Lesson  1: Introduction

Visit the site: http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/nova/pyramid/ and give students a brief look at the pyramids.

It is also helpful to have videos outlining the culture and life in Egypt.


Ramses the Great 


Lesson 2 – Making a Sphinx

Story of the Sphinx: http://www.guardians.net/egypt/sphinx/

All sorts of ancient peoples, from the Assyrians to the Greeks, told stories of the sphinx, but the ancient Egyptians probably invented this weird beast. The most famous and largest of all the Egyptian sphinxes is the Great Sphinx near the Pyramid of Pharaoh Khufu at Giza. Huge and powerful, the 4-metre wide face of the Great Sphinx stares across the desert, just as it has for more than 4,500 years. The creature wears a striped cloth on his head. Only the pharaoh was allowed to wear a striped headcloth, so the sphinx, a creature of tremendous strength, stood for the power of the pharaoh. The Egyptians believed that their pharaohs became gods when they died, and it did not seem odd for them to show their king in the form of a weird beast like the sphinx. Some people think the face of the Great Sphinx is that of pharaoh Kephren, who ruled from 2520 to 2494 BC.

ACTIVITY:  Carve a model of the Sphinx. Give each student a piece of floral oasis.  Using a pencil, draw the outline of the sphinx on the block.  Use plastic knives, spoons and toothpicks to carve your sphinx.  Spray the finished carvings with fleck-stone paint to give the impression of stone carvings.  Be sure to wear goggles so that flecks of oasis do not get in the eyes.







Lesson 3 – Pyramids

Between 2630 BC and 1640 BC, Egyptian kings were buried in tombs inside huge pyramids. Stonemasons quarried, shaped, and smoothed blocks of stone. The blocks were then lashed to sleds. These were dragged over wooden rollers, which were kept damp to prevent friction. Mudbrick ramps were used to bring the stones up to where they were needed.


Making Pyramids (printable copy)

Paper diagram to print, cut out, and fold

Lesson 4 – Hieroglyphics

The Egyptians wrote with signs called hieroglyphs instead of letters like ours. They were written in lines straight across or up and down without spaces or punctuation marks such as periods or commas. Many hieroglyphs were a kind of picture of what they represented. For example, a bird would be represented by a picture of a bird or the verb "to answer" would be represented by a man with his hand near his mouth. The discovery of the Rosetta Stone about two hundred years ago (1799) was an extremely important clue for our understanding of hieroglyphs. It is a slab of black granite with the same inscription written in three different scripts: Hieroglyphic, Demotic, and Greek, which helped to translate the hieroglyphs.

Hieroglyphic translator:





Have students create a cartouche (worksheet) with their name written in Hieroglyphics.

Lesson 5 - Social Structure

People usually married within their social group and continued in the same job as their parents. We find people from all social groups represented in Egyptian art. Nobles & Priests, Soldiers, Scribes, Merchants, Artisans, Farmers, and even Slaves & Servants are depicted in sculpture or paintings that illustrate scenes of rituals and everyday life.

In Ancient Egypt there were definite social classes which were dictated by an Egyptian’s profession. This social stratification is like a pyramid. At the bottom of the "Social Pyramid" were soldiers, farmers, and tomb builders, who represented the greatest percent of the Egyptian population. The workers supported the professionals above them, just as the base of the pyramid supports the rest of the structure. Above the workers were skilled craftsmen, such as artists, who used primitive tools to make everything from carts to coffins.

Above the craftsmen were the scribes. The scribes were the only Egyptians who knew how to read and write, and therefore had many types of job opportunity. A scribe's duties ranged from writing letters for townspeople, to recording harvests, to keeping accounts for the Egyptian army. Above these scribes were more scholarly scribes, who had advanced to higher positions such as priests, doctors, and engineers. Priests were devoted to their religious duties in the temples at least three months out of every year, during which time they never left the temple. At other times the worked as judges and teachers.

The medical profession of Ancient Egypt had its own hierarchy. At the top was the chief medical officer of Egypt. Under him were the superintendents and inspectors of physicians, and beneath then were the physicians. Egyptian doctors were very advanced in their knowledge of herbal remedies and surgical techniques. Also part of Egyptian medicine were magic, charms, and spells, which had only psychological effects, if any, on a patient.

Engineers, with their mathematical and architectural knowledge, were responsible for the planning and building of the monuments, temples, and pyramids of Egypt. The architects were not the actual builders, instead they were in charge of the branch of government involved. Then men who did calculations, drew up the plans, surveyed the sites, and supervised the work day were scribes.

