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Egypt: The Kingdom Along the Nile


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Describes Pharaonic Egypt, Its History, its Pantheon, and its Art and Architecture

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Egypt: The Kingdom Along the Nile

  1. 1. Egypt The Kingdom Along the Nile
  2. 2. Egypt: Introduction <ul><li>A much more stable and hierarchical entity than Mesopotamia, as we will see. </li></ul><ul><li>After the unification of Upper and Lower Egypt </li></ul><ul><li>The empire lasted 2500-3000 years, depending on interpretation </li></ul><ul><li>Only one major episode of political fragmentation (2200-2000 BC) </li></ul>
  3. 3. Location and Map of Egypt <ul><li>Lower Egypt comprises the Nile delta </li></ul><ul><li>Upper Egypt comprises the Nile below the delta </li></ul><ul><li>The Nile is constant </li></ul><ul><li>There is a predictable flood every spring </li></ul><ul><li>Desert on either side contributed to its isolation </li></ul>
  4. 4. Ecology of the Nile Valley <ul><li>The Nile has a regular pattern of rainfall, which floods the banks of the river regularly every spring and summer from the rainy season further south in the Sudan and East Africa </li></ul><ul><li>Flooding was more regular and predictable than the Tigris and Euphrates in Mesopotamia </li></ul><ul><li>Soil at either side was fertile because of the flooding </li></ul><ul><li>Egypt also had precious metals, stone that was useful both for tools and construction </li></ul>
  5. 5. Demographics of the Nile <ul><li>The population itself was uniform, with the same language and similar, if not the same, culture </li></ul><ul><li>Stability was facilitated by its relative isolation, an advantage that Mesopotamia lacked. </li></ul><ul><li>Thus, for 3,000 years, the political, religious, and cultural areas was uniform from the south to the delta. </li></ul>
  6. 6. Egyptian Neolithic: Overview <ul><li>Domesticated Plants </li></ul><ul><li>Food plants: wheat and barley </li></ul><ul><li>Fiber plants: flax </li></ul><ul><li>Domesticated animals: sheep, goats, cattle, pigs </li></ul><ul><li>Small villages formed along both banks of the Nile </li></ul>
  7. 7. Egyptian Neolithic: Merimbe <ul><li>Merimbe, near Nile Delta (4900) </li></ul><ul><li>Subterranean oval houses with roofs of sticks and mud </li></ul><ul><li>Tools: stone axes, knives, arrowheads </li></ul><ul><li>Grains stored in ceramic jars, pits, baskets </li></ul><ul><li>Circular clay-lined threshing floor </li></ul>
  8. 8. Egyptian Neolithic: Badari <ul><li>Clusters of huts or skin tents </li></ul><ul><li>These were precursors of later burial customs </li></ul><ul><li>Bodies lowered into circular or rectangular pits after faces painted with green coloring </li></ul><ul><li>Grave goods included utensils, food, ivory spoons, and vases of ivory or stone </li></ul><ul><li>Possibly the root of Egyptian burial customs </li></ul><ul><li>This statuette was buried with both men and women </li></ul><ul><li>Sexuality was emphasized, but they also suggest rebirth and regeneration in the afterlife </li></ul>
  9. 9. Pre-Dynastic Egypt: Central Places <ul><li>Nagada (Naqada) </li></ul><ul><li>Early evidence of stratification: sumptuous burials </li></ul><ul><li>Control of large hinterland by 5500 BP </li></ul><ul><li>Hierkonopolis (Nehken) </li></ul><ul><li>Center of pottery manufacture, whose design appears throughout Egypt </li></ul><ul><li>Center of a necropolis, or “city of the dead,” evidence by tombs </li></ul><ul><li>Left: Mace head of Scorpion II at Hierkonopolis </li></ul>
  10. 10. The Principal Gods of Egypt I: <ul><li>Amon: (aka, Re, Ra and Aten) the god of the sun (depicted as the sun’s rays; upper left) </li></ul><ul><li>He is also depicted as a scarab beetle who emerges in the morning (lower left) </li></ul><ul><li>Anubis: the god of embalmers and cemeteries (depicted as a jackal) </li></ul><ul><li>Aten: the god of the solar disk (depicted by the disk of the sun) </li></ul><ul><li>Hapi: the god of the Nile </li></ul><ul><li>Hathor: Mother, wife, daughter of Ra </li></ul>
