Scholars believe that five centuries of these practices slowly eroded the economic vitality of Egypt, and that the economy could no longer afford to support a large centralized administration. After Egypt's central government collapsed at the end of the Old Kingdom, the administration could no longer support or stabilize the country's economy. Regional governors could not rely on the king for help in times of crisis, and the ensuing food shortages and political disputes escalated into famines and small-scale civil wars. Yet despite difficult problems, local leaders, owing no tribute to the king, used their new-found independence to establish a thriving culture in the provinces.
Once in control of their own resources, the provinces became economically richer—which was demonstrated by larger and better burials among all social classes. Free from their loyalties to the king, local rulers began competing with each other for territorial control and political power. As the Intefs grew in power and expanded their control northward, a clash between the two rival dynasties became inevitable.
They inaugurated a period of economic and cultural renaissance known as the Middle Kingdom. The kings of the Middle Kingdom restored the country's stability and prosperity, thereby stimulating a resurgence of art, literature, and monumental building projects. Moreover, the military reconquered territory in Nubia that was rich in quarries and gold mines, while laborers built a defensive structure in the Eastern Delta, called the " Walls-of-the-Ruler ", to defend against foreign attack.
With the kings having secured the country militarily and politically and with vast agricultural and mineral wealth at their disposal, the nation's population, arts, and religion flourished. In contrast to elitist Old Kingdom attitudes towards the gods, the Middle Kingdom displayed an increase in expressions of personal piety. The last great ruler of the Middle Kingdom, Amenemhat III , allowed Semitic -speaking Canaanite settlers from the Near East into the Delta region to provide a sufficient labour force for his especially active mining and building campaigns.
These ambitious building and mining activities, however, combined with severe Nile floods later in his reign, strained the economy and precipitated the slow decline into the Second Intermediate Period during the later Thirteenth and Fourteenth dynasties. During this decline, the Canaanite settlers began to assume greater control of the Delta region, eventually coming to power in Egypt as the Hyksos.
The king was treated as a vassal and expected to pay tribute. They and other invaders introduced new tools of warfare into Egypt, most notably the composite bow and the horse-drawn chariot. After retreating south, the native Theban kings found themselves trapped between the Canaanite Hyksos ruling the north and the Hyksos' Nubian allies, the Kushites , to the south.
That task fell to Kamose's successor, Ahmose I , who successfully waged a series of campaigns that permanently eradicated the Hyksos' presence in Egypt. He established a new dynasty and, in the New Kingdom that followed, the military became a central priority for the kings, who sought to expand Egypt's borders and attempted to gain mastery of the Near East. The New Kingdom pharaohs established a period of unprecedented prosperity by securing their borders and strengthening diplomatic ties with their neighbours, including the Mitanni Empire, Assyria , and Canaan.
Military campaigns waged under Tuthmosis I and his grandson Tuthmosis III extended the influence of the pharaohs to the largest empire Egypt had ever seen. Beginning with Merneptah the rulers of Egypt adopted the title of pharaoh. Between their reigns, Hatshepsut , a queen who established herself as pharaoh, launched many building projects, including restoration of temples damaged by the Hyksos, and sent trading expeditions to Punt and the Sinai.
The New Kingdom pharaohs began a large-scale building campaign to promote the god Amun , whose growing cult was based in Karnak. They also constructed monuments to glorify their own achievements, both real and imagined. The Karnak temple is the largest Egyptian temple ever built. Changing his name to Akhenaten , he touted the previously obscure sun deity Aten as the supreme deity , suppressed the worship of most other deities, and moved the capital to the new city of Akhetaten modern-day Amarna. After his death, the cult of the Aten was quickly abandoned and the traditional religious order restored.
The subsequent pharaohs, Tutankhamun , Ay , and Horemheb , worked to erase all mention of Akhenaten's heresy, now known as the Amarna Period. Egypt's wealth, however, made it a tempting target for invasion, particularly by the Libyan Berbers to the west, and the Sea Peoples , a conjectured   confederation of seafarers from the Aegean Sea.
Initially, the military was able to repel these invasions, but Egypt eventually lost control of its remaining territories in southern Canaan , much of it falling to the Assyrians. The effects of external threats were exacerbated by internal problems such as corruption, tomb robbery, and civil unrest. After regaining their power, the high priests at the temple of Amun in Thebes accumulated vast tracts of land and wealth, and their expanded power splintered the country during the Third Intermediate Period. The south was effectively controlled by the High Priests of Amun at Thebes , who recognized Smendes in name only.
