Unit 1: Ancient Africa - The Cradle of Civilation
(200,000 BC - 476 BC)

Unit 1: Class 7: Ancient Kemet (Egypt): Predynastic Period & The Old Kingdom (10,500 B.C. – 2,181 B.C.)


Learning Objectives
After completing this lesson, students 
will be able to:

  • Discuss the early formation of ancient Kemet/Egypt, including the knowledge and technology that existed prior to its establishment.

  • Analyze the geography and climatic events that led to the mass migration of people to the Nile Valley – ancient Egypt in particular.

  • Identify the major pharaohs who united Upper and Lower Egypt, establishing the First Dynasty of ancient Kemet/Egypt.

  • Identify the major pyramids and monuments built during the Old Kingdom and the pharaohs and engineers responsible for their construction.

Study Questions

From Ancient Kemet/Egypt: Predynastic -- Early Dynastic Period

1. According to the Approximate Timeline, when did Africans start migrating to the Nile, developing a more centralized society and settled agriculture economy?

2. According to the Approximate Timeline, how early did Africans begin making ships?

3. According to the Approximate Timeline, how early were Africans living in houses with furniture, tableware, pots, dishes, cups, bowls, vases, figurines and combs?

4. What event around 3900 BCE caused a second migration to the Nile Valley?

5. What major events took place during the Protodynastic Period, also called Dynasty 0?

From Early Dynastic Period 

6. What direction did the pharaohs of the First Dynasty move the new capital of ancient Kemet/Egypt?

7. What did ancient Kemet/Egypt come to be known as after its unification?

8. How was the new unified Egypt governed?

9. True or False? The earliest hieroglyphs appear just before this period, though little is known of the spoken language they represent.

10. Who are the first three kings/pharaohs of the First Dynasty of ancient Kemet/Egypt who are believed to be the same person?

11. True or False? Ancient Egypt did not become unified as a cultural and economic domain until after the First Dynasty?

From the Old Kingdom & First Intermediate Period

12. What was the name of the first capital of the Old Kingdom?

13. The Old Kingdom is known today as what?  

14. What Pharaoh is credited for completing the first true pyramid?  What was the name of this pyramid?

15. Who was Sneferu’s son and successor?  What were he, his son and his grandson famous for?

16. What evidence exists that refute the idea that the Pharaohs used slave labor to build the Great pyramids?  What do records from the Fourth Dynasty indicate regarding who was responsible for supplying labor to build the pyramids?

17. What were two of the factors that caused the decline of the Old Kingdom, bringing on Egypt’s First Intermediate Period?

18. Who was Intef?  What is he credited for and what did his line of successors accomplish?

19. Who was responsible for defeating the Heracleopolitan kings from Libya to bring an end to the First Intermediate Period?

From Nile Valley Contributions to Civilization CH 1,2,3

20. When was ancient Kemet created?

21. What was the most impressive discovery unearthed in the city of Qustul, the ancient capital of the Nubian kingdom called Ta-Seti?  What three things did this artifact depict and what do these depictions prove?

22. In what direction does the Nile River flow? How is this significant to the development of ancient Kemet?

23. What is the Medu Netcher?

24. How did astronomy influence the art, science, architecture, religion and philosophy?

25. How did the ancient Egyptians view the universe from a spiritual perspective? What is a Netcher(w)?

26. Why were animals used to represent qualities of the Netcherw? What animal was used to represent the Netcher Anpu (Anubis) and why?

27. Why was the sun the most significantly important symbol in the Nile Valley? Which Netcher(w) were associated with the sun?

28. What are two of the religious references that have emerged from the “Book of the Dead?”

From the Goddess and Concept of Ma’at

29. What does Ma’at represent?

30. How old is the concept Ma’at?

31. What are two of the 42 Laws of Ma’at that are identical to the Ten Commandments?

From The Pyramid Texts

32. What is the popular name for the “Book of Coming Forth By Day?”

33. What was the purpose of the “Book of Coming Forth By Day?”
Learning Tools
User's Guide
Class Evaluation

Unit 1: Class 7: Ancient Kemet (Egypt): Predynastic Period & The Old Kingdom (10,500 B.C. – 2,181 B.C.)

Suggested Vocabulary
Randomly ask students the definition of one of the following words. Then ask them to put the word in a sentence. This is a great exercise for the beginning or end of a class, or if you finish a class early.

papyrus - a material prepared in ancient Egypt from the pithy stem of a water plant, used in sheets throughout the ancient Mediterranean world for writing or painting on and also for making rope, sandals, and boats.

desiccate - remove the moisture from (something, especially food), typically in order to preserve it.

pastoralism - the branch of agriculture concerned with the raising of livestock. It is animal husbandry: the care, tending and use of animals such as camels, goats, cattle, yaks, llamas, and sheep

Social stratification - Social stratification is a term used in the social sciences to describe the relative social position of persons in a given social group, category, geographical region or other social unit. 

infer - deduce or conclude (information) from evidence and reasoning rather than from explicit statements

alchemist - a person who practices alchemy.

metallurgy - the branch of science and technology concerned with the properties of metals and their production and purification.

deities -  a god or goddess (in a polytheistic religion).

arbitrary - based on random choice or personal whim, rather than any reason or system.
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