Ancient Egypt has fascinated the world for centuries, and Egypt's arid climate and durable monuments produce a wealth of material for study. Selecting a topic for a term paper discussing ancient Egypt will require narrowing your scope, because the span of time involved and the number of surviving documents and other artifacts make it possible to discuss many aspects of ancient Egypt at length.
Select a Time Period
Ancient Egypt's historical record stretches from 3200 BCE to 30 BCE, and covering the events of that entire period in any substantial detail would require much more space than a term paper allows. The history of ancient Egypt is usually divided into periods of dynastic rule and times during which succession of power is uncertain. The dynastic periods are preceded by the Protodynastic period, when Egypt consisted of independent city-states. The dynastic periods are known as the Early, Old, Middle and New Kingdoms, which were interspersed with three times of disputed succession known as Intermediate Periods. After the Third Intermediate Period, the Late Period marks the end of sovereign Egyptian rule. The Greco-Roman period takes place at the end of Egypt's ancient period.
Ancient Egyptian Governance
Royal authority in ancient Egypt was both secular and sacred, and religious figures often influenced politics. The pharaoh ruled as an earthly representation of the divine, at the top of a hierarchy that included a chief adviser, priests and nobles who served in the judiciary and bureaucracy, and scribes who created and maintained many documents needed to run a cosmopolitan empire. The great ceremony associated with the pharaohs is well-documented, but many records survive detailing the daily life of administrators and the military, as well. Examining the role of the courts or the military in governing ancient Egypt can yield several possibilities for a term paper.
Ancient Egyptian Language
Ancient Egypt is famous for its hieroglyphs on monuments, but Egyptian language changed through antiquity, and other scripts were developed so that business and state affairs could be documented quickly. Ancient Egyptian is part of the Afroasiatic language family, and word roots in Egyptian have parallels with Arabic, Hebrew and other Semitic languages. However, interactions with Hebrew-speaking peoples and later Arab conquests resulted in further contributions of words from those languages into Egyptian. For a term paper on Ancient Egyptian language, you can examine the development of hieratic or demotic scripts, compare them to hieroglyphs, examine the grammar of ancient Egyptian and compare it to modern English or other languages spoken at that time.
Ancient Egyptian Culture and Arts
Ancient Egyptian art is of special interest to artists and art historians, as the manner of depicting people, animals and objects is distinctive. Questions about depicting people or objects can be examined in a term paper contrasting the style of depiction with contemporary or modern styles of art. Cultural and religious values are documented in ancient Egyptian literature and represented in funerary goods. The role of women in ancient Egypt has been a popular topic of study, as ancient Egypt had several women serving as head of state, and non-royal women sometimes had a degree of freedom that was unusual at that time. Because many artifacts of daily life in Egypt have survived, ancient Egyptian fashion, performing arts and even cuisine can furnish several possibilities for term paper topics.