Shoshenq also gained control of southern Egypt by placing his family members in important priestly positions. Libyan control began to erode as a rival dynasty in the delta arose in Leontopolis , and Kushites threatened from the south. Egypt's far-reaching prestige declined considerably toward the end of the Third Intermediate Period. The reigns of both Taharqa and his successor, Tanutamun , were filled with constant conflict with the Assyrians, against whom Egypt enjoyed several victories.
Ultimately, the Assyrians pushed the Kushites back into Nubia, occupied Memphis, and sacked the temples of Thebes. The Assyrians left control of Egypt to a series of vassals who became known as the Saite kings of the Twenty-Sixth Dynasty. Greek influence expanded greatly as the city-state of Naukratis became the home of Greeks in the Nile Delta. Cambyses II then assumed the formal title of pharaoh, but ruled Egypt from Iran, leaving Egypt under the control of a satrapy.
Into the pharaoh's chamber: how I fell in love with ancient Egypt
A few successful revolts against the Persians marked the 5th century BC, but Egypt was never able to permanently overthrow the Persians. The last of these dynasties, the Thirtieth , proved to be the last native royal house of ancient Egypt, ending with the kingship of Nectanebo II. The administration established by Alexander's successors, the Macedonian Ptolemaic Kingdom , was based on an Egyptian model and based in the new capital city of Alexandria. The city showcased the power and prestige of Hellenistic rule, and became a seat of learning and culture, centered at the famous Library of Alexandria.
Hellenistic culture did not supplant native Egyptian culture, as the Ptolemies supported time-honored traditions in an effort to secure the loyalty of the populace. They built new temples in Egyptian style, supported traditional cults, and portrayed themselves as pharaohs. Some traditions merged, as Greek and Egyptian gods were syncretized into composite deities, such as Serapis , and classical Greek forms of sculpture influenced traditional Egyptian motifs.
Despite their efforts to appease the Egyptians, the Ptolemies were challenged by native rebellion, bitter family rivalries, and the powerful mob of Alexandria that formed after the death of Ptolemy IV. Continued Egyptian revolts, ambitious politicians, and powerful opponents from the Near East made this situation unstable, leading Rome to send forces to secure the country as a province of its empire.
The Romans relied heavily on grain shipments from Egypt, and the Roman army , under the control of a prefect appointed by the Emperor, quelled rebellions, strictly enforced the collection of heavy taxes, and prevented attacks by bandits, which had become a notorious problem during the period.
Although the Romans had a more hostile attitude than the Greeks towards the Egyptians, some traditions such as mummification and worship of the traditional gods continued. The former lived outside Egypt and did not perform the ceremonial functions of Egyptian kingship. Local administration became Roman in style and closed to native Egyptians. From the mid-first century AD, Christianity took root in Egypt and it was originally seen as another cult that could be accepted. However, it was an uncompromising religion that sought to win converts from Egyptian Religion and Greco-Roman religion and threatened popular religious traditions.
This led to the persecution of converts to Christianity, culminating in the great purges of Diocletian starting in , but eventually Christianity won out. While the native population certainly continued to speak their language , the ability to read hieroglyphic writing slowly disappeared as the role of the Egyptian temple priests and priestesses diminished.
The temples themselves were sometimes converted to churches or abandoned to the desert. In the fourth century, as the Roman Empire divided, Egypt found itself in the Eastern Empire with its capital at Constantinople. The pharaoh was the absolute monarch of the country and, at least in theory, wielded complete control of the land and its resources.
The king was the supreme military commander and head of the government, who relied on a bureaucracy of officials to manage his affairs. In charge of the administration was his second in command, the vizier , who acted as the king's representative and coordinated land surveys, the treasury, building projects, the legal system, and the archives. The temples formed the backbone of the economy.
Not only were they houses of worship , but were also responsible for collecting and storing the kingdom's wealth in a system of granaries and treasuries administered by overseers , who redistributed grain and goods. Much of the economy was centrally organized and strictly controlled. At first the coins were used as standardized pieces of precious metal rather than true money, but in the following centuries international traders came to rely on coinage. Egyptian society was highly stratified, and social status was expressly displayed. Farmers made up the bulk of the population, but agricultural produce was owned directly by the state, temple, or noble family that owned the land.
