egyptian scribes were good at calculating area and subsequent taxes, even if their way was of calculating was somewhat cumbersome. Completion of the harvest was a time for thanking the snake goddess Ranuta. Sheaves of wheat, fowls, cucumbers and watermelons, loaves of bread and fruits were offered to her. Pharaoh himself thanked the fertility god Min with a sheaf of wheat in front of great crowds during the festivities in the first month of Shemu, the season of harvest. Local gods all over Egypt were not forgotten. At Asyut, the first of the wheat gathered was sacrificed to the local god, Wapwait. It appears likely that most of Egypts adult population spent some time farming. Although there were full time farmers, during and immediately following inundation most men were drafted through corvee (forced labor by the government as taxation) to increase the personnel available for dredging irrigation canals, surveying land boundaries, and preparing the ground for planting. Avoidance of corvee carried stiff penalties for the individual and sometimes his family. Noblemen and scribes, the literate upper class, were the only people consistently excluded from the corvee. Most noblemen were automatically involved in the agricultural system, however, because they owned farms and supervised royal or temple agricultural land. Ancient Egyptian Sanitation

Proper sanitation is an important factor in any city in order to address the problems of health and sanitation. These issues were also important in the ancient world. The ancient Egyptians practiced sanitation, but in the widest sense of the word as modern technologies were not available to them. The degree of sanitation available to certain individuals varied according to their social status. Where did ancient Egyptians relieve themselves? If they had the means, bathrooms were built right in their homes. There is evidence that in the New Kingdom the gentry had small bathrooms in their homes. In the larger homes next to the master bedroom there was a bathroom that consisted of a shallow stone tub that the person stood in and had water poured over him. There is no evidence that the common people had bathrooms in their homes. In modern society a sanitation company picks up our weekly refuse. In ancient Egyptian, it was the responsibility of each household to dispose of their garbage at the communal dump - the irrigation canals. As a result, these dump canals were breeding grounds for vermin and disease. Some homes in the cities may have had trays of earth for drainage and disposal of waste. For the most part, however, ancient Egyptians simply dumped their waste in canals or open fields. Water is an important part of any sanitation process and the ancient Egyptians had plenty of water from the mighty Nile River and the irrigation systems built from it. Gathering water for individual homes

was done by groups of women. The women went to the river or canal to get the water while the men actually worked in groups doing the laundry. The canals and river were also used by the common people for bathing purposes.

Ancient Egyptian Houses

Throughout the history of the world, no region has been more influenced by the natural attributes of the land than Egypt. The rhythm of the Nile reflected the rhythm of life in Egypt for thousands of years. In ancient Egypt, the Nile was their main source for survival and for the great triumph of their civilization. The Nile was not only the source of water, but the ancient Egyptians had religious beliefs that focused on the Nile. They relied on the gods to control the annual ebb and flow of the river. They constructed their homes from the soil of the Nile, and built them in proximity to the river. When describing the life of an ancient Egyptians, it is virtually impossible not to consider this river as part of their way of life. Many of the major settlements in Egypt, such as Cairo and Giza, were located right along the corridor of the river Nile. Houses of the Ancient Egyptians were built out of bricks made from mud. The mud was collected in leather buckets and taken to the building site. Here workers added straw and pebbles to the mud to strengthen the bricks. This mixture was then poured into wooden brick frames or molds. The bricks were left out in the sun to dry and to cure. These dwellings deteriorated after time, and new ones were built right on top of the crumbled material, creating hills called tells. Only buildings that were meant to last forever were made of stone. After the house was built it was covered with plaster, very similar to the technique used in adobe housing in the American Southwest. Inside of the house, the plaster was often painted with either geometric patterns or scenes from nature. The interior of the houses were cool as the small windows let in only a little light. Egyptian houses were typically built in along the Nile. They had to be built high in order to avoid annual flooding from the Nile. The living areas were often on the top floors and many activities were done on the roof of the houses. High sand dunes were erected as barriers from flood water. There were two types of homes typical in Egypt, the home of the worker's and the town house. The average dimension of the workers house was approximately 4m by 20m. A typical workers home ranged from two to four rooms on the ground level, an enclosed yard, a kitchen at the back of the house and two underground cellars for storage. Niches in the walls held religious objects. The roof was also used as living space and storage. There was little furniture save beds and small chests for keeping clothes. There was no running water and sometimes a single well served an entire town. Egyptian villagers spent most of their time out of doors. They often slept, cooked, and ate atop their houses' flat roofs. Entering from the street, there were steps into the entrance hall. The entrance hall had a cupboard bed, the use of it is uncertain. The next room had a distinctive wooden pillar in the middle supporting the roof. This was the main room of the house, and it was used as a shrine or a reception area. The master of the house had his masters chair sitting atop a raised platform. There were several stools and one or two tables for the guests, and the room was lit by a high small window located above the roof of the first room. This room was decorated with

