The Nile river is famously known as the longest river in the world, however in Egypt it is known for having fertile soil to grow crops such as wheat, flax, and papyrus. The Nile was vital to Ancient Egyptians because it provides water, food, and transportation in addition to the fertile soil which lines its banks. Secondly, the Nile was extremely important strategically due to the rough cataracts that it has making it difficult to navigate. Today much of the population in Egypt still lives around the Nile river valley.
The Suez Canal was constructed from 1859 to 1869 offering a direct trade route between the Atlantic and Indian oceans through the mediterranean sea separating Africa from Asia. It was constructed during the rule of Sa’id Pasha by Ferdinand de Lesseps. The canal completely changed trade and transportation on the silk road route, now becoming one of the most used shipping lanes in the world. Prior to the construction of the Suez Canal the only significant settlement in the Sinai Peninsula was Suez which only had around 4,000 residents; however, after the addition of the canal the land was greatly developed to now contain some of the most populous cities in Egypt.
Religion plays a large role in many world societies today and Egypt is no different. However Egypt has a much deeper rooted past when it comes to the idea of the religion. Today about 90% of the country is part of the Sunni branch of Islam with an extremly small minority of Sunni muslims and Coptic Christians. The domination of the religion came as a result of the Muslim conquest of Roman Eygpt which was led by Amr ibn al-Aas making Islam the dominant faith in Egypt starting in the 10th century. The religion of Islam in Egypt has led to 4 seperate school of law being set up in Al-Azhar which are now regarded around the world today as the ultimate laws and rulings of Sunni Islam.
Egyptian cuisine is similar to the food of the Eastern Mediterranean such as rice-stuffed vegetables, grape leaves, shawarma, kebab, and kofta. It heavily utilizes various legumes, vegetables, and fruits which can be found in the Nile valley and delta. Much of the food in Egyptian cuisine is vegetarian due to the historically high price of meat as well as the restrictions of the Coptic community, which is interesting because the same is true of Indian cuisine which is extremely vegetarian heavy. For the majority of egyptian cuisine it is based on the region of the country that a person lives in due to the food which grows around them.
Hieroglyphs were one of the ways of writing which was used by the Ancient Egyptians and are considered to be one of the earliest writing systems within human history. Hieroglyphs play a major role today in giving information of Ancient Egyptian times and giving a glimpse into what life was like during the time of Ancient Egyptians detailing their wars, culture, traditions, and ceremonies. Without the hieroglyphs all of the Egyptian culture may have been lost with the countless occupations of other nations and people in Egypt.
Art from Ancient Egypt plays a vital role in upholding the culture within Egypt depicting the ancient deities of Egypt. Art in Ancient Egypt almost always served some sort of purpose for example art that is in the tombs of pharaohs is known to help provide a guide for the soul of the deceased in the afterlife in order to reach the field of reeds in the afterlife. The art also shows the concept of the hierarchies of scale which are present in many depictions of Ramses II as he is portrayed as a giant among men demonstrating his stature within society.
Today in Egypt Arabic is spoken as it is over the rest of the Islamic world, however Arabic was not the spoken language in Egypt until around the 10th century. At first simply Egyptian was spoken which later became Coptic– which is still used in the coptic church today. After this there was a great deal of Greece influence and then Roman influence which ultimately led to the mulsim invasion of Egypt which finally instituted arabic as the language which remains today.
Cleoparta VII was a highly important figure from ancient Egypt known throughout the world today as one of the most powerful women during her time. During her time Cleopatra was painted as a femme fatal by the Roman Empire and the rest of the western world who tried to discount her intellegence and strategically skills by advertising that she was nothing more than a pretty queen who seduced other rulers to get her way. Today she still serves as one of the archetypes for what a femme fatal is in literature.
The Book of the Dead
The Book of the Dead allows for the understanding of Ancient Eegyptian burial traditions and beliefs of the afterlife. The book depicts the perilous journey which souls of the deceased face as they travel through the underworld in an attempt to reach paradise and live a continuation of their life on earth within the presence of the gods. The book at first was only available to the pharaohs but slowly it became commercialized for everyone. One of the most interesting facts related to the book is the ancient Egyptians believed that one’s stature within society was not important to their journey through the afterlife and instead only if a person was a scribe were they guaranteed safe passage to the field of reeds.
Egypt is home to some of the most impressive and breathtaking pieces of architecture in the world. The most famous are the Egyptian pyramids of Giza which were built over hundreds of years. The pyramids are a constant reminder of the rich history of the country. However, the pyramids are not the only impressive pieces of architecture there are also hundreds of temples, palaces, tombs, and fortresses which each have their own distinct style and forms of art which accompany them.
Cairo was founded in 969 CE by the Fatimid Caliphate in their attempt to overthrow the Abbasid caliphate and replace it with their own. Cairo was formerly known as Al-Fustat which was an important center in earlier times. It is famous for being home to the Giza pyramids and being the center of both the political and cultural life within the region. Cairo is also home to Al-Azhar which is the second-oldest institution of higher learning within the Arab world. Today Cairo continues to play an important role as the capital of Egypt as well as the largest city in the Arab world.
