Ancient Egypt was the preeminent civilization in North Africa, the Mediterranean and Middle East for nearly 3,000 years, from 3100 BC to 332 BC.
The River Nile’s predictable flooding along with controlled irrigation systems allowed for flourishing agriculture (primarily wheat and barley) and large food surpluses, and subsequently, denser populations, and much social, cultural and economic development.
The Egyptians created some of the earliest writing systems, around 5,000 years ago, and used two forms of writing. Hieroglyphics (using images) was for sacred religious and royal writings and Hieratic/Demotic was for day-to-day contracts and such. Egyptians were also among the earliest to write about medicine, dentistry, navigation, literature, and even mathematics, tackling concepts of algebra, geometry, Pythagorean theorem, area of a circle, and volume of a pyramid. They put theory into practice through tool-making, quarrying, giant construction projects, irrigation systems, boats, practical medicine, board games (Senet, Mehen, etc.), sculpture, peace treaties, calendar system – all among the earliest of their kind. They also invented paper, pens, locks, keys, toothpaste, among others.
The Egyptian pantheon includes sun god Ra, mother goddess Isis, god of death Anubis, god of kingship/sky Horus. Egyptian rulers, the Pharaohs, were considered semi-divine, and the pyramids were built as tombs for them. The famous Pyramid of Khufu at Giza was built in 2600 BC (4,600 years ago) and, at 146 metres, was the tallest building in the world for 3,800 years!
On the social front, Egyptian women had legal and financial freedoms and rights that were unparalleled at the time. They could work for equal pay, own/inherit/buy/sell property, divorce, and serve on juries. One of the most successful leaders of Egypt was female. Hatshepsut ruled around 1500 BC, expanded Egypt and built its wealth through trade. It was around this time that Egypt became the world’s first great empire, stretching from Nubia (Sudan) to the Euphrates River (Iraq).
By Rahim Mawji
(Image: Swedish Nomad)