holy images along the walls, and a table with offerings in front of a false door. Underneath the masters raised platform (dais), a trap door leads down a flight of stairs into the cellar, where valuables could be kept. Behind the central room was a hall with a door on the side leading to a bedroom. The bedroom and the roof were used interchangeably as resting areas. At the end of the hall was the kitchen with an open roof. In the kitchen was a door leading to another cellar that served as a pantry. Different heights in the roofs allowed for more private windows in the house. The homes of the wealthy and noble classes were large. The typical town house of ancient Egypt had many features similar to the workers houses. Town houses were typically two to three stories high. They were typically more spacious and more comfortable than the workers houses. They made high walls that supported multiple-story buildings by reinforcing them with beams. In multi-story homes, stones were often used in the first floor for greater strength at the base. The first level of the house was usually the working area where business was conducted, and servants would remain. The second and third floors are more adorned and were the living areas of the house with similar features to the workers home. The food was prepared on the roof and brought down to the rooms by the servants. Cooking was done outside because it was considered dangerous to do it in an enclosed area inside the house. Cooling was also a factor to keeping cooking outside. Egyptians always tried to keep their houses cool from the prevalent warm temperatures. Windows were constructed close to the ceilings in order to maintain cool temperatures indoors. Also mats were often spread on the floors for cooling. Proper sanitation was a luxury that only the wealthier townspeople could have. They would have toilets carved of limestone, and the sewage would be disposed of into pits in the streets. They were usually two to three stories high. The ground floor was often reserved for businesses, while the upper floors provided living space for the family. Many people slept on the flat roof during the summer to keep cool. Cooking was also often done on the roof. The ancient Egyptians, even the wealthy ones, had a very limited assortment of furniture. A low, square stool, the corners of which flared upwards and on top was placed a leather seat or cushion, was the most common type of furnishing. Chairs were rare and they only belonged to the very wealthy. Small tables were made of wood or wicker and had three to four legs. Beds were made of a woven mat placed on wooden framework standing on animal-shaped legs. At one end was a footboard and at the other was a headrest made a curved neckpiece set on top of a short pillar on an oblong base. Lamp stands held lamps of simple bowls of pottery containing oil and a wick. Chests were used to store domestic possessions such as linens, clothing, jewelry, and make-up. The garden had a formal pool and rows of trees and shrubs. The well was conveniently located near the garden and the cattle yard. It consisted of a wide hole in which a flight of steps lead down to a platform from which water was drawn up using a rope and bucket. Foundations were generally non existent. Virgin soil above groundwater level was baked rock hard by the sun and needed just some leveling. In order to build on top of collapsed dwellings, the clay rubble was well watered and let to set and harden.

Wealthy Egyptian people had spacious estates with comfortable houses. The houses had high ceilings with pillars, barred windows, tiled floors, painted walls, and stair cases leading up to the flat roofs where one could overlook the estate. There would be pools and gardens, servant's quarters, wells, granaries, stables, and a small shrine for worship. The wealthy lived in the countryside or on the outskirts of a town. There are two examples of excavated villages, one at El-Amarna, and the other at Deir elMedinah. The workers village at El-Amarna was laid out along straight narrow streets, within a boundary wall. The houses were small, barrack-like dwellings, where animals lived as well as people. Many houses had keyhole-shaped hearths and jars sunk into the floor. There was no well in the village and the water had to be brought from some distance away. Life must have been far more pleasant in the village of Deir el-Medina, home to the workers of the Theban royal tombs. There was a single street with ten houses on either side. The houses in this village had three large rooms, a yard and a kitchen, underground cellars for storage, and niches in the walls for statues of household gods.

