The Ramesside period is a very interesting section in the chronological history of the Ancient Egyptians. In this time period great battles were fought in attempts to control the borders of Ancient Egypt and expand the Egyptian Empire. Rameses II was the most notable Pharaoh in this time period and arguably the most successful Pharaoh of all time. At the age of 30 Rameses II had inherited the throne of Ancient Egypt as fourth Pharaoh in the 19th Dynasty. Rameses II is an important Pharaoh in the chronological history of the Ancient Egyptians because during his reign we see many changes occurring in the economy and culture of the Egyptians.
Through military campaigns, Rameses II had strengthened the economy of the Ancient Egyptians. However, the oldest documented battle on earth had great effects on this powerful economy as well as the culture of the Ancient Egyptians. The battle of Kadesh is an important battle to take note because even though there was no victor in the end, the Egyptian Empire had gained an alliance with the Hittites by making a treaty. The agreement was that neither side will invade each other’s territories and they would work as an alliance against other foreign rulers such as the Syrians. Later on, Rameses II had married the daughter of the Prince of the Hittites that had further legitimized the bond between these two powerful nations. This act of marriage is an example of change occurring in the culture of the Ancient Egyptians because marriage in earlier dynasties were blood related to maintain the royal bloodline. Rameses II had also caused problems for modern day Archaeologists and Egyptologists because as Pharaoh, he had removed the names of prior Pharaohs on monuments and replaced it with his own name. Because of this act, it is difficult to understand the chronological list of previous Kings. He had also made depictions of him winning the battle of Kadesh, which throws scholars off track from the real history of the Ancient Egyptians.
Throughout the Dynasties of the ancient Egyptians, military power and weaponry were essential tools needed for the Pharaoh to continue his reign over Egypt. With each passing Dynasty came the development of new weapons that would help the ancient Egyptians fight off enemies and grow as a nation. During the time of the Old Kingdom in Egypt, bows and arrows was a great weapon for their military. Archers could be on foot or on chariots and could fire arrows at long distances. The soldiers in this time period also went to war with daggers, spears, and shields. Clubs and mace, was also used by the ancient Egyptians in warfare. In the Middle Kingdom bronze had also been modified to develop more advanced weaponry. Bronze was used to create new arrowheads for the archers, which allowed them to kill more effectively. Just before the second intermediate period, battle-axes were introduced to the military. During the time of the New Kingdom in Egypt we see other weapons being introduced to the ancient Egyptian army. The ancient Egyptians had also adopted iron to further enhance the effectiveness of a particular weapon. The sickle sword, which was originally used in Syria, became a valuable weapon to the militaries infantry. As the ancient Egyptians progressed as a nation other tools and weapons were adopted from other regions of the world. Even though the ancient Egyptians were able to use new technology from iron, copper, bronze, and metal, the material, which helped make their advanced weapons were costly. This is the reason for why we still find evidence of weapons made with stone still being used during the time period of the Late Dynasties. The military of the ancient Egyptians were well equipped and prepared when they went into battle. We see over time how the progression of the ancient Egyptian society allowed for new technology to develop more advanced weaponry. The networking with other regions near Egypt also allowed for new ideas and assets to be applied to the Egyptian army.
Keeping the power as Pharaoh within the family seems to have been very important in the times of the Ancient Egyptians. We have learned through the chronological history of the ancient Egyptians that passing the legacy of being a pharaoh to their children was a way to maintain legitimacy. In the eighteenth dynasty of the ancient Egyptians a boy named Tutankhamen became pharaoh. Tut was the son of Akhenaten also known as Amenhotep IV. The King was born in the year of 1341 B.C. Being at a very young age when he succeeded the throne of ancient Egypt, his vizier named Ay and a military commander named Horemheb may have been responsible for leading the kingdom of ancient Egypt until the young pharaoh was ready to rule him self. It has been thought that King Tut showed some skills in archery but it is possible that he had never seen real life combat during his reign. I find it mind blowing that King Tut was only just a boy when he became pharaoh. Even though this pharaoh had not accomplished much during his time of reign as king, the fact that he was just a boy reigning over all of Egypt should be very important showing that the bloodline of a pharaoh is of concern. King Tut had died at the young age of nineteen in 1323 B.C. and was buried in the Valley of the Kings. More recent in history King Tut’s tomb and sarcophagus was found in 1922 and was in a remarkable state of preservation. Archaeologists and scholars have done extensive research on this king. The fact that his sarcophagus was made of gold and was barely damaged has provided Archaeologists and Egyptologists with some answers to questions regarding the chronological history of the ancient Egyptians and the culture as well.
