The Amarna Letters: Communication in Ancient Egypt and Mesopotamia

The Amarna letters reveal a treasury of knowledge concerning the political relations and social customs of their times. Introduction The Amarna letters (sometimes “Amarna tablets”) are an archive of correspondence on clay tablets, mostly diplomatic, between the Egyptian administration and its representatives in Canaan and Mesopotamia. The letters were found in Upper Egypt at Amarna,[…]

Identity and Superiority in Ancient Greek and Egyptian Interactions

Following the conquests of Alexander the Great, Egypt was taken over by a Greco-Macedonian dynasty based in the new city of Alexandria. “You Greeks are children.” That’s what an Egyptian priest is supposed to have said to a visiting Greek in the 6th century BC. And in a sense he was right. We think of[…]

The Five Gifts of Hathor: Ancient Egyptian Goddess of Fertility and Motherhood

Hathor was a multifaceted goddess, appealed to for a wide variety of needs, who provided many of the best aspects of life to humanity. Introduction The central cultural value of ancient Egypt was ma’at – harmony and balance – which maintained the order of the universe and the lives of the people. Keeping balance in one’s[…]

The Odyssey of an Ancient Egyptian Cat Sculpture

Analysis of a bronze cat reveals clues about its ancient past. By Jeffrey Maish, Judith Barr, and Almoatzbellah Elshahawi Introduction Ancient Egyptians revered cats, and worshiped the goddess Bastet, who could appear in human form with a feline head, or as a cat. Bronze and wood cat statuettes were placed as votive offerings at temples,[…]

Nebkheperure: King Tut, Boy Pharaoh of New Kingdom Egypt

Tutankhamun began his reign at age 9. Introduction Nebkheperure Tutankhamun (King Tut) was a Pharaoh of the eighteenth dynasty (ruled 1333 B.C.E.–1324 B.C.E.), during the period of Egyptian history known as the New Kingdom. His original name, Tutankhaten, meant “Living Image of Aten,” while Tutankhamun meant “Living Image of Amun.” He is possibly also the[…]

Ten Interesting Facts about Ancient Egypt

For thousands of years, the civilization of Egypt was among the most significant in the ancient world. Introduction Ancient Egypt is defined as the civilization which flourished in North Africa between c. 6000-30 BCE – from the Predynastic Period in Egypt (c. 6000 – c. 3150 BCE) through the Ptolemaic Dynasty (323-30 BCE) before Egypt became[…]

The Dodekaschoinos: Lower Nubian “Twelve Cities” under Ptolemaic Rule in Ancient Egypt

The beginning of Ptolemaic influence in Nubia began when Ptolemy II led a campaign against the kingdom of Meroe c. 275 BCE. By Arienne King Introduction The Dodekaschoinos (literally “Twelve Cities” in Greek) was the name of a region in Lower Nubia that became an important province of the Ptolemaic Kingdom after it was annexed from Meroitic Nubia[…]

Women in Ancient Egypt

Women in ancient Egypt were the equals of men in every area except occupations. Introduction One of the central values of ancient Egyptian civilization, arguably the central value, was ma’at – the concept of harmony and balance in all aspects of one’s life. This ideal was the most important duty observed by the pharaoh who,[…]

Clergy, Priests, and Priestesses in Ancient Egypt

The clergy of ancient Egypt did not preach, interpret scripture, proselytize, or conduct weekly services. Introduction The ancient Egyptians understood that their gods had prevailed over the forces of chaos through the creation of the world and relied upon humanity’s help to maintain it. The people of Mesopotamia held this same belief but felt they[…]

Westcar Papyrus: The Art of the Story in Ancient Egypt

In the manuscript, each of Khufu’s sons speaks in turn, telling their own tale for their father’s entertainment. Introduction The ancient Egyptians enjoyed storytelling as one of their favorite pastimes. Inscriptions and images, as well as the number of stories produced, give evidence of a long history of the art of the story in Egypt[…]

The Five Great Kings of Egypt’s Early Dynastic Period

The Early Dynastic Period is prehistoric, and it is difficult to determine who ruled when and what exactly their contributions were. Introduction Egypt’s Early Dynastic Period (3150-2613 BCE) lay the foundation of what would become one of the most impressive civilizations of the ancient world. The kings of this era, except for Narmer and Djoser,[…]

The Ancient Egyptian Book of the Heavenly Cow

The tale begins after Ra had created the world and was king of the gods and humanity. Introduction The Book of the Heavenly Cow is an ancient Egyptian text dealing with the rebellion of humanity against the sun god Ra, his destruction of the rebels through the goddess Hathor, the reversal of this decision and Ra’s mercy, and his[…]

