Predynastic Egyptian mastabas

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This house has more than one room

This house has more than one room (Louvre Museum, Paris)

In the earliest days of the kingdom of Egypt, about 4000-3500 BC, Egypt was still divided into the two countries of Upper Egypt and Lower Egypt. Even so long ago, most people already lived in houses built out of mud-brick, as they would throughout Egyptian history, and as many people in Egypt still do today.

Early mastaba tomb at Giza, Egypt

Early mastaba tomb at Giza, Egypt

This was so long ago that Egyptian architects couldn’t really build anything much more complicated than a house yet. The only other thing they built (that we know about) was tombs called mastabas. A mastaba was a small, low stone building to put a dead person in. So it was like a house for the dead.

Egypt’s dry climate naturally preserved dead people’s bodies as mummies, and naturally Egyptians thought that if people’s bodies were going to stick around after death, they’d need houses to live in. That’s what a mastaba is.

Learn by doing: The Afterlife
Find out about the Pyramids
More about Predynastic Egypt

Bibliography and further reading about Egyptian architecture:

pyramidpyramidegypt art

Pyramid, by David Macaulay (1982). His architectural drawings are great, and his explanations are simple and clear. Easy reading.

Eyewitness: Pyramid, by James Putnam (2000). Easy reading. Good photographs.

The Art and Architecture of Ancient Egypt (Yale University Press Pelican History of Art), by William Stevenson Smith and William Kelly Simpson (revised edition 1999). Standard college textbook.

More on the Old Kingdom in Egypt
And more Egyptian Architecture
More about Ancient Egypt
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By | 2017-06-13T08:25:08+00:00 June 13th, 2017|Africa, Architecture, Egypt|0 Comments
Cite this page: Carr, K.E. Predynastic Egyptian mastabas. Quatr.us Study Guides, June 13, 2017. Web. December 11, 2017.

About the Author:

Karen Carr

Karen Carr is Associate Professor Emerita, Department of History, Portland State University. She holds a doctorate in Classical Art and Archaeology from the University of Michigan. Follow her on Instagram, Pinterest, or Twitter, or buy her book, Vandals to Visigoths.

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