Ancient Egypt Facts For Kids
Ancient Egypt was a fascinating time in History. We’ve got everything you need to know right here, plus some super fun facts. Doing a project on Ancient Egypt, or just want to find out more, then read on for some interesting facts about Ancient Egypt.
The first people to settle on the banks of the River Nile were hunters and fishermen. They arrived there about 8,000 years ago. What a super long time ago that was. They quickly learned how to grow crops, raise animals, build villages and towns, build boats and navigate the river.
At that time, there was no money, so they used to trade with their neighbors for goods and food. By 3000 B.C the Ancient Egyptian civilization was born.
- Initially the kingdoms of Upper and Lower Egypt were separate and around 3100 B.C. they came together under a powerful king. Kings were later called pharaohs. These kings built massive temples, pyramids and other monuments, many of which you can still see today.
- Under their new pharaoh they started to conquer new lands. But this didn’t last too long, as by 1000 B.C Egypt once again split into smaller parts and the kingdom wasn’t the mighty force it was anymore. They were attacked and their territories were taken over by some neighbors who managed to defeat them.
- In 31 B.C., the Romans took over Egypt, and as if it couldn’t get any worse, they fell under the control of Muslim warriors. They had never really had a strong nation for a long period of time.
The Muslim warriors founded the capital – Cairo – and ruled for several centuries. But there was more trouble on the way as the British invaded and conquered Egypt in 1882. They certainly weren’t having much luck were they? The British stayed until 1952, when Egypt was finally declared independent in 1952. That’s a long time to be under the rule of different nations.
- From there things got better for this awesome nation, which actually turned into one of the greatest and most powerful civilizations in the history of the world. This lasted for over 3000 years from 3150 BC to 30 BC. At last – a country to call their own.
- The country was ruled by what was called dynasties, and these were the families with the power and they passed leadership down from one pharaoh to the next.
- There were over 30 dynasties that ruled. Sounds like a lot, but this was actually over 3,000 years, so each dynasty ruled for approximately 300 years. This is just to give you some idea, but of course some dynasties ruled for shorter periods of time, and others for longer.
Ancient Egypt was grouped into three major kingdoms which were the Old Kingdom, the Middle Kingdom, and the New Kingdom. This was a time when they practically ruled the world with their great power and wealth.
Their greatest friend – the Nile River
- The Nile River was an exceptionally important part of life and the Egyptian people of Ancient Egypt lived along the river for many years. This river unbelievably was their greatest source of their wealth. As the Egyptians mastered the art of irrigation and were able to use the water from the Nile, they grew wealthy with their very profitable crops. These were some seriously clever people. The Nile gave them food, soil, water and of course a way to travel.
- Each year, in around September, there were massive floods in the river, but actually this turned out to be for their benefit as the soil became richer – and so they were able to grow even more food.
The three most important crops were wheat, flax, and papyrus.
- Wheat – this was the main food that they ate and they made bread out of it. They sold a lot of their wheat which helped them become the rich nation that they were.
- Flax – this was used to make linen cloth for clothing.
- Papyrus – this was a plant that grew along the shores of the Nile. They used it for loads of stuff including paper, baskets, rope, and sandals.
They also made building materials from the river. They used mud to make bricks which were used to build homes, walls and other buildings. They also got limestone and sandstone from the hills along the side of the Nile.
What was it like to live in Ancient Egypt?
- If ever there was a nation that had a rich culture, it was Ancient Egypt. Their culture was filled by government, religion, arts, and writing amongst other things. Government and religion were strongly associated with each other. Pharaohs led the country and they were also considered to be gods.
- There were people called scribes, who were very important in running the country and they were considered to be very powerful. Why? Well they were the only people who could read and write and helped run the country.
- People had different jobs like farmers, craftspeople, soldiers, scribes and priests and priestesses.
The Egyptian Army
- The Egyptians were predominantly farmers and not really fighters, but eventually they realized that an army was indeed needed, considering how many times they were conquered. They learned how to make chariots and gathered their strong army together.
- From then, Egypt began to keep their army together and during the New Kingdom the Pharaohs often led them into battle and this was when they conquered a lot of the surrounding land, which began the mighty reign of the Egyptian Empire.
To fight they used bows and arrows, spears, axes and short swords. They also made brilliant chariots which carried two men with strong horses pulling them. One would drive the chariot and control the horses while the other soldier would use a bow and arrow or a spear to fight.
