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Ancient Egypt
7 years ago
Egypt Daily Life
Steve Martin as King Tut You may already know about several people who lived in ancient Egypt . . .
King Tutankhamen (Tut for short) is famous for the riches found in his tomb. Or Cleopatra , the ambitious queen who ruled Egypt, is known for her tragic death. These two people were pharaohs - the most important and powerful people in Egyptian society. The Pharaoh . . . Ancient Egyptians believed that the pharaoh was a god. The pharaoh communicated with the gods for the Egyptian people by performing special rituals and ceremonies in the temples. The Social Pyramid . . . The pharaoh was at the top of a social pyramid that looked something like this: People usually married within their social group and continued in the same job as their parents. We find people from all social groups represented in Egyptian art.

     Please stay tuned for the next installment.....

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Nobles

The man in this relief (below left) is Maya

, the "Overseer of the Royal Treasurer" under three Egyptian pharaohs, including King Tutankhamen. Maya's job was to make sure that taxes were collected and to supervise the preparation of the king's tomb in the Valley of the Kings.

We can tell that Maya is important because he wears a fancy pleated kilt and apron. He must have done a good job because the two gold necklaces that he wears were probably a gift from the pharaoh.

Priests

Because the pharaoh could not perform ceremonies at all the temples throughout Egypt, he appointed high priests to carry out the sacred rituals at each temple. Priests often passed down their positions from father to son. They enjoyed great power and wealth in Egyptian society.

This picture of a priest is a detail (above right) from "The Book of the Dead." Priests were often represented bald, as we see here, because they had to shave their heads to ensure cleanliness.

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Soldiers
The Egyptian army was well organized and included infantry and chariot troops. The infantry, or foot soldiers, carried spears, shields, and battle axes. The chariot troops were archers and shot arrows from the platform of the chariot. During peace time, soldiers worked on government projects such as digging irrigation canals for farming, or transporting stone for the king's tomb. soldiers

Scribes

Scribes were highly valued members of Egyptian society. They studied for many years to learn to read and write. Scribes had great opportunities as accountants, priests, doctors, and government officials of all sorts. One scribe, Horemhab


, even became pharaoh!

Merchants

Egypt was one of the wealthiest countries in the ancient world. Egyptian merchants (actually, they were more like traders) carried products such as gold, papyrus made into writing paper or twisted into rope, linen cloth, and jewelry to other countries. In exchange, they brought back cedar and ebony wood, elephant tusks, panther skins, giraffe tails for fly whisks, and animals such as baboons and lions for the temples or palaces.

Artisans

The Egyptian objects that we see in museums today were created by anonymous artists employed by the pharaoh, the government, or temples. Artists worked in large workshops rather than in individual studios as they often do today. Carpentry, metalwork, jewelry making, pottery, sculpture, wall painting, glass making, and weaving are some of the crafts they practiced.

Farmers

Peasant farmers worked lands belonging to the pharaoh, the government, a temple, or a rich landowner. Their pay barely covered their living expenses. In addition to plowing, planting, and harvesting, they maintained the irrigation canals that brought water to their fields and were required to work on the pharaoh's tomb construction project each year.

Slaves & Servants

The lowest class of Egyptian society, these workers were often foreigners. They worked in the household or in the fields. Slaves could be bought and sold like property. People could also sell themselves into slavery and buy themselves out of it.



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Pharaoh in Ancient Egypt pharaoh

Egyptian society had a social hierarchy, with the pharaoh at the very top. The pharaoh was the political, religious, and economic leader of the Egyptians.

The pharaoh had absolute political power. He made commands that became the law of the land. He was the final judge for appeals of judgments against individuals. In addition, he was the supreme commander for the military.

Religiously, the pharaoh was believed to be a god. He was considered a son of Ra or the incarnation of Horus, son of Orsirus. The pyramids were built to insure the pharaoh’s ability to reign in the afterlife. He not only controlled the Egyptians’ mortal lives, but he also helped them in the afterlife. These religious beliefs gave the pharaoh great power over his subjects.

Economically, the pharaoh was again the key figure in Egypt. He in theory owned all the land, people, and possessions. The pharaoh directly controled the vast majority of the land, and it was managed by royal officials. A small portion of the land was personally owned by nobles. Other lands were set aside for temples. The pharaoh collected a large amount of taxes that he used for large government projects such as building pyramids and temples. These taxes also supported the wages of skilled workers, scribes, artisans, and military personnel, as well as financing large projects done by peasants during times of flood.

MEDICINE IN EGYPT

Historically, many Egyptologists focused primarily on the very visible aspects of ancient Egyptian society, such as the pyramids, much to the bain of those interested in more than just monumental architecture. From the beginning of the scholarly study of Egypt's past there have been few scholars who recognized the importance of the process of disease and health on a population. With the turn of the century, new archaeological discoveries, increased knowledge of Egyptian language and writing, and the advent of more sophisticated medical techniques, new life was breathed into the study of disease and health in the ancient Nile Valley. It was this period that saw the academic study of Egyptian disease segregated into three distinct categories.

The first is the study of medical Papyri. Early on it was recognized that the textual material of the Dynastic Period pertaining to the recognition and treatment of disease was extremely important for understanding both the state of health as well as the concept of disease in ancient Egypt. The second is the study of the artistic representation of disease in the Nile Valley. The Egyptian's predilection to portrayl life in a relatively realistic manner offers an excellent opportunity for the study of disease. The third, and perhaps most obvious, is the study of human remains, both skeletal and soft tissue, of ancient Egyptians. With the advent of increasingly sophisticated medical techniques at the beginning of the 20th century, as well as those complex medical techniques in use today, the analysis of Egypt's veritable wealth of human remains provided a tremendous boost to the study of the state of disease and health in the ancient Nile Valley.

Medical Papyri

The Edwin Smith Papyrus

The Edwin Smith Surgical Papyrus is, without a doubt, one if the most important documents pertaining to medicine in the ancient Nile Valley. Placed on sale by Mustafa Agha in 1862, the papyrus was purchased by Edwin Smith. An American residing in Cairo, Smith has been described as an adventurer, a money lender, and a dealer of antiquities.(Dawson and Uphill: 1972). Smith has also been reputed as advising upon, and even practicing, the forgery of antiquities.(Nunn 1996:26) Whatever his personal composition, it is to his credit that he immediately recognized the text for what it was and later carried out a tentative translation. Upon his death in 1906, his daughter donated the papyrus in its entirety to the New York Historical Society. The papyrus now resides in the collections of the New York Academy of Sciences.

In 1930, James Henry Breasted, director of the Oriental Institute at the University of Chicago, published the papyri with facsimile, transcription, English translation, commentary, and introduction. The volume was accompanied by medical notes prepared by Dr. Arno B. Luckhardt. To date, the Breasted translation is the only one if its kind.


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The Edwin Smith papyrus is second in length only to the Ebers papyrus, comprising seventeen pages (377 lines) on the recto and five pages (92 lines) on the verso. Both the recto and the verso are written with the same hand in a style of Middle Egyptian dating.



The Ebers Papyrus

Like the Edwin Smith Papyrus, the Ebers Papyrus was purchased in Luxor by Edwin Smith in 1862. It is unclear from whom the papyrus was purchased, but it was said to have been found between the legs of a mummy in the Assassif district of the Theben necropolis.

The papyrus remained in the collection of Edwin Smith until at least 1869 when there appeared, in the catalog of an antiquities dealer, and advertisement for "a large medical papyrus in the possession of Edwin Smith, an American farmer of Luxor."(Breasted 1930) The Papyrus was purchased in 1872 by the Egyptologist George Ebers, for who it is named. In 1875, Ebers published a facsimile with an English-Latin vocabulary and introduction.

The Ebers Papyrus comprises 110 pages, and is by far the most lengthy of the medical papyri. It is dated by a passage on the verso to the 9th year of the reign of Amenhotep I (c. 1534 B.C.E.), a date which is close to the extant copy of the Edwin Smith Papyrus. However, one portion of the papyrus suggests a much earlier origin. Paragraph 856a states that : "the book of driving wekhedu from all the limbs of a man was found in writings under the two feet of Anubis in Letopolis and was brought to the majesty of the king of Upper and Lower Egypt Den."(Nunn 1996: 31) The reference to the Lower Egyptian Den is a historic anachronism which suggesting an origin closer to the First Dynasty (c. 3000 B.C.E.)

Unlike the Edwin Smith Papyrus, the Ebers Papyrus consists of a collection of a myriad of different medical texts in a rather haphazard order, a fact which explains the presence of the above mentioned excerpt. The structure of the papyrus is organized by paragraph, each of which are arranged into blocks addressing specific medical ailments.

Paragraphs 1-3 contain magical spells designed to protect from supernatural intervention on diagnosis and treatment. They are immediately followed by a large section on diseases of the stomach (khet), with a concentration on intestinal parasites in paragraphs 50-85.(Bryan 1930:50) Skin diseases, with the remedies prescribed placed in the three categories of irritative, exfoliative, and ulcerative, are featured in paragraphs 90-95 and 104-118. Diseases of the anus, included in a section of the digestive section, are covered in paragraphs 132-164.(Ibid. 50) Up to paragraph 187, the papyrus follows a relatively standardized format of listing prescriptions which are to relieve medical ailments. However, the diseases themselves are often more difficult to translate. Sometimes they take the form of recognizable symptoms such as an obstruction, but often may be a specific disease term such as wekhedu or aaa, the meaning of both of which remain quite obscure.

Paragraphs 188-207 comprise "the book of the stomach," and show a marked change in style to something which is closer to the Edwin Smith Papyrus.(Ibid.: 32) Only paragraph 188 has a title, though all of the paragraphs include the phrase: "if you examine a man with a…," a characteristic which denotes its similarity to the Edwin Smith Papyrus. From this point, a declaration of the diagnosis, but no prognosis. After paragraph 207, the text reverts to its original style, with a short treatise on the heart (Paragraphs 208-241).

Paragraphs 242-247 contains remedies which are reputed to have been made and used personally by various gods. Only in paragraph 247, contained within the above mentioned section and relating to Isis' creation of a remedy for an illness in Ra's head, is a specific diagnosis mentioned. (Bryan 1930:45)

The following section continues with diseases of the head, but without reference to use of remedies by the gods. Paragraph 250 continues a famous passage concerning the treatment of migraines. The sequence is interrupted in paragraph 251 with the focus placed on a drug rather than an illness. Most likely an extract from pharmacopoeia, the paragraph begins: "Knowledge of what is made from degem (most likely a ricinous plant yielding a form of castor oil), as something found in ancient writings and as something useful to man."(Nunn 1996: 33)


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Paragraphs 261-283 are concerned with the regular flow of urine and are followed by remedies "to cause the heart to receive bread."(Bryan 1930:80). Paragraphs 305-335 contain remedies for various forms of coughs as well as the genew disease.

The remainder of the text goes on to discuss medical conditions concerning hair (paragraphs 437-476), traumatic injuries such as burns and flesh wounds (paragraphs 482-529), and diseases of the extremities such as toes, fingers, and legs. Paragraphs 627-696 are concerned with the relaxation or strengthening of the metu. The exact meaning of metu is confusing and could be alternatively translated as either mean hollow vessels or muscles tissue.(Ibid.:52) The papyrus continues by featuring diseases of the tongue (paragraphs 697-704), dermatological conditions (paragraphs 708-721), dental conditions (paragraphs 739-750), diseases of the ear, nose, and throat (paragraphs 761-781), and gynecological conditions (paragraphs 783-839)

Kahun Gynecological Papyrus

The Kahun Papyrus was discovered by Flinders Petrie in April of 1889 at the Fayum site of Lahun. The town itself flourished during the Middle Kingdom, principally under the reign of Amenenhat II and his immediate successor. The papyrus is dated to this period by a note on the recto which states the date as being the 29th year of the reign of Amenenhat III (c. 1825 B.C.E.). The text was published in facsimile, with hieroglyphic transcription and translation into English, by Griffith in 1898, and is now housed in the University College London.

The gynecological text can be divided into thirty-four paragraphs, of which the first seventeen have a common format.(Nunn 1996: 34) The first seventeen start with a title and are followed by a brief description of the symptoms, usually, though not always, having to do with the reproductive organs.

The second section begins on the third page, and comprises eight paragraphs which, because of both the state of the extant copy and the language, are almost unintelligible. Despite this, there are several paragraphs that have a sufficiently clear level of language as well as being intact which can be understood. Paragraph 19 is concerned with the recognition of who will give birth; paragraph 20 is concerned with the fumigation procedure which causes conception to occur; and paragraphs 20-22 are concerned with contraception. Among those materials prescribed for contraception are crocodile dung, 45ml of honey, and sour milk.(Ibid:35)

The third section (paragraphs 26-32) is concerned with the testing for pregnancy. Other methods include the placing of an onion bulb deep in the patients flesh, with the positive outcome being determined by the odor appearing to the patients nose.

The fourth and final section contains two paragraphs which do not fall into any of the previous categories. The first prescribes treatment for toothaches during pregnancy. The second describes what appears to be a fistula between bladder and vagina with incontinence of urine "in an irksome place."(Ibid. 35)

The Investigation of Disease Patterns Through Human Remains and Artistic Representations

Parasitic Diseases

Schistosomiasis (bilharziasis)

Of the three main species of the platyhelminth worm Schistosoma, the most important for Egypt are S. mansoni and S. haematobium. There is a complex life cycle alternating between two hosts, humans and the fresh water snail of the genus Bulinus. The infection is caught by humans who come into contact with the free swimming worm which the snail releases in the water. The worm penetrates the intact skin and enters the veins of the human host. The main symptom of the presence of the parasite is haematuria which results in serious anemia, loss of appetite, urinary infection, and loss of resistance to other diseases. There may also be interference with liver functions.

One of the finest archaeological examples for the existence of schistosomiasis in ancient Egypt was the discovery of calcified ova in the unembalmed 21st Dynasty mummy of Nakht. Upon medical examination, the mummy not only exhibited a preserved tapeworm, but also ova of the Schistosoma haematobium and displayed changes in the liver resulting from a schistosomal infection.(Millat et al. 1980:79)


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Bacterial and Viral Infections

Tuberculosis (Mycobacterium tuberculosis)

Ruffer (1910) reported the presence of tuberculosis of the spine in Nesparehan, a priest of Amun of the 21st Dynasty. This shows the typical features of Pott's disease with collapse of thoracic vertebra, producing the angular kyphosis (hump-back). A well known complication of Pott's disease is the tuberculous suppuration moving downward under the psoas major muscle, towards the right iliac fossa, forming a very large psoas abscess.(Nunn 1996:64)

Ruffer's report has remained the best authenticated case of spinal tuberculosis from ancient Egypt. All known possible cases, ranging from the Predynastic to 21st Dynasty were reviewed by Morse, Brockwell, and Ucko (1964) as well as by Buikstra, Baker, and Cook.(1993) These included Predynastic specimens collected at Naqada by Petrie and Quibell in 1895 as well as nine Nubian Specimens from the Royal College of Surgeons of England. Both reviewers were in agreement that there was very little doubt that tuberculosis was the cause of pathology in most, but not all, cases. In some cases, it was not possible to exclude compression fractures, osteomyelitis, or bone cysts as causes of death.

The numerous artistic representation of hump-backed individuals are provocative but not conclusive. The three earliest examples are undoubtedly of Predynastic origin. The first is a ceramic figurine reported to have been found by Bedu in the Aswan district. It represents an emaciated human with angular kyphosis of the thoracic spine crouching in a clay vessel.(Schrumph-Pierron 1933) The second possible Predynastic representation with spinal deformity indicative of tuberculosis is a small standing ivory likeness of a human with arms down at the sides of the body bent at the elbows. The head is modeled with facial features carefully indicated. The figure is shown with a protrusion of the back and on the chest.(Morse 1967: 261) The last Predynastic example is a wooden statue contained within the Brussels Museum. Described as a bearded male with intricate facial features, the figure has a large rounded hunch-back and an angular projection of the sternum.(Jonckheere 1948: 25)

As well, there are several historic Egyptian representations which indicate the possibility of tuberculosis deformity. One of the most suggestive, located in and Old Kingdom 4th Dynasty tomb, is of a bas relief serving girl who exhibits localized angular kyphosis. A second provocative example has its origin in the Middle Kingdom. A tomb painting at Beni Hasan, the representation shows a gardener with a localized angular deformity of the cervical-thoracic spine.(Morse 1967: 263)

Poliomyelitis

A viral infection of the anterior horn cells of the spinal chord, the presence of poliomyelitis can only be detected in those who survive its acute stage. Mitchell (Sandison 1980:32) noted the shortening of the left leg, which he interpreted as poliomyelitis, in the an early Egyptian mummy from Deshasheh. The club foot of the Pharaoh Siptah as well as deformities in the 12th Dynasty mummy of Khnumu-Nekht are probably the most attributable cases of poliomyelitis.

An 18th or 19th Dynasty funerary staele shows the doorkeeper Roma with a grossly wasted and shortened leg accompanied by an equinus deformity of the foot. The exact nature of this deformity, however, is debated in the medical community. Some favor the view that this is a case of poliomyelitis contracted in childhood before the completion of skeletal growth. The equinus deformity, then, would be a compensation allowing Roma to walk on the shortened leg. Alternatively, the deformity could be the result of a specific variety of club foot with a secondary wasting and shortening of the leg.(Nunn 1996: 77)


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Deformities

Dwarfism

Dasen (1993) lists 207 known representations of dwarfism. Of the types described, the majority are achondroplastic, a form resulting in a head and trunk of normal size with shortened limbs. The statue of Seneb is perhaps the most classic example. A tomb statue of the dwarf Seneb and his family, all of normal size, goes a long way to indicate that dwarfs were accepted members in Egyptian society. Other examples called attention to by Ruffer (1911) include the 5th Dynasty statuette of Chnoum-hotep from Saqqara, a Predynastic drawing of the "dwarf Zer" from Abydos, and a 5th Dynasty drawing of a dwarf from the tomb of Deshasheh.

Skeletal evidence, while not supporting the social status of dwarfs in Egyptian society, does corroborate the presence of the deformity. Jones (Brothwell 1967:432) described a fragmentary Predynastic skeleton from the cemetery at Badari with a normal shaped cranium both in size in shape. In contrast to this, however, the radii and ulna are short and robust, a characteristic of achondroplasia. A second case outlined by Jones (Ibid.:432) consisted of a Predynastic femur and tibia, both with typical short shafts and relatively large articular ends.

Ancient Egypt: Ancient Egyptian Medicine

The people of Ancient Egypt made several major medical discoveries and began treating diseases in a physical manner alongside older spiritual cures. Though much of the advancement in medical knowledge and practice was a side effect of religious ceremonies the effect on public health and knowledge of the human body was tremendous. Fuelled by a desire to enter the afterlife Egyptian knowledge of the workings of the body encompassed new areas of medicine ranging from a basic understanding of anatomy to the introduction of some surgical skills. The links below take you to pages outlining developments in medicine and medical practices in Ancient Egypt

Geography and Agriculture

loweregypt.gif (31617 bytes)The geography of Egypt is deeply important in understanding why the Egyptians centered their lives around the Nile. Both before and during the use of canal irrigation in Egypt, the Nile Valley could be separated into two parts, the River Basin or the flat alluvial (or black land soil), and the Red Land or red desert land. The River basin of the Nile was in sharp contrast to the rest of the land of Egypt and was rich with wild life and water fowl, depending on the waxing and waning cycles of the Nile. In contrast, the red desert was a flat dry area which was devoid of most life and water, regardless of any seasonal cycle.

The Nile in it's natural state goes through periods of inundation and relinquishment. The inundation of the Nile-a slightly unpredictable event- was the time of greatest fertility for Egypt. As the banks rose, the water would fill the man-made canals and canal basins and would water the crops for the coming year. However, if the inundation was even twenty inches above or below normal, it could have massive consequences upon the Egyptian agricultural economy. Even with this variability, the Egyptians were able to easily grow tree crops and vegetable gardens in the lower part of the Nile Valley, while at higher elevations, usually near levees, the Nile Valley was sparsely planted.
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Agricultural crops were not the mainstay of the ancient Egyptian diet. Rather, the Nile supplied a constant influx of fish which were cultivated year around. In addition to fish, water fowl and cattle were also kept by the Egyptians. Flocks of geese were raised from the earliest times and supplied eggs, meat and fat. However, the domestic fowl didn't make its appearance until Ramesside times, and then in only very isolated places. The Egyptian farmers, in their early experimental phase, also tried to domesticate other animals such as hyenas, gazelles and cranes but gave up after the Old Kingdom. Cattle were also part of the staple diet of the Egyptians, suggesting that grazing land was available for the Egyptians during the times when the Nile receded. However, during the inundation, cattle were brought to the higher levels of the flood plain area and were often fed the grains harvested from the previous year.

The Egyptian diet was by no means limited to tree crops and vegetables, nor was it limited to an animal or fish diet. The Egyptians cultivated barley, emmer wheat, beans, chickpeas, flax, and other types of vegetables. In addition, the cultivation of grains was not entirely for consumption. One of the most prized products of the Nile and of Egyptian agriculture was oil. Oil was customarily used as a payment to workmen employed by the state, and depending on the type, was highly prized. The most common oil (kiki) was obtained from the castor oil plant. Sesame oil from the New Kingdom was also cultivated and was highly prized during the later Hellenistic Period.


Ancient Egyptian Farming and Tools

Ancient Egyptians believed that after death a judge would ask them three questions before admitting them to eternal life. They would have to swear that they had not murdered, robbed, or built a dam during their time on earth. This does not mean that the Egyptians were opposed to irrigation. On the contrary, they did everything they could to take advantage of Egypt's limited water supply. That's why no individual was allowed to build a dam; the government strictly regulated every drop of water.

The very first Egyptian farmers waited for the natural overflow of the Nile to water their crops. However, as early as 5000 BCE they had begun to figure out ways to control the great river. In doing this, they invented the world�s first irrigation systems. They began by digging canals to direct the Nile flood water to distant fields. (One of the first official positions in the Egyptian government was that of �Canal Digger�.) Later, they constructed reservoirs to contain and save the water for use during the dry season. The first reservoir in Egypt, and the first in the world, was at Fayum, a low-lying area of the desert. During flood season the Fayum became a lake.  The Egyptians built about 20 miles of dikes around Fayum.  When the gates in the dikes were opened, the water flowed through canals and irrigated the fields. The tops of the dams were leveled and used as roads. During the flood season the dams were broken so that the river could pour into the canals.

The ancient farmers also invented a device for moving water from the canal to the fields. Some crops had to be watered continually and since the 16th century BCE the Shaduf came into use. This was a long pole balanced on a horizontal wooden beam. At one end of the pole was a weight and on the other was a bucket. The weight made it easier to raise less than three liters of water for irrigation or drinking.

