Ancient Egypt for Kids: A Beginner’s Guide to its History and Culture

Ancient Egypt thrived along the Nile, developing a rich culture and significant religious practices centered on numerous gods, and was known for its monumental pyramids and temples.

Discovering Ancient Egypt

The Land of the Nile

Ancient Egypt was a fascinating civilization that flourished along the Nile River in northeastern Africa for over 3,000 years.

The Nile was essential to ancient Egyptian culture, providing essential resources like water for agriculture, transportation, and a natural barrier against enemies.

Egypt was divided into Upper Egypt in the south and Lower Egypt in the north, each with its own distinctive traditions and customs.

Egyptian Gods and Worship

The ancient Egyptians practiced a rich and complex religion, involving the worship of numerous gods and goddesses.

Some of the most famous gods included Ra, the sun god; Osiris, the god of the underworld; and Isis, the goddess of motherhood.

Temples were built to honor these gods, and people would perform rituals, make offerings, and pray for their well-being and protection.

Kingdoms Through Time

Egyptian history is often divided into three main periods: the Old Kingdom, the Middle Kingdom, and the New Kingdom.

  • Old Kingdom (c. 2686–2181 BCE): This period is famous for its large and imposing pyramids, which were built as tombs for pharaohs and their families. The most well-known pyramids, like the Great Pyramid of Giza, were built for the pharaohs Khufu, Khafre, and Menkaure.

  • Middle Kingdom (c. 2055–1650 BCE): The Middle Kingdom saw an increase in trade with neighboring cultures and regions. This period is also known for its impressive works of literature and art, as well as the construction of the Karnak Temple Complex.

  • New Kingdom (c. 1550–1070 BCE): The New Kingdom saw the rise of powerful and famous pharaohs, such as Tutankhamun, Ramses II, and Hatshepsut. This era is known for its expansive military campaigns which led to the establishment of a vast empire that reached as far as modern-day Syria in the north and Sudan in the south.

During these different periods, various pharaohs ruled over both Upper and Lower Egypt, contributing to the development of an intricate calendar system and unique cultural traditions that continue to captivate the world today.

Everyday Life and Notable Figures

A bustling marketplace in ancient Egypt, with merchants selling goods and children playing games.</p><p>The Great Sphinx and pyramids loom in the background

Mummies and the Afterlife

Ancient Egyptians believed in the afterlife, and they went to great lengths to preserve the body after death through a process called mummification.

They would carefully remove organs, treat the body with natural preservatives, and wrap it in linen to prepare it for burial.

Egyptians loved their cats so much that they often mummified them as well.

Great Pyramids and Marvelous Monuments

The Pyramids of Giza are one of the most famous architectural wonders of the ancient world.

They were built as tombs for the pharaohs, with the largest, the Great Pyramid, built for Pharaoh Khufu.

The Great Sphinx, another famous monument, has the body of a lion and the head of a pharaoh, and was built to guard the surrounding pyramids.

Additionally, ancient Egyptians were known for their monumental temples, palaces, and statues dedicated to their gods.

Influential Rulers and Legacy

Ancient Egypt had a long list of exceptional rulers, including the famous pharaoh Tutankhamun, whose tomb was discovered in 1922 with its treasures still intact. Cleopatra, the last pharaoh of Egypt, was known for her intelligence and cunning.

Ancient Egypt’s legacy remains through artifacts like the Rosetta Stone, which helped scholars unlock the secrets of the hieroglyphs, and its influence on art, culture, and religion in the Mediterranean world.

Egyptian daily life was centered around the Nile River, which provided water for irrigation, crops, and transportation.

They built mud-brick houses, grew staple crops like wheat and barley, and used papyrus for making paper.

Egyptians also had an advanced understanding of medicine and were skilled in using cosmetics, like kohl to line their eyes.