History of Ancient Egypt

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This booklet depicts the history of Ancient Egypt describing its geographical features that influence the development of Ancient Egypt, roles of key groups in development, influence of beliefs, values, and practices.
1. depth study 2: Investigating
one ancient society (Egypt,
Greese,Rome, India, China)
optional topic
About 30 000 years ago, the Sahara Desert
of north Africa was a grassy plain. It began
to dry out around 8000 BCE. This change in
climate forced people in the region to move
on. Many drifted towards the area next to the
Nile River, where the land was more fertile
and there was a good water supply. From this
simple start developed one of the world’s first
civilisations – ancient Egypt. It lasted for nearly
3000 years. As the population grew, the society
became more structured. Powerful rulers, called
pharaohs, expanded Egypt’s territory. Huge
monuments, temples and pyramids were built
that would last for thousands of years.
D Source 1 A statue of the pharaoh Rameses II in one of the two temples built at Abu Simbel, in southern Egypt, in the
13th century BCE. The temples were a monument to Rameses II and his queen, Nefertari, as well as many Egyptian gods.
How did geographical features
8BWhat shaped the roles of key
How did beliefs, values and
influence the development of groups in ancient Egypt? practices influence ancient
ancient Egypt? 1 The temples at Abu Simbel contain many statues Egyptian lifestyles?
of the pharaoh Rameses II. Why do you think
1 The Nile provided the ancient Egyptians with 1 Many Egyptian temples were dedicated to various
it was common practice in ancient Egypt for
many benefits which allowed their society to gods. What does this tell us about the importance
pharaohs to immortalise themselves in such
develop and prosper. What do you think some of of religious beliefs to the ancient Egyptians?
these benefits were?
216 oxford big ideas humanities and social sciences 7 western australian curriculum chapter 8 ancient egypt 217
2. 8A How did geographical features influence the development of ancient Egypt?
8.1 Ancient Egypt: a timeline This bust of
was created
during the
time of her
Egyptian hieroglyphs rule as the
such as these have last pharaoh
been essential in of Egypt.
unlocking the history of
Temple of the pharaoh Hatshepsut in the Valley of the Kings,
ancient Egypt.
near Luxor.
Hatshepsut, a woman,
c. 8000 BCE The Great Cleopatra
becomes pharaoh
People start forming Sphinx of becomes
settlements in the Giza pharaoh of
Nile valley Egypt and
c. 3200 c. 2500 1274 Egypt is invaded
rules for
Earliest known evidence of Building of Great Sphinx and Great Pyramid Pharaoh Rameses II claims by Alexander the
21 years
hieroglyphic writing at Giza. Egyptians start experimenting with victory against his enemies, the Great and made
mummifying dead bodies Hittites, at the Battle of Kadesh part of his empire
8000 1
BCE 3000 2000 1000 CE
New Kingdom
Predynastic period Old Kingdom Middle Kingdom
1550−1069 BCE
8000−2700 BCE 2686−2180 BCE 2055−1730 BCE
c. 3000 c. 1550 30
Egyptians start c. 2100 Construction Cleopatra commits
building walled towns Book of the Dead of many of suicide, and Egypt
and villages; the first starts being the royal becomes part of the
buildings are made of used in funeral tombs in the 1332 Roman Empire
Source 1 A timeline of some mud-brick Valley of the Tutankhamun ascends the throne at
key events and developments Kings the age of nine; he dies just 10 years
in the history of ancient Egypt. c. 3100 later
c. 2650 The inner coffin of Tutankhamun
Kingdoms of upper and
lower Egypt unite as one
country under the first
pharaoh, Menes
First stone pyramid
built in Saqqara for
the pharaoh Djoser
has become one of the most
recognisable artefacts from
ancient Egypt.
Check your learning 8.1
Remember and understand Evaluate and create
The Djoser pyramid is the oldest 1 When did people first begin to settle in the Nile valley? 5 The timeline shows that ancient Egyptian society began
building in the world made from 2 When were the Great Sphinx and the Great Pyramid at in approximately 8000 BCE and ended about 332 BCE.
cut blocks. During this period, many historians identify four distinct
Giza built?
3 Who was Cleopatra? In what year did she die? eras, commonly known as:
a the Predynastic period b the Old Kingdom
Apply and analyse c the Middle Kingdom d the New Kingdom.
4 Using the timeline, calculate the year in which Conduct some Internet research to find out why these
Tutankhamun was born. periods were named in this way.
218 oxford big ideas humanities and social sciences 7 western australian curriculum chapter 8 ancient egypt 219
3. 8A How did geographical features influence the development of ancient Egypt?
