Sunday, September 7, 2008

Formation of the Kingdom

Ancient man lived first by hunting and gathering wild foods. In the Nile Valley he learned very early to grow grain crops and to raise livestock.
The Nile River overflowed its banks for about half of each year, leaving a deposit of fertile silt. There was little or no rain.
To first drain the fields and to then irrigate them required men working together, and so the early Egyptians became organized into communities. Ancient Egyptian, the common language, was an Afro-Asiatic tongue related to the present-day Berber, Cushitic, and Coptic tongues. Racially, the Egyptians were a Mediterranaen subgroup of the Caucasoid race.
They have traditionally been called Hamites, but the term is no longer used by most scholars.
The country divided naturally into two parts.
The south, from which the Nile flowed, was called Upper Egypt (because it was upriver). The north, consisting of the Delta, through which the Nile emptied into the Mediterranean, was Lower Egypt. Together, the sections were known as the Two Lands.
There was easy contact between them, because boats were carried northward on the Nile by the current and were propelled southward by the prevailing north wind. Sails were invented by the Egyptians about 4000 B.C.
There was also some contact with neighboring countries.
Egyptians sailed to the Lebanon coast for cedar oil, resins, and timber. They obtained copper from the Sinai Peninsula. With copper for tools, the Egyptians learned to carve stone and soon were producing handsome stone vases as well as fine sculptures.
For trade goods the Egyptians had many products---salt from the shallow waters of the Delta; beads of glass, which they discovered how to make about 4000 B.C.; papyrus stalks for rope, baskets, and a writing material called papyrus; linen woven from the native flax; jewelry made of the gold and gemstones found in the Eastern Desert.
The Egyptians, however, often obtained their imports by sending military expeditions to take what was wanted rather than by trading.
Monarchy developed as the system of government in each of the Two Lands, and a struggle for supremacy began. Apparently Lower Egypt gained control briefly about 3400 B.C.
Around that time a new people started to appear among the Egyptians, bringing with them art forms and objects of Mesopotamian origin, and introducing Semitic words into the language. Some of the newcomers became members of the ruling class.