On the Nile Valley, an ancient civilization of the Mediterranean world, that of Ancient Egypt, was built many millennia before our era. She portrays us as one of the oldest states in the world, endowed with an administration, a taxation, a justice and an army comparable to those that were born later in countries on all continents, before and after our era. But the world of ancient Egypt envisioned a sparkling spiritual culture that the ancient Greeks and Romans admired.
Not only the Egyptian art and the colossal monuments attracted by the mysterious beauty and their enigmatic splendor on the ancient Greeks and the Romans, as well as the ones of today; the travelers came to find especially the Egyptian culture, the “Egyptian wisdom” that some of the greatest thinkers of the time knew.
The history of ancient Egypt
The New Kingdom
The New Kingdom is the most flourishing era in the history of Egypt, with the most famous rulers. Art and spirituality reach their peak, and the country gains the greatest extent through conquests.The place of the royal funeral complexes is moved to the south, on the opposite side of Thebei, in an area of rocky hills, on the west bank of the Nile, in the Valley of the Kings.
Egypt was an empire stretching from Niya in northwestern Syria to the fourth Nile waterfall in Nubia, cementing loyalty and opening up access to imports, such as bronze and wood.
Among the most representative pharaohs of these times is Tutmes III, who conquered the territories of Asia and Africa, transforming the Egyptian kingdom into an empire, Amenhotep III, the one who erected countless temples and palaces, Akhenaton, the reforming pharaoh, and the dynasty the Ramses, with Ramses II, the one who extended most through an active military policy the borders of the state and remained famous for the battle of Kadesh with the Hittites to control Syria.
Rameses II built great monuments such as the Great Corridor in the temple of Amun at Karnak and many of the temples at Abu Simbel, the statues here of Pharaoh having huge dimensions.
One of the most famous pharaohs of the New Kingdom is Tutankhamun, historically an unimportant pharaoh, but because of the discovery in 1922 of his tomb in the Valley of the Kings almost intact, he remained famous for the priceless funeral treasure.
The wealth of ancient Egypt has become a tempting target for invasions, especially for Libyan western Berbers, and for the peoples of the Sea, a powerful confederation of mostly Greek, Luwian and Phoenician / Canaanite pirates from the Aegean.
Initially, the Egyptian forces succeeded in repelling these invasions, but Egypt eventually lost control over its remaining southern Canaan territory, much of which was taken over by the Assyrians.
The impact of external threats has been exacerbated by internal problems, such as corruption, burglary and civil unrest. After regaining power, the high priests of the Temple of Amun in Thebes accumulated large areas of land and wealth and their extended power split the country in the third interim.
The pharaohs of ancient Egypt
He was a pharaoh from the 18th dynasty of ancient Egypt. He is considered a Napoleon of antiquity. Tutmes III, held in shadow until 1482 by his step-mother, Queen Hatshepsut, conquers the territories of Asia and Africa, transforming the Egyptian kingdom into an empire.
In a series of military campaigns that lasted more than 20 years, Tutmes III led Egypt’s army through dangerous mountain canyons and over vast deserts.
His most famous victory came with the occupation of Megiddo, north of Palestine, and was the first battle in history for which there is a complete description. His troops captured more than 800 fighting units, 2000 horses and 200 enemy weapons.
Pharaoh was also a great builder. He enlarged the temple at Karnak and erected an altar dedicated to the god Ptah, but also a chapel dedicated to Amun. He also erected two obelisks in the temple at Heliopolis.
He ascended the throne of Egypt in 1279 BC, immediately after the death of his father, Seti I. During his reign, the Egyptian empire reached its peak, incorporating Libya, Egypt, Sudan, Jordan, much of Saudi Arabia, Iraq, Syria, and much of Turkey today.
At the beginning of the reign, besides the danger of the pirates and some riots in Libya, Ramses’ great adversary was the Hittites. The confrontation in Kadesh remained undecided, but the danger hit is stopped.
After more than three decades of fighting, a peace treaty is concluded, probably in 1258 BC. The immense territory was ruled by Rameses in the tradition of the ancient pharaohs. The “chosen and equal of Ra” never stayed too long in one place.