8.2 The Nile
Mediterranean Sea
Nile Delta
Ancient Egypt was a long, narrow country in north-eastern Alexandria
Africa. The world’s longest river, the Nile, ran the length of Cairo Black land
the country. Ancient Egyptian lands were also surrounded by Red land
a huge desert. Both of these geographical features played very
important roles in the development of ancient Egyptian society.
The Nile begins in central Africa and flows north into the
Mediterranean Sea. Ancient Egypt’s desert environment made the
Nile a very important geographical feature. It was so essential for
the society’s survival that the people worshipped it as a god. They Sahara Desert
called this god ‘Hapi’.
The Nile has three main sources – the White Nile, the Blue Abu Simbel
Nile and the Atbara River. The Blue Nile and the Atbara River
begin in the highlands of central Africa. Every summer, they are
flooded by melting snow and heavy rains. These waters gush into
R iv
the Nile, carrying a load of dark mountain silt – soil that is rich
in nutrients. Every year, this increase in water caused the Nile to
burst its banks and flood parts of Egypt.
Today, dams have been built along the Nile to prevent it from
At b
Source 1 The boats and houses
flooding, but in the days of ancient Egypt, these dams did not
are modern, but this Nile scene is
exist. Every year in June, the Nile would flood its banks and otherwise much as it would have
been in the times of ancient Egypt. Ri
leave a pile of dark, fertile soil all over the land nearby. This ve
flooding season was known as the ‘inundation’. As soon as the
floodwaters went back down, the farmers would plant crops such
as barley and other grains. These crops would grow very quickly
in this fertile soil.
The ancient Egyptians called the fertile land around the river
with rich dark soil the ‘Black Land’. This was where most people
lived. On each side of the Nile, beyond the Black Land, were large
areas of desert. The ancient Egyptians named these areas the ‘Red
Land’. Hardly anyone lived in the Red Land.
The Nile was important for other reasons too. It provided
fresh water for drinking and bathing. The ancient Egyptians
used spears and nets to catch fish in the Nile. They also caught
the birds, such as ducks and geese, that lived near it and used
them for food. They picked wild reeds, called papyrus, which
grew alongside the river. The ancient Egyptians used these reeds
to make a type of paper and boats. The Nile also allowed the 0 150 300 km
ancient Egyptians to travel quickly from place to place, so that
they could trade with each other. Lake
Source 2 An aerial photograph
of the Nile showing the fertile
valley (Black Land) and the
bordering desert (Red Land) Source 3 Source: Oxford University Press
220 oxford big ideas humanities and social sciences 7 western australian curriculum chapter 8 ancient egypt 221
4. 8A How did geographical features influence the development of ancient Egypt?
The importance of the Nile Crops included wheat, barley, lentils,
Farmers provided labour (during the AKH
beans, onions, cucumbers, grapes, ET
The Nile was the lifeblood of ancient inundation) to build structures such son – ’In
figs and dates. Trained baboons were
as the pyramids. sea un
Egyptian society. It provided water for sometimes used to pick fruit growing t
Flax plants were ay
too high for people to reach.
drinking and bathing; fertile soil for growing turned into a cloth
n’ (
called linen to
crops; fish and water birds for eating; and a
When the Nile flooded (known
make clothing.
Oc t
M ar
means of transporting goods. The Nile also as the inundation) the river level
played a central role in the spiritual and Bricks were made rose around 8 metres. The silt
from river bank mud. It it left behind on the floodplains
religious beliefs of the Egyptians.
was sometimes mixed fertilised the soil.
with straw for strength.
The mudbricks were
packed into moulds
and left to dry hard in Villages were built on
Pleasure boats moved travellers up the sun. raised mounds above
and down the river. Some boats were the usual flood line. ry
Nove rua
adapted as funeral boats to carry the mber to Feb on
bodies of pharaohs to their tombs. PROY g s eas
E T – G ro w i n
Source 5 The ancient Egyptian ‘seasons’
The riverside papyrus
plant was used to Check your learning 8.2
make a type of paper
(also called papyrus),
A network of canals (and Remember and understand
as well as boats,
later reservoirs) directed
baskets and furniture. 1 What are the three main sources of the Nile?
and stored river water
for use in irrigation. 2 At what time of the year would the Nile flood? What caused it
to flood? Why does the Nile no longer flood?
3 Why did the ancient Egyptians call the land along the banks of
A shaduf was used to
raise water from the
the Nile the ‘Black Land’?
river and direct it into 4 Study the illustration and labels in Source 4.
irrigation canals. a What devices did the ancient Egyptians use or make to help
Small fishing boats were store and distribute water to fields?
made from bundles of b For what different purposes were boats used?
strapped papyrus reeds.
