Monday, November 3, 2014

A People's History of Ancient Egypt

Warm-Up: Afterlife Instruction Manual Project  I'd like to begin today by giving you 10-15 minutes to work on your Afterlife Instruction Manual. This will be your last opportunity this week to work on this project in class. Don't forget that this project will be due this Friday, November 7.

How Ancient Egyptians Lived  With our overwhelming focus on the Egyptian pharaohs, their power and responsibilities, their individual personalities, their grand building projects, and their singular quest for immortality, we unfortunately tend to forget about the lives of the everyday people that made up this civilization. We shouldn't do that and we won't do that. As interesting as the life of Ramses II was, so too were the lives of the people that stood under him in Egypt's social class structure. 

And don't forget, without the labor of the working men and women of ancient Egypt, the pharaoh's power and authority would crumble. Today let's focus on some of their lives. 

Let's begin by reading an excerpt from your textbook below, which examines what life was like for some ordinary Egyptians. 

Think critically. Do you think the description above was representative of the lives of all "ordinary" Egyptians? Do you think all Egyptians were privilege to "festivals and banquets" and "wore eye paint and wigs"? Whose story is being left out? Are we receiving a comprehensive portrait of life in ancient Egypt or just a slice? What responsibility does our textbook have to truthfully tell the story of the lives of all members of Egyptian society?  

Comparing the Life of an Egyptian Nobleman with the Life of an Egyptian Farmer Noticeably absent from the textbook's description of the lives of ordinary Egyptians is a representation of the lives of Egyptian farmers, whose labor the entirety of Egyptian society was built upon. Without the work of farmers, there is not ancient Egypt  

Let's try to remedy that by taking a look at what the lives of Egyptian farmers may have been like and how their lives compare to those members of the wealthier classes. Explore the British Museum's take on life in ancient Egypt here, and then read side-by-side story here, which compares the life of wealthy ancient Egyptian nobleman's family with that of a farming family.  

Homework  Complete your Afterlife Instruction Manual. This project is due on Friday, November 7.

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