Substantive Education

Ancient Egypt Study Guide

Ancient Egypt Study Guide, key words and concepts.

This is a list of the key names and concepts in the Pharaoh reading book. I’m including it here for your help in organizing the information that you are reading.

The ‘Rosetta Stone‘ is an Ancient Egyptian artifact which was instrumental in advancing modern understanding of hieroglyphic writing. The stone is a Ptolemaic era stele with carved text made up of three translations of a single passage: two in Egyptian language scripts (hieroglyphic and Demotic) and one in classical Greek. It was created in 196 BC, discovered by the French in 1799 at Rashid (a harbour on the Mediterranean coast in Egypt which the French referred to as Rosetta during Napoleon Bonaparte’s campaign in Egypt), and contributed greatly to the decipherment of the principles of hieroglyph writing in 1822 by the British scientist Thomas Young and the French scholar Jean-François Champollion. Comparative translation of the stone assisted in understanding many previously undecipherable examples of hieroglyphic writing. The text of the Rosetta Stone is a decree from Ptolemy V, describing the repealing of various taxes and instructions to erect statues in temples.

Bouchard – After Napoleon’s 1798 conquest of Egypt, the French founded the Institut de l’Égypte in Cairo, bringing 167 scientists and archaeologists to the region. French Army engineer Captain Pierre-François Bouchard discovered the stone sometime in mid-July 1799 (the sources are unfortunately not more specific), while guiding construction work at Fort Julien near the Egyptian port city of Rashid (Rosetta). The Napoleonic army was so awestruck by this unheralded spectacle that, according to a witness, “it halted of itself and, by one spontaneous impulse, grounded its arms.” (As quoted by Robert Claiborne, The Birth of Writing [1974], p. 24.)

Hieroglyphics – Egyptian hieroglyphs from Greek ἱερογλύφος “sacred carving” was a formal writing system used by the ancient Egyptians that contained a combination of logographic (pictures) and alphabetic elements. Egyptians used cursive hieroglyphs for religious literature on papyrus and wood. Less formal variations of the script, called hieratic and demotic, are technically not hierogl

Four Dead Demigods – These were the Bee King (Red Crown), the Reed King (White Crown, the Hawk King, and the Scorpion King (Menses) These four kings were half man and half gods. This was the beginning of ancient Egyptians believing that their pharaohs were divine.

Menses – The first Pharaoh (sometimes also called Narmer) who united upper and lower Egypt and combined the crowns.

Old Kingdom – The Old Kingdom of Ancient Egypt is the first period of the Pharaohs.  It was during the Old Kingdom that the pyramids were built.  This time was marked by the belief that the Pharaohs were gods.  This belief led to the practice of hundreds of subjects killing themselves and being buried at the funeral of the Pharaoh.  They did this because they believed the Pharaoh would then take them with him into the afterlife.  Eventually, as the authority of the Pharaohs was questioned this practice was stopped, as were the construction of the giant pyramids.

Khufu or in Greek Cheop, was a Pharaoh of Ancient Egypt’s Old Kingdom. He reigned from around 2589 to 2566 B.C. Khufu was the second pharaoh of the Fourth Dynasty. He is generally accepted as being the builder of the Great Pyramid of Giza, the only one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World still standing.

Memphis was the ancient capital of the first nome of Lower Egypt, and of the Old Kingdom of Egypt from its foundation until around 2200 BC and later for shorter periods during the New Kingdom, and an administrative centre throughout ancient history. The name “Memphis” (Μέμφις) is the Greek corruption of the Egyptian name of Pepi I’s (6th dynasty) pyramid, Men-nefer. Memphis was also known in Ancient Egypt as Ankh Tawy (“That which binds the Two Lands”), thus stressing the strategic position of the city between Upper and Lower Egypt. The ruins of Memphis are 20 km (12 miles) south of Cairo, on the west bank of the Nile. According to Herodotus, a Greek historian, the city was founded around 3100 BC by Menes, who united the two kingdoms of Egypt.

