Cairo: Living Past, Living Future has been designed to serve as a teaching guide for educators of elementary and middle school children, and to serve as both a teaching guide and primary text material for high school educators and their students.

There are two different teaching units in this lesson.

The first, Historic Cairo is subdivided into eight lessons, each covering a particular phase of Cairo's history. Each lesson is accompanied by photographs that illustrate building, different architectural and artistic styles, and other facets of that era. In addition, the historic lessons include sidebar discussions of other subjects that students may find interesting.

We recognize that familiarizing yourself with centuries of detailed history to present a portrayal of one limited geographic location may not be useful in your classroom. For this reason, the historic Cairo unit has been designed so that each lesson may be used separately or in conjunction with some of the other lessons. It is not necessary to use all eight lessons if they do not fit your educational needs.

You may find it useful to use lessons which complement existing lesson plans. Certain lessons mesh very well with subjects you already teach in the classroom. The chart below will help you to choose the lessons that best fit your specific needs:

Lesson Title

Sidebar Text

Topics Covered


Ancient Cairo
(3000 BCE-200 CE)

Why is "Upper Egypt" south and "Lower Egypt" north?
Who really built the pyramids?

  • The Pharaohs
  • the Pyramids
  • Cleopatra and the Caesars
  • The Story of Isis and Osiris

    Christian Cairo
    (200 - 640 CE)

    Why is Cairo located where it is?
    The Fayyum portraits

  • The arrival of Christianity in Egypt
  • the differences between Coptic Christianity and other forms of Christianity
  • Egypt as a province of the Byzantine and Roman Empires

  • Al-Fustat
    (640 - 868 CE)

    What do Muslims believe?

  • The beginnings of Islam
  • The Islamic conquest of Egypt
  • The relations between the Muslims and the Christians
  • The first Islamic city in Egypt
  • The story of Jesus from the Qur'an

    (868 - 969 CE)

    Why did they keep going north?
    Let's learn about mosques

  • The Abbasid Empire
  • The city of al-Qatta'i
  • The main features and functions of a mosque
  • Al-Qahira
    (969 - 1517 CE)


  • The Fatimids
  • The schism between Sunni and Shi'i Islam
  • The founding of the city of al-Qahira (Cairo)
  • The Sultan al-Hakim
  • The Crusades in Egypt
  • Saladin (Salah al-Din)
  • The rule of Shajarat al-Durr
  • The Mamluks
  • The Golden Age
  • The Mamluk Game (in teacher's notes)

    Ottoman Cairo
    (1517 - 1805)

  • The Ottoman Turks
  • The Mamluks under Ottoman rule
  • The French invasion of Egypt (1798)
  • Napoleon in Egypt

    Muhammad Ali's Cairo
    (1805 - 1882)

  • The rise of Muhammad Ali and the fall of the Mamluks
  • Modernization and industrialization
  • The opening of the Suez Canal
  • The Urabi Rebellion and the European occupation
  • 20th Century Cairo
    (1882 - present)

  • The European occupation
  • The Denshawai incident of 1906
  • The Egyptian response to imperialism
  • Independence in 1952
  • Egypt in the world wars
  • Revolution in 1952
  • The Suez Crisis of 1956
  • The 1967 and 1973 wars

    The second unit covers Modern Cairo. This unit is constructed slightly different from the HIstoric Cairo unit. There is no sidebar text in these lessons, and the lessons are designed to be used as a group rather than individually. This is because the information in each lesson is presented with the assumption that the user will be using all of the lessons in this unit. Using each unit individually will take away from the overall picture that is presented.

    The Modern Cairo unit encompasses the following:

    Lesson name

    Primary subjects

    Introduction to the Modern City

  • The expansion of the physical city since 1900
  • Challenges for the Future

    Discussion of the major challenges facing Cairo, including:

  • overcrowding
  • housing shortages
  • insufficient infrastructure
  • economic problems
  • Islamic fundamentalism
  • the environment
  • Religion and Faith in Modern Cairo

  • The role of religion in Egyptian life
  • Islamic holidays
  • Christian holidays
  • Secular holidays
  • Life in Modern Cairo

  • Where people live
  • Where and how people learn
  • How people get married
  • Traditions of Birth and Death
  • The Rights of Women
  • What People Eat
  • What People do for fun
  • Politics and Economy

  • The Egyptian political system
  • Strengths and weaknesses of the Egyptian economy
  • Each of the lessons contains a teacher's guide that offers some further insights into the material presented, and suggested activities and questions that will help your students make the most out of these materials.

    Each set of teachers notes also includes a chart of standards from both the National Standards for World History as well as the Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills (TEKS) standards for Social Studies. These standards are included in each lesson to help you understand how each lesson will help your students to utilize the information to meet these standards. Many of the standards are addressed directly through the activities and discussion topics.

    Each lesson is also accompanied by a quiz that tests your students' knowledge of the material that they have covered. Some of the quizzes are multiple choice questions, others are short answer questions, matching exercises or crosswords. All are interactive and self-scoring. Hard copies can be printed from the teaching guides and handouts page for classroom distribution. Note that to use the online versions of these exercises, you should be using either Netscape or Internet Explorer versions 4.0 or higher that is javascript enabled. If you are unsure if your browser meets these requirements, click here.

    It is not possible for us to include all of the information about every topic in this unit. Rather than turn this unit into a virtual textbook, it is our intention that students be given a basic framework of knowledge, which they can then augment through activities and research. We do realize that resources are limited, and so therefore, we have created a resources page for you and your students to use that will take you to other sites on the Internet that are appropriate for classroom usage and will assist you in better understanding the topics at hand.

    From here, you may access our Teaching Guides and Handouts, or proceed to the units on Historic Cairo or The Modern City.