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The Early Civilizations of Africa, Asia and the Americas

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Chapter 2

"The Early Civilizations of Africa, Asia and the Americas"

I. Early Civilization in Egypt

A. Egypt: The gift of the Nile


The ancient Egyptians thought of Egypt as being divided into two types of land, the 'black land' and the 'red land'. The 'black land' was the fertile land on the banks of the Nile. The ancient Egyptians used this land for growing their crops. This was the only land in ancient Egypt that could be farmed because a layer of rich, black silt was deposited there every year after the Nile flooded. The 'red land' was the barren desert that protected Egypt on two sides. These deserts separated ancient Egypt from neighbouring countries and invading armies. They also provided the ancient Egyptians with a source for precious metals and semi-precious stones.

Early Government

The Ancient Egyptian government was headed and dominated by the Pharaoh. His was the ultimate and greatest power. The 'right hand man' of the Pharaoh was the Vizier (equivalent to a Prime Minister). Court officials and nobles held high office in Ancient Egypt and these, together with the Pharaoh and the vizier, governed the country. The central ancient Egyptian government was responsible for legislation and the administration of certain functions on a national basis, but delegated some responsibilities to local, or provincial administration. The land of Ancient Egypt originally consisted of two halves, which were called Upper and Lower Egypt. Upper Egypt was the valley area in the South and Lower Egypt was the delta area in the North. Upper and Lower Egypt each had their own government and rulers. Upper Egypt was divided into 22 districts. Lower Egypt was divided into 20 districts. Upper and Lower Egypt were eventually united in 3118BC. The framework of the earlier Ancient Egyptian government were the districts, each of the districts had a nomarch, or governor, who was the chief of the provincial administration. The provinces, or districts, were called nomes and the governor, or head, of the provincial administration was called a nomarch.

Ancient Culture

Most ancient Egyptians were farmers tied to the land. Their dwellings were restricted to immediate family members, and were constructed of mud-brick designed to remain cool in the heat of the day. Each home had a kitchen with an open roof, which contained a grindstone for milling flour and a small oven for baking bread. Walls were painted white and could be covered with dyed linen wall hangings. Floors were covered with reed mats, while wooden stools, beds raised from the floor and individual tables comprised the furniture.

The ancient Egyptians placed a great value on hygiene and



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