This site can be used to address the following themes of World History as recommended by the New York State Regents.
1. Trade - Ancient Egypt was centrally located influencing and being influenced by neighboring cultures. Many of Egypt's Pharaohs established trade relations and networks to obtain various items including spices, fruit (trees), cloth and building materials. Hatshepsut's reign is noted for commerce and she authorized many trade expeditions during her reign. The most notable of these expeditions, to Punt, is documented on the walls of Hatshepsut's temple.
2. River Cultures - Ancient Egypt was one of the great early ancient civilizations. The ancient civilizations in the Fertile Crescent are responsible for the foundations of modern society, due to their placement between the Tigris and Euphrates Rivers. For the first time, the regular flooding of these rivers allowed people to create permanent settlements, which relied on food production (rather than gathering) and a steady water source.
3. Building Technology and Architecture - Ancient Egypt is noted for its building capabilities and left behind a legacy of monumental architecture. Hatshepsut undertook a great deal of building; architecture is noted alongside commerce as the focal points of her reign. Most notable of ancient Egyptian architecture are the Great Pyramids. The pyramidal structure, a form seen elsewhere in the world, served as tombs for the royal and elite of ancient Egyptian society, far earlier than Hatshepsut's reign. Built through manual labor, the monumental architecture of ancient Egypt has perplexed scholars for many years and there are many theories on the construction and technology utilized by the ancient Egyptians.
4. Kinship - Human groups exhibit different forms of social organization many placing a great deal of importance on kinship and familial relations to structure the group or society. In ancient Egypt the importance of kinship ties was a prominent factor among the ruling and elite families. Hatshepsut's family and royal lineage is a prime example of the kinship values of ancient Egyptian society. The complex kinship system of ancient Egyptian society also gives insight into patterns of inheritance, the sons in a ruling or elite family were always married to a female in the same bloodline.
5. Taboos - Ancient Egypt did not have an incest taboo, common in many cultures. What are some of the taboos or norms, which define the way we act in society? How have these changed over time and across cultures?
6. Class - Ancient Egyptian society, like many of the early Fertile Crescent civilizations created a system of social stratification. Once communities, became centralized with a ruler and the development of a central government in a city-State, societies were no longer egalitarian. The advent of the city-state led to a ruling and elite class, a class of skilled workers, and a larger class of laborers. This system would later form the basis for Marx' treatise Das Kapital.
7. Slavery - Slavery was common in Ancient Egypt, most notably enslaved were the Jews. Slave labor is thought to have been the main source of labor to construct the monumental architecture seen in Egypt. Thought very different from slavery in this country, this can tie in to the issue of slavery in United States as was taught during American History. Slavery has been an institution in many societies throughout time, though Egyptian slavery was fairly mild comparatively in that slaves could marry, own property and were not required to live with their owner.
8. Gender - Hatshepsut was one of the earliest female political figures. It has been said by scholars that had she been a man her reign would have been remembered as a great one. While Hatshepsut did take on the masculine aspects of the position of Pharaoh such as wearing men's clothing and a false beard, her gender definitely had an impact on her ability to rule her people. The circumstances of her reign and the fact that her successor attempted to erase her from all mention of Egypt's history provides a commentary on how women have been received, accepted and portrayed in history. In ancient Egypt both men and women could inherit family wealth, brother sister marriages kept property intact. Both nobles and farmers practiced this marriage pattern
8. Writing - The Ancient Egyptians are well known for their hieroglyphic writing system. For centuries this system was undecipherable, until Napoleon's conquest of Egypt uncovered the Rosetta Stone which decoded much of this system of writing. The Ancient Egyptians kept detailed records of their economy, history, religion, royals and daily life.
In English this site can be used to explore historical fiction and writing systems. Queen Hatshepsut has been the subject of historical fiction, one adult novel and two children' s books. Historical figures have frequently been used in literary works as writers tell the story of history's famous and not so famous faces. Some historical fiction is rich with detail about the period in which it is written and often takes a great deal of artistic license in its characterization of an historical figure. Students can read historical fiction comparing the historical content with what they have learned in history class. Further students can write stories inspired by and set in historical time periods. Hatshepsut was also the inspiration for a book of poetry by Ruth Whitman. Students can explore history (people, places and events) as an inspiration in world literature. Lastly, as with many ancient civilizations, mythology can also be explored. Hatshepsut's temple is a testament to the importance of mythology in the ancient world as evidenced in the depiction of her divine birth and the tribute to Hathor, Anubis and Osiris through statue and relief.
