Geography • Northeast Africa • Crossroads of 3 Major Continents
Geography (continued) • Natural Barriers • North: Med. Sea; South: Falls on the Nile; East: Red Sea; West: Desert • Prevented frequent invasions • Nile River (4100 miles, longest in world) • Center of Egyptian economics and culture • Annual predictable flooding irrigates and replenishes the soil; consistent harvest (Gift of the Nile • Sometimes called “Black Lands,” for its rich soil. The surrounding desert is called “Red Lands”
Nile (continued) • Originally only the lower Nile, near the Mediterranean, was known to Egyptians • After 750 miles granite cliffs turned the waters into cataracts (rapids), that boats could not pass • Lower Egypt was the last 100 miles into the sea; Upper Egypt was from that point back to the first cataract
Discussion • What were the physical characteristics and processes of the ancient Nile River Valley? • How did the physical characteristics of the place affect the human characteristics that developed? • Would there be an Egypt without the Nile?
Old, Middle, and New Kingdoms • 3100 BC King Menes unites Upper and Lower Egypt (kingdom was stable for nearly 3000 years) • The Old Kingdom (2660-2180 BC) starts with the 3rd dynasty of Egyptian rulers (Menes was first dynasty) • Monarchs were called Pharaohs, and were considered divine • There were 9 distinct periods, and many dynasties • When things went poorly, it was believed to have been due to subjects not obeying gods’ representatives on earth
Pharaoh • Literally means, “Great House” • Considered Theocracy and were dynastic • Pharaohs appointed a vizier, which is a steward of the land, and was responsible for running the bureaucracy • There were 42 provinces, each with a governor
Religion “Cult of the Dead” • Polytheistic – belief in many gods • Burial Practices • Mummification • Belief in 2 bodies: physical and spiritual (Ka) and they needed each other, even after death • Elaborate 70 day process meant to preserve the body so that the Ka would be able to return to the body
Religion (continued) • Pyramids (started in the Old Kingdom) • Tombs to honor the Pharaohs • Cities of the Dead: The pyramids were just part of the complex of the overall burial site
Religion (continued) • Pyramids (continued) • Engineering marvels • Tallest structures on earth for 43 centuries • Covers 13 football fields • 2 million precisely cut 2-ton blocks • Contents • Buried with many (sometimes thousands) of items. • Discovery of King Tut’s tomb was important because it was intact.
Miscellaneous • They used hieroglyphics and papyrus • Use of chariots • Old Kingdom begins decline around 2180 BC • After The First Intermediate Period (a time of turmoil and unrest), the Middle Kingdom begins under strong Pharaohs (2080-1640 BC)
Miscellaneous (continued) • Middle Kingdom ends around 1640 BC, as the Hyksos (nomadic Asian chariot riders) invaded. Ruled until 1570 BC • This 70 year period that the Hyksos ruled is called the Second Intermediate period • The New Kingdom would rise again, but we will discuss that at a later time.
Question • How did natural barriers affect the development of the region, and its geographic patterns?