Egypt: Egypt: Ancient Culture

Ancient Egyptian Culture


For an overview of Ancient Culture, see Life in Ancient Egypt and also visit the Virtual Egypt Museum


A Kid in Ancient Egypt By Ilene Springer


They owned dolls with real hair knotted into the heads, they played ball and stick games, they ran around naked until puberty, and imitated their mothers and fathers at their work at home or in the field. These are the children of ancient Egypt. Although they were kids like kids of every age and place, we have discovered some very intriguing things about the lives of ancient Egyptian children.


Ancient Egyptian Agriculture By Catherine C. Harris


While agriculture is important throughout the world, for the people of Egypt it has always been a matter of working closely with the seasons and understanding their change. Throughout history, Egypt has celebrated the relationship between the land they farm and the Nile.


Ancient Egyptian Alcohol By Caroline Seawright


Beer, called hqt by the ancients and zythus by the Greeks, was a very important Egyptian drink. It was a drink for adults and children alike. It was the staple drink of the poor (wages were sometimes paid in beer), it was a drink of the rich and wealthy, and a drink offered to the gods and placed in the tombs of the dead.


The Ancient Egyptian Bride By Ilene Springer


For all that religion played in ancient Egyptian life, there was one place it had no role at all: the Egyptian marriage. There wasn't even a civil ceremony. Rather, marriage simply took place when two young people decided to move in together (usually the bride would move in with her husband) and start a common household. But that doesn't mean that marriage was not taken seriously. From the paintings we have found, letters that were left from grieved widowers to their deceased mates, and from statues from all periods of ancient Egyptian history, we see that marriage and a close family played an integral role in ancient Egypt.


Ancient Egyptian Names By Jimmy Dunn writing as Jefferson Monet


Anyone who has studied the ancient pharaohs knows that their names were important from the earliest times through the end of ancient Egyptian history, frequently offering clues to their personality, the period in which they lived and particularly, the gods that they most worshipped. But it was not only the kings who placed great store in names. All Egyptian's names were carefully chosen, apparently for commoners and royalty alike, though one major difference is that the names of common Egyptians were not preserved in cartouches, as were those of royalty. At times, some of the naming techniques of the ancient Egyptians could lead to considerable confusion.


The Antiquities Museum in the Alexandrine Library By Nermin Sami


In 295 BC, the Egyptian Ruler Ptolemy I Soter, commissioned the construction of the Great Library of Alexandria (one of the cultural wonders of the ancient world). In the following years, local scientists traveled through the region to purchase books for the library. The Library held many copies of important books of the ancient world as well as the originals of Euripides and Sophocles. All human knowledge of the ancient world was stored in the Library, not just of Egypt or the Greek territories, for Ptolemy I sent his representatives throughout the known world to collect reference works. In 48 BC, the Library and at least 40,000 scrolls were burnt when Julius Caesar attacked the city (during the Alexandrian war) and a huge fire swallowed up the ancient Library.


Egyptian Art After the Pharaohs By the Government of Egypt


With the advent of Islam to the country, Egyptians fell in love with Islamic art. One outstanding advantage of Islam is that it is both a spiritual and civic religion. In other words, beside religious issues, Islam addresses and organizes various walks of life. Architecture, in general and urban architecture in particular, is the physical receptacle of community life. The principles, values and teachings of Islam clearly define the appropriate urban and architectural patterns.


Bread in Ancient Egypt By Jane Howard


Ancient Egyptians, depending on their wealth and status, could have a varied diet, but central to their nourishment was bread and beer. From very early on, both were consumed at every meal, by everyone, and no meal was considered complete without them. Bread, nutritionally, provided protein, starch and trace nutrients, and it also played much the same role as beer in the Egyptian economy as well as in cult rituals. However, some flour caused severe abrasion of the teeth particularly among those who depended upon bread as their main source of nourishment.


The Cat in Ancient Egypt By Ilene Springer


After the pyramids and the kohl painted eyes, almost nothing evokes more awe and mystery than the fascination ancient Egyptians had with cats. They were not only the most popular pet in the house, but their status rose to that of the sacred animals and then on to the most esteemed deities like no other creature before them.


The Charm of the Amulet By Anita Stratos


Do you believe in amuletic magic? No? Chances are that you do, without even realizing it. That special T-shirt you wear playing basketball to guarantee a win for your team; the lucky silver dollar you never leave home without these are modern examples of the power of the amulet, which can be any object that you believe carries an aura of magic, or luck, with it.


