Egyptians mumified the bodies of the deceased for almost three thousand years.
- Egyptian records don't tell about the mummification process, but a Greek historian named Herodotus briefly explained the craft, which he learned on a trip to Egypt in 450 BCE.
Embalmers first used a metal hook to remove the brain through a nostril, and then made an incision along the abdomen, from which the internal organs were removed. The internal organs were washed in palm wine, and sealed in stone containers. The body was then washed, and filed with spiced and aromatics, and covered with natron -- a naturally occurring salt substance -- for two months. This extracted the moisture from the body. It was then cleaned again, and wrapped in strips of fine linen, covered in resin. The body was then covered in jewelry, and then put into a coffin, bearing a painting or a sculpted likeness of the deceased.
- Wealthy individuals, rulers, and occasionally common people would lay the deceased to rest in an expensive tomb containing all they would need for their next life.
- The funeral practices of the Egyptians reflected their extremely prosperous agricultural society. The accumulation of wealth to leave to the departed can be explained by bountiful harvests.
- Indo-European introduced domesticated horses to much of Eurasia.
Cultivation and herding also transformed African societies.
- African agriculture began in Sudan, then moved to the Nile River valley.
- Egypt became the most prosperous and poweful of Africa's early agricultural society.
Distinctive Nubian and Egyptian societies began to take place in late 4000 BCE.
- Like the Mesopotamian, they used agricultral surplus to form states.
The Nubian and Egyptian people had regular dealings with the other societies, from whom they drew political and social organization.
- They traded with the Phoenicians, Mesopotamians, and Africans.
About 10,000 BCE -- end of the last ice ag, and the Sahara desert is now a grassey steppe with many lakes.
- After 9,000 BCE, the people of eastern Sudan domesticated cattle and became nomadic herders.
- After 7,500 BCE, they established permanent settlements and cultivated Sorghum.
After 8,000 BCE, many Sudanic people organized small monarchies, run by people they viewed as "divine."
- For several thousand years, they buried their deceased kings, and killed a group of servants who were entombed with their masters, so that they could continue to serve them in the afterlife.
- Sudanic people developed religious beliefs that reflected their agriculture based on society. They recognized a single divine source as the source of good and evil, and they associated it with rain.
- Around 5000 BCE -- the area became arid and dry.
- Cataract (n) -- an unnavigable stretch of rapids and waterfalls.
- Egypt had a larger floodplane that Nubia.
- Egypt became an especially productive agricultraul region, which was capable of supporting a much larger population than Nubia.
- Herodotus, a Greek historian, proclaimed Egypt, "the gift of the Nile."
- Both Nubia and Egypt were infulenced by sub-Sahara Africa and the Mediterranean basin, as they were all connected by waterways.
- 10,000 BCE -- Red Sea hills migrants introduced Nubia and Egypt to the practice of wild grain collection.
- Coptic was the main language spoken in ancient Egypt.
- As the cimate grew hotter and drier, Sudanic cultivators moved farther down the Nile, and introduced Nubia and Egypt to gourds and watermellon, and animals like donkey and cattle.Egyptian cultivators went into the floodplains in the late summer, after the annual flood, and were able to sow their seeds with minimal preparation.
They began to cultivate on higher ground, which required plowing.
- They built dikes to prevent flooding in their fields and catment basins to collect water for irrigation.
- By 4,000 BCE, agriculrual villages traded with each other regularly, and cooperated with each other in building irrigation networks.
- The earliers Egyptian and Nubian states were small kingdoms, like those in Sudan after 5,000 BCE, and they were founded at about 4,000 BCE.
- Small kingdoms spred throughout the Nile, and by 3,300 BCE, small kingdoms organized all of public life.
- By 3,500 BCE, political and economic competition fueled several small-scale wars.
- The kingdom of Ta-Set was a strong, Nubian community that flourished from 3,400 to 3,200 BCE. It extended its rule north of the Nile's first cataract and into Egypt.
3,100 BCE -- Egypt organized itself into a unified kingdom, much larger and more powerful than any before it.
- This kingdom was established by Menes, a former minor official of souther Egypt. He founded the city of Memphis.
Menes and his successors built a centralized state, which was ruled by the pharoh, the Egyptian king.
- Early Egyptian pharohs claimed to be gods living on earth in human form.
- As late as 2,600 BCE, deceased pharohs took royal servants to the grave with them.
Egyptian people associated pharohs with Horus, the sky god. Often pharohs are represented by a falcon or hawk; they symbol of Horus.
- The power of the pharohs was strongest during the first millennium of Egyptian history.
- Archaic Period -- 3100 - 2600 BCE.
- Old Kingdom -- 2660 - 2160 BCE.
The most enduring example of their power and authority are the massive pyramids, constructed as royal tombs, mostly from 2600 - 2500 BCE.