Above the priests, doctors, and engineers were the high priests and noblemen whom the pharaoh appointed as his assistants, generals, and administrators, who together formed the government. The vizier was the pharaoh’s closest advisor. Finally, at the top of the social pyramid was the pharaoh. The pharaoh of Egypt was not simply a king and a ruler, but was considered a god on earth 

 Egyptian Social Pyramid - this site gives information about Nobles & Priests, Soldiers, Scribes, Merchants, Artisans, Farmers, and even Slaves & Servants



Villagers (tomb builders, farmers, and the like) lived in cramped villages with narrow streets near the tombs sites or farmlands. The houses they occupied were made of bricks. The bricks were made of mud and chopped straw, molded and dried in the hot Egyptian sun. These dwellings deteriorated after time, and new ones were built right on top of the crumbled material, creating hills called tells. Only buildings that were meant to last forever were made of stone.

The homes themselves were squarish in shape, with a vent on the roof and narrow windows. The front space of hte house was used by the villager for his trade and possibly for keeping some livestock. The living area was shared by the family. There was little furniture save beds and small chests for keeping clothes. The kitchen was at the back of the ouse where there might be an underground cellar for storage. There was no running water and sometimes a single well served an entire town. Egyptian villagers spent most of their time out of doors. They often slept, cooked, and ate atop their houses' flat roofs.

Two examples of actually excavated villages were El-Amarna, and Deir el-Medinah. The workers village at El-Amarna was laid out along straight narrow streets, within an boundary wall. The houses were small, barrack-like dwellings, where animals lived as well as people. Many houses had keyhole-shaped hearths and jars sunk into the floor. There was no well in the village and the water had to be brought from some distance away. Life must have been far more pleasant in the village of Deir el-Medina, home to the workers of the Theban royal tombs. There was a single street with ten houses on either side. The houses in this village had three large rooms, a yard and a kitchen, underground cellars for storage, and niches in the walls for statues of household gods.


The layout of the Egyptian homes of the tomb-builders' town, called Armana


Clearly the living conditions were better in the more well-planned town of Deir el-Medina

Wealthy Egyptian people had spacious estates with comfortable houses. The houses had high ceilings with pillars, barred windows, tiled floors, painted walls, and stair cases leading up to the flat roofs where one could overlook the estate. There would be pools and gardens, servant's quarters, wells, granaries, stables, and a small shrine for worship. The wealthy lived in the countryside or on the outskirts of a town.

The ancient Egyptians, even the wealthy ones, had a very limited assortment of furniture. A low, square stool, the corners of which flared upwards and on top was placed a leather seat or cushion, was the most common type of furnishing. Chairs were rare and they only belonged to the very wealthy. Small tables were made of wood or wicker and had three to four legs. Beds were made of a woven mat placed on wooden framework standing on animal-shaped legs. At one end was a footboard and at the other was a headrest made a curved neckpiece set on top of a short pillar on an oblong base. Lamp stands held lamps of simple bowls of pottery containing oil and a wick. Chests were used to store domestic possessions such as linens, clothing, jewelry, and make-up.


Fashion for men and women, rich or poor, changed very little over the centuries in Ancient Egypt. The clothing worn by men and women was made of linen, and it was very lightweight for the hot climate. All men, from the tomb worker to the pharaoh, wore a kind of kilt or apron that varied in length over the years, from halfway above the knee, to halfway below it. It was tied at the front, folded in at the side, or in two knots at the hips. A sleeved, shirt-like garment also became fashionable. Men were always clean-shaven, they used razors made from bronze to shave their beards and heads. Women wore straight, ankle-length dresses that usually had straps that tied at the neck or behind the shoulders. Some dresses had short sleeves or women wore short robes tied over their shoulders. Later fashions show that the linen was folded in many tiny vertical pleats and fringes were put at the edges. Wealthy people wore sandals made of leather that had straps across the instep and between the first and second toes.

Egyptians adorned themselves with as much jewelry as they could afford. Wealthy people wore broad collars made of gold and precious stones liked together, which fastened at the back of the neck. Pairs of bracelets were worn around the wrist or high on the arm, above the elbow. Rings and anklets were also worn. Women wore large round earrings and put bands around their heads or held their hair in place with ivory and metal hair pins. Ordinary people wore necklaces made of brightly colored pottery beads.

