Egyptian Relief Of A Woman & Child

Egyptian Relief Of A Woman & Child

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Egyptian Relief Of A Woman & Child - History

Looking nice and being clean was very important to the Egyptians. Most everyone, men and women, wore jewelry of some type. The rich wore jewelry made of gold and silver, while the poorer people used copper.

Egyptian Harvest
from The Oxford encyclopedia of ancient Egypt

Makeup was important as well. Makeup was worn by both men and women. They had cosmetic cases they would carry around. The main type of makeup used was eye paint.

Because it was so hot, most people wore white linen clothes. Men wore kilts and women wore a straight dress. Slaves and servants would wear patterned fabrics.

The average family lived in a village of sun baked mud houses. The houses were fairly small with few windows or furniture. They had flat roofs that the people would sleep on in the summer when it was too hot inside.

The main staple of the commoner was bread. They also had fruits, vegetables, lamb, and goats for food. They had clay ovens to cook in and usually used dishes made of clay. The main drink was beer made from barley.

What kinds of jobs did they have?

  • Farmers - most of the people were farmers. They grew barley to make beer, wheat for bread, vegetables such as onions and cucumbers, and flax to make into linen. They grew their crops near the banks of the Nile River where the rich black soil was good for crops.
  • Craftspeople - There were a wide variety of craftsmen jobs. They included carpenters, weavers, jewelers, leather workers, and potters. How skilled a craftsman was would determine his success.
  • Soldiers - Becoming a soldier was an opportunity for a person to rise in society. Most of the soldiers were footmen. There was a well defined hierarchy in the Egyptian army. In peacetime, soldiers would help with government projects such as moving stone for a pyramid or digging a canal.
  • Scribes - Scribes were important people in Ancient Egypt as they were the only people who knew how to read and write. Scribes came from wealthy families and took years of training to learn the complex Egyptian hieroglyphics.
  • Priests and Priestesses - Priests and Priestesses were responsible for the temples and held religious ceremonies.

Seafood from the Yorck Project

The Ptolemaic dynasty

Until the day when he openly assumed an independent kingship as Ptolemy I Soter, on November 7, 305 bce , Ptolemy used only the title satrap of Egypt, but the great hieroglyphic Satrap stela, which he had inscribed in 311 bce , indicates a degree of self-confidence that transcends his viceregal role. It reads, “I, Ptolemy the satrap, I restore to Horus, the avenger of his father, the lord of Pe, and to Buto, the lady of Pe and Dep, the territory of Patanut, from this day forth for ever, with all its villages, all its towns, all its inhabitants, all its fields.” The inscription emphasizes Ptolemy’s own role in wresting the land from the Persians (though the epithet of Soter, meaning “Saviour,” resulted not from his actions in Egypt but from the gratitude of the people of Rhodes for his having relieved them from a siege in 315 bce ) and links him with Khabbash, who about 338 bce had laid claim to the kingship during the last Persian occupation.

Egypt was ruled by Ptolemy’s descendants until the death of Cleopatra VII on August 12, 30 bce . The kingdom was one of several that emerged in the aftermath of Alexander’s death and the struggles of his successors. It was the wealthiest, however, and for much of the next 300 years the most powerful politically and culturally, and it was the last to fall directly under Roman dominion. In many respects, the character of the Ptolemaic monarchy in Egypt set a style for other Hellenistic kingdoms this style emerged from the Greeks’ and Macedonians’ awareness of the need to dominate Egypt, its resources, and its people and at the same time to turn the power of Egypt firmly toward the context of a Mediterranean world that was becoming steadily more Hellenized.

Hatshepsut as Pharaoh

Knowing that her power grab was highly controversial, Hatshepsut fought to defend its legitimacy, pointing to her royal lineage and claiming that her father had appointed her his successor. She sought to reinvent her image, and in statues and paintings of that time, she ordered that she be portrayed as a male pharaoh, with a beard and large muscles. In other images, however, she appeared in traditional female regalia. Hatshepsut surrounded herself with supporters in key positions in government, including Senenmut, her chief minister. Some have suggested Senenmut might also have been Hatshepsut’s lover, but little evidence exists to support this claim.

As pharaoh, Hatshepsut undertook ambitious building projects, particularly in the area around Thebes. Her greatest achievement was the enormous memorial temple at Deir el-Bahri, considered one of the architectural wonders of ancient Egypt. Another great achievement of her reign was a trading expedition she authorized that brought back vast riches–including ivory, ebony, gold, leopard skins and incense–to Egypt from a distant land known as Punt (possibly modern-day Eritrea).

France, China, North America, Greenland

Feeling Royal?

France in the 1700s. Birth for royalty was quite an elaborate affair (a bit like birth for some celebrities in modern times!). After feeling labor pains, the royal lady would call upon her attendants and be laid on a special couch. Some 18th-century remedies that were placed near the mom-to-be included: sneezing powder to aid in birth, almond oil to cleanse the hands of doctor and head midwife, and boxes of powdered cumin and myrrh to dust the infant&aposs umbilical cord. After the birth, the cord was cut and the baby was washed in oil, red roses, and red wine.

Birthing Whisperers

China in the late 1800s. For women of the Chinese merchant class, labor pains would come accompanied by the prayers of the mother and mother-in-law for an easy delivery. A Taoist priest would arrive by the bedside and whisper prayers into the birthing mother&aposs ears. With the onset of birth, she would squat on the bed. Once the baby was born, the midwife would cut and bind the umbilical cord, and then try to encourage the placenta to be born. The baby would not be washed for three days, until the influences of evil were less imminent.