- They are located today in Giza.
- The largest pyramid is Khufu, also know as Cheops. 2.3 million limestone blocks weighing up to 15 tons were fut and fitted together to form the pyramid.
- Nubia and Egypt had very strong ties and interests in each other.
Egypt and Nubia experienced frequent vilence throughout the Archaic Period and the Old Kingdom.
- Five million miitary campaigns were launched into Nubia between 3,100 and 2,600 BCE.
- Egypt destoryed the Nubian kingdom of Ta-Seti, shortly after the unification of Egypt, and Egypt dominated Lower Nubia for more than half a millennium (from about 3,000 to 2,400 BCE).
- Egyptian domination of Lower Nubia forced Nubian leaders to concentrate political organization and mititary power to Upper Nubia, and by 2,500 BCE, they established the kingdom of Kush.
- High agricultural productivety made several regions of Egypt so prosperous they were able to ignore the pharoh, which led to the eventual decline of the centralized government of Egypt, during a period of political unrest (2040 -1640 BCE).
- Pharaonic authority returned when the Middle Kingdom was established (2040-1640 BCE). They were not as powerful as past pharohs, but they provided political stability for their country.
- Egypt eventually came under pressure of a Semitic people called the Hyksos (meaning, "foreign rulers"), from southwest Asia.
The Hyksos introduced horses and horse-drawn chariots to Egypt, and also the use of bronze tipped weaponry (Egyptians had formerly only used wooden weapons).
- These weapons gave Egyptians a huge military advantage.
About 1674 BCE, Memphis was captured by the Hyksos, and levied tribute throughout all of Egypt.
- They themselves did not travel south of the Nile, but claimed authority over Egypt, and ruled through Egyptian intermediaries.
Disgruntled nobles of Upper Egypt revolted, and adopted their weaponry and chariots for their own troops.
- They gradually pushed the Hyksos out of Egyp, and founded a powerful state known as the New Kingdom (1550 - 1070 BCE).
Agricultural surplus in the New Kingdom supported over four million people, as well as an army and an elaborate beauracracy.
- For half a millennium, Egypt was an imperial power throughout most of the eastern Mediterranean basin and southwest Asia, as well as most of the Nile River valley.
- Just after the New Kingdom, Egypt entered a period of political and military decline, and local resistance drove them out of Nubia and southwest Asia. Kushite and Assyrian armied invaded Egypt itself.
- By 1100 BCE -- Egyptian forces were in full retreat from Nubia.
1000 BCE - Nubian leaders organized a new kingdom of Kush with a capital at Napata.
- By 800 BCE -- rulers of this kingdom were powerful enough to invade Egypt.
- As Kushite forces invaded from the south, Assyrian forces pushed from the north. During the mid-seventh century, they Assyrians invaded Egypt, and drove out the Kushites.
- After the mid-sixth century, like Mesopotamia, Egypt fell to foreign rule.
- Memphis, founded by Menes, became the capital of Egypt.
- Thebes became the administrative center of Upper Egypt.
Heleopolis (meaning: "city of the sun") was the headquarters off a sun cult and a principal cultural center.
- Founded in 2900 BCE, it reached the height of influence during the New Kingdom, when it was the site of an enormous temple to the sun god Re.
- Nubian cities were not as well known as Egyptian cities.
The most prominent cities were Kerma, Napata, and Meroe.
- Kerma was the capital of the earliest Kush kingdom.
- Napata became emerged as the political center of Nubia after 1000 BCE.
Egyptian and Nubian people built patriarchal societies.
- In one notable case, a woman appointed herself co-ruler with her stepson, Tuthmosis III. Her name was Queen Hatshepsut, and she reigned from 1473 - 1458 BCE.
- However, Nubia had an abundance of female rulers in the kingdom of Kush.
- Bronze production flourished in Mesopotamia by 3000 BCE, but only became widespread in Egypt by 1700 BCE.
Nubia produced little bronze, since they were poor in copper and tin.
- After 1000 BCE, they made up for their lack of bronze and began large-scale iron production.
- The earliest traces of African iron production date from about 900 BCE, in the Great Lakes region of east Africa and on the southern side of Lake Chad, however it is quite possible that they produced iron before 1000 BCE.
- Egyptians travelled up and down the Nile by 3500 BCE.
- After 3000 BCE, Egyptians sailed beyondthe Nile into the Mediterranean.
- 2000 BCE, Egyptians sailed into the Read Sea, Gold of Aden, and the western part of the Arabian Sea.
- Commerce linked Egypt and Nubia, even during times of political unrest between the two.
- After the establishment of the New Kingdom, Egyptians traded through the Red Sea and the Gulf of Aden, with an ean Afraican land they called Punt, whichis probably modern-day Somalia and Ethiopia.