He was constantly walking on his land, appearing on the grand table at small events (such as a worker’s wedding) or important events (such as erecting a temple) from the entire territory of the empire and reminding his subjects that no matter how far they live of the capital, nothing happens in the land of ancient Egypt without his knowledge and will.
He replaced the polytheistic religion of Egypt with a monotheistic system, raising the god of the solar disk Aton to the rank of unique god of Egypt. As part of his reform, he built a new city where he moved the capital of the kingdom.
After his death, his successor Tutankhamun restored the old polytheistic cult, the memory of the rebel pharaoh being systematically erased. His era was one of the most controversial. He is supposed to have grown up in Thebes. He ascended the throne between the ages of 16 and 24.
It is possible that he was already married to Nefertiti, the woman who had a great influence in his time. In his sixth year, he changed his name to “Akhenaton” (“Aton’s Servant”) and proclaimed the country’s monotheistic adherence to the worship of the god Aton.
He builds the city of Akhetaton, which becomes the capital of the kingdom of Egypt and tries to eradicate the cults of other gods. These denominational reforms led to the loss of its strength nationally and internationally.
With his death, the cult of Aton was abandoned. Even after Pharaoh’s death, the city of Akhenaton was abandoned.
ECONOMY OF ANCIENT EGYPT
The economy of Ancient Egypt was organized at central level and strictly controlled by the state (state economy). (The state, besides the fields that belonged to it directly (those of the Palace) or indirectly (those of the temples), administered, controlled and distributed both the means of production and the consumption bubbles.
The economy was of a consumption nature, meaning that it was produced as much as needed for the maintenance of the royal house and for the living of the subjects. There was no tendency to develop the economy and to export products. However, there were some surpluses that were exported: cereals, fabrics, fish, gold and papyrus.
The economy was mainly based on the work of free people – cultivators, shepherds and craftsmen who provided the necessary subsistence and surpluses for exchange. (The work of the slaves was not of significant importance.) They were paid in kind. Farmers could have small areas of land.
The exchange of goods (trade) was entirely controlled by the state and was carried out on the basis of barter (exchange in kind), the monetary economy not being known until the late period. It was mainly based on imports of raw materials, especially metals, wood, building stone, glass, but the Egyptians mainly exported cereals, fabrics, fish, gold and papyrus.
The barter consisted of standard grain bags and the Deben unit, weighing about 91 grams of copper or silver. The workers were paid in cereals, a simple worker being able to earn 5 ½ sacks (200 kg or 400 kg) with cereals per month, while a team leader could earn 7 ½ sacks with cereals (250 kg or 550 kg) per month.
Prices were set across the country and recorded on lists to facilitate trading, for example, a garment costs five pence of copper, while a cow costs 140 deben. The cereals could be exchanged with other products, according to the list of fixed prices. From the 5th century BC, the coin was introduced to Egypt from abroad, from Greeks and Romans.
The economy of Ancient Egypt depended on the natural conditions, which were generally favorable. The richness of the soil was supplemented by that of the basement. There were rich resources of stone. Egypt diversified its resources also on the basis of the conquered territories. Each co-owned country was obliged to deliver handicraft products or part of its natural wealth.
Thus, Ethiopia provided gold and ivory, Palestine and Syria – metals: silver, lead and mower, as well as fabrics and paints, lazurit (expensive stone), Sinai Peninsula provided minerals, gold Nubia, and Lebanon cedar wood.
The basis of ancient Egypt’s economy was agriculture. Egyptians are considered one of the first communities to have practiced agriculture widely. The Egyptians took full advantage of the cyclical flood system of the Nile. As a result of torrential rains and the melting of snow in the Abyssinian Mountains, the level of the river increased continuously after July 19, so that in September, it would retreat.
This natural phenomenon has been essential to the prosperity of Egyptian agriculture for millennia because the waters of the river carried organic and mineral substances that fertilized the soil. (Planting took place in October once the waters receded, and harvests were left to grow carefully until March and May).
For this reason Herodotus asserted that “Egypt is a gift of the Nile.” But not always, the Nile was beneficial to the Egyptians. Too many spills were destructive and could destroy irrigation channels. The lack of flooding meant a year of famine for the Egyptians.
