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The Egyptians, who were very concerned about what happens in the afterlife—that is, in a life after death—built vast tombs called pyramids for their kings, the pharaohs. Many of the pyramids are still standing. They represent some of the greatest architectural achievements of human history. Closer to home, a legacy (a gift from the past) of ancient Egypt can be found in many a modern household, thanks to the Egyptians’domestication, or taming, of the house cat. The Egyptians were also one of the first peoples to develop a system of writing, which they called hieroglyphics; and a basic type of “paper,” derived from the papyrus (pronounced puh-PIE-russ) plant.

Pierre de Coubertin establishes modern Olympic Games; first Games held in Athens two years later. : Archaeologists discover first evidence, outside of the Bible, of Hittite civilization in Asia Minor. : British archaeologist Howard Carter discovers tomb of Egyptian pharaoh Tutankhamen. : Dead Sea scrolls discovered in Palestine. : Mycenaean Linear B script deciphered. : Archaeologists discover evidence of volcanic eruption on Greek island of Thera c. C. xlii Ancient Civilizations: Almanac Research and Activity Ideas • Pretend you are a pharaoh who has ordered the building of a pyramid, or a Chinese emperor preparing his tomb.

The morticians first removed most of the corpse’s internal organs. Then they dried the body using a variety of chemicals, most notably natron, a compound much like baking soda that came from the surrounding desert. Usually they would let the body sit in natron crystals for forty days. Next they stuffed the areas of the body from which organs had been removed, using natron, spices, sawdust, or a mixture of these ingredients. Then they sewed up the cuts they had made in the corpse when removing its insides, and rubbed the body with oil.

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