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
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
who established his capital at Memphis.
During the Old Kingdom Egyptian culture and commerce flourished, and
the great pyramids
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
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
Nefertiti: Queen of Egypt
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.
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.
Egyptian queens were known as Cleopatra, but the most famous was the
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.
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 &
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
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.
Supply children with a variety of face paints and let them experiment
with small brushes to apply make up the way Egyptians did.
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.
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.
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
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.
Do a hands-on mummification project with apples.
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.
Learn about historical sites and interesting facts on Ancient Egypt.
Guide The Walton Hall of Ancient Egypt. Excellent background
history guide on Ancient Egypt
*Adventures to Experience
Staff of Hatshepsut
An Adventure Game based on stories of Ancient Egypt. This game is
Number One Fun!
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.
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
Egyptian Tall Tales