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APWH Chapter 3: Early African
Societies and the Bantu Migrations
By Robert Courtadon
Agriculture of Ancient Egypt and its
results
• The Nile river floods annually, leaving fertile muck to
use for growing crops.
• The fertile muck allowed Egypt to prosper more then
it’s neighbor, Nubia, because of its broader floodplains.
• Thanks to various peoples who travelled throughout
the region, wild grains, cattle, donkeys, wheat and
barley were raised and cultivated as well in the Nile
River Valley.
• High agriculture meant an increased population, which
meant some people had to move to higher ground due
to population pressure.
Evolution of the Institution of the
Pharaoh
• In early agricultural societies in the Nile River Valley, kings
created small states for themselves, and had servants
executed when they died.
• Political and economical competition between Upper and
Lower Egypt kingdoms led to small skirmishes and wars
between the states.
• About 3100 B.C.E, Menes, a minor official from Upper
Egypt, rose to power and conquered much of Lower Egypt.
He united Upper and Lower Egypt under the institution of
the pharaoh.
• Pharaonic power was greatest during the Archaic Period
and the Old Kingdom, and was probably least during the
New Kingdom.
Periods of Egyptian Rule
•
Archaic Period/Old Kingdom ( 3100 – 2660 BCE) – Power of the pharaohs was
greatest. The symbols of Egypt - the pyramids - were built using artists, craftsmen,
architects, and engineers.
•
Middle Kingdom ( 2040 – 1640 BCE) – Regions began to ignore the pharaoh and
build up their wealth. As a result, the central state declined, which led to a long
season of political and social unrest. The Pharaohs that later reestablished order in
the empire were not as powerful as their predecessors, but they established
relations with Nubia, Syria, and South Africa.
•
New Kingdom ( 1550 – 1070 BCE) – After the gradual decline of the invading
Hyksos, nomads who used chariots and bronze weapons in combat , Egypt began
to take over countries that might have been future threats funded by a large
administrative bureaucracy. However, resistance in the countries Egypt gained
weakened the empire so that it could not defend against various foreign countries
that took it over; including the Kushites and the Assyrians.
Social classes and gender roles in
Egypt and Nubia
• In a strictly patriarchal society, men were rulers of the
household and government in both Egypt and Nubia.
• However, women made their presence known more in
Egypt and Nubia as priestesses, scribes, regents for young
rulers, and as queens (more in Nubia than in Egypt).
• Egyptians also recognized a series of social classes, ranging
from the working slaves to the supreme ruler – the
pharaoh.
• Egypt relied on military forces and a bureaucracy of tax
collectors and administrators.
• Tombs of the wealthy were elaborate, while those of
commoners were much simpler.
Transportation and Trade in the Nile
River Valley
• In Egypt, donkey caravans, boats, and wheeled
vehicles carried passengers and goods to
places.
• In Nubia, people depended more on overland
transport to get to places.
• Trade in the Nile River Valley consisted of iron
and bronze metallurgy, pottery, textile
products, gem stones, ostrich feathers, slaves,
ivory, and more.
Development of Organized Religions
• Amon and Re – Two principal sun gods of Ancient Egypt that were
worshiped together in the cult of Amon-Re, in which the said god
was suggested to be a universal god.
• Aten and Monotheism – Amenhotep IV (Akhenaten) started a new
religion based on Aten, the “one, true god” of Egypt. While
Akhenaten lived, the cult flourished. When he died, the cult was
destroyed by the rival Amon-Re cult.
• Mummification – Egyptians believed in an afterlife. During the Old
Kingdom, only pharaohs, their relatives, and royal officials were
mummified. During the Middle Kingdom, however, all people were
mummified.
• Cult of Osiris – Egyptians associated the god Osiris with their crops,
the Nile, and immortality. Osiris alone had the power to grant
eternal life. Those with pure hearts were granted immortality, while
those with impure hearts didn’t.
The Bantu Migrations
• The Bantu were the most influential people in
sub – Saharan Africa, settling along banks of
rivers in villages with chiefs at the head of clans.
• The Bantu migrations were gradual processes.
Canoes were used in travelling the Niger, Congo,
and other river networks. Languages also
travelled with the Bantu, creating more than 500
different languages. This process increased with
iron metallurgy and agricultural surpluses.

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