Hieroglyphics are a system of writing in which ideas and actions are represented by small images. Students might try to create their own hieroglyphic system or create new hieroglyphics for words or ideas that did not exist during the time of Hatshepsut. Also students might consider how this visual way of representing ideas and action differs from our system. What might this difference imply about the values or ideals of Egyptian society.
Connections between this site and science are connections to the life cycle and reliance on the river. For the Ancient Egyptians the life cycle was a key component of their daily activities and beliefs. Their beliefs revolved around the cycle of birth, life, death and rebirth, which equated to creation, degeneration and recreation. Analogies can be made to the life cycles of all living organisms but particularly the caterpillar and butterfly, in which the caterpillar is recreated/reborn as a butterfly. Another connection is the biological aspect of mummification. The art of mummification was complex in that it displayed a great deal of knowledge about both biology and chemistry.
As stated above, the development of Egyptian society relied on proximity to the Nile River. The regular flooding of this river provided soil nutrients which allowed Egyptians to grow food in one place rather than relying on gathering as earlier people's had. At the same time, the river could have a destructive effect. If flooding was too severe or lasted too long, damage to farm fields or settlements could greatly impact Egyptian civilization.
Connections between this site and mathematics are to explore the geometry of the Temple of Hatshepsut and other Ancient Egyptian architecture, particularly the pyramids. Also, explore the Ancient Egyptian mathematical system and the history of mathematics looking at the development of counting systems in ancient civilizations. There are numerous web sites regarding the highly complex counting and mathematical systems of the Egyptians. They used complex algebraic functions and had a system of fractions and percents. Additionally their counting system was a representational system like a hieroglyphic where a curled cow's tail represented the number ten, etc..
Some recommended activities to use with the site are to recreate aspects of Ancient Egyptian culture or technology including scaled models and mummification. Have students build a scaled replica of the Temple of Hatshepsut. Watch the Nova program "this Old Pyramid" which explores theories on how the pyramids were built. Have students hypothesize and debate on how the pyramids were built but hand without the aid of modern machinery. Explore the supposed mystical properties of a pyramid and the alignment of the pyramids with the constellations in the night sky. Explore mummification and Ancient Egyptian burial practices, have the class mummify a small animal.
Explore the Ancient Egyptian writing system of hieroglyphics having students learn to write their names in hieroglyphics.
Some local buildings which relate to themes addressed in this unit and could be used for additional study are:
Brooklyn Museum of Art - The Brooklyn Museum of Art has a world-famous Egyptian collection. It is the second largest collection of Ancient Egyptian art and artifacts outside of the Cairo Museum; the British Museum has the largest collection outside of Egypt. Among the objects in the collection are three statues from the reign of Hatshepsut including a statue of the Queen's architect Senenrnut from Armant. The statue, made of granite, is holding an image of a goddess and a rebus for the throne name of Hatshepsut. There is also a fragment of a painted relief that bears the image of Hatshepsut.
Metropolitan Museum of Art - The museum has artifacts from Hatshepsut's temple as part of their permanent collection and an Egyptian Temple, the Temple of Dendur, has been reconstructed within the museum.
Central Park - Directly behind the Metropolitan Museum in Central Park is Cleopatra's Needle, and obelisk inscribed with Egyptian hieroglyphics.
Some recommended activities to use on a visit to this site are to have the students sketch the objects in the museum collection that are associated with Hatshepsut and Egyptian architecture. This can be part of an ongoing project to create an illustrated timeline of world cultures that highlights architecture and iconography. Also, have students transcribe hieroglyphics on display at the Museum. In ancient civilizations there were very few who could read and write, those who could were often priests and/or highly skilled scribes.