Some historians believed that the Egyptians were also the first people to use a plow. Early tomb paintings show a bow-shaped stick that was dragged along the ground. Later, human beings were harnessed to the plow. One wall painting showed four people pulling and one directing the tool. By 2000 BCE, the oxen had taken over the heavy work. The harness was first slipped over the animal�s horn; eventually a neck collar was invented that did not interfere with the animal�s breathing.


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Hoeing was another way of loosening the soil. Because the handles of the hoes were very short (a feature of these tools even in southern countries), this was backbreaking work. The sower walked ahead of the team, a two-handled woven basket tied around his neck, his hands free for sowing. The plough covered the seeds with earth. Driving hogs or sheep over the field might serve the same purpose. Herodotus once said,

�It is certain however that now they gather in fruit from the earth with less labor than any other men and also with less than the other Egyptians; for they have no labor in breaking up furrows with a plough nor in the hoeing nor in any other of those labors which other men have about a crop; but when the river has come up of itself and watered their fields and after watering has left them again, then each man sows his own field and turns into it swine, and when he has trodden the seed into the ground by means of the swine, after that he waits for the harvest, and when he has threshed the corn by means of the swine, then he gathered it in� (Herodotus, histories 11).

Harvest time was a time of intense labor. People worked from sunrise to sunset, taking occasional breaks for drinking and eating. If they were working for somebody else, an overseer would see to it they did not dawdle. The payment for the harvest season�s work was generally the amount of grain a worker could reap in one day.

To harvest wheat, wooden flint sickles were used and the wheat was left on the ground. Thus, the reapers did not have to bend over low. Women followed them gathering the sheaves into baskets. The local poor, mostly women and children, trying to pick up all the grain missed by the others and begging the reapers for alms, followed these in their turn.

People or donkeys were used to transport the grain to the threshing floor, but mostly it was carried by two men in a sack, fastened to a wooden frame and connected to five meter-long carrying poles. The threshing floor was carefully cleaned and sheaves were raked into a thick carpet. Men wielding whips, treading the kernel out of the husks, drove cattle or sheep over the floor. Emmer, the first sort of wheat widely grown in Egypt, was more difficult to dehusk than the later wheat varieties.  The straw was swept away with brooms and the wheat winnowed by throwing it into the air with a wooden scoop and letting the wind carry off the lighter chaff.  The grain silos were in walled enclosures, carefully plaster-coated on the inside and whitewashed on the outside. In order to store the grain, the worker had to climb stairs to a small window near the top of the cone, carrying baskets. Through a little door at the bottom the grain could be taken out.

Scribes measured the harvest and recorded it on their tablets. A surveyor measured the field with a measuring rope in order to calculate the quantity of grain owed as taxes. Egyptian scribes were good at calculating area and subsequent taxes, even if their way was of calculating was somewhat cumbersome.

Completion of the harvest was a time for thanking the snake goddess Ranuta. Sheaves of wheat, fowls, cucumbers and watermelons, loaves of bread and fruits were offered to her. Pharaoh himself thanked the fertility god Min with a sheaf of wheat in front of great crowds during the festivities in the first month of Shemu, the season of harvest. Local gods all over Egypt were not forgotten. At Asyut, the first of the wheat gathered was sacrificed to the local god, Wapwait.

It appears likely that most of Egypt�s adult population spent some time farming. Although there were full time farmers, during and immediately following inundation most men were drafted through corv�ee (forced labor by the government as taxation) to increase the personnel available for dredging irrigation canals, surveying land boundaries, and preparing the ground for planting. Avoidance of corv�ee carried stiff penalties for the individual and sometimes his family. Noblemen and scribes, the literate upper class, were the only people consistently excluded from the corv�ee. Most noblemen were automatically involved in the agricultural system, however, because they owned farms and supervised royal or temple agricultural land.

References

Woods, Geraldine. Science in Ancient Egypt. New York, NY: Watts, 1988.  

Robinson, Charles Alexander, 1900-1965. Ancient Egypt Civilization. Rev. ed, 2nd ed. New York, NY: F. Watts, 1984.

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Nubia and Egypt

southern egypt.gif (24853 bytes)Nubia was a region south of Egypt, which was divided by the Nile nearest the 2nd Cataract. The products of Nubia and Kush added greatly to the wealth of Egypt, particularly by providing gold, ivory, ebony, cattle, gums and semi-precious stones. Cattle were one of the major contributions made by Nubia suggesting that grasslands were more extensive in the time of the Old Kingdom. In addition, the Nile Delta below Memphis has always been one of great fertility, flanked on its eastern and western borders by wide meadowlands where goats, sheep and cattle were raised. The fertility of Nubia and it's products enriched both Egyptian and Nubian cultures which lived along the Nile.

The Religion of Ancient Egypt
Egyptian Mythology

Mythology is defined as a collection of interrelated stories of a given culture. Myths tend to describe the creation of the world and give a culture an understanding of the events of nature and the world around them. Myths are also generated to tell the story of the first people to inhabit the earth. These people are elevated to gods and goddesses, which usually associate them as having supernatural and special powers. Myths also express the values or beliefs of a culture, and every culture studied has their own myths distinctive to their group.

Ancient Egyptians tried to understand their place in the universe and their mythology centers itself on nature, the earth, sky, moon, sun, stars, and the Nile River. Heliopolis, the City of the Sun, is located in the ruins of Yunu in northeast Cairo. This is where the cosmic creation of Egyptian myth began. Ancient Egyptian mythology states that in the beginning of time everything began with Nu. Nu is the description of what the planet was before land appeared. Nu was a vast area of swirling watery chaos and as the floods receded the land appeared. The first god to appear out of this watery mess was Atum. This myth was probably created because of the large source of water from the Nile River. In one interpretation, Atum is credited with the fertile land that springs up when the water's of the Nile River recedes, because he was the first to arise out of the watery mess.

Atum emerged from Nu as the sun god at the beginning of time and is the creator of the world. Since Atum was all alone he chose to mate with his shadow. The god Atum was known as the `Great He-She', and a bisexual. The ancient Egyptians found this act acceptable, as they found all types of sexual orientations acceptable. Atum gave birth to two children by spitting out his son (Shu) and vomiting up is daughter (Tefnut). Shu represented the air and the principles of life and Tefnut represented rain and principles of order. The three remained in the watery chaos of Nu and after some time Atum was separated from his children. When they were finally reunited, Atum wept with tears of joy. When his tears hit the ground men grew and he then began to create the world. Shu and Tefnut later gave birth to Geb, the god of the earth in which the throne of the Pharaoh would be decided. Nut was also born from Tefnut and Shu as the Goddess of the sky, the separator between earth and Nu. Geb and Nut then gave birth to Osiris, Isis, Seth, and Nephthys. In ancient Egyptian mythology there is an established kinship of the gods and goddesses. Atum is known also as Khepri, the great scarab beetle, Ra-Harakhte, the winged-solar disk, Ra, the midday sun, Aten, the solar-disk, or Horus on the Horizon. By whatever name you call him Atum, is the one and only creator in the universe. The sun god Atum travels along Nut during the day and then is swallowed by Nut at night. At dawn it is seen as Nut giving birth to Atum as the sky opens up to the light.

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One of the most famous Egyptian myths is the myth of Osiris. Osiris has been credited with many different titles, god of fertility, king of the dead, god of agriculture, and god of the underworld, controller of the Nile floods, and the rising and setting of the sun. All of these titles have one thing in common: life, death, and rebirth because the myth of Osiris is attributed to his life, murder, and eternal life after death. The myth of Osiris begins when he sets out to spread law and order across the land and to teach people how to farm. Because Osiris was a powerful king and popular with the people, his jealous brother lured him into a coffin and sealed his fate with molten lead. Seth then sent him down the Nile River in the coffin. Later the coffin washed ashore in Lebanon and a tree encased it. A king of Lebanon was impressed by the size of the tree and cut it down and put it in his palace.

Isis was the wife and sister to Osiris who gave birth to Horus and was the protector of the dead. When she received the news of Osiris's death, she knew the dead could not rest without a proper burial. Isis searched and found Osiris' body and brought it back to Egypt. Seth found this unacceptable and cut Osiris into many pieces and scattered them throughout Egypt. Isis set out again and had all the pieces she found made into wax duplicates. All the wax duplicates were placed in the temple to be worshipped. Isis preserved his body with linen bandages, used her magic and breathed life back into Osiris. Osiris then rose as a God-King and he chose to rule the underworld. This is where the roots of mummification and rebirth into the afterworld began.

Ancient Egyptian gods:

Amen (Amon):  Amen has his origin in Thebes. He is known as Lord of Creation and Protector of the Poor and Weak. His name means “The Hidden One.” He is considered the father of all gods; thus he does not have a mother or father but is husband to Mut, the Great Mother.  During the Middle Kingdom, Uast became the state capitol of Egypt and since Amen was the central god of Uast, he became the state god and was later combined with Ra (another creator god) to become Amen-Ra, and worshipped as the King of Gods. Egyptians represent him in art and statue as man or the sun. His sacred animals were the ram and the goose, which were bred and kept at all of his temples throughout Egypt.

Bastet:  The Egyptian cat-headed goddess, Bastet was strictly a solar deity until the arrival of Greek influence on Egyptian society, when she became a lunar goddess due to the Greeks associating her with their Artemis. Dating from the 2nd Dynasty (roughly 2890-2686 BC), Bastet was originally portrayed as either a wild desert cat or as a lioness, and only became associated with the domesticated feline around 1000 BC. She was commonly paired with Sakhmet, the lion-headed goddess of Memphis, Wadjet, and Hathor. Bastet was the "Daughter of Ra", a designation that placed her in the same ranks as such goddesses as Maat and Tefnut. Additionally, Bastet was one of the "Eyes of Ra", the title of an "avenger" god who is sent out specifically to lay waste to the enemies of Egypt and her gods. Geb:  Geb was the “Father Earth” or the earth-god. He is said to live forever below his wife Nut, the goddess of the sky. He is the brother and husband of Nut and together they had five children. Geb's sign is the goose, which is thought, according to the mythological creation story, to be the form that the creator took on the day of creation. Geb is thought to be the first ruler of Kemet and some of the ancient king-lists have Geb and his immediate descendants as actual physical kings.

Horus (Heru, Haroeris, Harpocrates):  Horus is the son of Isis and Osiris. When Osiris was killed by Set, Horus set out to avenge him. He is the god of the living and lord of the heavens. His name means “He who is above.” Horus is represented as a falcon or hawk-headed deity because of his status as god of the sky and horizon. There are several myths about the eye or eyes of Horus. One source says that Horus gave up his right eye in battle and that it represents strength, vigor and self-sacrifice. Another source simply says that one of his eyes represents the sun and the other represents the moon. During the time he was worshipped in Ancient Egypt, his cult-centers were Behdet in Lower Egypt, and Hierakonpolis and Edfu in Upper Egypt.

Ma'at (Maat): Ma'at was the goddess of truth, justice and harmony. Ra, the sun god, was her father. Offerings were often made of Ma'at to the gods by the pharaohs to show that they wanted to keep harmony and justice on the earth. Ma'at is represented as a woman with an ostrich feather on her head. A vizier, who was a high official in the government and advisor to the pharaohs, were often known as “priests of Ma'at”.

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Nut (Nuit):  Nut was the goddess of the sky. She created the casing over the earth with her body. She was the sister and wife of Geb, the god of the earth. Shu, the god of air, separated nut and Geb when he lifted Nut up to become the canopy over the earth. Ancient Egyptians believed that in the evenings, Nut would swallow Ra, the sun god, and in the mornings give birth to him. Nut appears as a goddess wearing a blue dress covered in stars.

Ptah:  Ptah is the creator god of Memphis, the capital of the dual Kemetic for most of its history. Ptah is symbolized as a mummified man wearing a skullcap and holding the symbols of life, power, and stability in his arms. Ptah is sometimes seen as an abstract form of the self-created one, who effected creation through the actions of his heart and gave all things the breath of life with his tongue. Ptah represents the sun at the time when it begins to rise above the horizon and or right after it has risen. As early as the Second Dynasty, he is regarded as a creator god. He is the patron of painters, builders. architects, artists and sculptors. It was Ptah who built the boats for the souls of the dead to use in the afterlife. In the Book of the Dead we learn that he was a master architect, and responsible for building the framework of the universe.  It was said that Ptah created the great metal plate that was the floor of heaven and the roof of the sky. He also constructed the supports that held it up. Some creation legends say that by speaking the names of all things, Ptah caused them to be.

Ra (Re):  Another deity represented in human form with the head of a falcon, like Horus. Ra, like Amen, is also thought to be a god of creation. His cult-center is Heliopolis, where he is known as the sun god and supreme judge. Ra is also known as the father of kings and the most important gods. Followers of Ra believe that life on earth was created from the tears of Ra as he wept at the beauty of mankind and his creation. He is considered a living god during the day and a dead one at night. He is born at dawn as a small child, an adult in prime at midday and an old man at sunset. He dies at dark and is reborn again at next dawn.

Seth:  Seth was the god of wind and storms and ruler of the deserts. He is seen as the one who brings chaos to Egypt and is the enemy of Osiris and Horus. Nephthys is the wife to Seth and sister to Osiris, Isis, and Seth. She is usually depicted as a protector of the dead. From Osiris and Isis comes Horus, the King of Egypt.

Tawaret (Thoeris, Taurt):  Tawaret, or “The Great One”, is the goddess who protects women during their pregnancy and childbirth. Often temples were built to honor gods and goddesses but Tawaret was a goddess who was worshiped by ancient Egyptians in their own homes. Often an amulet of Tawaret was worn or at least kept in a person's home to keep them safe from evil spells or actions. Tawaret has the head of a hippopotamus and arms and legs of a lion. She has the back and tail of a crocodile and the breasts and stomach of a pregnant woman.

These are the gods with whom ancient Egyptians had a relationship for thousands of years. By careful study of the gods and the myths that surround them, we can develop a picture in our own minds of what the ancient Egyptians were like as emotional beings. We know what they did on an everyday basis. We know what kind of jobs they worked, how they ate, their medical technology, their government, and how they created their magnificent monuments. But within the hieroglyphs containing the myths of the gods we can learn what motivated the Egyptians spiritual lives.  We can learn why they did the things that they did, what the purpose of the pyramids were, their relationship with the pharaoh, their burial practices and their belief in the afterlife. Maybe the ancient Egyptians knew something about the afterlife or the realm of the spirits that we don't know, or will never know, unless we take the time to understand their mythology as they understood it.

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Divine Ennead - Heliopolitan Origin Myth

According to the Heliopolitan Tradition, the world began as a watery chaos called Nun, from which the sun-god Atum (later to identified with Re) emerged on a mound. By his own power he engendered the twin deities Shu (air) and Tefnut (moisture), who in turn bore Geb (earth) and Nut (sky). Geb and Nut finally produced Osiris, Isis, Seth and Nephthys. The nine gods so created formed the divine ennead (i.e. company of nine) which in later texts was often regarded as a single divine entity. From this system derived the commonly accepted conception of the universe represented as a figure of the air-god Shu standing and supporting with his hands the out-stretched body of the sky-goddess Nut, with Geb the earth-god lying at his feet.

Hermopolitan Ogdoad

The second cosmological tradition of Egypt was developed at Hermopolis, the Capital of the Fifteenth Nome of Upper Egypt, apparently during a time of reaction against the religious hegemony of Heliopolis. According to this tradition, chaos existed at the beginning of time before the world was created. This chaos possessed four characteristics identified with eight deities who were grouped in pairs: Nun and Naunet, (god and goddess of the primordial water), Heh and Hehet, (god and goddess of infinite space), Kek and Keket, (god and goddess of darkness), and Amun and Amunet, (god and goddess of invisibility).

These deities were not so much the gods of the earth at the time of creation as the personifications of the characteristic elements of chaos out of which earth emerged. They formed what is called the Hermopolitan Ogdoad (company of eight). Out of chaos so conceived arose the primeval mound at Hermopolis and on the mound was deposited an egg from which emerged the great sun-god. The sun-god then proceeded to organize the world. The Hermopolitan idea of chaos was of something more active than the chaos of the Heliopolitan system; but after the ultimate triumph of the latter system, a subtle modification (no doubt introduced largely for political reasons) made Nun the father and creator of Atum.


Memphite Theology

The third cosmological system was developed at Memphis, when it became the capital city of the kings of Egypt. Ptah, the principal god of Memphis, had to be shown to be the great creator-god, and a new legend about creation was coined. Nevertheless, an attempt was made to organize the new cosmogony so that a direct breach with the priests of Heliopolis might be avoided. Ptah was the great creator-god, but eight other gods were held to be contained within him. Of these eight, some were members of the Heliopolitan Ennead, and others of the Hermopolitan Ogdoad. Atum, for example, held a special position; Nun and Naunet were included; also Tatjenen, a Memphite god personifying the earth emerging from chaos, and four other deities whose names are not certain. They were probably Horus, Thoth, Nefertum, and a serpent-god. Atum was held to represent the active faculties of Ptah by which creation was achieved, these faculties being intelligence, which as identified with the heart and personified as Horus, and will, which was identified with the tongue and personified as Thoth.

Ptah conceived the world intellectually before creating it 'by his own word'. The whole Memphite theology is preserved on a slab of basalt now exhibited in the Egyptian Sculpture Gallery. It was composed at an early date, and committed to stone during the Twenty-fifth Dynasty by the order of King Shabaka. Unfortunately, this stone, the so-called 'Shabaka Stone' was subsequently used as a nether mill-stone and much of the text has been lost. The document known as the Bremner-Rhind Papyrus includes, among other religious texts, two monologues of the sun-god describing how he created all things.

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Priest Caste The priesthood of ancient Egypt has a far reaching and deep history, rooted within the traditions of Ancient Egypt. Unlike the orthodox priesthoods usually found within Western society, the role of the Egyptian priest or priestess was vastly different within the society as a whole. Rather than seek the divine and develop a rapport with the gods, the role of the priest was akin to an everyday job. For, as the pharaoh was seen as a god himself, the priests and priestesses were seen as stand-in's for the pharaoh; as it was the greater job of the priests and priestesses to keep Egyptian society in good order, as is the case with most theoretically based societies. The mystical attributes of the priests and priestesses take on a secondary role, when one considers the heightened role religion played within Egyptian society. Not only was religion a way to attain the ethereal and basic needs of the Egyptians, but it also served as a mechanism to order society, to create a hierarchy, and to preserve the culture for future generations. As such, the role of the priests and priestesses was both functional and mystical on both levels.

A priest or priestess in ancient Egypt was generally chosen by either the king, or attained their post by hereditary means. In either case, the priests who received their positions hereditarily and through the king were not set apart from mundane life. In fact, such priests were made to embrace the mundane life to keep Egyptian society functioning properly (and as stated above it was a job of fairly high status). Though the priesthood had started out simply, with relatively few temples, in the later dynasties the temples expanded into the hundreds. With such growth, a large bureaucracy was needed to keep the temples in good standing; and thenceforth, the small priesthood's of the Egyptians grew from an estimated hundred priests into the thousands, and with it came a priestly hierarchy.

The daily life of a priest or priestess depended on their sex and also their hierarchical standing within the priesthood. Priests were often rotated from position to position within the priestly hierarchy and were integrated in and out of mundane society. This rotation system generally went, that a priest would enter into temple life one month, at three times a year. This rotation system had a direct connection to the often stringent purity rites of the priests. Regardless of what status the priest was, there were numerous taboos and tradition's a priest had to or could not partake of. Of these taboos and traditions, a priest or priestess could not eat fish (a food thought to be ascribed to peasant life), could not wear wool (as nearly all animal products were unclean), were generally circumcised (only common among the male priests), and it was not uncommon for priests to bathe three or four times a day in "sacred" purificatory pools. It was also not uncommon for the "oracle" tending priests (one of the most sacred positions), to shave off all of their body hair, partially to get rid of lice, but partially for purificatory functions. These "oracle" priests symbolically gave food to the statues of the gods, clothed the statues of the gods, sealed the temple chamber in the evening, and were known as stolists. As can be seen from the example of the stolists, the need for purity extended not only upon the mundane level, but also held true within the afterlife as well. Further, from such purificatory rites the priests were often times known as the "pure ones" regardless of status within the temples.

The hierarchy of priests consisted of a milieu of offices and duties. At the top of the hierarchy of priests was the high-priest, also known as the sem-priest, and as "the First Prophet of the God". The high-priest was often very wise in years, and old. Not only did he serve as political advisor to the pharaoh, but he was also a political leader for the temples he belonged to as well. The high-priest was in charge of over-seeing magical rites and ceremonies as well as advising the pharaoh. Maintaining a fairly ceremonial position, the high-priest was often times chosen by the pharaoh as an advisor, however, it was not uncommon for a high-priest to have climbed through the ranks to his official status.

Below the high-priest were a number of priests with many specialized duties. The specialization of these second tier priests ran from "horology" (keeping an accurate count of the hours through the days, extremely important during the time of the sunboat worshippers, but also for agricultural reasons as well), "astrology" (extremely important as well to the mythology of Egypt as well as to the architectural and calendrical systems of Egypt), to healing. As is obvious by the specialization of the priests, the cycles of the cosmos were extremely important, as they decided when crops would be planted, when the Nile would wax or wane, and further when the temple rites were to begin in the morning. The result of these Egyptian priests studies can be seen in both the mythological studies of Egypt, as well as within the agricultural practices, which rival even the modern Caesarian Calendar still used within the western world today.

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In addition to the political administration, the priests and priestesses took on both magical and economic functions, however set apart from the hierarchy of priests are the lay magicians who supplied a commoners understanding of Egyptian religion. Through the use of magic and their connection to the gods, lay magicians provided a service to their community, usually consisting of counseling, magical arts, healing, and ceremony. Lay magicians who served within this last and final caste of the Egyptian priesthood belonged to a large temple known simply as "The House of Life". Laymen would come to "The House of Life" to meet with a magician, priest or priestess to have their dreams interpreted, to supply magical spells and charms, to be healed and to counteract malevolent magic, and to supply incantations of various types. Though the House of Life provided it's Laymen with many prescriptive cures for common ills, it was largely shrouded in mystery in ancient times. In fact, the library of The House of Life was shrouded in great secrecy, as it contained many sacred rites, books, and secrets of the temple itself which were thought could harm the pharaoh, the priests, and all of Egypt itself. Though the magicians of The House of Life, were seen as another step from the ceremonial duties of the priests, they were by no means less important, and as is evidenced by the presence of many magical wands, papyri text, and other archeological evidence, The House of Life took on a role direly important to the way of life of Ancient Egyptians.

One final position within the priesthood highly worthy of mention is that of the Scribes. The scribes were highly prized by both the pharaoh and the priesthood, so much so that in some of the pharaoh's tombs, the pharaoh himself is depicted as a scribe in pictographs. The scribes were in charge of writing magical texts, issuing royal decrees, keeping and recording the funerary rites (specifically within The Book of The Dead) and keeping records vital to the bureaucracy of Ancient Egypt. The scribes often spent years working on the craft of making hieroglyphics, and deserve mentioning within the priestly caste as it was considered the highest of honors to be a scribe in any Egyptian court or temple.