Scribes and officials formed the upper class in ancient Egypt, known as the "white kilt class" in reference to the bleached linen garments that served as a mark of their rank. Below the nobility were the priests, physicians, and engineers with specialized training in their field. It is unclear whether slavery as understood today existed in ancient Egypt, there is difference of opinions among authors. The ancient Egyptians viewed men and women, including people from all social classes, as essentially equal under the law, and even the lowliest peasant was entitled to petition the vizier and his court for redress.
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Married couples could own property jointly and protect themselves from divorce by agreeing to marriage contracts, which stipulated the financial obligations of the husband to his wife and children should the marriage end. Compared with their counterparts in ancient Greece, Rome, and even more modern places around the world, ancient Egyptian women had a greater range of personal choices and opportunities for achievement. Despite these freedoms, ancient Egyptian women did not often take part in official roles in the administration, served only secondary roles in the temples, and were not as likely to be as educated as men.
The head of the legal system was officially the pharaoh, who was responsible for enacting laws, delivering justice, and maintaining law and order, a concept the ancient Egyptians referred to as Ma'at. Plaintiffs and defendants were expected to represent themselves and were required to swear an oath that they had told the truth.
In some cases, the state took on both the role of prosecutor and judge, and it could torture the accused with beatings to obtain a confession and the names of any co-conspirators. Whether the charges were trivial or serious, court scribes documented the complaint, testimony, and verdict of the case for future reference. Punishment for minor crimes involved either imposition of fines, beatings, facial mutilation, or exile, depending on the severity of the offense.
Serious crimes such as murder and tomb robbery were punished by execution, carried out by decapitation, drowning, or impaling the criminal on a stake. Punishment could also be extended to the criminal's family. The procedure was to ask the god a "yes" or "no" question concerning the right or wrong of an issue.
The god, carried by a number of priests, rendered judgment by choosing one or the other, moving forward or backward, or pointing to one of the answers written on a piece of papyrus or an ostracon. A combination of favorable geographical features contributed to the success of ancient Egyptian culture, the most important of which was the rich fertile soil resulting from annual inundations of the Nile River.
The ancient Egyptians were thus able to produce an abundance of food, allowing the population to devote more time and resources to cultural, technological, and artistic pursuits. Land management was crucial in ancient Egypt because taxes were assessed based on the amount of land a person owned. Farming in Egypt was dependent on the cycle of the Nile River. The Egyptians recognized three seasons: Akhet flooding , Peret planting , and Shemu harvesting. The flooding season lasted from June to September, depositing on the river's banks a layer of mineral-rich silt ideal for growing crops.
After the floodwaters had receded, the growing season lasted from October to February. Farmers plowed and planted seeds in the fields, which were irrigated with ditches and canals. Egypt received little rainfall, so farmers relied on the Nile to water their crops. Winnowing removed the chaff from the grain, and the grain was then ground into flour, brewed to make beer, or stored for later use.
The ancient Egyptians cultivated emmer and barley , and several other cereal grains, all of which were used to make the two main food staples of bread and beer. These fibers were split along their length and spun into thread, which was used to weave sheets of linen and to make clothing. Papyrus growing on the banks of the Nile River was used to make paper. Vegetables and fruits were grown in garden plots, close to habitations and on higher ground, and had to be watered by hand.
Vegetables included leeks, garlic, melons, squashes, pulses, lettuce, and other crops, in addition to grapes that were made into wine. The Egyptians believed that a balanced relationship between people and animals was an essential element of the cosmic order; thus humans, animals and plants were believed to be members of a single whole.
Cattle were the most important livestock; the administration collected taxes on livestock in regular censuses, and the size of a herd reflected the prestige and importance of the estate or temple that owned them. In addition to cattle, the ancient Egyptians kept sheep, goats, and pigs. Poultry , such as ducks, geese, and pigeons, were captured in nets and bred on farms, where they were force-fed with dough to fatten them. Bees were also domesticated from at least the Old Kingdom, and provided both honey and wax.