The geography of Egypt is why it was a highly sought after area. This is because within Egypt there are many natural barriers which made it difficult to invade. While the Nile allows for fertile soil it also provides its own barriers of a series of cataracts which are extremely dangerous to try to get through. In addition, the majority of Egypt is the arid and barren desert in which almost no one except the nomadic people live. These two reasons alone make Egypt extremely valuable in terms of positioning a military.
America and India
Growing up I have always had an extremely heavy Indian influence culturally. I grew up speaking Telugu at home which is a language spoken in Andhra Pradesh which is where my mom is from in India. I have been raised with all of the Indian traditions such as a saree ceremony, which is similar to a quinceanera. I also spent many summers in India while I was growing up which allowed me to understand the culture even better. I also grew up dancing bollywood and bharatanatyam, which is a form of Indian classical dance, as well as learning carnatic singing which is a specific type of singing in India. All of these experiences allowed me to have a very different outlook than some of my friends which I think is really interesting.
I have been exposed to many different languages growing up whether it is in school or at home. In India while the national language is Hindi more people use English to communicate with others from other states since there are thousands of different dialects within the country that are spoken so going to a different state or even city is like going to another country with its own distinct language, culture, and traditions. English is also used in official parliamentary proceedings. I think speaking multiple languages is extremely important especially in today’s society as it is evolving and changing.
Indian Food plays a huge role in the culture. My family is from southern India and because of that the food we tend to eat is much spicier than the food from the north. The diet is predominantly vegetarian with a little bit of meat primarily because of the caste system which was first set up in India in which only the Brahmins, the highest level of the caste system, could eat meat meaning the majority of the population was vegetarian. Indian food is also very rich in lentils and vegetables based off of where you live. Everyday there are people who come to the house with fresh vegetables, fish, shrimp, and milk that is all from that morning so the diet is very reliant on where you live.
I was raised Hindu and have attended sunday school class for as long as I can remember. My family in India as well as within the United States is extremely involved with religion so much so my paternal grandfather helped to build the temple in Chicago and my maternal grandmother goes on religious retreats every couple months. Hinduism will always be part of my core.
Dancing and Music
Dance is a way for people of all cultures to express themselves through their own styles of dance. Growing up I danced jazz, tap, ballet, bollywood, and bharatnatyam. It allowed me to experience different cultures throughout the music as well as form a sort of bridge between the two sides of me. From dancing is also where my love of music grew from specifically my love of jazz. A person can learn so much about another culture by simply listening to their music since it truly is a universal language.
Within the United States there are various subcultures that make up the American culture based off of the region a person lives in. I was raised in both Georgia and Indiana so I had an interesting mix of culture. I have lived in the United States my entire life so the culture is not necessarily something that I think about often because it is simply something that I live. That being said, the culture in the United States allows for people to be much more open minded and it is also much easier for women to be outspoken and strong in comparison to some other countries.
The United States is known as the melting pot of the world since it is home to hundreds of differing cultures, traditions, religions, and experiences. Everyone in the United States had to have immigrated at some point in their family history which is what contributes to the diverse community and rich culture that we now have. I am extremely appreciative of this because growing up in a place where everyone’s the same would be boring.
Personally as well as on a higher level family is extremely important. This is demonstrated by most holidays within the United States in which families get together to spend time with each other and be thankful for each other. My family will use any excuse to get together so it is not uncommon for me to come home and find 20 other family members randomly in my house. Family is something that I am extremely grateful for because your family helps to shape you to be who you are as a person.
Within the United States Christianity is the dominant religion although there are various different sects within the United States. I went to a christian school growing up and had religion class everyday for almost 12 years so Christianity has also played a large role in my life as well as shaped the country in its views culturally and politically.
9/11 was a defining day for the United States because it completely shifted how people were perceived within the United States. The fall of the twin towers was devastating as the country believed that it was almost invincible in a sense. 9/11 brought swarms of negativity to people based on the color of their skin and their outward appearance. These are effects that are still seen today. As well as fears that are always in the back of my mind because of where I live.
Within the United States sports greatly contributes to the culture. This occurs not only on a national but also an international level. Sports are a way for a country to prove that it is dominant in all aspects of life including being the most fit. Sports such as baseball, basketball, and football are among the most popular in the United States so much so that Sunday is known as the day to go to church and watch football.
The Civil Rights Movement
The Civil Rights Movement was one of the most pivotal events in American history which took place during the 1950s and 1960s in order for people of color to gain equal rights under the law as white americans. While the movement did not end racial injustice it allowed for equality under the law. Without the Civil rights movement there would still be racial segregation within the United States simply based off a factor that one cannot control anymore than the color of their eyes they are born with or whether they are left or right handed.