Civilization / Era: Old Kingdom and Middle Kingdom of Egypt General History of Civilization

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Civilization / Era: Old Kingdom and Middle Kingdom of Egypt
General History of Civilization

- Old Kingdom was from 2686 BCE to 2150 BCE, and the Middle Kingdom from 2050 BCE to 1700 BCE

- Old Kingdom - Lower Egypt and Upper Egypt. Lower represented by red crown, and Upper represented by white crown.

- King Menes was believed to unite these to parts, and wore a double crown to symbolize unity.

- Central Government broke down at the end of the Old Kingdom

-civil wars thrust Egypt into 150 years of anarchy now referred to as the First Intermediate Period.

- Theban Kings ruled Egypt at his time, and would for the next 250 years

- Was a time when Egypt experienced 2 centuries of peace and stability during which the nation prospered

Geography of Civilization

- 4 major geographical locations surrounding Egypt that influenced the culture and civilization: The Nile Valley, The Nile Delta and the Faiyum, Deserts, and the Mediterranean Sea

- Nile Valley was the wealth of Egypt, and depended on the water of the Nile was made up the White Nile and Blue Nile. Tigris and Euphrates River also depended on their fortune.

-They feared the Nile but at the same time depended on it.

- The area where the Nile empties into the Mediterranean was known as the Nile Delta

- This was the largest fertile land in Egypt, and was the third largest settlement in Egypt

- The Nile Valley was between 2 deserts, Eastern and Western Desert, which protected Egypt from invasion and was also the source was minerals, supplies, gold, tin, copper, and natron


Old Kingdom

Middle Kingdom

Centralized Government / Leaders

King Menes: He is believed to have been the first to unite Egypt and wore the double crown symbolizing the unity Egypt and wore the double crown symbolizing the unity of the two kingdoms and he also had absolute power in Egypt.

Imhotep: Imhotep was one the great leaders of Egypt although he was not a Pharaoh. But his life was extremely important. He was considered a genius. His contributions to Egyptian society were so great that he rose to become the right hand man of the Pharaoh Djoser.

Political Structures: They believed Pharaohs where the earthly embodiment of the god Horus, son of Amon-Re. The King or Pharaoh had absolute power. The king was expected to govern to rule of Ma’at.

Agricultural Intensity /

Way of Life

- Important influence on Egyptian culture and civilization was The Nile River. 

- Water from the Nile, came from the white Nile and the blue Nile which did the flooding during July and October.

- The flood had left behind a rich moist soil, which gave a fertile soil for agriculture

- They were able to plan with some certainty the planting and harvesting of crops concluding the outcome of the Nile

- They feared the Nile because they became reliant on the flooding for harvest and growth.

-  Egyptian prosperity and stability were dependent on abundant harvests and the ability to manage food supplies in order to survive years in which harvest declined.

-  The abundance of food supplies was the measure of Egypt’s wealth.  Full granaries, plenty of wildlife and fish, and thriving herds were the signs of prosperous times.

- Agriculture production was organized to provide a stable food supply for both the living and the dead. Surplus food was used in trade with neighbouring people.


- Trade had initiated culture change, which began to form religion at this time.

Gods: One of the gods that where really important to the Egyptians was there National God Amon-Re which was the Son god Re and Amon a local Theban Deity merged together.

Class Structure

- Lower Egypt known as the Delta Kingdom

-was ruled by a monarchy symbolized by the red crown

- Upper Egypt represented by the white crown

- King Menes-believed to be the first to unite Egypt and believed to be the first to wear a double crown symbolizing the unity of the two kingdoms

- Ruler of the middle kingdom-encouraged social mobility through the promotion of members of the middle class

- The Structure of Ancient Egyptian Society, Gods, Pharaoh, Government officials, Soldiers, Scribes, Merchants

Artisans, Farmers, Slaves

Science, Technology, Arts

- In sculpture and painting, the human figure was usually represented with the head in profile, the eye and shoulders in front view, and the pelvis, legs, and feet in profile. This was known as the law of frontality.

- Colour in art was applied in flat tones, and there was no attempt at linear perspective.

- The artist's task was to produce a statement of reality

- Tombs were decorated with domestic, military, hunting, and ceremonial scenes

- Hysksos conquered using technologically superior weapons like improved bows, horse drawn carriages and bronze weapons.

- mastered new weapons and drove out the Hysksos and gained a technological evolution from this 150-year conquest.

- The forms of the Old Kingdom were retained, but the unity of style of the art was broken.

- Increase delicacy of craftsmanship.

Merchant and Trade

- Trade became important, by engaging in trade throughout much of the Mediterranean, and by mining copper in the Sinai Peninsula.

- The Egyptians acquired tremendous wealth in both materials goods and new ideas to gain economic growth.

- Egypt introduced important goods of trade such as timber from Syria, wine and oil from Crete, and the potter’s wheel from Mesopotamia

- Trade begun in the Mediterranean Sea but reached as far as Northern Europe, subtropical Africa, and the Near East.

-  The Last Bronze Age ships would travel in a circular pattern starting in Egypt, to Syria and Palestine, and then on to Cyprus, the Aegean Sea before heading back toward North Africa and Egypt.

-  Trade of culture became much more important than trade of goods and kept civilizations growing

-Trade was introduced to the barter system

- Egyptians sold goods, paid salaries, collected taxes, and even paid interest on loans through the exchange of goods.

Occupation Specialization / Gender Roles

- Women-same legal rights as men

-did not hold important titles, had little political power, were usually illiterate, and were banned from intellectual and government life

- did a lot of household work

- Men-head of family and passed on the inheritance to his children

- could have as many wives as he wanted

- Pharaoh-owned all land, the people, and their possessions of Egypt

- King-governed a portion of land under the Pharaoh’s name

- any personal wealth, said to be from king

- Government Officials-advised the king, enforced the laws, pleased gods, oversaw the: construction of the pyramids and tombs, sought trade

- were rewarded for their efforts with grants of land and valuable food

- Scribes-recorded the deeds of the Pharaohs, real or imagined, and kept stock of supplies

- filled the role of vizier or prime minister to the king

- Vizier-were the advisors to the king

- Minor Officials-collected taxes etc.

Impact on History / Society

- The Old Kingdom was known for its incredible architecture, designed by Imhotep, who was the founder of Egyptian system of medicine, and was highly regarded for hundreds of years as the best of the ancient world. He designed and supervised the construction of the world’s first pyramid built and designed the fantastic tomb in which he and Pharaoh Djoser’s corpses laid to rest in

- Construction of the three pyramids at Giza.

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