Lecture Three Egyptians - Okay today were going to discuss...

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Okay, today we’re going to discuss those Western civilizations that formed outside of Mesopotamia. First, we’ll start with Egypt, whose civilization centers around the Nile river and valley. The Nile was all important. It begins in the heart of Africa (around Lake Victoria near what is now Tanzania), and is the longest river in the world. The great thing about the Nile is that not only does it flood annually, but also that the land on both sides of the river can generate an abundant harvest to feed everyone. The fertile land around the Nile is referred to as the Black Land, while the land beyond this (the desert) is referred to as the Red Land. The flooding of the Nile is usually predicable (unlike Mesopotamia), and there is much less danger to farming here than in the Fertile Crescent. Some irrigation is needed, but not to the extent that it is used in Mesopotamia.Now the Egyptians, as you can guess, live in many small population centers based on either side of the river. The Nile Valley itself is split into two regions (Upper Egypt in the South, as it is considered to be upstream, and Lower Egypt in the north, which empties out into the Nile Delta and the Mediterranean Sea. It is in Lower Egypt that we see Egyptian civilization Proper (your pharaohs, your pyramids, etc.). In Upper Egypt, the main civilization there is Egypt’s sometime enemy/sometime ally/sometime
something in between, the region of Nubia. Egypt’s geography not only helps it to grow food, but also to trade with areas such as Nubia. The geography also helps Egyptian civilization from being attacked by outside powers. On either side of East and West, theyhave deserts that foreign invaders might be wont to go through to pillage and attack the main population centers. The cataracts of the Nile (intervals of impassable rapids) also ensures a degree of defense, especially from the south (and it protects the Nubians, in turn, from Egyptian attacks from the north, in most cases anyway). First Cataract of the NileThis is not to say that Egypt is completely isolated. Indeed, there is much evidence, for example, of Egypt trading with Mesopotamia and much of the Near East. So, what is the course of Egyptian History? Well, the basic framework for the study of Egyptian history is laid out by the Egyptian priest Manetho, who lived in the 200s BC. On the basis of his work as well as that of others, Egyptian History is divided into thirty-one dynasties, giving lists of kings as well as the information (where available) of each of
those kings’ reigns. Modern Historians, to simplify (or complicate things, depending on your point of view), these dynasties into three major periods known as the Old Kingdom (3100 BC-2181 BC), the Middle Kingdom (2055-1650 BC), and the New Kingdom (1550-1070 BC). These times are known for general political stability and prosperity, with much building, trade, etc. Now, in between these periods are times known as the Intermediate Periods, periods of external invasion, upheaval, political uncertainty that

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