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Ancient Egypt - History
By Ekaterina Zhdanova-Redman
  

1     The story of ancient Egypt began about 8,000 years ago, when farmers started to plant crops and raise animals in the Nile Valley. By about 3400 BC the Egyptians were building walled towns, and the country was divided into numerous small states. Soon afterward, the northern part of the country (Lower Egypt) was united with the lands upstream (Upper Egypt) to form one country under a single king.
 
2     Memphis and Thebes were the principal capitals of ancient Egypt. Memphis served as the first capital and the center of the Egyptian government. According to tradition, King Menes founded the city in 3100 BC. Its ruins can now be found 20 kilometers south of Cairo. Menes is traditionally considered to be the founder of the first royal dynasty in ancient Egypt, which ruled the country for about 400 years. During this period, Egyptians developed a national government and began to use writing.
 
3     Egyptians had a very developed system of writing. In fact, the written language ancient Egyptians left behind is what gives modern people the great amount of information to learn about them. Inscriptions providing detailed information about their lives can be found on everything from obelisks to tombs. From about 3100 BC, Egyptians used pictures called hieroglyphs, and originally there were about 1,000 of those symbols.
 
4     Egyptians used different kinds of materials to write on, including fragments of pottery, leather, plastered boards, and papyrus--paper made of a tall reedy plant that grows in the Nile River. The word 'paper' comes from 'papyrus' because it was the world's first convenient writing material. It is thought that only about four out of every 1,000 Egyptians could read or write. Egyptians had professional writers--scribes--who would copy out official records and documents, letters, poems, and stories.
 
5     At the same time, people of ancient Egypt developed a new style of architecture, farmers learned to irrigate their fields, and craftsmen fashioned axes, knives, and other metal tools. The Egyptians also learned to build their ships by lashing and sewing together small pieces of wood. Such ships could transport great columns of stone, weighing up to 350 tons.

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