Ancient Egypt

Ancient Egypt Ancient Egypt The term culture is one that can be defined in many ways. Culture is defined as: the ideas, activities, and ways of behaving that are special to a country, people, or region. Museums such as the Field Museum attempt to give its visitors a sense of the culture and history of different countries, as well as a sense of US culture and history. In this quest however, museums often focus on one specific nature of the culture [of a country] and lose sight of the whole picture – the entire culture. After all, the US culture is primarily a capitalistic one, and museums – in addition to their quest to educate the American public – overemphasize what they feel is the most intriguing aspect of a specific culture.

In this manner, museum officials are looking to attract more people and consequently bring in more money. Capitalistically speaking, it is in their best interest to overstress the parts of an exhibit to which the public will be attracted. In doing so, however, the museum visitor does not get an objective view of the culture of a country. The Field Museum’s approach to Ancient Egyptian culture attempts to cover all bases of the culture, but falls seriously short of doing just this. The Museum focuses too much on the Ancient Egyptian approach to death and the afterlife in a serious, informative aspect.

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This is done by the sheer location of the exhibit, providing numerous historical plaques, and by the mysterious, alluring atmosphere of the pyramid exhibit that the Museum gives to the visitor. Yet the Museum downplays the daily life of the Ancient Egyptians by pushing this less intriguing exhibit behind the afterlife exhibit, by providing few informative historical plaques, and by filling the exhibit with cartoons of the everyday life of the Ancient Egyptian, thereby simplifying the exhibit. Therefore, although the Ancient Egypt exhibit preserves a good sense of the preparation of death and afterlife aspect of the ancient Egyptian culture, it lacks in providing such a sound exhibit for the daily life of the ancient Egyptians, thereby portraying a false impression of Egyptian culture to the public. Located on the first floor of the museum, the Ancient Egyptian exhibit attracts visitors immediately; the ominous immense pyramid creates a dark, mysterious presence, and invites visitors to step inside. The first impression of the exhibit is of a focus on death and the afterlife. This may lead to the false impression that the Ancient Egyptian culture was driven around embalming and entombing dead bodies.

As one makes its way through the labyrinth of the pyramid, one is surrounded by recovered organ jars, tombs, mummified Egyptians and the artifacts that they were buried with. The walls of the pyramid are authentic limestone taken from actual sites in Egypt. Large woven tapestries hang from one of such walls and describe the afterlife and the gods involved. Gods are all represented as having animal heads, and bodies of humans. Wooden cases that would be placed inside the immense stone tombs, stand upright and are open for public viewing: hieroglyphics on the inside of the wooden encasing describe the procedure of the afterlife for the person entombed inside.

The pyramid houses many mummies, some of whose wrappings have come undone and allow the visitor to see the actual body of the mummy. The pyramid is a very captivating exhibit, and it’s location – its proximity to the entrance of the museum creates a false sense of the Ancient Egyptian culture. A visitor who knows nothing about the culture is lead to assume that the majority of Egyptian life was used to prepare for the after life. At the end of the pyramid, the visitor is lead to a small exhibit whose purpose is to portray a sense of the daily life of the ancient Egyptian. The location of this exhibit, behind the pyramid, gives the impression of being a less important and less frequent aspect of Egyptian culture.

The visitor is lead through a less cramped exhibit of the every day live of an ancient Egyptian. There is a display in which one can “envision himself as an Egyptian”: the visitor can put his face up to a pane of glass, behind which is a model of an Egyptian face. The visitor is shown how he would look as a typical ancient Egyptian. This exhibit, while interesting and entertaining, has very little to do with every day life of the ancient Egyptian. Through out the exhibit, there are few artifacts, and even less information on the daily events of an ancient Egyptian.

Two to three small, five-foot tall walls are painted with cartoon images of different scenarios that were”typical” of ancient Egyptian culture. This exhibit pales in comparison to the pyramid exhibit of ancient Egyptian life. In an attempt to give a complete view of ancient Egyptian culture, the Field Museum falls short. The impression that the museum gives to an uninformed visitor is that Ancient Egyptians spent most of their life preparing themselves for death and the afterlife. This is due to the set up of the Ancient Egyptian exhibit; the after life exhibit is put before the daily life exhibit, thereby making the afterlife more important and prominent.

In addition to the difference in location, another aspect of the Ancient Egypt exhibit promotes the emphasis on the afterlife and gives a biased view of the entire culture of the Ancient Egyptians. As one enters the pyramids, there are numerous informative historical plaques that give detailed information about the artifact or aspect of Egyptian life it is explaining. In contrast, the daily life exhibit gives little or no information on the daily life of the ancient Egyptians. As the visitor walks into the pyramid, he is presented with a plaque describing the hieroglyphics on the wall. The visitor is given a sense of the significance of the hieroglyphics, the meaning of them and the era in which they were written.