The ancient Egyptians used donkeys and oxen as beasts of burden , and they were responsible for plowing the fields and trampling seed into the soil. The slaughter of a fattened ox was also a central part of an offering ritual. Camels, although known from the New Kingdom, were not used as beasts of burden until the Late Period. There is also evidence to suggest that elephants were briefly utilized in the Late Period but largely abandoned due to lack of grazing land. Herodotus observed that the Egyptians were the only people to keep their animals with them in their houses. Egypt is rich in building and decorative stone, copper and lead ores, gold, and semiprecious stones.
These natural resources allowed the ancient Egyptians to build monuments, sculpt statues, make tools, and fashion jewelry. There were extensive gold mines in Nubia , and one of the first maps known is of a gold mine in this region. The Wadi Hammamat was a notable source of granite, greywacke , and gold.
Flint was the first mineral collected and used to make tools, and flint handaxes are the earliest pieces of evidence of habitation in the Nile valley. Nodules of the mineral were carefully flaked to make blades and arrowheads of moderate hardness and durability even after copper was adopted for this purpose. The Egyptians worked deposits of the lead ore galena at Gebel Rosas to make net sinkers, plumb bobs, and small figurines. Copper was the most important metal for toolmaking in ancient Egypt and was smelted in furnaces from malachite ore mined in the Sinai.
Iron deposits found in upper Egypt were utilized in the Late Period. Deposits of decorative stones such as porphyry , greywacke, alabaster , and carnelian dotted the eastern desert and were collected even before the First Dynasty. The ancient Egyptians engaged in trade with their foreign neighbors to obtain rare, exotic goods not found in Egypt.
In the Predynastic Period , they established trade with Nubia to obtain gold and incense. They also established trade with Palestine, as evidenced by Palestinian-style oil jugs found in the burials of the First Dynasty pharaohs. By the Second Dynasty at latest, ancient Egyptian trade with Byblos yielded a critical source of quality timber not found in Egypt. By the Fifth Dynasty, trade with Punt provided gold, aromatic resins, ebony, ivory, and wild animals such as monkeys and baboons. The ancient Egyptians prized the blue stone lapis lazuli , which had to be imported from far-away Afghanistan.
Egypt's Mediterranean trade partners also included Greece and Crete, which provided, among other goods, supplies of olive oil.
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The Egyptian language is a northern Afro-Asiatic language closely related to the Berber and Semitic languages. Ancient Egyptian was a synthetic language , but it became more analytic later on. Late Egyptian developed prefixal definite and indefinite articles , which replaced the older inflectional suffixes.
There was a change from the older verb—subject—object word order to subject—verb—object. Coptic is still used in the liturgy of the Egyptian Orthodox Church , and traces of it are found in modern Egyptian Arabic. Ancient Egyptian has 25 consonants similar to those of other Afro-Asiatic languages.
The Fall of Ancient Egypt
These include pharyngeal and emphatic consonants, voiced and voiceless stops, voiceless fricatives and voiced and voiceless affricates. It has three long and three short vowels, which expanded in Late Egyptian to about nine. Suffixes are added to form words. The verb conjugation corresponds to the person. Adjectives are derived from nouns through a process that Egyptologists call nisbation because of its similarity with Arabic.
Hieroglyphic writing dates from c. A hieroglyph can represent a word, a sound, or a silent determinative; and the same symbol can serve different purposes in different contexts. Hieroglyphs were a formal script, used on stone monuments and in tombs, that could be as detailed as individual works of art. In day-to-day writing, scribes used a cursive form of writing, called hieratic , which was quicker and easier. While formal hieroglyphs may be read in rows or columns in either direction though typically written from right to left , hieratic was always written from right to left, usually in horizontal rows.
A new form of writing, Demotic , became the prevalent writing style, and it is this form of writing—along with formal hieroglyphs—that accompany the Greek text on the Rosetta Stone. Around the first century AD, the Coptic alphabet started to be used alongside the Demotic script. Coptic is a modified Greek alphabet with the addition of some Demotic signs. As the traditional religious establishments were disbanded, knowledge of hieroglyphic writing was mostly lost.
Writing first appeared in association with kingship on labels and tags for items found in royal tombs. It was primarily an occupation of the scribes, who worked out of the Per Ankh institution or the House of Life. The latter comprised offices, libraries called House of Books , laboratories and observatories. Late Egyptian was spoken from the New Kingdom onward and is represented in Ramesside administrative documents, love poetry and tales, as well as in Demotic and Coptic texts.
