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Ancient Egypt

Things to Know

The Nile-The Gift of the Nile
The Nile is the world's longest river. Egypt is basically a desert, part of the great Sahara Desert. However, near the Nile River, the land is very moist and fertile. Every year, the snow in the mountains of East Africa would melt, sending a torrent of water that would overflow the banks of the Nile. When it flooded each year, the river left behind a layer of rich, dark mud on the fields. This made the soil richer and made farming easier.

The Nile River was the center of Egyptian life. The Egyptian people lived on the fertile lands along the Nile. A Greek traveler called this area “the gift of the Nile.”

Natural borders protected Ancient Egypt from invaders. The land beyond the Nile River Valley is a desert, to attack Egypt the invaders would have to go through all the deserts to reach Egypt. The Mediterranean Sea was a good protection against attacks on Egypt. Not many people ventured into the sea before 1500B.C.E., so the Mediterranean Sea formed a natural border. Egypt was not invaded by the sea until Napoleon in the nineteenth century.

There were 3 classes in Egyptian society: upper, middle, and lower. It also had slaves. Usually only the upper-class boys could go to school. Some middle-class and lower-class boys learned carpentry or pottery making, but most became farmers like their fathers. The girls learned skills from their mothers. The Egyptians worshipped many gods, and the king, called the pharaoh, was considered a living god on earth.

There were 3 periods of importance in Ancient Egypt's history:

The Old Kingdom(about 2700-2200 B.C.E)
The rival kingdoms of Upper and Lower Egypt were united by a king named Menes, who established his capital at Memphis.

During the Old Kingdom Egyptian culture and commerce flourished, and the great pyramids were built.

After a period of decay, Egypt entered the First Intermediate Period, a time of strife, instability and famine.

Middle Kingdom(about 2050 to 1800 BCE.)
With the establishment of the Middle Kingdom, with its capital at Thebes, Egypt grew wealthier and had more trade with other countries.

Then weak rulers allowed the country to pass under the rule of foreign nomads, known as the Hyksos.

The New Kingdom(about 1600 to 1100 BCE)
The New Kingdom was established and Ancient Egypt became a strong power and built its empire.

Pyramid building was pretty much abandoned in favor of secret tombs that were not as obvious to tomb robbers.

Instead, the pharaohs directed their building projects towards temples and monuments to themselves, such as Abu Simbel built by Ramsess II and the Temple of Karnak, which was continuously built up for centuries.

These monuments and discoveries such as the finding of Tutankhamun's tomb in 1922 makes this one of the most well known periods of Pharaonic Egyptian history.

Egypt came increasingly under foreign domination, with periods of rule by Libya, Sudan, Assyria, Nubia, and Persia. Following a brief reestablishment of native power in 405 BCE., Egypt fell without a struggle to Alexander the Great in 332 BCE. After Alexander's death Egypt was inherited by his general, Ptolemy, who founded the dynasty of Ptolemies and under whom the new city of Alexandria. The Ptolemies maintained a formidable empire for more than two centuries until, weakened by internal dynastic disputes, Egypt fell to Rome in 30 BCE. Christianity was readily accepted in Egypt, which became part of the Byzantine Empire about 395 CE. With the Arab conquest (639-42) Egypt became an integral part of the Muslim world.


Ancient Egypt was ruled by pharaohs, whom the Egyptians believed were both a god and a monarch. Egypt was ruled by many pharaohs, but a few stand out.

Nefertiti: Queen of Egypt

Akhenaton was a monotheistic pharaoh who ruled with his queen, Nefertiti. Nefertiti supported her husband's religious reforms, changing to worship of Aten, the sun god. Akhenaten and Nefrititi forbade their subjects to worship any other gods but Aten. They built great statues to Aten and ordered that statues honoring any other god be destroyed. Most Egyptians did not take the faith of their leaders, and after their death, statues of Aten were destroyed.

Tutankhamun became pharaoh when he was 9 years old and he died of a head injury when he was 18 years old. King Tut's tomb remained intact and buried by rock chips until it was discovered in 1922 by British archaeologist Howard Carter.

Seven Egyptian queens were known as Cleopatra, but the most famous was the last; Cleopatra VII. Cleopatra was of Greek heritage and culture, one of the Ptolemy line set on the throne of Egypt after the conquest of Alexander the Great. She had great intelligence and charisma, and she used both to further Egypt's political aims.

The Rosetta Stone

The ancient Egyptians were a great mystery until scientist deciphered hieroglyphics. In 1799 a troop of French soldiers found a stone near the city of Rosetta with hieroglyphic and Greek inscriptions.

We can read hieroglyphics today because of the Rosetta Stone and French archaeologists Jean Champollion.

