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Lecture 7

Lecture 7 Notes

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Classical Studies
P Ferguson

Lecture 7: Egyptian Geography and History The Name, “Egypt” Egypt called a “Gift of the Nile” - Herodotus (Histories) called it a “gift of the river” which was mistranslated Nile is the longest river in the world and the lifeblood of Egypt and other countries Egypt called Kemet (“Black Land”) which symbolized the fertile Nile Valley and Delta, and represents civilization, order, Egypt, Horus Desret (“Red Land”) refers to the deserts east and west of the Nile, representing chaos, storms, foreign lands, Seth “Egypt” comes from Greek “Aigyptos”  Egyptian “hikuptah,” a name for Memphis from the temple of Ptah, Hewet-ka-Ptah; related to “Coptic” Basic Egyptian Geography Egypt had a sense of self as opposed to Mesopotamia (fragmented city states with own culture, traditions, languages, e.t.c.) even if it was politically segregated Egypt is north of the first cataract (rapids); to the south is Nubia (modern Sudan) which was considered foreign by the Egyptians Lower Egypt to North and Upper Egypt to South due to flow of Nile North to south: Nile Delta (Lower Egypt)  Fayum (fertile area for Upper Egypt, near upper-lower border), Nile valley (most of Upper Egypt)  cataract  Nubia The Nile River and the Seasons Has 2 tributaries: Blue Nile (Lake Tana, Ethiopia) and White Nile (Lake Victoria, Uganda); both flooded at different times Mud deposits built up over centuries on fertile land  most of Egyptian sites now under the water table  funerary sites are studied since they were in the desert In antiquity, floods would have been very amazing, as they would have blocked out some areas completely from others Flooding (inundation) important to bring fresh water into the land Flooding of Nile begins late July, peaks Aug./Sept., recedes by Oct./Nov.  divides seasons into Akhet (flood time), Peret (growing season), Shemu (dry season) Irrigation was important in Egypt too - Flooding of Nile more predictable and less destructive than that of Tigris and Euphrates in Mesopotamia - Shaduf: simple water-lifting device for land irrigation above river / canal levels Egyptian Chronology: The 31 Dynasties Divided into 31 Dynasties - Starts with the rule of the world by gods - Dynasty 1 Is the unification of Egypt by Menes Dynasty  Dynasty 31: Persian dynasty conquered by Alexander System comes from 3 century BCE by Egyptian priest and scholar named Manetho  confirmed by parallel systems found in Turin Canon and Palermo stone - Manetho was an Egyptian who wrote Aegyptiaca (history of Egypt in Greek), preserved in quotes, developed through temple records - Show Egyptian comprehension of their history as cyclical pattern of unification and fragmentations The Pre-dynastic Period People have been living in Egypt since the Palaeolithic period (as early as humans) 7500 BCE: Nile Valley settled in Neolithic period 5000 BCE: Desertification and a drop in Nile floods  settlements intensified along Nile river - Similar to Childe’s Oasis hypothesis but ca. 2000 yrs later Different cultural development in the north (Nile Delta) and south (Nile Valley) Pre-dynastic Burials - In oval pits, individual on left side, sometimes on a mat - Head pointing south, facing west - Unequal distribution of wealth - Person surrounded by Badarian Black-Topped pottery and accompanied by pots, cups, plates, possibly jewellery, weed-remover accompanied them  beginnings of beliefs about taking things to the Underworld - Preserved due to burial in sand  good sources of information Pre-dynastic Art - Louvre Palette, Naqada III Period: used to grind makeup but later used as art - Gebel al-Arak Knife (Louvre): grinding knife; shows motif of hero subduing 2 lions, paralleling Mesopotamia – in this period, Egypt was very much influenced by Mesopotamia Pre-dynastic Temple of Min(?) at Coptos - Similarities with Pharaonic depictions of Min, the fertility god and one of the oldest gods identified by depiction with ityphallic (erect penis), beard, holding