A Child's Introduction to Egyptology

The Mummies, Pyramids, Pharaohs, Gods, and Goddesses of Ancient Egypt


By Heather Alexander

Illustrated by Sara Mulvanny

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Get ready to go back in time and discover one of history's most fascinating civilizations—Ancient Egypt! This illustrated introduction to Egyptology is packed with stories of pyramids, mummies, pharaohs, gods, and more.
In A Child's Introduction to Egyptology, kids will travel back in time and discover one of history's most fascinating civilizations: Ancient Egypt. Author Heather Alexander leads young readers from the very beginning of the kingdom 4,500 years ago through the reign of Cleopatra in 31 BC. Included throughout are beautifully illustrated profiles of gods and goddesses like Ra, the god of the sun, and Isis, the goddesses of magic, as well as information about scribes, priests, and other notable Egyptians. Kids will learn about the great pharaohs like Ramses II and Nefertiti, how the magnificent Great Pyramid in Giza was built, an in-depth explanation of how Tutankhamun's tomb was found, and even how mummies were made.

This fact-filled book with original illustrations, a removable hieroglyphics poster, and activities like How to Mummify an Apple and Create Your Own Papyrus is perfect for every young, budding Egyptologist.



IN ADDITION TO the desert, ancient Egypt would not have succeeded without the Nile River.


Crops need moist, fertile soil to grow. If crops can’t grow, there’s no food to eat. And if there’s no food, people and animals don’t survive. Egypt is in a huge desert, and sand is terrible for growing crops. So how did ancient Egypt become one of the most important civilizations? What was their secret for survival and success?

The Nile River! Every summer, the Nile overflowed and flooded the nearby land. The dry soil along its banks turned into thick, black mud. This rich soil was excellent for growing crops. These crops provided plenty of food to eat—and there were even leftovers to trade with other civilizations. All this food helped ancient Egypt survive and thrive for so long.


Ancient Egyptians called their country “Kemet,” which meant “black land,” because of the important black soil. They called the desert “Deshret,” which meant “red land.”


Ancient Egyptians didn’t bother naming the river. There was only one river, and it was the center of everyone’s lives. They simply called it “the river.” The name “Nile” came from the Greeks many years later.


Ancient Egyptian farmers divided the year into three seasons based on the Nile River.

• Akhet (June to September)—Nile flooded.

• Peret (October to February)—crops grew.

• Shemu (March to May)—crops were harvested.

They divided each season into four months. Each month had thirty days. Do the math: 30 × 12 = ? You get 360 days. However, the ancient Egyptians were the first to figure out that a year has 365 days (the amount of time it takes the Earth to travel around the sun), so they added five days between Shemu and Akhet and called them “the birthdays of the gods.”


Ancient Egyptians relied upon the river for food, clothing, building materials, supplies, transportation, drinking, and washing.

• Crops, such as wheat, barley, flax, beans, lettuce, turnips, onions, garlic, grapes, figs, dates, plums, pomegranates, and melons, were grown along the river. Flax was used to make linen cloth and rope.

• Fish were caught with nets, hooks, and harpoons.

• Dried river mud was used to make bricks to build houses.

• Tall papyrus reeds grown on the riverbanks were used to make paper, boats, shoes, and baskets.

• The river was used like a water highway, because there were no cars and few roads. Wooden boats carried people and supplies from city to city.

• People and animals drank the river’s fresh water.

• People bathed and washed their clothes in the river.


Many animals lived in and along the Nile River, such as hippopotamuses, crocodiles, snakes, and geese. Ancient Egyptians feared the huge hippo with its wide mouth and sharp teeth. When threatened, it attacked boats and people along the river.


Papyrus reeds were used to make a material that was used like paper. The inner fiber of the reeds was cut into long strips and laid in crisscross layers, one horizontal and one vertical. Then they were smashed down and dried to make scrolls of thick papyrus paper.


RELIGION WAS A huge part of the ancient Egyptians’ lives. They worshipped many different gods and goddesses. There were weather gods, harvest gods, family gods, rising-and-setting-of-the-sun gods, water-flowing-on-the-Nile gods, and hundreds of others. The gods often had the heads of animals, but this didn’t mean the ancient Egyptians worshipped animals. Instead they used certain animal features to symbolize the qualities of the gods.

Did the ancient Egyptians fear their gods?

Not usually. Most were friendly and were viewed with awe and wonder.

Where were the gods and goddesses worshipped?

At home and in temples.

What were the temples for?

Pharaohs built temples to worship the gods. People believed that the gods and goddesses lived inside the temples. Only the pharaoh and priests were allowed inside. Occasionally, common people were invited in for festivals.

What were the two types of temples?

There were “cult” temples that were each dedicated to one god or goddess, and there were mortuary temples that were dedicated to a pharaoh, who was worshipped there as a god when he died.

What was the largest temple?

The Temple of Karnak in Luxor. It’s larger than 150 football fields put together!

What did priests do?

Priests took care of the gods—not the people, the way priests do today. They lived at the temples, and every day it was their job to feed and clothe the statues of the gods. They even bathed them and got them ready for bed! Priests also said special prayers and performed songs and dances for the gods.

What did the priests feed the statues?

The priests “fed” a god statue freshly baked bread, meat, fruit, beer, and wine three times a day. When the god was thought to be done eating, the food was taken away. Priests weren’t allowed to eat anything until the god had finished his or her meal.

Why were priests obsessed with cleanliness?

Ancient Egyptians thought the gods were pure and the human world was dirty. Every day the priests washed the gods’ statues, rubbed them with scented oils, dressed them in fresh linen clothes, put on sparkling gold jewelry, and applied makeup. Priests had to be pure, too. They shaved off all their body hair—even their eyebrows and eyelashes!—and washed themselves twice a day and twice a night.




During the day, Ra sailed across the sky in a boat (symbolizing the sun). When the day ended, he sailed through the Underworld, and the moon lit the world above. In the Underworld, he had to sail his boat through twelve doors, which symbolized the twelve hours of nighttime, and fight off monsters. The next morning he’d return to the sky, victorious and reborn.

The evil giant serpent god Apep was his greatest enemy. Apep symbolized darkness. The gods had to battle him each night so the boat/sun could rise each morning. If Apep won, the weather would be dark and stormy that day.

Later in Egyptian history, Ra was combined with the god Amun and called Amun-Ra.


Osiris was a king who died, so it was believed that pharaohs became Osiris after death.


On Sale
Mar 16, 2021
Page Count
96 pages

Heather Alexander

About the Author

Heather Alexander has written numerous books for children, including previous titles in this series: A Child’s Introduction to Art, A Child’s Introduction to Greek Mythology, A Child’s Introduction to Egyptology, A Child’s Introduction to Norse Mythology, A Child’s Introduction to the World, and A Child’s Introduction to Natural History. She lives in Los Angeles, California.

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