Egyptian Astronomy
The Ancient Egyptians had a limited knowledge of astronomy. Part of the reason for this is that their geometry was limited, and did not allow for complicated mathematical computations. Evidence of Ancient Egyptian disinterest in astronomy is also evident in the number of constellations recognized by Ancient Egyptians. At 1100 BC, Amenhope created a catalogue of the universe in which only five constellations are recognized. They also listed 36 groups of stars called decans. These decans allowed them to tell time at night because the decans will rise 40 minutes later each night. Theoretically, there were 18 decans, however, due to dusk and twilight only twelve were taken into account when reckoning time at night. Since winter is longer than summer the first and last decans were assigned longer hours. Tables to help make these computations have been found on the inside of coffin lids. The columns in the tables cover a year at ten day intervals. The decans are placed in the order in which they arise and in the next column, the second decan becomes the first and so on. Astronomy was also used in positioning the pyramids. They are aligned very accurately, the eastern and western sides run almost due north and the southern and northern sides run almost due west. The pyramids were probably originally aligned by finding north or south, and then using the midpoint as east or west. This is because it is possible to find north and south by watching stars rise and set. However, the possible processes are all long and complicated. So after north and south were found, the Egyptians could look for a star that rose either due East or due West and then use that as a starting point rather than the North South starting point. This would result in the pyramids being more accurately aligned with the East and West, which they are, and all of the errors in alignment would run clockwise, which they do. This is because of precession of the poles which is very difficult to view, and the Ancient Egyptians did not know about. This theory is further substantiated by the fact that the star B Scorpiis rising directions match with the alignment of the pyramids on the dates at which they were built.

Ancient Egyptians also used astronomy in their calendars. There life revolved the annual flooding of the Nile. This resulted in three seasons, the flooding, the subsistence of the river, and harvesting. These seasons were divided into four lunar months. However, lunar months are not long enough to allow twelve to make a full year. This made the addition of a fifth month necessary. This was done by requiring the Sirius rise in the twelfth month because Sirius reappears around the time when the waters of the Nile flood. Whenever Sirius arose late in the twelfth month a thirteenth month was added. This calendar was fine for religious festivities, but when Egypt developed into a highly organized society, the calendar needed to be more precise. Someone realized that there are about 365 days in a year.

The Sphinx
The Sphinx is one of the best known monuments of Ancient Egyptian Architecture. Unusual to the form of most Egyptian pyramid structures, it stands as a symbol of the strength of the Ancient Necropolis of Giza and as a homage to the strength of the King. The Sphinx was originally commissioned by Kaphre (a son of Cheops), and was constructed from bedrock found within the Valley of Giza. The age of the Sphinx has been estimated to be roughly 4,636 years old and it dates from the time of the Fourth Dynasty. When construction began is not entirely known, the identity of the architect is not known either, though the alignment of the Sphinx with the Pyramid of Kaphre suggests a political affiliation.

Dimensions of the Sphinx

The Paws: 50 feet long (15m) The Head: 30 feet long (10m) 14 feet wide (4m)

Another unique feature of the Sphinx is the presence of paint residue which suggests that at one time the Sphinx was painted, The Entire Body: 150 feet in which case the head piece probably resembled the colorful (45m) head piece attire traditionally worn by the pharaohs of the time. The most notable features of the Sphinx, such as the nose and beard, have not withstood well over time. The nose was shot off during target practice by Turkish soldiers and the Sphinx's beard has entirely been worn away by wind and sand erosion. In addition to the usual wear and tear of time, erosion has taken a great toll upon the sphinx. Over the years, the Sphinx has been buried by sand numerous times, causing the softer stone of the monument to be worn away (hence the rippling effect of layered stone). To keep the monument within it's past and present shape, the Ancient Egyptians from the Old Kingdom into the new, and even in the time of the modern Twentieth Century, have added to the monument to maintain it structurally. The