Thebes, a city of ancient Egypt, developed at a very early date from a number of small villages, particularly one around modern Luxor (then called Epet), but remained relatively obscure until the rise of the Theban family that established the XI dynasty (c.2134 B.C.). The city rapidly became prominent as the royal residence and as a seat of the worship of the god Amon. At Thebes, also, was the necropolis (Valley of the Dead) in the Valley of the Kings where the kings and nobles were entombed in great splendor in crypts cut into the cliffs on the Nile’s west bank. The city’s greatest period was that of the empire, when it served as a reservoir for the immense wealth that poured in from the conquered countries

Imhotep – As one of the officials of the Pharaoh, Djosèr, he designed the Pyramid of Djoser (the Step Pyramid) at Saqqara in Egypt in 2630–2611 BC. He may have been responsible for the first known use of columns in architecture. As an instigator of Egyptian culture, Imhotep’s idealized image lasted well into the Ptolemaic period. The Egyptian historian Manetho credited him with inventing the method of a stone-dressed building during Djoser’s reign, however he was not the first to actually build with stone. Stone walling, flooring, lintels, and jambs had appeared sporadically during the Archaic Period, though it is true that a building of the Step Pyramid’s size and made entirely out of stone had never before been constructed. Before Djoser pharaohs were buried in mostuba tombs.

Khafra or Khafre (Greek Χεφρήν, Chephren) was an Egyptian pharaoh of the Fourth dynasty, with his capital at Memphis. Khafra built the second largest pyramid at Giza, is thought to have built the Great Sphinx, and built a temple which is the only surviving example of a temple of this Dynasty of the Old Kingdom. His name, Khaf-Ra, means “Appearing like Ra” .

Dark Ages – The Dark Ages is a period in Egyptian history when civil war broke out.  This era brought an end to the Old Kingdom.  Historians believe there may have been weather problems that interrupted the flooding of the Nile.  This undermined the authority of the Pharohs who were supposed to be able to control the flow of water.  Nobles began to seize more power and eventually chaos reigned.

Amenemhet I (reigned 1991-1962 B.C.), though not of royal blood, was the founder of the Twelfth Dynasty of Egypt. Amenemhet was vizier under King Mentuhotep 4, allowing him to build a strong position in the administration of Thebes. Upon Mentuhotep’s death, there was no strong contender to the throne, and Amenemhet took power and had his opponents defeated.During his reign the capital of Egypt was moved from Thebes to a new capital south of Memphis, which he named Itj-Tawny. Amenemhet brought prosperity back to a troubled Egypt, he limited the power of the nobility, and he had the government reorganized.He raised Amon to the first rank among the deities of Egypt.

The Hyksos, or foreign rulers, were an Asiatic people who invaded the eastern Nile Delta, initiating the Second Intermediate Period of Ancient Egypt. They rose to power in the 17th century BC, (according to the traditional chronology) and ruled Lower and Middle Egypt for 108 years, forming the Fifteenth and possibly the Sixteenth Dynasties of Egypt, (c. 1648–1540 BC). The Hyksos had Canaanite names, as seen in those which contain the names of Semitic deities such as Anath or Ba’al. They introduced new tools of warfare into Egypt, most notably the composite bow and the horse-drawn chariot.  Although they adopted most Egyptian customs, the Egyptians hated the foreign rulers.  They reigned for over 100 years…producing another interval period like the Dark Ages.

Ahmose I was a pharaoh of ancient Egypt and the founder of the Eighteenth dynasty. He and his brother (although his brother died, leaving him the throne) drove the hated Hyskos out of Egypt. He was a member of the Theban royal house. During his reign he completed the conquest and expulsion of the Hyksos from the delta region, restored Theban rule over the whole of Egypt and successfully reasserted Egyptian power in its formerly subject territories of Nubia and Canaan. He then reorganized the administration of the country, reopened quarries, mines and trade routes and began massive construction projects of a type that had not been undertaken since the time of the Middle Kingdom. This building program culminated in the construction of the last pyramid built by native Egyptian rulers. Ahmose’s reign laid the foundations for the New Kingdom, under which Egyptian power reached its peak. His reign is usually dated to about 1550–1525 BC

Thutmose I was the third Pharaoh of the 18th dynasty of Egypt. He was given the throne after the death of the previous king Amenhotep I. During his reign, he campaigned deep into the Levant and Nubia, pushing the borders of Egypt further than ever before. He also built many temples in Egypt and built a tomb for himself in the Valley of the Kings; he is the first king confirmed to have done this (though Amenhotep I may have preceded him). He was succeeded by his son Thutmose II, who in turn was succeeded by Thutmose II’s sister, Hatshepsut. His reign is generally dated from 1506 to 1493 BCE.

