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Current time:0:00Total duration:14:16

Ancient Egypt and the Nile River Valley

Video transcript

this video we are going to give ourselves an overview of ancient Egypt which corresponds geographically pretty closely to the modern-day state of Egypt in North East Africa now the central feature in both ancient Egypt and in modern Egypt is the Nile River that you see in blue right over here and the Nile River is one of the great rivers of the world it rivals the Amazon River is the longest river and it sources the the tributaries of the Nile River start even south of this picture and the water flows northward and eventually its delta reaches the Mediterranean Sea the Delta which is where a river opens into the sea is called a delta because as you can see these rivers you can even see it from the satellite pictures right over here they start branching up a bunch and you have this upside-down triangular region which looks a little bit like an upside-down Greek letter Delta so that's why River Delta is called that and that this one just happens to be upside down it was flowing the other way it would be a right-side up Delta so the Nile River it flows from you could say Eastern mid Africa up into the Mediterranean Sea and because it has this northward flow the southern parts of the river are up river and they are actually called the Upper Nile so upper the Upper Nile is actually south of the Lower Nile of the Lower Nile and once again that's because the Upper Nile is up River it's also flowing from higher elevations to lower elevations so as you go south you get to higher and higher elevations now the reason why the river is so important we've studied this multiple times rivers our source of freshwater when they flood they make the surrounding soil fertile they're suitable for agriculture and the Nile Valley is one of the first places that we see agriculture emerging during the Neolithic period in fact human settlement we believed was wrong along this Nile River Valley as far as 6,000 6,000 BCE or 8,000 years ago and it might have been there even further back in time and because you had that agriculture allowed for higher population densities which allowed for more specialization of Labor and more complex societies it's not a coincidence that some of the first that one of the first great civilizations emerged here now our story of the Nile River of Egypt and actually there they are tied very closely even though Egypt is considered a lot of this region the most of the human population this is true even today is right along is right along the river around that fertile soil where where where the agriculture actually occurs in fact this was so important to the ancient Egyptians that their whole calendar their seasons were based on what the Nile River was doing they had a season called the inundation or the flooding of the river which makes a soil fertile they had a season of growth which is now talking about the growth of the crops and they have a season of harvest and so you had people in this valley for thousands of years but when we talk about ancient Egypt we formally talk about it as a civilization around 3100 30 30 150 BCE and this is where we get to our timeline right over here so we're talking about right around there on our timeline and the reason why this is considered the beginning of the ancient Egyptian civilization if this is when we believe that upper upper and lower egypt were first united under the king and there's different names used Narmer sometimes or many's Mina's I'm going to mispronounce things every now and then I'm probably doing it here as well and so he he was the king that unified upper and lower egypt into an empire and the empire as we'll see which lasts thousands of years every one of these spaces is a hundred years we're going to go over huge time span but the the ancient Egyptian civilization is roughly divided into three kingdoms you have the old kingdom which went from about 20 right from about the 27th century BCE up to about the 17th century BCE you have the Middle Kingdom and you have the New Kingdom and once again this is about this is spanning right over here over a thousand years of history and in between those you have these intermediate periods where the kingdom or the Empire was a little bit more fragmented you have in some of these intermediate periods you have some foreign rule but just to get a sense of some what happened over the thousands of years and I'm kind of laughing in my head because it's it's hard to cover over you know two to three thousand years in the course of just a few minutes but this will give you a sense of what ancient Egyptian civilization was all about now the Kings are referred to as pharaohs but as we'll see that term Pharaoh was not really used until we get to the New Kingdom but I'll refer to the Kings as pharaohs throughout this video just to say hey these are the Egyptian kings and the old the Old Kingdom is probably most known today in our popular culture for what we most associate with ancient Egypt and that is the pyramids and here right over here are the pyramid this is a Great Pyramid of Giza of Giza which is near modern-day Cairo today this is the Sphinx and they were built in that old period under the Pharaohs snah Pharaoh and Khufu right over here in the 26th century right over here in the 26th century BCE and we are still trying to get a better understanding of how this was done we actually now don't believe that it was done by slave labor but instead it was done during you could say the offseason by the peasants as a form of taxation okay you're done planting or harvesting your crops well now that you have some time and this shows actually the importance of Agriculture for for freeing people up so to speak why don't you help the pharaohs build these massive tombs which I've seen various estimates that might have taken someplace between ten and a hundred thousand people several decades to build each but even today these were built over 4,500 years ago are some of the most iconic symbols that humanity has ever created and the reason why we know so much about ancient Egypt ancient Egyptian or ancient Egypt is that we have been able to decipher their writing it's a symbolic we have these pictographs these hieroglyphics I'm sure you've heard of the word before and for a