Everyday Life In Ancient Egypt – Although this is quite a cliché image, there is much more to ancient Egypt than temples, tombs and Tutankhamun. As the world’s first nation-state, for many millennia before the Greek and Roman civilizations, Egypt was responsible for some of the most important achievements in human history: writing was invented, the first stone monuments were made, and an entire culture was established. Where it remained largely unchanged for thousands of years.
All this was made possible by the Nile River, which gave life to an almost rainless land. In contrast to the vast “red earth” of the desert, which the Egyptians called Deshret, the narrow river banks were known as Kemet (black earth) because of the rich silt deposited by the river’s annual floods. The abundant crops grown in this rich land were collected as taxes by a highly organized bureaucracy acting on behalf of the king (Pharaoh). This wealth was redirected to run the administration and finance ambitious construction projects designed to improve royal conditions.
Everyday Life In Ancient Egypt
Although such structures have come to symbolize ancient Egypt, the existence of so many pyramids, temples and tombs has created a misleading impression of the Egyptians as a herd obsessed with religion and death, who loved life so much that it became monstrous. To ensure the length lasts forever. The depth of this belief permeated all aspects of the ancient Egyptians’ lives, and gave their culture its immense stability and orthodoxy.
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They believed that they should take care of their gods, and each pharaoh was considered the representative of the gods on earth, they ruled with divine approval. Absolute monarchy was integrated into Egyptian culture, and the country’s history was shaped by the length of each pharaoh’s reign. Thirty dynasties ruled over a period of 3000 years, which is now divided into Old, Middle and New Kingdoms with periods of instability (intermediate periods) when the country was divided into North (Lower Egypt) and South (Upper Egypt).
This division became definitive at the end of the New Kingdom (about 1069 BC), when foreign powers were gradually able to take control of the government. However, even then, Egyptian culture was so deeply rooted that successive invaders could not escape its influence, and Libyans, Nubians, and Persians came to adopt traditional Egyptian ways. The Greeks were so influenced by the ancient culture that they considered Egypt the ‘cradle of civilization’ and the Roman occupiers also adopted the country’s ancient gods and traditions.
Only at the end of the AD IV century, when the Roman Empire embraced Christianity, did ancient Egypt finally die; Their gods were taken from them, their temples closed, and all knowledge of the ‘pagan’ hieroglyphics that transmitted their culture was lost for about 1400 years.
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Egyptian pharaonic history is based on the reign of each king or pharaoh, the word comes from per-aa (great house), meaning palace. Among the hundreds of pharaohs who ruled Egypt over a period of 3000 years, the following few names are often found on ancient sites.
Normer B.C. 3100 AD After the first king of a united Egypt conquered Northern (Lower) Egypt, Narmer of Southern (Upper) Egypt is depicted as victorious on the famous Narmer Palette in the Egyptian Museum.
He is probably identified with Menes, the semi-mythical king who founded the ancient Egyptian capital of Memphis.
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Zoser (Djoser) B.C. 2667-2648 As the second king of the Third Dynasty, Djoser is buried in Egypt’s First Pyramid, the world’s oldest monumental stone building, designed by the architect Imhotep. A statue of Djoser in the lobby of the Egyptian Museum shows the long-haired king with a light moustache, tight robes and a striped nem (headscarf).
Sneferu BC 2613-2589 The first king of the Fourth Dynasty, and held in the highest esteem by later generations, Sneferu was Egypt’s greatest pyramid builder. He was responsible for four such structures, and his final resting place, the Red (North) Pyramid of Dahshur, was the model for Egypt’s first true pyramid and the more famous pyramids of Giza. See page 210. Khufu (Cheps) B.C. 2589–2566 As the son and successor of Sneferu, Khufu was the second king of the Fourth Dynasty.
Most famous for Egypt’s largest pyramid, the Great Pyramid of Giza, his only surviving likeness is the smallest Egyptian royal sculpture, a 7.5 cm tall figure in the Egyptian Museum. His mother Hetepheres’ golden furniture is also in the museum.
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Khafre (Khefren, Kefren) B.C. 2558–2532 Khafre was the youngest son of Khufu, who succeeded his half-brother IV. To be the fourth king of the dynasty. Although he built the second of the famous pyramids at Giza and is best known as the model for the face of the Great Sphinx, his diorite statue in the Egyptian Museum is also amazing.
