When us think of ancient Egypt, pyramids and pharaohs are more than likely the first thing to pertained to mind. Probably we rather imagine the descent right into Tutankhamun’s treasure-filled tomb, or a mummified body, quiet wrapped in great of linen bandages within its sarcophagus. The Nile gives life to the desert, flooding annually (at least until the construction of the dams in the 20th century) and providing its abundant silts to one of the many productive agricultural regions in the world.


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A smiting scene from the very first Dynasty, approximately 3000 BC.

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Compare that to this one, indigenous the Nineteenth Dynasty, around 1700 year later:


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Ivory combs, c. 3900-3500 BC.

Combs issue a great deal if her hair is a way of showing who girlfriend are and who friend belong with. This focus on the body continued all the way up right into the historic period. Beliefs around it, and also why it mattered therefore much, to be tied into the eventual advancement of mummification and also all the beliefs that went together with that.

The second key holdover indigenous this earlier duration was the importance of burials and funerary monuments. If she a herder who moves from pasture to pasture, your residence isn’t permanent, but your funeral place is. Cemeteries, rather than settlements, to be the permanent attributes on the see of the Nile sink in this period. Urban of the dead came long before cities that the living, and the Egyptians never ever forgot the focus they inserted on where and also how the dead to be treated. Knowingly mummification, because that example, can have started as early on as 3600 BC, four or 5 centuries prior to kings thrived in uniting Egypt.


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These points weren’t distinct to what later ended up being Egypt, though. Castle were just general characteristics of societies in the Nile Valley, expanding from the fringes of the Nile Delta in the north much into contemporary Sudan in the south. The civilization of the Delta, wha later came to be known as reduced Egypt, had actually a far different lifestyle. There was no such point as “Egypt,” also if some elements of this earlier society embedded us in what became characteristically Egyptian.

So these to be the foundations of ancient Egyptian society, and they predated also the earliest kings. Yet queens did at some point rise, and so too did the pyramids. It is a story for later.

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If friend think this stuff is cool, check out today’s episode of Tides that History. I cover Egypt before the pharaohs in much higher detail.