Culture refers to the cumulative deposit of knowledge, experience, beliefs, values, attitudes, meanings, hierarchies, religion, notions of time, roles, spatial relations, concepts of the universe, and material objects and possessions acquired by a group of people in the course of generations through individual and group striving.
Culture is the systems of knowledge shared by a relatively large group of people.
Culture is communication.
Culture in its broadest sense is cultivated behavior; that is the totality of a person’s learned, accumulated experience which is socially transmitted, or more briefly, behavior through social learning.
The Ancient Egypt
Pyramids and Pharaohs, mummies and magic, picture writing on papyrus-ancient Egypt had all this, and much more. Rich, powerful, and peace-loving, this North African Kingdom was home to a splendid civilization that lasted 3000 years, from about 3300 BC to 30 BC.
RED LAND, BLACK LAND
Ancient Egypt was a vast territory, stretching 700 miles (1100 km) southward from the Mediterranean Sea. Most of it was hot, dry, and dusty. The Egyptians called it Deshret (red land). But the world’s longest river, the Nile, runs through this desert. Every year, the river flooded the surrounding land. The floods left sticky, smelly mud covering the land along the riverbanks. Egyptians called the riverside area Kemet (black land). This land was very fertile. About 5000 BC, the ancient Egyptians built some of the world’s first farms and villages there.
THE GIFT OF THE NILE
Egypt was sometimes called “the gift of the Nile.” All Egyptian life depended on the river. Farmers dug ditches to bring its water to fields of wheat, grapes, and onions. Rich nobles, town traders, and poor country families all built homes made of sun dried river mud. Craftspeople shaped clay from the Nile into pottery, and wove cloth from the flax plant that grew on its bank. Families caught fish and river birds for food. Children played in riverside pools, but they had to watch out for killer crocodiles!
LIFE IN ANCIENT EGYPT
Most ancient Egyptian homes had just two or three rooms, with workspace on the roof. Rich people built larger houses, with painted walls, fine furniture, gardens, and pools. In poor families, women wore rough homemade dresses and men wore clothes tied around the hips. But the rich could afford curled wigs, makeup, colored clothes, and jewels. They had servants and slaves to work for them.
Rich or poor, all Egyptians valued family life. They married young and had many children. Families worked together and played together. Egyptian people liked games, stories, music dancing, and holiday feasts and parades.
The ancient Egyptians believed in magic and many gods. People built little shrines to their favorite gods. They wore amulets (charms), and recited prayers and spells. The most famous is the Great Sphinx of Giza. This huge statue with the body of a lion and the head of a man still stands today.
HIEROGLYPHS AND PAPYRUS
The ancient Egyptians had a complex system of writing known as hieroglyphics. This form of writing looks like columns of little pictures. These picture symbols are called hieroglyphs. Reading and writing was the job of special scholars called scribes.
Scribes wrote in hieroglyphs on papyrus, a kind of paper made from reeds. This was some of the world’s first writing! Pages of poems, songs, stories, maths, science, and astronomy have all been preserved.
Egyptian kings were known as pharaohs. Egyptians said the pharaohs were the children of a god. They were links between heaven and Earth. Pharaohs were the chief priests, lawmakers, and army commanders of the kingdom. They gave orders to governors, judges, tax collectors, and soldiers. They made treaties with foreign rulers and controlled trade with other countries. All Egyptians had to pay taxes to them or work on their building projects.
PYRAMID TOMBS AND MUMMIES
Some of the Pharaohs had great pyramids constructed. A pyramid was an enormous constructed. A pyramid was an enormous stone tomb. Building a pyramid was a tremendous project. Thousands of people worked for many years to construct one. Some of the stone blocks that make up the pyramids weigh more than two elephants!
The ancient Egyptians believed that their bodies must survive for life after death. They had their bodies made into mummies. Mummies were preserved, dried, and wrapped in cloth. Egyptians hoped this would help their spirits survive after they died. Pharoah mummies were placed in pyramids or great tombs surrounded by treasures to be used in the afterlife. Guides to the world of the dead written in hieroglyphs on papyrus have been found with mummies. Most royal mummies, and the treasures buried with them, were stolen by grave robbers long ago.
LASTING REMINDERS OF THE PAST
Egypt’s rich civilization attracted many invaders. But it survived for thousands of years. In 30 BC, Egypt’s last Pharaoh-Queen Cleopatra-killed herself rather than surrender to Roman conquerors. That was 2000 years ago. But ancient Egypt has not been forgotten. Some mummies were so well preserved that they are still around. Some of them are in museums. And many of ancient Egypt’s greatest monuments, including many pyramids, are still standing.
The Great Wall of China
Imagine a huge wall stretching for thousands of miles across the land. The wall winds through hills, climbs mountains, and crosses deserts. If you visit China you can see a wall like this. The longest structure ever built.
The Great Wall of China zigzags across parts of northern China. It was built section by section over centuries. It was built section by section over centuries. In fact, there are many gaps between the sections, so the Great wall is not single, solid wall. But if all the sections are measured, the wall is about 4000 miles (6400 kilometers) long!
WHY WAS THE GREAT WALL BUILT?
Since ancient times, Chinese people have built walls to protect their borders. Some walls were built between parts of China that were fighting each other. other walls protected China from outside invaders.
More than 2000 years ago, the first emperor of China built a long wall to defend the northern border. The emperor, Qin Shihuangdi, thought of connecting older existing walls with sections of a new wall. The wall he built is considered China’s first Great Wall
By the late 1400s, much of the old wall had fallen into ruin. The Ming dynasty, a group that ruled China, decided to build a new wall. The Ming rulers wanted to keep China safe from the Mongols, who had a powerful army. They also wanted to move part of the wall farther south. There it could be built to form a long defensive ring around Beijing, the capital city.
HOW WAS THE GREAT WALL BUILT?
At first, builders used to make the old wall. They packed soil between heavy wood frames. But by the 1500s, the Ming rulers had decided to make parts of the wall much stronger. They ordered their builders to make the wall’s foundation from the granite blocks. The sides were built from stone or brick.
Workers built watchtowers into the wall so that soldiers would see Mongol attackers coming. A soldier who spotted the enemy could use a warning signal, such as a torch, to alert a soldier in the next tower. Such signals could be relayed quickly from one tower to the next.
The wall is biggest and strongest near Beijing. There, the wall is about 25 feet (7.5 meters) high and 30 feet (9 meters) thick. The top of the wall is paved with brick, forming a road. The road is wide enough to hold ten soldiers marching side by side.
Construction on the wall continued until the mid 1600s, when the Ming dynasty was overthrown. By that time, it was the longest structure ever built anywhere on Earth.
THE GREAT WALL TODAY
For centuries, the Great Wall slowly fell apart. Local farmers and villagers used the wall as a source of building materials. Some sections of it were even torn down entirely
In the 1980s, the government of China began to repair the wall. A few sections were completely rebuilt. Today, the Great Wall is one of China’s most popular tourist sites. Historians study the wall to learn about China’s past.