The Sound of Silence

Zuni Indians in the 1890s. When labor pains started, the birthing mother would lie on a soft bed made of animal skins and her mother would gather the elder women of the family to aid in the birth. As the pains increased she was encouraged to remain silent who knew silent birth was not just a ritual of the Church of Scientology! To speed up delivery the laboring woman&aposs mother and birthing doctress would knead her pregnant belly. As the baby made its descent, the women of the family would cry and groan, out of sympathy, for the birthing mother who could not express her pain. As the baby emerged, the doctress would rest below the woman to catch the baby. After the placenta was delivered, the grandmother of the new mother would throw it in the river to be washed downstream. Six days following the birth, the new baby would be introduced to the Zuni gods and be made an official member of the Zuni people.

Husband's Birthing Role

Polar Eskimos in the 1920s. To prepare for birth, the birthing woman&aposs husband would create a bed in a shallow hole covered by animal skin -- this is where the delivery would occur. When pain began, the woman would rest in the prepared bed and her husband would lean behind her. He would then press down on her abdomen to encourage the baby to be born. Upon birth, the father would cut the umbilical cord with a knife and the new mother would tie a knot to stop the bleeding. The placenta would be wrapped in animal skin and then left outside for animals to feast on. The baby would be named with three names to protect it from evil spirits in the wind and sleep with his or her parents.

Egyptian Relief Of A Woman & Child - History

Ancient Egyptian Society and Family Life

BY | Douglas J. Brewer | Emily Teeter

SESSION 1 : Marriage and the Family

The Egyptians appear to have reversed the ordinary practices of mankind. Women attend markets and are employed in trade, while men stay at home and do the weaving! Men in Egypt carry loads on their head, women on their shoulder. Women pass water standing up, men sitting down. To ease themselves, they go indoors, but eat outside on the streets, on the theory that what is unseemly, but necessary, should be done in private, and what is not unseemly should be done openly.

(Herodotus II: 33-37)

The nuclear family was the core of Egyptian society and many of the gods were even arranged into such groupings. There was tremendous pride in one's family, and lineage was traced through both the mother's and father's lines. Respect for one's parents was a cornerstone of morality, and the most fundamental duty of the eldest son (or occasionally daughter) was to care for his parents in their last days and to ensure that they received a proper burial.

Countless genealogical lists indicate how important family ties were, yet Egyptian kinship terms lacked specific words to identify blood relatives beyond the nuclear family. For example, the word used to designate "mother" was also used for "grandmother," and the word for "father" was the same as "grandfather" likewise, the terms for "son," "grandson," and "nephew" (or "daughter," "granddaughter," and "niece") were identical. "Uncle" and "brother" (or "sister" and "aunt") were also designated by the same word. To make matters even more confusing for modern scholars, the term "sister" was often used for "wife," perhaps an indication of the strength of the bond between spouses.

Once a young man was well into adolescence, it was appropriate for him to seek a partner and begin his own family. Females were probably thought to be ready for marriage after their first menses. The marrying age of males was probably a little older, perhaps 16 to 20 years of age, because they had to become established and be able to support a family.

Virginity was not a necessity for marriage indeed, premarital sex, or any sex between unmarried people, was socially acceptable. Once married, however, couples were expected to be sexually faithful to each other. Egyptians (except the king) were, in theory, monogamous, and many records indicate that couples expressed true affection for each other. They were highly sensual people, and a major theme of their religion was fertility and procreation. This sensuality is reflected by two New Kingdom love poems: "Your hand is in my hand, my body trembles with joy, my heart is exalted because we walk together," and "She is more beautiful than any other girl, she is like a star rising . . . with beautiful eyes for looking and sweet lips for kissing" (after Lichtheim 1976: 182).

Oriental Institute
Demotic "marriage" papyrus.

Marriage was purely a social arrangement that regulated property. Neither religious nor state doctrines entered into the marriage and, unlike other documents that related to economic matters (such as the so-called "marriage contracts"), marriages themselves were not registered. Apparently once a couple started living together, they were acknowledged to be married. As related in the story of Setne, "I was taken as a wife to the house of Naneferkaptah [that night, and pharaoh] sent me a present of silver and gold . . . He [her husband] slept with me that night and found me pleasing. He slept with me again and again and we loved each other" (Lichtheim 1980: 128).

Compare the legal weight of marriage among the ancient Egyptians with marriage practice in other cultures.

How similar is this ancient concept and construct to contemporary Western notions of marriage?

The ancient Egyptian terms for marriage ( meni , "to moor [a boat]," and grg pr , "to found a house") convey the sense that the arrangement was about property. Texts indicate that the groom often gave the bride's family a gift, and he also gave his wife presents. Legal texts indicate that each spouse maintained control of the property that they brought to the marriage, while other property acquired during the union was jointly held. Ideally the new couple lived in their own house, but if that was impossible they would live with one of their parents. Considering the lack of effective contraceptives and the Egyptian's traditional desire to have a large family, most women probably became pregnant shortly after marriage.

Although the institution of marriage was taken seriously, divorce was not uncommon. Either partner could institute divorce for fault (adultery, inability to conceive, or abuse) or no fault (incompatibility). Divorce was, no doubt, a matter of disappointment but certainly not one of disgrace, and it was very common for divorced people to remarry.