  11. 11. The Principal Gods of Egypt II <ul><li>Osiris: God of the underworld (upper left; depicted with Isis) </li></ul><ul><li>Set or Seth: God of storms and violence; brother of Osiris who murders him </li></ul><ul><li>Isis: Wife of Osiris, goddess of fertility </li></ul><ul><li>Horus: Son of Osiris and Isis: God of the sky. </li></ul><ul><li>Horus (with head of falcon) and Seth (head of dog) crown Ramses III (lower left) </li></ul>
  12. 12. Other Gods of Egypt <ul><li>Thoth: God of the scribes, Lord of Language and inventor of writing. </li></ul><ul><li>Ptat: Creator of humankind; patron of the craftspeople </li></ul><ul><li>Ma’at: Goddess of truth and the universal order; wife of Thoth </li></ul><ul><li>She wore an ostrich feather </li></ul><ul><li>Judges awarded the feather to the winner of a case </li></ul><ul><li>Her feather was used on the scales of judgment of the dead </li></ul><ul><li>Bes: Helper of women in childbirth; protector against snakes. </li></ul>
  13. 13. Theocracy <ul><li>Egypt, as in many civilizations, was a theocracy, government by the priests </li></ul><ul><li>Monarchs represented the will of the Sun God </li></ul><ul><li>In many conceptions, the Pharaoh was a god; gods’ will flowed through him </li></ul><ul><li>The Sphinx, who guarded the entrance to Gizeh’s pyramids, had the head of Khafre and the body of a lion </li></ul><ul><li>They represented the head of a powerful man and the body of the king of beasts </li></ul>
  14. 14. Cult of the Dead <ul><li>At death, the pharaoh was prepared for a life of eternity </li></ul><ul><li>A ten-week embalming procedure was followed: see pp. 25-26 for details. </li></ul><ul><li>Pyramids themselves were constructed only for entombment of the pharaoh; they were not used for ritual or any other purpose. </li></ul><ul><li>See pp. 28-29 for details of a typical pyramid and its structure. </li></ul>
  15. 15. Egyptians: Conceptions of Death and the Soul <ul><li>Death was the doorway to a new life </li></ul><ul><li>The body had to be preserved </li></ul><ul><li>Ka : the dead person’s soul that it housed, enabling the body to enjoy life in the afterlife as in the earthly life </li></ul><ul><li>Upraised arms above head symbolized the ka (upper left) </li></ul><ul><li>A surrogate could act as substitute for body </li></ul><ul><li>Second aspect: the akh , or spiritual transformation of the dead </li></ul><ul><li>Third aspect: the ba , which entered and exited the body </li></ul><ul><li>The ba was represented by a human-headed bird (lower left) </li></ul>
  16. 16. Mummification of the Body <ul><li>At death, the pharaoh was prepared for a life of eternity </li></ul><ul><li>A ten-week embalming procedure was followed: see pp. 88 for details. </li></ul><ul><li>Here, the jackal-headed Anubis prepares the mummy for entombment </li></ul><ul><li>He was the god of embalmers </li></ul><ul><li>He was also the guide and the judge of the dead </li></ul>
  17. 17. Pyramids <ul><li>Pyramids themselves were constructed only for entombment of the pharaoh; </li></ul><ul><li>They were not used for ritual or any other purpose. </li></ul><ul><li>See pp. 90-93 for details of a typical pyramid and its structure. </li></ul><ul><li>This diagram shows the internal structure of the pyramid of Khufu (Cheops) </li></ul><ul><li>The largest pyramid at Giza </li></ul>
  18. 18. Book of the Dead <ul><li>The Tibetan Book of the Dead describes the journey of the soul between one life and the next; judgment based on karma </li></ul><ul><li>The Egyptian Book of the Dead prepares the soul for judgment. </li></ul><ul><li>Here, Horus balances the heart against the feather of Ma’at </li></ul><ul><li>If the heart outweighs the feather, the animal to the right will devour the judged </li></ul>