In ancient Egypt, agriculture was intensive (irrigation systems, more efficient processing techniques in order to obtain a larger crop). The creation of irrigation systems began in the second half of the 4th millennium BC. and has led to great successes in agriculture, namely: increasing control over agricultural practices, increasing production and expanding cultivated land.
The irrigation allowed the Egyptians to use the waters of the Nile for various purposes, being one of the most important concerns of the state. The unification of Egypt has contributed to the progress of agriculture, and measures have been taken to create a unitary irrigation system for the whole country.
Tools used by the Egyptians include: digs, rakes, plows (sometimes hung by ox horns) for plowing and the harvesting of flint or bronze for harvest. Later, the Egyptians took over the company from Mespotameni used to remove water from the river.
During the Persian period, the Egyptians used “saqias”, wooden devices mounted on two wheels, drawn by a burden animal, which sank the buckets in the river and threw water into channels.
The degree of development of agriculture is also shown by the diversity of cultivated plants: cereals (wheat and barley), fruits (grapes, figs, melons, olives, pomegranates), legumes (lentils, chickpeas, beans, onions, garlic, radish, parsley) and industrial plants (flax and papyrus).
Administration and trade in ancient Egypt
Pharaoh was the absolute monarch of the country and, theoretically, he had complete control of Egypt’s land and resources. The king was the supreme military commander and head of the government, based on a bureaucracy of officials to manage his affairs.
The second in command was the vizier, who had an administrative role, who acted as the king’s representative and coordinated the inspection of the lands, the treasury, the construction projects, the legal system and the archives.
At the regional level, the country was divided into 42 administrative regions called nome, each governed by a nomarch, who was responsible to the vizier for his jurisdiction.
Temples formed the backbone of the economy. Not only were they houses of worship, but they were also responsible for collecting and storing the country’s wealth in a barn system and treasury managed by supervisors, who redistributed cereals and produce.
Much of the economy was centrally organized and strictly controlled. Although the ancient Egyptians did not use the currency until late, they used the barter, which consisted of standard grain bags and the Deben unit, weighing about 91 grams of copper or silver, forming a common denominator.
The workers were paid in cereals, a simple worker being able to earn 5 ½ sacks (200 kg or 400 kg) with cereals per month, while a team leader could earn 7 ½ sacks with cereals (250 kg or 550 kg) per month. Prices were set across the country and recorded on lists to facilitate trading, for example, a garment costs five pence of copper, while a cow costs 140 debens.
The cereals could be exchanged with other products, according to the list of fixed prices. From the 5th century BC, the coin was introduced to Egypt from abroad, from Greeks and Romans. In the beginning, coins were used as standardized pieces of precious metal, rather than real money, but in the following centuries international traders who were trading in coins.
In ancient Egypt, military forces were responsible for defending Egypt against foreign invasion, and for maintaining the domination of Egypt in the ancient Near East. The troops protected the mining expeditions from Sinai and waged civil wars in the two interim periods.
The army was responsible for maintaining the fortifications along important trade routes, such as those found in the city of Buhen on the way to Nubia. The forts were also built to serve as military bases, such as the citadel of Sile, which was a base of operations for expeditions to the Levant.
Typical Egyptian military equipment included bows and arrows, spears, semi-circle shields made of animal leather on a wooden frame. In the New Kingdom, the army began to use the chariots that had previously been introduced by the Hykosite invaders.
The weapons and weapons were further improved after the bronze was adopted: the shields were made of solid wood, with a bronze buckle, the spears were endowed with bronze tips. The supreme commander of the army was the pharaoh. The great pharaohs of ancient Egypt were also great military commanders, often leading their soldiers in battles.
As for the soldiers, they were usually recruited, but during the New Kingdom mercenaries from Nubia, Kush, and Libya were hired to fight for Egypt.
Culture in ancient Egypt
Society in ancient Egypt was highly stratified. Farmers made up the majority of the population, but the agricultural products were directly owned by the state, temples or a noble family that owned the land.
They were subjected to a system of forced and unpaid labor imposed by the state for the execution of works on public projects, being forced to work on irrigation or construction projects. Even so, even the most humble peasant had the right to petition the vizier and the court.