- In Egypts, like in southwest Asia, specialization of labor and efficient technologies of transportation quickened the economies of complex societies and encouraged trade with people of distant lands.
- Writing appeared in Egypt at least 3200 BCE.
Hieroglyphs adorned buildings and momumounts, but for everyday affairs they used a simplified form of hieroglyphs called the hieratic script.
- Egyptians made extensive use of the hieratic script from 2600 - 600 BCE.
- Hieratic script largely disappared during the first millenium BCE, when Egyptians adopted the Greek alphabet for their own and developed alphabetic scripts known as the demotic and Coptic scripts.
Nubian people spoke their own languages, but many spoke Egyptians languages, as well.
- All early Nubian writing was done in Egyptian hieroglyphs.
Nubian inscriptions continued to appear in Egyptian hieroglyphs as late as the first century BCE, however after the transfer of the Kushite capital from Napata to Meroe, Bubian scribes devised an alphabetic script for the Meroitic language.
- To date, scholars have not been able to understand the Meroitic writing.
The principal gods supported by both Egyptians and Nubians were Amon and Re.
- Amon was originally a local Theban deity associated with the sun, creation, fertility, and reproductive forces.
- Re was a sun god, worshiped in Heliopolis.
- Amon and Re were increasingly associated with one another, and some even thought that Amon-Re was a universal god who presided over all earth.
For a brief period, the cult of Amon-Re faced challenge from the god Aten, a deity associated with the sun.
- His champion was Amenhotep IV (reigned 1353 - 1335), who changed his name in honor of his preferred deity.
- He believed Aten to be the world's sole god.
- Unlike the followers of Amon-Re, those who followed Aten believed him to be the sole god presiding over all of earth. This is the first example of monotheism.
- Akhenanten built a new capital city called Akhetaten (meaning, "horizen of Aten") . His "church" flourished until the time of his death, when priests launched a fierce counterattack, the cult of Amon-Re was restored to privledged stats, and they nearly annihilated the worship and even memory of Aten.
- Egyptians believed eternal life was available to everyone.
The cult of Osiris attracted very strong popular interest. According to myth, Osiris's evil brother Seth murdered him and scattered his dismembered parts throughout the land, but the victim's loyal wife, Isis, gathered up the parts and gave him a proper burial. Impressed by her dedication, the gods restored him to life; but not to physical human life. He became the god of the underworld, the dwelling place of the departed. Because of his death and subsequent resurrection, he was associated with the Nile, and with crops.
- Osiris was also associated with immortality and he was honored through a religious cult that practiced high moral standard.
- As the god of the underworld, it was his decision who received eternal life and who did not. Following death, individual souls would be judged by Osiris, by weighing their soul against a feather, which symbolized justice. Heavy hearts caring a burden of evil did not received immortality, but those of pure hearts did.
- The most prominent of Nubian deities was Apedemak, who was the god of war for the Kush kingdom. Another deity, Sebiumeker, was a creator god and divine gaurdian.
Nubian people did not mummify the remains of their deceased.
- Nubian people built pyramids similar to those of the Egyptians, but smaller.
- Among the most influential people of sub-Saharan Africa in ancient times were those who spoke Bantu languages.
The earliest Bantu speakers inhabited a region embracing the western part of modern Nigeria and the southern part of modern Cameroon. They referred to themselves as bantu (meaning: "persons" or "people").
- They settled primarily among river banks, which they navigated on canoes.
- They cultivated yams and oil palms, and later millet and sorghum.
- They raised goats and guinea fowl.
- They lived in clan-based villages headed by chiefs, who conducted religious rituals and represented their villages in trades with other villages.
- They traded regularly with hunting and gathering people.
- They were formerly called "pygmies" but are now referred to as "forest people."
- By 3000 BCE, they slowly spread south into the west African forest.
- After 2000 BCE, they expended rapidly to the south, towards the Congo River basin and east toward the Great Lakes.
- As the Bantu people migrated and settled down into different groups, the language broke up into more than 500 distinct but related tongues.
- By 1000 BCE, Bantu-speaking people occupied most of Africa south of the equator.
The two key pieces of Bantu society relevent for migrations:
- Firstly, they used canoes which allowed them to quickly travel on the Niger river.
- Secondly, agricultural surplus enabled their population to grow rapidly, and when it grew too big, smaller groups would break off from their "parent" groups, and relocate.
- After 1000 BCE, Bantu people began to use iron tools.
- Between 3500 to 1000 BCE, Kushite herders pushed into parts of east africa, whild Sudanese cultivators moved into the upper reaches of the Nile river valley.
Both Sudanic and Niger-Congo people held monotheistic religions beliefs by 5000 BCE.
- Niger-Congo people recognized a single cod called Nyamba who created the world and established principles that would fovern it.