Although in theory divorce was an easy matter, in reality it was probably an undertaking complicated enough to motivate couples to stay together, especially when property was involved. When a woman chose to divorce--if the divorce was uncontested--she could leave with what she had brought into the marriage plus a share (about one third to two thirds) of the marital joint property. One text (Ostracon Petrie 18), however, recounts the divorce of a woman who abandoned her sick husband, and in the resulting judgment she was forced to renounce all their joint property. If the husband left the marriage he was liable to a fine or payment of support (analogous to alimony), and in many cases he forfeited his share of the joint property.

Egyptian women had greater freedom of choice and more equality under social and civil law than their contemporaries in Mesopotamia or even the women of the later Greek and Roman civilizations. Her right to initiate divorce was one of the ways in which her full legal rights were manifested. Additionally, women could serve on juries, testify in trials, inherit real estate, and disinherit ungrateful children. It is interesting, however, that in contrast to modern Western societies, gender played an increasingly important role in determining female occupations in the upper classes than in the peasant and working classes. Women of the peasant class worked side by side with men in the fields in higher levels of society, gender roles were more entrenched, and women were more likely to remain at home while their husbands plied their crafts or worked at civil jobs.

View a timeline of the ancient Egyptian dynasties.

Through most of the Pharaonic Period, men and women inherited equally, and from each parent separately. The eldest son often, but not always, inherited his father's job and position (whether in workshop or temple), but to him also fell the onerous and costly responsibility of his parents' proper burial. Real estate generally was not divided among heirs but was held jointly by the family members. If a family member wished to leave property to a person other than the expected heirs, a document called an imeyt-per ("that which is in the house") would ensure the wishes of the deceased.

SESSION 2 : Child-bearing and Family Life

The relationship between coitus and pregnancy was clearly recognized by the ancient Egyptians. For example, the Late Period story of Setna relates, "She lay down beside her husband. She received [the fluid of] conception from him" and a hymn to Khonsu relates, "the male member to beget the female womb to conceive and increase generations in Egypt." Although the Egyptians understood the general functions of parts of the reproductive system, the relationships between parts was sometimes unclear. For example, they knew that the testicles were involved in procreation, but they thought the origin of semen was in the bones and that it simply passed through the testicles. Female internal anatomy was understood even less well. Anatomical naivety can be gleaned from the fact that, although the function of the womb was understood, it was erroneously thought to be directly connected to the alimentary canal. Thus, placing a clove of garlic in the vagina was supposed to test for fertility: if garlic could be detected on the breath of a woman then she was fertile if not, then she was infertile.

Oriental Institute
Images and symbols of fertility were of importance to the ancient Egyptians, as considered in this slideshow.
In Egyptian households of all classes, children of both sexes were valued and wanted (there is no indication that female infanticide was practiced). In addition to fertility tests, tests for pregnancy and the determination of the gender of the child were devised. One test involved watering barley and emmer wheat with the urine of a hopeful mother-to-be. If the barley sprouted, the woman was pregnant with a male child if the emmer wheat germinated, she was pregnant with a female child. If the urine had no effect, the woman was not pregnant. Though there actually may be some scientific basis for this test--a pregnant woman produces a variety of hormones, some of which can induce early flowering in particular plants--there is no known relationship between these plants and the determination of gender.

The birth of a child was a time of great joy as well as one of serious concern given the high rate of infant mortality and the stress of childbirth on the mother. Childbirth was viewed as a natural phenomenon and not an illness, so assistance in childbirth was usually carried out by a midwife.

Data collected from modern non-industrial societies suggest that infant mortality in ancient Egypt was undoubtedly high. One of the best ways to maintain a healthy infant under the less-than-sanitary conditions that prevailed in ancient times was by breast-feeding. In addition to the transfer of antibodies through mother's milk, breast-feeding also offered protection from food-born diseases. Gastrointestinal disorders are common under poor sanitary conditions, and because infant immunity is reduced during weaning, children's susceptibility to disease increases at this time. Indirect evidence for this occurring in ancient Egypt comes from a number of cemeteries where the childhood death rate peaks at about age four, which correlates with an Egyptian child's introduction to solid foods. Prolonged lactation also offered a number of heath advantages to the mother. Primarily, it reduces the chance of conceiving another child too soon by hormonally suppressing ovulation, which allows the mother more time between pregnancies. The three-year period for suckling a child recommended in the "Instructions of Any" (New Kingdom) therefore struck an unconscious but evolutionarily important balance between the needs of procreation, the health of the mother, and the survival of the newborn child.

Egyptian children who successfully completed their fifth year could generally look forward to a full life, which in peasant society was about thirty-three years for men and twenty-nine years for women, based on skeletal evidence. Textual records indicate that for upper-class males, who were generally better fed and performed less strenuous labor than the lower classes, life expectancy could reach well into the sixties and seventies and sometimes even the eighties and nineties. Upper-class women also looked forward to a longer life than women from the lower classes, but the arduous task of bearing many children resulted in a lower life expectancy compared to their male counterparts.