Some other ideas, which could be explored or expanded on having to do with this site, are the ideas of cyclical time and. For the Ancient Egyptians cyclical time was a key component of their life and beliefs. Their beliefs revolved around the life cycle of birth, death and rebirth (as noted in the science section above). This cyclical component also extended to their mythology where the solar creator Ma' at died each evening only to be reborn each morning. The importance of the cycles is also seen in the agricultural history of Egypt. Ancient Egyptian society and its success and development began with their agricultural success. The yearly flooding of the Nile created an incredibly fertile floodplain. This cycle was an integral component of Ancient Egyptian life.
Dorman, Peter F. The Monuments of Senenmut: Problems in Historical Methodology. Kegan Paul International Press, New York 1988.
The selections are 2 brief segments discussing the architecture of Senenmut as exhibited in the Temple of Hatshepsut. The text draws on archaeological and art historical information for this discourse. The included chapters are the author's conclusions regarding the life and career of Senenmut, Hatshepsut's royal architect. Senenmut is an important figure in Hatshepsut's reign and was a noted architect of this period in Ancient Egypt.
Gedge, Pauline. Child of the Morning. Dial Press, New York 1977, pp 160-172
Child of the Morning is a work of historical fiction focusing on Hatshepsut. Gedge uses the historical setting and historical characters to tell a story about the life of Queen Hatshepsut. The selected reading deals with Hatshepsut's coronation as Pharaoh.
Rolka, Gail Meyer. 100 Women Who Shaped History. Bluewood Books, CA 1994 p. 8.
The selected reading is a brief but concise history of Hatshepsut and her accomplishments as Pharaoh.
Tyldesley, Joyce. Daughters of Isis. Penguin Books, London 1994.
A brief history of Hatshepsut that can be copied and provided to students. This brief history was the foundation for Tyldesley's 199 book Hatchepsut The Female Pharaoh.
Tyldesley, Joyce. Hatchepsut The Female Pharaoh. Penguin Books, London 1996.
Tyldesley's book details Hatchepsut's life and history. This scholarly biography combines archaeological and historical evidence to discusses Hatchepsut's political and personal history. The text does not limit itself to Hatchepsut but provides a well-rounded account of the early 18th Dynasty Theban royal family. Tyldesley uses surviving texts and fragmentary monuments and some (educated) speculation to recreate this vivid account of Hatchepsut.
Wells, Evelyn Hatshepsut. Doubleday & Company 1969.
The selected reading is the first chapter or a sometime dry biographical account of Hatshepsut. Since the writing of this account a great deal of evidence has been uncovered that has changed the previous viewpoints on Hatshepsut, her life and her reign. The selected chapter does not detail the biographical details but introduces the reader to Hatshepsut through the statuary remains of her Temple, some of which are on display at the Metropolitan Museum of Art and the Cairo Museum.
Whitman, Ruth. Hatshepsut Speak To Me. Wayne State University Press, Detroit, 1992.
Whitman's book is a collection of poems inspired by Hatshepsut. The poems are set up as a dialogue with Whitman speaking to Hatshepsut in poetic form and Hatshepsut's responses. Through the poems Whitman tells a story of Ancient Egypt and of Hatshepsut herself. At the same time the reader learns something about Whitman herself. A few selected poems are included.
Temple of Queen Hatshepsut
Excellent site maintain by the British Museum to accompany their exhibit. The British Museum has one of the best Egyptian collections in the world. The site provides information on all aspects of Ancient Egyptian life and multimedia activities. There is also information on mummification and the Ancient Egyptian numbering/mathematical system.
Ancient Egyptian Heiroglyphics
This site contains general information about Egyptian hieroglyphics including a hieroglyphic tutor and information on hieroglyphic links to mathematics. The site also contains general information about Ancient Egyptian life and culture.
This site contains a history and floorplan of the temples at Deir el-Bahari. There are physical descriptions of the layout as well.
The Mortuary Temple of Hatshepsut at Deir El Bahri
Virtual Tour of the temple of Harshepsut
Hatshepsut: The Queen Who Would Be King
Site devoted to the story of Hatshepsut. Includes poetry dedicated to her.
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