Ancient Egypt was a vast territory, stretching 700 miles (1,100 kilometers) southward from the Mediterranean Sea. Most of it was hot, dry, and dusty. The Egyptians called it Deshret (red land). But the world’s longest river, the Nile, runs through this desert. Every year, the river flooded the surrounding land. The floods left sticky, smelly mud covering the land along the riverbanks. Egyptians called the riverside area Kemet (black land). This land was very fertile. About 5000 bc, the ancient Egyptians built some of the world’s first farms and villages there.
Most ancient Egyptian homes had just two or three rooms, with workspace on the roof. Rich people built larger houses, with painted walls, fine furniture, gardens, and pools. In poor families, women wore rough homemade dresses and men wore cloths tied around the hips. But the rich could afford curled wigs, makeup, colored clothes, and jewels. They had servants and slaves to work for them.
Rich or poor, all Egyptians valued family life. They married young and had many children. Families worked together and played together. Egyptian people liked games, stories, music, dancing, and holiday feasts and parades.
The ancient Egyptians had a complex system of writing known as hieroglyphics. This form of writing looks like columns of little pictures. These picture-symbols are called hieroglyphs. Not everyone could read hieroglyphs. Reading and writing was the job of special scholars called scribes.
The ancient Egyptians believed in magic and many gods. People built little shrines to their favorite gods. They wore amulets (charms), and recited prayers and spells. They also built statues representing gods. The most famous is the...