1. What natural advantages did the Nile Valley have over Mesopotamia as a center for the development of civilization?

  2. Why could Herodotus describe Egypt as "the gift of the Nile"?

  3. Why can the unification of the northern and southern parts of Egypt be described as the "greatest event in ancient Egyptian political history"?

  4. Discuss briefly the nature of the responsibilities of a pharaoh of the Old Kingdom.

  5. What is the evidence that the Old Kingdom, unlike so many ancient states, was a peaceful, nonaggressive community?

  6. Why has the Twelfth Dynasty been referred to as a "golden age"?

  7. "The Hyksos conquest contributed strongly to the rise of Egyptian imperialism and to a decline in the character of Egyptian religion." Discuss this statement.

  8. Describe the evolution of the Egyptian system of writing. In what respects did it advance beyond the Mesopotamian system?

  9. Why was the Egyptian calendar the best in antiquity?

  10. How did the basis of the pharaoh's rule change with the advent of the New Kingdom (Empire)? What were the consequences of this change?

  11. Explain the general popularity of the cult of Osiris during the Middle Kingdom.

  12. How did belief in an afterlife affect Egyptian religious ideas and funeral practices?

  13. How did Amenhotep IV (Akhenaton) try to offset the debasement of religion under the Empire?

  14. Explain the statement that the religion of Amenhotep IV (Akhenaton) was a "qualified monotheism."

  15. To what extent and in what directions were the Egyptians scientific? How do you explain the limitations in their intellectual achievements?

  16. What was the ancient Egyptian view of the origin of diseases? How did this affect medical practices?

  17. Why does limestone occupy a prominent place in the history of the twenty-seventh century B.C.E.?

  18. What special features of the Great Pyramid of Cheops qualified it to rank as one of the "seven wonders of the world"?

  19. The construction of the Egyptian pyramids was extraordinarily difficult, and required tremendous effort. How do you account for their accomplishment if slave labor was not the primary means of organization?

  20. During what period were the great Egyptian temples built? Describe their characteristics.
  21. How did the sculpture of the Egyptians symbolize their national aspirations?

  22. What was the structure of Egyptian society throughout the greater part of its ancient history? What features did Egyptian society have in common with our own and what features were different?

  23. How did the position of women in ancient Egypt differ from that in most other ancient societies?

  24. To what extent was Egyptian art bound by convention? To what extent was it original and individualistic?

  25. How do you account for the remarkable longevity of Egyptian civilization?

  26. In what ways was ancient Egyptian civilization indebted to Nubia?

  27. Describe the rise of Kushitic civilization. Why did this civilization fall?

  28. What were the origins of the Ethiopian civilization? In what respects was the Ethiopian state superior to the Kushite kingdom?

  29. Outline Egypt's legacy to world civilization. Which aspects of this legacy would you say are most visible today?

  1. Compare and contrast the judicial system under the Old Kingdom with that of the United States.

  2. Amenhotep IV (Akhenaton) is generally considered one of the splendid failures in history. Why do you think he failed? To what extent might he be called a success?

  3. In your judgment, in what ways was Egyptian civilization superior and in what ways inferior to Mesopotamian civilization?

  4. Compare the following aspects of the religions of Egypt and Mesopotamia:
    • Ethical concepts.
    • Notions of the afterlife.
    • Views of human nature.

  5. Despite their great accomplishments in mathematics, medicine, and astronomy, the Egyptians were limited by their very way of thinking from carrying any science very far. Discuss the reasons for this.

  6. In the life and world around you, what are the evidences, direct and indirect, of Egyptian achievements?

  7. Geography is sometimes said to be the determining factor in a nation's history. To what extent was this true of ancient Egypt?


W.W. Norton
REVIEW: World Civilizations
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