Childbirth and Children in Ancient Egypt By Marie Parsons


Children were considered a blessing in ancient Egypt. Sons and daughters took care of their parents in their old age. They were often called "the staff of old age," that is, one upon whom the elderly parents could depend upon for support and care. The scribe Ani instructed that children repay the devotion of Egyptian mothers: "Repay your mother for all her care. Give her as much bread as she needs, and carry her as she carried you, for you were a heavy burden to her. When you were finally born, she still carried you on her neck and for three years she suckled you and kept you clean."


Dance and Dancers in Ancient Egypt By Marie Parsons


Music was a lucrative career open to both men and women in ancient Egypt. Musicians and dancers could work freelance or be permanently attached to an estate or temple. Leisure hours were filled with singing and dancing, as farmers danced to give thanks for good harvests, and all-female song and dance troupes were standard entertainment after dinner.


To Dance in Ancient Egypt By Jimmy Dunn


That dancing has a very long history in Egypt is clear from predynastic clay figures with hands raised above their heads and in some scenes with women in this posture accompanied by others shaking rattles on predynastic vessels. Some of the most beautiful tomb scenes are of banquets with young dancing girls, particularly dating to the New Kingdom tombs at Thebes. Other scenes depicted throughout Egyptian history of dancing are all fascinating, particularly given the ancient Egyptian artist's structured approach to depicting their actions. We find countless depictions, within these tombs, of dancing.


The Diet of the Ancient Egyptians By Jimmy Dunn writing as Sarah Phillips


Doubtless, ancient Egypt's probably eat better than many others in the ancient world. After all, KMT, a name for ancient Egypt refers to its rich, dark, fertile soil and we have no doubt that since the invention of agriculture, Egyptians, with the Nile Valley and Delta, had a distinct advantage over many others when it came to food. Of course, there were lean times, when the inundation of the Nile failed them, but most often, this was not the case. In fact, we find many statues and pictures of ancient Egyptians who are well overweight. However, it is very easy to describe any process in ancient Egypt in too broad of terms. We also must keep in mind that ancient Egypt spans thousands of years, and during that period their diets varied to some extent, while new foods were also added to their menus.


Egyptian Faience By Marie Parsons


The sweet little blue-hued Hippopotamus figurine known as "William" is a fine example of faience-making. Museum-goers are familiar with the breath-taking Egyptian treasures of rich jewelry and objects using many minerals and stones such as turquoise, lapis, jasper, amethyst, and gold. The pectorals, circlets, collars and other objects were fashioned in a variety of colors and by various techniques, throughout the centuries of Egypts history.


Egyptian Society: The Peasant-Farmer By Marie Parsons


People in ancient prehistoric Egypt followed the pattern of hunter-gatherer to cattle-raiser/farmer, followed similarly by peoples all over the world then as well as now. When we today think of ancient Egypt and its glories, we usually think of the treasures and monuments of kings, the wealth and grandeur of noble tombs, and the texts left by scribes. But it was the farmer and laborer, the "peasants" of the time, who formed the backbone of the Egyptian way of life.


Facial Hair (Specifically Beards) in Ancient Egypt By Jimmy Dunn


Facial hair, specifically beards, is a more fascinating topic then many may realize. It is an enigma in later periods, with considerable religious connotations. Facial hair does have an uneven history in Egypt, though perhaps not so much as in our modern world. Clearly, during the Predynastic period, as well as during the formative early years of historic Egypt, beards were favored by men. We see this in the images from the Narmer palette, for example. We find officials and rulers of the Old Kingdom, such as Prince Rahotep, depicted with moustaches, and full beards are widely shown on mummy masks of the First Intermediate Period and the Middle Kingdom.


Foods of the Gods: Part I - Wine in Ancient Egypt By Michael Poe, Phd.


Dr. Michael Poe is our newest editor, and we are very proud to present his first article for our magazine on ancient Egyptian win. Dr. Poe is an Egyptologist and his views on ancient Egyptian life, we believe, are a very welcome addition to our Tour Egypt magazine. Explore this ancient alcoholic beverage and discover just how entrenched and sophisticated the Egyptians became with its production.


The Game is Afoot in Ancient Egypt! By Ilene Springer


Hardly any other ancient people honored the animals they hunted more than the ancient Egyptians. Like the Native Americans the ancients Egyptian hunters prayed to god and goddess images of the animals they quarried to ensure their safety and the success of the hunt. Hunting in ancient Egypt not only provided a variety of fish, fowl and meat, but became a symbol of courage and mastery over many of the animal forces the Egyptians believed they needed to conquer.