During this period, the tradition of writing had evolved into the tomb autobiography, such as those of Harkhuf and Weni. The genre known as Sebayt "instructions" was developed to communicate teachings and guidance from famous nobles; the Ipuwer papyrus , a poem of lamentations describing natural disasters and social upheaval, is a famous example. The former tells the story of a noble who is robbed on his way to buy cedar from Lebanon and of his struggle to return to Egypt. Many stories written in demotic during the Greco-Roman period were set in previous historical eras, when Egypt was an independent nation ruled by great pharaohs such as Ramesses II.
Most ancient Egyptians were farmers tied to the land. Their dwellings were restricted to immediate family members, and were constructed of mud-brick designed to remain cool in the heat of the day. Each home had a kitchen with an open roof, which contained a grindstone for milling grain and a small oven for baking the bread.
Floors were covered with reed mats, while wooden stools, beds raised from the floor and individual tables comprised the furniture. The ancient Egyptians placed a great value on hygiene and appearance. Most bathed in the Nile and used a pasty soap made from animal fat and chalk. Men shaved their entire bodies for cleanliness; perfumes and aromatic ointments covered bad odors and soothed skin. Children went without clothing until maturity, at about age 12, and at this age males were circumcised and had their heads shaved.
Mothers were responsible for taking care of the children, while the father provided the family's income. Music and dance were popular entertainments for those who could afford them. Early instruments included flutes and harps, while instruments similar to trumpets, oboes, and pipes developed later and became popular. In the New Kingdom, the Egyptians played on bells, cymbals, tambourines, drums, and imported lutes and lyres from Asia. The ancient Egyptians enjoyed a variety of leisure activities, including games and music.
Senet , a board game where pieces moved according to random chance, was particularly popular from the earliest times; another similar game was mehen , which had a circular gaming board. The first complete set of this game was discovered from a Theban tomb of the Egyptian pharaoh Amenemhat IV that dates to the 13th Dynasty. The excavation of the workers village of Deir el-Medina has resulted in one of the most thoroughly documented accounts of community life in the ancient world, which spans almost four hundred years.
Ancient Egypt: A Brief History | Live Science
There is no comparable site in which the organization, social interactions, working and living conditions of a community have been studied in such detail. Egyptian cuisine remained remarkably stable over time; indeed, the cuisine of modern Egypt retains some striking similarities to the cuisine of the ancients.
The staple diet consisted of bread and beer, supplemented with vegetables such as onions and garlic, and fruit such as dates and figs. Wine and meat were enjoyed by all on feast days while the upper classes indulged on a more regular basis. Fish, meat, and fowl could be salted or dried, and could be cooked in stews or roasted on a grill.
The architecture of ancient Egypt includes some of the most famous structures in the world: the Great Pyramids of Giza and the temples at Thebes. Building projects were organized and funded by the state for religious and commemorative purposes, but also to reinforce the wide-ranging power of the pharaoh.
The ancient Egyptians were skilled builders; using only simple but effective tools and sighting instruments, architects could build large stone structures with great accuracy and precision that is still envied today. The domestic dwellings of elite and ordinary Egyptians alike were constructed from perishable materials such as mud bricks and wood, and have not survived. Peasants lived in simple homes, while the palaces of the elite and the pharaoh were more elaborate structures. A few surviving New Kingdom palaces, such as those in Malkata and Amarna , show richly decorated walls and floors with scenes of people, birds, water pools, deities and geometric designs.
The architectural elements used in the world's first large-scale stone building, Djoser 's mortuary complex, include post and lintel supports in the papyrus and lotus motif. The earliest preserved ancient Egyptian temples , such as those at Giza, consist of single, enclosed halls with roof slabs supported by columns.
In the New Kingdom, architects added the pylon , the open courtyard , and the enclosed hypostyle hall to the front of the temple's sanctuary, a style that was standard until the Greco-Roman period. The step pyramid of Djoser is a series of stone mastabas stacked on top of each other. Pyramids were built during the Old and Middle Kingdoms, but most later rulers abandoned them in favor of less conspicuous rock-cut tombs. The ancient Egyptians produced art to serve functional purposes. For over years, artists adhered to artistic forms and iconography that were developed during the Old Kingdom, following a strict set of principles that resisted foreign influence and internal change.
