viernes, 9 de octubre de 2009

Introduction to the Egyptian Culture

After publishing some posts, I realised that it was needed to write about the ancient egyptian society in general to be able to understand many topics that we are talking about. That´s why I´m going to publish this post, although it should have been written at the beggining.


The pharaon´s civilitation in Egypt started at the end of the fourth millenium before Crist. Nevertheless, the egyptian culture started around 5000 B.C with the first cities around the Nile. They were sedentary townships whose habitants practised agriculture and craftsmanship. The aparition of the first dinasties(between 3100 and 2700 BC) meant the birth of of the pharaonic state and the union of High and Low Egypt, which had been separated until that moment.

Around 2500 BC the first stone pyramid was built, during Zoser´s reign. The capital of the civilatation moved during all this time from Tinis to Menfis, later to Listh, Avari, Thebes and Tanis.

Around 332 BC Alexandre the Great arrived to Egypt and he set up Alejandría.During the roman period (30BC until 395 AC) Egypt became a roman province with Octavio Augusto. Cristianism is declarated the official religion of the state. The byzantine period started in 395 AC and finished in 640, the year when Egypt became a province of the khalifat and converted to the islamism.

Fluvial civilization: the importance of the Nile

The egyptian culture is a fluvial civilization which stands around

the Nile, the longest river in the world. It appears in Burundi and

it has two main tributaries, the White Nile and the Blue Nile. The

river mouth goes into the Mediterranean Sea.

The Nile was the fundamental element of agriculture and economy for the whole Egypt during the pharaonic period. Every July the monzonic rain in Etiopy increases the level of water of the river and it floods the fields. Egyptians used to say that this wonderful phenomenon was caused by Hapi, a god with a human appearance which came with lots of plants and fishes. The truth is that this flood was great for the egyptians and when the water dissapeared again, there was a black mud over the ground which made it rich and fertile.

The Egyptian culture was based on the agriculture, and that´s why the annual calendar takes its form from the different stages that the river follows.

From July to November the fields were completely submerged by the Nile. Because of this reason July means the start of the egyptian year, our 1st of January.

Then, from November to March, the fields appeared again under the water and it was time to cultivate.

Finally, from March to July it was the dry season.


Egyps is an heterogenean land. It suddenly changes from the “Black Ground” (Kemet), which is the fertile zone, to the desertic sand, property of Red God Seth.

The confines of the ancient Egypt were conformed by the Valley of the Nile, the delta of the Nile and the Fayum, an oasis besides a lake in the western part of the Valley and at the south of Menphis. It could also be complemented in different periods by some desserts, which were only controled by the most powerful governments.

The Valley and the delta covered 3400 square kilometers.


In the Ancient Egypt ehre were big cities such as Menphis, Buto or Thebes. They were very populated and inside them we can differenciate different types of buildings:

  • Palaces, which were very adorned, and surrounded by gardens and little lakes.
  • Houses, which had more than a floor and were aligned in small and thin streets.
  • Temples, which were all built in the same district of the city
  • King´s palaces, whose floors and walls were really docorated with paintings and could get to have more than 40 acres of ground.

All these buildings were made of bricks manufactured with mud from the Nile, baked in wooden ovens and dried by the sun.

The population hadn´t got the same rights. In fact, this society was extremely hierarchical.

The pharaon was on the top of the society, which can be imagned as a ppyramid. He had to make sure that there was order ( Maat) in the city. His wife, the queen, was also very prestigious, she went with her husband to the religious ceremonies. She could take part in the government activities, but there is no constance of many queens who were interested on it.

The vizier was a employee of the government which only was subordinate of the Pharaon.

There also was a regular army, conformed by four different infantry divisions. These four divisions had the name of the 4 most important gods of the state, which were Ra, Amon, Ptah and Set.

In this society we could also find more government employees, farmers and traders or merchants.

After reading this post, you can understand much better the egyptian culture in the ancient ages of the pharaons. In order to get more information , here are two links to some podcasts that I have found on the Internet. They belong to a page about Tutankhamun and the golden ages of the pharaons. Here are also two videoblogs about the same topic, the marvellous ancient egypt

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