Dolls and toys indicate that children were allowed ample time to play, but once they matured past infancy (i.e., were weaned) they began training for adulthood. Young girls assisted their mothers with household tasks or worked with them in some capacity in the fields. Other female members of the mother's household would aid in the care of younger siblings. Similarly, young boys followed their fathers into their occupation, first carrying out simple chores, then later working and carrying out more important tasks. Parents also familiarized their children with ideas about the world, their religious outlook, ethical principles, and correct behavior.

The end of childhood appears to have been marked by the onset of menses for girls and the ceremony of circumcision for boys. That circumcision was a ritual transition from boyhood to manhood is indicated by references such as "When I was a boy, before my foreskin was removed from me." As far as is known, in the Pharaonic Period only males were circumcised, but exactly how prevalent circumcision was through society is unclear. Some uncircumcised mummies, including King Ahmose and perhaps King Amunhotep I, indicate that the practice may have not been universal.

Young men did not usually choose their own careers. Herodotus and Diodorus refer explicitly to a hereditary calling in ancient Egypt. This was not a system of rigid inheritance but an endeavor to pass on a father's function to his children. A son was commonly referred to as "the staff of his father's old age," designated to assist the elder in the performance of his duties and finally to succeed him. The need for support in old age and to ensure inheritance made adoption quite common for childless couples one New Kingdom ostracon relates, "As for him who has no children, he adopts an orphan instead [to] bring him up." There are examples of a man who "adopted" his brother and of a woman named Nau-nakht, who had other children, who adopted and reared the freed children of her female servant because of the kindness that they showed to her.

Oriental Institute, University of Chicago, OIM 10507
Seti I and his son, the future Ramesses the Great.
New Kingdom, Dynasty 19, Reign of Seti I, ca. 1291-1279 B.C.
Purchased in Cairo, 1919.

Mythically, kingship was passed from Osiris (the deceased king) to the "Living Horus" (his successor) in actuality, the eldest son of the king normally inherited the office from his father. This stela shows King Seti I (second from left) and his son, later Ramesses II ("The Great"), who stands behind him. Ramesses wears his hair in a side ponytail, a style characteristic of a youth or of a special type of priest, and he carries a slender fan that was a sign of rank.
This relief was probably commissioned by the two priests shown at the right to commemorate their function in the religious cult of the royal family. Showing oneself in the presence of the king was a great honor.

Oriental Institute, University of Chicago, OIM 10589
Djedhor and his daughters.
Reign of Philip Arrhidaeus, ca. 323 B.C. Athribis.
Purchased in Egypt, 1919.

This statue base, which once supported a magical healing statue, was dedicated by a man named Djedhor. He was Chief Guardian of the Sacred Falcon who, according to the hieroglyphic texts on this block, cared for flocks of sacred birds. On one side of the base he appears with his daughters, on the other with his sons, an indication that he revered his daughters as much as his sons which in turn reflects the high status of women in ancient Egypt.

Although peasant children probably never entered any formal schooling, male children of scribes and the higher classes entered school at an early age. (Young girls were not formally schooled, but because some women knew how to read and write they must have had access to a learned family member or a private tutor.) Though we have no information about the location or organization of schools prior to the Middle Kingdom, we can tell that after that time they were attached to some administrative offices, temples (specifically the Ramesseum and the Temple of Mut), and the palace. In addition to "public" schooling, groups of nobles also hired private tutors to teach their children. Because education had not yet established itself as a separate discipline, teachers were drawn from the ranks of experienced or pedagogically gifted scribes who, as part of their duties and to ensure the supply of future scribes, taught either in the classroom or took apprentices in their offices.

Education consisted mainly of endless rote copying and recitation of texts, in order to perfect spelling and orthography. Gesso-covered boards with students' imperfect copies and their master's corrections attest to this type of training. Mathematics was also an important part of the young male's training. In addition, schooling included the memorization of proverbs and myths, by which pupils were educated in social propriety and religious doctrine. Not surprisingly, many of these texts stress how noble (and advantageous) the profession of scribe was: "Be a scribe for he is in control of everything he who works in writing is not taxed, nor does he have to pay any dues."

Length of schooling differed widely. The high priest Bekenkhonsu recalls that he started school at five and attended four years followed by eleven years' apprenticeship in the stables of King Seti I. At about twenty he was appointed to a low level of the priesthood ( wab ). In another documented case, one scribe in training was thirty years of age, but this must have been an unusual case.

SESSION 3 : Dress and Fashion

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Nykauinpu and his wife, Hemetradjet.
Ancient Egyptians were extremely interested in fashion and its changes. This seems evident from trends seen in tomb scenes where the costumes and styles of the upper classes were soon copied by the lower classes. The most common fabric for clothing (both women's and men's) was linen. Because linen is very hard to dye, most clothes were off-white, so color was added with heavy beaded collars and other jewelry.

The standard apparel of women from the Old Kingdom into the New Kingdom was the sheath dress, which could be worn strapless or with two broad shoulder straps. Most examples of these dresses reach the ankles. Most sources depict women wearing impossibly tight and impractical dresses, suggesting that the representations are idealized to emphasize the sensuality of the female body.

