Ancient Egypt: Crash Course World History #4


Hi there, my name’s John Green and this is Crash Course: World History, and today we’re going to talk about Egypt. No, not that Egypt.
Older. Older.
Older. Less fictional.
Yes, that one. Ancient Egypt is probably the most influential
of the river valley civilizations. Like you might not recognize any Assyrian Kings or Assyrian language, but you probably do know King Tut. And you may recognize that the Eye of Horus
is right now staring at me and judging me. I can feel, I can feel your judgement. [Theme Music] When we think of Ancient Civilizations, we
think of Egypt. There are a few reasons for this, like the fact that the pyramids are the last man standing among the Seven Ancient Wonders of the World. But more importantly, Ancient Egyptian civilization lasted from 3000 BCE to 332 BCE. That’s a period that historians call a long-ass time. And I will remind you it is not cursing
if I’m talking about donkeys. So there are many approaches to the study
of history. You could view history as a millennial long conversation about philosophy or as clashes
between great men or you can see history through the lens of traditionally neglected populations,
like women or indigenous peoples or slaves. And we’re going to try to take many approaches
to our study of history during Crash Course. Mr. Green, Mr. Green, which approach is right?
I mean, for the test. Oh me-from-the-past. Remember how you spent
all of third year French writing notes back and forth to that girl and she eventually
agreed to go out with you and you did make it to second base but now you can hardly parle
un mot de francais? Historical lenses are like that, my friend: With every
choice, something is gained and something is lost. Right, so in discussing agriculture and early
civilizations, we’ve been approaching history through the lens of resource distribution
and geography. And just as the violent and capricious Tigris
and Euphrates rivers shaped the worldview of early Mesopotamians, the Nile shaped the world
view of the Egyptians. Let’s go to the Thought Bubble. The Nile was regular, navigable, and benign,
making for one of the safest and richest agricultural areas in the world. Each summer the river
flooded the fields at precisely the right time, leaving behind nutrient-rich silt for
planting season. Planting was so easy that Egyptians just tossed
seeds around the silty earth and then let their cattle or pigs walk on it to press the
seeds into the ground, and then boom, grain and figs and wheat and pomegranates and melons
and joy. Unlike most river valley civilizations, Egyptian
communities existed ONLY along the Nile, which was navigable enough to get valuable resources
downstream from timber to gold, which the Egyptians considered the divine metal, thereby introducing
an idea that would eventually culminate in Mr. T. The Nile is also easily tamed. While other
river valley civilizations needed complicated and labor-intensive hydraulic engineering
projects to irrigate crops, the Nile was so chill that Egyptians could use a simple form
of water management called basin irrigation, in which farmers used floodwaters to fill
earthen basins and canals for irrigation. In short, the awesomeness of the Nile meant
Egyptians could create big food surpluses with relatively little work, allowing time
and energy for some pretty impressive projects. Also, the Nile may help explain the ancient
Egypt’s general optimism: While ancient Sumerian religion, for instance,
saw the afterlife as this gloomy, dark place, Egyptians were often buried with things that
were useful and pleasurable to them in life, because the Afterlife was seen as a continuation
of this life, which, at least if you lived along the Nile, wasn’t half-bad. Thanks, Thought Bubble. And now, my dear pupils, I shall terrorize
you with the oppression of dates. No. Dates. Yes. Thank you. Historians have divided Egyptian history into
three broad categories. Each with their own numbered dynasties. But only hardcore Egyptologists
know the dynasties, and we’re not trying to become hardcore Egyptologists. The Old Kingdom lasted from 2649 to 2152; The middle kingdom from 2040 to 1640; And the New Kingdom, so called because it
is only 3,000 years old, lasted from 1550-1070 BCE. In between you have a couple so-called Intermediate
periods. Okay, OLD KINGDOM. This was really the glory age of ancient Egypt,
when we get all the stuff that will later make Indiana Jones possible, like the pyramids at Giza, and the sun king Ra, and the idea of divine kingship. The king, or Pharoh, was either a god or very close to a god. which seems like a good gig, except that it
meant that he wasn’t expected to act like a person, he was expected to act like a god,
which in ancient Egypt means acting like the Nile: calm, cool, benevolent…
There’s no fun it that. And then of course there are the pyramids,
which aside from remaining impressive to behold represent a remarkable degree of political
and social control over the population, because it is not easy to convince people to devote
their lives to building a sarcophagus for someone else. The most famous pyramids were built between
2575 and 2465 BCE. The one with the Sphinx was for Khephren; the largest, the Great Pyramid, was built
for the Pharaoh Khufu. These pyramids were built partly by peasants
who were required by Egyptian law to work for the government a certain number of months
per year, and partly by slaves, but not by Moses and
the Jews, who showed up on the scene long before pyramids were ever even a twinkle in
Khufu’s eye. This leads to an overwhelming question: Why?
Why in the sweet name of Ra would anyone ever build such a thing? Well, let’s start with Ra. So, Ra started
out as a regional god, reigning over Heliopolis, but he eventually became really central to
the entire pantheon of gods of ancient Egypt. He was the god of the sun, but also the god
of creation. And the thinking was that if humans did their
jobs then the pantheon of gods would maintain cosmic order, and since the pharaohs became
gods upon their death, it made sense to please them even unto pyramids. Egyptian popular religion also embraced the
belief in amulets and magic and divination and the belief that certain animals– especially cats—had divine power. And yes, I did bring that up just so I could
