Ancient Egypt is one of the most outstanding and extraordinary civilizations to have ever existed on Earth.
Thanks to the abundance of records
and relics, many of which continue emerging to this day, we’re lucky to know so
much about this ancient culture, their history, and even everyday life.
Here, we venture beyond the usual facts about the pyramids and Tutankhamen and share some equally fascinating facts and misconceptions about Ancient Egypt and its population. Did you know, for example, that ancient Egyptians didn’t ride camels and didn’t have money? Or that Cleopatra was likely not as beautiful as rumoured.
Mummification was a common practice in many civilizations, but it was
the ancient Egyptians that turned it into a whole science. Turning a body into
a mummy was a long, arduous and very expensive process that only the privileged
classes could afford. The majority of people, on the other hand, were simply
buried in the desert. This is somewhat problematic, as the ancient Egyptians
believed that a person will be able to live in the afterlife only if their body
is preserved. But wouldn’t that mean that by reserving mummification only to
the rich the simple folk would be denied a life after death? We will probably
never know the answer to that question, but archaeologists do point out that,
somewhat ironically, the hot desert sands were, in many cases, better at
preserving the body than a sarcophagus placed in a cold and mouldy tomb.
Hieroglyphics is a writing system that can be found in many Ancient Egyptian temples, tombs and, of course, the pyramids, but it turns out that it wasn’t the main way of recording things. This is because hieroglyphs are pictograms, meaning that they are a series of small pictures that form sentences when combined in various ways. You can imagine that inscribing each picture, not to mention a whole text, in this fashion is extremely time-consuming and not very practical. This is why this beautiful pictographic writing system was reserved for historical writing, religious and burial-related texts only, and more mundane matters like trade documents were written in a simplified form of hieroglyphics called hieratic. With time, they simplified the script even more into the so-called demotic writing. All three of these writing systems were used to record the same spoken language, although few people could actually read in Ancient Egypt (over 90% of the population was illiterate).
Many ancient Egyptian customs and customary clothing, in particular, are explained in ancient Egyptian or other historical accounts, but we still don’t know why most pharaohs, even the women, wore false beards. The first pharaoh who wore this type of regalia was Pharaoh Djoser in 27 century B.C., and all subsequent rulers were portrayed in this fashion. Even Pharaoh Hatshepsut, one of the most prominent female rulers of ancient Egypt, often appears with a fake beard. To this day, we’re not sure why this is the case, but it is speculated that the pharaoh’s “uniform”, beard included, signified their connection to the Gods, and this was a big deal, as pharaohs were considered the embodiment of the god Horus and they typically tried to single themselves out of the crowd in any way they could.
Clancy's comment: What an amazing civilization.