Farther into the exhibit, there were plaques describing the significance and the role of the jars which contained the organs of the person being mummified. Some plaques described the hieroglyphics inside of the wooden cases that the mummies were placed, before being buried in the large stone tombs. This kind of informative plaques was given for several, if not all, of the exhibits in the pyramid. On the contrary, in the daily life exhibit of the …

Ancient Egypt

Between 3100 and 332 B.C was the rise and climax of one of the richest and oldest
ancient civilizations. Its lifeline was the Nile river in the Nile valley. Here, Egyptian
dynasties ruled from the first cataract of the Nile to the Mediterranean Sea. At the its
height it ruled an empire that reached from Syria in the east to Nubia in the south.

In this report I will be covering the Archaic Period, the Old Kingdom, the Middle
Kingdom the New Kingdom and The Late Period or 3100-332 B.C.
Archaic Period: 3100 B.C to 2750 B.C
There long history began with there first King who began the first Egyptian dynasty. In
3100 B.C Pharaoh Menes united upper and lower Egypt. Making Egypts first empire. In
doing so, he made the Egyptian double crown. It was made by putting the red crown of
Lower Egypt on top of the white crown of upper Egypt.
Menes ruled from the ancient city of Thinis near Abydos. Under his reign the first
hieroglyphic writing was made. He is also credited with making his empire

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Old Kingdom: 2750 B.C to 2181 B.C / First Intermediate Period: 2182-2260
Little is known about Menes successors until the reign of Zoser at the end of the 3rd
dynasty. His capital was located at Memphis on the Niles west bank. He built the
worlds first pyramid and the first building of that size to be entirely made of stone. Even
though it was a pyramid it wasnt a true pyramid, but a step pyramid.

After the reign of the last king of the Sixth dynasty (the last dynasty in the old kingdom.)
Pepi II in 2181 B.C, there was a period of crisis and social upheaval known as the First
Intermediate Period. The reasons leading up to this dark time, was a series of low floods
and the result was famine during the Sixth dynasty. This undermined the stability of Egypt
and provoked rebellion.

What followed put Egypt in rapid decline. With no central power the provinces became
independent states the were often at war with each other. To make the situation worse
was a penetration of nomadic foreigners into the delta region of the Nile Valley.

Middle Kingdom: 2061-1784 B.C/Second Intermediate Period 1633-1570
The accession in 2060 B.C. of Mentuhotep II of Thebes the first pharaoh of the Middle
Kingdom, ended 90 years of conflict with a dynasty established a Herakleopolis, south of
Memphis. This strong Eleventh Dynasty ruler restored order in Egypt. He drove the
Asiatics from the delta and campaigned against the Libyans and nomadic tribes in the Sinai
and the eastern desert. Trade also expanded to Nubia, Syria and Palestine under his reign.
Mentuhotep II reigned for 50 years and was buried at Deir el-Bahri. Under the reign of
Sesostris II (1897-1878 B.C) huge irrigation works were built at the oasis at
Faiyum. Sesostris III (1878-1843) expanded Egypts southern border to the second
At such times of powerful rulers, Egypt was governed by an efficient administration.
Taxation provided much of the wealth and was carefully organized. A census of fields and
of all cattle was taken every two years. In addition to tax calculation and collection,
another important official function was the building up reserves of grain stocks to prevent
famine after a bad harvest. The state controlled all foreign trade and owned the mines and

After the end of the Thirteenth Dynasty in 1633 B.C Egypt fell into another period of
decline known as the second intermediate period. During this period Egypt was divided
into four areas: the southern area ruled by 17th dynasty Theban rulers, the central area
that owed allegiance to Thebes, the 15th and 16th dynasties or the Hyksos that ruled most
of the delta and the 14th dynasty that ruled a small are in the delta.

The Hyksos identity is not known and there was no evidence that they invaded Egypt.
This suggest that there takeover was peaceful as a result of their increased population in
the delta. During the middle kingdom the Hyksos were employed by the state of Egypt to
mine in the Sinai mines and in Egypt itself. Later their population in the delta was so large
that it was larger than the Egyptian population the delta, so this was the probable cause of
there takeover.

The Hyksos rule over Egypt was very unpopular with the people of Egypt and according
to tradition Hyksos were an anarchy, who were accused of burning temple and cities. But
evidence suggest that the Hyksos respected and even adapted to the Egyptian culture and
religion. And they also made many advances in many things. One of the more important
things were the horse drawn chariots.

Whatever the nature of the Hyksos rule they where still very unpopular. However one of
the consequences of the Hyksos rule was the dramatic change in Egypts attitudes toward
war and foreign conquest. And after a hundred years of rule, the Theban prince Seqenere
began the struggle against the Hyksos, dying in battle of fatal head wounds. His son
Kamose drove the Hyksos from Middle Egypt and took Avaris. In 1570 B.C he was
succeeded by his younger brother Ahmosis, who drove the Hyksos out of Egypt persued
them into Palestine and eliminated them in a series of campaigns.