Finally, worthy of mention, though there is considerable historical evidence telling of the role of priests within the priestly hierarchy, the status of the priestesses was at times equal if not mirror to that of the male priesthood. The female priestesses held the main function within the temple's of music and dancing. At Thebes, however, the chief-priestess of Amun bore the title of ‘god’s wife’; she was the leader of the female music-makers who were regarded as the god’s harem and were identified with the goddess Hathor, who was associated with love and music. In the Twenty-third Dynasty and afterwards such priestesses were practically rulers of the theocracy, their duties centering around the reverence of Isis, and many other female and male goddesses and gods.

Ancient Egyptian Idea of the Soul

The Ancient Egyptians believed that the "soul" is made up of three parts; the Ba, Ka, and Akh.  One part of the soul couldn't live without the other, i.e. if one died they all died.  The purpose of mummification was to keep all of the soul's three parts alive.  

Ba:  The Ba was depicted as a human headed bird.  It represented the personality, character, or individuality of the deceased.  The Ba lived inside the tomb, but was allowed to leave the tomb and come back at will.  It could visit the land of the living where it could take on any form.

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Ka: The Ka was a double of the person. It was sometimes represented as a human figure with raised arms, or just a pair of raised arms (David, 140). The creator god "Khnum" fashioned the Ka at the time a person was conceived. It was an exact physical and emotional replica of an individual, that was imprisoned within the living heart, and was only expelled by death. It had to stay close to the body at all times and could never leave the tomb. It was believed that the Ka could not live unless the body was preserved. If the body was not preserved properly the ka could live inside a picture of the body that was depicted on the wall of the tomb. The Ka was dependent on the objects and offerings that were left in the tomb. It could not survive without nourishment. It required food, drink, and clothing. It was up to the friends and family of the deceased to leave regular offerings at the tomb. Dried fish and fowl were some of the foods left by relatives to nourish the Ka.

Akh: The Akh represented the immortality of the deceased. And, like the Ba, it was sometimes depicted as a bird. The Akh made the journey to the underworld so that it could eventually take its place in the afterlife.

Mummification

        Preparing a body for the afterlife in ancient egypt was a very long and complicated process. The Egyptians believed that preserving the body in death was important to keep their soul alive. The Embalmers were priests who were trained in the mummification process. Mummification was a ritual, so the priests who participated were trained to perform the process with both surgical and ritual precision. The embalmers were required to work and labor outside of the town in a workshop called a “Wabet” or a clean place.

The head priest that supervised the ritual wore a terra-cotta mask in the form of Anubis. Anubis was the chosen god for surgeons, and for priests performing the mummification process. By wearing the mask of Anubis it symbolized Anubis watching over the mummification process to guide the priests in the ritual. It was important that the priest did not make any unnecessary cuts in the body, because if the spirit could not recognize the body it would be doomed to wonder across the Earth and possibly haunt the priest responsible.

        The first step in the process was to make a cut in the abdomen, below the ribs, on the left side of the body. This first incision was done with a special flint knife, and all other cutting was done with an ordinary metal blade. They had to cut into the body so that they could take out special organs. Once the organs were removed they were placed in canopic jars, which were carved out of alabaster and inscribed with spells that would one day enable the organs to rejoin the body when it was resurrected. The organs that were placed in the jars include: stomach, lungs, intestines, and liver. Once inside the canopic jars each organ was protected by the one of sons of Horus whose head graced the lid.

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        Next the brain would be extracted through the nose and then thrown away.  Resin was then poured through the nose and into the skull with the use of a funnel, to keep the head from collapsing.  The heart was left in place because later in the underworld Anubis would weigh the heart and guide the soul through the underworld.  During the embalming process every part of the body was saved and either placed in the tomb with the body or given to the relatives of the deceased.  Then, the body and organs were preserved with spices and dried out with natron salt.  The spices that were used in the preservation process made the body look brown and leathery. 

 

        The entire preservation process took about 70 days.  After the process was complete, the body was wrapped in linen.  Death masks were placed on the head of the mummy around the bandages to be used as a replacement head incase something happened to the real skull. Special amulets were placed within the wrapping of the mummy to protect it.  Finally, a “mummy tag,” similar to our toe tags, was placed around the mummy’s neck to help identify it for burial.

 

        Written by Rachel Simmons, 2003

Cats in Ancient Egypt

Animal worship in ancient Egypt is part of the culture of daily life of Egyptians. Animals of every kind were respected and revered, as they were in close contact with deities and gods that the average Egyptian could not reach.

The cat in ancient Egypt, or miw (to see), was a sacred and respected beast. These small companions fascinated the Egyptians, and were venerated by all. It was in Egypt that the cat was first domesticated 4,000 years ago and where they were held in the most admiration and respect. There is evidence of wild felines around the banks of Egypt, but it was not until around 2000 BCE that the fully domesticated cat was brought into the houses of Egyptians.

The first domesticated Egyptian cats in Egypt were more than likely used for warding off the common asp and other snakes, and the typical chasers of rodents. Slowly though, the cat became more to the Egyptians than just a normal animal, the cat became a god.

During the New Kingdom (1540 to 1069 BC), there were many tomb scenes that started showing cats as part of everyday life. The ancient Egyptians took their cats on hunting excursions instead of dogs, The most popular excursions being the marshes where cats may have been trained to retrieve fowl and fish. Another very common scene in tomb paintings was the picturing of a cat seated underneath a woman's chair. Children had become known in their family as Mit or Miut, showing great affection not only for the child but for the cat as well. Statues of cats were placed outside the house to protect the inhabitants and to ward off evil spirits. This showed scientists that the cat had become an integral part of the ancient Egyptian family life.

Mafdet was the first Egyptian feline deity, sometimes depicted as a lynx, but the most famous cat goddesses in the world, first revered by the ancient Egyptians were Bastet (also known as Bast, Pasch, Ubasti) and the lion-headed Sekhmet.

Bastet had the roles of fertility, protector of children and the protector of all cats. Bastet became so popular infact that she became a household goddess. This goddess was called Bastet when in full cat form, and Bast when only having the head of one and the body of a beautiful woman. Bastet's counterpart was the goddess Sekhmet who represented the cat goddess' destructive force. Sekhmet is known as the goddess of war and pestilence. Together, Bastet and Sekhmet represented the balance of the forces of nature in Egypt.

In Bubastis, or Tell Basta, the cats lived a lavish life as the `embodiment' of Bastet in her temples. Here they were served upon and taken care of until they passed away, and it was here that their bodies were mummified and given as offerings to Bastet. Bubastis contains the remains of over 300,000 cat mummies. Upon being inspected, some feline mummies had severe trauma to the head or neck, signifying that they were killed on purpose, perhaps to lower the growing population or for offerings for Bastet. Giza, Abydos, and Dendereh were also feline tomb cities other than Bubastis.

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When a cat died their former owners and occupants of the house would go into deep mourning and shave their eyebrows as a sign of grief. People are not the only mummies in Egypt, as the cat was also mummified significantly. The process of feline mummification had six steps:

  1. Removal of organs
  2. Body is stuffed with sand or packing material
  3. Feline is placed in a sitting position
  4. Body is wrapped tightly
  5. Faces and designs are painted on wrappings with black ink
  6. No chemicals, only natural dehydration

In the tombs of the cats were set bowls of milk along with mice and rats.

Cats were not only protected by almost every occupant of Egypt, but also by the law. So extreme infact was the devoutness of the Egyptian culture to the cat, that if a human killed a feline, either intentionally or unintentionally, that human was sentenced to death. Laws were set that also forbid the exportation of cats, though more often than not, many were smuggled to the neighboring Mediterranean countries. Documents state that armies sometimes were set out to recapture these cats from the foreign lands.

Herodotus stated a story once about a fire in a house in Egypt. The men from the house stood outside in a line to protect the cats from harm and danger. Another statement from Herodotus explains even greater the significance of the cat to Egypt. Herodotus begins with the Egyptians in war with Persia. The Persian general had decided to collect as many cats that his men could find or steal, knowing the great importance of the cat to Egypt. The soldiers then returned to the town of Pelusium and set the cats free on the battlefield. Horrified, the Egyptians surrendered the city to the Persians rather than harm the cats.

The cat held a powerful spot in the history of Egypt. While she protected his land and his people, she also protected the mystique that is and was the cat in ancient Egypt.

by Leah Marie Graham 2004

The Goddesses and Gods of Ancient EgyptAmon (Amen, Amun): the great god of Thebes of uncertain origin; represented as a man, the sun, and sometimes as ithyphallic; identified with Re as Amen-Re; his sacred animals were the ram and goose. anubis.gif (8608 bytes)

Anat: goddess of Syrian origin, with warlike character; represented as a woman holding a shield and an axe.

Anubis (Anpu): the jackal-god, patron of embalmers, healers, and surgeons; in both healing and mummification ceremonies, Anubis was the patron deity which prepared the dead and healed the living. Anubis is considered to be the great necropolis-god.

Anukis (Anqet): goddess of the cataract-region at Aswan; wife of Khnum; represented as a woman with a high feather head-dress.

Arsaphes (Herishef): ram-headed god from, Heracleopolis.

Astarte (As-start-a): goddess of Syrian origin; introduced into Egypt during the 18th Dynasty. She is also known as The Queen of Heaven and her cult often times overlapped with Isian worshipers.

Aten: god of the sun-disk, worshipped as the great creator-god by Akhenaten.

Atum (Tum): the original sun-god of Heliopolis, later identified with Re; represented as a man.

Bastet (Bast): A cat-goddess whose cult-center was at Bubastis in the Delta; in the Late Period regarded as a beneficent deity. She was seen as the patron of cats, of women, and protection.

Bes: A dwarf-deity with leonine features. Seen as a domestic god, protector against snakes and various terrors; helper of women in child-birth.

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Edjo (Wadjet, Buto): the cobra-goddess of Buto in the Delta; tutelary deity of Lower Egypt, appearing on the royal diadem, protecting the king.

Geb: the earth-god; husband of Nut; member of the ennead of Heliopolis; represented as a man.

Hapy: god of the Nile in inundation; represented as a man with full, heavy breasts, a clump of papyrus on his head, and bearing heavily laden offering-tables.

Haroeris: a form of Horus, the 'Elder Horus'; identified with the falcon-god and particularly the patron of the king.

Harpocrates (Hor-Pa-Khred): A late form of Horus in his aspect of being son of Isis and Osiris; represented as a naked child wearing the lock of youth and holding one finger to his mouth.

Harsiesis: A form of Horus, specifically designated 'son of Isis'.

Hathor: Goddess of many functions and attributes; represented often as a cow or a cow-headed woman, or as a woman with horned head-dress; the suckler of the king; the 'Golden One'; cult-centers at Memphis, Cusae, Gebelein, Dendera; the patron deity of the mining-region of Sinai; identified by the Greeks with Aphrodite. She was sent by Re to cleanse the land of disbelievers. After slaying all who opposed Re, she asked to rest, and became the equivalent to the Greek form of Aphrodite, the goddess of love, fertility, women, and also their protector. There are many myths surrounding the goddess Hathor.

Hat-mehit: Fish-goddess of Mendes in the Delta; sometimes represented as a woman with a fish on her head.

Heqet: Frog-goddess of Antinoopolis where she was associated with Khnum; a helper of women in child-birth.

eyeofhorus.jpg (4314 bytes)Horus (Haroeris, Harpocrates, Harsiesis, Re-Harakhty): The falcon-deity, originally the sky-god, identified with the king during his lifetime. Known more importantly as the son of Osiris and Isis. Horus was also the avenger of his father Osirius, who was killed by Set. The eye of Horus came from a myth of his battles where Horus gave up his right eye in battle. Since then the Eye of Horus, has come to represent strength, vigor, and self-sacrifice. His cult-centers were in many places, Behdet in the Delta, Hierakonpolis and Edfu in Upper Egypt.

Imhotep (Imouthes): The deified chief minister of Djoser, and architect of the Step Pyramid; in the Late Period venerated as the god of learning and medicine; represented as a seated man holding an open papyrus; equated by the Greeks with Asklepios.

Isis: Isis is known as the divine mother, and as wife of Osiris and mother of Horus; Isis is one of the four great protector goddesses (Bast, Nephythes, and Hathor), guarding coffins and Canopic jars. Isis is sister animatedankh.gif (2641 bytes)of Nephthys with whom she acted as a divine mourner for the dead, and is divinely represented by the Ankh. In the Late Period Philae was her principal cult-center. She is also known as The Queen of Heaven (similar to Astarte), and rules over all matters concerning life, mothering, and sorcery. In the origin myth of Re and the world, it was written that she found out Re's name by enchanting a poisonous snake to bite him. The snake bit Re, and Isis could only heal him by knowing Re's true name. By knowing Re's name, she then had power equal to him and was then given all of her magical power and was thenceforth known as the divine sorceress. Another of the Isian myths concerns, both Isis, Osiris, and Horus. In this myth, Set kills Osiris and scatters his body in fourteen pieces around the world. Isis goes to find these pieces. After she find all of the peices, she reassembles Osiris and he comes back to life for one night during which Isis conceives their son, Horus. Osiris then becomes Lord of the Dead. Horus was given birth to and was committed to avenging his fathers death by killing Set. Isis from then on lived as the divine mourner on earth and in heaven.

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Khepri: The scarab-beetle god, identified with Re as a creator-god; often represented as a beetle within the sun-disk.

Khnum: Ram-headed god of Elephantine, god of the Cataract-region; thought to have molded man on a potter's wheel.

Khons: The moon-god, represented as a man; with Amun and Mut as father and mother, forming the Theban triad.

Maat: Goddess of truth, right, and orderly conduct; represented as a woman with an ostrich-feather on her head. It is said that in the judgement of the dead she holds the scales which weigh the human heart.

Min: The primeval god of Coptos; later revered as a god of fertility, and closely associated with Amun; represented as an ithyphallic human statue, holding a flagellum.

Month (Munt): Originally the local deity of Hermonthis, just south of Thebes; later the war-god of the Egyptian king; represented as falcon-headed.

Mut (Mutt): The divine wife of Amun; cult-center at Asheru, south of the main temple of Amen-Re at Karnak; originally a vulture-goddess, later represented usually as a woman.

Nefertum: The god of the lotus, and hence of unguents; worshipped at Memphis as the son of Ptah and Sakhmet; represented as a man with a lotus-flower head-dress.

Neheb-kau: A serpent deity of the underworld, sometimes represented with a man's body and holding the eye of Horus.

Neith (Net): Goddess of Sais; represented as a woman wearing the red crown; her emblem, a shield with crossed arrows; one of the four 'protector'-goddesses who guarded coffins and Canopic jars; identified by the Greeks with Athena.

Nekhbet: Vulture-goddess of Nekheb (modern El-Kab); tutelary deity of Upper Egypt, sometimes appearing on the royal diadem beside the cobra (Edjo).

Nephthys (Nebet-het): Sister of Isis; one of the four 'protector'-goddesses, who guarded coffins and Canopic jars; with Isis acted as mourner for Osiris and hence for other dead people; represented as a woman.

Nun (Nu): god of the primeval chaos, the Nu was also seen as the primeval water from which the gods, earth, and humans were created from, i.e. the chaos from which order was created.

Nut (Nuit): the sky-goddess, wife of Geb, the earth-god; represented as a woman, her naked body is curved to form the arch of heaven.

Onuris (Anhur): God of This in Upper Egypt; the divine huntsman; represented as a man.

Osiris (Asar): The god of the underworld, identified as the king of the dead; also a god of the inundation and vegetation; represented as a mummified king; principal cult-center, Abydos.Osiris is seen as the great judge of the dead.

Ptah: Creator-god of Memphis, represented as a man, mummiform, possibly originally as a statue; the patron god of craftsmen; equated by the Greeks with Hephaestus.

Ptah-seker-osiris: Composite deity, incorporating the principal gods of creation, death, and after-life; represented like Osiris as a mummified king.

Qadesh: Goddess of Syrian origin, often represented as a woman standing on a lion's back.

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Re (Ra): The sun-god of Heliopolis; head of the great ennead, supreme judge; often linked with other gods aspiring to universality, e.g. Amen-Re, Sobk-Re; represented as falcon-headed. Seem as the father of the gods, it was from him that all the gods and goddesses were created. He is also known by three aspects, which correspond to the positions of the sun, Amen at dawn, Re in the evening, and Set at dusk.

Re-harakhty: A god in the form of a falcon, embodying the characteristics of Re and Horus (here called 'Horus of the Horizon').

Renenutet (Ernutet, Thermuthis): Goddess of harvest and fertility; represented as a snake or a snake-headed woman.

Reshef (Reshpu): God of war and thunder, of Syrian origin.

Sekhmet: (Sakhmet) A lion-headed goddess worshipped in the area of Memphis; wife of Ptah; regarded as the bringer of destruction to the enemies of Re.

Sarapis: a god introduced into Egypt in the Ptolemaic Perod having the characteristics of Egyptian (Osiris) and Greek (Zeus) gods; represented as a bearded man wearing the modius head-dress; the Egyptian writing of the (i.e. Osiris-Apis) may not signify the true origin of this god.

Satis (Satet): A goddess of the Island of Siheil in the Cataract-region; represented as a woman wearing the white crown with antelope horns; the daughter of Khnum and Anukis.

Selkis (Selkit, Selkhet, Serqet): A scorpion-goddess, identified with the scorching heat of the sun; one of the four 'protector'-goddesses, guarding coffins and Canopic jars; shown sometimes as a woman with a scorpion on her head.

Seshat: The goddess of writing; the divine keeper of royal annals; represented as a woman.

Seth (Set, Sutekh): The god of storms and violence; identified with many animals, including the pig, ass, okapi, and hippopotamus; represented as an animal of unidentified type; brother of Osiris and his murderer; the rival of Horus; equated by the Greeks with Typhon.

Shu: The god of air; with Tefnut, forming the first pair of gods in the Heliopolitan ennead; shown often as a man separating Nut (sky) from Geb (earth).

Sobk (Sebek, Suchos): The crocodile-god, worshipped throughout Egypt, but especially in the Faiyum, and at Gebelein and Kom Ombo in Upper Egypt.

Sokaris (Sokar, Seker): A falcon-headed god of the necropolis; cult-center in Memphis.

Sopdu: The ancient falcon-god of Saft el-Henna in the Delta; a warrior-god, protector of the eastern frontier; represented often as an Asiatic warrior.

Sothis (Sepdet): The dog-star Sirius (see the constellation Canis), defined as a goddess; shown as a woman with a star on her head.

Tatjenen: The primeval earth-god of Memphis; later identified with Ptah.

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Tefnut: The goddess of moisture; with Shu forming the first pair of the Heliopolitan ennead.

Thoeris (Taurt, Taweret): The hippopotamus-goddess; a beneficent deity, the patron of woman in child-birth.

Thoth: the ibis-headed god of Hermopolis; the scribe of the gods, the inventor of writing, and the great god of all knowledge; the ape as well as the ibis are sacred to him. In the judgment of the dead he was the scribe who recorded the confessions and affirmations of the dead on his scrolls, and also kept a record of who went into paradise and who was eaten by the dogs of judgment.

Unnefer (Wenen-nefer, Onnophris): A name meaning 'he who is continually happy', given to Osiris after his resurrection.

Wepwawet (Upuaut): The jackal-god of Asyut in Middle Egypt; a god of the necropolis and an avenger of Osiris.

Egyptian Astrology

Most of our understanding of Egyptian astrology is contained within the Cairo Calendar, which consists of a listing of all the days of an Egyptian year. The listings within the calendar all take the same form and can be broken up into three parts: I, the type of day (favorable, unfavorable etc), II, a mythological event which may make a particular day more favorable or unfavorable, III, and a prescribed behavior associated with that day. Unlike modern astrology as found within newspapers, where one can choose whether to follow the advice there in or not, the Egyptians strictly adhered to what an astrologer would advise. As is evidenced by the papyrus of the Cairo Calendar, on days where there were adverse or favorable conditions, if the astrologers told a person not to go outside, not to bathe, or to eat fish on a particular day, such advice was taken very literally and seriously.

Some of the most interesting and misunderstood information about the Ancient Egyptians concerns their calendarical and astrological system. Of the greatest fallacy about Ancient Egypt and it's belief in astrology concerns the supposed worship of animals. The Egyptians did not worship animals, rather the Egyptians according to an animals astrological significance, behaved in certain ritualistic ways toward certain animals on certain days. For example, as is evidenced by the papyrus Cairo Calendar, during the season of Emergence, it was the advisement of the Seers (within the priestly caste), and the omens of certain animals they saw, which devised whether a specific date would be favorable or unfavorable.

The basis for deciding whether a date was favorable or unfavorable was based upon a belief in possession of good or evil spirits, and upon a mythological ascription to the gods. Simply, an animal was not ritually revered because it was an animal, but rather because it had the ability to become possessed, and therefore could cause harm or help to any individual near them. It was also conceived of that certain gods could on specific days take the form of specific animals. Hence on certain days, it was more likely for a specific type of animal to become possessed by a spirit or god than on other days. The rituals that the Egyptians partook of to keep away evil spirits from possessing an animal consisted of sacrifice to magic, however, it was the seers and the astrologers who guided many of the Egyptians and their daily routines. Hence, the origin of Egyptians worshipping animals, has more to do with the rituals to displace evil spirits, and their astrological system, more so than it does to actually worshipping animals.


7 years ago
Lives of Non-Royal Women

Women in Egypt were expected to marry around age twelve. Egyptian culture was Matrilineal and Patrilocal. Marriage was a secular activity and was regulated by custom rather than law. Instead of a marriage contract, men and women drew up property contracts at the time of marriage in the event of death or divorce. The woman then traveled to the home of her new husband.

In the home, women were responsible for the day-to-day operations and decisions. Women did (and needed to) have the same legal rights and status under the law as men who were gone from the home much of the time due to seasonal projects or warfare. The division of labor within a household evolved from environmental conditions. The men did very physical labor in the hot sun, and women labored inside or in the shade. Women attended to the household's gardens and orchards. There were no formal schools for girls, so mothers educated their daughters in the home. Women did attend professional schools, such as the school of medicine at Heliopolis and the woman's school at Sais, to learn to become doctors.

Women in Egypt were free to seek employment outside the home. Many women worked as musicians or dancers in the temples and during festivals. Wealthier households employed women as maids or nannies, and sometimes professional mourners for funerals. Women who had the time and resources would operate a small business out of their home, such as linen or perfume manufacturing. These activities could greatly increase household income, as these items were much in demand for funeral rights. Professional opportunities for women included physician or midwife, director of dance or singing troupes, and overseer. The women who became doctors mostly attended to other women as gynecologists. Their skills were such that they performed cesarean sections and surgically removed cancerous breasts.