flail, thunderbolt symbol of Min and the nome of Coptos Hierakonpolis, Temple of Horus of Nekhen - Includes pre-formal temple mound - Many artefacts found in main deposit, including Narmer palette, Two-dog palette, maceheads, statuettes, etc Dynasty 0: The Scorpion King(s?) Chiefs begin to establish rule 3200 BCE: Tomb U-j of the Scorpion King at Abydos; includes macehead showing the Scorpion King opening up a canal (shovelling)  opening ceremony? The Early Dynastic Period (2920 – 2575 BCE): Dynasties 1 – 3 Known for royal cemeteries at Abydos and characterized by “mastabas” (tombs) Narmer Palette - King Narmer may have been first king to rule unified Egypt - Side 1: King is wearing white, long crown of Upper Egypt, has an ox-tail and is holding a mace; Pharaoh as Horus is defeating Lower Egypt - Side 2: King is wearing curly, red crown of Lower Egypt; Pharaoh as bull destroys city walls; Two intertwined snakes with four limbs = unity symbol - Narmer “written” on top of palette as catfish and scalpel (angry catfish king) Mastaba Tombs - “Mastaba” is Arabic for mud bench and copies palace façade also seen on serekhs (palaces) - Examples: Mastaba of Ptah-Shepses (Vizier, Dyn. V), Mastaba of Dyn. I official, Saqqara Mastaba - Seem to be copying Mespotamian architecture  evidence of Mesopotamian influeste King Djer, 1 Dynasty (3000 BCE): - Ivory Label, King Djer: shows human sacrifice; dagger stuck into chest of a bearded man with hands bound behind his back and bowl to catch blood  sacrificial ritual(?) - King Djer buried with 580 attendants  like early death pits in Mesopotamia - Practice completely abandoned at end of Dynasty 1 - 3000 BCE gold-handled flint knife: ceremonial butchering knife; gold handle has serekh with Horus name of Djer King Djoser, 3 Dynasty (2630 – 2611 BCE) - Most authors date this to the Old Kingdom - Greatly extended his power as far south as First cataract, which became traditional southern boundary of Egypt - Radically changed burial practices: Kings buried in around Memphis in the north instead of Abydos in the south; larger tombs (Early pyramids); stone used instead of mud-brick; tomb and funerary palace fused into one complex - Djoser’s Step Pyramid: possible due to vast workforce; one big experiment; evolution from mastaba, as seen by the stages of construction (small  big); 200000 tons of stone for additional tiers, and final facing of limestone Imhotep, the “Egyptian Leonardo da Vinci” of the 3 Dynastyd - Designed Djoser’s Step Pyramid - Administrator, inventor and author of some of the earliest medical texts - Titles: “the one that comes in peace”, “Treasurer of the king of Lower Egypt”, “first after the king of Upper Egypt”; “Administrator of the Great Palace”; “High Priest of Heliopolis” - Deified and worshipped in much later times as a healer Duality and Unification of Egypt - Gods combine Egypt, as seen in Senwosret 1 statue base and other sources - Centre has windpipe (“to unite”), left has papyrus and Horus (symbols of lower Egypt) and right has reeds and Seth (symbols of Upper Egypt) - Hedjet (long, White Crown of Upper Egypt) + Deshret (curly, Red Crown of Lower Egypt) = Pschent (combined crown of Upper and Lower Egypt) - Emergence of pharaohs The Pharaoh - Pharaoh = shepherd with shemset (sheperd) apron, bull’s tail, crook and flail, false beard (like Min)  seen on Narmer Palette and King Tutankhamen’s Coffin; people of Egypt were often referred to as “cattle” - Divine king with absolute power and head of strong central government - “Pharaoh” comes from Egyptian “pr-aa” (“great house or palace”) - Personification of Horus, closely associated with Ra, counterpart of Osiris - Ensured “ma’at” (justice, moral righteousness; often represented by goddess with feather) and order of universe - Responsible for changes in seasons and annual inundation of the Nile Horus, Seth and the Serekh - Forerunner of the Horus or ka name which shows king as embodiment of god Horus - Only some kings identified with Seth (e.g. Sekhmenib and Seth-Peribsen) or with both (Khasekhemwy)  H
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