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.
- The geography and resources of a region help to determine every aspect
of life including language, food, shelter, clothing, and technology.
- Governing systems develop to maintain order and achieve societal goals.
- Economic systems structure choices about how goods, services, and people
are used and distributed.
- The value and belief systems of a society are reflected in every aspect
of life including the social organization, architectures, arts, literature
- The beliefs and actions of individuals in history push the extent of
knowledge and human experience and sometimes lead to unintended results.
- Societies undergo technological and ideological change – both positive
and negative – when they encounter other cultures.
- Modern scientists use written and non-written sources (bones, artifacts,
ruins/remains) are used to form hypotheses of past lives and systems.
- We are able to build on the knowledge and experience of ancient
Unit Objectives (Students
will be able to:)
- create a map that labels the Mediterranean Sea, Red Sea, Nile River and
Delta, areas of Egypt and Nubia, Upper and Lower Egypt (using a blank piece
- explain the northward flow of the Nile and the yearly inundation that
created a fertile valley;
- identify the site of Ancient Nubia and Egypt on maps of contemporary
Africa; this map should include location of Sahara Desert;
- describe the ways in which geography impacted human life, including
measures taken by people to adapt to and change their environment;
- describe elements of Egyptian religious practice (to include polytheism,
mythology, the Afterlife, mummification, pharaoh as god-king) and analyze
the importance of religion in people’s lives
- describe the Egyptian social class structure (pharaoh, merchants, priests,
peasants, enslaved, etc.) and analyze its impact on people’s chances of
“improving” their lives;
- describe the structure of Egyptian government and its impact on most
aspects of people’s lives;
- provide examples of ways in which Egyptians had economic contact with
peoples of the Mediterranean area;
- summarize the achievements of the ancient Egyptians;
- use and analyze a variety of evidence to draw conclusions about life in
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.
Students will take a Vocabulary Quiz (see vocabulary listing at the top of
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:
- Find present-day Egypt and Sudan on a map and relate its location to
Mesopotamia, the civilization just studied.
- 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.
- 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.]
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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;
- 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,
Define and apply economic
concepts learned in earlier grades: natural resources, taxes,
Egypt: An Ancient River Civilization, c. 3000 –
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)
The agricultural system
The invention of a calendar
Monumental architecture and art such as the Pyramids and
Sphinx at Giza
The invention of papyrus
National Social Studies Standards
Additional Past Forward Standards
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