D. Brewer and E. Teeter
Consider the changing styles of dress for women and men.
The most ancient garment worn by men was a kilt that was made of a rectangular piece of linen cloth wrapped rather loosely around the hips, leaving the knees uncovered. As a rule, it was wrapped around the body from right to left so that the edge of the skirt would be in the front. The upper edge was tucked behind the tie, or girdle, that held the kilt together. This garment was the standard male attire for all classes from peasants to royalty, though the quality of the linen and the exact style varied according to one's purchasing power. Some of the fancier, more expensive kilts had bias-cut edges, pleated decorative panels, or fringed edges, and were made of finer, softer linen. By late Dynasty 4 and early Dynasty 5, it became fashionable to wear the kilt longer and wider or to wear it with an inverted box pleat that appeared as an erect triangular front piece. Though styles changed over time, the simple kilt remained the standard garb for scribes, servants, and peasants.

Oriental Institute, University of Chicago, OIM 7189
Ptolemaic-Roman, 2nd century B.C.-2nd century A.D. Fayum, Grave H 17.
Gift of the Egypt Exploration Fund, 1901-2.
In the winter, the middle and upper classes wore a heavy cloak extending from neck to ankle, which could be wrapped around and folded or clasped in front. Depictions of such cloaks extend from Archaic to Ptolemaic times. Although sandals of rush and reeds are known, regardless of the occasion or social class, Egyptians apparently often went barefoot.

During the New Kingdom, when Egypt extended its political influence east into Asia, Egyptian fashion changed radically. With the influx of trade and ideas from the east, fashions became more varied, changed more quickly, and often took on an eastern flavor. Men and women of the upper classes, for example, wore layers of fine, nearly transparent kilts and long- or short sleeved shirts that tied at the neck, or draped themselves in billowing robes of fine linen that extended from neck to ankle and were drawn in at the waist by a sash. The better examples of these garments were heavily pleated, and some were ornamented with colored ball fringe.

Oriental Institute
Review the styles and fashions of the ancient Egyptians.
For most of the Pharaonic Period, women wore their hair (or wigs) long and straight after Dynasty 18 hairstyles became more elaborate. During all periods men wore their hair short, but they also wore wigs, the style befitting the occasion. These wigs were made of human hair or plant fiber. Both genders wore copious amounts of perfumes and cosmetics made of ground minerals and earth pigments. Fashion statements were made with accessories such as jewelry and ribbons. Men also carried staffs that marked status and social class.

SESSION 4 : Entertainment

There is much evidence for the leisure activities of the ancient Egyptians. Men engaged in physical sports, such as hunting, fishing, archery, wrestling, boxing, and stick fencing. Long-distance races were organized to demonstrate physical prowess, and both men and women enjoyed swimming. Board games were popular, and games boards were constructed of a number of materials: wood, stone, clay, or simple drawings scratched on the ground. Moves on board games were determined by throw sticks, astragali (animal anklebones), or after the late New Kingdom, cubic dice that were usually marked in the same pattern used today. One of the most common games was senet , which was played on a board of thirty squares divided into three rows of ten squares. Like so many other aspects of Egyptian culture, senet had a religious significance, and the game was likened to passing through the underworld.

Oriental Institute, University of Chicago, OIM 16950
Snake (Mehen) game.
Egyptian alabaster, pigment.
Old Kingdom, Dynasties 3-6, ca. 2750-2250 B.C.
Purchased in Egypt, 1934.

A game board in the form of a coiled snake was among the earliest Egyptian games. Using a set of lion-shaped and round markers, play started at the snake's tail, which was in the form of a bird's head. The two or four opponents raced each other to the goal located in the snake's head. Mehen was the name of the serpent deity whose coils protected the sun god.

Oriental Institute, University of Chicago, OIM 371
20 square game.
Acacia wood, copper.
New Kingdom, Dynasties 18-19, ca. 1570-1069 B.C. Akhmim?
Purchased in Egypt, 1894-5.

The game of 20 squares was played by two opponents, each of whom had 5 playing pieces. Play began with the pieces placed on the undecorated areas on each side of the board. The players moved down the side squares and up the middle of the board. Plays were determined with throw sticks, dice, or knucklebones. Religious texts indicate that playing the game was likened to passing through the underworld in the quest for eternal rebirth.

The "twenty square game," which originated in Sumer and was known through the entire ancient Near East and Cyprus, was played on a rectangular board divided into three rows of four, twelve, and four squares, respectively. Both senet and twenty squares were played by two opponents. Another ancient game was mehen , played by several players on a round board that looked like a coiled snake. The playing pieces, tiny lions and small balls, were moved from the tail of the snake to the goal on its head. Although this game was played in Egypt only during the Old Kingdom, it continued to be played in Cyprus for another 1,000 years.

Oriental Institute, University of Chicago, OIM 9819, 9820
Game markers.
Faience, ivory.
New Kingdom and later, ca. 1300-300 B.C.
Purchased, 1920.
Tomb paintings indicate that banquets were a popular form of relaxation, at least for the upper class. At such events food, alcoholic beverages, music, and dancing were common forms of entertainment. The organization of the tomb scenes may be misleading, it seems that proprieties of the times kept male and female guests seated in separate areas although men and women performed together.

The foundation of all daily or banquet meals, regardless of social class, was the same: bread, beer, and vegetables. The latter included leeks, onions, garlic, a number of pulses (beans, peas, lentils, etc.), and several varieties of melons. Wealthier Egyptians had more opportunities to enjoy red meat, fowl, honey-sweetened cakes and other delicacies. Lower-class Egyptians relied on fish and fowl for most of their meat proteins. The ready availability of wild fish and fowl made them inexpensive, while beef and, to a varying extent, other red meats were expensive and considered by many to be a luxury.

