The Egyptian Civilization was one of the most important civilizations that developed in the region of the Fertile Crescent.
Set in the far northeast of Africa, in a region characterized by the existence of deserts and the vast plain of the Nile River.
The Egyptian Civilization was formed from the mixture of diverse peoples, among them the Hamitic, Semitic and Nubian, which emerged in the Paleolithic Period.
The first population nuclei only began to form during the Neolithic Period, where communities began to devote more to agriculture than hunting or fishing.
Around 4000 BC, the former nuclei gave way to small political units, the nomads, ruled by nomarcas, who met in two kingdoms, one of Lower Egypt to the north and one of Upper Egypt to the south.
Around 3200 BC, Menes, the ruler of the Upper Nile, unified the two kingdoms and became the first pharaoh, giving rise to the dynastic period, which can be divided into three distinct moments: Old Empire, Middle Empire, and New Empire.
Ancient Empire (3200 – 2300 BC) – the time when the unification of Egypt was completed. The Egyptian capital became Tinis and then moved to Memphis in the Cairo Region (present-day capital of Egypt).
Pharaoh, considered a deity, ruled with absolute power. Between 2700 and 2600 BC, the pyramids of Giza were built, attributed to the pharaohs of Cheops, Chefren and Miquerinos.
Middle Empire (2000 – 1580 BC) – In this phase the pharaohs regained the power that was weakened by the action of the nomarcas. In conquered Palestine, a copper mine was found, and in Nubia, a gold mine.
Between 1800 and 1700 BC), the Hebrews retiring from Palestine arrived in Egypt. The Hyksos, nomadic people of Asian origin, invade the country, remaining in the region until 1580 BC)
New Empire (1580 – 525 BC) – was marked by the expulsion of the Hyksos, the great military development and the conquest of vast territory. The Hebrews were enslaved and around 1250 BC, under the leadership of Moses, the Hebrews managed to flee from Egypt in the episode known as Exodus and is recorded in the Old Testament of the Bible.
The height of Egyptian civilization was reached during the long rule of Pharaoh Rameses II (1292 – 1225 BC), which defeated several Asian peoples.
After his reign, the struggles between the priests and the pharaohs weakened the state, which spurred further invasions. In 525 BC, the Persians led by Cambires defeated the Egyptians at the Battle of Pelusa and conquered the region for good.
From then on, Egypt would cease to be independent for at least 2500 years, during which time it would successively become the province of the Persians, a territory occupied by Macedonians, Romans, Arabs, Turks and finally English.
Constant invasions had a great influence on Egyptian culture, especially the Macedonian domain that allowed the penetration of Greek ideas.
This domain established a Macedonian dynasty, called Ptolemaic or Lid, to which Cleopatra belonged.
His son with the Roman emperor Julius Caesar was the last Ptolemaic king. Then the region fell under Roman and later Arab rule. During this period Christian and Muslim cultural elements were introduced successively.
Religion in the Egyptian Civilization
Egyptian society was marked by a profound religiosity. Polytheists worshiped various gods: Amon-Ra, protector of the pharaohs; Ptah, protector of craftsmen; Thot, god of science and protector of the scribes; Ambis, protector of embalming; Maat, goddess of justice, among others.
They believed in the afterlife and the return of the soul to the body, worshiped the dead, and developed mummification techniques to conserve the bodies.
Sciences in Egyptian Civilization
The Egyptians developed the study of mathematics and geometry, focused mainly on construction. They used square root and fractions; they also calculated the area of the circle and the trapeze.
Concern about the flood and ebb of the Nile spurred the development of astronomy. Watching the stars, they located planets and constellations.
The day was divided into 24 hours. The week was ten days and the month three weeks. The 365-day year was divided into agrarian seasons: full, winter, and summer.
The development of the practice of mummification allowed a greater knowledge of human anatomy, making possible skull surgeries. They treated for diseases of the stomach, heart and fractures.
Writing developed in three ways:
- Hieroglyphic– the sacred writing of tombs and temples; the oldest, before 3000 BC, made up of over 600 characters.
- Hieratic– a simplification of the hieroglyphic. Its use was linked to religion and power;
- Demotic– was the popular writing, made up of about 350 signs, used in contracts written by scribes.