Ex. 4. Look at the map of the region. Can you describe the geographical position of the territory of Ancient Egypt? — КиберПедия 

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Ex. 4. Look at the map of the region. Can you describe the geographical position of the territory of Ancient Egypt?

Ex. 5. Before reading the text, answer the questions:

1. What do you associate Ancient Egypt with?

2. What natural features played the most important part in Ancient Egypt's development?

3. What are the names of the most prominent Egyptologists?




In the sixth millennium ВС, the people of the Nile Valley began to take a different cultural path from the rest of Africa. Already skilled hunters and stone-workers, they began to turn their attention to the cultivation of the rich Nile silt. The establishment of settled communities led to the development of simple industries such as pottery-making and copper-smelting. By about 3600 ВС, these Pre-dynastic Egyptians were hunting with sophisticated flint weapons, producing painted pottery and building shrines to the local deities who later made up the complex Egyptian pantheon. The earliest Egyptian writing appeared, rapidly developing into the largely phonetic hieroglyphic script used throughout later Egyptian history. The names of individual kings began to be recorded, including those of Narmer and Aha. Egyptian tradition records that a southern ruler gained control of the whole country around 3100 ВС and established the first national capital at Memphis, close to the junction of the Nile Valley and the Delta.

This symbolic unification of the 'Two Lands' of Upper Egypt – the Valley - and Lower Egypt — the Delta — was central to Egyptian ideas of kingship. Known as 'Pharaoh', meaning 'Great House', the king was regarded as both human and divine. In life, he was seen as the son of the sun-god Ra and the human incarnation of the falcon-god Horus; in death, as Osiris, the Lord of the Underworld. Temples to the gods were exploited as vehicles for royal propaganda, incorporating huge statues and relief carvings of the king in traditional attitudes as the unifier and defender of Egypt.

Long king-lists carved on the temple walls were tailored to political expediency; discredited king and all female rulers — were simply removed from the official record. No attempt at writing history in the modern sense is known to have been made until around 250 ВС, when a priest called Manetho compiled a list of thirty Dynasties, or ruling families. Later historians grouped these into 'Kingdoms' — periods of relative stability — separated by "Intermediate Periods" characterized by war or political fragmentation.

Despite the impression of continuity given by the use of traditional imagery in royal art, cultural and political alignments often changed, as indicated by the frequent shifts of administrative centre as dynasties from different localities came to power.

These often reflected the ancient rivalry between the north and south: Thebes in Upper Egypt enjoyed prominence for extended periods during the Middle and New Kingdoms, but was eventually superseded by a series of Delta cities including Tanis.

Conquest by Persia in 525 ВС brought native Egyptian rule to an end, and in 332 Alexander the Great claimed Egypt as part of his empire. Following Alexander's death, his general Ptolemy established his own dynasty. With a new capital in Alexandria on the northern coast, Egypt became increasingly involved in the cultural and political world of the Greek Mediterranean; this process intensified after 30 ВС, when the last Ptolemaic ruler, Cleopatra VII, was defeated by Octavian and Egypt became a part of the Roman Empire.

Although the Persian, Greek and Roman rulers had themselves repre­sented in conventional pharaonic attitudes and found it expedient to sup­port and build temples, they were less concerned with Egypt's religion and culture than its legendary wealth. At the height of its power during the New Kingdom, Egypt's empire had extended south to the fourth Nile cat­aract in Nubia and as far north as the modern-day border between Syria and Turkey. As well as controlling the trade in exotic goods from Africa -ebony, ivory and gold - Egypt produced such desirable export goods as linen, papyrus and grain - grain that Rome in particular needed to feed its expanding empire.

Much of what we know about the ancient Egyptians derives from their tombs and the artifacts placed in them for their owners to enjoy in the afterlife.

During the Early Dynastic period and Old Kingdom, mastaba tombs modelled on the homes of the living were constructed at such sites as Abydos in the south and Saqqara in the north. In the Old Kingdom, pharaohs were buried in enormous stone pyramid complexes like those at Giza, but from the New Kingdom onward, they preferred the greater security of tombs cut into the ground or hillside, as in the Valley of the Kings at Thebes.

Paintings and reliefs inside the royal tombs illustrate the complex funerary beliefs of the ancient Egyptians; however, it was only with the decipherment of the accompanying texts in the nineteenth century that these began to be understood. Royal tomb paintings often depict the strange geography and terrifying creatures of the underworld, which the sun-god I travelled through at night. After life the soul followed the sun through the underworld and entered the court of the god Osiris. Here the deceased's heart was weighed to ascertain its righteousness; if it passed the test, the soul would achieve a peaceful afterlife in the god's estates.

In many periods the tombs of commoners were carved and painted with vivid scenes of everyday life. These were not meant just for decora­tion; like all Egyptian funerary art, their purpose was in part to provide the deceased magically with everything required for the afterlife. New Kingdom paintings of officials supervising agricultural activities or enjoying family parties, for example, were created to allow them to enjoy their earthly status and pleasures in the next world. In addition, tombs were stocked with all the necessities of life - food, clothing, cosmetics, jewelry, writing materials and furniture; often preserved intact by Egypt's dry climate, these provide valuable information about the details of ancient Egypt.

Specifically funerary objects included models of boats, animals and servants, and amulets to protect the body. Papyrus scrolls, or 'Books of the Dead', were books of spells to help the dead in the afterlife.

Very little material survives outside tombs and temples, but some sites have provided objects straight from daily life, and a mass of texts ranging from laundry lists to letters and literary compositions.



Egyptian cemeteries were commonly sited in the desert to the west of towns and cities. The earliest burials were made directly into pits in the ground, where they were preserved by the hot dry sand. A belief in life after death was current by pre-dynastic times when burials typically included simple grave goods.

To preserve the body as a home for the ka - the deceased's life force -the practice of mummification was developed. After the removal of the internal organs — which were separately preserved in four containers known as Canopic jars - the body was dried out using natron, a natural salt. Finally it was wrapped in linen bandages and placed in a coffin. As incarnate gods, the pharaohs underwent especially elaborate mummification. They were carefully bandaged with fine linen, their bodies covered with protective amulets and jewelry. A gold mask was placed over the neck and head before the royal mummy was encased in a series of coffins and placed in a huge stone sarcophagus in the burial chamber.



1. Do not mix up!

Saqqara is the name for the ruins of the necropolis in ancient Memphis.

Sahara is the world's largest desert in North Africa.

2. Study the pattern: Egypt — Egyptian — an Egyptian — the Egyptians

Some Nationality words are formed with the help of suffixes -IAN, -AN. If you form a Nationality word, start with the analysis of the ending in the noun you form the adjective from.



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