The Culture and Historical Value of Ancient Egypt Civilization

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Introduction

For most people, the very first thought that comes to mind when asked about ancient Egypt, is “pyramids.” Well that is only partially correct, pyramids are not the only thing ancient Egypt is known for, they have beautiful art, the world’s oldest paved road, and the largest statue in the Ancient World as well. The unique and creative ancient Egyptian art and architecture helped the civilization prosper to become one of the most advanced civilizations of its time. Ancient Egypt was an interesting and creative civilization. Right from the start of the civilization around 3100 B.C, the people of ancient Egypt had attained great understanding and skills to construct all the great buildings and pyramids. Overall by the end of the civilization in 332 B.C, the civilization had accomplished and learned many new things. Very much, in between those time periods is where you would find why the civilization became so advanced. With its diverse creativity, the civilization was able to create and fabricate many historical monuments. Egyptian sculptors possessed great talent for linking decorations and the necessary forms of their structures. Even though around 80 of the original pyramids are still existing today, pyramids are not the peak of Ancient Egyptian architecture. Pyramids are only the earliest and notable expression of the ancient Egyptian civilization, which would go on to create great buildings, statues, and temples just as fascinating. Also with the beautiful Egyptian art, you can argue that it is a type of architecture as well. This meaning that the gigantic and intriguing statues can also be classified as architecture and art. Also the Egyptian made, hieroglyphics can be viewed as both as well. In Ancient Egypt, architecture was so distinct and distinguishable. They would use new techniques of construction to make sure the buildings were strong and durable. They would also change the ways of designing buildings overtime. The civilization stuck with its Egyptian characteristics, using almost no elements from other cultures. This is what makes the ancient Egyptian civilization so unique and creative.

Background Information:

What made Ancient Egypt so popular and advanced was its ability to sustain statues, art, buildings, and pyramids for so long. You can’t find many other nations that have been able to preserve monuments like the Egyptians. Egyptian structures still resonate today because they were sought out, constructed and raised to tell a never ending story. This being why they still relate to everyone and leave an everlasting effect on whoever visits the sites. One of the most famous Egyptian pyramids was the Great Pyramid of Giza. It was known as one of the most brilliant man-made structures in history. The pyramid was built for the Egyptian Pharaoh, Khufu during the 4th Dynasty, and the two other pyramids apart of the collection were built for his son and grandson. The pyramids were special enough to be viewed as one of the 7 Wonders of the Ancient World. It took over 20 years for the Great Pyramid to be built, and it stood as the tallest structure in the world for standing at 481.4 feet. After visiting Egypt around 450 B.C., ancient Greek historian, Herodotus wrote that, ‘‘it required the labor of over 100,000 men and the work carried throughout the year in 3 month shifts of 100,000 men each.’’

Later on archaeologists evidence suggests that the workforce might actually have been around 20,000 people. This is still a great number, and it goes to show how much the people in ancient Egypt were involved in constructing and building for their Pharaoh. Throughout Egypt building monuments or pyramids for their leader meant everything to them. Egyptians were very dedicated towards their job. Egyptians had to cut around 2.3 million blocks of stone to build Khufu’s Great Pyramid. Another great memorable architectural advancement was the statue built inside of Khufu’s son, Khafre’s pyramids’ complex, the Great Sphinx. The Great Sphinx is a guardian statue carved in limestone with the head of a man and the body of a lion. This statue was made to symbolize strength and wisdom. Strength is exactly what the statue symbolizes, having it been buried in the great desert sand several times, and is still able to be presented to the public for everyone to see. It was the largest statue in the Ancient World. In the 18th dynasty, the Great Sphinx would come to be worshipped itself, as the image of a local form of the god Horus.

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What made the art of ancient Egypt so remarkable, was the meaning behind it. All of the art on the interior of the buildings were designed for two purposes. The two purposes associated with temples and tombs differently. In the case of the temples, it was designed for the worship of the gods and goddesses highlighted in that temple. In the case of the tombs, it was designed to help the rulers, called Pharaohs, or other deceased people still prosper once they moved on to the afterworld. This art that helped people move on to the afterlife was called funerary. Egyptian art is pretty easy to recognize after just looking at a few paintings. The Egyptian art generally used 6 different colors in their paintings and each had a symbolic meaning; Green represented new life arising. It was also used as the color of rebirth; Black signified death, but it also represented resurrection to life after death; Yellow symbolized the sun and thus represented things that were everlasting and could not be destroyed; Red represented hazard, fire and success, which could have been represented as good or evil. A person who acted with a heart that was red, was often filled up with anger; Blue symbolized the water and the sky and also the creation of the heavens and Earth; White associated with purity as well with things that were sanctified in their simpleness. The Pharaohs were the most important people, being viewed as a living god. This being the reason they were always shown at a larger size than other people in the paintings. Another distinctive trait about Egypt’s art, is men were shown with darker skin then women, this most likely being because they were out in the Egyptian sun more than women were. Also you can easily tell the social status of the deceased person in a painting. An interesting example of the little symbols you will find in Egyptian art is, if you find a person who is seated in a painting or statue, the person’s hands were always shown on the top if his or her knees. These little distinctive symbols is what helps define Egyptian art. Sadly though, not everyone was allowed to see most of the art. If you were “normal people” in Egypt, you were not allowed to see most art. The art was too powerful to be viewed by the general public. Egyptian art is what helped ancient Egypt stand out as a nation. It is what made the nation unique and creative, and helped set the nation aside from the others.