The Egyptians cared about their appearance a great deal. The women spent a lot of time bathing, rubbing oils and perfumes into their skin, and using their many cosmetic implements to apply make-up and style their wigs. Using a highly-polished bronze hand mirror, a woman would apply khol, a black dye kept in a jar or pot, to line her eyes and eyebrows, using an "brush" or "pencil" made of a reed. Men wore this eye make-up as well, which was not only a fashion but also protected against the eye infections which were common in Egypt. They would use a dye called henna to redden their nails and lips. Wigs were worn by men and women. A woman would place a cone made of fat soaked in sweet smelling ointment on her head, which slowly melted over her wig during a warm evening. (ew!)


Egypt's society was typically male-dominated. The word of the man of the house was law, and a wife was in many ways her husband's servant. On the other hand, Egyptian women enjoyed far more rights and privileges than in other lands, modern as well as ancient.

On the down side, Egyptian wives had to share their husbands with other women. Most men could not afford a harem, as the pharaoh could, but had a primary wife and one or more concubines, who were permanently locked into a subordinate position that could leave them helplessly open to humiliation. At banquets wives and husbands were usually seated separately. A husband who was angry with his wife could banish her to her quarters, and could beat her- within limits. An Egyptian woman paid for adultery with her life, even by burning at the stake, while it was no crime at all for a man. The Egyptian portrayal of men was upstanding, heroic, and true, while women were portrayed as frivolous, spiteful, and false.

On the up side, reliefs and pictures show the important role of housewives and that Egyptian husbands were aware that it took two to make a marriage. Some sagely advice to a husband was "Thou shouldst not supervise they wife in her house, when thou knowest she is efficient. Do not say to her: 'Where is it? Fetch it for us!' when she has put it in the most useful place. Let thine eye have regard, while thou art silent, that thou mayest recognize her abilities." In ancient Greece, women were second-class creatures who led lives apart, closed off in a special area of the house. Entertaining, sports, and even casual passing of time were for men only, as in Islamic countries today. In ancient Egypt, husband and wife chatted together, listened to music together, and threw parties together. A wife even went along on her husband's hunting forays to keep him company. Egyptian women shared with men important legal rights that in many other nations were totally denied them. They were allowed to own land, operate businesses, testify in court, and bring actions against men. Egyptian women enjoyed a dimension of freedom greater than any of their counterparts from other places in ancient times.


The Egyptians were very secure in that the Nile valley always yielded enough to feed the country, even when famine was present in other nearby parts of the world. The Egyptian's basic food and drink, bread and beer, were made from the main crops they grew, wheat and barely. There were many types of bread, including pastries and cakes. Since there was no sugar, honey was used as a sweetener by the rich, and poor people used dates and fruit juices. Egyptians liked strong-tasting vegetables such as garlic and onions. They thought these were good for the health. They also ate peas and beans, lettuce, cucumbers, and leeks. Vegetables were often served with an oil and vinegar dressing. Figs, dates, pomegranates and grapes were the only fruits that could be grown in the hot climate. The rich could afford to make wine from their grapes. Ordinary people ate fish and poultry. On special occasions they ate sheep, goat, or pig; but there was little grazing land available so meat was expensive and most people ate it only on festive occasions. Egyptians stored their food in jars and granaries. Fish and meat had to be especially prepared for storage. One method was salting. Another was to hang up the fish in the sun, which baked them dry.

In ordinary families the cooking was done by the housewife, but larger households employed servants to work in the kitchen and a chef - usually a man - to do the cooking. The Egyptians had ovens, and knew how to boil roast, and fry food. There were few kitchen tools: pestles, mortars, and sieves.

Lesson 6 – ART

Art information

Lesson 7 - Making Mummies:

How Mummies were made: http://www.carlos.emory.edu/ODYSSEY/EGYPT/d%26b2.html

The discovery of Tutankhamen’s Tomb http://dsc.discovery.com/convergence/greatpyramid/tuttomb/tuttomb.html


Mummy Maker



Students will create a mummy of themselves and decorate the outside with their image and hieroglyphics.

Making Mummies


Long paper (the height of the students)

Loads of newspaper


1.      Have students trace their body outline on sheet of paper

2.     Have students create a likeness of themselves for their face.

3.     Have students decorate the rest of the mummy



1. Visit the site and become a famous Egyptian Mummy Maker.


2. Read up on King Tut and how he died a youth king. Who do you think killed the young king? Write a paragraph explaining why you think that person killed him.


Unit Project

Egyptian Jeopardy

Using the template, have students create a question and answer game to quiz the world.