Friday, January 30, 2015

Egyptian Religious Beliefs and Major Deities

Noun: A god or goddess (in a polytheistic religion)

Egyptians, like most ancient civilizations, were polytheistic. The important thing to understand about polytheistic religions is that the gods and goddesses REPRESENT ASPECTS OF NATURE. Keep this in mind when you're trying to understand how these religions developed.

For example, the Egyptians and Greeks both have deities that represent water, storms, the sky, death, an afterlife, love, war, and other concepts from the natural world or from human behavior.

  • God of the Underworld
  • Husband of Isis
  • Killed by his brother, Set
  • Egypt’s first mummy
  • Father of Horus
  • Shown with green skin

  • Queen of the gods
  • Wife of Osiris
  • Goddess of love and beauty
  • Mother of Horus
  • Brought her husband’s pieces to Anubis to be mummified

Anubis looking over a mummy
  • God of the dead
  • Shown with the head of a jackal on a human body
  • God of mummification
  • Weighs the heart of the dead person to see if they deserve a good afterlife

Horus guiding a pharaoh
  • Son of Isis and Osiris
  • Sky god
  • Shown with the head of a falcon
  • Protector of all pharaohs
  • His eye had healing power

Amun Re
Amun Re
  • King of the gods
  • God of the sun
  • Sometimes depicted as a man with a sun-disk on his head
  • Often shown as the sun itself

Thoth taking notes
  • Scribe of the gods
  • Shown with the head of an ibis (a water bird similar to a flamingo)
  • Records the deeds of gods and pharaohs

  • Evil god
  • God of destruction, storms, and darkness
  • Murdered his brother, Osiris
  • Pulled out the eye of Horus when they fought

Hathor in a clump of lotus plants
  • Goddess of fertility (meaning surplus of crops, wealth, children)
  • Shown as a cow, or as a woman, or as a combination of both
  • Goddess of motherhood

Thursday, January 29, 2015

Maps of Ancient Egypt

Here are the places you should be able to locate on a blank map:
Open your atlas to page 115 (Eastern Mediterranean and Middle East) and look closely at the areas of Israel, Egypt, Sudan, Jordan, Syria, Libya, and Lebanon.

Label the following places clearly, then copy the list of places on the back. Be sure your map has your name on it!

Click the map for a larger version

Mediterranean Sea
Red Sea
Dead Sea

Nile River
Euphrates River
Jordan River
White Nile
Blue Nile

First, Second, Third, and Fourth Cataracts

Aswan High Dam (modern)
What a completed map should look like: Click for a larger version.


Lower Egypt
Upper Egypt

Sunday, January 25, 2015

Egypt: Geography of the Nile

The Geography of the Nile River

Class Notes for World Studies book pgs. 68-75, Questions 1a, 1b, 2a, 2b, and 2c:

Human settlements had to be within a few miles of the Nile River.

1a. The Nile River begins in the lakes and marshes of Central Africa. Its true source is Lake Victoria (the largest lake in Africa). The Nile starts as two rivers: the Blue Nile and the White Nile. The beginning part of the Nile cuts through a mountainous area.

      The Blue and White Nile come together in modern day Sudan. The city of Khartoum is built where they intersect. The Nile twists and turns through 1,000 miles of desert. In its course, there are six cataracts (steep rapids or waterfalls). As it gets close to the Mediterranean Sea, it breaks into many little streams that empty into the sea. This creates a large triangular area of rich soil called a delta.

1b. The Ancient Egyptians relied on the Nile River for survival. The Nile gave the Egyptians certain “gifts”: water, silt (mud), food animals (birds, fish, etc.), papyrus, and flax. The Nubians and Egyptians used the Nile for trading.

1c. The farmers would have a lot more trouble growing food if the Nile did not flood (making survival a lot less likely). It’s very possible that the Egyptians never would have built the pyramids because the farmers would have spent all their time trying desperately to grow crops.

Imagine all of the danger and excitement you would experience on a journey up the Nile - Not to mention the aggressive hippos!

2a. Many different kinds of goods traveled through Nubia on their way to Egypt. They included: ebony wood, ivory from elephant tusks, ostrich feathers and eggs, panther skins, and a type of boomerang used for hunting called a throwstick.

2b. The cataracts could be quite dangerous and had to be avoided. The Nubians would often take their boats out of the river and drag them around the cataracts. They built a road network to make up for that. The Egyptians used the cataracts to mark their southern boundary.