lolcat. Old Kingdom Egypt was also remarkably literate: They had two forms of writing, hieroglyphics
for sacred writing and then demotic script for recording contracts and agreements and
other boring stuff. The last thing I want to say about Old Kingdom
Egypt; it was ridiculously rich. But then around 2250 BCE there were a series
of droughts and Pharaohs started fighting over who should have power and we had an intermediate
period. [classic intermission music] Which was followed by the Middle Earth… No, what? The middle kingdom? Ohh. Really?
That’s a bummer, Stan. I want it to be the Middle Earth. How awesome would that be? Like
right in the middle of Egyptian history, there were Hobbits…. So the Middle Kingdom, which apparently had
no Hobbits, restored Pharaonic rule in 2040 BCE but with some distinct changes: First, the rulers were outsiders, from downriver
in Nubia. Second, they fostered a new pantheon of gods, the star of which was Ammun, which
means hidden. So here’s a little lesson from history: Hidden
gods tend to do well because they’re omnipresent. So Ammun eventually merged with Ra to form
the god Ammun-Ra, who was like the best god ever and all the Middle Kingdom pharaohs made temples
for him and devoted all of their surplus to his glory. The Middle Kingdom also developed an interest
in conquering, specifically the new homeland of Nubia, and they developed a side interest
in getting conquered, specifically by Semitic peoples from the Levant. They were able to conquer much of Egypt using
superior military technology like bronze weapons and compound bows, and chariots of fire. What?
They were just regular chariots? STAN WHY ARE YOU ALWATS KILLING MY DREAMS? One group, the Hyksos, were able to conquer
all of Egypt, but rather than like destroying the Egyptian culture, they just relaxed like
the Nile and assimilated into the Egyptians. And the Egyptians adopted their military technology.
And then the Egyptians destroyed the Hyksos and expelled them from Egypt. And then by 1550 BCE there was again an Egyptian
pharaoh, Ahmosis… …whose name only sounds like an STD. Anyway, after all this conquering and being
conquered, Egypt eventually emerged from its geographically imposed isolationism and, can
you cue the New Kingdom Graphic please? There it is! New Kingdom Egypt continued this military
expansion but it looked more like an Empire, particularly when they headed south and took
over land in an attempt to find gold and slaves. Probably the most expansive of the New Kingdom
pharaohs was Hatshepsut, a woman who ruled Egypt for about 22 years. And who expanded Egypt not through military
might, but through trade. But most new kingdom pharaohs being dudes,
focused on military expansion, which brought Egypt into conflicts with the Assyrians who
you’ll remember from last week, And then the Persians, and then Alexander
the Great and finally, the Romans. On the whole, Egypt probably would’ve been
better off enjoying its geographical isolation and not trying to conquer new territory, but
all of Egypt’s friends had jumped off a bridge, so… One last thing about the New Kingdom. There
was this crazy New Kingdom Pharaoh named Akehenaten, who tried to invent a new god for Egypt, Aten. Akehenaten was kind of the Kim Jong Il of
Ancient Egypt, like he had this feared police force and this big cult of personality. And
also he was a nut job. Anyway, after his death he was replaced by
his wife, and then a daughter and than a son, Tutankaten, who turned his back on the weird
god Aten and changed his name to Tutankhamen. And that is about all King Tut did before
he died… …probably around the age of 17. Honestly,
the only reason King Tut is famous is that most Pharaohs had their graves robbed by ancient
people; and King Tut had his grave robbed by 20th century British people. Which brings us to the Open Letter. An Open Letter to King Tut: Oh, but first we gotta find out what Stan
left for me in the Secret Compartment. It’s a pen. AAHHHH!! It’s a shock
pen! Stan?%@# That’s a terrible, terrible gift for the
secret compartment. Dear King Tut, I know that as Pharaohs lives go, yours
was pretty poor. First, you had to marry your sister, which hopefully you weren’t that
psyched about, plus you had a cleft palette and probably scoliosis. Plus you died before really reaching adulthood.
But dude, you have had the best afterlife ever. Since your body was discovered in 1922, you’ve
become probably the most famous ancient person. There have been lots of books about you, scholars
have devoted their lives to you. Dude, we’re so obsessed with you that we
used this fancy new technology to scan your body and establish that you probably died
of an infected broken leg and/or malaria, So you’ve inspired such seminal works of
art as the Discovery Kids series Tutenstein, which my son forces me to watch. Your relics have been to six continents! So
it all works out in the end, man. Well, I mean, you’re still dead. So that’s
kinda sucks. Best wishes,
John Green King Tut leads us nicely to the really crucial
thing about Egyptian culture. Because King Tut lived right around the same
time as the pyramids right? Wrong. Remember the pyramids were built around 2500
BCE during the Old Kingdom. King Tut died in 1322 BCE, 1200 years later! That’s five and a half Americas. But because
Egypt was so similar for so long, it all tends to blend together when we imagine it. Ancient Egypt lasted 1000 years longer than
Christianity has been around, and about 800 years longer than that other super-long lived
civilization, China. So there was an entire culture that lasted
longer than Western Civilization has existed and it had run its course before “the West”
was even born. Next week, we’ll look at the Persians and
the Greeks. I’ll see you then. Crash Course is produced and directed by Stan
Muller; The show is written by Raoul Meyer my high school history teacher and myself;
our script supervisor is Danica Johnson and our graphics team is Thought Bubble. Last week’s phrase of the week was “Male
Models.” You can take your guess at this week’s phrase of the week in Comments and
also suggest future phrases of the week. And if you have any questions about today’s
video, leave them in Comments and our team of semi-professional quasi-historians will
endeavor to answer them as best we can. Thanks for watching and as we say in my hometown:
Don’t forget to be awesome.