The Pyramids and Sphinx at Giza are extraordinary structures that leave us with so much unanswered questions about its purpose and who built it. The enormous size of the Sphinx and the Pyramids is what draws peoples’ attention to its purpose and mysteries. What is known is that the second pharaoh of the fourth dynasty named Khufu, in his twenties, was the first to begin the building of pyramids at Giza. King Khufus’ pyramid became known as the Great Pyramid of Giza. His son Khafre established his own pyramid next to his fathers pyramid. These pyramids are assumed to have been built, to legitimize the status and power of these Pharaohs. What is still in debate though is who is responsible for building the Great Sphinx. The most accepted theory is that King Khafre is responsible for building the Sphinx another theory is that it was King Khufu who built the Sphinx.
Pharaohs throughout the past have depicted their face in monuments meant to legitimize their power for those in the future as a way to remember their status in history. Research done by John West and sketches done by an NYPD forensic artist brings about an argument that objects to the theory that King Khafre was responsible for building the Sphinx. West argues that the face does not resemble King Khafre but that of a Pharaoh before him, possibly King Khufu. This seems like a good argument because the Sphinx shows evidence of water erosion which dates back before King Khafre’s time when rainfall and water was still present in Egypt. I have come to believe that the idea, and construction of the Sphinx originated with King Khufu. Water erosion is a good piece of evidence supporting Khufu. Evidence also shows that the Sphinx has undergone many restorations allowing the possibility for the Sphinx to have resembled King Khufu that did not have a beard associated with later Pharaohs. By observing pictures of the Sphinx’s chin, I do not see any evidence of a break that has come from the Sphinx’s original form. It is a clean rounded shaped chin and if a beard was carved with the original chin of the Sphinx, I believe the break would show more obviously. The beard must have been added by later Egyptians because of progression in their, culture and beliefs. King Khufus’ physical appearance is only found on one object showing him with a rounded chin with no beard. This connection could argue that King Khufu began the construction of the Sphinx and was completed by King Khafre along with the credit.
The pyramids built by the ancient Egyptians, is a symbol of their power in their time period and their strong religious beliefs. In our readings and lectures given to us by Ethan recently, we learn the importance of these well-preserved structures. The amount of labor and time it took to build these pyramids is mind blowing. The pyramid texts found inside of pyramids are made specifically for religious purposes concerning the journey the pharaohs took in the afterlife. The process of mummification also portrays the power and importance of religion of this ancient Egyptian culture. These pyramids of this ancient civilization are symbols of power and high emphasis on religion.
Not all pyramids were successfully completed during the 4th dynasty but we know that most of the pharaohs had either begun constructing a pyramid or at least built one as Ethan has told us during lecture today. Pharaoh’s had the power to have the people build him/her a pyramid thanks to a well-structured economy. The pyramids at Giza are built hundreds of feet in height and in length. The amount of blocks used to build them, are remarkable. The amount of time and labor it took for a society during this time period to build a pyramid is extensive and portrays the power of the State and their strong belief in the after life. These pyramids would be the tombs in which the reigning pharaoh will be placed after they die and are filled with religious texts to guide them through the after life. The after life is of great importance to the ancient Egyptians as we can tell by the building of these pyramids, the process of mummification, and the texts written inside of the pyramids. The Pharaoh’s power to have his laborers build these incredible structures and their emphasis on religious beliefs, have been recorded into history through the building of pyramids.
This past week we have discussed the sites of Hierakonpolis and the excavations done in this area. What had caught my interest about these site and their excavations was the enormous amount of shattered potsherd that are found on the land. The pictures we were shown in class of the potsherds, to me, express the fondness of pottery in this ancient Egyptian population. Because of these excavations we can determine that during this time period, the art of ceramics played a big role in this area of settlement. It also provides archaeologists and anthropologists with information of the settlers’ culture in that time period. We are provided with multiple pieces of evidence that would agree ceramics is a big part of this ancient Egyptian population. The presence of shattered potsherds, which nearly covers the entire surface of the land for a great distance, is an obvious piece of evidence. The amount of broken ceramic pieces covering the land is mind blowing. We also found individuals being buried with their ceramics. By excavating burials and tombs we learn that pottery was a valuable object to these ancient individuals at this site. There wouldn’t be just one pot found in the tombs but many pieces of ceramics found. Ceramics was a thing that became a part of these ancient Egyptians culture and burial rituals. One site excavated had involved a potter’s house and provided us with some information regarding how ceramics was done in this settled area. I believe these ancient Egyptians used ceramics to further enhance their ways of living. The amount of potsherds found at Hierakonpolis portrays a huge production of ceramics and the importance it had to this ancient Egyptian population. The art of ceramics is to be considered an important part of the ancient Egyptian civilization during the Naqada II-Naqada III periods.
