The Egyptians invented a system of irrigation for land away from the water flowing from the Nile. The canals were dug through fields starting from the river bank. A torrent of rain and silt ran through crevices on the shoreline and continued to flow through the channel. In periods when there was no need for irrigation, the cracks would wobble. A new channel was opened downstream. The entire Nile Valley is irrigated on this principle. That is why agricultural cooperatives have prospered. The rite of digging the canal was introduced by the first King Menes. His heirs continued to maintain it. Before the ceremony, ditches were dug on the landed properties. A smaller layer of soil was left to separate the channels from the river. When the water reached the edge, Pharaoh would throw several shovels of soil out of one canal for water to flow into the canal. Pharaoh would go down the river and perform the same rite on other estates.
Not far from Memphis, King Menes built a large city. He proclaimed it the capital of Egypt. There he gathered his clerks who performed various duties. For example, a list of arable land was established, ie a list of all farmers and their estates. This list was important because the sludge (when pouring the Nile) wiped and covered the boundaries of neighboring estates. Fierce quarrels would then arise among farmers.
King Menes was worshiped by the people of Egypt. Egyptologists believe that he and his subjects encouraged this worship. Already during the rule of Zoser (2900 BC), the Egyptians believed that their Pharaohs were in fact gods descending from heaven to rule them. At the time of Menes, the whole structure of priesthood authority was aimed at creating a worthy respect for Pharaoh among the people.
The wisest and most learned people of Pharaoh were priests. Using skillful speech and writing, the pharaohs would persuade the common man that Pharaoh was a supernatural being.
During the process, the priests also worshiped Pharaoh. Two important deities that the priests emphasized (and which came from a more primitive religion) were Isis and Osiris. Among the other gods, the Egyptians most loved the gods Ra, Osiris and goddess Isis. The legend of the creation of the gods says that the sun god Ra was the first being in the universe. God Ra had four children: Geb, Shu, Tefnat and Nat. The children of Shu and Tefnat pressed Geb when he was a boy and raised Nat (the girl) to heaven.
Geb then became the god of the earth and Nat the goddess of heaven. Legend goes on to say that Geb and Nat had four children: the boys of Osiris and Seth and the girls of Izid and Neptid. Osiris succeeded Geba on the throne. He ruled the holy land wisely with the help of his sister Isis (whom he later married). As Seth was jealous of Osiris, he killed him. He buried the severed parts of his body in various parts of Egypt. He buried Seth’s head in Abidos. Isis was overwhelmed with pain and collected her husband’s body parts. She revived her husband with the help of the god Anubis (though he was not allowed to return to the country). Because of this, he went to the underworld where he became the god of the dead.
Horus (son of Osiris) defeated Seth in the great battle at the end. The god Ra drove Seth into the desert as Horus continued to rule Egypt (instead of his father).
The main Egyptian deity was the Ra-giver of light and life. However, Osiris have been worshiped for centuries, so his tomb in Abidos was the major pilgrimage site.
As Isis was a very important deity in Egyptians her cult united with the cult of goddess Pasht was widespread in the state. The Egyptians believed in the afterlife. They thought that when Pharaoh dies, his soul goes to heaven among other gods. How is this possible if his body is rotting in the soil? The Egyptians found the answer. Pharaohs must embalm as soon as they die. They are lowered into a bulky coffin made of solid material. The creation of the great Egyptian pyramids is explained by the belief in the afterlife.
The first Pharaoh to order a pyramid on the Nile coast (near Sakara) was Zoser. This pyramid is called the step pyramid. Zoser hired the architect Imhotep who was worshiped by many generations of Egyptians for his extraordinary work. The Imhotep Pyramid (60 meters high) is still in existence over 5,000 years after its construction.
There are several other pyramids built in Egypt after Zoser’s reign. The largest is the Great Pyramid of Giza. It was built during the reign of Pharaoh Keops in 2500 BC. This pyramid is 147 meters high. Each side of its rectangular base is 280 meters long. Although it has been ruined for centuries, its proportions are of the same value today. The Cheops pyramid is made of more than 2. 250 000 slabs of cut stone. Each board weighs 2.5 tons. Some of the larger panels over the inner funeral chamber weigh 50 tons.
Many of their objects are buried in these pyramids along with the Pharaohs: chests full of priceless jewelry, fine pottery and richly decorated clothing. After the extinction of the 10th dynasty, groups of thieves invaded some of the pyramids and robbed all their valuables. They left the mummified pharaohs lying in their graves without any jewelry.