Legal rights, responsibilities, and status were divided along class lines rather than gender lines. Within a given class, men and women had the same rights. Women were free to buy and sell property, enter and execute contracts, and file lawsuits. A woman could acquire possessions, property, and debt separate from her husband through labor or inheritance. A woman was entitled to inherit one third of their joint property on the death of her husband, the remaining estate was divided between the surviving children and siblings of the dead man.

Women were equally accountable under the law. A woman who was convicted of a capital crime in a court of law would be executed, but only after the court determined that the woman was not pregnant. If such a woman was found to be pregnant, her execution was stayed until she could give birth to the child. Then she was executed.

References:

Wilkinson, J. G. (1988) The Ancient Egyptians. New York, NY: Crescent Books

Trigger, B.G., Kemp, B.J., O'Connor, D., Lloyd, A. (1983) Ancient Egypt. London: Cambridge University Press

Jones, C. (1998) 1001 Things Everyone Should Know About Woman's History. New York, NY: Doubleday


7 years ago
Manufacturing in Ancient Egypt
Ancient Egyptian Chariot Making The Egyptians didn't invent the chariot but as things go they did improve upon the idea. To our knowledge, the first reported chariot comes from about 2000 B.C.E. in Mesopotamia. This is an interesting fact, but the truth is that it wouldn’t have been possibly if the wheel hadn’t been invented. It is thought that the creation of the wheel is that of a single unknown inventor of the Sumerian culture in Mesopotamia. It was invented sometime around 3500-3000 B.C.E. The chariot paved its way into the Egyptian culture around 1500 B.C.E. The Egyptian chariot was unique in that it was constructed to be handsome and light in weight. This was probably due to a lack of wood along the Nile River.

The chariots were better designed than their predecessor of the Assyrians was. The Egyptians designed the chariot with the human standing directly over the axle of the chariot. By accomplishing this there was less stress put on the horse(s) because the rider’s weight was distributed to the chariot than to the horse.

The design of the chariot of two wheels and were squeaky and creaked. Basically they were heard wherever they went. The Egyptians didn’t like this idea, and they lined the hubs and covered the axle with copper or bronze plates. The design of the chariot consisted of a number of new and unique ideas to make their chariot stand out. The hub was long and slender, and the spokes were light and nicely shaped. The fellies were one to and held by a spoke. The fellies, inserted in the spoke, were bent, shaped, and joined with a long lap. The tires were made of wood and were shaped in sections. They were attached to the wheel lashing made of rawhide. This lashing technique was unique in that they passed it through slots in the tire sections. The reasoning for this was to keep the lashing from coming in contact with the ground, thus extending its life by lessening the wear and tear.

A pole that is attached to a yoke pulls the chariots. The yoke is attached to the horses’ back by a saddle-pads using girths around the bellies to hold them in place. The Egyptian had two types of chariots, and according to the source the only difference seems to be in the wheels. The Egyptian war-chariot had six spokes while the carriage chariots had only four. The reasoning behind this difference is probably due to the extra support needed in the war-chariot based on the stress that can be put on them is higher than that of the carriage chariot.

Bibliography Tunis, Edwin. Wheels: A Pictorial History, Thomas Y. Crowell Company; New York, 1955 pg. 13-15. By: Chris Carpenter
7 years ago
Ancient Egyptian Garment Making

From its start in prehistoric Egypt, women were predominately in charge of textile manufacturing and garment making. Garment making was a household chore, but woman also worked for aristocrats in spinning and weaving shops. Every garment from the decorative dresses of queens and the elaborate, pleated kilts of the pharaohs to the simpler kilts and aprons of the common people were handmade by woman. The process of making garments is extensive even for the simplest of garment.

Most Egyptians wore garments made from linen. This type of fabric is light, airy, and allows freedom of movement, which are important characteristics because of the hot and sometimes humid climate of Egypt. The second choice of fabric is wool or cotton. Wool can be warm but it has natural oils that repel moisture. Ancient Egyptians also considered wool to be impure. Cotton is airy, but not as light as linen.

Linen is a fabric made from plant fibers. The plant fiber comes from flax plants that grow abundantly along the banks of the Nile. The flax plants are dried, combed, soaked, beaten, and dressed. The resulting fibers are then spun into thread. The thread is woven into linen fabric from which the garments are made.

The tools involved in garment making include knives (or scissors) and needles, both of these needed to be molded, shaped or craved. In predynastic times, knives were made out of stone and the needles were made from bones. However, during the Old Kingdom, they were both made out of copper. Then, in the Middle Kingdom, bronze replaced the copper. Knives and needles were molded. Surprisingly, the eyes of needles were not bored. They were "scratched out with a hard, pointed instrument, probably a stone." With these tools and linen, garments were fashioned to suit the needs of the people based on climate and the social status.

Bibliography

Let There Be Clothes. Lynn Schnurnberger. Workman Publishing: New York, New York. 1991.



7 years ago
Ancient Egyptian Glass Technology

Glass-making technology initially began in Egypt with the manufacture of small beads in the pre-dynastic era. There is little or no evidence of glass technology until the XVIII Dynasty. The technology was a result of the process of firing clay pots. The sand and slag utilized in making clay pots melted together to make glass. Early examples of glass manufacture were in the form of beads made from the glass nuggets. It was determined that when metal oxides were added to the glass nuggets, various color hues resulted. The foundattion for this technology may have been in the development of bronze technology, adding different elements to copper to make bronze. There is also early evidence for glass blowing.

Bibliography

http://www.cmog.org/Education/EDEGYPT.HTM

http://www.users.directonline.net/~archaeology/AE_glass.html

Chats on Old Glass, by R. A. Robertson. Dover Publications Inc. New York

Ancient Glass, by Frederic Neugurg. Barrie & Rockliff London

Glass, by George Savage. G.P. Putnam’s Sons

By: Joel R. Siebring



7 years ago
Ancient Egyptian Papyrus

Papyrus was very important to the ancient Egyptians. It helped transform Egyptian society in many ways. Once the technology of papyrus making was developed, its method of production was kept secret allowing the Egyptians to have a monopoly on it. The first use of papyrus paper is believed to have been 4000 BC.

The raw material of papyrus paper comes from the plant Cyperus papyrus. This plant grew along the banks of the Nile and provided the Egyptians with the necessary raw materials. This plant was quite versatile and was not only used in the production of paper but it was also used in the manufacture of boats, rope and baskets. However, the singularly most important and valuable product was the papyrus paper. Not only was this ancient Egypt’s greatest export but it revolutionized the way people kept valuable information. No substitution for papyrus paper could be found that was as durable and lightweight until the development of pulped paper by the Arabs. The way of making pulp paper was far easier to produce but not as durable. This not only led to a decline in papyrus paper making, but also to a decline in the papyrus plant cultivation. Eventually, the papyrus plant disappeared from the area of the Nile, where it was once the lifeblood for ancient Egypt.

Papyrus making was not revived until around 1969. An Egyptian scientist named Dr. Hassan Ragab reintroduced the papyrus plant to Egypt and started a papyrus plantation near Cairo. He also had to research the method of production. Because the exact methods for making papyrus paper was such a secret, the ancient Egyptians left no written records as to the manufacturing process. Dr. Ragab finally figured out how it was done, and now papyrus making is back in Egypt after a very long absence.

The Method of Papyrus Paper Production

- The stalks of the papyrus plant are harvested.

- Next the green skin of the stalk is removed and the inner pith is taken out and cut into long strips. The strips are then pounded and soaked in water for 3 days until pliable.

-The strips are then cut to the length desired and laid horizontally on a cotton sheet overlapping about 1 millimeter. Other strips are laid vertically over the horizontal strips resulting in the criss-cross pattern in papyrus paper. Another cotton sheet is placed on top.

- The sheet is put in a press and squeezed together, with the cotton sheets being replaced until all the moisture is removed.

- Finally, all the strips are pressed together forming a single sheet of papyrus paper.

Bibliography

Papyrus History http://www.geocities.com/Hollywood/Location/8761/papyrushistory.html

The Egyptian Papyrus http://www.beshay.com/paphist/html

Papyrus: Gift of the Nile http://menic.utexas.edu/menic/cmes/out/papyrus/papyrus.html

This post was modified from its original form on 06 Nov, 18:09
7 years ago
Ancient Egyptian Sanitation

Proper sanitation is an important factor in any city in order to address the problems of health and sanitation. These issues were also important in the ancient world. The ancient Egyptians practiced sanitation, but in the widest sense of the word as modern technologies were not available to them. The degree of sanitation available to certain individuals varied according to their social status.

Where did ancient Egyptians relieve themselves? If they had the means, bathrooms were built right in their homes. There is evidence that in the New Kingdom the gentry had small bathrooms in their homes. In the larger homes next to the master bedroom there was a bathroom that consisted of a shallow stone tub that the person stood in and had water poured over him. There is no evidence that the common people had bathrooms in their homes.

In modern society a sanitation company picks up our weekly refuse. In ancient Egyptian, it was the responsibility of each household to dispose of their garbage at the communal dump - the irrigation canals. As a result, these dump canals were breeding grounds for vermin and disease. Some homes in the cities may have had trays of earth for drainage and disposal of waste. For the most part, however, ancient Egyptians simply dumped their waste in canals or open fields.

Water is an important part of any sanitation process and the ancient Egyptians had plenty of water from the mighty Nile River and the irrigation systems built from it. Gathering water for individual homes was done by groups of women. The women went to the river or canal to get the water while the men actually worked in groups doing the laundry. The canals and river were also used by the common people for bathing purposes.

The sanitation methods of the ancient Egyptians may seem crude when compared to the modern conveniences available in the 21st century. They did have what appears to have been a workable, viable sanitation system.

Bibliography

Andreu, Guillemette. Egypt: In the Age of the Pyramids. London: Cornell University Press, 1997.

Geddes and Grosset, ed. Ancient Egypt: Myth and History. New Lanark, Scotland: David Dale House, 1997.

Guillemette Andreu, Egypt: In the Age of the Pyramids (London: Cornell University Press, 1997), 86.

Jared Brent Krebsbach


7 years ago
Ancient Egyptian Quarrying

Rock quarrying today is nothing like what they used to do in the days the ancient Egyptians used to get rock for their buildings and sculptures. Where as today we use large machines that crush and cut rock they used to have to do it by hand.

Limestone blocks for the outer casing of buildings were quarried on the east bank of the Nile at Tura in the Muqattam hills. Some of the men employed here painted their names on the giant stones that they cut.

Limestone was quarried one of two ways it was either obtained from the surface rock, or else they tunneled and found the rock they needed. It is known that they possessed excellent copper tools such as saws and chisels which were capable of cutting any kind of limestone. Chisels and wedges were the tools of choice, the chisels were used for cutting the rock away from the sides, and the wedges were then used to detach the base for the block. In tunnel quarrying a shaft was cut between the roof and the rock to be detached, this was done to allow a man to get behind the rock by chipping at it vertically. On two sides two other men made splits down the two sides so that they could remove it from where it was. Wedges were then inserted into the holes that were made and driven down in to achieve a split in the rock, wet wooden wedges were also used in this procedure because they would swell up when the got wet and would crack the rock that way. This put them in a very tight spot to work.

In surface quarrying the same exact method was used except that they had more of an advantage because it gave them more room to move around, but the rock that they got from open mine quarrying was not as fine a grade of limestone as the kind that they could find buried in the earth.

Quarrying of the harder stones such as granite was a more labor intensive task, they had to use a hard greenish stone called dolerite, and pounded around the base of the stone to try to detach it from its base. In order to get to the higher quality rock they would light fires on the granite to get it to a certain temperature. Cold water would then be thrown on it to cool it fast this would cause the outer layers to crack and fall off leaving the harder rock from the inside for them to use.

But how did they move the huge rocks? They most likely used manpower to pull the rock up onto large barges that would take it close to where it needed to go then it would be pulled inch by inch onto a large sled like contraption that would be pulled. Large amounts of water were poured on the ground in front of the sled in order to ensure that there was less friction.

By: Greg Dawson
7 years ago
egyp·tian ethno-zo·ol·o·gy
animals with religious significance:

Ancient Egyptian towns usually possessed their own local sacred animal. However, the ancient Egyptians did not practice zoolatry (worship of animals). The animals they considered sacred represented one of their gods or goddesses. They believed that particular species were especially adored by each god/goddess, and that by honoring that animal, they would please the deity. The reason that animals appear regularly in ancient Egyptian religion is because they worshipped gods and goddesses which had an intimate relationship with the animal world, not because the animals by themselves were holy.

The belief that animals share the afterlife with humans resulted in the burial of many animals in family tombs. Some were buried at the time of their natural death because of their special significance, but many were killed and buried as part of funerary ritual or worship activities.

It was thought that some deities represented themselves on earth in the form of a single representative of a specific species. The animal believed to be the incarnation of the god or goddess lived a pampered life in and near the temples and religious centers. Upon the animal's death, another young replacement was found to represent the deity.

The human race was not considered superior to the animal world. Both had been created by the gods to share the earth as partners. These attitudes toward animals are reflected not only in the Egyptian religious beliefs, but also in the general attitudes toward the animal kingdom at large.

These animals were considered especially sacred:
  • cat- The male cat had religious connections with Ra. Kittens were specifically reared for sacrificial/worship uses (see link below).
  • cattle- Beef was often used as a sacrificial offering to various deities.
  • scarab beetle- The emblem of a specific goddess, the scarab beetle was associated with the daily birth of the sun, and credited with spontaneous generation of its young. Because of its sacred status, it was widely represented in art.
Other animals with religious significance include:

ibises, baboons, rams, dogs, shrews, mongooses
snakes, fishes, beetles, gazelles, and lions


7 years ago
Ancient Egyptian Games
Ancient Egypt had games of all kinds, some for fun and entertainment and the others for fitness. Samples of these games have been found in drawings located in the tombs at Saqqara, plus many others. These pyramids were built nearly 2600b.c.e. and believe it or not we still play some of these games to this day. As well as pictures, board games have also been found in tombs from the same time period. Many of the fitness type games depicted in paintings are of common games such as hockey, which used long palm tree branches for sticks and a puck made from stuffed papyrus in between two pieces of leather. There are also pictures of various types of games that use handballs.

Various types of board games have been discovered such as Dogs and Jackals, Senet or Seega, and others such as 20-squares a similar type of game called 30 and 50 squares. Dogs and Jackals games and pieces have been found in tomb of Reny-Seneb. It’s board was made of wood, ebony and ivory and shaped like a piece of furniture and roughly measuring 15x10cm. It had 4 animal carved legs and the board was made of ivory with a palm tree carved into it with fifty five holes. There were drawers that held the ebony pawns that looked like a jackal and a dog’s head on a stick. Three coins were used to determine movements of the pieces on the board and the first person with all pieces at the end won the game.

Senet is another board game that has been found. One of these games was found in the tomb of Hesy along with painting of it and how to play. The rules of this game were very complex. It consisted of a board with 30 holes, 3 rows and 10 columns. Most of the games used 7 pawns, sticks or knucklebones for each of the two players but some only had 5. During the New Kingdom, the game of Senet had acquired a religious and magical meaning which symbolized the passage of the deceased through the netherworld with his resurrection dependant upon his/her ability to win the game. Since boards games of all quality have been discovered it is needless to say that the games were played by all classes of people in Ancient Egypt.

Bibliography

The Game of Senent, and, Dogs and Jackals by Catherine Soubeyrand
www.gamecabinet.com

Ancient Egyptian Sports
www.sis.gov.eg/egyptinf/history/html/sport001.htm

Games of Egypt
www.ipl.org/youth/cquest/middle-east/eggames.html

Shareware computer games of Senet and Hounds & Jackals can be found at www.zdnet.com/downloads

by Casey Boone

7 years ago
Ancient Egyptian Furniture

The typical Egyptian house had sparse furnishings by modern standards. Wood was quite scarce, so largefurniture items were not common. By far the most common pieces of furniture were small 3 and 4 leg stools and fly catchers. Stools have been found in common houses as well as in Pharaohs’ tombs. Other items of utilitarian furniture include clay ovens, jars, pots, plates, beds, oil lamps, and small boxes or chests for storing things.

The ever present stool was made from wood, and had a padded leather or woven rush seat. The stools’ 3 or 4 legs were very often carved to look like animal legs. Wealthy people had their stools and all furniture in general was richly decorated with gold or silver leaf. The more common people would have things painted to look more expensive than they were.

The Egyptian bed was a rectangular wooden frame with a mat of woven cords. Instead of using pillows, the Egyptians used a crescent-shaped headrest at one end of the bed. Cylindrical clay ovens were found in almost every kitchen, and the food was stored in large wheel-made clay pots and jars. For common people, food was eaten from clay plates, while the rich could afford bronze, silver, or gold plates. The ruling class also commonly had a throne chair with a square back inlaid with ebony and ivory. Almost everyone also had a chest for storing clothing and a small box for jewelry and cosmetics. Walls were painted, and leather wall hangings were also used. Floors were usually decorated with clay tiles.

Bibliography

http://www.clpgh.org/cmnh/exhibits/egypt/dailylife.html

http://www.comptons.com/encyclopedia/ARTICLES/0050/00707840_A.html

http://www.comptons.com/encyclopedia/ARTICLES/0050/00707840_A.html

7 years ago
Ancient Egyptian Hairstyles

For ancient Egyptians, appearance was an important issue. Appearance indicated a persons status, role in a society or political significance. Egyptian hairstyles and our hairstyles today have many things in common. Like modern hairstyles Egyptian hairstyles varied with age, gender and social status.

Children had unique hairstyles in ancient Egypt. Their hair was shaved off or cut short except for a long lock of hair left on the side of the head, the so-called side-lock of youth. This s-shaped lock was depicted by the hieroglyphic symbol of a child or youth. Both girls and boys wore this style until the onset of puberty. Young boys often shaved their heads, while young girls wore their hair in plaits or sometimes did up their hair in a ponytail style, hanging down the center of the back. Young girl dancers used to wear long thick braided ponytails. The edge of the tail was either naturally curled or was enhanced to do so. If the ponytail was not curled at the end, it was weighted down by adornments or metal discs.

Egyptian men typically wore their hair short, leaving their ears visible. Men often kept these hairstyles until their hair began to thin with advancing age. Another hairstyle for men was distinctive short curls covering the ears shaping a bend from temple to nape. It is doubtful that this hairstyle was natural. It was more likely a result of a process of hair curling that was done occasionally.

Women's hairstyles were more unique than those of men. Women generally preferred a smooth, close coiffure, a natural wave and long curl. Women in the Old Kingdom preferred to have short cuts or chin length bobs. However, women in the New Kingdom wore their hair long or touted a wig. Women tied and decorated their hair with flowers and linen ribbons. A stylized lotus blossom was the preferred adornment for the head. This developed into using coronets and diadems. Diadems made of gold, turquoise, garnet, and malachite beads were discovered on an ancient Egyptian body dating to 3200 BC. Poorer people used more simple and inexpensive ornaments of petals and berries to hold their hair at the back. Children decorated their hair with amulets of small fish, presumably to protect from the dangers of the Nile. Children sometimes used hair-rings or clasps. Egyptians wore headbands around their heads or held their hair in place with ivory and metal hairpins. Beads might be used to attach wigs or hair extensions in place.

Egyptians threaded gold tubes on each tress, or strung inlaid gold rosettes between vertical ribs of small beads to form full head covers. The also used combs, tweezers, shavers and hair curlers. Combs were either single or double sided combs and made from wood or bone. Some of them were very finely made with a long grip. Combs were found from early tomb goods, even from predynastic times. Egyptians shaved with a stone blade at first, later with a copper, and during the Middle Kingdom with a bronze razor.

Slaves and servants were not able to dress the same as Egyptian nobility. The way that they adorned their hair was quite different. Commonly, they tied their hair at the back of the head into a kind of loop. Another type of hairstyle was to tie it in eight or nine long plaits at the back of the head and to dangled them together at one side of the neck and face.

In ancient Egypt, men and women used to shave their heads bald replacing their natural hair with wigs. Egyptian women did not walk around showing their bald heads, they always wore the wigs. Head shaving had a number of benefits. First, removing their hair made it much more comfortable in the hot Egyptian climate. Second, it was easy to maintain a high degree of cleanliness avoiding danger of lice infestation. In addition, people wore wigs when their natural hair was gone due to old age. However, even though the Egyptians shaved their heads, they did not think the bald look was preferable to having hair.

Priests were required to keep their entire bodies cleanly shaved. They shaved every third day because they needed to avoid the danger of lice or any other uncleanness to conduct rituals. This is the reason why priests are illustrated bald-headed with no eyebrows or lashes.

7 years ago
Ancient Egyptian Beauty Aids

Egyptians were vain in their appearance. Cosmetics, perfumes and other rituals were an important part of their dress.

The Egyptians thought that an abundance of facial hair was a sign of uncleanliness and personal neglect. An exception to this was a man's thin mustache or goatee. There was no soap so an oil or salve was probably used to soften the skin and hairs of the area to be shaved. Tweezers with blunt or sharp ends were used for removing individual facial hairs.

Oils and creams were very important against the hot sun and dry, sandy winds. The oils kept skin soft and supple and prevented ailments caused by dry cracked skin. Workers considered these oils and ointments to be a vital part of their regular wages such that when they were withheld, grievances were filed during the reign of Ramesses III.

The Egyptians were quite fond of strong scents. A great variety of oils and fats were available for perfumes. The most popular was the basic oil called balanos, among the lower class it was castor oil. In terms of perfumes, a distillation process using steam was probably not used for extracting scents from flowers, seeds or fruits. There were three known techniques for extracting scents. The first was enfleurage, accomplished by soaking flowers in layers of fat. Creams and pomades were created in this manner. A popular form of pomade was shaped like a cone and worn on the top of the head. As the evening progressed the cone would melt and the scented oil would run down the face and neck. The cones would be renewed throughout the evening. The second process was called maceration. Flowers, herbs or fruits were dipped into fats or oils and heated to 65 degrees Celsius. The mixture was sieved and allowed to cool then shaped into cones or balls. The third process, though not used often, was to express the essence from flowers or seeds much like the wine maker did from fruit.

Eye makeup was probably the most characteristic of the Egyptian cosmetics. The most popular colors were green and black. The green was originally made from malachite, an oxide of copper. In the Old Kingdom it was applied liberally from the eyebrow to the base of the nose. In the Middle Kingdom, green eye paint continued to be used for the brows and the corners of the eyes, but by the New Kingdom it had been superseded by black. Black eye paint, kohl, was usually made of a sulfide of lead called galena. Its use continued to the Coptic period. By that time, soot was the basis for the black pigment. Both malachite and galena were ground on a palette with either gum and/or water to make a paste. Round-ended sticks made of wood, bronze, haematite, obsidian or glass were used to apply the eye make-up.

Red ochre mixed with fat or gum resin was thought to be used a lipstick or face paint. Mixtures of chalk and oil were possibly used as cleansing creams. Henna was used as hair dye and is still in use today.

