Ancient Egypt - The Craddle of Civilization

by : Amar Mahallati

Ancient Egypt is known as being the world's first organized society. People in ancient Egypt settled and built houses along the banks of the River Nile and evolved from hunters and gatherers to subsistence agriculturists. Egyptians also developed their religion, institutions and a written hieroglyphic language.

This is clearly one of the most impressive early civilizations of antiquity. There is something truly fascinating about Egypt and the land of the Pharaohs.

The Nile, the Egyptians and their institutions had an amazing bond. This was one of the unique features of the ancient Egyptian civilizations. The soil around the Nile brought a copious deposit of rich silt every year from the Ethiopian tableland, making it productive and fertile.

The level of the Nile rose every year in July and continued to do so until the end of August, when the flood was at its highest. Near the end of October, this flood would recede and leave behind a deposit of silt and also streams and lagoons that became natural reservoirs for fish. The Nile returned to its lowest level in April, which is when vegetation started to decrease, seasonal pools dried out and the game would head north. The cycle would begin again in July and repeat itself annually.

Egyptians were the first people to believe in life after death. This is to do with the rise and fall of the river. When the flood waters rose and fell, this meant the land would "die" every year and be "reborn" when the crops grew. Rebirth was seen as natural. The sun also "died" when it set and was "reborn" every day in the eastern sky. Egyptians reasoned that the human life cycle must be similar to the other natural phenomena.

Long distance trade was common in ancient Egypt. Sustained contacts with southwest Asia and very good craft specialization meant that development of towns and hierarchy flourished. A headman, believed to be able to control the Nile flood, had the power and this power rested on his reputation as "rainmaker king". The Egyptian towns became political centers and trading centers.

When the Black Land of the Delta and the Red Land of Upper Egypt united, this was the most important political event in ancient Egypt. The Black Land of the Delta has dark, rich soil and the Red Land of Upper Egypt is a sun-baked desert.

Horus was the chief Delta god and Seth was the Upper Egypt god. The two god myths had to be combined when their kingdoms were combined. Horus was the son of Osiris and Isis. He avenged the evil Seth's slaying of his father by murdering Seth. This shows the triumph of good over evil.

Horus took over his father's thrown and was regarded by the ancient Egyptians as the ancestor of the pharaohs. After the unification, every pharaoh took a Horus name to show he was Horus reincarnated.

King Menes of Upper Egypt, according to tradition, united the two kingdoms, establishing his capital at Memphis. Memphis was known then as the "White Walls". Some scholars regard Menes as being purely legendary and others believe he was the Horus King Narmer.

Artisans and civil servants worked for the central government in the course of the Early Dynastic Period. They fashioned the sophisticated art traditions and learning that constituted the basic pattern of the ancient pharaonic Nile civilization.