Sphinx has also had to be dug out from the desert sand numerous times throughout the centuries. The continually digging out of the Sphinx, is evidenced by the Dream Stella (a stone engraved with hieroglyphs) in between the paws of the Sphinx. The Dream Stella tells the story of Thutmosis IV, who fell asleep below the Sphinx and had a dream that the Sphinx told him to dig the monument out of the sand. In return, the Sphinx promised Thutmosis IV, that when he cleared the Sphinx he would become king of Egypt. The Sphinx has since been cleared most recently in 1905.


Amarna Aniba Bigga Buhen Defufa Dabnarti Hierakonpolis

Ikkur Kalabsha Kerma Kubban Kumma Mirgissa Quban

Semna Semna-South Shalfak Tombos Tjel Uronati Names Unknown

Wall of the Prince

A series of 13 fortresses built on the east bank of the Nile

Buhen is a fortress that was built in Egypt during the 12th dynasty rule of Sesostris III, around the year 1860 BCE. The fort is located near the head of the Nile River, and lies near the ancient Nubian border. The fort was a part of a chain of forts that lined the Nile. The other forts along the banks were Mirgissa, Shalfak, Uronarti, Askut, Dabenarti, Semna, and Kumma. All the forts had visual contact with one another to warn of would-be attackers. The fortress itself covered over 150m of the West bank of the Nile. It spanned across 1.3 hectares, and had within its wall a small town laid out in a grid system. At its peak it had a population of around 3500 people. The fortress also included the administration for the whole fortified region of the Second Cataract. Its fortifications included a 3m deep moat, drawbridges,

bastions, buttresses, ramparts, battlements, loopholes, and a catapult. The walls of the fort were about 5m think and stood 10m high. In front of the main walls there was a secondary wall that had the moat in front of it. This meant that attackers would have to cross the moat under archer fire, and then climb both of the walls that surrounded the city. It is unsure if the fort actually ever saw any battles, but there are burn marks on the front walls. It is not known if these marks are from a battle or an accidental fire in the past. The fort was occupied not just by the Egyptians, but also the Kushites, and the Meroitic peoples without need for major reconstruction. The complex probably served as a customs and naval depot for the Egyptians. It would have been a checkpoint for goods entering from Nubia and southern Africa, and to restrict river traffic from the south. The fortress at Buhen today has been covered by Lake Nasser, which was the result of the building of the Aswan High Dam in 1964. Before the site was covered with water, a team led by Walter B. Emery excavated and published their findings to ensure a record of the site.

The Pyramids of Giza

The pyramids of Giza are perhaps the only true rival to the Great Sphinx when one thinks of ancient Egypt and its architecture. The Valley of Giza-- with its wonderful monuments-- is truly a marvel of architectural prowess. The three largest pyramids located in the valley consist of the Great Pyramid of Khufu, the Pyramid of Kafhre and the Pyramid of Menkaura. Each Pyramid is a tomb dedicated to a different king of Egypt. All three pyramids were built during the Third and Fourth Dynasty; these structures resulted from a monumental effort by the king (and his sons). The Pyramid of Khufu has a base which covers roughly a nine acre area (approximately 392,040 square feet). The Pyramid of Menkaura, unlike the other pyramids, has granite covering one tier of its base. The Pyramid of Khafre had a two-tiered base encased in granite. Unfortunately, like many of the great kings of the Old Kingdom of Egypt, the Pyramids of Menkaura, Khufu, and Kafhre were not finished by the end of each respective king's reign. As an example: in the case of Menkaura, the king died before its construction was completed. The monuments of Giza and the entire Giza Valley stand as a marvelous reminder of the skill executed in the creation of the pyramids, and are truly fabulous to see.