Apply and analyse
D 5 Continue to study Source 4. How did the Nile influence the
ways in which buildings were made and villages designed?
6 Look carefully at Source 5. If you had lived in ancient Egypt,
what ‘season’ would it be now? What would be happening?
Evaluate and create
7 In groups, discuss how people would have built boats from
River wildlife included fish, birds, frogs, Severe floods could wash away all traces reeds. Draw sketches and suggest likely design, tools,
crocodiles, eels, hippopotamuses and of farm boundary lines (usually marked
measurements and so on.
snakes. Ducks and geese were hunted with stones). Officials known as ‘rope
with wooden sticks or caught in nets. stretchers’ re-measured and re-marked 8 Use the Internet to discover how a shaduf worked. Suggest a
any lines that had disappeared. modification or addition that would have made it work better.
Merchant boats and barges moved trade
The river provided goods to and from markets. Barges also 9 You are providing the voiceover for a feature documentary on
fresh water for drinking, transported the massive stone blocks the Nile. Write the segment in which you explain why it flooded
beer making, cooking, used to construct the pyramids. every year, and how this benefited the people of ancient Egypt.
washing and irrigation.
Source 4 An artist’s impression of the central role Make your report interesting – remember it is a speaking role.
that the Nile played for ancient Egyptians
222 oxford big ideas humanities and social sciences 7 western australian curriculum chapter 8 ancient egypt 223
5. 8A How did geographical features influence the development of ancient Egypt?
8.3 The climate of ancient Egypt Fashion
Because of the heat the people of ancient Egypt dressed very lightly. Men
(including the pharaoh) often went bare-chested and wore short linen tunics.
Women usually wore long linen dresses. Linen is a natural fabric, made from the
flax plant, that allows perspiration to evaporate more easily. Most clothing was
Ancient Egypt was located within what is now LOCATION OF ANCIENT EGYPT IN THE AFRICAN CONTINENT
white, which is cooler than darker colours because it reflects the heat. Leather or
the biggest desert in the world – the Sahara. This EUROPE papyrus sandals were sometimes worn by the rich, but most people went barefoot.
meant that the climate of Egypt was incredibly
Children and slaves were usually completely naked.
hot and dry. Mediterran
n S
EAST Source 4 Papyrus sandals from ancient Egypt. These would have been very cool to wear.
The desert
keyconcept: evidence Check your learning 8.3
Being surrounded by desert provided Egypt with
Sahara Desert
some security against attacks. Any army that
Living with dust and glare
Remember and understand
wanted to attack would have had a long, hot
walk if invading from the east or the west. 1 Where did the people of ancient Egypt
Because of the desert surrounding ancient Egypt, dust, glare and
The desert around ancient Egypt was AFRICA
wind-blown sand were a fact of life. Eye infections were common. often cook and sleep? Why?
inhabited by many different animals that were Stone carvings have been found in tombs that show groups of 2 List three different resources provided
hunted by the ancient Egyptians for food. These blind people. Ancient papyrus texts show that bat blood was one by the deserts to the people of ancient
Lake Victoria
animals included gazelles, hares and foxes. treatment for eye problems. Another treatment was to rub a paste Egypt.
The desert was also the source of minerals, OCEAN of mashed human brain and honey over the affected eye. Both
rocks and metals, which the Egyptians used for
ATLANTIC Apply and analyse
OCEAN men and women wore heavy eye make-up, called kohl, to help
building houses, pyramids, statues and tombs, protect their eyes from dust and glare. 3 If you lived in a location such as
and making weapons and jewellery. The ancient Men and women would also wear wigs, usually over a shaved ancient Egypt, what might the
Egyptians were able to trade many of these LEGEND scalp. Shaving kept heads cool (when at home, without wigs) advantages and disadvantages be in
resources, as well as the products they made Ancient Egypt and allowed scalps to be kept clean. Sometimes, a cone of solid shaving your head and wearing a wig?
from them. Sahara Desert perfumed fat was worn on top of a wig on special occasions (see 4 Examine Source 3.
0 750 1500 km
Source 5). As it slowly melted in the heat, sweet-smelling liquid a During which months, on average,
How the climate influenced dripped over the face and upper body, cooling the skin. is there no rain in Cairo? What is
Source 1 Source: Oxford University Press
For more information on the key concept of evidence, refer to the average temperature for each
lifestyle Av. temp.
page XX of ‘The history toolkit’. of these months?