Hatshepsut meaning, Foremost of Noble Ladies, was the fifth pharaoh of the eighteenth dynasty of Ancient Egypt. She is generally regarded by Egyptologists as one of the most successful pharaohs, reigning longer than any other woman of an indigenous Egyptian dynasty. When her father died without an heir he married her to her half-brother, a commoner by a second wife. Her husband then became Pharaoh and faced the same problem, having no son with Hatshepsut, but only a daughter. When he was dying he married his daughter (also Hatshepsut’s daughter) to another half-brother. When her husband died Hatshepsut her son-in-law, basically a commoner, was now coming to the throne. As he was still a child she was able to seize the throne and sent the young Pharaoh to live with the priests of Amon.

Hatshepsut’s reign was long and prosperous. She was successful in warfare early in her reign, but is generally considered to be a pharaoh who inaugurated a long peaceful era. She re-established trading relationships lost during a foreign occupation and brought great wealth to Egypt. That wealth enabled Hatshepsut to initiate building projects that raised the calibre of Ancient Egyptian architecture to a standard, comparable to classical architecture, that would not be rivaled by any other culture for a thousand years.

Thutmose III – The son-in-law of Hatshepsut.  He was able to regain the throne and had all images of his mother-in-law destroyed.

Historians consider Thutmose III to have been the Napoleon of Egypt because of his military conquests. Nearly 350 cities were captured during his reign, all over the areas of the Near East, Nubia and Euphrates. He made seventeen military campaigns, and used warfare as a way of turning Egypt into a superpower and a military force to be reckoned with. Thutmose III is considered to be one of Egypt ‘s greatest warrior pharaohs.

One of the greatest accomplishments of the pharaoh was the defeat of a large group of Canaanites at the Battle of Megiddo. After the death of Hatshepsut, the Canaanites decided it was a good point to free themselves of Egyptian influence. With the help of the kings of Kadesh and Megiddo , the Canaanites revolted and Thutmose III did what he could to fight back. The main reason for keeping Egyptian control over the area was because of where Megiddo stood in terms of trade routes. Without Megiddo open to Egyptian trade, it would have been very damaging to Egyptian economy. So with an army of ten thousand men on foot and in chariots, Thutmose III quelled the rebellion and ended the siege of Megiddo after almost eight months. It was the first known battle with precisely detailed events.

Not only was Thutmose a skilled warrior, he was also a very religious man, having been educated at the Theban Temple as a young boy. He had several temples built and several others enlarged, with a multitude of statues placed in each showing him offering gifts to the gods.

When he died, Thutmose’s tomb was found in the Valley of the Kings, and in the tomb was found a statement saying he reigned for just shy of 55 years. Thutmose III was buried in what is now considered tomb KV34, but he didn’t not stay there. Like many other nobles, his mummy was found at the Deir el-Bahri Cache, situated above the mortuary temple of Hatshepsut. As grave robbers were fond of looting the tombs and catacombs of pharoahs and nobles alike, undaunted by the threats of curses to anyone who desecrated these sacred places, priests would often move the bodies so they would remain as undisturbed as possible.

Thutmose III’s mummy had been stripped of jewels and finery before being moved by the priests to the mummy cache. The mummy itself was found in 1886, and the body was in bad shape. The face, however, had been maintained well, and gave a stark comparison to the statues found of Thutmose III’s likeness. This conquering pharaoh was barely more than five feet tall, with a low forehead, deep sunken eyes, and a heavy jaw.

Amenhotep III (1386-1349 BC) was a pharaoh from the 18th Dynasty (1570-1293 BC) who was a prolific builder and a relatively benevolent ruler. His reign lasted almost 40 years and was both stable and prosperous. He took the throne of Egypt at the early age of 12. His great-grandfather was Thutmosis III. He had many wives, one chief wife was Tiy, daughter of Yuya and Tuya (whose mummies are among the best preserved in Egypt). Amenhotep had two sons, The older died leaving Amenhotep IV to succeed to the throne. Amenhotep IV, after succeeding to the throne would later change his name to Akhenaten!

Amenhotep III’s reign was one of relative peace and the prosperity during his time was due to more to international trade and a strong gold supply, not from conquest and expansionism. He did lead campaigns, but mainly earlier on in his reign. Amenhotep built many splendid temples and statuary, including many large lifelike statues of himself.






Alexander the Great


Describe all that you have learned about Egyptian ideas of death

Describe the process of mummification

Describe the building of a pyramid

What is a matsuba

What are Cartouches





Why, early in her history did Egypt feel safe from invaders?

How did invaders and conquering neighboring areas affect Egypt?

Describe at least three of the stories of amazing archaeological finds?


1 Comment »

  1. i love it i hate mr.nelson

    Comment by liz myer — November 25, 2008 @ 1:33 am | Reply

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