Ancient Egypt

Besides Mesopotamia, a second civilization grew up in northeastern Africa, along the Nile River. Egyptian civilization, formed by 3000 B.C., benefited from trade and technological influence from Mesopotamia, but it produced a quite different society and culture. Because its values and its tightly knit political organization encouraged monumental building, we know more about Egypt than about Mesopotamia, even though the latter was in most respects more important and richer in subsequent heritage.

Basic Patterns Of Egyptian Society

Unlike Mesopotamia and the Middle East, where an original river-valley basis to civilization ultimately gave way to the spread of civilization throughout an entire region, Egyptian civilization from its origins to its decline was focused on the Nile River and the deserts around it. The Nile focus also gave a more optimistic cast to Egyptian culture, for it could be seen as a source of never- failing bounty to be thankfully received, rather than a menacing cause of floods. Egyptian civilization may at the outset have received some inspiration from Sumer, but a distinctive pattern soon developed in both religion and politics.

Farming had been developed along the Nile by about 5000 B.C., but some time before 3200 B.C. economic development accelerated, in part because of growing trade wi,h other regions including Mesopotamia. This economic acceleration provided the basis for the formation of regional kingdoms. Unlike Sumer, Egypt moved fairly directly from precivilization to large government units, without passing through a city-state phase, though the first pharaoh,

Narmer, had to conquer a number of petty local kings around 3100 B.C. Indeed Egypt always had fewer problems with political unity than Mesopotamia did, in part because of the unifying influence of the course of the Nile River. By the same token, however, Egyptian politics tended to be more authoritarian as well as centralized, for city-states in the Mesopotamian style, though often ruled by kings, also provided the opportunity for councils and other participatory institutions.

By 3100 B.C. Narmer, king of southern Egypt, conquered the northern regional kingdom and created a unified state 600 miles long. This state was to last 3000 years. Despite some important disruptions, this was an amazing record of stability even though the greatest vitality of the civilization was exhausted by about 1000 B.C. During the 2000-year span in which Egypt displayed its greatest vigor, the society went through three major periods of monarchy (the Old, the Intermediate, and the New Kingdoms), each divided from its successor by a century or two of confusion.

In all its phases, Egyptian civilization was characterized by the strength of the pharaoh. The pharaoh was held to be descended from gods, with the power to assure prosperity and control the rituals that assured the flow of the Nile and the fertility derived from irrigation. Soon, the pharaoh was regarded as a god. Much Egyptian art was devoted to demonstrating the power and sanctity of the king. From the king's authority also flowed an extensive bureaucracy, recruited from the landed nobles but specially trained in writing and law. Governors were appointed for key regions and were responsible for supervising irrigation and arranging for the great public works that became a hallmark of Egyptian culture. Most Egyptians were peasant farmers, closely regulated and heavily taxed. Labor requisition by the states allowed construction of the great pyramids and other huge public buildings. These

monuments were triumphs of human coordination, for the Egyptians were not particularly advanced technologically. They even lacked pulleys or other devices to hoist the huge slabs of stone that formed the pyramids.

Given the importance of royal rule and the belief that pharaohs were gods, it is not surprising that each of the main periods of Egyptian history was marked by some striking kings. Early in each dynastic period leading pharaohs conquered new territories, sometimes pressing up the Nile River into present-day Sudan, once even moving up the Mediterranean coast of the Middle East. One pharaoh, Akhenaton, late in Egyptian history, tried to use his power to install a new, one-god religion, replacing the Egyptian pantheon. Many pharaohs commemorated their greatness by building huge pyramids to house themselves and their retinues after death, commanding work crews of up to 100,000 men to haul and lift the stone. The first great pyramid was built around 2600 B.C.; the largest pyramid followed about a century later, taking 20 years to complete and containing 2 million blocks of stone, each weighing 5 1/2 tons.

Some scholars have seen even larger links between Egypt's stable, centralized politics and its fascination with an orderly death, including massive funeral monuments and preservation through mummification. Death rituals suggested a concern with extending organization to the afterlife, based on a belief that, through politics, death as well as life could be carefully controlled. A similar connection between strong political structures and careful funeral arrangements developed in Chinese civilization, though with quite different specific religious beliefs.

