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Ancient Egyptian Culture

Time and Place

Geography of Ancient Egypt:

Map of Ancient Egypt Ancient Egypt was divided into two realms: Upper Egypt and Lower Egypt.

Inside Lower Egypt, (the northern part), the Nile River's delta empties into the Mediterranean Sea. Prior to the New Kingdom (before about 1570 B.C.), the area was sparsely settled and used as a grazing area for cattle. Upper Egypt, (the southern part), was the long, narrow strip of land located south of the Delta. At the time, it represented roughly 3 percent of the land and supported nearly 100 percent of the population.

Ancient Egypt's boundaries were the Mediterranean Sea to the north and Elephantine (now Aswan) to the south. Its east-west boundaries were in the high desert on either side of the narrow strip of Nile valley and low desert. The Nile River runs the length of the country flowing south to north. The regions topography consisted of:

  • the Nile River
  • the floodplain
  • the low desert
  • the high desert

Ancient Egypt, during the historic periods, was divided into separate provinces called "Separt." (The Greeks called them Nomes). There were a total of 42 Separts. 20 in lower Egypt and 22 in Upper Egypt. Each Separt had its own protective deity.

About the Nile River:

  • Ancient Egyptian Life on the Nile River The Nile is the longest river in the world stretching over 1250km, (775 mi) within the borders of Egypt.
  • It flows from South to North and into the Mediterranean Sea.
  • The annual flooding, called the Inundation, was created by the "rainy season." It brought waters and soils from Uganda and Ethiopia. Two sources of the Nile.
  • In ancient times, this flooding created a strip of fertile land that was only ever between 1 and 21km (.6 - 13 mi) wide along the Valley of the Nile.
  • The final 160km (100 mi) of the Nile becomes the delta. The delta fans out into many smaller rivers and is 240km (150 mi) broad at its widest point.
  • The ancient Egyptians considered the Niles first cataract or waterfall as the beginning of the world.

 

Time and Timeline of Ancient Egypt:

Time:

The ancient Egyptians marked time with Solar days and Lunar months.

  • Each Solar day had 24 hours. Twelve hours devoted to light and twelve hours devoted to darkness.
  • There were ten Solar days in each week and three weeks in each Lunar month.
  • There were twelve Lunar months in a year making a cycle of 360 days.
  • To make to Lunar and Solar calendars line up, 5 days were added that were outside of the normal months giving the year 365 days.

(The Egyptians did not account for the extra ¼ day each year. Instead, there was a cycle of 1460 years when their calendars would align with the seasons).

Timeline:
  • Prehistoric and Predynastic Periods (pre-3100 B.C.E.)
  • Early Dynastic Period (3100 B.C.E. – 2700 B.C.E.)
  • Old Kingdom (2700 B.C.E. – 2184 B.C.E.)
  • First Intermediate Period (2184 B.C.E. – 2040 B.C.E.)
  • The Middle Kingdom (2040 B.C.E. – 1782 B.C.E.)
  • Second Intermediate Period (1782 B.C.E. – 1570 B.C.E.)
  • New Kingdom (1570 B.C.E. – 1070 B.C.E.)
  • Third Intermediate Period (1070 B.C.E. – 747 B.C.E.)
  • Late Period (747 B.C.E. – 332 B.C.E.)
  • Graeco-Roman Period (332 B.C.E. – C.E. 395)
  • Byzantine Period (C.E. 395 - C.E. 641)

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