Before Champollion, many archeologists made attempts to decipher hieroglyphic symbols, but failed due to the lack of knowledge of Semitic and oriental languages. Jean Champollion spent more than 20 years of work translating the Egyptian writing into Greek.

Jean Champollion made it possible to understand hieroglyphics, and unlocked many of the mysteries of ancient Egyptian civilization.

Some of the Ancient Egyptians greatest achievements were:

The great pyramids
The invention of hieroglyphics
The creation of a calendar with 365 days.
The invention of paper made from papyrus.
The creation of a written history.

*Things to Do

Ancient Egypt Word Search


Upper and Lower Egypt United
The Ancient Egyptian double crown was created by combining the white crown of Upper Egypt with the red crown of Lower Egypt. Using magazines have children create new symbols for a modern unification by combining the logos of competitors.

Some company suggestions:
General Motors & Ford Motor Company, Pepsi & Coke, Apple & Microsoft

Make a Pyramid
Need: sugar cubes
Have children make classroom displays of pyramids using sugar cubes.

Make a beaded necklace
Men and women wore beaded necklaces, bracelets, and anklets. Supply children with wooden colored beds and yarn or small rope. Let children thread beads onto yarn to make colorful necklaces.

To make your own beads:
Need: food coloring, 3 cups flour, 2 cups salt, 2 cups cornstarch, 1 1/2 cups hot water, pencils, bowls, yarn.

Invite children to examine beads and necklaces. Explain that people in some cultures make beads by rolling mud into balls, poking holes in them, and drying them in the sun. Ask children to describe some favorite beads that they may have seen and invite them to tell you about how they might have been made.

Together, mix the flour, cornstarch, salt, and hot water. Knead until it forms a dough, adding more flour or water to adjust consistency. Divide the dough into several pieces and tint each with a different food coloring.
Pinch off a small amount of dough, roll it between the palms of your hands, and poke pencil through the ball to make a bead. Let children experiment with different sizes and shapes of dough.
Children can place their beads in bowls to dry, occasionally turning them over. Beads can be strung when they are completely dry.

Braid a necklace or anklet
Supply children with colorful yarn, embroidery thread, and plastic twine. Children can braid several pieces of the yarn, etc. to create beautiful bracelets and anklets.

Egyptian Makeup
Supply children with a variety of face paints and let them experiment with small brushes to apply make up the way Egyptians did.

Egyptian clothing.
Interesting Facts: Children and servants were naked except for earrings. Children shaved their heads except for a side-lock of hair. Children carried copper mirrors.

Egyptian clothing
Have children bring in old cloth and pieces of material from home. Cut and wrap to create skirts, shifts, and kilts. Can glue on a outline drawing of a person.

Egyptian Palace Bread
Need: 4 slices white bread, 1 cup honey

Preheat oven to 300 degrees. Cut crusts from bread. Soak bread in honey for 30 minutes. Place in baking dish. Bake at 300 degrees for 25 minutes. Cool. May be served with cream to pour over bread. 2 servings.

*Color Pages

Ancient Egypt color pages


The Ancient Egyptian Alphabet

Write Like an Egyptian
This site will transpose English to Hieroglyphic. See your name in hieroglyphs.

*Things to Do-Other Sites

Egypt Fun Guide from SeaWorld Printable pages on Egypt.


Scale Model of the Great Pyramid
Print and build your own model of the Great Pyramid

Virtually explore the Pyrimids.

Mummification Project
Do a hands-on mummification project with apples.

Clickable Mummy
Click on different parts of the Mummy to learn about that part.

Fascinating Egyptian Mummies
Play games to learn about funerary rituals in Egypt.
(website in Frence and English.

*Sites to See

Cleopatra: A Multimedia Guide to the Ancient World

Ancient Egypt-British Museum
Information on all things Egyptian.

Ancient Egypt
Learn about historical sites and interesting facts on Ancient Egypt.

Teacher's Guide The Walton Hall of Ancient Egypt. Excellent background history guide on Ancient Egypt

*Adventures to Experience

The Staff of Hatshepsut
An Adventure Game based on stories of Ancient Egypt. This game is Number One Fun!

Hatshepsut's Revenge
An adventure game that takes you back to Ancient Egypt. The pharaoh of Egypt, King Tut, is disturbed by strange things happening in the palace. Only you can help him.

Egyptian Scavenger Hunt
You've just applied for a summer job as a helper to a world renowned Egyptologist. To weed out the non-serious applicants, she has created a scavenger hunt. The winner of the hunt will be her first choice for the job. Are you game?

*Stories to Read

Ancient Egyptian Tall Tales


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