Tattooing was known and practiced. Mummies of dancers and concubines, from the Middle Kingdom, have geometric designs tattooed on their chests, shoulders and arms. In the New Kingdom, tattoos of the god Bes could be found on the thighs of dancers, musicians and servant girls.

Wigs and hairpieces were also quite popular. They were quite elaborate and usually made of human hair. Other tools used in the beauty ritual that have been found include short fine tooth combs, hair pins, and a small bronze implement with a pivoting blade thought to be a hair curler.

Bibliography

Stead, Miriam. Egyptian Life. British Museum Publications, London, England, 1986

Ruffle, John. The Egyptians. Cornell University Press, Ithica, NY, 1977

Cheryl Dawley

7 years ago
Ancient Egyptian Diet

The ancient Egyptian's diet consisted of a vast amount of grains, fish, vegetables, and fruits. They enjoyed beef and other red meats very much, but the common people could not afford them. The arid land made it very hard to raise grazing animals such as cows, therefore, beef was very expensive and only eaten at special banquets. The primary food of their diet was grain, because it could be used for many different purposes.

Grains offered an endless supply of food to the ancient Egyptians and could be stored with little spoiling. The grain raised in ancient Egypt was taken and stored in local community granaries. The grain could be used for making bread, pastries, and cakes. The process of turning the grain into usable flour was a long and daily process. The grain first had to be pounded, and then ground. The ground grain would be put into a simple mill that would refine the grain even more until it become the consistency of flour. Sour dough was often used in replacement of yeast, and even barm from the last brewing of beer would be used as a replacement. The breads would be flavored by adding honey, fruits, nuts, and oils to the dough before baking.

Fruits and vegetables were a major part of the Egyptian's diet. They could also be grown all year around because of the hot climate and irrigation. The vegetables grown included leeks, onions, garlic, cucumbers, lettuce, cabbage, radishes, and raphanus, a wild radish, to just name a few. Onions and garlic were a major part of their diet because they believed they were especially good for your health. Cabbage was considered to be a delicacy, boiled and eaten before the rest of the meal. Green vegetables were offen served with an oil and vinegar dressing to enhance the flavor. Few fruits could be grown in Egypt because of the hot arid climate, the most popular that did grow were grapes, figs, pomegranates, melons, and dates. Olives could not be grown and were imported for oil. The rich could have other fruits imported such as coconuts, peaches, cherries, and pears, but the common people barely saw these fruits. Some of the imported fruits did become a staple of the region, such as the apple and peach.

Fish, just like grain, was a part of most Egyptian's daily diet. Eating fish was shunned by some of the upper class Egyptians, and fish was never used as a grave offering.   Throughout the history of ancient Egypt the eating of some fish was outlawed. Fish was served boiled, fried, roasted, or dried. Drying ws done by lying the meat in the sun, because this was the easiest way to preserve the food.

Meat was eaten by the common people only on special occasions, because of the high price and scarceness of cattle. The rich could afford to have meat with every meal, and did so. The different kinds of meat include beef, pork, geese, duck, various birds, sheep, and goats. Meat would be prepared in many different fashions like boiling for stew, roasting, salting, drying, and smoking.

7 years ago

Honey was a great addition to the Egyptians diet, used for many different applications. It was commonly used as a substitute for sugar, and would be added to different breads and cakes to enhance their sweetness. Honey was also used in many different medicines, because it was believed to have healing powers. The bee's wax was also used for mummification, medicines, ship building, and for other bonding purposes.

HONEY OMELETTE

4 eggs

275 ml milk

15ml olive oil

45ml honey

pepper

Mix eggs, milk and oil together, pour into frying pan that has been preheated with a little oil and, thoroughly cook on one side. Turn out onto plate, pour the warmed honey over the omelette, sprinkle with pepper, and serve hot.


SWEET WINE CAKES

430g flour

15ml sweet white wine

Pinch of cumin

Pinch of aniseed

50g animal fat

25g finely chopped cheese

1 beaten egg

12 bay leaves.

Add wine to flour, also the cumin and aniseed. Rub in the fat, cheese and bind with the egg. Shape mixture into 12 small cakes and place each one on a bay leave. Bake for about 25-30 minutes at 400F (200C, Gas mark 6)


HONEY CAKES

These can be made from the above recipe using any left over sweet wine cakes. Remove stale crusts, put the remaining cakes into an oven proof dish and steep them in milk. Cook at 350F (180C, gas mark 4) for twenty minutes. Warm 45ml of honey and pour over the cooked cakes, pricking the surface so the honey can be readily absorbed. Finally sprinkle with pepper and serve.


7 years ago

LEAVEN

Taking a small quantity of barley flour mix it with warm water and make a dough shaped into a round mound. Indent in the centre, approximately half the way through, and mark it with a cross using a knife. Place the dough on a plate and fill the dent with water. Leave this in a warm place for a few days to ferment and the dough will split open like a overripe fruit. The dough is then ready to use as yeast to make bread.


TIGER NUT SWEETS

200g of fresh dates are blended with a little water. Then add a little cinnamon and chopped walnuts to taste. Shape into balls, coat in honey, ground almonds and serve.


HUMMUS

225g chickpeas

2 tbs. of wine vinegar

3 cloves of garlic

5 tbs. sesame seed oil

1 tsp. salt

Cook and mash the chickpeas, add lemon juice, chopped garlic and sesame seed oil to make this tasty paste to spread on bread, as popular in Egypt today as it was thousands of years ago.

 

Ancient Egyptian Diet: Spices

The success of the ancient Egyptians probably had much to do with their great nutrition and eating habits. By utilizing all of the resources they had, they had diets consisting of bread, fish, mean, poultry, vegetables, fruits, dairy products, and even wine and beer. Although there were differences between the diets of the rich and the poor of ancient Egypt, all ate well most likely due to the rich soil and lush vegetation of the Nile River Valley.

The geography of the Nile River Valley was of great importance in the way of life for the ancient Egyptians. The annual cycles of the river and the rich lands surrounding it all aided the Egyptians in their way of life. The Nile Valley can be separated into two distinct regions, The River Basin (or black land soil) and the Red Land (or red desert land). The River basin of the Nile Valley was extremely rich with wild life and waterfowl but the Red Land was a dry, flat area that contained very little life and very little water.

The annual flooding of the river provided the Egyptians with the greatest abundances in crop yield. The water would rise and fill the man-made canals and canal basins, watering the plants and depositing thick silt over the land. On a good year, Egyptians could collect two or even three harvests. However, if the river water was even just twenty inches above or below the normal raising level, the consequences were considerable on the agricultural aspects of the economy. Even so, agriculture was not the only means of nourishment for the ancient Egyptians. Tree crops and vegetable gardens in the lower regions of the Nile Valley were easily grown and contributed to the harvests and nourishment of the ancient Egyptian lifestyle.

7 years ago

Breads were the main staple in the diets of both the rich and the poor in ancient Egypt. Bread was made by simply mixing the dough and kneading it with both hands or sometimes kneading it with their feet in huge batches. Yeast, salt, spices, milk, and sometimes butter and eggs were added to the bread dough before baking. In very early ancient Egypt, bread was cooked in open fires or on the embers. Eventually, Egyptians began to use bread-moulds and baked it in tall ovens with fireboxes at the bottom. Breads were prepared in a variety of ways including thick loaves filled with beans, vegetables, or other items, sweetening it with honey or dates, or flavoring it with sesame, aniseed, or fruit.

The ancient Egyptians consumed many different fruits and vegetables. Although many are known, chances are good that there were many more which are unknown to researchers today. Some of the popular fruits included dates, which were used by the poor as sweetener (while honey was used as sweetener by the rich), figs, grapes, which could be sun-dried to make raisins, pomegranates, water melons, and plumbs. The vegetables which were often eaten included beans, chickpeas, lentils, green peas, leeks, and Egyptian lettuce, very similar to modern Egypt. Garlic and onions were also often used for medical purposes.

Fish and poultry were not as common at the tables of ancient Egyptians. It was most often the rich who regularly ate these meats. The poor most often ate geese, ducks, quails, and cranes. Eventually, fowl was domesticated and raised for food. Fish and poultry were usually prepared by roasting or boiling the meat or preserved by salting or drying in the sun.

The rich also commonly ate beef, sheep, and goat. However, during festive occasions the poor also ate these meats. Wild game such as antelope, ibex, gazelles, and deer have also been identified in tomb paintings as preparations for a meal. Meats and vegetables were prepared using many different types of oils and seasonings. Beef, goats, and other fats were used in preparation of a meal and vegetable oils obtained from sesame, caster-oil plants, flax seed, radish seed, horseradish, safflower, and colocynth were also used for cooking. These fats and oils were most often used for frying vegetables and meat but food was also prepared in milk and butter. Some of the common spices included aniseed, cinnamon, coriander, cumin, dill, fennel, fenugreek, marjoram, mustard, sesame, and thyme. Sea salt was not consumed due to its connections to the evil Seth but salt was obtained from different areas instead. Sweeteners, again, included honey for the rich and dates for the poor.

Meals were almost always served with beer or wine. (Wine was only served to the rich). Beer was mostly fermented from wheat but stale bread could also be used. Different spices were added to improve the taste. Workers often made wine from grapes, pomegranates and plumbs in the local vineyards.

An average ancient Egyptian kitchen was most often at the rear of the house or on the roof. Either way, it was an open area often partially shaded by a reed thatch. The kitchen included a simple clay oven and a hot plate. Cooking was always done in clay pots and wooden utensils were used.

Written by Shawn Laven , 2002

7 years ago
Ancient Egyptian Bread Making

In Ancient Egypt, women ground wheat into flour, the flour was then pounded by men to make a fine grain, and in some cases sesame seeds, honey, fruit, butter, and herbs were often added to the dough to help flavor the bread. However, it is a bit more complicated than that.

In the cultivation of grain, there were eight steps that the ancient farmer knew as well as he knew his own land. The cultivated land was ploughed with a wooden axe. Plowing may have been done with the aid of an animal, or exclusively by human strength. Sowing was done by hand, with the help of goats that walked over the newly sown fields to push the seeds out of the reach of birds looking for a quick meal. Once the grain was ready for harvesting, the fields would come to life with the harvesting process.  Harvesting was done with sickles. The grain was bundled and carried on the back of donkeys to a safe and dry place to avoid spoilage. The grain was then put through the process known as threshing. It was spread in a contained area and trampled on by the hooves of donkeys. In the Middle Kingdom of Egypt, cows were often used in this process. This trampling process aided in the separation of the grain from the chaff. The next step was often depicted in the tomb paintings of ancient Egyptians. Often done by women, wooden forks were used to eliminate the light chaff and straw from the grain. Next, they would use sieves made from reeds and palm leaves to separate the longer chaff and weeds from the grain. The final step was to secure the crop of grain in bins until consumption. The ancient Egyptians were thorough in their cultivation of grain, the excess was used as export to neighboring nations. This proved to be a consistent economic push especially during times of Egyptian unrest; bread was still exported for profit.

Beer was a very popular beverage, made from bread, the staple food in the Egyptian diet. If there was a constant supply of bread, one could guess that there was a constant supply of beer. Along with the bread flakes the beer was made with barley. The barley was left to dry, and then baked into loaves of bread. The baked barley loaves were then broken into pieces and mixed with dried grain in a large jug of water and left to ferment. Wine was a drink that was produced by the Egyptians; however, it was usually found only at the tables of the wealthy. Considering the vast majority of Egyptians were not wealthy, a vast majority of Egyptians drank beer.

The bread also held a religious importance. While exploring Mentuhotep II's mortuary temple, archaeologist found a loaf of bread that was over 4000 years old. It was placed with other objects under the foundation of Mentuhotep II's temple in Western Thebes. The temple itself was believed to be a microcosm of the universe, and sitting in one of the four corners a piece of Ancient Egyptian bread. This symbolizes the important value of the dietary staple.

Contrary to popular belief, slaves did not build the pyramids. Rather, huge armies of paid workers built the ancient tombs that still stand today. These workers were paid in bread. Being the main staple of the Egyptian diet, � bread and grain were the means of payment for the workers who built the royal tombs in the Valley of the Kings, so bread was really as good as gold in ancient Egypt.�

Bread was also seen as a luxury item. For the peasant and common man, a mixture of flour and water was enough to get them through the day. For the Pharaoh and high priest, bread reflected their noble stature by adding honey, fruit and berries, and even sesame seeds.

7 years ago

Zahi Hawass and other archaeologist were digging south of the Sphinx in Giza when they found what was, in the third millennium B.C., a fully stocked and functioning bakery. This ancient bakery, located next to a grain silo, was stocked with cooking gadgets and utensils and dough making equipment. While looking at these tools, Hawass discovered that the farmers in rural Upper Egypt today prepare bread similar to how it was made at the ancient bakery. It is called �aysh sham� or �sun bread�.  It is believed that this bakery might have been able to make enough bread for 20,000 workers. A form of ancient fast food for the pyramid workers, these bakeries ensured a well-fed labor union.

During the bread-making process, it was almost impossible to eliminate small stones or sand grains from the flour.  Ultimately, the sand became part of the bread. These gritty elements wore down the enamel of the teeth, which led to holes in the enamel where bacteria and disease could live. Ironically, it was the staple food of bread with the sand and rock baked inside that lead many of the ancient Egyptian's into a world of tooth decay and even death.

http://touregypt.net/magazine/mag07012001/magf5.htm

http://www2.sptimes.com/Egypt/EgyptCredit.4.2.html

Al-Narsawi, Seif. The International Desk. http://www.upi.com

Written by Brian Madigan, 2002

Ancient Egyptian Fishing

Fishing in ancient Egypt was for sport as well as for food and trade. The Nile constituted most of the fishing area for the Egyptians with an ample amount of fish. The Egyptian diet being based heavily on grains, fish were an easy source of protein for the peasant class. Some species were considered to be better than other species, such as the Nile Perch and Eel as they were considered sacred to the Nile. Other species eaten by the Egyptians were catfish, carp, mullets, tilapia, elephant-snout fish, tiger fish, and moonfish. The fish would be cleaned and prepared by either pickling, roasting, drying, or by boiling.

To catch the fish ,Egyptians used nets, traps or pens, hooks and harpoons. The hooks were simple line and hook format (later using more conventional rod and line format) in which the hook was usually made from bone. The size of the hooks ranged from eight millimeters to eighteen centimeters. By the 12th Dynasty, metal hooks began to replace bone, and barb and barb-less hooks were used. The use of nets and corralling fish was also done. There were dangers to the fisherman, the Nile crocodile could easily take fish off the lines and also make a quick meal out of any fisherman than fell over board from the canoes.

Fishing was a way for the Egyptians not only to get food but also to relax and enjoy a day by the river. Many tomb paintings show fisherman by the water catching fish and even lazily sitting in chairs by the river. Fish also played a role in temple offerings such as catfish at the temple of Amen.

Ancient Egyptian fisherman and modern day anglers have much in common, even though the technology has gotten better, the methods have stayed relatively the same. Anglers still catch fish for food and sport, the local supermarket sells fish in many of the same ways Egyptians prepared their fish for the market. Fish were a food source, a part of the economy, and a pastime for many young and old.

Written by Chuck Daniels, 2002
7 years ago
Ancient Egyptian Hunting

Ancient Egypt was a paradise of many varieties of animals, including a diversity of birds, crocodiles of the Nile, hyenas, lions, leopards, gazelles, ostrich, and deer of the grassy savannahs. Ancient Egyptians used a variety of weapons on the hunt including, spears, arrows, throw-sticks, nets, and a boomerang type of weapon. Ancient Egyptians also used animals to hunt other animals, greyhound dogs were popular and tame cheetahs may have been used in the hunt. There is evidence that nobles and pharaohs kept wild animals and even tried breeding them. Queen Hatshepsut kept wild animals such as baboons, giraffes, cheetahs, and exotic birds imported from the land of Punt. King Akhenaten built a wild animal enclosure. This is the reason why animals unknown to the environment have been found in tomb paintings.

The first hunts in ancient Egypt were done on foot and close to home. After the first three dynasties extended their cultivated areas and drained the marshes, most of the larger game moved out of the area. Chariots were used after their introduction and were mainly used by the pharaoh. Pharaohs and nobleman were the only ones privileged enough to hunt large game. Since domestication of animals was occurring in ancient Egypt, hunting wild game was regarded as the sport of kings and dignitaries. The Pharaoh employed a master of the hunt along with an audience and a specialized group called beaters. The Pharaoh usually hunted gazelle, antelope, ibex, little ox, Barbary sheep, and ostriches. Although hyenas, lions, and leopards were hunted it was rare because it took a great amount of courage and skill to kill these beasts. Group hunting was common too; a mass amount of animals were killed with a volley of arrows or killed when vulnerable near a watering hole. Perhaps this was a form of commercial hunting. Hunters were familiar with the animals they hunted such as the food they ate, mating habits, and the diseases they carried ensuring a successful hunt. Ancient Egyptians were like the Native Americans in the sense that they both prayed to gods and spirits asking for safety and success of a hunt.

The peasants of ancient Egypt ate meat, but nowhere close to what the rich feasted on. The rich of ancient Egypt feasted on the most meat, simply because they were the ones hunting and they were the ones who could afford it. Peasants did hunt but it was usually geese, ducks, cranes, and quails that they ate. Both upper and lower classes ate beef, although the rich ate it frequently and the poor ate it only on festive holidays along with sheep and goats. Pork was eaten, but was looked down upon because it has an association with the evil god, Seth.

Hunting was an active sport in ancient Egypt, but large game whether it was imported or domestic was reserved for the upper class. The poor hunted but it was animals of lesser value. Hunting was entertainment for the pharaoh and nobles, but they also did consume the meat and kept the hides.

References

www.touregypt.net/featurestories/diet.htm

www.sis.gov.eg.pharo/html/hunt03.htm

www.touregypt.net/featurestories/hunting.htm

Written by Adam Erickson, 2002

7 years ago
Ancient Egyptian Houses

Throughout the history of the world, no region has been more influenced by the natural attributes of the land than Egypt. The rhythm of the Nile reflected the rhythm of life in Egypt for thousands of years. In ancient Egypt, the Nile was their main source for survival and for the great triumph of their civilization. The Nile was not only the source of water,  but the ancient Egyptians had religious beliefs that focused on the Nile. They relied on the gods to control the annual ebb and flow of the river. They constructed their homes from the soil of the Nile, and built them in proximity to the river. When describing the life of an ancient Egyptians, it is virtually impossible not to consider this river as part of their way of life.  Many of the major settlements in Egypt, such as Cairo and Giza, were located right along the corridor of the river Nile.

Houses of the Ancient Egyptians were built out of bricks made from mud. The mud was collected in leather buckets and taken to the building site. Here workers added straw and pebbles to the mud to strengthen the bricks. This mixture was then poured into wooden brick frames or molds. The bricks were left out in the sun to dry and to cure. These dwellings deteriorated after time, and new ones were built right on top of the crumbled material, creating hills called tells. Only buildings that were meant to last forever were made of stone. After the house was built it was covered with plaster, very similar to the technique used in adobe housing in the American Southwest. Inside of the house, the plaster was often painted with either geometric patterns or scenes from nature. The interior of the houses were cool as the small windows let in only a little light.

Egyptian houses were typically built in along the Nile.  They had to be built high in order to avoid annual flooding from the Nile. The living areas were often on the top floors and many activities were done on the roof of the houses. High sand dunes were erected as barriers from flood water. There were two types of homes typical in Egypt, the home of the worker's and the town house. The average dimension of the workers house was approximately 4m by 20m. A typical workers home ranged from two to four rooms on the ground level, an enclosed yard, a kitchen at the back of the house and two underground cellars for storage. Niches in the walls held religious objects. The roof was also used as living space and storage.   There was little furniture save beds and small chests for keeping clothes. There was no running water and sometimes a single well served an entire town. Egyptian villagers spent most of their time out of doors. They often slept, cooked, and ate atop their houses' flat roofs.

Entering from the street, there were steps into the entrance hall. The entrance hall had a cupboard bed, the use of it is uncertain. The next room had a distinctive wooden pillar in the middle supporting the roof. This was the main room of the house, and it was used as a shrine or a reception area. The master of the house had his masters chair sitting atop a raised platform.  There were several stools and one or two tables for the guests, and the room was lit by a high small window located above the roof of the first room. This room was decorated with holy images along the walls, and a table with offerings in front of a false door. Underneath the masters raised platform (dais), a trap door leads down a flight of stairs into the cellar, where valuables could be kept.

Behind the central room was a hall with a door on the side leading to a bedroom. The bedroom and the roof were used interchangeably as resting areas. At the end of the hall was the kitchen with an open roof. In the kitchen was a door leading to another cellar that served as a pantry. Different heights in the roofs allowed for more private windows in the house.

7 years ago

The homes of the wealthy and noble classes were large. The typical town house of ancient Egypt had many features similar to the workers houses. Town houses were typically two to three stories high. They were typically more spacious and more comfortable than the workers houses. They made high walls that supported multiple-story buildings by reinforcing them with beams. In multi-story homes, stones were often used in the first floor for greater strength at the base. The first level of the house was usually the working area where business was conducted, and servants would remain. The second and third floors are more adorned and were the living areas of the house with similar features to the workers home.

The food was prepared on the roof and brought down to the rooms by the servants. Cooking was done outside because it was considered dangerous to do it in an enclosed area inside the house. Cooling was also a factor to keeping cooking outside. Egyptians always tried to keep their houses cool from the prevalent warm temperatures. Windows were constructed close to the ceilings in order to maintain cool temperatures indoors.  Also mats were often spread on the floors for cooling.  Proper sanitation was a luxury that only the wealthier townspeople could have. They would have toilets carved of limestone, and the sewage would be disposed of into pits in the streets. They were usually two to three stories high. The ground floor was often reserved for businesses, while the upper floors provided living space for the family. Many people slept on the flat roof during the summer to keep cool. Cooking was also often done on the roof.

The ancient Egyptians, even the wealthy ones, had a very limited assortment of furniture. A low, square stool, the corners of which flared upwards and on top was placed a leather seat or cushion, was the most common type of furnishing. Chairs were rare and they only belonged to the very wealthy. Small tables were made of wood or wicker and had three to four legs. Beds were made of a woven mat placed on wooden framework standing on animal-shaped legs. At one end was a footboard and at the other was a headrest made a curved neckpiece set on top of a short pillar on an oblong base. Lamp stands held lamps of simple bowls of pottery containing oil and a wick. Chests were used to store domestic possessions such as linens, clothing, jewelry, and make-up.

The garden had a formal pool and rows of trees and shrubs. The well was conveniently located near the garden and the cattle yard. It consisted of a wide hole in which a flight of steps lead down to a platform from which water was drawn up using a rope and bucket. Foundations were generally non existent. Virgin soil above groundwater level was baked rock hard by the sun and needed just some leveling. In order to build on top of collapsed dwellings, the clay rubble was well watered and let to set and harden.

