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The contemporary society largely owes its advancements to ancient peoples such as the Egyptians, considering the technological progress experienced in Egypt in times when the rest of the world was struggling to survive given the harsh conditions available. While Ancient Greece and Ancient Rome were diverse civilizations and spread over several territories, Ancient Egypt concentrated on a particular geographical area. Even with this, the complex nature of this particular civilization makes it difficult for one to describe it similar to how he or she would describe the other two.
In order to have a better understanding of Ancient Egypt one would first have to consider its location. Most people associate it with the African continent as a whole while others are inclined to associate it with the northern part of the territory, considering that these people generally consider that society needs to comprehend that Egypt is separate from 'black Africa'. "Much early Egyptology viewed Egypt as distinctly African, but the borders were redefined in the nineteenth century, drawing a line across Sudan, south of which became the world of ethnology and anthropology, contrasted with archeology (large stone-built monuments) and written records to the north" (Morkot 2).
It is wrong to think about Africa as a homogenous entity, as it is actually a very diverse land filled with numerous cultures and ideas. People are generally inclined to make this mistake as a consequence of the imperialist era during which colonists failed to focus on each community's cultural values. Even the continent's name fails to provide a proper understanding of the territory, considering that early Roman colonists are responsible for naming it consequent to interacting with the 'Afri' community in Tunisia (Morkot 2).
Even with the fact that it is in most occasions associated with Africa as a whole, Egypt is also linked to the idea of a Near East. Egypt was interesting for early colonists because it was different when compared with Arab states or with other states in Africa.
The Egyptian civilization is generally believed to have started in approximately 3100 B.C.. With particularly powerful kings who were called pharaohs in charge, the Egyptians impressive cities and architectural structures. The general public is inclined to associate Egypt with a particular type of building -- the pyramid. Also, Egypt is well-known as a result of the intricate system of writing that emerged there -- hieroglyphics.
One of the primary reasons for which the Egyptians experienced great success during the early years of the civilization was the fact that the Nile River ran through their lands and thus provided them with the opportunity to grow crops in a hostile climate. One can practically say that Egypt owed its life to this stream, considering the condition that neighboring tribes lived in as a result of the fact that water was rare in the territory. Most Egyptian cities and small communities were located near the river, so as for the water to provide them with rich soil. Floods were especially important in Egypt because they left behind soil that was particularly fertile. The Egyptians were thankful as a result of their connection with the river and actually believed that it was the result of the fact that the goddess Isis cried and filled the territory with water.
In spite of the fact that ordinary Egyptians lived in small houses, they did not hesitate to focus on their appearance. These people wore simple clothes, but enjoyed wearing complex jewelry and perfume with the purpose of emphasizing their physical appearance. They also used oil as a means to make their skin softer in the harsh desert climate.
Social class was a very important factor in Egypt and it largely determined the attitudes that people expressed concerning an individual. While people typically followed their parents in taking on a social status, some actually had the chance to either climb or descend the social ladder. "For instance, a skilled craftsman or a successful soldier could become quite wealthy" (Sonneborn & Hiti 10).
Knowledge was passes within the family and parents were responsible for their children's teachings. Mothers taught girls in regard to household duties while fathers focused on teaching their sons the same jobs that they did, as most individuals grew up to take on the same work as their parents. Schooling often made the difference between a mediocre individual and a successful one. Individuals who knew a great deal of information were even likely to grow up to be pharaohs.
In spite of the fact that the Ancient Egyptians has a complex understanding of gods and their roles, they did not develop a clear hierarchy meant to describe each deity's place in the world. "Each town of a certain importance had its own gods, unrelated to those of neighboring towns" (Donadoni 131). These people were particularly devoted to their gods and worshipped them for many generations, this making it possible for an outsider to gain a better understanding regarding how each area in Egypt developed from the early ages and until the state's period of glory. The moment when Egypt was unified did not prevent local communities from keeping their deities. Moreover, their deities did not become subordinate to the ones respected by the majority of individuals in the state. While this might be perceived as a positive attitude expressed by individuals across Egypt, it is also a reason why Egypt was a place filled with discrimination. An exaggerated form of polytheism made it difficult for the masses to successfully interact and exploit each-other. Individuals were inclined to appreciate each-other depending on the deity that each person served. Diverse interpretations made matters even more problematic, as people came to associate particular deities with family lines and with certain roles that they played in the natural world.
Local clergies were very important in the Egyptian community, but the fact that priests could not unite under a national priesthood generated significant problems. The fact that some were devoted to certain gods made it impossible for them to express interest in individuals who served other gods. The moment when the first pharaoh of the unified state of Egypt came to rule over the nation marked the beginning of an important connection between North Egypt and South Egypt. People associated the pharaoh with a God-like figure and thus came to acknowledge that they were all devoted to a single god. "Despite doubts expressed by some authorities regarding the divine nature of the pharaoh, there is no doubt that, at least in terms of dogma, the king was considered a god" (Donadoni 132). Egyptians believed that the pharaoh was destined to live on earth with the purpose of assisting them and that he was later expected to return to heaven to stand alongside of other gods worshipped in Egypt. The pharaoh was basically the only individual who could guarantee the safety of Egypt, as he presumably had the power to communicate with other deities and to reach diverse agreements regarding the future of the nation.
Egyptians promoted the belief that they needed to have a balance between the visible world and the world of the gods. The pharaoh's role was basically that of making sure that relations between the people of Egypt and the gods remained good. This meant that he had the task of devising a series of strategies involving cult activities and the offering of various goods in temples. Such actions apparently pleased the gods and made it possible for Egypt to continue its progress. The fact that Egyptians perceived the pharaoh as being the only person capable to connect with the gods meant that they also worshipped him and that they considered that their fate largely rested on his shoulders. From a certain perspective, one can regard the pharaoh as the only person capable of holding the title of priest in all of Egypt. This influenced priests in various areas around Egypt to consider that their only chance to connect with their gods would be to serve the pharaoh. As a consequence, the pharaoh united the tribes of Egypt both from a geographical point-of-view and from a social perspective. People virtually felt that he was the only one who could assist all of them through influencing the gods in favoring Egypt as a whole. They thus came to consider that it would be natural for them to identify with the same deities in order for the nation to experience success as a whole. The pharaoh thus came to be a high-priest who could control priesthoods across Egypt and who could put across his personal convictions directly to the people by communicating with their priests. "During the Amarna Period (1353-1336 B.C.), the exclusive relationship between the divine and human realms mediated by the king became even more accentuated when all private monuments, such as stelae and scenes in tombs, were forbidden from representing cult acts unless they were performed by the king or by some…[continue]
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