Change can be a powerful thing. It can have a positive and a negative impact depending on the way you adapt to the new circumstances. In the case of the Fayum settlers as discussed in class, the climate change in the environment had caused the rise of this new hybrid population. I refer to the Fayum settlers as a hybrid population in order to express a more advanced society in these ancient times, which involve the mixture of diverse ideas and material goods from different ethnic cultures. The Fayum is still in existence today and to me is a symbol of advancement or progression into what will become known as the modern ways of living because of interactions and trade between different cultural groups. These types of changes in the environment, is an example of how the foundation of modern societies could be created.
The drought during the Neolithic period in Egypt had forced individuals from different regions to settle near the Nile where a new community was able to flourish and thrive. With different cultures interacting with one another, they were able to share their ideas and material goods, which allowed this community to progress into a legitimate society, a society that needed to adapt to changes in their environment in order to survive. By combining different tools, agricultural methods, and religious beliefs, the Fayum settlers adopted a new style of living, unusual to populations of only one cultural heritage.
I believe that the intermingling of different cultures in one area can produce these types of hybrid populations because these communities are open to more ideas and ways of living. This cause and effect experienced by the Fayum settlers has been seen in many now flourishing societies today. When the colonials settled into the Americas and interacted with the Native Indians, a new hybrid population was formed. This country had further flourished and became what it is today when other immigrants of different ethnic backgrounds settled in North America and shared their culture with us. Hawaii is another example of how a hybrid society is created. Adopting new ways of living by combining different methods and ideas. The Fayum of ancient Egypt is one of the first examples of how societies can advance and progress through interacting with different cultures and adopting new ideas.
The ancient Egyptian writing system has been considered to be one of the earliest writing systems throughout the history of written language. In class this week we have been discussing the excavations of tombs and artifacts being discovered in Egypt. The material being left behind by the ancient Egyptians is of great importance to their culture. However, I feel the hieroglyphs are of great importance as well because this written language provides anthropologists with an understanding of the ancient Egyptian culture. It helps us to fill in the gaps by providing answers to questions like whose tomb it belonged too, the status of the individual found, and what life was like many years ago.
I was particularly interested in how the symbols were carved into the walls. Just by viewing some of the hieroglyphs in pictures you can tell how difficult the process must have been. Entire walls from left to right and top to bottom were covered with hieroglyphs. The amount of symbols being carved into the walls, are just mind blowing for me. The accuracy of the carvings and the time it must have taken to complete portray how important it was to these individuals to preserve the information and knowledge. These writers were definitely masters of their craft. Without these writing systems much of the history and culture of the ancient Egyptians would have been lost.
Egypt today does have good reasons for wanting to keep its material history in its own country but it should be shared with the whole world so that others can appreciate the culture and accomplishments of the Egyptians. This writing system laid the foundation for many other cultures in regards to preserving its history and teaching others about what their culture was like in these ancient times. Without these writings their ancient culture may have been lost.
The rich history that is embedded in the Egyptian culture, both ancient and modern, continues to capture my interest the farther along we move in class lectures. I have just recently returned from the United Kingdom on a study abroad program where I was able to visit the British Museum. There I was able to briefly learn about the history of some of the Egyptian artifacts obtained by the British government.
The lecture given today on how the Egyptian artifacts got to these foreign museums brought forth these memories from my trip. Today’s lecture had allowed me to gain more knowledge about this topic since my group only briefly covered the way the artifacts got to Great Britain. I never knew how much Egypt has influenced or affected other nations and that Napoleon also had an enormous role in the history of Egypt. Some of the ancient tools such as the Nilometers created by the Egyptians as a calendar are fascinating to me, and how Egyptian ideologies had affected other nations. It is striking for me to believe that this ancient civilization had such knowledge to create these magnificent tools.
The ancient history of Egypt and its culture is where my interest truly lies. My interest stems from the unsolved riddles and stories this land has left us with, such as the pyramids, hieroglyphs, and mummification. This curiosity led me to volunteer at the Nubian lab on campus where we take inventory, measurements, and observe the epiphyseal union on the remains of ancient individuals. In class we mentioned the Nubian campaign in regards to the Aswan dam, which made me wonder if the bioarchaeological lab I am volunteering for is part of the campaign, which would be pretty sweet. During my visit to the British Museum, I had the opportunity to observe some actual mummified people and animals. The mummification techniques used by the Egyptians were so good that this one mummified individual still had their tattoo visible on the inner part of their thigh. The tattoo was interesting to me now because the symbol resembled that of an upside down cross, connected to some other symbol. Our lecture today about the religious pilgrimage from Europe to Egypt made me wonder if this mummified person lived around that time of religious influence. The continuous research and knowledge on Egypt whether it be ancient or modern, brings us that much closer to unlocking some of the unanswered questions that anthropologists are seeking.