The Egyptians lived in a concentrated area along the lower parts of the Nile River around 3000 BC. And they were able to predict flooding and control irrigation, which made the Nile River Valley a very fertile area.
And since they grew surplus crops, Egyptians had time to pursue other interests. So, the Egyptians lived in the Nile River Valley, the land along the lower part of the Nile River, and they could predict when floods would occur, and they also had control of irrigation techniques.
The next lesson: Globalization: Asia, both lessons are included in Practice Tests.[divider]The following transcript is provided for your convenience.[divider]
So, they were able to farm a lot of that land and grow enough crops that they had plenty to spare. They had some to store up for the future, for times of drought or famine, and they had time to do other things. So, they were definitely a farming community, but they had lots of other interests because their civilization developed in a very fertile area that made for an easier life than some of the other civilizations that were developing around the same time period.
So, the Egyptians developed writing. They had that extra time, they developed a system of writing. They farmed minerals from the valley and surrounding desert. So, they figured out what minerals they could use from the ground, and they would go and farm them as well, or mine them out, because they had all this extra time. So, they farmed the land, but they also farmed the minerals. They developed a vast trading network. So, they have all this extra food, they’ve got these minerals, they can write, they can make jewelry, pottery, they had a lot of art, and their art and architecture were modeled throughout other civilizations in the surrounding areas the Egyptians developed more and more. So, they had a vast trading network. They would trade very far away from where they lived, and people would come from far away to trade with them.
They developed a military to defend against attacks. So, you can imagine living in this fertile valley, other civilizations are going to say, “Hey, that spot looks really great. I want to live there. I want our people to live there.” So, the Egyptians did have to defend Egypt against attacks because this Nile River Valley was a pretty popular place, and people saw that it was good land, and they tried to make it their own. So, Egypt had to develop a military. They formulated an effective system of medicine. So, they were able to record symptoms and say, “Oh, this looks similar to when this other person was sick. This is what we gave them and it made it better.” “This person doesn’t look like they’re getting better, they may have this much time to live.” “This person has a wound. If we put this medicine and wrap it up, it will get better.” So, they had an effective system of medicine.
They organized collective construction. In fact, one of the Egyptians’ greatest achievements were their pyramids. And the pyramids were not something that just a few people could build. These took lots and lots of time, and lots of manpower to build. So, the pyramids are something that a lot of people associate with Egypt, even today. And back then, remember I said that a lot of other people modeled the Egyptians’ art and architecture, one of their architectural things that people wanted to copy were the pyramids. They were very impressive. Even now, they’re very impressive, but for them to be able to make it back then without all of the modern equipment that we have was very impressive.
So, pyramids were originally built as burial sites for pharaohs who were the leaders in Egypt. And they were believed to continue ruling in the afterlife. So, they made these huge pyramids, and they buried the pharaohs in there after they died, and they buried them with food, and with servants, and with animals, with gold, jewels, they wanted them to be entertained and fed and have plenty to drink and have plenty people to wait on them in the afterlife as well. And so, they buried all of this with them, thinking it would all go with the pharaoh to the next life.
Peasants worked on the pyramids in exchange for food and shelter. So, for people who maybe didn’t have their own area of land, people who wanted these pyramids built would say, “Okay, you come build on the pyramid, we’ll feed you and make sure you’ve got a place to live.” The shape of the pyramids is meant to symbolize the slanting rays of the Sun, and if you think about the way that the pyramids slant down, and the sloping sides were also thought to help the souls of the pharaohs climb to the sky to join the other gods. So, slanting rays down from the Sun, but also, it slants up toward the Sun from the ground. And so, the pharaoh’s soul was supposed to be assisted by those sloping sides. It could make its way up toward the sky to join the other gods.
And just to give you an example of how much time and how much labor a pyramid might take, the largest pyramid from this time took around 20 years and around 100,000 laborers to complete. So, if a pharaoh came into power, he better start getting his pyramid built really quickly because by the time that it was done, it would be about the time he was going to be needing it.
So, the Egyptians were a very accomplished people. They were very ahead of their time, both in architecture and art, and they lived in the fertile Nile River Valley around 3000 BC.
The next lesson: Globalization: Asia, both lessons are included in Practice Tests.