Ancient Egypt was a very important time in our time period. They had their own way of life. Egyptians had their own writing, burials, government, religion, cooking, and games. They were educated people with many talents. They were good with their hands and brains. Ancient Egyptians were a magnificent race of people.
The Ancient Egyptians called their country Kemet, which means “Black Land.” The dark soil from the Nile River was very fertile. The Nile overflowed at the same time every year, leaving farmers with very fertile soil. The Nile provided much needed water for their crops during the dry season by using their irrigation system. The Nile River also provided the Egyptians with drinking water, and a way for them to travel, allowing them to explore and trade. In addition, the desert around the river was called “Red Land” by the Egyptians. This is where they lived, grew and prospered.
The desert provided much gold for the Egyptians to trade with other countries or to keep for themselves. They brought back silver from Syria, cedar wood, oils, and horses from Lebanon, copper from Cyprus, gems from Afghanistan, ebony, wood, and ivory from Africa, and incense from Punt. Egyptians cherished family life the way we cherish food or money. Children were considered a blessing. They prayed for them and used magic to have children, but if a couple could not conceive they adopted. Men were the head of the household and the oldest son inherited everything of the father’s.
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Egyptian women were to obey their fathers and husbands, but were equal in many other ways. For example, women could have jobs, some rights in court cases, and they were able to own land. Women were also allowed to own businesses. Only noble women, however, could be priestesses. The women raised the children and took care of the house. Wealthy families would hire maids and nannies to do such things.
Divorce was not common in Ancient Egypt, though it was an option. Problems were talked about between families, and if they could not be settled a divorce would take place. Some women became rulers but only in secret. The only woman who ruled as a pharaoh in the open was Queen Hatsheput. Ordinary men normally had one wife, while pharaohs and kings had several. Most marriages were arranged by parents.
Most girls married at age twelve while boys were usually a little older. Children were expected to take care of their elderly parents. Young boys who could afford it went to school at seven years old. Boys also learned their father’s trade.
Only the son of scribes could be scribes, so it was almost impossible to move up in the class system. Girls did not go to school, but some were taught at home. The Egyptians had cats and dogs as pets, and farmers kept cattle, goats, sheep, ducks, and geese. The Ancient Egyptians enjoyed a good time with many different activities. They went fishing, swimming, crocodile hunting, and played boat games on the Nile River. Hippo hunting was another popular, but dangerous sport that any age could play as long as an adult was present.
They also chased lions, antelope, wild bulls, gazelles, and hares for sport as well as hunting foxes and hyenas. Plays were held in the temples and richer families had big fancy parties. Egyptians played instruments, such as, flutes, harps, and the lyre. Egyptian children played many games, some of which we still play today, like leapfrog and tug-of-war. Their favorite types of games were board games. Some examples are Snake, and Sent, which was said to be like the fight between good and evil in the after-life.
Another very popular board game that Egyptians liked to play was Hounds and Jackals. Children also played with wooden carved animals, spinning tops, dolls, and clay balls. Since the weather was so hot and dry, the Egyptians wore light colored clothing made from different kind of linens. Women wore long dresses with see-through cloaks. Men usually wore long robes, cloaks, or kilt skirts.
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Children were naked in the summer and wore long thick cloaks in the winter. Kings and Queens wore clothing decorated with gems, sequins, precious and semiprecious stones. Ordinary people went barefoot, while wealthy people wore specially made sandals. The Egyptians had very specific hairstyles. Young girls wore French or regular braids and pig tails. Boys shaved their heads, though some had one long braid extending out the side of their head.
Wealthy people wore wigs made of human hair and sheep’s wool. Royal women wore hair cones that made their hair sweet smelling and greasy. All Egyptians wore jewelry, regardless if you were rich or poor. They wore amulets, jewelry that would fight off evil sprits and bad luck.
Children wore fish amulets that kept them from drowning in the Nile River. They also wore collars made of precious and semiprecious stones. Men and women both had pierced ears. The Ancient Egyptians bathed daily, and wore lots of makeup. They bathed in the Nile River or out of a water basin at home. They rubbed perfume oil on themselves.
Eye shadow was a green color put on with thick black lines that extend out to the face. These lines were said to heal poor eye sight and prevent eye injures. They also wore cheek makeup [blush] and lip makeup [lipstick]. Henna was used to dye their finger nails red and orange. The Egyptians lived very close to the Nile River. Their houses were made of mud bricks stuffed with straw and wheat to make them stronger.
