History of Ancient Egyptian Civilization
Egypt is the only oldest cultural center on the African continent dating back to 4000 BC. This is known through the discovery of a slate in the Rosetta area by French troops led by Napoleo Bonaparte. The slate was successfully read by a Frenchman named Jean Francois Champollion (1800) So that since that year the veil of history of Ancient Egypt which dates back to 4000 BC was opened.
Period of Antiquity and prehistory (before knowing writing)
Intensive archaeological research after many years, unlocked many secrets about ancient and prehistoric Egypt. Our understanding of Egyptian civilization today can be traced through a long sequence of developments to 5000 BC and earlier, almost 2000 years before the 1st Egyptian dynasty. We have found, even before 5000 BC, evidence of early hunter-gatherer communities along the Nile Valley and on the shores of Lake Qarun in Fayoum, as well as of palaeolithic peoples who lived around 300,000 years ago.
Historical Age Period (Already familiar with writing)
This process dates back to 4000 BC but in 3400 BC a ruler named Menes united the two kingdoms of Lower Egypt and Upper Egypt into one large Egyptian empire. Egypt is a kingdom ruled by a king whose title is Pharaoh. He has absolute power. Pharaohs were considered gods and believed to be sons of the god Osiris. All power is in his hands both civil, military and religious.
Since 3400 BC Egyptian history was ruled by 30 different dynasties consisting of three eras namely the Old Egyptian Empire centered in Memphis, the Middle Kingdom in Awaris and New Egypt in Thebe.
Division of the Kingdoms of Old, Middle, and New Egypt
1. The Old Egyptian Empire (2660 – 2180 BC)
The Old Egyptian Empire is called the Age of the Pyramids because it was during this period that famous pyramids were built, for example the Sakarah Pyramid of Pharaoh Joser. The pyramids at Gheza are the tombs of the pharaohs Cheops, Chifren and Menkawa. The birth of the kingdom of Old Egypt after Menes managed to unite Upper Egypt and Lower Egypt. As a unifier she is nicknamed Nesutbiti and depicted wearing a twin crown.
The collapse of Old Egypt was caused because since 2500 BC the government experienced chaos. Nations from outside, for example from Asia Minor, launched an attack on Egypt. Many nobles broke away and wanted to rule independently. In the end, there was a split between Lower Egypt and Upper Egypt.
2. The Middle Kingdom of Egypt (1640 – 1570 BC)
The Kingdom of Middle Egypt is known for the emergence of Sesotris III. He succeeded in restoring unity and rebuilding Egypt. His actions include clearing agricultural land, building irrigation projects, building dams and others. He increased trade and opened trade relations with Palestine, Syria and the island of Crete. Sesotris III also succeeded in expanding southwards to Nubia (now Ethiopia). Since 1800 BC the Middle Egyptian kingdom was invaded and conquered by the Hyksos.
After the Middle Kingdom, Egypt was weakened and divided and ruled for 100 years by the Hyksos from Canaan. They controlled Lower Egypt in the north. Around 1550 BC, an Upper Egyptian family rose and expelled the Hyksos and reunited the whole country. In 1532 BC, they recorded success. Ahmose founded the 18th dynasty and became the first pharaoh of the New Kingdom, the golden age of Egypt.
3. New Egyptian Empire (1570 - 1070 BC)
One of the first pharaohs, Thutmosis I, conquered Palestine and the area west of the Euphrates around 1500 BC. During the reign of Amenhotep III, the New Kingdom with the capital of Thebes, reached an age of prosperity. The peasants and workers lived simply, while the nobility lived in luxury. According to the law, men and women are equal. Women can also own property. Women may practice one of four professions: priestess, midwife, dancer, or mourner. Apart from the nobility, clerks and priests were the most important positions in Egyptian society.
The most unique ruler is Amenhotep IV (1353-35 BC). He made Aten, the Sun, the sole god of Egypt, and attempted to change the religion of the Egyptians by eliminating many other gods and their complex traditions. He changed his name to Akhenaten and built a new capital at El-Amarna in honor of Aten. His consort, Nefertiti, was not of royal descent, and could not have been Egyptian. When Akhenaten died, the priests of the old gods returned to power, and banned the worship of Aten. Akhenaten's name was removed from all monuments and records. The new city he built was abandoned and Akhenaten was treated as if it had never existed.