2c. The Nubians were famous traders because they traveled so far and traded so many unique goods.

Egypt Unit Vocabulary

Our Ancient Egypt Vocabulary Words

1. Delta: A triangle-shaped area of rich soil where a river dumps into a larger body of water

A graphic map of the Nile River delta--the Mediterranean is to the north.

2. Cataract: Steep rapids in a river, or a very large waterfall

The cataracts are usually caused by rocks or a narrow spot in the river.

People often had to be creative in getting their boats past the cataracts.

Cataracts represented a hazard for boats of all kinds.

Even crossing the width of the river was a challenge at a cataract.

3. Mummy: A dead body embalmed according to the Egyptians’ religion

The mummy of Ramses the Great (pharaoh during the time of Moses) is remarkably well preserved.

Mummies were often placed in highly decorated coffins.

4. Hieroglyphics: Egyptian writing system in which pictures are used for sounds

Hieroglyphics like these were usually brightly painted with many colors.

5. Pyramid: Structure built in ancient Egypt as a tomb with four triangular sides and a square base

The Great Pyramids of Giza are the largest and most well known pyramids.

The pyramids were guarded by the Great Sphinx- a mythical creature with a lion's body and a man's head.

6. Pharaoh: The king of ancient Egypt - believed to be a divine human with magical powers 

The death mask of King Tutankhamun is one of the most famous images of an Egyptian pharaoh.

The massive statues of Ramses at Abu Simbel show that most pharaohs had very high self esteem.

7. Dynasty: A series of rulers from the same family

The complicated family tree of Ptolemy I and the famous Queen Cleopatra VII shows that certain names get a lot of use throughout each generation of the family.

This head from the MFA Boston is a ruler of the Ptolemaic dynasty and has a wicked chin beard. 

8. Afterlife: A life after death - believed by the Egyptians to be better than this life

Before going to the afterlife, the god Anubis had to weigh the dead person's heart to be sure they were a good person.

If they were good, Anubis might give them a high-five.

9. Papyrus: A long, thin reed that grows along rivers; also the paper-like writing material made from these reeds

This papyrus sheet comes from one of the oldest math textbooks in history.

Papyrus are tall plants that grow along the river, and their stems were used for making paper

10. Embalm: To prevent the decay of a dead body by treating it with preservatives

Mummification was a complicated process that took up to 70 days to properly embalm the body

Priests would work to prepare the pharaoh's body for the afterlife.

11. Obelisk: A tall, four-sided stone pillar that tapers to a point like a pyramid

An obelisk stood as a symbol of the pharaoh's greatness, like this one at the temple of Karnak.

Obelisks were a single piece of stone, cut and moved into place. If one cracked during the process, it was abandoned and a new one started.

12. Upper Egypt: The SOUTHERN area around the narrow Nile - extending 500 miles to the south

Because the Nile River flows NORTHWARD, the up-river area is in the south. The word "upper" means that it is closer to the source of the Nile River, Lake Victoria.

Upper Egypt extended from the first cataract all the way north to the beginning of the Nile delta.

13. Lower Egypt: The NORTHERN part of Egypt, around the delta

At the beginning of its history, Egypt consisted of two separate kingdoms--Upper and Lower Egypt. Once united, the pharaoh started wearing the double crown to symbolize his power over both.

Lower Egypt is a triangular-shaped are of land consisting of the Nile delta, where the river splits up and flows into the Mediterranean Sea.

14. Nubia: Geographic region in the Nile Valley between the first and fifth cataracts; where the present day country of Sudan is located, south of Egypt

Ancient Nubia was a separate kingdom south of Egypt and bordered by the cataracts.

Here a line of Nubians are depicted in an Egyptian wall painting. Sometimes the Egyptians and Nubians were at peace and traded, other times one or the other kingdom conquered and dominated.
And now, you've earned a super cheezy song from the '80s!

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

In Honor of Dr. King...

This weekend is a long weekend from school, but too many students pause to remember why...

Some resources for finding out more:

The King Center in Atlanta, Georgia

Stanford University

Martin Luther King Jr. Day of Service

Also, just a reminder that Dr. King was a Ph.D. graduate from Boston University.

Thursday, January 8, 2015

The Paul Revere Time Capsule

Here's a cool story from The Boston Globe about the time capsule from 1795 buried by Paul Revere and Sam Adams at the corner of the Massachusetts State House in Boston: