Egyptian History: 2500 - 30 BC

Major Accomplishments: united kingdoms along the Nile River, developed papyrus paper, hieroglyphs, Great Pryamids, conquered by Alexander the Great

Egypt Video


Ancient Egypt  3500BCE-395CE


  • Greatest River Valley Civilization
  • Nile River provided food, transportation, irrigation and fertilized the soil w/ predictible flooding
  • Great builders, organizers, and most prosperous of 4 River Valley civs
  • Egypt is wholly the gift of the Nile.  – Herodotus, Greek Historian

Geography of the Nile Region

  • Nile River
  • Flows north
  • Originates Central African highlands
  • Ends in the Mediterranean Sea
  • Longest river in the world at 4,160 miles
  • Floods regularly
  • Until recent dams, flooded annually in July
  • Floods predictable
  • Added moisture to the soil
  • Deposited silt, replenishing the soil with nutrients
  • Caused delta to form at the mouth of the river

Influence of Environment

  • Natural barriers (seas and deserts) that protected Egypt
  • Settlements along thin stretch of Nile
  • High pop. Density = large cities
  • Stable food production made Egypt stable and strong
  • Benefits of the Nile
  • The river served as a highway
  • United villages
  • easy Travel
  • Currents carried barges downstream to the delta
  • Sails used to catch winds to return upstream
  • River provided fish and wildlife for food
  • Papyrus grew along river
  • Used to make paper, floors androofs for houses

Egyptian Politics

  • c. 8500 BC - 1st human life in the area
  • c. 6500 BC - Probable start of agriculture in the Nile region
  • Barley, wheat and vegetables grown
  • c. 4000 BC Many small villages established along the Nile and civilization begins

Egyptian Economy

  • controlled the Nile by building dikes, reservoirs, and irrigation ditches.
  • The Nile served as a trade route connecting Egypt to Africa, the Middle East, and the Mediterranean world.
  • Grew wheat and barley
  • traded to middle east, eastern Med. and east Africa

Religion in Ancient Egypt

  • Beliefs
  • Polytheistic
  • gods control nature, life and death
  • gods identified with animals
  • The Afterlife
  • Believed the good lived on in happiness
  • Believed the earthly body and goods would be needed as a home for the soul
  • Preserved the bodies of the dead through mummification

Egyptian Gods

  • Aman Re - Most important god
    • Sun god
  • Osiris
    • God of the underworld
    • Judges the dead
    • Rise & fall of the Nile believed to be the death & rebirth of Osiris
  • Set
    • God of evil who killed Osiris
    • Believed to cause failed harvest
  • Isis
    • Wife of Osiris
    • Brought him back to life
    • Nile floods and brings renewed life

Egyptian Society

  • Social Class
  • social position and occupation determined at birth
  • Parents taught their children their own trade

Egyptian Women

  • Status of Women
  • Relatively high status for that time in history
  • Could buy and sell property
  • Could seek divorce (although rare)
  • Property inherited through female line
  • A woman’s status increased
  • when she had children
  • Sometimes women considered property

Intellectual Egyptian History

  • Great medical advancements
  • Best builders of the ancient world
  • Gifted at math and astronomy
  • Greatest accomplishment is the pyramid

System of Writing   

  • Record keeping of religious rituals prompted writing
  • ~3,100 BC
  • Symbols evolved into hieroglyphics
  • Writings carved in wood or stone

The Rosetta Stone

  • Slab of black rock carved in three languages
  • Hieroglyphics
  • Demotic (shorthand hieroglyphics)
  • Greek
  • Found in 1799
  • Enabled scholars to decipher papyrus scrolls of hieroglyphics 

Egyptian Education System

  • schools to train priests
  • Subjects taught
  • Reading & writing
  • Math
  • Religious ceremonies & rituals
  • Eventually schools provided general education
  • schools attended by wealthy
  • Girls did not attend school
  • Taught domestic skills at home
  • Students took notes on scraps of pottery
  • Papyrus was expensive & only used by advanced students

Egyptian Scientific Accomplishments

  • Developed system of surveying land
  • Important due to annual floods
  • Surveying land led to Geometry
  • Area & volume
  • Development of astronomy
  • To predict floods, eclipses
  • Led to development of calendar
  • 365 days, 12 months
  • 3 seasons, 30 days for 11 months, 35 for the 12th
  • No leap year
  • Engineering for building
  • Greeks & Romans based much of their medical knowledge on that of the Egyptians