The Games of Ancient Egyptians By Raymond Binder


Games in ancient Egypt were diverse, and took many forms. Just as today, there were games favored by adults, children or both. There were indoor games, well organized outdoor sports games, and more informal games played by children. One of the most popular indoor activities was a board game known as senet. Tourists who visit Egypt with a cautious eye may well run across a simple version of the board, sometimes found at antiquity sites marked out on the pavement or stone. However, much more elegant boards are to be found among the wealthy, including one found in the tomb of Tut. This game was an ancestor of draughts, with a checkered board known as the "perw" (houses) of three rows of 10 squares.


The Gardens and Ponds of Ancient Egypt By Jimmy Dunn writing as Jim Fox


One really hears very little about gardens, and yet, they were an essential element to the ancient Egyptian people Those who could afford to do so laid out gardens in front of both their houses and tomb chapels. The gods were even thought to enjoy gardens and so most every temple was surrounded by lush greenery. Gardens seem to have been particularly important during the New Kingdom. It should also be noted that certain types of gardens had religious symbolism. We know that gardens often consisted of both trees and other plants. Popular trees included the sycamore fig, pomegranate, nut trees and jujube. However, willows, acacia and tamarisk were also found.


Getting Wasted in Ancient Egypt By Jimmy Dunn writing as Dean Martindale


Today, in Egypt, good Muslims usually never drink alcoholic beverages, and for other Egyptians who do drink, or for that matter, tourists at least outside of purely tourist areas, getting intoxicated is considered very bad form. This really isn't very unique to Egypt. It seems that those who drink to excess anywhere are not looked upon with favor. But these are relatively late moral sensibilities that did not so much exist in the ancient world. Not that open drunkenness was unconditionally excepted in ancient Egypt. The state of intoxication by drinking alcoholic beverages could be viewed with either approval or disapproval, depending on the context.


Great Hair Days in Ancient Egypt By Ilene Springer


There was probably no better time for hair than in ancient Egypt. You could dye it, cut it, braid it, shave it, weave charms into itand then there were the wigsof countless designs.


Humor in Ancient Egypt By Jimmy Dunn writing as John Warren


Many people will picture ancient Egypt visually as slaves building the Great Pyramids. It is was comes to one's an the common man's mind's eye, though today we believe that the Pyramids were probably not built primarily with slave labor. Still, the concept does not lend itself easily to smiling, happy faces. In fact there seems to have been little outlet for humor within the confines of official funerary and religious art and literature. Yet we know that ancient Egyptians had a since of humor, even as they toiled to build the ancient monumental buildings. In fact, they even had a god of humor in the form of Bes, who was a fat, bearded dwarf; ugly to the point of being comical.


How the Ancient Egyptians Put Their Feet Up: Furnishings in Ancient Egypt By Ilene Springer


After the jewelry, some of the most exquisite objects remaining from the ancient Egyptian world is the furniture the people crafted and used. Chairs, beds, chests and stools were made not only for function but for beauty, as well.


Human Figures in the Art of the Amarna Period By Jimmy Dunn


Most students of ancient Egyptian are aware that the Artwork composed during the Amarna Period under Akhenaten differs markedly from that of other periods in Egyptian history, One of the most visible changes in the art of this period was the manner in which human figures were depicted, specifically their proportions and at its most extreme in that of the king. Though initially Akhenaten, known at that time as Amenhotep IV, was depicted in a traditional artistic style, later depictions of Akhenaten typically represent him with a large head with drooping features and a long neck. He has a pointed chin and thick lips. His shoulders and waist are narrow, and the small of his back is high, so that the upper torso is small.


The Latest Fashions in Ancient Egypt By Ilene Springer


Here's a surprise to many The high-quality Egyptian cotton that is so popular the world over was not even available in pharonic times. It was only until the Christian period that cotton trees growing half-wild in Nubia (southern Egypt) started being used. And finally, in the 19th century, an American variety of cotton started flourishing in Egypt. So what did the ancient Egyptians wear? Linen. Most everything men, women and children wore was made from linen. In fact, the ancient Egyptians believed the Gods wore linen.


Marriage in Ancient Egypt By Jimmy Dunn writing as Mark Andrews


The concept of marriage in Egypt is not an easy topic. Certainly Egyptians seem to have taken mates in what most often appears to be lifelong monogamous relationships. After the Third Intermediate period we begin to find ancient "marriage contracts" that incorporate the phrase shep en shemet (price for "marrying" a woman) and mostly set out property rights without elaborating on the act of marriage itself. More abundant are divorce records that also deal mostly with property settlements.


An Introduction to Ancient Egyptian Music By Jimmy Dunn


It almost seems strange that we should know as much as we do about ancient Egyptian music and at the same time have little or no idea of its real nature. We have texts, representations and even extant instruments but virtually nothing on the actual musical compositions that were composed. Musical instruments ranged from very simple, such as percussion instruments, to very complex, such as harps. Some instruments were strictly (at least in design) Egyptian, while others apparently came to Egypt from the Near East.