Comparison to other Civilizations:

Compared to other civilizations such as the ancient Greece civilization and the Mayan civilization, ancient Egypt was by far more advanced. The ancient Egyptian, the Mayan civilization, and the ancient Greek civilization are three of the oldest known civilizations recorded in history. One of the things that made the ancient Egyptian civilization more advanced than the others was where it was located. Egypt was split into two types of land, the “red land” and the “black land”. The “red land” was the barren desert that guarded Egypt on both sides. This desert separated ancient Egypt from opposing armies and near countries. Along the Nile River valley, the flooding helped guarantee there would be rich soil for growing crops. This was referred to as the “black land”, it was the only land in ancient Egypt that could be farmed since a layer of rich, black silt was placed there every year after the river flooded. The Nile River valley is what made the Ancient Egyptian civilization so rich and powerful. This is what made the civilization stand out from the others also. Many of ancient Egypt’s success came from being able to adapt to living next to Nile River valley for agriculture. Also the Egyptians were able to create a broad reaching trade network along the great river. They also used the mud from the river to build mud bricks. It was their basic building substance, and they made the mud brick by drying it in the sun and putting it together to make houses and homes.

Another reason why this nation was so highly viewed is because of its gender equality. In many other nations women were not treated equally, and were not involved in much. While in ancient Egypt all women and men were viewed as equal before the law. Two distinguished examples being the two female Pharaohs: Hatshepsut and Cleopatra. One of the reasons ancient Greece collapsed was because of the class struggles. Not everyone received the respect they thought needed to be given. Even though the social class system was used in Egypt as well, it was not as bad as Greece. The lower class and middle class Egyptians thought that the Pharaohs could control everything. They thought that if they wanted to, the Pharaohs could cause famine for everyone and even cause death. This being why there were not too many complaints about the social class. One of the things ancient Egypt is known for and came up with is their writing system, hieroglyphics. A hieroglyph can portray a word or even a sound; and the symbol can represent different purposes in different situations. Egyptian hieroglyphic writing is made up of hundreds of symbols, which could be read in many different ways. It could be read in rows or columns, and even in either direction. Hieroglyphics was a unique writing system that was not very simple to learn. These writings could be found in many Egyptian monuments. Since some of the writings were preserved in stone, we are able to still look at these writings today. Egyptians were very much broad thinkers, they new using stone and clay would help preserve their writings for a long time. Egyptians also wrote on papyrus, a paper-like product invented by the Egyptians. As the civilization advanced, the appearance of windows and doors were supported and decorated with wooden frames. During the Pre-Dynastic Period is where you would get to see this, wood was more plentiful in Egypt at the time. Egyptians also invented the ramp and the lever, two simple, but effective inventions. These two inventions are what help the civilization become so well known for their architecture.

Distinguished levels of mathematics was also developed in ancient Egypt. This was key for building the great pyramids and temples with extraordinarily undemanding and basic tools. With these basic tools the great pyramids were able change over time as well. The outstanding intelligence of the Egyptians is what allowed the civilization to create such wonderful pyramids. As I stated in the introduction, the very first thought that comes to mind when asked about ancient Egypt, is “pyramids”. No other civilization prized themselves on pyramids like ancient Egypt. Pyramids were the highlights of the ancient Egyptian civilization. On the other hand, civilizations like the ancient China civilization and the Mayan civilization, major highlights were the inventions of paper and silk, and the complex understanding of astronomy. Pyramids were much more important in the minds of the Egyptians. The Egyptians built pyramids for religious and spiritual meanings. They were built to serve as tombs for the kings and queens of Egypt. The Egyptians achieved things in architecture that so many places in the world today, may never reach. They were able to construct buildings and structures while using modern-day equipment and machinery of their time. The still existing monuments remind us very much of today’s monuments and buildings, but without today’s very useful technological advancements. It is very understandable to argue that the ancient Egyptian civilization was very advanced, due to when you look and see what they have done and accomplished as a nation compared to other great nations. They were so advanced and prominent due to the dedication the Egyptians shared for their leaders. This nation is an unforgettable one.

Conclusion:

The ancient Egypt civilization was a rich and powerful civilization that paved the way for many civilizations that came after. From their pyramids, to their art, to even their irrigation control, this nation has taught many countries of today, a few things. This nation has given us the lever and the ramp, and has left us with beautiful artwork and monuments. They have also given us paper and taught us how to preserve items and even people. Also something not too many people know is that they also gave us the calendar. This civilization’s culture will never be forgotten and will always hold its historical value in the eyes of many.

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