A’Aru: The Ancient Egyptian ‘Field of Reeds’ Afterlife Paradise

One lived on in the presence of the gods, doing as one had done on earth, with everyone the soul had ever loved. Introduction A’Aru (The Field of Reeds) was the Egyptian afterlife, an idealized vision of one’s life on earth (also known as Sekhet-A’Aru and translated as The Field of Rushes). Everything thought to have been lost at death was returned[…]

The Lost City of Heracleion

Once a bustling metropolis, this long-lost Egyptian city flooded, sank, and was forgotten — until archeologists rediscovered it. When people think of archeology, they typically think of people laboring in the hot sun, or maybe underground. But those excavating the ancient Egyptian city of Heracleion have exchanged their sunblock for scuba gear. According to science[…]

Immortality of Writers in Ancient Egypt

A scribe would be remembered, not only by family and friends, but by a much larger audience through the works they left behind. Introduction For the ancient Egyptians, life on earth was only one part of an eternal journey which continued after death. One’s purpose in life was to live in balance with one’s self, family,[…]

Harper’s Songs of Ancient Egypt

Harper’s songs were lyrics composed in ancient Egypt to be sung at funeral feasts and inscribed on monuments. Introduction Harper’s songs were lyrics composed in ancient Egypt to be sung at funeral feasts and inscribed on monuments. They derive their name from the image which accompanies the text on tomb or chapel walls, stelae, and papyri in which a[…]

Berenice II Euergetis: Ancient Alexandrian Queen from Libya

Although Ptolemy III and Berenice II were cousins, they proclaimed themselves siblings as children of Ptolemy II and Arsinoe II. Introduction Berenice (c. 267-221 BCE), the daughter of the Macedonian dynast Magas and his Seleucid wife Apame, was born in Cyrene, a Greek city in Libya. Ptolemy I had installed Magas, a son of his fourth wife Berenice I by a previous marriage,[…]

Meritamun: Brought to Life 2,000 Years Later

Modern technology and research restores an ancient Egyptian woman, Meritamun, creating a unique teaching tool for medicine and health science. Introduction Reconstructed from a mummified head dating back at least two millennia, the fine-featured ancient Egyptian face looks out from an artist’s studio in the forested hills of rural Victoria. Ancient Egypt has fascinated everyone[…]

Cambyses II of Persia and the Battle of Pelusium: A Victory Won by Cats

The battle was won through a very unusual strategy on Cambyses II’s part: the use of animals as hostages and, especially, cats. Introduction The ancient Egyptians had a great reverence for life in all its forms. Life had been given by the gods and reverence for it extended beyond human beings to all living things.[…]

How the Ancient Egyptian Economy Laid the Groundwork for Building the Pyramids

In the shadow of the pyramids of Giza lie the tombs of the courtiers and officials who built these vast structures. In the shadow of the pyramids of Giza, lie the tombs of the courtiers and officials of the kings buried in the far greater structures. These men and women were the ones responsible for[…]

The Economy of Ptolemaic Egypt

The wealth of Egypt was owed in large part to the unrivaled fertility of the Nile. By Arienne KingHistorian Introduction Ptolemaic Egypt rapidly established itself as an economic powerhouse of the ancient world at the end of the 4th century BCE. The wealth of Egypt was owed in large part to the unrivalled fertility of[…]

Symbols in Ancient Egypt

Symbols in a largely illiterate society serve the vital purpose of relaying the most important values of the culture to the people generation after generation, often changing in form and function. Introduction Religion in ancient Egypt was fully integrated into the people’s daily lives. The gods were present at one’s birth, throughout one’s life, in the transition from[…]

Medical Treatments in Ancient Egypt

The ancient Egyptians experienced the same wide array of disease that people do in the present day. Introduction The ancient Egyptians experienced the same wide array of disease that people do in the present day, but unlike most people in the modern era, they attributed the experience to supernatural causes. The common cold, for example,[…]

In King Tut’s Shadow: The Story of Theodore Davis

In a single stroke, Davis and his legacy were all but buried. What was it like to discover an ancient Egyptian tomb? If the breathless records from the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries are to be believed, it was an experience almost too marvelous to be grasped. Having cleared a portal back through the[…]

The Rise and Decline of Pharaohnic Power in Ancient Egypt

Examining the emergence and decline of the pharaoh in ancient Egypt from the Old to New Kingdoms. Introduction The Pharaoh in ancient Egypt was the political and religious leader of the people and held the titles ‘Lord of the Two Lands’ and ‘High Priest of Every Temple’. The word ‘pharaoh’ is the Greek form of the Egyptian pero or per-a-a, which was the designation for[…]

Menes: Legendary First King of Egypt

In the early days of Egyptology, Menes was accepted as the first historical king based upon the written records. Introduction Menes (c. 3150 BCE) is the legendary first king of Egypt who is thought to have united Upper and Lower Egypt through conquest and founded both the First Dynasty and the great city of Memphis. His name is known from sources such[…]