Egyptology – Predynastic to the Old Kingdom Period


Meets once a week for 8 weeks
4 – 9 learners, ages 14-18

(Enrollment by invitation only)

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The Ancient Egyptian civilization flourished in the Nile Valley for more than 3,000 years.

Much of our understanding of this culture comes from its writings; from the monumental inscriptions that the Egyptians dedicated to their gods, their kings and their ancestors, and from the architecture and burial remains that they left behind.

This 8-week course will enable students to explore Egyptian history from the Predynastic to the Old Kingdom Period.


Topic 1.1: Introduction and Background to Ancient Egypt

•1.1(1): Introduction to the Course …and Ancient Aliens (JK LOL)

•1.1(2): The Geographical Background

•1.1(3): Dating Ancient Egypt

•1.1(4): The Archaeological Background

•1.1(5): Classical Historians, Medieval Arab Historians, and Early Archaeologists

Topic 1.2: Earliest Egypt

•1.2(1): Predynastic Egypt

•1.2(2): Unification?

•1.2(3): Funerary Customs and Beliefs

•1.2(4): Grave Goods and Funerary Architecture

•1.2(5): Proto-Hieroglyphs (Narmer Palette, Maceheads, and Ivory Labels)

•1.2(6): Predynastic Trade Routes (Levant, Syria, and Mesopotamia)

•1.2(7): The Early Dynastic Period (Dynasties 1-2)

Topic 1.3: The Old Kingdom

•1.3(1): Dynasty 3: The Step Pyramid

•1.3(2): Dynasty 3: The Kings Lists, Monuments, and Chronology

•1.3(3): Dynasty 4: Snefru and the Evolution of the True Pyramid

•1.3(4): Dynasty 4: The Great Pyramids

•1.3(5): Dynasties 5 and 6: Sun Temples and Pyramid Texts

•1.3(6): Women in the Old Kingdom

This course will include required weekly participation in threaded discussions. These assignments are designed to stimulate interest in aspects of ancient Egypt and to help students to sharpen and develop their skills and knowledge. Threaded discussion topics will be posted in the Learner Forum each week for students.

This class aims to:

  • Review the prehistory, history, and archaeology of the period from Predynastic Egypt to the Old Kingdom Period, evaluating evidence from a variety of source materials;
  • Introduce students to the study of museum objects;
  • Introduce students to the use of online resources; and
  • Introduce students to the study of Egyptian hieroglyphs.

This course will help learners grow their understanding of the early history of Egypt and will increase their ability to:

  • Critically consider the use of sources for the study of ancient Egypt;
  • Understand the development and decipherment of hieroglyphs;
  • Analyze the evidence, key figures, events, social organization, religion, funerary beliefs and customs, art, architecture, and literature relating to the period.

Polyhistoria classes emphasize critical thinking, analyzing, evaluating, and creating. We believe that students learn history best by doing what professional historians do.

(Read more about our approach to history.)

Our approach to academics helps learners view traditional disciplines in unconventional ways. With immersive classes that cross disciplines, learners stretch themselves both within and beyond conventional academic pathways, while small classes encourage close collaboration between learners and instructors. Today, Polyhistoria is the only comprehensive online learning platform teaching in-depth, cutting-edge social science scholarship to teenagers.

(Read more about our teaching philosophy.)

Learning is not a spectator sport. Interaction and intellectual exchanges involving all students and the instructor enrich learning for all. Studying history involves an accumulation of knowledge about the past. But it also requires that we communicate that knowledge to others. You must be ready to share your views in class. A worthwhile course depends upon active participation by all students in class discussions.

The goal here is to advance an intelligent conversation from which we all learn. The most obvious way to do that is to say smart things and say them clearly. But that is not the only meaningful way to participate. Asking a question, connecting something already on the table to another thing, clarifying something that someone else has said, and offering evidence from the text under discussion are also all valuable. Bonus points are awarded for contributions that draw on what others have said. Other things to keep in mind: aim for clarity, keep in mind the value of an amicable classroom environment, and try not to monopolize the conversation.

1) Students’ cameras and microphones must be turned on during the class.
2) This class requires the continuous use of logical thinking & hypothetical reasoning skills to critically and creatively analyze the topics covered in the class. These cognitive functions are generally not sufficiently developed until a student is 14+ years old. Students must have the ability to think critically and logically to analyze the topics covered in the class.

1 hour per week in class, and an estimated 1 – 2 hours per week outside of class.

Meets once a week for 8 weeks
4 – 9 learners, ages 14-18

(Enrollment by invitation only)