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Wealthy Egyptian people had spacious estates with comfortable houses. The houses had high ceilings with pillars, barred windows, tiled floors, painted walls, and stair cases leading up to the flat roofs where one could overlook the estate. There would be pools and gardens, servant's quarters, wells, granaries, stables, and a small shrine for worship. The wealthy lived in the countryside or on the outskirts of a town.

There are two examples of excavated villages, one at El-Amarna, and the other at Deir el-Medinah. The workers village at El-Amarna was laid out along straight narrow streets, within a boundary wall. The houses were small, barrack-like dwellings, where animals lived as well as people. Many houses had keyhole-shaped hearths and jars sunk into the floor. There was no well in the village and the water had to be brought from some distance away. Life must have been far more pleasant in the village of Deir el-Medina, home to the workers of the Theban royal tombs. There was a single street with ten houses on either side. The houses in this village had three large rooms, a yard and a kitchen, underground cellars for storage, and niches in the walls for statues of household gods.

 

Resources:

Rafael Paulino http://idol.union.edu/~paulinor/Assign2/Egypt.htm

http://www.iw-chameleon.co.uk/12life.htm

http://nefertiti.iwebland.com/timelines/topics/index.html

/emuseum/prehistory/egypt/dailylife/dailylife.html

http://idol.union.edu/~paulinor/Assign2/Egypt.htm

http://www.angelfire.com/realm2/amethystbt/Egyptianhome.html

http://www.bergen.org/AAST/Projects/Egypt/social_report.html

 

Written by Sarah Burns, 2003


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Differences in Genders

The life of an ancient Egyptian was short and difficult.  Newborn children were not likely to survive their first year. The infant mortality rate was extremely high, possibly around 60-70%, and the mortality rate for women in childbirth was also extremely high. Children then were seen as a special blessing from the gods if they survived their first year.

After about the age of 5, boys and girls were separated in their learning experiences. Boys from wealthy families went to school.  Boys from poor families began helping with the men's jobs in the fields or whatever other occupation their father happened to hold. A boy's education lasted the child was between 12 and 16 at which time they were considered grown and could begin to work for themselves. This would be the earliest age for men to marry, but normally they were between 17-20 years of age when they took their first wife. Men could take more than one wife, but had to be able to support each of them and their children.  As a result, this was usually done only by the very wealthy. Most men then continued to work until they died,  the average life span was approximately 30 years of age for a poorer working man. Making it past the age of 40 was seen as a special blessing and those who did so were rewarded.  Men were granted a stipend by the government consisting of grain and vegetables each year.  This ration was smaller than what he would have earned had he continued to work but it was enough to keep him alive.

Girls lives were much different than boys. Their entire life was centered around the home and family. At age 4, girls would begin to learn from their mothers how to maintain the house . They would learn how to sew, make foods, and keep house. The hours spent doing domestic chores were much longer than the educational hours of boys.  Cloth had to be made and sewed into pieces of clothing, the fields planted and tended, food prepared, and countless other household chores.  Girls were expected to marry after they began menstruating around the age of 12 or 13, although there is evidence of girls marrying as young as 8 or 9 years of age. They were also excepted to have a child within the first year of marriage. Pregnancy was a revered condition in ancient Egypt and even if a girl wasn't married, her pregnancy was celebrated. Women's lives were also relatively short with an average of 30 years for poor women and slightly more for women from richer families. Female retirement was different from men's, however.  Women were to be taken care of by their sons. If a women had no sons she was to be taken care of by her daughter and son-in-law, but this was rare and occurred only if the daughter was now part of a wealthier family. It was more likely that these old women would be forced to live as beggars.

References:

http://library.thinkquest.org/J0111229/team1/life.htm

http://www.sptimes.com.htm 

http://www.touregypt.net/magazine/mag11012000/magf1.htm

http://www.library.cornell.edu/colldev/mideast/womneg.htm

Written by: Holly Laite, 2002

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Ancient Egyptian Mining and Smelting

Pharaonic Egypt's history stretches long, and in that period much was done in the technologies of mining and the working of metals found there naturally and imported from abroad. The earliest metals found and used were quite probably what is termed free or native metals; nuggets found in the metallic state. Such nuggets of native iron or copper, for instance, were rare and the Egyptians had to learn to mine metal-bearing ores and the smelting processes used to extract workable metal.

Copper was the first metal to see extensive use in Egypt. Soft, malleable, and with a relatively low melting point of 1,083 degrees Celsius, copper tools, weapons, and ornaments are found beginning approximately 4000 BCE. Conditions for miners were described as �wretched,� and for most of the years of Egyptian history, the work seems to have been done by teams of slaves. Mining was also seasonal in many cases, and since the majority of mining sites were in the desert east of the Nile and on the mountainous and dry Sinai Peninsula, it's easy to understand why. Provisioning remote locations in the eastern desert was especially difficult, as well, as caravans' risked attack by raiding desert-dwellers. Generally, mines of all types were placed as near as possible to rivers to facilitate travel and provisioning. Deposits of copper ore mined were almost always on the surface, and extraction was usually of the distinctive green malachite ore (which was also used as a pigment), but also of chrysocolla, and the somewhat rare bluish azurite.

Smelting to extract metal from the ore was almost always done on-site, no matter what was being mined. Copper ore was extracted and broken into small pieces and mixed with charcoal fuel in a fire on the ground or in a shallow pit. This method produced temperatures of between 700 and 800 degrees Celsius, enough to separate the metal from the rock, but not hot enough to reduce it to a truly molten state. After sufficient time had passed, the fuel was removed and the resulting bits of freed copper were gathered up. Later, smelting operations utilized furnaces and bellows, causing the copper to become truly molten and allowing casting of the copper into ingots for easier transportation and measurement.

Estimates made from slag heaps found at these copper mining operations indicate that an average of five tons of copper were produced annually in Egypt during the Bronze Age, which was not enough to supply the kingdom with its metal needs, necessitating importation of copper as well as tin for Egypt's bronze production. This harder, easier to cast metal eclipsed copper as the major material for tools in Egypt after its introduction from western Asia.

Egypt's gold was typically obtained by two different methods. Placer gold, found in river deposits of silt, was simply extracted by washing the lighter silt away with water, picking out any particles of gold, and setting aside whatever was found for later melting into ingots. This is possibly the way the metal for Egypt's earliest golden artifacts was obtained. Gold-bearing veins of quartzite were also exploited in the eastern desert and in Nubia. Quartzite is a harder stone than the stone bearing copper ores (malachite could be mined with flint tools, which it was during early periods), so greater effort had to be used to extract it. A Greek account from the 2nd century BCE describes the Egyptian miners lighting fires over deposits of gold-bearing quartzite to make the stone more brittle and smashing the stone with hammers and picks. The broken rock was then reduced to dust by a series of mortar and pestles and hand mills. Gold was separated by hand from the resulting powder. Trenches along the surface were what characterized the typical Egyptian gold mining operation, though particularly promising veins were followed underground vertically or horizontally into mountainsides for as long as was practical, with one especially deep shaft recorded as extending 120 cubits straight down.

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Gold is typically found in native form, but it usually contains some sort of metallic impurity, in Egypt this impurity was usually one of iron, copper, or silver. Ironically, the chief impurity of the gold found by the miners of Egypt was silver, which was considered much more valuable than gold due to its comparative rarity. Varying amounts of silver impurity is encountered in Egyptian gold. Gold that was diluted with a high enough impurity of silver was called electrum, and was highly prized for its durability and sheen. Refinement of gold for greater purity did not occur until sometime around the age of Persian hegemony over Egypt, though it was graded by purity by the twelfth dynasty. Gold was refined by the Egyptians using salt to extract the silver, which was lost during the process.

Iron production in Egypt lagged behind the rest of the Middle East, not being produced internally until around 1000 BCE. The 18th Dynasty saw a gradual increase of the amount of iron products and by the 26th Dynasty bronze was falling into disfavor as a metal for tools. By the time of the Ptolmaic Dynasty, iron had replaced bronze as the metal used in tools.

The Egyptian word for iron was biat or bia n pet, which literally means ore of the heavens. The small amounts of Egyptian iron artifacts found before the widespread use of the metal are either imported from other areas of the Middle East or, in the case of older ceremonial and decorative items, betray the tell-tale nickel impurity that is characteristic of meteorites. This lateness in the production of iron cannot be traced to a lack of materials. Iron-bearing minerals, such as hematite, ochre, sienna, and umbers were fairly common and used for decorative and cosmetic purposes from a very early time period. Iron's properties differed significantly from the metals that Egyptians were experienced in working. The temperatures needed to work it were high: 1100 degrees Celsius to reduce the metal from the ore, and the temperature needed to melt iron to a liquid state for casting, 1530 degrees Celsius, was beyond the means of anyone for hundreds of years. Iron must also be worked while hot, something not needed for the other metals that the Egyptians and other Bronze-Age cultures were familiar with.

The mining of iron, like a great deal of other Egypt's metal production, took place mostly in the eastern desert and the Sinai Peninsula, though deposits of hematite existed near Aswan and umbers, ochre, and sienna were extracted from a wide variety of locations, including oases in the western desert as well as the formerly mentioned sites.

Egypt's history as a metal-using culture extends deep into the past. Copper and gold tools and ornaments date back to the Pre-Dynastic period and its craftsmen have produced a myriad of beautiful treasures and practical tools during Egypt's time as a power and a living culture. Although Egypt was not the originator of metalworking, the exploitation of the mineral resources under its control assisted in its rise to power and craftsmanship.

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Bibliography

Ancient Egyptian Materials and Industries. Lucas, A. and Harris, J. R. 1962. W. & K. Mackay & Co Ltd. Chatham, United Kingdom.

“Bir Umm Fawakhir: Insights into Ancient Egyptian Mining” Meyer, Carol. JOM, 49 (3) (1997) pp 64-68. http://www.tms.org/pubs/journals/JOM/9703/Meyer-9703.html#R2

“An Introduction to the History and Culture of Pharaonic Egypt” Dollinger, Andre. 2000. Reshafim. http://www.reshafim.org.il/ad/egypt/index.html?sort=alpha&action=search

By Andrew Brown 2004


The History of Plumbing - Egypt

From ancient times, the rise and fall of the River Nile portended periods of famine or good fortune for the peoples of Egypt. Other than wells, the River Nile is the only source of water in the country. During an idyllic year, the flooding of the Nile would begin in July, and by September its receding waters would deposit a rich, black silt in its wake for farming. Before taming the river, however, the ancient Egyptians had to overcome the river's peculiar problem.

The Niles runs along an alluvial plain, the ebb and tide of the Nile corresponding to an annual movement of the ground. When the Nile is the lowest, the ground completely dries up. When it floods, the water seeps into the dry soil and causes the ground to rise as much as a foot or two like some bloated sponge. As the inundation subsides the ground settles again to its original dry level, but never settles evenly.

The name Egypt means "Two Lands," reflecting the two separate kingdoms of Upper and Lower prehistoric Egypt - Delta region in the north and a long length of sandstone and limestone in the south. In 3000 B.C., a single ruler, Menes, unified the entire land and set the stage for an impressive civilization that lasted 3,000 years. He began with the construction of basins to contain the flood water, digging canals and irrigation ditches to reclaim the marshy land.

From these earliest of times, so important was the cutting of a dam that the event was heralded by a royal ceremony. King Menes is credited with diverting the course of the Nile to build the city of Memphis on the site where the great river had run. By 2500 B. C., an extensive system of dikes, canals and sluices had developed. It remained in use until the Roman occupation, circa 30 B.C. - 641 A.D.

For pure water, the Egyptians depended upon wells. Their prowess in divining hidden sources is shown in the "Well of Joseph," constructed about 3000 B.C. near the Pyramids of Gizeh. Workers had to dig through 300 feet of solid rock to tap into the water.

Plumbing For the Dead: Egypt's pyramid-temples which have withstood thousands of years of time also attest to the skill of the ancient construction workers. The earliest pyramids were built from 2660-2500 B.C., a period running parallel with the Sumer-Mesop
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Plumbing For the Dead: Egypt's pyramid-temples which have withstood thousands of years of time also attest to the skill of the ancient construction workers. The earliest pyramids were built from 2660-2500 B.C., a period running parallel with the Sumer-Mesopotamians when they achieved their greatest advances in civilization. Yet any cultural ties that Egypt had with Mesopotamia had vanished by this period.

Stone Bath




A stone bath with plastered sides and drain. Just below the outlet of the bath, water drained into a vase perforated at the bottom and cemented into the earth.




By 2500 B.C. the Egyptians were pretty adept with drainage construction, accentuated by the significance that water played in their priestly rituals of purification and those affecting the burial of the kings. According to their religion, to die was simply to pass from one state of life to another. If the living required food, clothing and other accoutrements of daily life, so did the dead. Thus, it's not surprising that archaeologists have discovered bathrooms in some tombs.

Excavators of the mortuary temple of King Suhura at Abusir discovered niches in the walls and remnants of stone basins. These were furnished with metal fittings for use as lavatories. The outlet of the basin closed with a lead stopper attached to a chain and a bronze ring. The basin emptied through a copper pipe to a trough below. The pipe was made of 1/16" beaten copper to a diameter of a little under 2". A lap joint seam hammered it tight.

Also found within a pyramid temple built by King Tutankhamen's father-in-law at Abusir, was a brass drain pipe running from the upper temple along the connecting masonry causeway to the outer temple on the river.

Excavators have discovered a tomb which supposedly contains the body of Osiris before he became a god. It contains the dividing line between Life and Death, i.e., a deep moat containing water that surrounds all sides of the figure of the god on his throne. After 5,000 years, water still fills the canal through underground pipes from the River Nile.

Coppersmiths: The ancient Egyptians were early developers of pipe and the techniques of making copper alloys. In the begimling, of course, their pipe and fittings were very crude. Like the Mesopotamians, they used clay pipe made from a combination of straw and clay. First it was dried in the sun, and then baked in ovens. As they improved upon their clay sewer pipe, the Egyptians were able to drain the low-lying portions of the Nile Valley, and gradually the entire region evolved into a fertile garden.

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It is here in Egypt that the noria or Egyptian wheel became a common use. As in Mesopotamia, it consisted of a chain pump comprising a number of earthen pots carried round and round by a wheel.

The Egyptians were quite skilled in working metals. They melted metal in a crucible over a super-hot fire, the intense heat provided by men fanning the fire with blowpipes made of reeds tipped with clay. The molten metal was poured out and allowed to cool, then beaten out with smooth stones into sheets of the required thickness. It was then cut to shape. One explanatory picture in a tomb chapel describes the process as "causing metal to swim."

Other examples of their craftsmanship are found in bowls of beaten copper on which they casted double spouts. Originally copper basins were used only by the pharoahs.

The homes of the wealthy were airy and roomy, literally. There were bedrooms, servants' quarters, halls, dining rooms - and bathrooms. Actually, a "bathroom" was usually a small recessed room with a square slab of limestone in the corner. There the master of the house stood while his slaves liberally doused him with water. The waste water ran into a large bowl in the floor below or through an earthenware channel in the wall where it emptied into still another bowl outside. Then that bowl was baled out by hand.

Remains of early earth closets with limestone seats also have been discovered, the disposal evidently in the sandy soil.

Many other details of Egypt's past are lost in obscurity. But of their engineering skill there is no doubt. Knowing only the lever, roller, inclined plane and possibly a long copper saw, they erected immense monuments in the desert sands and along great cliffs.

When anyone reflects on ancient Egypt today, the Great Pyramid of Cheops and its staggering dimensions invariably are brought to mind: It stands 481 ft. high and contains 2 million blocks of yellowish limestone. Each block weights 2.5 tons, was quarried miles away, floated on barges, and dragged from the shores of the Nile to its present site.

The other monument of renown is the Sphinx, guardian of the pyramids, which the ancients carved out of bedrock. It is shaped like a crouching lion with a human head. Unfortunately it was built before the services of a good Roman plumber were available. Located outside present day Cairo, it has lost limestone blocks to the marauding influence of undeground water pollution - caused mainly by nearby villagers throwing household and human waste out in the street.

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Dogs and Jackals

Article by Catherine Soubeyrand.

We continue our trip on the shores of history but remain in Egypt.

This time let me introduce you to a game whose name and rules have also been forgotten among the mists of the past. It is known as the game of "Dogs and Jackals." We know of it by way of a famous boardgame found in an Egyptian tomb. It belongs to a family of games named "game of the thirty points" or "game of the fifty eight holes".

Many gameboards or pieces of gameboards have been discovered in Egypt but also in Palestine, Mesopotamia and Assyria. A very nice boardgame has been found in the tomb of Reny-Seneb, XII dynasty, about 1800 BC. This beautiful game in ebony and ivory, has the shape of a small piece of furniture. The gameboard is a rectangular (15x10cm) wooden box, put on four animal legs. The top in ivory is carved with a palm tree and fifty eight holes.

Schematic drawing of the gameboard.
In the drawer within the box, ten pawns were found. They look like short sticks, five carved with a dog head and five with a jackal head. The pawns were placed in the holes of the gameboard, they certainly describe a trail that the pawns have to follow. Holes showings marks (15), circles, or inlays might have played a special role in the course of the game. Were the lines between 10 and 24, or 20 and 22 some shortcuts ?

Rules as Proposed by R.C.Bell The game is for two players. Five dogs are given to one and five jackals to the other. You will need three pieces of money to use to determine movement. The goal is to reach the five points (25 to 29) on your side of the board and win the dates.

For the moves the conventions are:

  • one head = one
  • two heads = two
  • three heads = three
  • three tails = five and a free move
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The Play
  1. Both players agree on a stake.
  2. The right side of the board belongs to the dogs and the left to the jackals.
  3. The brown circle above the palm tree is the starting point. The pawns move then on the side of the gameboard trying to reach the top of the tree (25 to 29).
  4. Exact throws are required to reach the final positions. The order in which it is done has no importance.
  5. The two players throw the three coins in turn. A five is required to introduce a new pawn on the starting point. Then the pieces are thrown again to move the pawn.
  6. The first pawn to reach a hole with an horizontal mark (15 on dog side) wins the stake.
  7. Only one pawn may be put on a hole. If no move is possible the throw is lost for this player.
  8. If a pawn reaches a hole linked to an other hole by a path (10-24, 20-22), it follows the line which acts like a ladder to the victory.
  9. A player must move his pawns when he can do so. If he can move no pawns, his or her opponent is allowed to add his throw to his or her own .
  10. The first player having put his five pawns in the five holes (25 to 29) wins the game.

Bibliography :
R.C.Bell, The Boardgame Book, 1979 Marshall Cavendish Ltd, London

Religion of Ancient Egypt

      Religion was very important to the Ancient Egyptians. Their religion was strongly influenced by tradition, which caused them to resist change. "Egyptians did not question the beliefs which had been handed down to them; they did not desire change in their society. Their main aim throughout their history was to emulate the conditions which they believed had existed at the dawn of creation" (Pg. 81, David, 1988). One of the very strong traditions was that of Divine Kingship. Divine Kingship is the belief that the Pharaoh was not only the King (political ruler) but also a god. The Pharaoh was Horus the falcon god associated with Horus, son of Re the sun god. Later it was believed that at death he became Osiris, or an Osiris, and would help the Egyptians in their afterlife.

     Due to their beliefs, the Pharaoh held an immense amount of power. In addition, the priests in Ancient Egypt were also very powerful. When things were going well, the people believed the priest and pharaoh were doing their jobs well; when things in the country were not going well, the people believed the pharaoh and the priest were to blame.

     The religion of Ancient Egypt was a polytheistic (many gods) religion with one short period of monotheism (one god). Their religion hosted about 700 different gods and goddesses. In addition, it was not uncommon for deities to be combined to form a new deity.

Pyramid of Egypt     One of the more famous aspects of the Egyptian religious beliefs was their ideas of the afterlife. They believed the physical body had to be preserved to allow a place for their spirit to dwell in the afterlife. Because of this, mummification was performed to preserve the body. In addition, large pyramids were constructed as tombs for the pharaohs in the Old Kingdom. Later, rock cut tombs were used to bury the pharaohs. Click on the items below for more information about Egyptian religion.

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Ancient Egyptian Gods and Goddesses

Egyptian religion has over 700 gods and goddesses with a variety of beliefs depending on the time period of Egyptian history which is being studied. Even the Egyptian recognized the difficulty of following the multitude of gods and goddesses as early as the Old Kingdom. They attempted to simplify the religion by organize their gods in family groups of eight or nine.

Evidence is very limited on Predynastic Egypt (before 3100 B.C.). What we do know would suggest that early Egyptian developed local cults of worship often centered around animals. Each community would worship it's own deity or set of deities.

After the unification of Egypt, (3100 B.C.) their religion was polytheistic with one exception during the reign of Akhenaten. During this time the Pharaoh Akhenaten changed the religion of Egypt to be monotheistic, worshiping only Aten, his patron god. His changes lasted only during his reign and were changed back to earlier practices after his death. The Egyptian gods can be divided into two main categories; household gods and local, state or national gods.

Household gods were often worshiped at shrines located in peoples living quarters. These gods often lacked cult followers, priests or temples at which they were worshiped. None the less these gods were of key importance to the general population, in that the state and national gods often seemed distant. Two of the most well known household gods were Bes and Tauert.

Local and state gods were the main deity or deities in certain locations in Egypt. For example, the crocodile god was worshiped mostly in the Fayoum and at Kom Ombo. From the group of local and state gods, some would gain national recognition and would be worshiped throughout Egypt. For example Re, the sun god, began to become national recognized as early as early as the second dynasty. To add to the mix, gods were sometimes combined with others to make a new deity to be worshiped. For example Re was combined with the state god Amun to become Amen-Re during the New Kingdom Era.

The national gods were often promoted by the reigning pharaohs preferences. For the common people , worship of the local or household gods was most common. People may also chose to worship gods which could help them in their occupation. For example a scribe often close Thoth as their primary deity. Thoth was the patron god of scribes and writing.

   Below are links to individual gods and goddess pages. Each page is illustrated with information on the god/goddess. In addition the dictionary has brief descriptions of the major god/goddess in the Egyptian system.

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Introduction to Egyptian Mummification

Anubis patron god of embalmers

Egyptians believed that the body was the link to a spiritual existence in the afterStatue in Tomb of Mererukalife. The body was mummified so the spirit could get needed food and drink in the afterlife. In case the body was destroyed or damaged, magical spells were placed on a statue of the deceased so the spirit could continue to have their needs met.

Mummification was a long and expensive process. A person would need to have a tomb built, gather necessary objects to place in the tomb, and their son or a preist would have to be appointed to bring offering for the deaseased on a daily bases. In the Old Kingdom, it was a process reserved primarily for the Pharaoh and his top advisors. In the Middle and New Kingdoms, the Egyptians came to believe that the afterlife extended to the general population. The expense still limited full procedure to those who were finanically well off in the society. For the poor, a shallow grave near the desert was common. The dry, hot climate often caused natural mummification.