The national drink in ancient Egypt was beer, and all ancient Egyptians--rich and poor, male and female--drank great quantities of it. Wages were paid in grain, which was used to make two staples of the Egyptian diet: bread and beer. Beer was made from barley dough, so bread making and beer making are often shown together. Barley dough destined for beer making was partially baked and then crumbled into a large vat, where it was mixed with water and sometimes sweetened with date juice. This mixture was left to ferment, which it did quickly the liquid was then strained into a pot that was sealed with a clay stopper. Ancient Egyptian beer had to be drunk soon after it was made because it went flat very quickly. Egyptians made a variety of beers of different strengths. Strength was calculated according to how many standard measures of the liquid was made from one hekat (4.54 liters) of barley thus, beer of strength two was stronger than beer of strength ten.

Oriental Institute, University of Chicago
Nykauinpu figures: woman grinding grain (left) and winnower (right) .
In addition to beer, wine was also widely drunk. Jar labels with notations that the wine was from the "Vineyard of King Djet" indicate that wine production was well established as early as Dynasty 1. By Dynasty 5 and 6, grapevines and wine production were common motifs in decorated tombs, and records imply that some vineyards produced considerable amounts of wine. One vineyard, for example, is said to have delivered 1,200 jars of good wine and fifty jars of medium-quality wine in one year.

Wines in ancient Egypt, like wines today, were recognized by their vintage, often identified by the name of the village, town, district, or general geographic region where it was produced. At least fourteen different wine-producing areas existed in the Delta alone although the extent of these regions cannot be defined, their general location can be identified--Upper Egyptian vintages were not as numerous as those of the Delta, but were said to be of excellent quality (e.g., Theban wines were known for their lightness and wholesomeness). Wines were also known to have been produced in the oases.

Wine jar labels normally specified the quality of wine, such as "good wine," "sweet wine," "very very good wine," or the variety, such as pomegranate wine. It is difficult to speculate about the taste of Egyptian wine compared to modern standards. Nevertheless, because of the climate, low acid (sweet) grapes probably predominated, which would have resulted in a sweet rather than dry wine. Alcohol content would have varied considerably from area to area and from vintage to vintage, but generally Egyptian wine would have had a lower alcohol content than modern table wines.

Douglas J. Brewer and Emily Teeter
A woman who over-indulged (Dynasty 19).
It has been suggested that the effects of drinking wine were sometimes enhanced by additives. For example, tomb paintings often depict wine jars wrapped or draped in lotus flowers, suggesting that the Egyptians may have been aware of the narcotic qualities of blue lotus petals when mixed with wine. There is much evidence for the excess consumption of both beer and wine, and King Menkaure (Dynasty 4) and King Amasis (Dynasty 26) figure in tales about drunkenness. Some ancient scenes are quite graphic in their depiction of over-indulgence. For instance, in the tomb of Paheri an elegant lady is shown presenting her empty cup to a servant and saying "give me eighteen measures of wine, behold I should love [to drink] to drunkenness."

Along with eating and drinking went dance and song. Dancing seems to have been a spectator sport in which professionals performed for the guests. As a rule, men danced with men and women with women. Singers, whether soloists or entire choruses accompanied by musical instruments, entertained guests in private homes and in the palace.

Oriental Institute, University of Chicago
Musicians entertain at a banquet (Dynasty 18).
Ancient Egyptians played a variety of musical instruments. Of the wind instruments, one of the oldest was a flute made of reed or wood, and illustrated on Predynastic pieces of broken pottery (i.e., sherds) as well as on a slate palette from Hierakonpolis. By the Old Kingdom, single and double flutes were played. They could be side-blown (much like a modern flute), or end-blown (like a recorder). The flute always remained popular among Egyptians and it has survived to this day as the Arabic nay and uffafa. Also popular during the Old Kingdom were large floor harps and various percussion instruments ranging from bone or ivory clappers to hand-rattles ( sistra ) and rectangular or round frame drums. Drums of all sizes were played using fingers and hands sticks or batons were apparently not used.

Oriental Institute
During the New Kingdom, many new instruments were added to the instrumental ensemble, including small shoulder-held harps, trumpets, lutes, oboes, and seven-stringed lyres. Trumpets were generally restricted to the military. Egyptian lutes had a long slender neck and an elongated oval resonating chamber made of wood or tortoise shell (the sound emitted from these instruments would have been something approximating a cross between a mandolin and the American banjo). The cylindrical drum, about 1 meter high with a leather skin laced on at each end, was also popular during the New Kingdom it was used both by the military and civilian population. The long oboe, played with a double reed, was introduced to Egypt from Asia Minor, and during the Graeco-Roman period, a number of instruments of Greek origin were adopted by the Egyptians, including pan-pipes and a water organ with a keyboard.

Although the sound quality of the ancient instruments can in some cases be recreated, no evidence exists that the Egyptians ever developed a system of musical notation thus the ancient melodies, rhythms, and keys remain unknown. Some scholars believe, however, that vestiges of the ancient music may be found in the music of the peoples now living in Western Desert oases, and these songs are being scrutinized for their possible origins.