100 Replies to “Ancient Egypt: Crash Course World History #4

  1. Osiris is a portrayal of an alien who came down and taught humans agriculture and domestication prove me wrong.

  2. If the Pyramids and Sphinx are in fact dated wrong, and they are from oh say 10000 BC, then the timeline of Egyptian culture is off.

  3. I remember watching this in high s school in history class once a day as we did our bell ringers. I came back because of nostalgia reasons but now I wanna them all

  4. At 5:00, John says that Moses and the Jews showed up long before the pyramids were created. Didn't the pyramids exist long before Moses??

  5. Open letter:

    Dear John,

    You are the best Crash Course presenter. That is not anything against the others, particularly your brother, as they are awesome too, but I really enjoy these videos, how they are presented, and what I learn from them.

    Best Wishes.

  6. But now we know that there's no proof that the pyramids were built as tombs and that they were built by highly prized artisans

  7. Rewatching since leaving highschool, did anyone else hear ge-onk-graphry
    (or how ever it is spelt?) Because if so that was a great pun for the egypt episode

  8. The humor makes it so easy to learn ๐Ÿ˜‚๐Ÿ˜‚๐Ÿ˜‚๐Ÿ˜‚ especially when you love history like me

  9. You should check out a foia cia document called adam and eve, it might shed some light into this subject.
    Also look up osirians, lost civilization

  10. It's been 7 years and we've discovered the pyramids aren't graves for Pharoahs but power generators. We need an updated history crash course! Lol

  11. Ahem….. "The jews showed up on the scene long before the pyramids….." …. sigh: doesn't ANYONE fact check their own stuff on YouTube???? The Hebrews weren't a thing until about 1100 B.C….. the pyramids were like, 1400 years old by then. Sheesh.