Max. Min. Rainfall
b Melbourne’s highest rainfall occurs
Living in a very hot and dry climate,
from September to December, with
the ancient Egyptians mostly lived an
monthly rainfall averaging between
outdoors lifestyle. Most of them worked
outside as farmers, fishers, builders and
merchants. People cooked and often slept
D 35
58 and 66 millimetres in those
months. Write a few sentences
describing some of the differences
outside their homes (frequently on the roof) 25 25 Average rainfall (mm) between average rainfall in Cairo
Temperature (°C)
because of the heat. and average rainfall in Melbourne.
20 20
Houses Evaluate and create
15 15
Rich or poor, most Egyptians lived in houses 5 A link to a video of Egypt and its
that were similar in design. They had 10 10 desert environment is available on the
flat roofs and were made from sun- obook. Prepare a creative response to
5 5
dried mudbricks. Most houses were this experience by writing one of the
Source 5 This detail from following:
single-storey structures. 0
an Egyptian tomb shows
Month • a short poem
The one-room homes of poor a woman wearing heavy
CAIRO • a diary entry that you might have
Source 2 A headrest used by the eye make-up and a cone of
farmers had dirt floors. In urban areas,
wealthy while sleeping. It allowed Source 3 Climate graph for scented fat on top of her wig. recorded if you had been there.
houses were joined, a bit like apartments the city of Cairo (near the
air to circulate around the head
and terrace houses are today. and neck. pyramids at Giza)
224 oxford big ideas humanities and social sciences 7 western australian curriculum chapter 8 ancient egypt 225
6. 8A How did geographical features influence the development of ancient Egypt?
8A rich task
Clay water jugs
Irrigation in
ancient Egypt
The annual inundation (flooding) of the Nile
was so important to the ancient Egyptians
that they based their lives around it. Flooding
happened in a season the Egyptians called
akhet. As the flood receded, the fertile silt
left on the ground near the river ensured
Source 3 Wooden waterwheels were another important
perfect conditions for proyet, the growing, Source 1 Canals were a very important form of irrigation in Source 2 Shadufs were an important form of ancient Egyptian irrigation
irrigation technology in ancient Egypt. This traditional
ancient Egypt. A simple Egyptian canal system is depicted in technology. This painting of a man drawing water from the Nile with a
which was when farmers would plant and this painting, found in the tomb of a commoner by the name of shaduf was found in the tomb of Ipuy, at Deir el-Medina, Egypt. waterwheel near Luxor, Egypt, is similar in design to those used
Sennedjem. in ancient times. The water comes out of the well on a second
grow their crops. The crops would continue wheel carrying clay water jugs (shown to the right). This water
then supplies the irrigation network.
to grow until they were picked in shomu,
Source 4
harvest season. During proyet, the growing be verified. Where else might you look to check and 2 Use Sources 1, 2 and 3, together with information
Hail to you, Nile River! You show yourself over gathered on the Internet, to compare different irrigation
season, the ancient Egyptians needed to make sure those ‘facts’ are accurate?)
this land, and come to give life to Egypt! Your methods in ancient Egypt. You should look at canals,
irrigate (water) the crops they had planted. Step 2 Think about how the world described or depicted
source is mysterious, but we celebrate the day shadufs and waterwheels.
in the source is different from the world you live in
They experimented with many different kinds today. What do you already know about what the
when you come to us! Watering the orchards
When was this form of How did it work?
created by Ra, to cause all the cattle to live,
of irrigation over the course of their history. creator of the source and the people around him or irrigation technology
you give the earth to drink, inexhaustible one! invented?
her believed? How would you feel if you were in the
… Canals
creator’s shoes?
Lord of the fish: during the inundation, no Shaduf
Step 3 Ask yourself what opinions are expressed in the
skilldrill: Historical sources as evidence source. If the source is written, ask yourself which bird lands on the crops. You create the grain, Waterwheel
specific words or phrases show how the writer feels you bring forth the barley, you make sure the
Interpreting primary sources
Primary sources are things that were created during the
about what he or she is describing.
Step 4 Ask yourself what is implied in the source. For
instance, people do not always spell out what they are
temples will last for eternity. If you stop your
toil and your work, then all that exists in our
world will be in trouble.
Extend your understanding
time being studied. They can be documents, objects, Using the results of your research, write a short report on
thinking when they write something. The reader needs Extract from ‘Hymn to the Nile’,
paintings and other sources that provide us with a the history of irrigation technology in ancient Egypt. Make
to use clues in the text to ‘read between the lines’ and written c. 2100 BCE in ancient Egypt
firsthand account of what life was like in the past. sure you:
infer meanings that are not spelled out.