There were three basic ways to mummify a body. The first method of mummification will be covered in detail on the next page (process of mummification). The second was to inject the body with cedar oil through the rectum and then dry the body with natron. The third way, similar to the second, was to inject the body with an unknown liquid and again dry the body.

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Creation Myths of Ancient Egypt

     There are several creation myths which developed in various locations in Egypt. The myths all had at the center of their story a primordial mound know as the "Island of Creation." It was the goal of religion to recreate this time which caused the Egyptians to be very traditional in their beliefs. Each of the major creation myths claimed that the temple of their local god/s was the physical location of the island. Three major stories which developed in the Old Kingdom were the Heliopolitan Myth, the Memphite Myth, and the Hermopolitan Myth. Each was named after the city where the myth developed respectively.

     The Heliopolitan Myth developed in Heliopolis and centered around Re-Atum as the key god figure. According to the myth, Re-Atum willed himself into existence. From him, Shu, the god of air and Tefnut, the god of moisture, were created. These two in turn had Geb, the earth god, and Nut, the sky god. From these the god of the elements were able to produce creation. In turn, these two produced Osiris, Isis, Seth, and Nephthys. This myth was the most widely accepted and famous of the creation myths.

     The Memphite Myth originated in Memphis. According to this myth it was Ptah who was the supreme creator god. According to this myth, Ptah was the one who started the cycle and not Re-Atum. From Ptah, a daughter was created who in turn created Re-Atum. According to this myth Ptah, was creator of the world, the gods, cities, food, drink, and all that was needed for life. This myth never did gain popular support among the majority of people in Egypt.

     The Hermopolitan Myth was developed at Hermopolis. Here the god Thoth, god of wisdom, was the main player. There are several versions to this myth. One account has a group of eight gods all playing major roles in the creation from a primordial ocean. Another account has a cosmic egg as the source of life. Another account for the creation was Thoth coming from a lotus flower which arose in the "Sea of Knives."

     Later, myths developed in the New Kingdom. One developed in Karnak at the temple of Amen-Re. This one claimed that Amen-Re was the creator of man and the gods. Another one in the new Kingdom from Khnum the ram headed god of Elephantine. This myth has Khnum creating man on his potters wheel.

Map of Orgins of Creation Myths

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Priest in Ancient Egypt

     The role of the priest was very important in Egyptian Society. The Egyptians believed the gods lived in the temples. Only the priest was allowed to enter the sacred area of the temple and approach the statue representing the god or goddess. The people could pray at the gate or in the court to the Pharaoh who acted as a go-between the people and the gods.

Bearing of Offerings     The priests role was to care for the needs of the god/goddess. They have no role to oversee or care for the people of Egypt. They did not try to educate the people on the religion or look after their morals.

 

 

 

The priest would care for the god in the following ways:

In the morning, the high priest breaks the seal, lights a torch to walk the god, says prayers, lights incense, washes the statue (which may be solid gold), places fresh clothing and jewels on it and places offerings of food and drink near it. Singers offer hymns of praise to the god. At the end of the day, the priest backs out of the shrine, sweeping away his footprints as he goes, and seals the sacred area again. (Pg. 43 Day, 2001)

     The Egyptians believed the priest played a vital role in providing for the needs of the gods. If their duties were neglected, it was believed problems would arise. Due to the importance of their role for the society, the priest were well compensated.

Ritual Offering of Geese and Cranes     "For much of Egyptian history, there was no class of full-time professional priests." (Redford, 2002, pg 315). Many of the priest were classified as lay priest A lay priest is part-time and would hold another job often in a position in the state or local governments. The lay priests were especially common in small communities. Lay priests served on a rotation system. Normally, there were four equally staffed groups of lay priests. Each group would serve for a month and then return to their other occupation for three months.

     New priests were often chosen by the Pharaoh. Often, the Pharaoh would choose relatives to fill positions in the most powerful and influential temples. Many of the positions of priests were hereditary and remained as an inheritance in certain families. The Pharaoh would have the power to transfer or promote a priest the majority of the time. At times, they may have been selected by committee a of priests.

     Priests had certain requirements to meet while they were "on duty." They were only allowed to wear linens or clothing made of plants. Articles of clothing that were made from animals were not permitted. They were required to shave their heads and bodies daily. Cold water baths were taken several times a day. They had to practice sexual abstinence while performing their duties at the temple.

7 years ago
Ancient Egyptian Temples

     There are two types of temples which were built in Ancient Egypt. The first, Cultus Temples, were dedicated to the worship of a specific god of Egypt. An example of the Cultus Temple is the Temple of Horus at Edfu or Temple of Isis at Aswan. The second type, Mortuary temples, were built to honor a deceased pharaoh and often worship them as a god. An example of the Mortuary temple is the Temple of Ramesse II at Thebes.

     Temples in Egypt were a reflection of the Egyptians mythology of the "Island of Creation." The pillars were often shaped in the designs of palms, papyrus, and lotus which were plants believed to be on the island. All major creation myths put the origins at the "Island of Creation" and the religion emphasis on the idea of trying to return to that time.

Lotus Columns Palm Columns
Lotus Column
Palm Column

     At the Cultus temples, there were two types of ceremonies to the gods. The first was a daily ceremony of giving offerings and providing for the needs of the gods. The offering was usually performed by the priest in the sanctuary of the temple. Ordinary people, it is believed, were not allowed into the sanctuary of the temple and would have to stay outside. The second type of ceremonies were special festivals. These would happen at different times of the year. It was at those times that ordinary Egyptians could participate to a degree in the worship of the god.

     The Egyptians placed a very high value on the temples in Egypt. The people looked to the pharaoh and the priest to intercede on their behalf to the gods. The temple was believed to be the physical location where the Egyptian could connect with the gods.

7 years ago
Cult of Aten

Aten is known as the sun disk god. He was first introduced in the Middle Kingdom as a characteristic of the sun god Re. He was consider a separate god for the first time under Tuthmosis IV. Under Tutmosis son Amenhotep III, a cult was formed to worship Aten.

With the reign of Amenhotep IV the worship of Aten came to its pinnacle. Map Shwoing lacation of City of Akhetaten Amenhotep IV started his reign in the capitol city of Thebes. He had difficulties with the powerful priesthood of Amen-Re which had its main temple at Karnak. In the fifth year of his reign, he disbanded the priesthood of all the other gods in Egypt except Aten. He changed the religion from polytheistic to monotheistic. The King changed his name to Akenaten, meaning"servant of Aten." In addition, he moved the capitol city from Thebes to a newly constructed city of Akhetaten.

 

 

Queen NefreteteDuring his reign, a new type of art was developed. The art moved in the direction of a more realistic form away from the stiff formality of traditional Egyptian Art.

After Akenaten's death, he was succeeded by the boy King Tutankhaten. Tutankhaten returned the capitol to Thebes and changed his name to Tutankhamen in honor of Amen-Re. The kingdom was returned to it's earlier tradition of a polytheistic religion with Amen-Re as the prominent god of state. The recently built city of Akhetaten was abandoned. The majority of temples of Aten and inscriptions of Akenaten were dismantled or destroyed.

7 years ago
Ancient Egyptian Gods and Goddesses

Egyptian religion has over 700 gods and goddesses with a variety of beliefs depending on the time period of Egyptian history which is being studied. Even the Egyptian recognized the difficulty of following the multitude of gods and goddesses as early as the Old Kingdom. They attempted to simplify the religion by organize their gods in family groups of eight or nine.

Evidence is very limited on Predynastic Egypt (before 3100 B.C.). What we do know would suggest that early Egyptian developed local cults of worship often centered around animals. Each community would worship it's own deity or set of deities.

After the unification of Egypt, (3100 B.C.) their religion was polytheistic with one exception during the reign of Akhenaten. During this time the Pharaoh Akhenaten changed the religion of Egypt to be monotheistic, worshiping only Aten, his patron god. His changes lasted only during his reign and were changed back to earlier practices after his death. The Egyptian gods can be divided into two main categories; household gods and local, state or national gods.

Household gods were often worshiped at shrines located in peoples living quarters. These gods often lacked cult followers, priests or temples at which they were worshiped. None the less these gods were of key importance to the general population, in that the state and national gods often seemed distant. Two of the most well known household gods were Bes and Tauert.

Local and state gods were the main deity or deities in certain locations in Egypt. For example, the crocodile god was worshiped mostly in the Fayoum and at Kom Ombo. From the group of local and state gods, some would gain national recognition and would be worshiped throughout Egypt. For example Re, the sun god, began to become national recognized as early as early as the second dynasty. To add to the mix, gods were sometimes combined with others to make a new deity to be worshiped. For example Re was combined with the state god Amun to become Amen-Re during the New Kingdom Era.

The national gods were often promoted by the reigning pharaohs preferences. For the common people , worship of the local or household gods was most common. People may also chose to worship gods which could help them in their occupation. For example a scribe often close Thoth as their primary deity. Thoth was the patron god of scribes and writing.

   Below are links to individual gods and goddess pages. Each page is illustrated with information on the god/goddess. In addition the dictionary has brief descriptions of the major god/goddess in the Egyptian system.

7 years ago
Amun

Also Know as:

Amen
or
Amon

Amun

God of:

Great God of Thebes

Father of the Gods

Air

War

Fertility

Amun became very powerful during the 12th dynasty with the construction of a temple in his honor at Karnak. The height of his power came under the 18th dynasty, when a prince of a Theban family became king of Egypt. His consort, Mut, had temple built nearby at Luxor. Their son, Khonsu, became the moon god.

In the 18th Dynasty, Amun was credited with the success of pushing the foreign Hyksos out of Egypt. At times, the ruling pharaoh was threatened by the power and wealth of the priests of Amun. Their wealth often came from the spoils of war which would be dedicated to the temple. Their powerful influence continued throughout the New Kingdom until Egypt came under foreign control.

Amun was very powerful in Upper Egypt to the South. In the New Kingdom Amun was linked with Re of Lower Egypt to the North. This combination became Amen Re. He was the god of the air and acquired over time the titles of god of fertility and war in the New Kingdom. He also had several combinations with other dieties such as; Amun-Re-Atum, Amun-Re-Montu, Amun-Re-Horakhty, and Min-Amun.

Map of Centers of Worship for Amun


Navagation God and Goddess of Ancient Egypt

7 years ago
Anubis

Also known as:

Anpu

Anubis

God of:

Patron god of Embalmers

Great god of Necropolis

God of Mummification

Anubis was a god associated with death. He was a jackal headed god, one of several, but the one gaining most popularity and importance in the Egyptian religion. He was a guide to the dead and also was part of the judgment of the dead. During the Opening of the Mouth ceremony and mummification, priests often wore masks representing Anubis.

Anubis was originally a local god of an area in Upper Egypt. Anubis was prayed to as a god of the dead in the Old Kingdom. In the middle Kingdom he became credited with helping Isis embalm her husband Osiris. In all, Anubis played a large role in the very important afterlife of the Egyptians.

7 years ago
Bes
One of the most common household gods
Bes

Protector against snakes and terrors

Helper of women in child birth

God of: Marriage

Love

Dancing

Bes was shown as a dwarf. He, with his consort Tauert, were two of the most common domestic gods. They were considered domestic gods in that they did not have a group of priest or temples at which they were worshiped. Instead, they were normally worshiped at simple shrines in the houses of the common Egyptians. Tauert is usually shown as a pregnant hippopotamus and is the goddess of fertility and child birth.

7 years ago
Hathor

Shown as:

Women with horned head dress

or

Cow

Hathor

Goddess of:

Patron of Mining in Sinai Region

Love

Birth

Death

Music

Pleasure

Hathor was a very popular god in the Egyptian system. She was believed to receive Re each night and protect him so he could be reborn in the morning. According to myth, Re was angry at the Egyptians and sent Hathor to destroy all mortals. After seeing some of the destruction which Hathor brought upon the people, Re changed his mind. To correct this problem, Re sent red beer across the land. Hathor was drawn by the color of the beer, become drunk, and the people were saved. The myth gives Hathor the association with drunkenness.

Hathor had several centers where she was worshiped. She was later associated with the Greek goddess Aphrodite. Map of Places of Worship for Hathor
7 years ago
Horus

Other forms:

Haroeris
Harpocrates
Harsiesis
Re-Harakhty

Horus

Horus as Falcon

God Of:

Originally Sky God

Falcon God

Horus is show as a falcon. He is the son of Isis and Osiris, who would avenge his father's death at the hands of Seth. It was believed that he was incarnated as the pharaoh, which gave the pharaoh great power.

Map of centers of worsihip  for Horus

7 years ago
Isis
Isis

Known for:

Wife of Osiris

Divine Mother

Guardian of Coffins and Canopic Jars

Isis plays a very prominient role in the myth of Osiris. She became the symbol in Egypt for committed wife and mother. She had a son, Horus, to avenge her husbands death.

Map of Worship centers for Isis

7 years ago
Khnum
Khnum

God of:

Cataract region in Southern Egypt

Khunum is shown as a builder in the Old Kingdom. He is pictured as building a ladder to heaven and several times ferry boats. In the New Kingdom, under the reigns of Hatshepsut and Thutmose III, Khnum is believed to have molded man, animals, and the god's on his potter's wheel.

7 years ago
Osiris
Osiris

God of:

Underworld
King of Dead
Inundation
Vegetation

Osiris

Osiris became the most prominent god in the middle and new kingdoms among the common people of Egypt. In Osiris, the people saw the possibility that all Egyptians have the chance of an afterlife, not just the Pharaoh, which was commonly believed durning the Old Kingdom period.

The story of Osiris is very well know in Egyptian religion. Osiris was believed to be an early Egyptian king according to the myth. He brought to the Egyptians civilization and agriculture. His brother, Seth, desired the throne of Egypt and plotted to have Osiris killed.

Seth plotted with many in Osiris's court to remove Osiris from the throne. Seth hatched his plot with a special chest. He had the chest made to the exact measurements of Osiris. He then held a contest with the members of Osiris's court to see who would fit best in the chest. The winner could have the very beautiful chest. After some convincing by Seth and the other conspirators, Osiris tried the chest. Once inside, Seth nailed the lid and threw the chest into the Nile river where Osiris died. The chest went down the Nile and into the Mediterranean Sea, finding a resting place in Syria.

Isis, Osiris's wife, searched the entire land to find his body. Finally, she discovered it hidden under a tree in Syria on the way to visit the King of Phoenicians. She took it back to Egypt and hid the body. Unfortunately, Seth discovered the body by accident on a hunting trip and dismembered it into fourteen separate parts. Seth then spread Osiris's body all over Egypt.

Isis collected his body together and magically brought Osiris back to life. But Osiris could not stay; he was already part of the afterlife and could not leave the underworld.

Isis magically conceived a child by Osiris. Their child was Horus, who vowed to avenge his father's death and reclaim the thrown of Egypt. Horus fought a very long and bloody battle against Seth. Finally, the issue came before a tribunal of the gods. This tribunal ruled in favor of Osiris and Horus. Osiris was resurrected to become the King of the Underworld. This story became a symbol of family values and good over evil.

Map of Principle Centers for Osiris
7 years ago
Ptah
Ptah

God of:

Creator God of Memphis

Patron God of Craftsmen

Chief of gods in Old Kingdom

Ptah is credited with the establishment of ethics and morals. He also is credited for the creation of food, drink, towns, and buildings. Later, a combination god, Ptah-Seker-Osiris, was developed. This god combined creation, death, and afterlife into one deity and was pictured like Osiris.

Map of Centers of Worship for Ptah

7 years ago
Ra

Also Know as:

Re

Combination Gods
Amen-Re
Sobk-Re
Re-Harakhty

Ra or Re

God of Sun

Supreme Judge

Ra was a very powerful god starting as early as the second dynasty in Egypt. By the fifth dynasty, he was the chief god of state. He was believed to sail a course across the sky during the day. At night, he would die and sail through the underworld to be reborn again in the morning. This daily pattern was believed to be a pattern for the Pharaoh's own life, death, and resurrection. The pharaoh took the title "Son of Ra" to enhance his position among the people.

In the first intermediate period, Ra was replaced by Osiris as the most popular deity among the general Egyptians. Ra continued to be a strong and popular force in the pantheon of Egyptian gods all the way through the New Kingdom. He was often linked to other deities, such as Amun, to give the others national recognition.

Map of Centers of Worship for Ra

7 years ago
Sobek

Also Know As:

Sebek

Suchos

Sobk

Sobek

Know as the Crocodile God

Sobek is shown as a crocodile god. His centers were in the area of the Faiyum Oasis, Gebelein, and Kom Ombu. He orginated in the marshy areas where crocodiles were common and later spread to most of Egypt. He is known for the god of the Nile, floods, and fertility.

Map of Centers of Worship of Sobek

7 years ago
Thoth
Thoth

God of:

Scribes
Moon Deity
Writing
Counting
Wisdom

Thoth is said to be the scribe of the gods. He was the patron god of scribes.

7 years ago
Introduction to Egyptian Mummification

Anubis patron god of embalmers

Egyptians believed that the body was the link to a spiritual existence in the afterStatue in Tomb of Mererukalife. The body was mummified so the spirit could get needed food and drink in the afterlife. In case the body was destroyed or damaged, magical spells were placed on a statue of the deceased so the spirit could continue to have their needs met.

Mummification was a long and expensive process. A person would need to have a tomb built, gather necessary objects to place in the tomb, and their son or a preist would have to be appointed to bring offering for the deaseased on a daily bases. In the Old Kingdom, it was a process reserved primarily for the Pharaoh and his top advisors. In the Middle and New Kingdoms, the Egyptians came to believe that the afterlife extended to the general population. The expense still limited full procedure to those who were finanically well off in the society. For the poor, a shallow grave near the desert was common. The dry, hot climate often caused natural mummification.

There were three basic ways to mummify a body. The first method of mummification will be covered in detail on the next page (process of mummification). The second was to inject the body with cedar oil through the rectum and then dry the body with natron. The third way, similar to the second, was to inject the body with an unknown liquid and again dry the body.

7 years ago
Mummification Process in Ancient Egypt

Mummification was reserved for the richest and most powerful in Egyptian society. The process was long and expensive. There were three main people who took part in this process; the scribe, the cutter, and the embalmer.

It was the scribes role to oversee the cutting of the body. The incision was made by the cutter. This procedure was considered unclean, which limited the cutters position in society. The embalmer was a class of priest which would then prepare remove the internal organs and prepare the body.

The mummification would take place in a workshop often near the site of the tomb. The process of mummification would last often over two months.

The body would be stripped and placed on a board. The brain was extracted though the nose. The empty brain cavity would be later filled with resin or a combination of linen and resin. The chest would be cut open and the main organs would be removed with exception of the heart. The organs, after being removed, would be stored in Canopic jars with a drying agent. These jars were normally in a set of four, representing the four sons of Horus. These organs may also be wrapped in four packages and placed back in the abdominal cavity or be wrapped in one package and placed on the mummie's legs. Slightly different procedures would be used depending on the time period in Egyptian history.

The body cavity would be washed and packed with natron, a natural occurring drying agent in Egypt. The body would dry for up to 40 days. After the body is dried, it is sewn back together and the cut is sealed with wax or metal. At times, the body may be filled with linens, saw dust, salt, or ash to keep the body firm. Their eye sockets would be filled with linen or fake eyeballs depending on the time. The body would be cleaned and wrapped in a very thick layer of linen. When this was completed, the body was ready to be transported to the tomb prepared for it.

Before the body is laid to rest, a burial mast would be placed over the mummified body. The most famous burial mask was found the in tomb of King Tut (shown on the left). The body would then be placed into a sarcophagus, or type of coffin to protect theSarcophagus of King Tut body. The more wealthy and powerful they were, the more elaborately decorated these were. There also may have been several layers of caskets into which the body would be placed.

7 years ago
Creation Myths of Ancient Egypt

     There are several creation myths which developed in various locations in Egypt. The myths all had at the center of their story a primordial mound know as the "Island of Creation." It was the goal of religion to recreate this time which caused the Egyptians to be very traditional in their beliefs. Each of the major creation myths claimed that the temple of their local god/s was the physical location of the island. Three major stories which developed in the Old Kingdom were the Heliopolitan Myth, the Memphite Myth, and the Hermopolitan Myth. Each was named after the city where the myth developed respectively.

     The Heliopolitan Myth developed in Heliopolis and centered around Re-Atum as the key god figure. According to the myth, Re-Atum willed himself into existence. From him, Shu, the god of air and Tefnut, the god of moisture, were created. These two in turn had Geb, the earth god, and Nut, the sky god. From these the god of the elements were able to produce creation. In turn, these two produced Osiris, Isis, Seth, and Nephthys. This myth was the most widely accepted and famous of the creation myths.

     The Memphite Myth originated in Memphis. According to this myth it was Ptah who was the supreme creator god. According to this myth, Ptah was the one who started the cycle and not Re-Atum. From Ptah, a daughter was created who in turn created Re-Atum. According to this myth Ptah, was creator of the world, the gods, cities, food, drink, and all that was needed for life. This myth never did gain popular support among the majority of people in Egypt.

     The Hermopolitan Myth was developed at Hermopolis. Here the god Thoth, god of wisdom, was the main player. There are several versions to this myth. One account has a group of eight gods all playing major roles in the creation from a primordial ocean. Another account has a cosmic egg as the source of life. Another account for the creation was Thoth coming from a lotus flower which arose in the "Sea of Knives."

     Later, myths developed in the New Kingdom. One developed in Karnak at the temple of Amen-Re. This one claimed that Amen-Re was the creator of man and the gods. Another one in the new Kingdom from Khnum the ram headed god of Elephantine. This myth has Khnum creating man on his potters wheel.

7 years ago
Priest in Ancient Egypt

     The role of the priest was very important in Egyptian Society. The Egyptians believed the gods lived in the temples. Only the priest was allowed to enter the sacred area of the temple and approach the statue representing the god or goddess. The people could pray at the gate or in the court to the Pharaoh who acted as a go-between the people and the gods.

Bearing of Offerings     The priests role was to care for the needs of the god/goddess. They have no role to oversee or care for the people of Egypt. They did not try to educate the people on the religion or look after their morals.

 

 

 

The priest would care for the god in the following ways:

In the morning, the high priest breaks the seal, lights a torch to walk the god, says prayers, lights incense, washes the statue (which may be solid gold), places fresh clothing and jewels on it and places offerings of food and drink near it. Singers offer hymns of praise to the god. At the end of the day, the priest backs out of the shrine, sweeping away his footprints as he goes, and seals the sacred area again. (Pg. 43 Day, 2001)

     The Egyptians believed the priest played a vital role in providing for the needs of the gods. If their duties were neglected, it was believed problems would arise. Due to the importance of their role for the society, the priest were well compensated.