The New Kingdom 1570-1045
After a decade of fighting Egypt was restored and Ahmosis formed the most illustrious
18th dynasty of The New Kingdom or The Empire. And once again Egypt. The founder
of this Illustrious family died in 1546 B.C.

Under a series of rulers once again controlled Syria, Palestine and Nubia. And under the
reign of Amenophis II Egypt expanded its empire beyond the Fourth Cataract. One of
the many new lands that were conquered was Kush. And soon Egypt was depending on
Kushs mines for gold. And the capital moved to Thebes.

Egypts power and prosperity were largely the result of the exploits of a few kings.
Thuthmosis I campaigned as far as the Euphrates and first brought Syria and Palestine
under Egyptian rule. Following the reign of Hatshepsut the widow of Tuthmosis II, her
nephew and stepson Tuthmosis III reasserted Egyptian authority over kingdoms in Asia
and came in conflict with Mitanni. Under Tuthmosis IV, a peace treaty was concluded
between these powers and sealed by dynastic marriage. Toward the end of Amenophis III
reign, the Hittites sacked Mitannis capital and began to dominate Egypts land in Syria.
Egyptian influence in the area collapsed.

After the reign of Horemheb (1348-1320 B.C) the 18th dynasty was over and the 19th
dynasty began. The first ruler of the new dynasty was Ramesses I. His reign of 2 years
was succeeded by his son, Seti I who did much to restore Egypts prestige. There was
one campaign against the Libyans and he also campaigned in the east and restored
Egyptian control over Palestine. Egypt came into conflict with the Hittites in Syria, but by
the end of Seti Is reign, the two powers seemed to come to an understanding.

Setis son Ramesses II resumed hostilities and attacked the Hittites under King Muwatallis
at Qadesh. The details of this encounter for the control of Syria are know because
Ramesses had it recorded as a great victory on several temples. In fact the result was
indecisive, and both armies suffered heavy losses.

The rest of Ramesses IIs reign was fairly peaceful and prosperous. Nubia was still under
his control, although there seemed to be difficulty in the production of gold. He also
moved his capital north to Pi-Ramesse. Under his successors, Egypt fell into a period of
decline. Merneptah fought and defeated invading Libyans, who were allied with the Sea
People. In the reign of the Twentieth Dynasty pharoah Ramesses III, Egypt was once
again attaked Libyans and the Sea People. Three campaigns were fought in the Delta
before the invaders were beaten.

Although most of Ramesses III reign was prosperous and the king made many gifts to the
temples, toward the end there were problems. First there was a strike because monthly
food rations were overdue. More serious was the discovery that several of his wives and
officials in his harem were in a plot to kill him. As punishment, some of the plotters were
allowed to kill themselves, while others lived, but got there noses and ears off.

The next eight pharohs were all called Ramesses, and under them Egypt lost the what was
left of its empire and became increasingly unstable.

The Late Period: 1045-332 B.C
This was the downfall of Egypt and was the last intermediate period. After the end of the
20th Dynasty Egypt was divided between the High Preist at Thebes and the Vizier of
lower egypt, Smendes who ruled from Tanis. And as usual, at times when Egypt was in
turmoil conquerors came. In this case the Libyans once again attacked and settled in the
delta. In 747 B.C the Nubians came to power, but it was shortlived fore the Assyrians
overran the Nubians in 667 B.C. Between the years of 663-525 B.C the Egyptians
became independent under th 26th dynasty. Then in 605 B.C The Babylonians conquered
Egypt, then in 539 B.C the Persians defeated the Babylonians and conquered Egypt. Then
finally in 332 B.C Alexander the Great of Macedonia Conquered Egypt and built his city
of Alexandria.

In conclusion I think Egypt is by far the least warlike civilization of its time. I think this
because it only fighted invaders and not until the New Kingdom did it conquer foreign
lands on the large scale.

Ancient Egypt

.. radually, the characteristic material culture of the south had been spreading, and it replaced the once different one of northern Egypt in Nakada III times. Throughout the period 5000-3100 BC foreign influences were significant, but direct ones are hard to distinguish from indirect. Domesticated grains and some domesticated animals may have come via Syria and Palestine, perhaps at the time of Merimdehs’s earliest phase, which shows influences from these regions in material culture also. Both northern and southern Egypt traded with Syria, Palestine, and northeast Africa throughout Predynastic times. Particularly striking and so far found mainly in southern Egypt (Nakada I and II) are Mesopotamian-style cylinder seals, pottery, and artistic motifs, but these may have come through intermediaries rather than by direct contact.