Ordinary people lived in one room houses while wealthy people had many rooms. Some wealthy homes had separate rooms for their maids and servants, and some even had a pond of fish or an orchard of fruit trees. Occasionally there was a small room on the roof where the family slept on hot summer nights. Each room had at least one fly catcher. Mats woven from reeds covered the floors all through the house. The floors were made with tile.
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The windows were covered with mats to keep out the flies, dust and heat. Shrines were also kept for the Gods. Everyone had some kind of furniture, whether you were wealthy or poor. They used clay ovens and ate with their fingers. The Ancient Egyptians did not have bathrooms, so they went in the Nile River.
Beer and bread were the Egyptians most important food. The beer had to be strained and the bread was gritty. Wheat and barley were their main crops. Food was prepared many different ways such as cooking, boiling or grilling. Only the rich and wealthy were able to afford wine, and some even had dishes made of gold. The rulers of Ancient Egypt were the Pharaohs who were in complete control of everything.
The people believed the Pharaohs were Gods. The pharaohs appointed officials to help them rule. Governors were under the Vipers, and they controlled sections of Egypt. The Scribes were next and they were the record keepers. Overseers were in charge of the farming and the peasants, or the common people. Pharaohs married close relatives like sisters, stepsisters, or sister in laws.
This was to keep the rule in the family. Ancient Egypt had over thirty different ruling families. There were three major classes of people in Ancient Egypt; the Upper, Middle, and Lower. The Upper Class was the Royal family, government officials, senior priests and priestesses, scribes, and doctors. Middle class was traders, merchants, and craftsmen.
Lower class was the unskilled and farmers, which was the largest of the three groups. The Ancient Egyptians worshiped over 1, 000 gods. Most gods were animals or half human, half animal. The most important god was Ra, the sun god. So bek was the god of the Nile, half human, half crocodile. Basket was the goddess of cats, musicians, and dancers.
Thoth was the moon god, half human with the head of a baboon. The people believed that Thoth gave them hieroglyphic writing. Osiris, god of the dead, was in charge of the underworld. Horus was the god and protector of the pharaohs.
Anubis, the god that watched over the dead, had a head of a jackal. Aten was the sun king of all the gods. The Egyptians held festivals for their gods and they built fabulous temples for them. The Ancient Egyptians believed that you went to the kingdom of the underworld when you died. The dead were mummified by priests.
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To mummify a body, all of its organs except the heart were taken out. Then the body was salted and left to dry for forty days. Mummies were buried in special cases with masks that were a replica of their faces. Pharaohs’ coffins were buried inside lavish pyramids or tombs.
The Ancient Egyptians built magnificent and large pyramids for their rulers. The pharaohs were buried with their precious possessions, treasures and wives with the belief that they could use them in the after-life. Every single pyramid was robbed of its treasures long ago except for one. There are three giant pyramids at Giza that are more than 4, 500 years old. The largest is called the Great Pyramid. It took more than twenty years to build, using more than 4, 000 stone masons and thousands of other workers.
Each block used to build this pyramid weighed more than 4, 000 pounds which is more than two tons. This magnificent pyramid was built for King K hutu. The first pyramids ever built had step sides. They were giant staircases that the pharaohs would climb to reach the gods.
The beautiful Great Sphinx guards the way to King Kufu’s tomb. The Sphinx is a huge statue with the head of a man and the body of a lion. Around 2150 B. C the pharaohs were buried in tombs in the Valley of Kings. King Tutankhamen’s tomb, which was the only one not robbed of its treasures, was discovered only eighty-seven years ago. The Egyptians had over 700 symbols for a writing called hieroglyphics.
They wrote on papyrus which was very expensive. The scribes kept very detailed written records of everything that went on in Egypt on papyrus. The papyrus was then put into books. Ink was made from water, soot, charcoal and minerals. The ancient Egyptians kept wonderful libraries. Only the wealthy could read, so they were the only ones who used these libraries.
The Ancient Egyptians were very knowledgeable people. They kept three different calendars; the Astronomical calendar, the Priest’s calendar, and the Family, or Everyday calendar. Their doctors knew how to set broken bones and take care of many illnesses. They were great astronomers, farmers and builders.
By using astronomy, they were able to predict when the Nile River would flood. The irrigation system that they developed is still used today! In addition, the Ancient Egyptians were great sculptors. How do you think they made their beautiful death masks or the Great Sphinx? In conclusion, the Ancient Egyptians were a magnificent race of people. Their many talents led to beautiful pyramids, interesting games, and a unique form of writing.
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Learning about their way of life can still baffle people today. As you can see, these Ancient Egyptians were educated and unique. I had a lot of fun researching Ancient Egypt.