In contrast to the banquets of the rich and the organized meetings of the lower classes, a different type of entertainment was provided by inns and beer houses where drinking often led to singing, dancing, and gaming, and men and women were free to interact with each other. Taverns stayed open late into the night, and patrons drank beer in such quantities that intoxication was not uncommon. In one ancient text a teacher at a school of scribes chastens a student for his night activities: "I have heard that you abandoned writing and that you whirl around in pleasures, that you go from street to street and it reeks of beer. Beer makes him cease being a man. It causes your soul to wander . . . Now you stumble and fall upon your belly, being anointed with dirt" (Caminos 1954: 182).

The streets of larger towns no doubt had a number of "beer halls," and the same text as just quoted refers to the "harlots" who could be found there. Proverbs warning young men to avoid fraternization with "a woman who has no house" indicate that some form of prostitution existed in ancient Egyptian society. For instance, the "Instructions of Ankhsheshenqy" admonish, "He who makes love to a woman of the street will have his purse cut open on its side" (Lichtheim 1980: 176). During the Graeco-Roman period, brothels were known to exist near town harbors and could be identified by an erect phallus over the door, and tax records refer to houses that were leased for the purpose of prostitution. Prostitution was not, however, associated with temples or religious cults in Egypt.

Douglas J. Brewer is professor of anthropology at the University of Illinois, Urbana, and director of the Spurlock Museum. He has written four books and numerous articles on Egypt, and has spent eighteen years involved in field projects in Egypt, including research on the natural history of the Eastern Desert, the Palaeolithic / Neolithic transition in the Fayum, and excavations concerned with the Predynastic and Dynastic culture of the Nile Valley.

Emily Teeter is research associate and curator of ancient Egyptian and Nubian antiquities at the Oriental Institute Museum, University of Chicago. She is the author of a wide variety of books and scholarly articles about Egyptian religion and history, and has participated in expeditions in Giza, Luxor, and Alexandria.

The verdict

What can we conclude from this tangled tale? We should perhaps rethink our assumptions. Hatshepsut did not fear Tuthmosis instead of killing him, she raised him as her successor. Tuthmosis may not have hated Hatshepsut. Initially he may even have been grateful to her, as she had protected his land while training him for greatness. But, as he grew older and looked back over his life, his perspective would shift. Would Egypt's most successful general, a stickler for tradition, have wished to be associated with a woman co-regent, even a woman as strong as Hatshepsut?

Tuthmosis set his masons to re-write history.

By removing all obvious references to his co-ruler Tuthmosis could incorporate her reign into his own. He would then become Egypt's greatest pharaoh the only successor to Tuthmosis II. Hatshepsut would become the unfortunate victim, not of a personal attack, but of an impersonal attempt at retrospective political correctness.

Tuthmosis set his masons to re-write history. Their labours would last well into the reign of his successor, Amenhotep II, a king who could not remember Hatshepsut, and who had no reason to respect her memory. Meanwhile, hidden in the Valley of the Kings, Hatshepsut still rested in her coffin. Tuthmosis I had been taken from their joint tomb and re-buried, but she had been left alone. Tuthmosis knew that as long as her body survived, Hatshepsut was ensured eternal life.

Egyptian Relief Of A Woman & Child - History

In general, men and women had different roles in the society of Ancient Egypt. However, unlike in many ancient civilizations, women were considered men's equals under the law. Just like men, women could run businesses, borrow money, and own property.

Because women did not become scribes or work in the government, they did not learn how to read or write. They were taught homemaking skills and how to manage a household by their mother.

Girls in Ancient Egypt got married very young. Usually around the age of twelve or thirteen. The Egyptians did not have big marriage ceremonies and most marriages were arranged by the two families.

Women typically worked around the home. They prepared food, cooked meals, cleaned the house, made clothing, and took care of the children. Poor women would help their husbands work the fields. Wealthier women would manage the servants or perhaps run a business of their own.

Preparing food for the family was a full time job for most peasant women. They would tend the garden, ground grain into flour, knead flour into dough, and cook bread.

Wealthy women would have had servants to do most of the housework and cooking. They would spend their time managing the servants and planning large banquets. Sometimes wealthy or high-ranking women became priestesses working in a temple for one of the Egyptian goddesses.

Priestesses and Goddesses

Only women from important and high-ranking families would have been allowed to become priestesses. Working in a temple was considered an honor. There were many powerful women goddesses in the Egyptian religion including Isis (the mother goddess), Hathor (goddess of love and motherhood), and Nut (goddess of the sky).

Not all women worked in the family home or conformed to the typical roles of women. In Ancient Egyptian society this was okay. Women owned businesses selling products such as cosmetics, perfume, or clothing. Some women worked as entertainers in the courts as musicians or dancers.

Although women had less opportunity than men, they had the same legal rights. In some cases, this allowed a woman to rise all the way in power to become pharaoh. Two of the most famous women pharaohs were Hatshepsut and Cleopatra VII.

The Nile

The Nile River was extremely important to the ancient Egyptian's way of life. Not only was the river the primary source for drinking water, but it also had the ability to produce the extremely fertile soil that the Egyptians needed for survival.

© Héctor de Pereda - The temples at Abu Simbel, on the riverbanks of the Nile

Most of Egypt is dry desert land, and the annual floods that the river provided allowed the waters to flow onto the banks so that crops could have the water that they needed to grow. Consequently, many cities and villages sprang up around the river Nile.

Additionally, the Nile is where the Egyptians obtained the papyrus reeds that they used for making paper and building materials.