Predynastic architecture, using wood, matting, and mud brick, is best attested in cemeteries, where pit graves were lined with wood or brick and roofed with matting or stone slabs; eventually, some graves had small, solid superstructures of brick and rubble. Some settlements have been partially excavated; and a possible Predynastic temple was recently found at HIERAKONPOLIS. Art was well developed but small scale. Figurines and statuettes of individual humans or animals, some modeled realistically, were made in mud, pottery, and ivory; slate cosmetic palettes might be in bird or animal form; and painted designs on pottery placed humans, animals, and boats together in sometimes complex designs. Most of these art forms were from tombs and were magical or religious representations. Battles, hunts, and ceremonial scenes were favorite motifs.

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In all areas, conventions typical of historical art were emerging. Such art, appearing realistic, actually followed conventions that were to remain dominant for millennia thereafter. In painting and relief, human and animal figures are always drawn according to a set of fixed proportions, and reality is ignored so as to present the most characteristic aspects. Humans, for example, always have heads, legs, and feet in profile but eye and torso presented frontally. Figures were scaled according to their importance, and perspective was ignored. Landscapes were depicted in schematic form, but architecture was rarely attempted. Subject matter is also highly selective, for an idealized world is shown; aging, disease, injury, and death are omitted, except for inferior beings such as foreigners and animals.

Statuary was intended at all times mainly for temples and tombs, and consisted of representations of gods, kings, and deceased individuals. Complex compositions were avoided, although sometimes two or more figures might be shown side by side. Life-size statues were not uncommon, but most were smaller; colossal royal figures embellished temples. As in painting, set conventions were closely followed in statuary; whether seated or standing, figures are always facing forward, with arms and legs in standardized positions. Technically, the carving was often superb, although many clumsy works were also produced.

Materials included hard stones, softer stones such as limestone, and wood; statues were often painted in bright colors. Sculptors depicted the ideal human; true portraiture in any form was hardly every attempted. First Intermediate Period and Middle Kingdom Centralized rule began to break down under the 7th dynasty. In the ensuing First Intermediate period (c.2181-2040 BC), the Memphite monarchs were powerless to prevent provincial warlords from fighting each other over territory; eventually two separate kingdoms emerged, one ruled by the 9th and 10th dynasties from Heracleopolis, the other by the 11th dynasty from THEBES. They tried to dominate each other but were impeded by the semi-independence of provincial rulers, and they also had to be simultaneously aggressive against foreigners to protect their rears, secure trade advantages, and recruit or compel the valuable services of Palestinian and Nubian warriors for the civil wars.

Finally, in the 20th century BC, the 11th dynasty conquered the north and rebuilt a centralized monarchy, inaugurating the Middle Kingdom. The intensity and causes of these disruptive events are uncertain. Later Egyptian writers, appalled by the deviation from accepted norms, exaggerated the revolutionary aspects; they also described an imaginary environmental deterioration, actually a poetic cosmological counterpart to social disorder. More significant were external pressure and internal political instability that long endured; even the 11th dynasty may have been ended by a coup, and the victor, AMENEMHET I was himself later assassinated. The 12th dynasty, which he founded (1991 BC), worked hard to restore royal prestige, seriously damaged by civil war and periodic famine. Its kings, living near Memphis, reduced provincial power and developed a loyal central elite, using subtly propagandistic literature to encourage recruitment and transform the royal image from insecure war leader to confident, semi divine ruler.

The external situation remained dangerous. The northern Nubian and Sinai buffer zones were reoccupied and, for the first time, heavily fortified. Foreign trade and diplomatic contact expanded, but Egyptian activity was more restricted than in the Old Kingdom. Social change was considerable. People had become more conscious of their individual rights, and royal policy had to both satisfy and temper this.

Religion was affected; funerary beliefs and rituals once largely restricted to kings now spread throughout all classes. First Intermediate period Egyptians had felt less dependent on the state, stressing their economic self-sufficiency, and even under the 12th dynasty royal policies encouraged the growth of a middle class, buried in well-furnished tombs and active at cult centers such as Abydos. OSIRIS, formerly a royal funerary god, became accessible to all. Architectural remains are now more varied. At Kahun, a large town was divided up into zones of better and poorer houses, reflecting socioeconomic differences; superbly designed fortresses were built in Nubia; and the ground plans of several temples have survived. Funerary remains continue to be the best source of art forms.

The pharaohs of the 12th dynasty, anxious to be identified with the autocratic Old Kingdom, revised the classic complex pyramid but included unusual subterranean elements evoking the mythical tomb of Osiris. Royal statues were often idealized, but some depicted a care-worn and more realistic figure. The elite continued to be buried in mastabas and rock-cut tombs, decorated first in awkward but striking styles reflecting the breakdown in centralized stylistic norms, but later returning to more sophisticated, traditional modes. History.


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