The Pyramids and Treasure
- The pyramids are world-famous and the almighty Pharaohs were buried inside these giant pyramids or in secret tombs. To help them in the afterlife they believed that they needed to be buried with treasure. Well that’s pretty cool as archeologists were able to find some really awesome artifacts and tombs, which has helped us to understand this great civilization even more.
- The Egyptians believed heavily in the afterlife and that people had two important parts to them; a ‘ka’, when they were alive and a ‘ba’ which was like a soul. If these two parts were united in the afterlife then the person would live on in the afterlife. Wow, that’s interesting. This is why Egyptians tried to preserve bodies and mummified people.
- There are about 138 pyramids. Some of them are huge like the Pyramid of Khufu, which is also called the Great Pyramid of Giza. When it was first built it was over 480 feet (almost 150 meters) tall! That is as tall as St. Paul’s Cathedral in London. Wow. It was the tallest man-made structure for over 3800 years and is one of the Seven Wonders of the World. Apparently it was made from about 2.3 million blocks which weighed 5.9 million tons. It’s estimated that this pyramid was made from 2.3 million blocks of rock weighing 5.9 million tons.
The pyramids would get built very, very slowly. The Great Pyramid of Giza took 23 years to build. Hardly surprising when you think about the weight of those blocks of rock and how tall the pyramid is. It is believed that it took about 20,000 workers to build it. Amazing. There are some theories as to how the pyramids were built, but no-one knows for sure. How do you think they were built?
The Valley of the Kings of Egypt
After about 1500 B.C. the pharaohs stopped building pyramids for burials, and instead they buried them at The Valley of the Kings. There are over 60 here which are loads of different sizes; some are a large hole in the ground while others were huge with over 100 underground chambers. The treasures in these tombs were stolen thousands of years ago. But there is still artwork on the walls which again helps us understand the lives of pharaohs and other leaders.
However, there was one tomb that was discovered that still had loads of treasure and was still intact. Can you guess whose tomb? Well it was none other than Tutankhamun’s tomb, which is now the most famous in the The Valley of the Kings.
- Unfortunately, most of the tombs were looted thousands of years ago and the treasure was stolen or removed by thieves. There is artwork on the walls, however, that allows archeologists to learn much about the lives of the Pharaohs and other leaders who were buried here. The one tomb that was discovered with much of the treasure and tomb still intact was that of Tutankhamun.
- The tomb was packed with awesome things including King Tut’s mummy, a gold mask, and a solid gold inner coffin. The tomb had quite a few several chambers, so this just goes to show how important he was.
Now, this is interesting. There has been a long mystery about the curse of King Tut’s tomb. People believed that bad things happened, or deaths occurred if they went in there. But we don’t think this is true. Do you?
There are still some ancient mummies of some of the Pharaohs. Both Tutankhamun and Rameses the Great were preserved and you can see them at museums. That would be a cool thing to do.
The Great Sphinx
Did you know that a Sphinx is actually a mythical creature with the body of a lion and the head of a person? They built sphinx statues to keep guard over areas like tombs and temples.
You must have heard of the Great Sphinx of Giza as this is by far the most famous. It is one of the largest and oldest statues in the world. Archeologists think it was carved around 2500 B.C.
The Great Sphinx is massive! It is 241 feet long (about 70 meters), 20 feet wide (about 6 meters), and 66 feet high (20 meters). Just the eyes alone are 6 feet tall (nearly 2 meters), the ears over three feet (nearly 1 meter) tall, and the nose would have been nearly 5 feet (1.5 meters) long before it was knocked off.
There is a legend about the Sphinx too; after it was built it began to look a bit shoddy over the following 1000 years. The whole body was covered in sand and only the head was seen. Apparently a young prince named Thutmose fell asleep near the head. He had a dream, and was told to restore it and he would then become the Pharaoh of Egypt. So he did, and guess what? He did become the Pharaoh.
Important Egyptian Gods and Goddesses
There were loads of gods and goddesses. Let’s take a look at the most important ones.
- Ra – Ra was the sun god and the most important god to the Ancient Egyptians. He was drawn as a man with a hawk head.
- Isis – Isis was the mother goddess. It was thought that she would protect and help people in need. She was drawn as a woman with a headdress in the shape of a throne.
- Osiris – Osiris was ruler of the underworld and god of the dead. He was the husband of Isis and father of Horus. Osiris was drawn as a mummified man with a feathered headdress.