Ideas And Art

Despite some initial inspiration, Egyptian culture separated itself from Mesopotamia in a number of ways beyond politics and monument building. The Egyptians did not take to the Sumerian cuneiform alphabet and developed a hieroglyphic alphabet instead. Hieroglyphics, though more pictorial than Sumerian cuneiform, were based on simplified pictures of objects abstracted to represent concepts or sounds. As in Mesopotamia the writing system was complex, and its use was, for the most part, monopolized by the powerful priestly caste. Egyptians ultimately developed a new material to write on, papyrus, which was cheaper to manufacture and use than clay tablets or animal skins and allowed the proliferation of elaborate record keeping. On the other hand, Egypt did not generate an epic literary tradition.

Egyptian science focused on mathematics and astronomy, but its achievements were far less advanced than those of Mesopotamia. The Egyptians were, however, the first people to establish the length of the solar year, which they divided into 12 months each with three weeks of ten days. The week was the only division of time not based on any natural cycles. The achievement of this calendar suggests Egyptian concern about predicting the flooding of the Nile and their abilities in astronomical observation. The Egyptians also made important advances in medicine, including knowledge of the workings of a variety of medicinal drugs and some contraceptive devices. Elements of Egyptian medical knowledge were gained by the Greeks, and so passed into later Middle Eastern and European civilizations.

The pillar of Egyptian culture was not science, however, but religion, which was firmly established as the basis of a whole world view. The religion promoted the worship of many gods. It mixed magical ceremonies and beliefs with worship, in a fashion common to early religions almost everywhere. A more distinctive focus involved the concern with death and preparation for life in

another world, where in contrast to the Mesopotamians the Egyptians held that a happy, changeless well-being could be achieved. The care shown in preparing tombs and mummifying bodies, along with elaborate funeral rituals particularly for the rulers and bureaucrats, was designed to assure a satisfactory afterlife, though Egyptians also believed that favorable judgment by a key god, Osiris, was essential as well. Other Egyptian deities included a creation goddess, similar to other Middle Eastern religious figures later adapted into Christian worship of the Virgin Mary; and a host of gods represented by partial animal figures. Egyptian art focused heavily on the gods, though earthly, human scenes were portrayed as well in a characteristic, stylized form that lasted without great change for many centuries.

Stability was a hallmark of Egyptian culture. Given the duration of Egyptian civilization, there were surprisingly few basic changes in styles and beliefs. Egyptian emphasis on stability was reflected in their view of a changeless afterlife, suggesting a conscious attempt to argue that persistence was a virtue. Change did, however, occur in some key areas. Egypt was long fairly isolated, which helped preserve continuity. The invasions of Egypt by Palestine toward the end of the Old Kingdom period (about 2200 B.C.) were distinct exceptions to Egypt's usual self-containment. They were followed by attacks from the Middle East by tribes of Asian origin, which brought a period of division and chaos, including rival royal dynasties. But the unified monarchy was reestablished during the Middle Kingdom period, during which Egyptian settlements spread southward into what is now the Sudan, setting origins for the later African kingdom of Kush.

Then followed another period of social unrest and invasion, ending in the final great kingdom period, the New Kingdom, around 1570 B.C. During this period trade and other contacts with the Middle East and the eastern

Mediterranean, including the island of Crete, gained ground. These contacts spread certain Egyptian influences, notably in monumental architecture, to other areas. It was during the New Kingdom that Egyptians first installed formal slavery, subjecting people such as the Jews. It was also in this period that the pharaoh Akhenaton tried to impose a new monotheistic religion, reflecting some foreign influence, but his effort was renounced by his successor Tutankhamen, who restored the old capital city and built a lavish tomb to celebrate the return to the traditional gods. After about 1150 B.C., new waves of invasion and internal conspiracies and disorganization, including strikes and social protest, brought fairly steady decline. It was around this period that one people, the Hebrews, followed their leader Moses out of Egypt and into the deserts of Palestine.


Egyptian Civilization