Old Kingdom: Re, Pharaoh, and the Nile.
the god of the sun was the first ruler of Egypt. He gave the people
the blessings of the Nile before he returned to heaven, leaving
a son, Horus, by an Egyptian mother. So the Egyptians believed.
discussing Ancient Egypt most
historians divide its history into three periods, the Old
Kingdom, the Middle Kingdom and the New Kingdom. The Old Kingdom
is often also called the "Pyramid Age" because most
of the pyramids were built during this time.
the Old Kingdom Egypt established a culture which was to endure
for 2,500 years. They created an artistic style, a religion, and
a system of government and trade network which made Egypt a powerful
king was the most important figure in Egypt. He performed the
rituals necessary to keep the Nile flooding, not too high and
not too low. The annual inundation of the Nile was crucial to
the survival of the people of Egypt. Without the annual flooding
and the silt it deposited on the land, there would have been no
king owned the land and everything in it and ruled all people,
even non-Egyptians, living nearby. They all offered tribute and
allegiance to Re. He was the father and mother of his people,
the ruler, the head priest, and the commander-in-chief of the
army. He was all powerful, though assisted by ministers and nobles.
Egyptian culture, the woman played an important role. She owned
the land, which was passed through her to her daughter. Kingship
also passed through the woman. The ruler became king only when
he married the daughter of the previous king. The custom of royalty
inter-marrying (brother and sister for example) developed because
of this. Women were respected in Egyptian society.
was sacred and only used by priests. Writing a name was thought
to give power of that person. It was forbidden to even speak the
name of a king. Pharaoh means "great house" and does
not directly refer to a person at all.
worship of Re may have come to Egypt through immigrants from Mesopotamia.
His symbol was the obelisk, a tall column, preferably carved from
a single piece of stone.
pharaohs of Egypt believed they were the sons of the god Re. In
the fourth dynasty pharaohs began to include "son of Re"
in their official titles. Re was always important to the Egyptians.
He eventually became identified with a local god of Thebes, Amon,
and was known thereafter as Amon-Re, the king of the gods.
Egyptians built their pyramids on the west side of the Nile. It
was the land of the dead, where the king would go to meet Re at
the end of his life. On the east side where the sun rose, they
built their villages.
Egyptians believed in an after-life, at least for the king. Later
others could have an after-life too, but in the Old Kingdom only
the king was so fortunate. When they buried Pharaoh in the pyramid,
they surrounded him with objects of daily life, to remind him
of life. He was to enjoy an afterlife which was just like life
of the wealth of the Old Kingdom went into the building of the
pyramids. These amazing structures were not, as was once thought,
built by slaves. People willingly went to work in their off-season
to build the pyramids so that Pharaoh would live forever and watch
Old Kingdom declined with power struggles within and raids from
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