Ritual Offering of Geese and Cranes     "For much of Egyptian history, there was no class of full-time professional priests." (Redford, 2002, pg 315). Many of the priest were classified as lay priest A lay priest is part-time and would hold another job often in a position in the state or local governments. The lay priests were especially common in small communities. Lay priests served on a rotation system. Normally, there were four equally staffed groups of lay priests. Each group would serve for a month and then return to their other occupation for three months.

     New priests were often chosen by the Pharaoh. Often, the Pharaoh would choose relatives to fill positions in the most powerful and influential temples. Many of the positions of priests were hereditary and remained as an inheritance in certain families. The Pharaoh would have the power to transfer or promote a priest the majority of the time. At times, they may have been selected by committee a of priests.

     Priests had certain requirements to meet while they were "on duty." They were only allowed to wear linens or clothing made of plants. Articles of clothing that were made from animals were not permitted. They were required to shave their heads and bodies daily. Cold water baths were taken several times a day. They had to practice sexual abstinence while performing their duties at the temple.

7 years ago
Ancient Egyptian Temples

     There are two types of temples which were built in Ancient Egypt. The first, Cultus Temples, were dedicated to the worship of a specific god of Egypt. An example of the Cultus Temple is the Temple of Horus at Edfu or Temple of Isis at Aswan. The second type, Mortuary temples, were built to honor a deceased pharaoh and often worship them as a god. An example of the Mortuary temple is the Temple of Ramesse II at Thebes.

     Temples in Egypt were a reflection of the Egyptians mythology of the "Island of Creation." The pillars were often shaped in the designs of palms, papyrus, and lotus which were plants believed to be on the island. All major creation myths put the origins at the "Island of Creation" and the religion emphasis on the idea of trying to return to that time.

Lotus Columns Palm Columns
Lotus Column
Palm Column

     At the Cultus temples, there were two types of ceremonies to the gods. The first was a daily ceremony of giving offerings and providing for the needs of the gods. The offering was usually performed by the priest in the sanctuary of the temple. Ordinary people, it is believed, were not allowed into the sanctuary of the temple and would have to stay outside. The second type of ceremonies were special festivals. These would happen at different times of the year. It was at those times that ordinary Egyptians could participate to a degree in the worship of the god.

     The Egyptians placed a very high value on the temples in Egypt. The people looked to the pharaoh and the priest to intercede on their behalf to the gods. The temple was believed to be the physical location where the Egyptian could connect with the gods.

7 years ago
Cult of Aten

Aten is known as the sun disk god. He was first introduced in the Middle Kingdom as a characteristic of the sun god Re. He was consider a separate god for the first time under Tuthmosis IV. Under Tutmosis son Amenhotep III, a cult was formed to worship Aten.

With the reign of Amenhotep IV the worship of Aten came to its pinnacle. Map Shwoing lacation of City of Akhetaten Amenhotep IV started his reign in the capitol city of Thebes. He had difficulties with the powerful priesthood of Amen-Re which had its main temple at Karnak. In the fifth year of his reign, he disbanded the priesthood of all the other gods in Egypt except Aten. He changed the religion from polytheistic to monotheistic. The King changed his name to Akenaten, meaning"servant of Aten." In addition, he moved the capitol city from Thebes to a newly constructed city of Akhetaten.

 

 

Queen NefreteteDuring his reign, a new type of art was developed. The art moved in the direction of a more realistic form away from the stiff formality of traditional Egyptian Art.

After Akenaten's death, he was succeeded by the boy King Tutankhaten. Tutankhaten returned the capitol to Thebes and changed his name to Tutankhamen in honor of Amen-Re. The kingdom was returned to it's earlier tradition of a polytheistic religion with Amen-Re as the prominent god of state. The recently built city of Akhetaten was abandoned. The majority of temples of Aten and inscriptions of Akenaten were dismantled or destroyed.

7 years ago
Building Time Table of Ancient Egypt

Architectural Timetable (all dates in B.C.)

2667-2648

Djoser’s Step Pyramid built

2613-2589

Two pyramids at Dahshur (Bent and Blunted) built



2589-2566

Cheop’s (a.k.a. Khufu)Great Pyramid at Giza built

2558-2533

Chephren’s (a.k.a. Khafre)Pryamid at Giza Built

2528-2500

Mycerinus’s (a.k.a. Menkaure)Pyramid built at Giza

2500

Sphinx was carved

2494-2487

Sun Temple was built at Abu Ghrob; pyramid of Userkaf at Saqqara

2487-2473

Sahure’s pyramid built

2473-2463

Neferirkare built pyramid at Abusir

2375-2345

Unas built pyramids at Saqqara

2345-2333

Teti built pyramid at Saqqara

2322-2283

Pepy I built pyramid at Saqqara

2269-2175

Pepy II built pyramid at Saqqara

2060-2010

Mentuhotep built funerary monument at Deir el-Bahri

1929-1895

Amenemhet II built pyramids at Dahshur

1897-1878

Senusret II built pyramid at Lahun, and built in Fayoum area

1546-1526

Amenhotep built rock cut tomb at Dra’abu e—Naga

1525-1512

Tuthmosis I first to be buried in Valley of the Kings near Thebes

1503-1482

Hatshepsut built temple at Deir el-Bahri near Thebes

1504-1450

Tuthmosis built Temple of Amun at Karnak

1450-1425

Amenhotep II – reburied royal mummies in his tomb in Valley of the King

7 years ago

1390-1353

Amenhotep III – built Colossi of Memnon

1318-1304

Sethos built largest tomb in Valley of Kings and built temples at Thebes and Abydos

1198-1166

Ramesses III built a temple at Medinet Habu

1113-1085

Ramesses XI--last king to be buried in Valley of Kings


The Various Possible Methods of Pyramid Construction

A major problem facing the builders of the Ancient Egyptian Pyramids, was that of getting the Large stone blocks to the height they required. the method shown at left, is the only one proven to have been used. The ramps were built on inclined planes of mud brick and rubble. They then dragged the blocks on sledges to the needed height. As the pyramid grew taller, the ramp had to be extended in length, and its base was widened, else it would collapse. It is likely that for the construction of each pyramid, several ramps were probably used. The arrangement of the ramps used for building is in much dispute. Assuming that the step pyramid was built before the outer structure, and then the packing blocks were laid on top, the ramps could have run from one step to another rather than approaching the pyramid face at right angles Some of the pyramids indicate an accurate understanding of Pi, but the mathematical knowledge of the Egyptians did not include the ability to arrive at this by calculation. It is possible that this could have been arrived at "accidentally" through a means such as counting the revolutions of a drum.
7 years ago
. The internal construction of most true pyramids consists of a series of buttress walls surrounding a central core. The walls decrease in height from the center outwards. In other words, the core of the true pyramid is essentially a step pyramid. The internal arrangement added stability to the structure. Packing blocks filled the "steps" formed by the faces of the outermost buttress walls and casting blocks (often Limestone) completed the structure of the true pyramid. Architects and builders used a different form of construction in the pyramids of the 12th and 13th Dynasties. Mainly because of economy, for it was suitable for relatively modest structures in inferior materials. Solid walls of stone ran from the center, and shorter cross walls formed a series of chambers filled with stone blocks, ruble or mud bricks. An outer casing was usually added, and although quite effective in the short term, it did not even come close to the earlier construction methods. Pyramids which were built with this structural design are quite dilapidated and worn
7 years ago
The Step Pyramid Complex of Djoser The Step Pyramid Complex of Djoser (also spelled Zozer) was built during the Third Dynasty (ca. 2800 B.C.) in what is now Saqqara, Egypt. Djoser's Step Pyramid is generally considered the first tomb in Egypt to be built entirely of stone.

Use this page to explore the Precinct of Djoser and its Step Pyramid.

Clickable Plan Here is a plan of the Precinct of Djoser. Click on a white arrow to follow a link to an illustration depicting that portion of the plan.



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South Tomb Chamber Reconstruction by Firth of South Tomb Chamber
Step Pyramid of Zoser, Third Dynasty, Saqqara, Egypt

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Evolution of the Pyramid

Giza Pyramids

The pyramids of Ancient Egypt went through many changes before they took on the geometric shape that we are accustomed to seeing. Egyptian tombs originally began as a simple pit in the sandy desert that was lined with a reed mat. Pharaohs and commoners were buried in the same fashion. As Egyptian religious beliefs developed, pharaohs were buried with artifacts that were necessary in the afterlife. Due to vandalism, and the increasing number of artifacts that were buried with wealthy kings, the pit became a rectangular hole lined with mud bricks or timber. A mound was created over the burial site, which was supported by timber poles and covered with bricks. These covered mounds were known as mastabas.

Egyptian ArtOver the years, the interior of mastabas became increasingly elaborate with the intention of confusing tomb robbers, and to allow more room to hold a pharaoh's possessions for the afterlife. The tunnel that accessed the sunken burial chamber was filled with sand, rubble, and stone barriers. The entrance was then disguised to look like part of the wall. Portraits of servants would be painted on the interior walls to serve their master his afterlife. Tombs for a pharaoh's servants were constructed around the King's mastaba for the same reason. Beginning in 3,200 B.C., the exterior of a King's mastaba was decorated with ornate brickwork imitating timber and reed matting. Though extensive measures were taken, these tombs were often robbed, because the design was common among all mastabas.

With the conclusion of Zoser's reign, the mastaba underwent more developments. Stone replaced mud brick in construction, and two false doorways were added to the eastern face for the use of the pharaoh's ba, meaning soul. An inner room of the mastaba, called the serdab, was used to house a statue of the buried king that could house the ba if the body was disturbed for any reason. A narrow slit in the far wall of the serdab allowed the ba access to the outside world. As an extra precaution, the pharaoh's name was carved into the base of the statue in case it was destroyed.

Stepped PyramidThe first Egyptian pyramid was created for King Zoser by the architect Imhotep. The concept of the stone mastaba was transformed into a four level tomb consisting of stacked mastabas that decreased in size as they reached the peak. The steps that the pyramid formed were believed to act as a ladder that the dead king took to reach the gods. In Zoser's pyramid, the burial chamber was located at the bottom of a 92 ft. shaft. The chamber entrance could be reached by travelling down a sloping passage originating at the north face. A series of Gallery Rooms were located at the bottom of the shaft, and led into the King's burial chamber which was lined with timber and blue tiles. The serdab and offering chapels were in a temple on the north face of the pyramid that contained two open courtyards, several chapels, and storerooms. The temple was roofed with stone slabs that were carved and painted to represent the earlier palm-trunk ceilings.

Pyramid DiagramAfter the creation of the first step-pyramids, the design was modified to have smooth, limestone faces. The steps of the inner pyramid were covered in hand-chiseled limestone taken from the quarries of Aswan farther down the Nile River. The appearance in the day of the Ancient Egyptians was that of a shimmering white mountain. The inspiration for sloping the sides of the pyramids came from an image formed by the sun's rays breaking through the clouds. It was intended to bring the buried pharoah closer to the sun god Re.

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The first true pyramid was constructed for King Snefru at Medium. The burial chamber was only accessible by a small tunnel in the north face with a 28 degree slope. The famous bent pyramid at Dahshur has sides that originally sloped at 54 degrees. Midway through the project, cracks began to appear due to the steep slope. From this point on, architects changed the slope to a gentler 43 degrees, which became the standard for all pyramids.


Bibliography:

1. Edwards, I.E.S. "Pyramids: Building for Eternity - Ancient Egypt: Discovering its Splendors" National Geographic Society

Great Pyramid of Khufu Commentary


Photo, Khafre's Pyramid · Great Pyramid of Khufu · El Giza, Egypt

"The pyramids at Giza—descendants of primitive 'stepped' prototypes built in superimposed layers—are gigantic prisms unique in world architecture, mathematics at an ultimate scale. It is quite possible that Cheop's Great Pyramid consumed more dressed stone blocks than any structure ever built, an estimated 2,300,000 of them, averaging 2.5 tons each. It is generally thought that the blocks were moved on log rollers and sledges and then ramped into place."

— from G.E. Kidder Smith. Looking at Architecture. p8.

Details

Khufu or Cheop's Great Pyramid is 756 feet (241 meters) square in plan, and 481 feet (153 meters) high. The angle of inclination of the triangular faces is about 51.5 degrees. The square of its height equals the area of each triangular face, as determined by Herodotus in 450 B. C. The base of the pyramid covers about 13 acres.

The other two pyramids in the famous trio are Khafre, 704 feet (214.5 meters) square, 471 feet (143.5 meters) high, with a face inclination of 53.2 degrees, and Menkaure, 345.5 feet (110 meters) square, 216 feet (68.8 meters) high, with a face inclination of 51.3 degrees (or possibly 330ft wide and 206 ft high (105m x 65.5m)).

For ease of modeling the pyramids, it may be useful to also know the triangular face height for each as measured along the surface instead of vertically. According to trigonometry, these surface face heights are: Khufu, 612 feet (195 meters); Khafre, 588 feet (179 meters); Menkaure, 276.6 feet (88 meters) (or possibly 263.6 feet (84m)).

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Hatshepsut's Obelisk Commentary

“The German-American architect Mies van der Rohe wrote, echoing Flaubert, that ‘God is in the details’—an apothegm he followed in his own elegantly precise buldings. Though it is unlikely that Mies had Egyptian obelisks in mind, the adage was anticipated, long before, by the detailing of Queen Hatshepsut’s obelisk.

“Americans relish their own ‘obelisk’ to General Washington; many have seen the one that pulls together the spaces in front of Saint Peter’s in Rome (in A. D. 37, it was brought to Italy by Caligula); and the fortunate have visited the mightly obelisks in Karnak. Yet few travelers to Karnak approach Hatshepsut’s masterpiece closely enough to examine the craftsmanship and design felicity that characterize its inscriptions. (Though a heraldic feature of most ancient Egyptian temples, not all obelisks carried such peaeans to their builders.) The carving on this 97-foot- high polished red granite shaft is almost jewel-like in its precision.…

“The Temple of Karnak itself is largely in ruins, but its 3,450-year-old obelisk remains to remind us of the brilliance of ancient Egyptian culture.”

— from G.E. Kidder Smith. Looking at Architecture. p12.

 
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Source of Photograph.....

www.siloam.net/bahai/bahai.htm

Hatshepsut's Temple Commentary

"Inspired by a funerary temple of the Middle Kingdom built by King Mentuhotep (XIth dynasty), the architect of Queen Hatshepsut (XVIIIth dynasty), Senenmout, built one of the most beautiful monuments of ancient Egypt, the style of which was never repeated.

"It consists of a succession of terraces whose supporting walls are masked by long colonnades divided in the centre by monumental access ramps. On the second terrace a third portico gives entry to a peristyle courtyard leading to the sanctuary, which is cut out of the cliff. The work of Senenmout is, in the strictness of its composition, architecturally very successful and a fine example of the integration of architecture and natural site."

— John Julius Norwich. The World Atlas of Architecture. p125.

Details

97 feet tall.

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Sources on Hatshepsut's Temple

Robert Adam. Classical Architecture. London: Penguin Books, 1990. ISBN 0-670-82613-8. NA260.A26 1990. elevation drawing of colonnade, fig a, p71. Derek Brentnall.

G. E. Kidder Smith. Looking at Architecture. New York: Harry N. Abrams, Publishers, 1990. ISBN 0-8109-3556-2. LC 90-30728. NA200.S57 1990. context photo, p12, close-up photo, p13. — Available at Amazon.com

Seton Lloyd, Hans Wolfgang Muller, Roland Martin. Ancient Architecture, Mesopotamia, Egypt, Crete, Greece. New York: Harry N. Abrams, 1972. photo of south end of first terrace: Hathor chapel, interior of rock-cut sanctuary, f188, p127.

Henry A. Millon. Key Monuments of the History of Architecture. New York: Harry N. Abrams. LC 64-10764. NA202.M5. aerial perspective drawing, p33. Lange and Girmer, f18 & f19.

Max Rodenbeck. Egypt from the Air. Great Britain: Thames and Hudson, 1991. photographs by Guido Alberto Rossi. color aerial photo of entire temple, p52.

Noel Emerson Rollins. Photographs from photographer's collection.

Henri Stierlin. Comprendre l'Architecture Universelle 1. Office du Livre S.A. Fribourg (Suisse), 1977. longitudinal section drawing, p27. elevation drawing of the porticoes, p27. plan drawing, p27.

Paul Zucker. Town and Square: From the Agora to the Village Green. New York: Columbia University Press, 1959. LC 59-11183. NA9070.Z8. site plan drawing, f5, p25. From Winlock, Excavations at Deir el Gahri, 1911-1931.

Kevin Matthews. The Great Buildings Collection on CD-ROM. Artifice, 2001. ISBN 0-9667098-4-5.
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ArTemple at Luxor Commentary

"The Temple at Luxor, Thebes, though founded on an older sanctuary and, like most temples, altered and repaired subsequently, is substantially the work of Amenophis III, apart from a great forecourt, with pylons, added by Rameses II. It was dedicated to the Theban triad, Amun, Mut and Khons. The illustration shows remains of the forecourt, with papyrus-bud capitals and a seated colossus of Rameses, connected by twin colonnades, 53 m (174 ft) long, to a lesser court by Amenophis in the distance. The twin colonnades of bell-capital columns, 12.8 m (42 ft) high, were the only part ever built of a grand hypostyle hall projected by Amenophis, or by the last king of his dynasty, Horemheb. Amenophis III also built a mortuary temple on the west bank at Thebes, but little survives except the twin seated statues of himself, originally 20.8 m (68 ft) high, famous from ancient time as the Colossi of Memnon."

—Sir Banister Fletcher. A History of Architecture. p53.

Expanded 1996 edition available at Amazon.com

E. Baldwin Smith. Egyptian Architecture as Cultural Expression. New York: D. Appleton-Century Company, 1938. perspective drawing of forecourt of Amenhotep III from northeast, plateXLVI, p156. perspective of temple drawing, plateXLVI, p156. facade reconstruction perspective drawing, plateXLV, p154. plan drawing, plateXLV, p154.

Kevin Matthews. The Great Buildings Collection on CD-ROM. Artifice, 2001. ISBN 0-9667098-4-5.

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Temple of Amon Commentary

"It is doubtful if any building yet designed has attained the dramatic power of the hypostyle hall of the Egyptian temple. Hypostyles—the Greek root means 'resting on columns'—were man-made stone forests separating the temple's open court, where festivals and ceremonies took place, from the sanctuary, to which only kings and priests were admitted. (Egyptian temples did not provide for congregational worship.) The processional path through the hypostyle was a preparatory passage from this world to the next.

"The hypostyle of the Temple of Amun, the most prodigious ever erected, was finished by Rameses II (d. 1225 B.C.) as an extension of an existing temple that had its origins a thousand years earler and had experienced additions throughout its long life. This stone bastion of 134 columns delimits one side of the temple's Great Court and measures 338 feet wide by 170 feet deep. The columns defining the processional aisle are 69 feet high, the others 42 feet, the difference in height filled by a stone grille or clerestory. The entire hypostyle was originally roofed with slabs of stone: the effect of columns vanishing into darkness must have been spellbinding. We can bow to it today.

"...Architecture has rarely produced such titanic theater."

— from G.E. Kidder Smith. Looking at Architecture. p14.

Details

134 columns, 338 feet wide, 170 feet deep. The columns along the processional ailse are 69 feet tall, and the others are 42 feet.

Sources on Temple of Amon

Howard Davis. Slides from photographer's collection. PCD 2260.1012.0405. PCD 2260.1012.0405. PCD 2260.1012.0405. PCD 2260.1012.0405. PCD 2260.1012.0405. PCD 2260.1012.0405.

Sir Banister Fletcher. A History of Architecture. London: The Butterworth Group, 1987. ISBN 0-408-01587-X. LC 86-31761. NA200.F63 1987. restored perspective drawing of site, fig a, p52. perspective drawing of roof aperture, fig d, p52. perspective drawing of hypostyle hall clearstory, fig b, p52. section perspective drawing of hypostyle hall, fig f, p52. — The classic text of architectural history. 

G.E. Kidder Smith. Looking at Architecture. New York: Harry N. Abrams, Publishers, 1990. ISBN 0-8109-3556-2. LC 90-30728. NA200.S57 1990. discussion, p14. photo amongst columns, p14.

John Julius Norwich, ed. Great Architecture of the World. London: Mitchell Beazley Publishers, 1975. photo, p46. Reprint edition: Da Capo Press, April 1991. ISBN 0-3068-0436-0. — An accessible, inspiring and informative overview of world architecture, with lots of full-color cutaway drawings, and clear explanations.

Kevin Matthews. The Great Buildings Collection on CD-ROM. Artifice, 2001. ISBN 0-9667098-4-5
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Temple of Horus Commentary

"The Temple of Horus, Edfu, is a fine, well-preserved example of the period. It was built in three stages, with protracted intervals between: first the temple proper by Ptolemy III, then the outer hypostyle hall (140-124 B.C.), and finally the perimeter wall and pylons. It is plainly a processional cult temple. There is a passage surrounding the sanctuary, which serves also to give access to thirteen small chapels, and another completing the entire circuit of the enclosing wall. All the inner rooms were completely dark and windowless. The grand pylons are some 62.6 m (205 ft) across and 30.5 m (100 ft) high."

— Sir Banister Fletcher. A History of Architecture. p63.

Sources on Temple of Horus

Werner Blaser and Monica Stucky. Drawings of Great Buildings. Boston: Birkhauser Verlag, 1983. ISBN 3-7643-1522-9. LC 83-15831. NA2706.U6D72 1983. plan and section drawings, p17. — Available at Amazon.com

Roger H. Clark and Michael Pause. Precedents in Architecture. New York: Van Nostrand Reinhold, 1985. unit to whole diagram, p163. linear organization diagram, p196. heirarchy diagram, p206. — Updated edition available at Amazon.com

Sir Banister Fletcher. A History of Architecture. Boston: Butterworths, 1987. ISBN 0-408-01587-X. NA200.F63 1987. discussion, p63.

Sir Banister Fletcher. Sir Banister Fletcher's A History of Architecture. 18th ed., revised by J.C. Palmes. New York: Charles Scribner's Sons, 1975. ISBN 684-14207-4. NA200.F63. description, p37. plan drawing, p28. photo, p42.

John Julius Norwich, ed. Great Architecture of the World. New York: Random House, 1975. color exterior photo of massive pylon gateway, p51. left lower-center of the page. Reprint edition: Da Capo Press, April 1991. ISBN 0-3068-0436-0. — An accessible, inspiring and informative overview of world architecture, with lots of full-color cutaway drawings, and clear explanations. Available at Amazon.com

Henri Stierlin. Comprendre l'Architecture Universelle 1. Office du Livre S.A. Fribourg (Suisse), 1977. elevation drawing of entry pylon, p35. section drawing of entry pylon, p35. longitudinal section drawing, p34.

Kevin Matthews. The Great Buildings Collection on CD-ROM. Artifice, 2001. ISBN 0-9667098-4-5.
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