Old Kingdom Egypt

Teachers Notes

Egypt Old Kingdom

Paul Latham

INTRODUCTION/GEOGRAPHICAL ENVIRONMENT Egypt is one of the most fascinating and significant of our early civilisations. During the earlier dynasties of Old Kingdom Egypt the Pharaohs solidified their control over the country, preparing the way for a long period of stability. The Egyptians of this period had a profound concern for the afterlife which was expressed by massive pyramids, monuments and magnificent works of art. The Old Kingdom, which is sometimes known as the Pyramid Age, was comprised of four main dynasties or lines of rulers, the Third to the Sixth dynasties. Because of the difficulties in establishing an accurate chronology for Egyptian history, it is not possible to put definite dates on this period. Almost all activities in Egypt from the tilling of the fields to the coronation of the king were determined by the Nile and its annual flood. This flood, referred to as the inundation, was the most important event in the lives of the people. The Nile’s life giving waters and annual deposits of rich black soil enabled the Egyptians to develop a prosperous agricultural society. Boats on the Nile provided a major form of transport. The rich alluvial soil and marshes provided building materials. Sun dried mud bricks were used for all domestic buildings, including the palaces. Limestone and sandstone from the desert cliffs bordering the Nile were the chief building materials used in temples and tombs. Pink and black granite was obtained from Aswan. Papyrus reeds which grew along the Nile provided raw materials for fishing boats, sandals, ropes, baskets and papyrus paper. Some valuable metals such as copper and gold were mined in the deserts, which also was a source for basalt, quartzite and semi precious stones such as turquoise. In Lower Egypt there were a number of significant sites. Memphis was the religious and administrative during the Old Kingdom, and the site of the royal...