  19. 19. Egypt: Upper and Lower <ul><li>Before 3100 BC, the regions were divided into two parts of the Nile </li></ul><ul><li>Lower Egypt : the part from the Nile Delta to Memphis; it was lower in the sense that it was the terminus of the Nile </li></ul><ul><li>Upper Egypt : All points along the river south of Memphis to Nubia, a separate kingdom </li></ul>
  20. 20. Unification of Egypt <ul><li>After the conquest attributed to Menes, or Narmer (left) </li></ul><ul><li>The region was united into one empire </li></ul><ul><li>Narmer was the first pharaoh of a family dynasty of 33 generations </li></ul><ul><li>Symbolism: a boxy Red Crown (Lower Egypt) with a curlicue; </li></ul><ul><li>And a White Crown (Upper Egypt) </li></ul><ul><li>After Narmer’s conquest, he wore a Double Crown to symbolize the unification of the two Egypts (lower left) </li></ul>
  21. 21. The Symbolism of the Union—And Defeat of Upper Egypt <ul><li>To the right, Narmer (wearing white crown) subdues a captive </li></ul><ul><li>Hieroglyph at top writes out Narmer’s name </li></ul><ul><li>God Horus holds the captive by a feather </li></ul><ul><li>Papyrus blossoms symbolize Lower Egypt </li></ul><ul><li>To the left, two long-necked lions are entwined, suggesting union), with lion tamers on either side. </li></ul><ul><li>There are the decapitated warriors in defeat </li></ul><ul><li>At the bottom is a bull symbolizing royal power </li></ul><ul><li>For other symbols on this palette, see p. 25 </li></ul>
  22. 22. History of Dynastic Egypt: Early Phases <ul><li>Divided into 33 dynasties of each pharaoh including Narmer/Menes </li></ul><ul><li>Archaic Period (3100 BC): Consolidation of state </li></ul><ul><li>Old Kingdom (2920-2134): </li></ul><ul><li>Despotic pharaohs build pyramids and foster conspicuous funerary monuments </li></ul><ul><li>The Sphinx with pyramid in background (upper left) </li></ul><ul><li>Institutions, economic arrangements, and artistic traditions established </li></ul><ul><li>Subject brings offering to gods (lower left) </li></ul>
  23. 23. Sculptures of the Pharaohs: Seated Figures <ul><li>Khafre, son of Khufu </li></ul><ul><li>Note formal regal posture </li></ul><ul><li>Note fusion of body to throne </li></ul><ul><li>Note clenched fist of right hand, downward placement of open left hand </li></ul><ul><li>Horus, son of Osiris and Isis, is perched in back of the figure </li></ul>
  24. 24. Sculptures of the Pharoahs: Stance <ul><li>This statue of Memkaure and wife Khamerernebty shows the formalism of Egyptian sculputure </li></ul><ul><li>Note clenched fists, rigid stance, left foot forward, and beard and headdress of the Pharaoh </li></ul><ul><li>Note supportive stance of wife; hand around waist and on arm </li></ul>
  25. 25. History of Egypt: First Intermediate Period to Middle Kingdom <ul><li>First Intermediate Period (2134-2040): political disunity </li></ul><ul><li>Middle Kingdom (2040-1650 BC) </li></ul><ul><li>Thebes achieves dominance </li></ul><ul><li>Priesthood of Amun (seen here with Mut, his consort, and son Khons </li></ul>
  26. 26. History of Egypt: Later Phases <ul><li>Second Intermediate Period (1640-1530 BC ): Hyskos invasion and occupation of Nile Delta </li></ul><ul><li>New Kingdom (1530-1070 BC): </li></ul><ul><li>Great Imperial Period </li></ul><ul><li>Pharaohs buried in Valley of Kings </li></ul><ul><li>Ramses II, Tutankhamun, Seti I </li></ul><ul><li>Akhenaten, heretic ruler </li></ul>
  27. 27. History of Egypt: Terminal Periods <ul><li>Late Period (1072-332 BC): </li></ul><ul><li>Gradual decline in pharaonic authority </li></ul><ul><li>Persians rule (525-404 BC and 343-332 BC) </li></ul><ul><li>Ptolemaic Period (332-30 BC): </li></ul><ul><li>Alexander the Great Conquers Egypt </li></ul><ul><li>Ptolemy dynasties bring Greek culture to Egypt </li></ul><ul><li>Roman Occupation (30 BC): Egypt becomes imperial province of Rome </li></ul>