Click here to learn more about The Nile River

Home Remedies from Ancient Egypt

The knowledge and research that ancient Egyptian healers possessed was considered ahead of their time, and still impresses physicians today [1]. They had a limited number of cultivated herbs and plants during their time, but were still able to make simple yet effective medications. Many early medicines in Egypt centered on the use of spices and drinks, including some of the following ancient Egyptian home remedies:

A) Cabbage:

In order to prevent a hangover, ancient Egyptians ate cabbage with vinegar before a night of heavy drinking. To this day, the vegetable is considered one of the best home remedies for hangovers. Cabbage was also used to treat ailments, such as joint pain, stomach ulcers, and breast engorgement.

B) Aloe Vera:

The ancient Egyptians would use the clear-like jelly that came from the leaves of the aloe plant as a remedy for headaches, chest pains, burns, ulcers, skin diseases, and worms. The Egyptians made a lot of different remedies with the aloe plant – both oral and topical treatments. Ingesting the aloe was known to heal digestive and intestinal disorders. The cathartic properties associated with the gel were also used as an oral laxative.

C) Honey:

The temples and sarcophagi of the ancient Egyptians were decorated with art and symbols that show the importance of honey and bees on everyday life. During the building of the infamous pyramids, workers would often experience scrapes, gashes and cuts. To prevent deadly infection, their open wounds were covered with honey, which possesses effective antiseptic and antifungal properties. The substance also worked wonders for treating irritated skin and rashes. According to the Ebers Papyrus (one of the oldest preserved medical documents), nearly all early Egyptian medicines incorporated honey, wine and milk [2].

D) Honey and Milk:

To treat asthma, the Egyptians would combine milk and honey to create a remedy meant to free up the airways and make it easier for a patient to breathe.

E) Coriander Seeds:

Archeologists investigating the tombs of ancient Egyptians discovered coriander seeds and scripts mentioning its uses. In their day, they used the herb to treat headaches, muscle pain, stiff joints, arthritis and rheumatism. When turned into a paste, the seeds healed mouth ulcerations. Other ulcers responded to poultices made from the seeds. Coriander seed oil helped to promote healthy circulation.

F) Onion:

The ancient Egyptians saw cardiovascular health properties in onions, and would administer it to help combat heart disease and lower cholesterol levels. They viewed the circular shape and layers of the onion as a representation of immortality, and would also eat the vegetable as a way to prevent strokes and improve the overall health of their heart.

G) Caraway Seeds:

The seeds of the herb caraway treated stomach issues, such as relieving intestinal gases and improving the functions of the stomach.

H) Fenugreek:

Fenugreek is one of the oldest medicinal herbs in ancient Egyptian history, which was used to treat sexual disorders. They would give the herb to women to ease the discomfort of childbirth, menstrual pain, as well as increase the milk flow for nursing mothers. Mothers taking fenugreek would notice an increase within three days. The herb also possessed antiviral properties that helped reduce mucus and relieve inflammation. For men, the herb was believed to treat male impotence.

I) Garlic:

Ancient Egyptians would feed their workers garlic every day as a way to ensure they had enough strength to work hard on the construction of the pyramids. Garlic was also used as a treatment for asthma or bronchial conditions.

J) Castor Oil:

Dating back to 4000 BC, the Egyptians would use the beans of the castor plant to treat diseases of the eye. The oil would protect the eyes from irritation and dryness. When massaged into the scalp, castor oil would become fully absorbed and help to promote hair growth or stop hair loss. The oil was known for its laxative properties as well.

K) Wine:

As one of the oldest drinks in the world, the Egyptians became adept at fermenting certain plants to achieve an alcoholic beverage. Not only did they drink alcohol for fun, but also incorporated it into some of their home remedies. They learned that the liquid possessed antiseptic properties that helped clean open wounds. The Egyptians were also known to mix herbs with their wine, such as coriander and rosemary, to create flavorful home remedies with added benefits.

L) Aromatherapy:

Ancient Egyptians dabbled in aromatherapy treatments, where they used fragrant oils to soothe their bodies and minds [3].

M) Dill:

The ancient Egyptians used dill to ease a bad case of flatulence as well as provide relief for dyspepsia (an upset stomach). The herb was regarded for its laxative and diuretic properties.

N) Sesame:

The Egyptians are noted for using sesame seeds as home remedies as early as 1500 BC. Historical accounts reveal that people in ancient Egypt would drink sesame oil mixed with honey as a way to enhance their health. They also used sesame to soothe the symptoms of asthma.

O) Tamarind:

The ancient Egyptians used the pulp of the tamarind as a laxative. Known to grow in tropical climates, the fruit comes from a tree that is linked to a range of medicinal values. The pectin and tartaric acid in the pulp can help treat cases of infection, fever, the common cold, fractures, earaches, conjunctivitis (pink eye), scurvy, body odor, diarrhea, burns and sprains. The antioxidants in tamarind, such as vitamin C, flavonoids, carotenes and vitamin B complex, also help to fight cancer.

P) Hibiscus Flowers:

The leaves of the hibiscus flowers were added to a bath or a steam vapor as a way to treat cold symptoms, such as unclogging breathing passages and relieving a cough.

Q) Massage:

The ancient Egyptians used massage to relieve tension and relax muscles, and were noted as the first civilization to identify and study the therapeutic benefits of essential oils. They also incorporated fragrant incense into their rituals. It was also believed that the goddess Isis used therapeutic massage as a cure of a range of medical conditions.

Watch the video: Women of Upper Egypt


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