Menkaure (Mycerinus) B.C. 2532–2503 As the son of Khafre and the fifth king of the IV Dynasty, Menkaure built the smallest of the three great pyramids at Giza. It is also well represented by some of the magnificent sculptures in the Egyptian Museum, which show the goddess Hathor together with deities representing the various regions (names) of Egypt.
Pepys II c. 2278-2184 As the fifth king of the Sixth Dynasty, Pepi II was a child in his time; His pleasure with a dancing pygmy was recorded in the Aswan tomb of his officer Harkhuf. With one of the longest reigns in the world (96 years), Pepy contributed to the collapse of the Pyramid Age.
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Montuhotep II BC 2055-2004 As Lord of Thebes, Montuhotep II unites Egypt and begins his reign as the Middle Kingdom. He was the first king to build a funerary temple at Deir al-Bahr, where he was buried with his five wives and one daughter, and additional wives and courtesans nearby.
Sesostris III (Senwosret, Senusret) c. 1874-1855 The fifth king of the 12th dynasty, Sesostris III, reorganized the administration by taking power from the provincial governors (nomarks). He strengthened the borders of Egypt and occupied Nubia with a series of fortresses, and the stern and “protected” faces of his statues can be seen. His female relatives were buried with lavish ornaments.
BC 1525-1504 Amenhotep I XVIII. As the second king of the dynasty, Amenhotep I ruled for a time with his mother Ahmose-Nofretari. The village of Deir el-Medina was established for the workers who built the tombs in the Valley of the Kings, and Amenhotep I may have been the first king buried there.
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Hatshepsut B.C. 1473–1458 As Egypt’s most famous female pharaoh, Hatshepsut assumed power after the death of her brother-in-law Thutmose II and initially ruled alongside her nephew Thutmose III. After taking full control, he undertook ambitious building schemes, including the obelisks at Karnak Temple and his spectacular funerary temple at Deir al-Bahrin.
Thutmose III AD 1479-1425 AD As the sixth king of the XVIII Dynasty, Thutmose III (Napoleon of Ancient Egypt) expanded the Egyptian Empire with a series of foreign campaigns into Syria. He built much at Karnak, added a chapel at Deir el-Bahr, and his tomb was the first to be decorated in the Valley of the Kings.
BC 1390-1352 Amenhotep III XVIII. As the ninth king of the dynasty, Amenhotep III’s reign marked the height of Egyptian culture and power. Many of his innovations are often attributed to his son and successor Amenhotep IV (later ‘Akhenaten’), including the cult of the Aten, founder of Luxor Temple and the largest funerary temple marked by the Colossi of Memnon.
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Akhenaten (Amenhotep IV) B.C. 1352-1336 Changing his name from Amenhotep to distance himself from the state god Amun, Akhenaten and his wife Nefertiti move the royal capital to Amarna. Although many still regard him as a monotheist and benevolent revolutionary, evidence suggests that he was a dictator whose reforms were more political than religious.
Nefertiti c. Famous for her bust painted in Berlin 1338-1336 (?), Nefertiti ruled with her husband Akhenaten, and although the identity of her successor is disputed, using the throne name ‘Smenkhkare’, it may be Nefertiti herself. Equally controversial is the identification of his mummy in tomb KV 35 in the Valley of the Kings.
Tutankhamun BC 1336-1327 BC As the 11th king of the XVIII Dynasty, Tutankhamun’s fame rests on the large amount of treasure found in his tomb in 1922. Possibly Akhenaten’s son by his minor wife Kia, Tutankhamun reopened and reopened the traditional temples. Egypt’s fate after his father’s disastrous reign.
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Horemheb B.C. 1323-1295 As a military general, Horemheb restored the Egyptian Empire under Tutankhamun and, after a brief reign of Ai, eventually became king himself. After marrying Nefertiti’s sister Mutnodzmet, his tomb at Saqqara was abandoned in favor of a royal burial in a lavishly decorated tomb in the Valley of the Kings.
Seti I B.C. 1294–1279 XIX. The second king of the dynasty, Seti I, continued to strengthen the Egyptian Empire through overseas campaigns. Known for building the hypostyle hall at Karnak, the magnificent temple at Abydos and the vast tomb in the Valley of the Kings, one of his mummies is in the Egyptian Museum.
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