Most of the rulers of the New Kingdom were buried in the Valley of the Kings, in deep hewn rock tombs. However, these tombs have been plundered by many criminals. Only one tomb has survived into modern times, that of King Tutankhamun, Akhenaten's successor who died before the age of 20. Egypt remained strong, especially under Seti I and his son the great Ramesses II of the 19th dynasty (1307-1196 BC). However, after being ruled by a number of weak rulers, priests took power, and Egypt fell into the hands of many foreign rulers. The Greeks conquered Egypt and ruled for 300 years. Later, Egypt became Roman territory. As a result, Egyptian history and writings were forgotten.
Ancient Egyptian Civilization Belief System
Religion in the early days of Ancient Egypt adhered to the belief of Polytheism, namely worshiping the gods. Among them have their respective roles, namely:
1. Horus was the sky god and his spirit inhabited the living pharaohs. His eyes are the sun and the moon.
2. Ptah, creator god, creator of the arts. He is a local god in the capital, Memphis.
3. Hathor, goddess of love and beauty. The horns lifted the sun to heaven.
4. Isis, sister and wife of Osiris, was the mother of Horus. He has great magic power.
5. Re-Horakhty, a composite of the sun god and Horus, shown with a sun with an eagle's head.
6. Osiris is the god of death. His kingdom is in the west. He judges the souls of men according to the reward they accumulate.
During the reign of Amenhotep IV (1353-35 BC). He made Aten, the Sun, the sole god of Egypt, and attempted to change the religion of the Egyptians by eliminating many other gods and adopting the monotheistic belief system of worshiping one god. Then after he died the priests took over power and returned to the belief in Polytheism.
style="text-align: justify;"> Relics of Egyptian Civilization
Egyptian landlords wore amulets. Their favorite talisman is the figure of a large beetle carved from stone. The huge beetle was worshiped as a tribute to the sun god, Re.
Papyrus is stiff paper made from papyrus reeds. The Egyptians glued sheets together to make scrolls of parchment. Administrative and religious hieroglyphics were written by hand.
History around 2630 BC, the Egyptians built many pyramids. The most famous are the great pyramids at Giza. No one knows why that form was chosen. Its scale and dimensions serve a number of astronomical, mathematical and spiritual purposes. By building such grand monuments, the pharaohs tried to please the gods and leave behind an important legacy in history. Some of the long stone blocks above the king's chambers weigh up to 60 tons.
The great pyramid, one of the pyramids found at Giza and the tomb of Pharaoh Khufu, has long mysterious passages and chambers. The construction of the pyramids required high skill. It took more than 30 years to build the Great pyramid in Gazi.
The Funeral Ceremonies of the Egyptian pharaohs were very elaborate. This image shows the procession of the pharaoh's corpses arriving at Abusir, on the Nile River, in 2500 BC. The process entered the Temple Valley. The embalmed body was carried up the bridge leading to the pyramids.
LEAVES FROM GENERATIONS
1. Preservation of Corpses (Forensic Science)
In ancient Egypt, mummified bodies were embalmed. In this way, Zorang who had died were believed to live forever. The mummy was placed in a coffin which was usually lavishly decorated. Until now the method of preserving corpses is still used to prevent corpses from decomposing quickly. As in hospitals, community customs, and as hereditary traditions are still used today.
2. Calendar System
The early Egyptians made a lunar calendar based on the cycle (circulation) of the moon for 291/2 days. Because it was considered less fixed, they established a calendar based on the appearance of the dog star (Sirius) which appeared every year. They calculated that one year is 12 months, one month is 30 days and the length of a year is 365 days which is 12 x 30 days and then added 5 days. They also know leap years. This calculation is the same as the calendar that we use today which is called the Syamsiah Year (Solar system). The calculation of the Egyptian calendar with the Solar system was then adopted (taken over) by the Romans to become the Roman calendar with the Gregorian system. While the ancient Arabs took over the calculation of the lunar system (circulation of the moon) to drag the Hijri.
3. Architectural Arts
From the remains of buildings that can still be seen today, it shows that the Egyptians had outstanding abilities in the fields of mathematics, geometry and architecture. The remains of the famous Egyptian buildings are the pyramids and temples which are closely related to religious life. The pyramids were built for the burial places of the Pharaohs. The famous architect of the pyramids was Imhotep. The science of architecture is still used today in office buildings, skyscrapers, and other buildings that have great foundations.
Kingfisher Publication Plc, 2006, ENCYCLOPEDIA OF WORLD GEOGRAPHY FOR THE PUBLIC, Jakarta: PT Lentera Abadi.
Kingfisher Publication Plc, 2009, ENCYCLOPEDIA OF WORLD HISTORY AND CULTURE, Jakarta: PT Lentera Abadi
Dr. Muhammad Syafii Antonio M.Ec., 2012, Encyclopedia of Islamic Civilization in Cairo, Jakarta: TAZKIA PUBLISHING