10 Fascinating Facts about the Ancient Egyptians

It’s interesting to note that the ancient Egyptians were among the first people to practice mummification. This process took approximately 70 days to complete.

The ancient Egyptians were a captivating civilization, renowned for their mysterious mummies and admiration for cats. Even today, we are still uncovering new secrets about this culture.

Here, we reveal the top ten intriguing facts about Ancient Egypt that will help demystify this fascinating civilization.

Ancient Egyptians were Obsessed with Cats

Indeed, they were! In Ancient Egypt, animals were highly regarded and often worshipped. The most revered animal was the cat.

The ancient Egyptians believed that animals were incarnations of the gods, so it was popular to keep them as pets. Cats were the most popular, but dogs, hawks, lions, and baboons were also common household pets.

If anyone was caught killing or injuring a cat, the penalties were severe and often resulted in death. However, the only exception was if there was an overpopulation of cats, and their numbers needed to be reduced.

Cats were offered as sacrifices to the gods, and this helped to lower the population.

The Goddess Bastet was the Protector of Cats

The love for cats was represented by the Goddess Bastet, who was depicted as half cat and half woman. She was believed to protect the home from evil spirits and diseases and safeguard women and children.

Ancient Egyptians Practiced Mummification

In Ancient Egypt, people believed in an afterlife and that the only way to reach it safely was by following a strict set of procedures to prepare a dead body. This process took about 70 days.

During the mummification process, the organs were the first to be removed and placed in Canopic jars. The next step was to remove all moisture from the body. To accomplish this, the body was covered with a powdered salt and allowed to rest for 35-40 days until all the moisture was gone.

After removing all the remaining salt, the body was stuffed with linen to plump it up again and then wrapped. The wrapping process could take up to two weeks, and the deceased’s family was expected to gather about 4,000 square feet (372 square meters) of linen to wrap the body.

Once the wrapping was complete, the mummy was placed in its coffin and taken to a tomb to rest.

Canopic Jars were Used to Store Organs

Canopic jars were used to store the organs of a mummified body. Each organ was placed in a separate jar as a sign of respect for Horus, the God of the Sky. The ancient Egyptians believed that this would ensure that the dead would safely reach the afterlife.

In Ancient Egypt, when someone died, their organs were removed and placed in canopic jars. Four jars were used, each representing one of Horus’s sons and decorated to identify which organs should go where. The jars were named “Imesty”, “Qebehsenuf”, “Hapy”, and “Duamatef”, and were used for the liver, intestines, lungs, and stomach respectively. The lids of the jars had carved heads of a human, a falcon, a baboon, and a jackal to represent each son.

The most famous Ancient Egyptian is King Tutankhamun. His mummified body was discovered in 1923 in the Valley of Kings, near Luxor in Egypt, by Howard Carter and a team of British explorers and archeologists. Tutankhamun’s encasing was made entirely of gold and he was buried in the tomb alongside over 5,000 artifacts. These would have been items gifted to the deceased King, to take with him to the afterlife.

The Rosetta Stone was discovered in 1799 and is on display at The British Museum in London. It was created 196 BC and is a segment of a decree issued in Memphis, Egypt that was carved onto the stone and written in 3 different languages. By having the Greek translation, it allowed researchers to crack the code of understanding hieroglyphs, which allowed us to understand more about the Ancient Egyptians.

The Ancient Egyptians were invested in their dental care and they were the creators of the first-ever recipe for making toothpaste. They would use ingredients such as ashes, pumice, burnt eggshells, and the powder of ox hooves to create toothpaste. It wasn’t until the Roman Empire came about that items such as mint were added to give a better flavor.

Board games were popular in Ancient Egypt, with Senet and Mehen being the most popular. Senet is thought to be around 5,000 years old and the title of the game in Egyptian translates to “game of passing”. Mehen was another popular board game, but it had a round board and resembled a coiled snake.

It was common practice for Ancient Egyptians to include Mehen or Senet board games in the tombs of pharaohs so they could play in the afterlife.

Both genders used makeup.

Ancient Egyptian men and women used makeup as a form of protection from the gods Horus and Ra. The makeup was made by grinding ore elements like malachite into a paste and applying it around the eyes with bone or wood tools, similar to modern-day eyeliner. They believed that the makeup would give them magical powers. Research shows that the lead-based eyeliner may have actually reduced the risk of eye infections.

Women had equal rights to men.

Ancient Egyptian women had rights that were similar to men, which was unique compared to other societies at the time. Women could own property and were legally equal to men in court. Women of power were served by other women and some formed communities. However, there were still some restrictions, such as women not being allowed important roles unless they were related to families of power or married into the position. Certain jobs were considered suitable only for women, like weaving, dancing, singing, and mourning professionally.

The Ancient Egyptians remain a mystical and fascinating civilization, and learning more about their culture and worship of gods is an ongoing process. Why not challenge your friends to a game of Mehen or Senet and experience how the Ancient Egyptians played games?

FAQ

What is the significance of the Nile River to ancient Egyptians?

The Nile River was the lifeline of ancient Egypt, providing water, transportation, and fertile soil for agriculture. Its annual flooding cycle was also crucial in determining the farming season and the prosperity of the kingdom.

What was the role of the pharaoh in ancient Egypt?

The pharaoh was the ruler and god-king of ancient Egypt. They were believed to be the intermediary between the gods and the people and were responsible for maintaining Ma’at, the balance of the universe. They also oversaw the administration of the kingdom and were considered the ultimate authority in matters of law and justice.

What was the process of mummification in ancient Egypt?

Mummification was the process of preserving the body of a deceased individual for the afterlife. The organs were removed, and the body was dried out with natron, a type of salt. It was then wrapped in bandages and placed in a sarcophagus, often accompanied by funerary objects and offerings.

What was the significance of hieroglyphics in ancient Egypt?

Hieroglyphics were the writing system used by ancient Egyptians, consisting of pictures and symbols. They were used for religious and secular texts and were considered a sacred art form. The decipherment of hieroglyphics in modern times has provided valuable insights into ancient Egyptian culture and history.

What was the role of women in ancient Egyptian society?

Women in ancient Egypt had more rights and freedoms than in many other ancient societies. They could own and inherit property, participate in trade, and even hold positions of power. However, they were still expected to fulfill traditional gender roles as wives and mothers.

What was the significance of the pyramids in ancient Egypt?

The pyramids were monumental tombs for pharaohs and their consorts. They were believed to be the pharaoh’s gateway to the afterlife and were constructed with great precision and engineering skill. The Great Pyramid of Giza is one of the most famous and impressive examples of ancient Egyptian architecture.

What was the religion of ancient Egypt?

Ancient Egyptian religion was polytheistic, with a complex pantheon of gods and goddesses. The gods were believed to control natural forces and were often associated with specific animals or symbols. The pharaoh was also considered a god-king, with a unique relationship to the divine.

What was the significance of the Book of the Dead in ancient Egypt?

The Book of the Dead was a collection of spells and instructions for the deceased to navigate the afterlife. It was often written on papyrus and buried with the mummified body. The book provided a guide to the various challenges and dangers the deceased would face in the underworld.

What was the significance of the Rosetta Stone in deciphering hieroglyphics?

The Rosetta Stone was a decree issued by King Ptolemy V in 196 BC, written in three scripts: hieroglyphics, demotic, and Greek. It provided a key to deciphering hieroglyphics, as scholars were already familiar with Greek. The decipherment of the Rosetta Stone is considered a major breakthrough in the study of ancient Egyptian history and culture.

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