Chubra - Do you want to know what is in the sarcophagus?

Old Kingdom l Middle Kingdom l New Kingdom l Ptolemaic Period l Roman Period

Civilization began in Egypt around 3100 B.C. along the course of the Nile River. Originally divided into two parts, Upper and Lower Egypt, an early, somewhat legendary king, Menes united the two into one civilization. Culturally, Egypt was isolated from the rest of the ancient world by deserts, mountains, and seas. This isolation resulted in the development of a unique and dynamic culture. Ancient Egyptian history is divided up into three main periods, the Old, Middle, and New Kingdoms.

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Old Kingdom



This stela depicts a king known as Narmer, wearing the crown of Upper Egypt. Some archeologists believe that Narmer may have been the legendary king Menes.



The pyramids were built during the Old Kingdom as eternal tombs for the pharoahs, who were believed to be gods. The first known pyramid was the Step Pyramid (pictured above). It was built by the royal architect, Imhotep, for the pharoah Zoser. Egyptian tombs were typically built on the western side of the Nile River, the direction of the setting sun, symbolizing death.

Take a virtual tour of the Step Pyramid

Click here for a clickable map of the Step Pyramid.



The "Bent-Pyramid" of Snefru. Half-way through the building process, royal architects detected instabilitiy within the structure. They continued building this pyramid at a lesser angle, creating a monument that appears to hesitate on its rise to the sky.


The great pyramids were built for three mighty pharaohs. The largest pyramid was built for the pharaoh Khufu. It took approximately 100,000 workers over 26 years to construct this architectural marvel. The Great Pyramid is made up of 2.3 million blocks, weighing 2-3 tons a piece. The Sphinx stands as a silent sentinel, keeping watch over the giant structures.


The sun setting behind the Great Pyramid.

View satellite imagery of the Great Pyramid complex

Take QTVR tours of important Egyptian sites!


The funerary boat pictured above was found in a burial pit just outside the Great Pyramid. It was intended to transport Khufu from this life to the afterlife.


The statue above depicts Khafre, the pharaoh of the second largest pyramid. It is believed that the face of the Sphinx is actually that of Khafre.


This Egyptian painting depicts Ra, the sun-god, carrying the solar disk across the sky in the "Boat of Millions of Years". The baboon often represented the god of the moon, wisdom, and scribes, Thoth.

Middle Kingdom

The Middle Kingdom came after a time of disorder and invasion. It was known for advances in writing, art, and architecture.


Papyrus reeds



Egyptian scribes wrote on sheets of papyrus. Reeds of this plant were cut into thin slices and pressed together into a light weight writing material. The word "paper" actually stems from "papyrus".

Write your name in Hieroglyphics!


The discovery of the Rosetta Stone in 1799 by French troops allowed researchers to decode the mystery of hieroglyphics. The Rosetta Stone had the same message written Hieroglyphics, Demotic, and Greek.

New Kingdom

The New Kingdom followed a period of foreign domination by a people group from Asia, known as the Hyksos. The New Kingdom was an age of empire and powerful dynasties.


This sphinx bears the face of a powerful pharaoh, Amenophis II.

10 Karnak

11 Luxor

The temples of Amon-Re at Karnak and Luxor were
important religious centers during the New Kingdom.


This painting shows the pharaoh Akhenaton basking in the rays of the solar-disk. Akhenaton was an unusual pharaoh, for he established the worship of only one god, Aton, a sun-deity. This angered the priests of Amon-Re and other gods.


Nefertiti was the famous wife of the pharaoh Akhenaton.


Tutankhamen, the now famous Egyptian pharaoh, was a descendant of Akhenaton. He restored the worship of the old gods, most importantly, Amon-Re. He died at a young age. His was the most complete tomb ever discovered. Archeologist, Howard Carter, made the find in 1922, amid a media uproar about a legendary curse.


Tutankhamen was buried in several coffins. This coffin was made of gold, estimated by some to be worth over $14 million.


Throne of Tutankhamen depicting a moment between
the young Tutankhamen and his wife.


A famous statue from Tutankhamen's tomb. Possibly
a guide for the passageway to the afterlife.


One of the most exciting discoveries from this
tomb was the death mask of Tutankhamen.


This picture shows just a portion of the wealth
that was found within "King Tut's" tomb.


Many tiny statuettes were found within Egyptian tombs. These statues are known as shabtis. The Egyptians believed that these statues would act as servants to the deceased in the afterlife.


The inside of the tombs of wealthy Egyptians were
colorfully painted with scenes from the afterlife.

Click here to learn more about the tomb of Senneferi.


This painting shows the goddess of magic and fertility with her son Horus, the hawk-headed god of pharaohs and the sky.


Many of the New Kingdom pharaohs were buried in the Valley of the Kings instead of pyramids. The pyramids of the Old Kingdom pharaohs were highly visible targets for tomb robbers.


New Kingdom pharaohs build huge obelisks to immortalize their names.


This is the temple of Hatshepsut, a powerful
female pharaoh of the New Kingdom.


Probably the most powerful pharaoh of this time period was Ramses II. He is believed to have been the ruler of Egypt during the Hebrew Exodus. This is a picture of an 80 ton statue of Ramses.


This mighty structure was erected in Abu Simbel near the southern border of the Egyptian empire. It depicts Ramses the Great sitting with other Egyptian gods. It was intended to warn the Nubians of Egyptian might.


This is the mummy of Ramses II. The Egyptians mummified their dead, believing that preservation of the body was essential for experiencing the afterlife.


The internal organs of the mummy were stored in canopic jars. Each canopic jar had the head of a deity gracing the lid to protect the organ from evil. The sons of the sky-god Horus were usually assigned this duty.

Click here to unwrap a mummy.

Ptolemaic Period

After the New Kingdom, Egypt came under the control of Alexander the Great, who established a line of rulers known as Ptolemy.


The temple of Kom Obo was erected during this period. It was dedicated to the gods, Sobek, the crocodile-god, and Haroeris, a hawk-headed god.


The ancient Greeks believed that the two colossi above were statues of two Greek heroes from the epic, the Illiad. They are known as the Colossi of Memnon. At certain times, the wind blows through cracks in the statues, which results in a crying sound.

Roman Period

Eventually the Romans came to dominate Egypt. The romance between Julius Caesar and Cleopatra became legendary. The Romans adopted many Egyptian customs, including mummification.


Face-plate from a Roman mummy.

Check out SeaWorld's Egyptian Fun Page with
activities to print out and color.

Click Here to see Quick Time movies of important Egyptian sites.

Play an ancient Egyptian game called Senet!
(Requires Shockwave plug-in.)


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