- Horus – Horus was the god of the sky. Horus was the son of Isis and Osiris. He was drawn as a man with the head of a hawk.
- Thoth – Thoth was the god of knowledge. He blessed the Egyptians with writing, medicine, and mathematics. He was also god of the moon. Thoth is drawn as a man with an Ibis bird head. Sometimes he was represented as a baboon. He probably preferred to be shown as an Ibis bird than a baboon.
The Mighty Pharaohs
There were loads of pharaohs who rules Ancient Egypt, but here are some of the really famous ones.
- Akhenaten – Akhenaten was famous for saying there was only one god, the sun god. He ruled with his wife, Nefertiti, and they closed many of the temples to other gods. He was the father of the famous King Tut.
- Tutankhamun – Often called King Tut today, he is famous today because they found his tomb, which we’ve read about. He became Pharaoh at the age of 9. He tried to bring back the gods that his father had banished.
- Hatshepsut – A lady Pharaoh, Hatshepsut was originally regent (someone who takes power when the real leader is too young or can’t do their duties) for her son, but she took on the power of Pharaoh. She also dressed like the Pharaoh to reinforce her power including the crown and ceremonial beard. She was considered to be the greatest woman Pharaoh, and one of the greatest Pharaohs in the history of Egypt.
- Amenhotep III – Amenhotep III ruled for 39 years and brought Egypt back to be a powerful nation. When he was chief pharaoh the country was at peace and they could make cities bigger and build more temples.
- Ramses II – Often called Ramses the Great, he ruled Egypt for 67 years. He is famous today because he built more statues and monuments than any other Pharaoh.
- Cleopatra VII – Cleopatra is often considered the last Pharaoh of Egypt. She maintained power by making alliances with famous Romans such as Julius Caesar and Mark Antony.
Pharaohs built large temples in honor of their gods. These temples would have large statues, gardens, memorials, and a place of worship. Towns would have their own temples as well for their own local gods.
The Empire comes to an End
Oh dear, things started to go downhill again for Ancient Egypt in about 700 B.C. Once again they were conquered by other civilizations like the Assyrian Empire, and by the Persian Empire. In 332 BC, Alexander the Great of Greece conquered Egypt and set up his own ruling family. Then the Romans came in 30 BC and Egypt became a province of Rome. They certainly had their fair share of different countries ruling over them.
Amazing Facts about Ancient Egypt
- The pyramids of Egypt are all built to the west of the Nile River as this side was associated with the land of the dead.
- There were traps and curses put on the tombs and the pyramids to try and keep robbers out.
- King Tut’s gold mask was made with 22 pounds (10 kilograms) of gold. That is a lot of gold.
- The bread the Egyptians ate was so rough that it caused their teeth to wear away. Wow, glad out bread is different today.
- The average peasant girl married young, around the age of 12. Can you imagine getting married that young?
- Most people bathed daily, often in the Nile River. Glad we’ve got baths today.
- Tutankhamun was buried with a lock of hair from his grandmother.
- The biggest pyramid was built by Pharaoh Khufu
- Egyptian men and women wore makeup. It was thought to have healing powers, plus it helped protect their skin from the sun.
- Unwrapped, the bandages of an Ancient Egyptian mummy could stretch for nearly a mile long (1.6 kilometers). They sure liked to wrap them up nice and tight.
- The Egyptian alphabet contained more than 700 hieroglyphs! Can you imagine trying to learn all those?
- They used moldy bread to help with infections.
- They were one of the first civilizations to invent writing. They also used ink to write and paper called papyrus.
- A pharaoh kept his hair covered. It was not to be seen by regular people.
- The Ancient Egyptians called the rich black soil from the floods the “Gift of the Nile”. Over the past few thousands of years, many of the Egyptian mummies have been destroyed in interesting ways. Some were burned for fuel, some were ground into powder to make magical potions, and some were destroyed by treasure hunters. Wow.
- The heart was left in the body because it was considered to be the center of intelligence. The brain was thrown away because it was thought to be useless. Things might be different now.
- Sometimes the mummy’s mouth would be opened to show that they could breathe in the afterlife
- Pepy II became Pharaoh at the age of 6. He ruled Egypt for 94 years. Wow, he was young when he started, and 100 years old when he stopped ruling.
We hope that you’ve enjoyed all of these interesting facts about Ancient Egypt. Do you have anything to add?