Ancient Egypt Facts for Children and Teachers
The ancient Egypt civilisation is one of the most fascinating in history. How much do you know about the ancient Egyptians? Check out these ancient Egypt facts to find out more!
Who were the Pharaohs?
Pharaohs were the most important people in ancient Egyptian society. Pharaohs were so important that they were considered to be half god and half man. Most pharaohs were men but there were some female pharaohs too, like the famous Cleopatra, and they were the kings and queens of Egypt.
What was mummification?
When people think of ancient Egypt, they often think of mummies. Mummification was a process of embalming that preserved bodies after death. This process, which took 70 days to complete, involved removing all the moisture from a body so that it wouldn’t decay easily.
8 Steps of Mummification:
- Wash and clean the body.
- Pull out the brain through the nose with a hook.
- Remove the intestines, liver, stomach and lungs through a slit in the side of the body and place in canopic jars. The heart is left in.
- Cover the body with a special salt called natron. Leave to dry the body out for 40 days.
- Wash the natron off and stuff the body with sawdust or linen.
- Coat the body with oils and resins.
- Wrap the body in bandages from head to toe.
- Place a mask of the person’s face over the mummy and lay the mummy in a special coffin called a sarcophagus.
The pyramids are one of the most iconic symbols of the ancient Egyptian civilisation. They were built as elaborate tombs for the pharaohs. The pharaoh would be placed in an inner chamber of the pyramid, along with all the jewels, furniture, food and other items he or she would need in the afterlife. The largest pyramid is the Great Pyramid of Giza. It was built around 4,500 years ago and is the tomb of Pharaoh Khufu. It is around 147 metres tall and is estimated that it is built of 2,500,000 stone blocks, each weighing between 2 and 30 tonnes.
Why was the River Nile so important?
The River Nile was crucial to life in ancient Egypt. Much of Egypt is desert land with little or no rain, so people lived near the River Nile in order to have access to water for drinking, washing, cooking and transportation. The Nile also flooded every year which left a thick, black mud called silt when the water receded, which made the land very fertile for farming.
Teachers: If you’re looking for in-depth teaching resources on the River Nile, check out our six-lesson Geography scheme of work.
What did the ancient Egyptians believe?
The ancient Egyptians believed in over 2000 gods and goddesses! They believed that the gods controlled every part of their lives. They had many temples for worshipping these gods, and would give them prayers and offerings. Each god or goddess had control over a particular aspect of their lives. Most deities had the body of a human but the head of an animal.
Famous ancient Egyptian gods and goddesses
- Anubis was the god of embalming
- Amun was the god of the air, sun and sky
- Isis was the goddess of motherhood and children
- Ra was the sun god
- Osiris was the god of the afterlife and the underworld
- Horus was the god of vengeance
- Bastet was the goddess of love and fertility
- Thoth was the god of knowledge and wisdom
- Sekhmet was the goddess of war and healing
- Maat was the goddess of truth and justice
Teachers: download these free Egyptian gods posters for your classroom!
10 fun ancient Egypt facts:
- Both men and women wore make-up in ancient Egypt, particularly black eyeliner which helped protect their eyes from the sun. Green eye make-up and red lips and cheeks were also popular.
- Ancient Egyptians hieroglyphics were only able to be translated after the discovery of the Rosetta Stone in 1799. This stone had writing on in two languages (Egyptian and Greek) in three scripts (hieroglyphics, demotic and Greek). Because there were three scripts, it was finally able to be translated.
- Mummification was an expensive process so most people were buried in pits in the desert.
- Men and women were considered equal in ancient Egyptian society. Women could own, earn, buy, sell and inherit property, just like men.
- Scribes often used a simplified version of hieroglyphics called hieratic – this was much easier and quicker to write than hieroglyphics which was incredibly detailed and complicated.
- Most ancient Egyptians built their houses from mud bricks. They would get mud from the banks of the Nile and pour it into moulds. Once it dried, it was turned out of the mould to dry in the sunshine, which made it hard.
- The ancient Egyptians invented toothpaste. They made up a mixture of ox hoof powder, egg shells, ashes and ground pumice stones to help protect and clean their teeth.
- Pharaoh Pepi II hated flies so much that he poured honey over his slaves so that the flies would be attracted to them instead of him!
- Pets were often mummified and put in the same tomb as their owners.
- Ancient Egyptian workers organised one of the first recorded labour strikes. When Ramses III didn’t pay them their usual amount of grain for building a royal tomb monument, the workers sat down and refused to work until they were given their fair pay.
Teachers: if you’re teaching the ancient Egyptians this term, we have a complete Ancient Egyptians cross-curricular topic which is ready to download and teach!