The Egyptians developed principles of architecture, mathematics, and construction, enabling them to construct large stone buildings as early as 2,500 BC. Their enduring artwork in sculpture, painting, and drawing still captivates today's viewers. Egyptians studied medicine and dentistry. They processed thin, flat paper like sheets from papyrus on which they wrote their texts. They developed a written script of hieroglyphs, a form of picture writing. Egyptians also originated many basic arithmetic and geometry concepts. Their calendar was based on the observation of the Sun and stars. They produced a vast body of written records that included ethical and moralistic treatises, instructional texts, religious and mythical scrolls, poetry, epic tales, and ribald stories. Egypt became a major power in the ancient world, dominating the region until their conquest by Romans.
Egypt was the longest-lived civilization in the ancient world. Their ancient culture along the Nile River in northeastern Africa began about 3,300 BC and thrived for over 3,000 years.
The Ancient Egyptians believed that the "soul" is made up of three parts; the Ba, Ka, and Akh. One part of the soul couldn't live without the other, i.e. if one died they all died. The purpose of mummification was to keep all of the soul's three parts alive.
Ba: The Ba was depicted as a human headed bird. It represented the personality, character, or individuality of the deceased. The Ba lived inside the tomb, but was allowed to leave the tomb and come back at will. It could visit the land of the living where it could take on any form.
Ka: The Ka was a double of the person. It was sometimes represented as a human figure with raised arms, or just a pair of raised arms (David, 140). The creator god "Khnum" fashioned the Ka at the time a person was conceived. It was an exact physical and emotional replica of an individual, that was imprisoned within the living heart, and was only expelled by death. It had to stay close to the body at all times and could never leave the tomb. It was believed that the Ka could not live unless the body was preserved. If the body was not preserved properly the ka could live inside a picture of the body that was depicted on the wall of the tomb. The Ka was dependent on the objects and offerings that were left in the tomb. It could not survive without nourishment. It required food, drink, and clothing. It was up to the friends and family of the deceased to leave regular offerings at the tomb. Dried fish and fowl were some of the foods left by relatives to nourish the Ka.
Akh: The Akh represented the immortality of the deceased. And, like the Ba, it was sometimes depicted as a bird. The Akh made the journey to the underworld so that it could eventually take its place in the afterlife.
Life in ancient Egypt was centered largely on agriculture. The majority of the people were involved in farming, and the growing season lasted eight-nine months. Wheat, fruits and vegetables were the principal crops, although there was some pastoral farming of cattle, sheep, or goats. Farmers in ancient Egypt worked to reach a level of subsistence so that they could feed themselves and pay their taxes. During the annual flooding of the Nile, which typically lasted from July through November, farming was impossible. But when the waters receded, a thick layer of fertile silt over the farmlands remained to insure rich soil for their crops and thick grasses for their grazing animals.
The country of Egypt consisted of two narrow strips of arable land lining either bank of the river Nile, from Aswan to the northern Delta. Just beyond the farmlands lay enormous deserts. The Nile was the lifeblood of Egypt. Its cycle of flooding -- growth, death, and rebirth to new growth -- became the cycle of everyday life, and also of Egyptian religion and understanding of an afterlife. The people of Egypt were dependent on the river for more than their food. It insured a line of communication and transportation among the provinces of the kingdom. The pharaohs took advantage of the Nile as a means to transport their armies, thus maintaining a strong, unified nation.
Ancient Egypt Marriage
Ancient Egyptian Husband and Wife
By 3100 BC, Egypt had a centralized government controlled by a line of hereditary rulers. These kings, called pharaohs, kept a royal court of advisors and nobility, and oversaw the governors of the provinces of the kingdom. They were also commanders of the Egyptian army. Even the priests and priestesses who officiated at the complex religious ceremonies and attended on the gods served the pharaohs. The rule of the pharaohs is considered dynastic; it can also be considered absolute in the truest sense of the word. The pharaohs came to be considered as the representatives of the gods on earth and even as gods themselves.