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Chapter 3 Egypt. The Natural Environment Valley of 4000 mile long Nile River Benevolent river, floods regularly, deposits silt to renew soil Year-long.

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Presentation on theme: "Chapter 3 Egypt. The Natural Environment Valley of 4000 mile long Nile River Benevolent river, floods regularly, deposits silt to renew soil Year-long."— Presentation transcript:

1 Chapter 3 Egypt

2 The Natural Environment Valley of 4000 mile long Nile River Benevolent river, floods regularly, deposits silt to renew soil Year-long growing season, 3 crops per year

3 Egypt’s Isolation and Uniqueness Egypt’s Protective Isolation –Protected from invasion by deserts, cataracts, sea –Invasion only possible from Sinai Peninsula –Civilization developed in almost unbroken safety Egypt’s Uniqueness –Egypt had many advantages –Believed gods smiled on them, had best of all worlds –Security eventually turned into weakness –Lost ability to adapt to external changes

4 The Pharaoh – Egypt’s God-King Decisively unified about 3100 BCE under a pharaoh Foundation period ( BCE) – greatest triumphs, cultural achievements

5 Pharaoh Pharaoh was a god who chose to live on Earth –Reincarnation of god Horus –He did the will of the almighty gods –Wife and family shared some glory, but he alone was divine Government Under the Pharaoh –Officials were noble landlords, great local power –Two periods when pharaohs were weak BCE – First Intermediate Period BCE – Hyksos Invasion –After each period, new dynasty appeared, restored control –Pharaohs kept power because of many benefits in Egypt

6 Egypt’s Kingdoms 31 dynasties (rule by one family) Old Kingdom ( BCE) –Most successful period –Art, architecture, religion, stability, prosperity Middle Kingdom ( BCE) –Political stability, continued refinement of arts, crafts –Trade became more extensive –Religion became more democratic New Kingdom ( BCE) –Tried to convert neighbors to their lifestyle, government –Did not last – military reversals, internal dissent –Subjected to foreign invasions –Life of ordinary people saw no marked change

7 Cultural Achievements Pyramids –Designed as tombs, built while pharaoh was alive –Possessed huge religious significance Statues and Temples –Some of temples still stand –Vandalism, tomb robbers have destroyed much –Tomb of Tutankhamen –Statues have graceful lines, great dignity –Had only primitive tools to do this work

8 Cultural Achievements Other art forms –Painting –Ceramics –Jewelry –Miniature sculpture for tombs Hieroglyphics (“sacred carvings”) –Pictographs representing ideas, phonetic sounds –Never developed into an alphabet –Their use confined to small groups of educated people

9 Religion and Eternal Life Polytheistic religion – at least 300 gods Amon and Ra, Isis, Osiris were most important Believed firmly in afterlife, life-essence (ka) could roam at will They expected reward in afterlife Priests played powerful role Akhnaton’s experiment –Tried to change from polytheism to monotheism (“one god”) –Unsuccessful, not seen until appearance of Judaism –People went back to old ways after his death

10 Egypt’s People and Their Daily Lives Population overwhelmingly peasant, most of them tenant farmers Many small merchants, craftspeople No real cities Large-scale trade, relatively unimportant Small middle class Daily life changed remarkably little Slavery –Slavery increased during Empire –Mostly result of owing debts –Serfdom and sharecropping In general, people were better off most of the time

11 Egypt and Mesopotamia - Contrasts Egypt – enormous stability, predictability; Mesopotamia – subject to violent change Egypt – protected by natural barriers, could choose cultural influences to adopt; Mesopotamia – crossroads, constant new introductions Egypt – unified nation, false sense of security; Mesopotamia – outsiders arrived with enough power to establish themselves, no stagnation Egypt – “an island in space and time” with little permanent influence; Mesopotamia – major cradle of civilization

12 Discussion Questions 1. Akhnaton tried a revolutionary idea when he introduced monotheism. Why do you think it failed? Why did the Egyptian population not convert to this radical new approach to religion? 2. Egypt and Mesopotamia both developed along major river systems, yet a comparable civilization did not apparently develop in North America along the Mississippi River Valley. Why do you thin this did not occur? What necessary factors for the rise of civilization were missing? Or was it simply a matter of accident?


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