Portal:Ancient Egypt

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THE ANCIENT EGYPT PORTAL

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Golden funeral mask of king Tutankhamun, a symbol for many of ancient Egypt.

Ancient Egypt was an ancient civilization of eastern North Africa, concentrated along the lower reaches of the Nile River in what is now the modern country of Egypt. The civilization coalesced around 3150 BC with the political unification of Upper and Lower Egypt under the first pharaoh, and it developed over the next two millennia. Ancient Egypt reached its pinnacle during the New Kingdom, after which it entered a period of slow decline. Egypt was conquered by a succession of foreign powers in this late period, and the rule of the pharaohs officially ended in 31 BC when the early Roman Empire conquered Egypt and made it a province.

Egypt has left a lasting legacy for all to see. Its art and architecture has been widely copied, and its antiquities have been carried off to the far corners of the world. Egypt's monumental ruins have inspired the imaginations of travelers and writers for centuries. A newfound respect for antiquities and excavations in the early modern period led to the scientific investigation of Egyptian civilization and a greater appreciation of its cultural legacy for the earth.

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Osiris, Isis and Horus were major deities in Egypt.

Ancient Egypt's success stemmed partly from its ability to adapt to the conditions of the Nile River Valley. The predictable flooding and controlled irrigation of the fertile valley produced surplus crops, which fueled social development and culture. With resources to spare, the administration sponsored mineral exploitation of the valley and surrounding desert regions, the early development of an independent writing system, the organization of collective construction and agricultural projects, trade with surrounding regions, and a military intended to defeat foreign enemies and assert Egyptian dominance. Motivating and organizing these activities was a bureaucracy of elite scribes, religious leaders, and administrators under the control of a pharaoh who ensured the cooperation and unity of the Egyptian people in the context of an elaborate system of religious beliefs.

The many achievements of the ancient Egyptians include the quarrying, surveying and construction techniques that facilitated the building of monumental pyramids, temples, and obelisks; a system of mathematics, a practical and effective system of medicine, irrigation systems and agricultural production techniques, the first known ships, Egyptian faience and glass technology, new forms of literature, and the earliest known peace treaty. Its art and architecture were widely copied, and its antiquities carried off to far corners of the world. Its monumental ruins have inspired the imaginations of travellers and writers for centuries.

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Did you know...

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  • ... that the egyptologist Jean-Philippe Lauer was considered to be the foremost expert on pyramid construction techniques and methods at the time of his death?

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Giza pyramid complex
Credit: MesserWoland

Map of the Giza pyramid complex, located 20 km (12.5 mi) southwest of Cairo, Egypt. This Ancient Egyptian necropolis consists of the Great Pyramid, the Pyramid of Khafre, and the Pyramid of Menkaure, along with a number of smaller satellite edifices, known as "queens" pyramids, causeways and valley pyramids, and most noticeably the Great Sphinx. The site has attracted visitors and tourists since classical antiquity, when these Old Kingdom monuments were already over 2,000 years old.

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Statue of Akhenaten in the early Amarna style

Akhenaten was a Pharaoh of the Eighteenth dynasty of Egypt, ruled for 17 years and died in 1336 BC or 1334 BC. He is especially noted for abandoning traditional Egyptian polytheism and introducing worship centered on the Aten, which is sometimes described as monotheistic or henotheistic. An early inscription likens him to the sun as compared to stars, and later official language avoids calling the Aten a god, giving the solar deity a status above mere gods.

Akhenaten tried to bring about a departure from traditional religion, yet in the end it would not be accepted. After his death, traditional religious practice was gradually restored, and when some dozen years later rulers without clear rights of succession from the Eighteenth Dynasty founded a new dynasty, they discredited Akhenaten and his immediate successors, referring to Akhenaten himself as 'the enemy' in archival records.[1]

He was all but lost from history until the discovery, in the 19th century, of Amarna, the site of Akhetaten, the city he built for the Aten. Early excavations at Amarna by Flinders Petrie sparked interest in the enigmatic pharaoh, which increased with the discovery in the Valley of the Kings, at Luxor, of the tomb of King Tutankhamun, who has been proved to be Akhenaten's son according to DNA testing in 2010 by Dr Zahi Hawaas, Cairo. Akhenaten remains an interesting figure, as does his Queen, Nefertiti. Their modern interest comes partly from his connection with Tutankhamun, partly from the unique style and high quality of the pictorial arts he patronized, and partly from ongoing interest in the religion he attempted to establish.

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References

  1. ^ Trigger et al. (2001), pp.186-7

News

January 2011: Archaeologists discovered a tomb - KV64 - in the Valley of the Kings. The coffin found in the tomb contained an intact mummy of Nehmes Bastet, a temple singer during Egypt's 22nd Dynasty.(1)


November 2010: The Supreme Council of Antiquities in Egypt says archaeologists have unearthed 12 more sphinx statues along the ancient avenue connecting Luxor and Karnak temples.(2)


April 2010: A new 19th Dynasty tomb in Tell el-Maskhuta is discovered. The tomb belongs to a noble named Ken-Amun


March 2010: A new translation of the Philae Victory Stele reveals the name of Augustus in cartouches.


March 2010: More statues of Amenhotep III are found at Kom el-Hettan.


March 2010: The ruins of the pyramid of Queen Behenu are discovered.

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Things to do

  • Needed articles.

We should have an article on every pyramid and every nome in Ancient Egypt. I'm sure the rest of us can think of other articles we should have.

  • Cleanup.

To start with, most of the general history articles badly need attention. And I'm told that at least some of the dynasty articles need work. Any other candidates?

  • Standardize the Chronology.

A boring task, but the benefit of doing it is that you can set the dates !(e.g., why say Khufu lived 2589-2566? As long as you keep the length of his reign correct, or cite a respected source, you can date it 2590-2567 or 2585-2563)

  • Stub sorting

Anyone? I consider this probably the most unimportant of tasks on Wikipedia, but if you believe it needs to be done . . .

  • Data sorting.

This is a project I'd like to take on some day, & could be applied to more of Wikipedia than just Ancient Egypt. Take one of the standard authorities of history or culture -- Herotodus, the Elder Pliny, the writings of Breasted or Kenneth Kitchen, & see if you can't smoothly merge quotations or information into relevant articles. Probably a good exercise for someone who owns one of those impressive texts, yet can't get access to a research library.

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