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The Standing on the Shoulders of Giants "Teach & Learn" Black History Curriculum​​

Specially designed for Parents, Teachers, Homeschool, or Independent Study, grades 5+

Where Black
History Lives!​

Unit 1: Ancient Africa - The Cradle of Civilization
(200,000 B.C. - 476 A.D.)

Unit 1: Class 15: Ancient Kemet (Egypt): Greco-Roman Period (332 B.C. – 476 A.D. ) 

Learning Objectives
After completing this lesson, students 
will be able to:

  • Compare and contrast the rule of Egypt under the Greeks vs. the Romans.
  • Analyze the ways in which the Greeks and Romans were influenced by Egyptian religion and culture and vice versa.
  • Discuss the role Egypt and Africa played in the early formation of Christianity.
  • Analyze an eyewitness account of a famous historical event. ​
Alexander the Great, the first Macedonian/Greek conquer of ancient Egypt (reign: 332 B.C. - 323 B.C.)
Ptolemy I Soter,  
1st Greek Ruler of Egypt after the death of Alexander the Great (323  – 283 B.C.)


Egypt Under the Greeks and Romans (332 B.C. – 476 A.D.)

Greeks had been coming to Egypt since the 7th century BCE. Even by then, ancient Egypt had experienced over 2,000 years of native rule and three Golden Ages that brought the world its first marvels of architecture, the understanding of math, astronomy, philosophy as well as the development of religion, paper and writing, and government. In essence, by the time the Greeks get to Egypt it's glory had long passed. Yet and still, the Greeks were in awe of what they saw and learned. 

Herodotus was in Egypt in the middle of the 5th century B.C. and claimed that the Greeks were the first foreigners to ever live in Egypt. However, we know that this is untrue. Those from the Levant lived in ancient Egypt for over a thousand years before the Greeks. However, the Greeks were marveled by Egypt and its most prominent philosophers, mathematicians, scientists, and doctors studied there. 

The Greek occupation of Egypt began in 332 with Alexander the Great of Macedonia, who defeated the unwanted Persians. He was received as a liberator by the native population. He respected the ancient religion and culture of the Egyptians and proclaimed himself pharaoh after visiting the oracle of Ammon in 331, who proclaimed him the son of Amun-Re. Alexander used his visit and anointment by the oracle of Ammon to legitimize his position as pharaoh of Egypt. However, Alexander appeared to actual believe that he was the son of Ammon/Zeus toward the end of his life, capturing his deep fascination with ancient Egyptian religion and culture. 

​After the death of Alexander the Great, one of his top companions and generals, Ptolemy I Sotor (Savior) was able to wrestle control of the empire in 323 B.C. and in 305 B.C. declared himself Pharaoh of Egypt. He even had statues of himself constructed in Egyptian style. The last Pharaoh of the Ptolemaic Greek Dynasty was the famed Cleopatra VII.

Was Cleopatra black or white? The question of Cleopatra's "race" is the subject of much speculation among historians. White historians for the most part consider Cleopatra white, or Greek. Some African scholars have claimed that Cleopatra was actually Black. Their evidence is the fact that Cleopatra VII was the only Greek Pharaoh who knew how to read and write Egyptian. Therefore, they assume that her birth mother had to be Egyptian, and thus black. "How else would she would have learned Egyptian," they contend? From my research, I do not believe Cleopatra VII was black or African. I believe she may have had an Egyptian tutor, which may explain how she learned how to read and write Egyptian. Centuries before Alexander the Great and Ptolemy I, Greeks had been migrating and studying in ancient Egypt under the Egyptians. Cleopatra was undoubetedly aware of this and may have sought to learn Egyptian language to gain the secrets to its wisdom. After all, this is where her ancestors received their knowledge. 

Although Cleopatra VII was a wise and famous Queen of Egypt, she was not a part of the original Egyptian Pharaonic Dynasty system that brought us the Great Pyramids. By the time she inherited Egypt, the ancient Egypt that we know, the ancient Egypt of King Tut, had been over for over 1,000 years. 

The Romans conquered the Greeks in 30 B.C. and remained in power until 476 A.D. The Romans, unlike the Greeks, were absentee landlords. They did not live in Egypt. Instead, the used Egypt like a colony. Egypt became the breadbasket for the Roman army, which allowed Rome to conquer the Western Asia. The Romans were cruel rulers and instituted one of the finest tax systems. By the time Rome ruled Egypt, the African pharaohs who had created ancient Kemet (Egypt) were long forgotten and their knowledge was used by the Greeks and Romans and presented as their own. 

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