The early pharoahs of Ancient Egypt
The Ancient Egyptian Civilization extended over thousands of years. It has been divided into periods defined as follows;
5300BC to 3050 BC Predynastic period
3050 BC to 2686 BC Early Dynastic Period
2686 BC-2181 BC Old Kingdom
2181BC-2055 BC First Intermediate period
2055BC-1650BC Middle Kingdom
1650BC-1550 BCSecond Intermediate period
1550BC-1069 BC New Kingdom
1069BC-664BC-Third Intermediate period
664BC-332BC Late period
332BC-30 BC Macedonian and Ptolemaic period.
Pharaohs ruled Egypt for over three thousand years with various styles however they all considered themselves to be semi-divine who would achieve divinity as Gods after their deaths .It may have been this that led to a positive attidude to death, in that they were not afraid.The ultimate responsibility of pleasing the God’s was the pharaohs, without him any offerings could not be made and the Gods might become angry and cause chaos, this could be a reason why the Egyptians supported the system of the pharaohs. He was the highest priest of every religious cult , head of the army and the civil service- he topped the social pyramid.
The Egyptian calendar was labelled as per the reigns of the pharaohs for example Year 1 of Amehjotep, year 2 of Amehjotep – it sought to confirm the Pharaohs right to rule by passing a link through time to the beginning of time. Lists were prepared and left in tombs detailing the names of the pharoahs and the time span of their reigns. If history viewed a pharoah as being particularly weak then his name was left off the King list.
THE FIRST PHAROAHS C5300 TO 2686 BC
Early stone age Egyptians were hunter gatherers but the advent of agriculture led to permanent settlements and the development of village life. By 4800BC evidence shows that there was farming in Faiyum ( a natural depression on the west desert centred on Lake Moeris)
4400 to 400 bc the Badanan cultural phase was identified - they lived in a small village on the edge of the Black land where they hunted and fished but also planted grain and lentils and kept animals. The dead were buried facing west.
Nagada was a site in the south of Egypt excavated by Sir Flinders Petrie in 1895
Cemeteries- there was a marked difference between simple graves for the poor and brick lined tombs for the elite. The latter were buried with grave goods and the bodies were wrapped in linen.
In 3050 Egypt became one land
Divided into 3 periods Nagada 1 and 2 and 3 These people lived in mud brick village and in towns protected by brick walls.
Whilst the vast majority were buried in simple pit graves the first dynasty elite cut their burial chambers deep into rock in the desert sands. The wooden ceilings were covered with a low mound, protected by a layer of mud bricks and surrounded by rectangular mud brick building called a Mastaba. Early ones had multiple storage rooms for grave goods but made it vulnerable for grave robbers. By the end of the 1st Nagada dynasty the number of rooms had reduced, these tombs became popular throughout the old kingdom
Myths and legends
The Egyptians believed that their land had been unified by an ambitious warrior king Menes who had raised an army fighting from Thebes (Luxor) to Memphis (Cairo) and here being crowned Pharoah to unite the land- he succeeded the divine kings and the first pharaohs became called followers of Horus
By the late Nagada dynasty, Egypt was experiencing the aridity which would turn the grass lands into desert. Living in the pastoral savannah was becoming increasingly hard and the fertile river valleys must have been very inviting. The Narmer Palette discovered in the Hierakonpolis temple has some important suggestions on the unification of EGYPT. It shows Narmer wearing the white crown smiting the enemy of the north with Horus behind him restraining a captive. The opposite page of the palette shows Namer wearing the red crown with a troop of soldiers whose standards which they carry representing the symbols of the Egyptian provinces. Below in a separate scene there are two fabulous beast- part snake, part cat- serpopards which have their long necks twisted together, perhaps representing the entwining of northern and southern Egypt.
It is agreed that Narmer did rule a united Egypt but it is not known whether this palette showed battle to unite Egypt or an already united Egypt battling against a western adversary.
He may have inspired the legend of Menes or indeed been Menes himself.