  28. 28. Archaic Kingdom (3000-2575 BC) <ul><li>First known pharaoh: Horus Aha </li></ul><ul><li>Consolidation in which pharaohs assumed role of divine kings </li></ul><ul><li>Centralized authority over labor, food storage, and taxation </li></ul><ul><li>Sponsored spectacular feasts/rituals </li></ul><ul><li>Translated into large-scale, well-designed architecture of which the pyramids were examples </li></ul><ul><li>Introduction of hieroglyphic writing </li></ul><ul><li>One function: To propagate the pharaonic religion at the expense of local cults </li></ul><ul><li>Scribes held enormous power, as the few who could read and write </li></ul>
  29. 29. Hieroglyphic Writing <ul><li>Definition: Writing system in which </li></ul><ul><li>Pictorial symbols are used to </li></ul><ul><li>Convey particular sound, object, and/or idea </li></ul><ul><li>Original known use: accounting </li></ul><ul><li>Gunter Dreyer found the oldest evidence of Egyptian writing </li></ul><ul><li>200 small bone and ivory tags attached to containers holding linen and oil </li></ul><ul><li>Attributed to a leader called Scorpion I </li></ul><ul><li>Date: 5200 BP </li></ul><ul><li>Location: Abydos, 250 miles below Cairo </li></ul>
  30. 30. Hieroglyphic Writing <ul><li>Note that hieroglyphs would stand for a sound </li></ul><ul><li>Still relied on pictographic writing </li></ul>
  31. 31. Complexity of Hieroglyphic Writing <ul><li>There is some indication that hieroglyphs were more important for recording rule and kinship </li></ul><ul><li>than the were for economic transactions </li></ul><ul><li>Over time, hieroglyphic writing became more and more complex </li></ul><ul><li>Writing was reserved for the scribes, ranked third below the pharaoh and priests </li></ul>
  32. 32. Old Kingdom (2575-2134) <ul><li>Further consolidation of empire </li></ul><ul><li>Construction of Pyramids </li></ul><ul><li>Zoser (Djoser): stepped pyramid at Saqqara </li></ul><ul><li>Khufu (Cheops) of Giza: smooth-sided pyramid, largest in the world </li></ul><ul><li>Lesser pyramids </li></ul><ul><li>Khafre (Chephren) </li></ul><ul><li>Menkaure (Mycerinus) </li></ul><ul><li>Sphinx (likeness of Khafre) </li></ul><ul><li>Complex covered 25 miles on the western side of the Nile </li></ul>
  33. 33. Pyramids: Analysis <ul><li>Pharaonic institution probably the most successful of cults </li></ul><ul><li>Pharaohs were divine, capable of controlling Nile flood pattern of Nile, rise of sun, and other natural forces </li></ul><ul><li>Source of law (no codified law) and top of a complex bureaucracy </li></ul><ul><li>At death, said to dwell in the tomb while his double moved on to the other world </li></ul><ul><li>Pyramids was the divine house of the ruler </li></ul><ul><li>Never meant for any ritual purpose </li></ul>
  34. 34. Pyramids: Construction <ul><li>Function in all locations: to inspire awe among population </li></ul><ul><li>Constructed during flood season </li></ul><ul><li>Reinforced power by feeding the builders </li></ul><ul><li>Egyptian pyramids were build in one continuous process of solid stone blocks </li></ul><ul><li>Constructed, as in Mesoamerica, in a four-sided design </li></ul><ul><li>Contained passageways and tombs, including a fake chamber </li></ul><ul><li>Like all pyramids, involves </li></ul><ul><li>Massive inputs of manpower </li></ul><ul><li>Sophisticated planning and organization </li></ul>
  35. 35. Other Pyramids <ul><li>Most New World pyramids were constructed in stages (as were Near Eastern ziggurats) </li></ul><ul><li>Teotihuacan: Rubble covered with stone facades </li></ul><ul><li>Base was as wide as Khufu’s pyramid </li></ul><ul><li>Half as high </li></ul><ul><li>Moche: Adobe bricks, roughly rectangular </li></ul><ul><li>Cahokia: Earthen mounds </li></ul><ul><li>Monk’s Mound is largest in North America </li></ul><ul><li>After Cholula and Pyramid of the Sun </li></ul>
