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CONTRIBUTIONS OF EGYPT As one of the world's earliest major and long-lived civilizations, ancient Egypt left a legacy of important

innovations, discoveries, and contributions that have affected humankind over the millennia. The ancient Egyptian religion survived for thousands of years. Over that time, revisions were made to religious texts, the powers of certain gods waxed and waned, some deities were combined, and some even fell completely out of favor. Yet out of that ancient religion survived a basic belief in a good and moral life on earth as a major means of attaining an afterlife, a concept that is reflected in most modern religions. The brief period of religious reform associated with the pharaoh Akhenaton, known today as the Amarna period, introduced the world to a belief in a single god. Akhenaton's doctrines may have been the impetus for the monotheistic religion developed by the Hebrews that surfaced in the Middle East shortly thereafter. It, in turn, gave rise to Christianity. Literacy may have been limited to a small percentage of the population, but the large quantity of written material that survives indicates the importance of the written word to the ancient Egyptians. Their hieroglyphs may well represent humankind's earliest attempt to write. The ancient Egyptians developed the use of writing on papyrus, the product of a native plant of the same name that they processed. Many of their documents were used for teaching purposes, and they produced manuals with model letters for apprentice scribes. Some of the mathematical texts taught the finer points of arithmetic, geometry, and even word problems, and are not unlike modern primers. These and other texts indicate that the ancient Egyptians understood and could add fractions and could even find the area of a trapezoidal pyramid. Without the advanced mathematics they originated, the ancient Egyptians would not have been able to build the pyramids and other large structures. Medical papyri taught physicians how to deal with both internal medicine and surgery, and there were texts devoted to pharmaceutical remedies, dental procedures, and veterinary medicine. These papyri represent some of the earliest known texts on these subjects. Religious texts recorded and preserved the major tenets of Egyptian beliefs. Literary papyri cover a broad range of genres, from epics, love poetry, and wisdom literature (selections from which are the ancestors of some biblical proverbs) to political propaganda, satire, comic stories, and drama (perhaps the first recorded examples). What may have been the world's first fairy tale came from ancient Egypt. Oral communication helped spread the literature, and some myths appeared in later Roman stories. Collections of assorted texts were deposited in early examples of libraries, known as houses of life. The ancient Greeks credited the Egyptians with many early discoveries in the fields of philosophy, art, and science. It is clear also that the Greeks benefited from and were influenced by the achievements of the Egyptians in sculpture and architecture. For example, early Greek statues of youths, called kouroi, are clearly modeled on Egyptian statuary, and Greek fluted columns are undeniably similar to columns constructed in Egypt centuries earlier. The association of certain Greek gods with Egyptian deities underscores the connection between the two civilizations. For example, Imhotep, the ancient Egyptian architect and sage who was

deified (elevated to the rank of a god) long after his death, was associated primarily with medicine in the Hellenistic period and was often identified with Asclepius, the Greek god of medicine. The influence of the ancient Egyptians is even seen today. The obelisk, an architectural feature of many temples, is still used, as can be seen in the Washington Monument in Washington, D.C. Other features of Egyptian architecture, such as the temple pylon, figured relief, and columns, have been used in the last few centuries in the construction of structures such as museums, mausoleums, office buildings, andgovernment buildings. The ancient Egyptians were masters of the arts of stoneworking and metalworking and the production of faience and glass. Their products were used throughout the ancient world. Their understanding of astronomy was very advanced, and this knowledge was passed on to the generations that followed. Based on their observations of the Sun and the stars they developed a calendar. Eventually they produced a version of the zodiac. Ancient Egypt and modern Egypt are separated by a long period of time, a different language, and distinct concepts and beliefs. Nevertheless, scholars have suggested that the roots of some Arabic folktales may stretch back to ancient Egypt. Some modern Egyptian phrases and proverbs may also have originated in the ancient language. Certain ancient religious concepts and imagery survive in the Coptic Church, a Christian church that still exists in Egypt today. These concepts and imagery include the Virgin suckling the infant Jesus, based on ancient Egyptian images of Isis and her son Horus; the crux ansata, a Coptic cross derived from the ankh, the ancient Egyptian word for life; and an association of the four evangelists with the four sons of Horu