Ancient Egypt





Authentic Assessment

Real Life Connections





Massachusetts Curriculum Frameworks

National Standards

Past Forward Standards



Unit Summary

In this unit, students will learn about the geography, government, religion, social structure and achievements of people living in Ancient Egypt. Students will complete maps of ancient and modern Egypt and construct a timeline, using BC/BCE and AD/CE. Students will consider the kinds of evidence that present-day scientists use in order to better understand about peoples of the past. In particular, students will have many opportunities to study Egyptian art, sculpture and architecture – in order to better understand how Ancient Egyptians lived and what was important to them. For a product assessment, students will create Egyptian- like artwork that reflects what they know of life in Ancient Egypt. There should also be a geography assessment, a vocabulary assessment and a general knowledge assessment.

Essential Understanding




Unit Objectives (Students will be able to:)

In addition, students will know:





Reading and Writing Skills





Authentic Assessments and Performance Tasks

Performance Task: Tomb Paintings as Evidence

Students will create a visual. In poster, postcard, or children’s book format, students will create pictographs to display a variety of 6 – 10 scenes of Egyptian life. Each scene will be accompanied by a one-paragraph description of the scene and its relevance to Egyptian life.

Other assessments:

Students will take a Vocabulary Quiz (see vocabulary listing at the top of this document).

Students will take a Geography Map Quiz in which they identify elements of Ancient Egyptian geography on a blank piece of paper, by drawing the Nile River and Valley and labeling accordingly.

Students will take a unit test on Ancient Egypt with multiple choice, short answer questions. Emphasis should be placed on students’ ability to describe Egyptian contributions and advances.




Real Life Connections and Demonstrations

Learning Experiences Planned:

  1. Find present-day Egypt and Sudan on a map and relate its location to Mesopotamia, the civilization just studied.
  2. Provide LOTS of images of Ancient Egyptian life and ask students to interpret (1) what is happening in the image and (2) what sort of image it is [painting, sculpture, building, etc.]. This can be done as whole class or in small discussion groups.
  3. Have students create several maps: ancient and modern. On ancient maps students should locate (but not be limited to): Nile River and delta; Mediterranean and Red Seas; Nubia; Upper and Lower Egypt; cataracts along the river; some shading indicating that only three miles on each side of river is arable and livable (Nile Valley). On modern maps students should locate (but not be limited to): Egypt, Alexandria, Thebes, Cairo, Mediterranean Sea, Red Sea, Suez Canal, Saudi Arabia, Israel, Nile River, Sudan. [Textbook pages 186-189 will be useful.]
  4. Compare Egypt and Mesopotamia with respect to availability of water. Have students postulate how Egyptians could obtain enough water for a civilization of people to survive. Discuss the inundation once a year, the narrow but fertile valley on both sides of the river, and the use of large cisterns in the desert for storing water.
  5. Have students create a timeline. Since this will be a year-long activity in which all civilizations are entered on a timeline, students should begin by making an accurate scaled line and place both Mesopotamia and Egypt on the line. Since individual events are not useful to include, the timeline will show the extent of time over which the ancient civilization was at its zenith. You will have to teach how to make a scaled and accurate timeline.
  6. Review the concept of polytheism. Provide images of various Egyptian gods/goddesses and read the story of Isis and Osiris (pps. 206-209 in textbook). Text suggests a Reader’s Theatre activity of the story. Discuss the power of gods over aspects of Egyptian life and the notion of everlasting life. Students will want to know about mummifying and pyramids; both topics can be handled in short order keeping the idea that they were elements of the religious tradition that were used with royalty only. For extension student research, students can find out more about how pyramids were constructed, specific pyramids like Zoser’s or Cheops’, canopic jars, amulets and scarabs, trip to the Afterlife.
  7. Discuss examples of social class as evident in our society today: what is meant by social class; what classes we usually refer to; how social class is determined in our society; how fair/unfair such determinations are; what characterizes one social class as opposed to another. Using pp. 197-198 in text, discuss the social structure of Egypt and the lack of fluidity between one class and the other. Have students construct a pyramid to show the classes in Egyptian society.
  8. Review the Mesopotamian use of pictographs for written language and discuss the lack of sophistication in that sort of writing. Direct students to various images of hieroglyphics and ask them to compare to Mesopotamian writing. Review need for written language and its mark of a civilization. Include, here, a discussion of scribes, papyrus and inks that were the mark of early Egyptian writing. For extension student research, students can research Champollion and his task to decipher hieroglyphics.
  9. Discuss government of Ancient Egypt with the following emphasis: the perceived power of the pharaoh-god and the connection of government to religion; the need for strong centralized government t control projects such as irrigation and temple-building; the organization of the government; dynasties.
  10. Discuss achievements of Ancient Egyptians.




Upper Egypt, Lower Egypt, Nile, delta, dynasty, pharaoh, cataract, afterlife, mummy, hieroglyphics, pyramid, Valley of the Kings, Isis, Ra, Osiris, tribute, access, Tut, papyrus, Imhotep, Ramses II, Khufu/Cheops, Akhenaten, Nubia




Massachusetts Curriculum Frameworks

Students should be able to apply concepts and skills learned in previous grades.
  • Compare information shown on modern and historical maps of the same region.

  • Use correctly the words of abbreviations for identifying time periods or dates in historical narratives (AD/CE, BC/BCE, era, millennium, etc.). Identify in BC/BCE dates the higher number as indicating the older year (that is 3000 BC/BCE is earlier then 200 BC/BCE)

  • Construct and interpret timelines of events and civilizations studied.

  • Identify multiple causes and effects when explaining historical events.

  • Describe ways of interpreting archaeological evidence from societies leaving no written records or ones that are difficult to read.

  • Define and use correctly words and terms relating to government such as dynasty, kingdom, empire, military.

  • Define and apply economic concepts learned in earlier grades: natural resources, taxes, trade.

Egypt: An Ancient River Civilization, c. 3000 – 1200 BC/BCE

Building on knowledge from previous years, students should be able to:

7.12 On a historical map of the Mediterranean region, locate the Mediterranean and Red Seas, the Nile River and Delta, and the areas of ancient Nubia and Egypt. Identify the locations of ancient Upper and Lower Egypt and explain what the terms mean. On a modern map, identify the modern countries of Egypt and Sudan. (G)

7.13 Describe the kinds of evidence used by archaeologists and historians to draw conclusions about the social and economic characteristics of ancient Nubia (the Kingdom of Kush) and their relationship to the social and economic characteristics of ancient Egypt. (H, G)

7.14 Describe the role of the pharaoh as god/king, the concept of dynasties, the importance of at least one Egyptian ruler, the relationship of pharaohs to peasants, and the role of slaves in ancient Egypt. (H, C)

7.15 Describe the polytheistic religion of ancient Egypt with respect to beliefs about death, the afterlife, mummification, and the roles of different deities. (H)

7.16 Summarize important achievements of Egyptian civilization. (H)

A. The agricultural system

B. The invention of a calendar

C. Monumental architecture and art such as the Pyramids and Sphinx at Giza

D. Hieroglyphic writing

E. The invention of papyrus




National Social Studies Standards




Additional Past Forward Standards








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