History of Ancient Egypt: Lesson for Kids

Instructor: Jason Brunken

Jason is a certified teacher with a Masters in Educational Technology and over 12 years of classroom teaching experience.

What's more than 3,000 years long and rises out of the African desert? It's the history of ancient Egypt! Few civilizations in world history can boast a history so long and grand that it influences our lives today. Keep reading to learn more.

What is Ancient Egypt?

Have you ever heard of the pyramids of Egypt or the Great Sphinx that has the head of a human and the body of a lion? Ancient Egypt is the civilization responsible for creating these amazing structures. This civilization, which lived along the Nile River, lasted nearly 30 centuries, spanning from about 3,000 B.C. to 300 B.C.

Today, tourists visit the Great Sphinx and Egyptian pyramids for a glimpse of what life was like in ancient Egypt.
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It was such a lengthy and important time in human history that Egyptologists (people who study ancient Egypt) divide ancient Egypt into different periods. Let's explore the history of ancient Egypt by period!

Ancient Egyptian History by Period

Predynastic and Early Dynastic Periods

Ancient Egypt began as a collection of farming villages. Two main groups of people settled along the Nile, farming in the river's fertile flood plains. These two groups formed Upper Egypt and Lower Egypt. We call the years before 3500 B.C. the Predynastic Period. One very important thing happened during the Predynastic Period: the invention of Egyptian writing, known as hieroglyphs.

Ancient Egyptian hieroglyphs were invented during the Predynastic Period, though the writing system would continue to change over the centuries.
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The Predynastic Period ended with the start of the Early Dynastic Period, which was marked by the unification of Egypt--when Upper and Lower Egypt were united under a single king.

Old Kingdom

Around 2650 B.C., the Old Kingdom began, and it lasted about 500 years. This period of Egyptian history is famous because of the pyramids. During the Old Kingdom, pharaohs (Egyptian kings) had massive stone pyramids built to serve as their tombs (a tomb is a vault to be buried after death). The pyramids of Giza and the Great Sphinx, built during this period, are some of the most recognizable shapes in all of world history.

Intermediary Periods

The three kingdoms (Old, Middle, and New) were each followed by a smaller period of time called an Intermediary Period. During these First, Second and Third Intermediary Periods, no single king ruled all of Egypt, usually because of foreign invaders or rival families and kings struggling for control. Each period ended when Egypt was united again.

Middle Kingdom

The Middle Kingdom started around 2050 B.C. and lasted 400 years. During this time, Egypt's capital was moved to Thebes. The capital would move several times over the centuries, but this was a particularly vibrant time in history. The arts flourished, and some of the most famous Egyptian paintings and stories come from this period. Pharaohs of the Middle Kingdom didn't build pyramids--instead, they built impressive temples and monuments to create a complex of structures in Thebes called Karnak. It was also during the Middle Kingdom that the Egyptians conquered the southern region called Nubia.

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