Ancient Egyptian civilization started from the Nile Delta in the north and stretched out far south to Jebel Barkal at the Fourth Cataract of the Nile. Moreover, areas of the southern Levant, the Eastern Desert and the Red Sea coastline, the Sinai Peninsula and the Western Desert also fit the geographical range of ancient Egyptian civilization.
Ancient Egypt matured for more than three and a half millennia. It came into being with the unification of Nile Valley polities in about 3500 BCE. However, this civilization is believed to have ended in 51 BCE when the Roman Empire took over Ptolemaic Egypt.
The ancient Egyptian civilization thrived well due to the river Nile. The dawn of Egyptian culture began with the wandering hunter-gatherers who embarked on living along the Nile during the Pleistocene. The artifacts and rock carvings that have been unearthed tells us about these early people. Human occupancy has also been traced in the southwestern corner of Egypt in close proximity to the Sudan border during this period.
What’s more, in 6000 BCE well planned agriculture and huge building construction featured in the Nile Valley. There was somewhat a similar picture in the southwestern corner of Egypt where people were engaged in herding cattle along with erecting big buildings. The Egyptians were fashionable people and their clothing was quite prominent. Mortar i.e. masonry came about in 4000 BC. Egypt’s Predynastic Period that stood between 5500 and 3100 BCE witnessed small settlements that mushroomed along the Nile. And just before the first Egyptian dynasty stepped in Egypt, it was separated into two kingdoms namely, Upper Egypt and Lower Egypt. Narmer was the first king and he is credited for unifying Upper and Lower Egypt.
The theories on the subject of the origin of the early Egyptians are a victim to controversy. The Egyptian society was a culmination of North and East African and not to mention the Southwest Asian peoples. Egyptian mythology tells us that religion played a very significant part in Egyptian lives. In fact, the religious beliefs held by the people of Egypt started from the predynastic times and continued all the way till the advent of Christianity and Islam in the Greco-Roman and Arab epochs. The ancient Egyptians worshipped sun as the most important deity. They believed that the sun’s passageway across the sky symbolizes the undying cycle of birth, death and rebirth. They also believed that they would become eternal beings after death. Customs and rituals were important to early Egyptians. The temple was considered a very holy part where only priests had admittance except for only special occasions, when entry of common people into the temple patio was acceptable.
Interestingly, the religious side of ancient Egyptian civilization had it’s own influence on the arts of the times. Whether it was the pharaohs, who were also considered divine, or the gods or goddesses, everything formed a part of the great works of ancient Egypt.
It was found that Egyptian beliefs and values spread far and wide to different antediluvian cultures, thanks to the evidence of mummies and pyramids outside ancient Egypt. Egypt in those times extended links with Nubia and Punt to the south, the Aegean and early Greece to the north, the Levant and other areas in the Near East to the east, and Libya to the west.
According to the Egyptians, human existence in life and death revolved around the body and soul. They believed that mummification and burial in tombs was a means for the departed to find their way in the afterworld. Not just that, you will be surprised to find that tombs were crammed with food, tools, domestic wares and treasures. This was to ensure that the departed would subsist blissfully ever after.
Pyramid is the most famous tomb of all. They come in a shape similar to the holy mound where the gods first came into view in the creation tale. The best of architects and engineers of those times had put in their heart and soul to erect these giant architectural marvels. Pyramids were obvious targets for tomb robbers. In fear of robbery, the kings concealed their tombs in the Valley of the Kings. British archaeologist Howard Carter discovered the tomb of Tutankhamun in 1922. It is indeed one of the greatest archaeological finds in history whatsoever. Archaeologists are still finding their way to newer discoveries while the scientific study of imperial mummies is helping to uncover facts about the genealogy of the pharaohs.
Ancient Egyptian civilization like no other civilization has made it’s own mark in world history. Be it their religion, culture, people or even architectural wonders like the pyramids and the Sphinx, the Egyptians were simply great achievers.