Images and text were intimately interwoven on tomb and temple walls, coffins, stelae, and even statues. The Narmer Palette , for example, displays figures that can also be read as hieroglyphs. Ancient Egyptian artisans used stone as a medium for carving statues and fine reliefs, but used wood as a cheap and easily carved substitute. Paints were obtained from minerals such as iron ores red and yellow ochres , copper ores blue and green , soot or charcoal black , and limestone white.
Paints could be mixed with gum arabic as a binder and pressed into cakes, which could be moistened with water when needed. Pharaohs used reliefs to record victories in battle, royal decrees, and religious scenes. Common citizens had access to pieces of funerary art , such as shabti statues and books of the dead, which they believed would protect them in the afterlife. In an attempt to duplicate the activities of the living in the afterlife, these models show laborers, houses, boats, and even military formations that are scale representations of the ideal ancient Egyptian afterlife.
Despite the homogeneity of ancient Egyptian art, the styles of particular times and places sometimes reflected changing cultural or political attitudes. Beliefs in the divine and in the afterlife were ingrained in ancient Egyptian civilization from its inception; pharaonic rule was based on the divine right of kings. The Egyptian pantheon was populated by gods who had supernatural powers and were called on for help or protection. However, the gods were not always viewed as benevolent, and Egyptians believed they had to be appeased with offerings and prayers.
The structure of this pantheon changed continually as new deities were promoted in the hierarchy, but priests made no effort to organize the diverse and sometimes conflicting myths and stories into a coherent system. Gods were worshiped in cult temples administered by priests acting on the king's behalf.
At the center of the temple was the cult statue in a shrine. Temples were not places of public worship or congregation, and only on select feast days and celebrations was a shrine carrying the statue of the god brought out for public worship. Normally, the god's domain was sealed off from the outside world and was only accessible to temple officials.
Common citizens could worship private statues in their homes, and amulets offered protection against the forces of chaos. As a result, priests developed a system of oracles to communicate the will of the gods directly to the people. The Egyptians believed that every human being was composed of physical and spiritual parts or aspects. After death, the spiritual aspects were released from the body and could move at will, but they required the physical remains or a substitute, such as a statue as a permanent home.
The ultimate goal of the deceased was to rejoin his ka and ba and become one of the "blessed dead", living on as an akh , or "effective one". For this to happen, the deceased had to be judged worthy in a trial, in which the heart was weighed against a " feather of truth. The ancient Egyptians maintained an elaborate set of burial customs that they believed were necessary to ensure immortality after death.
These customs involved preserving the body by mummification , performing burial ceremonies, and interring with the body goods the deceased would use in the afterlife. The arid, desert conditions were a boon throughout the history of ancient Egypt for burials of the poor, who could not afford the elaborate burial preparations available to the elite. Wealthier Egyptians began to bury their dead in stone tombs and use artificial mummification, which involved removing the internal organs , wrapping the body in linen, and burying it in a rectangular stone sarcophagus or wooden coffin.
Beginning in the Fourth Dynasty, some parts were preserved separately in canopic jars. By the New Kingdom, the ancient Egyptians had perfected the art of mummification; the best technique took 70 days and involved removing the internal organs, removing the brain through the nose, and desiccating the body in a mixture of salts called natron. The body was then wrapped in linen with protective amulets inserted between layers and placed in a decorated anthropoid coffin. Mummies of the Late Period were also placed in painted cartonnage mummy cases.
Actual preservation practices declined during the Ptolemaic and Roman eras, while greater emphasis was placed on the outer appearance of the mummy, which was decorated. Wealthy Egyptians were buried with larger quantities of luxury items, but all burials, regardless of social status, included goods for the deceased. Funerary texts were often included in the grave, and, beginning in the New Kingdom, so were shabti statues that were believed to perform manual labor for them in the afterlife. After burial, living relatives were expected to occasionally bring food to the tomb and recite prayers on behalf of the deceased.
The ancient Egyptian military was responsible for defending Egypt against foreign invasion, and for maintaining Egypt's domination in the ancient Near East. The military protected mining expeditions to the Sinai during the Old Kingdom and fought civil wars during the First and Second Intermediate Periods. The military was responsible for maintaining fortifications along important trade routes, such as those found at the city of Buhen on the way to Nubia. Forts also were constructed to serve as military bases, such as the fortress at Sile, which was a base of operations for expeditions to the Levant.