  12. See "Ancient Egyptian Art They Don't Show" in my uploads
    (More shocking info in my top pinned comment and replies)

    Sub-Saharan African history in the description or uploads

    Also, African and African American acheivements ( recent and modern) in description

  13. See "Ancient Egyptian Art They Don't Show" in my uploads
    (More shocking info in my top pinned comment and replies)

    Sub-Saharan African history in the description or uploads

    Also, African and African American acheivements ( recent and modern) in description

  14. LMAOOO WANNA BE LESS FICTIONAL??? look up Graham Hancock, John-Anthony West, Randall Carlson, Robert Schoch. This idea of ancient Egypt comes out of outdated models of the past, and most likely Hollywood nonsense.

  15. that arrow was pointing upstream, habibi. Nubia is UP river. Aswan is in Upper Egypt, Cairo and the delta are all down river. because that's how elevation works ^_~

  16. Archaic Period: Dynasties I-II
    Old Kingdom: Dynasties III-VI
    First Intermediate Period: Dynasties VII-IX
    Middle Kingdom: Dynasty X-XIV
    Second Intermediate Period: Dynasties XV-XVII
    New Kingdom: Dynasties XVIII-XXII
    Third Intermediate Period: Dynasties XXIII-XXV
    Late Period: Dynasties XXVI-XXXI
    Greco-Roman Period: Dynasties XXXII-XXXIII

  17. "We, as demigods, must maintain Ma'at and keep our word… therefore, the New Kingdom shall be reformed into the First Mighty Egyptian Empire!" -Ahmose I.

  18. The Demotic script wasn't used in the Old Kingdom, so that's waaayyy off. At that time, they likely had an early form of the Hieratic script… NOT Demotic. The Demotic script was used during the 7th century BCE to the 5th century CE roughly, which is after the New Kingdom during the Third Intermediate Period. It also wasn't only used for contracts, it was used as graffiti and the common writing of the public overall. This meant letters to loved ones as well possibly, and also for mummy stuff (such as mummy wrappings). It wouldn't make sense for a heavily simplified form of hieroglyphics to exist thousands of years before Egypt was even that old…

  19. I honestly haven't really liked history ever but when I actually sat down and listened to this video- it all made sense and made my homework way less of a headache ๐Ÿ™‚

  20. Thanks for reminding me about tutenstein lol I was obssessed with that show as I kid and ive fallen down a nostalgia rabbit hole to find time warp trio (another favorite)

  21. Hey John quick question I can't find the answers for anywhere. Since transportation to different continents didn't exist during this time, did the Egyptians know that Mayans, or any other far away civilizations existed and vica versa?

  22. Can you explain how the Egyptians knew about Pi, and how to do laymen build something like that? Engineers today still can't replicate how this was built and you think it was done by illiterate slaves???

  23. ๐“€…๐“€๐“€„๐“€‚๐“€‡๐“€๐“€ˆ๐“€Œ๐“๐“‰๐“๐“€๐“Š๐“•๐“ข๐“™๐“–๐“ซ๐“ฅ๐“ถ๐“ง๐“‚ƒ๐“ฑ๐“ถ๐“‚œ๐“‚–๐“‚ฆ๐“‚ข๐“‚จ๐“‚ก๐“ƒ‚๐“‚น๐“‚ฟ๐“‚บ๐“‚ผ๐“ƒ…๐“‚ฟ๐“ƒ„๐“‚บ๐“‚บ๐“‚บ๐“„ฟ๐“„ธ๐“„ฝ๐“†ƒ๐“‰๐“๐“”๐“๐“’๐“ฅ๐“ฌ๐“ญ๐“š

  24. Damn this guys comments are very disrespectful, I truly admire ancient Egypt and I donโ€™t think itโ€™s ok to talk about people like that, like your overconfidently know that you are correct in what you are saying.

  25. I'm just watching this for an assignment I have…What happens to Egyptian history because of the length of time it lasted??

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