  36. 36. First Intermediate Period (2134-2040) <ul><li>The Old Kingdom underwent decline </li></ul><ul><li>Long drought—probably damaged pharaonic divinity claims </li></ul><ul><li>High cost of pyramid construction in labor and resources </li></ul><ul><li>Dominance by warring regional kingdoms </li></ul><ul><li>Provincial powers increased </li></ul><ul><li>Smaller tombs constructed in various localities. </li></ul>
  37. 37. Middle Kingdom (2040-1640 BC) <ul><li>Thebes of Upper Egypt rises </li></ul><ul><li>Pharaohs </li></ul><ul><li>Made fewer claims to divinity </li></ul><ul><li>More approachable than past pharaohs </li></ul><ul><li>Less despotic </li></ul><ul><li>Increased efficiency </li></ul><ul><li>Expanded irrigation systems </li></ul><ul><li>Stockpiled granaries </li></ul><ul><li>Other Changes </li></ul><ul><li>Expanded overseas trade </li></ul><ul><li>Secured Egypt’s borders </li></ul><ul><li>Effectiveness of leadership still relied on personal attributes </li></ul>
  38. 38. Second Intermediate Period (1640-1530 BC) <ul><li>Succession disputes erupted </li></ul><ul><li>Thousands of Asians (Hyksos) invaded Lower Egypt </li></ul><ul><li>Divided again into Upper and Lower Egypt </li></ul><ul><li>Lower Egypt under traditional pharaohs </li></ul><ul><li>Upper Egypt under Hyksos </li></ul><ul><li>Hyksos introduced new technology </li></ul><ul><li>Bronze </li></ul><ul><li>Horse-drawn chariots </li></ul><ul><li>New weapons </li></ul>
  39. 39. New Kingdom (1530-1075 BC) <ul><li>Ahmose the Liberator created militaristic state </li></ul><ul><li>Imperial power lay between the Asians to the north and Africans to the south </li></ul><ul><li>Thebes again capital </li></ul><ul><li>Amun again worshipped as sun god </li></ul><ul><li>Temple built at Karnak, west bank of Nile (left) </li></ul><ul><li>Valley of Kings arose at that site </li></ul>
  40. 40. Pharaohs After Ahmose <ul><li>New Kingdom after Ahmose </li></ul><ul><li>Akhenaten: the “heretic” who worshipped the sun disk Aten’ </li></ul><ul><li>Aten was the sole god: precedent of monotheism </li></ul><ul><li>Tutankhamun: “boy king” who lasted 10 years—tomb of “King Tut”; advisors restored old order </li></ul><ul><li>Ramses II engaged in military expansion; lost in Syria to Hittites </li></ul>
  41. 41. Late Period (1070 BC-30 BC) <ul><li>A period of political weakness </li></ul><ul><li>Attacks from Nubians to south (controlled Egypt during 8 th Century BC </li></ul><ul><li>Invasions by Assyrians and Persians </li></ul><ul><li>Alexander the Great takes over Egypt in 332 BC—rule by Ptolemy I and his successors </li></ul><ul><li>Roman conquest in 30 BC </li></ul>
  42. 42. Egypt and Mesopotamia: Subsistence Base <ul><li>Subsistence base </li></ul><ul><li>Both based on irrigation </li></ul><ul><li>Both relied on staples such as wheat and barley </li></ul><ul><li>Egypt had steadier water supply than Mesopotamia </li></ul><ul><li>Tigris and Euphrates were subjected to drought </li></ul>
  43. 43. Egypt and Mesopotamia: Government and Law <ul><li>Mesopotamia: </li></ul><ul><li>Priest kings represented the gods; they were not divine beings themselves </li></ul><ul><li>Codified Law, solidified by Hammurabi’s time </li></ul><ul><li>Egypt </li></ul><ul><li>Divine Pharaohs </li></ul><ul><li>Law derived from Pharaohs </li></ul><ul><li>Precedent was based on their personal decision </li></ul>
  44. 44. Egypt and Mesopotamia: Writing <ul><li>Mesopotamia: Ideographic cuneiform </li></ul><ul><li>These consisted of wedges </li></ul><ul><li>The symbols were not phonetic </li></ul><ul><li>Egypt: Pictographic hieroglyphics </li></ul><ul><li>Some of the pictographs represented consonants and vowels of spoken language </li></ul>
  45. 45. Architectural Megastructures <ul><li>Near East: Multifunctional ziggurats </li></ul><ul><li>Ritual but also administrative centers </li></ul><ul><li>Egypt: Funerary pyramids </li></ul><ul><li>Sole purpose: to house the pharaoh </li></ul>