In the New Kingdom, a series of pharaohs used the standing Egyptian army to attack and conquer Kush and parts of the Levant. Typical military equipment included bows and arrows , spears, and round-topped shields made by stretching animal skin over a wooden frame. In the New Kingdom, the military began using chariots that had earlier been introduced by the Hyksos invaders. Weapons and armor continued to improve after the adoption of bronze: shields were now made from solid wood with a bronze buckle, spears were tipped with a bronze point, and the Khopesh was adopted from Asiatic soldiers.
In technology, medicine, and mathematics, ancient Egypt achieved a relatively high standard of productivity and sophistication. Traditional empiricism , as evidenced by the Edwin Smith and Ebers papyri c. The Egyptians created their own alphabet and decimal system. Even before the Old Kingdom, the ancient Egyptians had developed a glassy material known as faience , which they treated as a type of artificial semi-precious stone. Faience is a non-clay ceramic made of silica , small amounts of lime and soda , and a colorant, typically copper.
Several methods can be used to create faience, but typically production involved application of the powdered materials in the form of a paste over a clay core, which was then fired. By a related technique, the ancient Egyptians produced a pigment known as Egyptian Blue , also called blue frit, which is produced by fusing or sintering silica, copper, lime, and an alkali such as natron.
The product can be ground up and used as a pigment.
The ancient Egyptians could fabricate a wide variety of objects from glass with great skill, but it is not clear whether they developed the process independently. However, they did have technical expertise in making objects, as well as adding trace elements to control the color of the finished glass. A range of colors could be produced, including yellow, red, green, blue, purple, and white, and the glass could be made either transparent or opaque.
The medical problems of the ancient Egyptians stemmed directly from their environment. Living and working close to the Nile brought hazards from malaria and debilitating schistosomiasis parasites, which caused liver and intestinal damage. Dangerous wildlife such as crocodiles and hippos were also a common threat. The lifelong labors of farming and building put stress on the spine and joints, and traumatic injuries from construction and warfare all took a significant toll on the body.
The grit and sand from stone-ground flour abraded teeth, leaving them susceptible to abscesses though caries were rare. The diets of the wealthy were rich in sugars, which promoted periodontal disease. Ancient Egyptian physicians were renowned in the ancient Near East for their healing skills, and some, such as Imhotep , remained famous long after their deaths.
Medical papyri show empirical knowledge of anatomy, injuries, and practical treatments. Wounds were treated by bandaging with raw meat, white linen, sutures, nets, pads, and swabs soaked with honey to prevent infection,  while opium thyme and belladona were used to relieve pain.
The earliest records of burn treatment describe burn dressings that use the milk from mothers of male babies. Prayers were made to the goddess Isis. Moldy bread, honey and copper salts were also used to prevent infection from dirt in burns. Ancient Egyptian surgeons stitched wounds, set broken bones , and amputated diseased limbs, but they recognized that some injuries were so serious that they could only make the patient comfortable until death occurred.
The Archaeological Institute of America reports that the oldest planked ships known are the Abydos boats. Discovered by Egyptologist David O'Connor of New York University ,  woven straps were found to have been used to lash the planks together,  and reeds or grass stuffed between the planks helped to seal the seams. Early Egyptians also knew how to assemble planks of wood with treenails to fasten them together, using pitch for caulking the seams.
The " Khufu ship ", a Early Egyptians also knew how to fasten the planks of this ship together with mortise and tenon joints. Large seagoing ships are known to have been heavily used by the Egyptians in their trade with the city states of the eastern Mediterranean, especially Byblos on the coast of modern-day Lebanon , and in several expeditions down the Red Sea to the Land of Punt. In archaeologists from Italy, the United States, and Egypt excavating a dried-up lagoon known as Mersa Gawasis have unearthed traces of an ancient harbor that once launched early voyages like Hatshepsut 's Punt expedition onto the open ocean.
In , an ancient north-south canal dating to the Middle Kingdom of Egypt was discovered extending from Lake Timsah to the Ballah Lakes. The earliest attested examples of mathematical calculations date to the predynastic Naqada period, and show a fully developed numeral system. They understood basic concepts of algebra and geometry , and could solve simple sets of simultaneous equations.
Mathematical notation was decimal, and based on hieroglyphic signs for each power of ten up to one million. Each of these could be written as many times as necessary to add up to the desired number; so to write the number eighty or eight hundred, the symbol for ten or one hundred was written eight times respectively. Standard tables of values facilitated this.