while we had no idea what what they said we would see these descriptions in these tombs and we we had a sense that okay these tombs especially things like the pyramids would be for these great kings you could tell that it was a stratified society that nobility had better tombs than others but we didn't really have a good sense of what was going on until we discovered this which is the rosetta stone which was discovered in 1799 and why the reason why this is so valuable is it has the same text written in three different languages it has it written in the hieroglyphs of the ancient Egyptians and it has it written in a later script used in Egypt called demotic Egyptian and most importantly it has it also written in Greek and so historians were able to say okay we can now start to decipher what these symbols mean because we have a translation of them and that's why it's one of the first civilizations where we're able to put pictures put it put the picture together and however political one of the first forms of writing but let's now go on in our in our journey through thousands of years of ancient Egyptian civilization you between the old kingdom you have and the Middle Kingdom you have the first Intermediate Period then you have the Middle Kingdom and then you have the Hyksos which are somatic people somatic referring to their language being of the same family as Semitic languages like Arabic or Hebrew or Aramaic but then you have the new kingdom and the new kingdom is considered to be the peak of ancient Egypt it's really the height of their technology it's the height of their military capability and there are several pharaohs that are worthy of note in the new kingdom the first is he was born I'm in a hotel or he was originally known as I'm an the fourth and then he eventually named himself Akhenaten and Akhenaten means effective for Otton Otten being a significant Egyptian god and the reason why he changed his name is he decides that okay we have that the Egyptians have this huge this huge pantheon of gods here is just some of them right over here this is the god Osiris often associated with the afterlife or transition or a transition regeneration resurrection you have the god Amun here and his first name I'm an o-type it means Amin Amin is satisfied what is considered kind of equivalent of Zeus you have the God here Horus once again a very significant God at different times in Egypt but what was interesting about Amenhotep the 4th or Akhenaten whichever name you want to use as he decide no no I don't like this Pantheon this polytheistic a religion that we have I want to worship one God and the God that he decides to worship is really the you could consider it the Sun God or the Sun disc and it's representation looks something like this and it was referred to as Aten and so he changes his name to Akhenaten and he actually starts to try to get rid of evidence of these other gods or to make them a lot less important and so the reason why that's notable is this is viewed as one of perhaps one of the first attempts at monotheism at least within the at least within this ancient Egyptian civilization he's also noted for giving a lot of power to his wife to the Queen Nefertiti who some people say was second-in-command or even ko ruled alongside him now he was also famous because after his death eventually his son King Tut Tutankhamun comes to power and the reason why King Tut and she is often known although it's Tutankhamun is off is known is because we were able to find his his his tomb in relatively good order and so it's become a popular he's become a a popular part of the imagination and he's known as a child Pharaoh he comes to power when he's very young he dies at 18 and so it's kind of an interesting story now most prominent amongst all of the Pharaohs across Egyptian history and this is also in the New Kingdom comes a little bit after Tutankhamun is ramses ii and ramses ii who emerges here in the 13th century and he rules for most of the 13th century BCE he represented the peak of its egypt ancient Egypt as a military power he's famous for his the battle at Kadesh which is the earliest battle where we actually know what the tactics and the formations were and it was with the also significant Hittite Empire in 1274 BCE this is an image drawn much much later of the Battle of Kadesh the battle we now believe might have been a bit of a stalemate ramses ii wasn't able to capture Kadesh but has told us a lot about military tactics and strategy and formation of that time historian so they think it might be the largest chariot battle maybe ever so this was a significant thing that happened now eventually the new kingdom does collapse as we get to the end of the second millennium and then over the next several hundreds of years we're talking about a very long period of time it gets fragmented you have several rulers you have the Kushites rule from upper from the upper nile the Kushites were in this area right over here they rule for a brief period the Assyrians that's a Mesopotamian civilization they rule for a small period of time and then eventually and we talk about this in some detail in other videos you have the persians take over you have canvasses the cyrus the great son he's able to rule over he's able to conquer Egypt and Egypt becomes part of the committed Empire for a while until the conquering of Alexander the Great and after Alexander the Great dies one of his generals and his dynasty takes over Ptolemaic Egypt and now it's being ruled by foreign well it's been ruled by 400 for a while but now it's by the Greeks and the famous Cleopatra who's considered a Pharaoh of Egypt she's actually Greek by blood she is actually the one that seduced you could say Julius Caesar and Mark Antony and after Cleopatra's death more and more or Vector eventually it becomes part of Rome so as you can see we covered this enormous large time period in history one of the most significant civilizations in all of history one of the most famous poems about civilizations and rulers about ramses ii the poem Ozymandias was named after him you have some of the great cities of the ancient world Thebes which was the capital during parts of the new kingdom in the Middle Kingdom you have Memphis which was one of the some people say founded by minis and the capital of the old kingdom these were all happening in ancient Egypt