In our first lessons, we studied the Creation of the world (4000 BC) and the ancient Sumerian civilization (3500 BC). In history books, we will often find writers speaking about people and events long before these, but there is no proof for what they say. Dates for human events that go back before 4000 BC are not based on any historical writings but on stories and theories. For example, archaeologists dig up ancient places and interpreting what they find. Such interpretations cannot be proven true or false, so men can say almost anything they wish and then make everything else they find “fit” their explanation in some way. This is usually done by men who are not Christians to try and create a history different from that found in the Bible, which is the only true and certain history.
After the Sumerians in Mesopotamia, the next important people we meet in world history are the Egyptians.
As said above, there are many theories about the ancient Egyptians based on legends and interpretations of archaeology, but real historical evidence points to 3000 BC as the true beginning of Egyptian history.
The Nile River
When we look at a map of the world, we should be able to find the Mediterranean Sea. The word “Mediterranean” means “middle of the earth”. So, let’s start by finding the sea in the “middle of the earth”. Once we find the Mediterranean Sea, if we look to the bottom right of it, we will see a green triangle of land. That is the land of Egypt.
We will see that that green triangle, called the “Delta” because the Greek uppercase letter delta is shaped like a triangle, is fed by a river that runs from south to north. The river begins at a lake in the mountains of southern Africa and runs downhill to the north, where it finally empties into the Mediterranean Sea. This is the Nile River—the longest river in the world.
Upper and Lower Egypt
Egypt was divided into two areas, called “Upper” and “Lower” Egypt. We must remember that on our map, the north is “up” and the south is “down”, but for people living on the ground, “upper” means uphill and “lower” means downhill, the direction the water flows. Therefore, Upper Egypt is the southern part of Egypt and Lower Egypt is the northern part of Egypt.
To make this simple, Lower Egypt can be thought of as the Delta, where the Nile River divides into several branches and empties into the Mediterranean Sea. Upper Egypt is the land along the Nile, from the beginning of the Delta to the first cataract on the Nile.
Cataracts are areas where water is very rough and shallow. There are a number of cataracts that made it impossible for any large ships to sail up or down the Nile. The area of the cataracts is Upper Egypt. Around 1900, the Aswan Dam was built at the place of the first cataract in southern Egypt.
The Dynasties of Egypt
There are legends of ancient kings in Egypt, but the real history of Egypt begins around 3000 BC. At that time, a king named Menes ruled both Upper and Lower Egypt. When he died, the king passed his power down to one of his sons, and the family ruled until some other family took power away from them. This rule by a family is called a “dynasty”. The rule of Menes marks the beginning of the first dynasty in Egyptian history and it’s from this point that the study of Egyptian history begins. In future lessons, we will learn more about the great Egyptian dynasties.