Ancient Egyptian mathematicians knew the Pythagorean theorem as an empirical formula. They were aware, for example, that a triangle had a right angle opposite the hypotenuse when its sides were in a 3—4—5 ratio. The golden ratio seems to be reflected in many Egyptian constructions, including the pyramids , but its use may have been an unintended consequence of the ancient Egyptian practice of combining the use of knotted ropes with an intuitive sense of proportion and harmony.
Greek historian Herodotus claimed that ancient Egyptians looked like the people in Colchis modern-day Georgia. This claim has been largely discredited as fictional by modern-day scholars. For the fact is as I soon came to realise myself, and then heard from others later, that the Colchians are obviously Egyptian. When the notion occurred to me, I asked both the Colchians and the Egyptians about it, and found that the Colchians had better recall of the Egyptians than the Egyptians did of them.
Some Egyptians said that they thought the Colchians originated with Sesostris ' army, but I myself guessed their Egyptian origin not only because the Colchians are dark-skinned and curly-haired which does not count for much by itself, because these features are common in others too but more importantly because Colchians, Egyptians and Ethiopians are the only peoples in the world who practise circumcision and who have always done so. A team led by Johannes Krause managed the first reliable sequencing of the genomes of 90 mummified individuals in from northern Egypt buried near modern-day Cairo , which constituted "the first reliable data set obtained from ancient Egyptians using high-throughput DNA sequencing methods.
What's more, the genetics of the mummies remained remarkably consistent even as different powers—including Nubians, Greeks, and Romans—conquered the empire. Other genetic studies show much greater levels of sub-Saharan African ancestry in the current-day populations of southern as opposed to northern Egypt,  and anticipate that mummies from southern Egypt would contain greater levels of sub-Saharan African ancestry than Lower Egyptian mummies.
Ramesses II pharaoh's mummy reveals an aquiline nose and strong jaw. It stands at about 1. The mummy was also forensically tested by Professor Pierre-Fernand Ceccaldi, the chief forensic scientist at the Criminal Identification Laboratory of Paris. Professor Ceccaldi determined that: "Hair, astonishingly preserved, showed some complementary data—especially about pigmentation: Ramses II was a ginger haired ' cymnotriche leucoderma '.
The culture and monuments of ancient Egypt have left a lasting legacy on the world. The cult of the goddess Isis , for example, became popular in the Roman Empire , as obelisks and other relics were transported back to Rome. Early historians such as Herodotus , Strabo , and Diodorus Siculus studied and wrote about the land, which Romans came to view as a place of mystery. During the Middle Ages and the Renaissance , Egyptian pagan culture was in decline after the rise of Christianity and later Islam , but interest in Egyptian antiquity continued in the writings of medieval scholars such as Dhul-Nun al-Misri and al-Maqrizi.
This renewed interest sent collectors to Egypt, who took, purchased, or were given many important antiquities. Although the European colonial occupation of Egypt destroyed a significant portion of the country's historical legacy, some foreigners left more positive marks. In the 20th century, the Egyptian Government and archaeologists alike recognized the importance of cultural respect and integrity in excavations.
The Supreme Council of Antiquities now approves and oversees all excavations, which are aimed at finding information rather than treasure. The council also supervises museums and monument reconstruction programs designed to preserve the historical legacy of Egypt. Tourists at the pyramid complex of Khafre near the Great Sphinx of Giza. Although we use this word without distinction, it is an anachronism when used to refer to the Egyptian kings prior to the eighteenth dynasty.
T he pharaohs began ruling Egypt in B. During the Old Kingdom B. They built pyramids as testimony of their greatness but left no official records of their achievements. B y the Middle Kingdom , the pharaohs no longer considered themselves to be living gods, but rather the representatives of the gods on earth. They left records of their deeds, but these were no more than a string of titles and laudatory epithets. T o reinforce their image as powerful divine rulers, the pharaohs represented themselves in writings and sculptured reliefs on temple walls.
They often depicted themselves as warriors who single-handedly killed scores of enemies and slaughtered a whole pride of lions. Similar depictions were repeated by one pharaoh after another, which leads one to question the validity of the scenes. These deeds of heroism were, in part, designed for propaganda purposes. They reinforced the position of the king as head of state rather than reflecting historical reality.
I n the fourth century B.
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