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The Defining Characteristics of Ancient Egypt sample essay

As ancient civilizations began to be recovered by archeologists and theories abounded, Vere Gordon Childe took the reins and wrote on his findings for nearly the last forty years of his life. Indeed, Childe was the first to “[view] the development of cultures as homotaxial, [which] led Childe to define stages of civilization according to social and economic patterns . ” It is this approach that led archeologists to view ancient civilizations as prospering economies and has helped to set the characteristics for further defining them.

Ancient Egypt, for example, can be defined by three major elements: the effects of the first wars in Egypt, the hieroglyphics that define Egypt as a literary culture, and the parliamentary Egypt, that of Kingdoms, Empires, and City-States. Ancient Egypt was not a warring nation and did not seek out new territories and conquest. In fact, during the Old Kingdom, the pharaohs were mostly involved in their people, their governments, and in building their economy. However, it was not to last. The early Asiatics invaded Egypt and brought the fall of the Old Kingdom.

For the first time, Egypt had to set up defenses and plan for attacks from their surrounding nations and during the Middle Kingdom, Egypt took great strides to protect themselves from the warring and invading barbarians. By the New Kingdom, Egypt had become a vast military power and the neighboring nations had much to fear from retaliatory conquest and invasion. Egypt was not the simple, quiet nation that they once were—they were a powerful, wealthy nation that saw conquest as a way to further enrich their people and nation. Another way in which ancient Egypt can be defined characteristically is through their hieroglyphics.

Egyptian hieroglyphics are one of the most complex languages in history; and, throughout archeological study, it is one of the few languages that has lasted without change for centuries. Indeed, “perhaps no modern society, with the possible exception of France, has such a preoccupation with the purity of language as the Egyptian society does . ” Ancient Egyptian hieroglyphics tell many stories: that of love, war, and planting seasons. They were, undeniably, as literary a nation as any have ever been. Finally, the development of Egyptian parliamentary procedures has a set of characteristics not seen in any other ancient nation.

Egypt began with a ruling pharaoh—known affectionately as the “pyramid builders” who created the most striking and remarkable archeology in history with each new ruling leader. Pharaohs ruled their kingdoms for life, at which time their throne passed on to a son or relative—unless the family was overthrown. And, it is at the end of these reigns that war, strife, and even prosperousness have made their marks on Egypt—most notably, the end of the Old Kingdom and the Middle Kingdom, which brought rulers strikingly different from those of the past as Egypt moved to prosperity as a nation and war for conquest.

Overall, as archeologists know, “no more difficult task confronts the historian than to trace the gradual emergence of a civilization, since this necessarily belongs to ages where written documents are either non-existent or very scanty . ” It is through their tiring study that ancient Egypt and the characteristics that define it as a nation have emerged. Of these characteristics, a study of ancient war, hieroglyphics, and Egyptian parliamentary procedures mark Egypt most profoundly, differentiating it from other ancient nations.

Bibliography.

Asante, Molefi Kete. (2002). Culture and Customs of Egypt. Westport, CT: Greenwood Press. Childe, Vere Gordon. (1956). Piecing Together the Past: The Interpretation of Archelogical Data. New York: Frederick A. Praeger. Erman, Adolf. (2001). Life in Ancient Egypt, Vol. 2. London: Macmillian. Gardiner, Alan. (1964). Egypt of the Pharoahs: An Introduction. London: Oxford UP. Lamberg-Karlovsky, C. C. and Jeremy A. Sabloff. (1979). Ancient Civilizations: The Near East and Mesoamerica. Menlo Park, CA: Benjamin/Cummings Publishing.

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