Old Age in Ancient Egypt By Marie Parsons


From the age of 40 to the expected 100, a man could enjoy the best years of his life, using the fruits of his labor and knowledge. The Egyptians regarded the attainment of this age as evidence of special divine favor and the reward for blameless behavior. Old people were respected for their experience and wisdom and their wise advice received close attention.


Party Time in Ancient Egypt By Ilene Springer


There have been many peopleexperts and amateurs alikewho have said the ancient Egyptians were preoccupied with preparing for death. These were not ancient Egyptians who said this. If you asked them, they would have probably said they spent more time preparing for festivities and a good timewhile they were living.


Price & Payments in Ancient Egypt By Jimmy Dunn


The ancient Egyptians had no real conceptualization of money, and yet, that did not stop a good trade over most of their history.


Roman Era Funerary Portrait Painting By Jimmy Dunn


The "Fayoum Portraits", life like paintings once bandaged in place over the face of mummies dating usually between the first and third centuries AD, are now well established in the popular perception of ancient Egyptian art, thanks to a number of fairly recent exhibits. These portraits were, in many cases, finely executed in encaustic paint on wood or, less frequently, on stuccoed linen. With their direct full gaze and strong presence, these portraits, at once Greco-Roman in their painting style and intrinsically Egyptian in their purpose, bring the inhabitants of ancient Egypt before us with compelling immediacy.


Sports in Ancient Egypt By the Egyptian Government


What sort of sports did the ancient Egyptians play. Find the answers here.


Symbolism in Ancient Egypt By John Watson


Much of ancient Egypt cannot be understood without some knowledge of symbolism, which was everywhere in their ancient lives.


Symbolism Forms and Functions By John Watson


Here, we get a little deeper into Symbolism, describing the various forms that ancient Egyptian symbolism can take.


Textiles of Ancient Egypt By the Egyptian Government


Handmade textile fabric dates back to thousands of years in Egypt. Click here to see some examples.


Thanksgiving, How the Ancients Celebrated By Jimmy Dunn


Throughout history, people have given thanks to a god or gods for a good harvest. In many cases, it was the ancient ruler who had the ultimate responsibility of appeasing the the gods so they would provide a good harvest, and it was the ruler who might be blamed if that were not the case. In ancient Egypt, for example, crop failures and the resulting famine are suspected as being at least in part the cause of several intermediate periods of governmental collapse between strong dynasties. On the other hand, good harvests were a source of pride and bragging rights by kings who could take considerable credit for the good fortune because the gods were pleased with his actions and deeds.


Two Men Named Nakht By Marie Parsons


The name Nakht means "the strong one." Several men named Nakht are known, one in the Middle Kingdom and others in the New Kingdom. Most held positions of some note within the Egyptian bureaucracy. Sometimes, what we know of the common people, the workers, bakers, weavers, stonemasons, gives us a richer picture of ancient Egyptian life, and makes us feel more akin to these people from five millennia ago.


Welcome to the Ancient Egyptian Home By Ilene Springer


Mudbrick houses made from sunbaked clay. Women scrubbing clothes in the Nile. Large terra cotta water jugs leaning against walls. Children running along with their fathers in the fields. This isnt ancient Egypt were talking about; this is what youll see if youre fortunate enough to travel along the Nile along some of the smaller villages of modern-day Egypt. Nevertheless, this will give you a glimpse into what the ancient Egyptian home looked like from the outside and the daily activities that took place around it.


Women in Ancient Egypt By Caroline Seawright In Egypt,


Women were much more free than their counterparts in other lands... though they were not equal with men, both men and women in Egypt accepted that everyone had their roles in ma'at (the natural order of the universe)... and that the roles of men and women were different. Find out more about ancient Egyptian women through the eyes of Caroline Seawright.


The World's First Melting Pot By Jimmy Dunn writing as Mark Andrews


It can probably be said that a region's favorable climate presents an opportunity for it to become a melting pot of humanity. In modern terms, this climate may be less physical, consisting of a free society which provides unique opportunities for individuals, such as the United States. In the ancient world, good geographical location attracted people. In this regard, Egypt had it all, including a fertile land as well as a central location for trade. Clearly, ancient Egyptians during the dynastic period saw themselves as Egyptians. Their art, and literature pointedly reveals that they showed no identification with either Africa or Asia. People who were obviously of foreign origin very often melted into the Egyptian culture, and became high officials as Egyptians, and it was possible for many different racial types to consider themselves Egyptian.


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Last Updated: June 12th, 2011