Because they are firsthand accounts, primary sources The following primary sources provide us with a range
Apply the skill • include an introduction explaining why irrigation was so
often convey the creator’s point of view, attitudes and of evidence about the beliefs, values and attitudes of 1 Read Source 4 carefully. important in ancient Egypt
values. It is important that you be able to identify and the ancient Egyptians towards the Nile and the annual a What factual information is conveyed in this source? • include a main body, broken into sections (with
describe these elements in their work. Use the following inundation, as well as important types of irrigation b What does it tell you about the writer’s beliefs subheadings) that describe each main type of ancient
steps: technology that were developed at different times and attitudes regarding the annual cause of the Egyptian irrigation technology (for example, ‘Canals’,
Step 1 Ask yourself what factual information is conveyed throughout ancient Egyptian civilisation. Use the steps inundation? (Remember to identify the specific ‘Shadufs’ and ‘Waterwheels’)
in this source. (Be careful: sometimes things that are described above to complete the tasks that follow. words or phrases in the source that support your • explain within each section when this particular type of
presented as fact are not always accurate, so you For a detailed description of this skill, refer to pages conclusion.) irrigation technology was invented and how it worked.
might need to think about whether the information can xx–xx of ‘The history toolkit’. c What can you infer about the writer’s values? Include diagrams if you wish.
226 oxford big ideas humanities and social sciences 7 western australian curriculum chapter 8 ancient egypt 227
7. 8B What shaped the roles of key groups in ancient Egypt?
8.4 Key groups in Pharaoh
• Kept life in balance
Source 2 The social hierarchy
(structure) of ancient Egypt
Egyptian society • Was considered a god-king
• Had great wealth
• Was the highest priest in the land
The society of ancient Egypt was well organised.
Ancient Egyptians had a central government Vizier
and, from the 15th century BCE, they also had a • Was second-in-command to the
professional army. People knew what their social pharaoh
responsibilities were. Some of these roles were shaped • Was the main adviser to the pharaoh
by the society’s laws and traditions. Some were • Supervised other officials and acted as
determined by religious beliefs. Other roles were judge for law breakers
determined by a person’s wealth and abilities (such as
whether they could read and write).
The society of ancient Egypt was a hierarchy. At Chief priest Nobles Priestesses
the top was the royal family: the pharaoh and his • Represented the pharaoh • Governed • Were married to nobles and
family. At the bottom were the slaves and the poorest • Was permitted to enter the inner smaller regions senior officials
of the poor farmers. temple where the statues of the within the • Were responsible for the care
gods were kept kingdom of the temple goddess and
Men usually did the jobs their fathers did. They
• Was responsible for cleaning • Collected taxes required to sing and play
learned the skills a bit like apprentices learn trades
the temple god every day and music if the pharaoh visited
today. Education was the key to improving a person’s their temple
bringing it food
position in society. A merchant, or even a farmer,
could do this by learning to read and write. Scribes Soldiers
• Could read and write • Were professional, full-time soldiers
• Were responsible for recording the
decisions and orders of the pharaoh
Source 1 A stone head of pharaoh
Amenhotep III, made in the early • Kept tax records for the vizier and
14th century BCE. Pharaohs were at the top the accounts for the army
of the social hierarchy in ancient Egypt.
Check your learning 8.4
Remember and understand
Apply and analyse
• Traded goods such as linen, papyrus
and grain from Egypt to other places
• Were skilled workers such as potters
and stonemasons who made necessary
1 Place these social roles in order (from most 4 Compare and contrast the roles of a chief priest • Imported goods such as wood goods for everyday use and objects for
(e.g. ebony), ivory, copper and animals the temple
to least important) according to the values of and the vizier in ancient Egypt.
ancient Egyptian society: potter, merchant,
pharaoh, farmer, priestess, vizier, scribe.
Evaluate and create
2 How might a farmer’s social role and standing 5 a In groups, use Source 2 as a guide to help
potentially change if he learned to read and you draw up what you think the social
Farmers Slaves
write? hierarchy in Australia today might look like.
• Grew crops such as wheat and barley • Were usually foreigners (captured in wars)
3 Explain why almost all scribes in ancient Egypt b Discuss your findings as a class. Decide to
• Tended animals used for food and work • Were used as domestic servants,
were men. what extent your modern social hierarchies farmhands or mineworkers
• Took on building work during the
are an example of continuity and change
inundation • Some worked in the pharaoh’s palace
when compared with the social hierarchy of
ancient Egypt.
228 oxford big ideas humanities and social sciences 7 western australian curriculum chapter 8 ancient egypt 229