Artists and craftsmen had a higher status than farmers, but they were also under the control of the state, working in the workshops near temples and paid directly from the state treasury. Scribes formed the upper class in ancient Egypt, the so-called “white kilt class”, with reference to their white linen clothes, which represented a sign of their rank.
The upper class visibly displayed their social status in art and literature. The nobility was also made up of priests, doctors and qualified engineers and specialists in their field. Pharaoh was the absolute monarch of the country and, theoretically, he had complete control of Egypt’s land and resources.
The family. The situation of the woman
The ancient Egyptians saw marriage as an economic partnership, the main purpose of which was the material well-being of the family. Of course, this does not mean that the people of antiquity did not fall in love or did not marry out of love, but that a “arranged” marriage could sometimes be more convenient for both parties.
The mothers were responsible for the care and raising of the children, while the father provided family income. Married couples could hold joint property and divorce through an agreement that stipulated the husband’s financial obligations to his wife and children.
Compared with those in ancient Greece or Rome, Egyptian women had a greater range of personal choices and opportunities for achievement. Women, as were Hatshepsut and Cleopatra, became even pharaohs, while others held power as the “divine wives of Amun.” Despite these freedoms, Egyptian women often did not take on official roles in administration, serving only secondary roles in temples, and were not as likely to be as educated as men.
The Egyptian farmers built their houses in the squares. These were designed to shelter them from outside heat. Each house had a kitchen, with an open roof, which contained a millstone for grinding cereals and a small oven for baking bread.
The walls were painted white and could be covered with linen cloth. The floors were covered with reed mats, while the wooden chairs, raised beds and individual tables represented the furniture.
For the ancient Egyptians, hygiene and appearance were important. They bathed in the Nile and used as a soap a paste made from animal fats and chalk. Men shaved their beards, their hair and their whole bodies, perfumed and anointed themselves with aromatic ointments to cover the unpleasant odors.
The clothing consisted of simple, white lingerie, and both men and women in the upper classes wore wigs, jewelry and cosmetics for treatment. The children did not wear clothing until maturity, at the age of 12, and at this age the men were circumcised and had a shaved head.
The ancient Egyptians enjoyed a variety of recreational activities, such as games like Senet, a board game with tiles, which has been particularly popular since ancient times, another similar game was the mehen, which had a board game. circular play.
Juggling and ball games were popular with children, as well as fighting games mentioned in a tomb at Beni Hasan. The wealthy members of ancient Egyptian society enjoyed hunting and boating.
The religion of the Egyptians of ancient times was a polytheistic religion. The gods of ancient Egyptians were numerous, the exact number remains to be determined. Many of the gods were only glorified in a certain area or city.
According to the faith, the gods had been created by Demiurg, the first god. Paradoxically, it was believed that every god was shaped by the image of man. Egyptian mythology conceived a complex theory of the composition of beings, be they humans or gods. There are three elements that compose them: ankh, ka and ba.
The ankh is the divine force, the spirit of Ra, the full expression of light. Originally, only gods could have the ankh, but later, mortals could acquire it. Ka is born from the breath of the creator and represents the character, the personality of the individual, even an alter-ego of it. In a way, it represents the reservoir of its vital forces.
The Ka does not disappear at the moment of death, having an existence independent of the body. He always survives in a terrestrial medium such as a statue, a painting or a mummified corpse. Another spiritual principle is Ba which signifies the energy of movement, an invisible force that lives independently in the body and can travel to other worlds. Thanks to the Ba, the dead complete their transformation in the world beyond.
Mummies are probably most popularly associated with Egyptian religion. Mummification was religious and accompanied by ritual prayers. Internal organs were removed and separately preserved.
The idea behind mummification was probably to maintain the link between the ka and the other two elements, which could be sustained in the afterlife by the preservation of the body in this world. Cats and dogs were also mummified, evidence of the important place that pets occupied in Egyptian life.
The gods of ancient Egypt
Some deities enjoyed high regard throughout Egypt:
- Ptah, the creator god
- Ra, the sun god
- Shu, the god of air
- Nut, the goddess of heaven
- Geb, the god of earth
- Thot, the god of science and wisdom
- Horus, the lord of heaven and god of the monarchy
- Amun-Ra, the original god
- Osiris, the ruler of the sub-earth empire.
Amun-Ra is the most famous deity in the plea of gods of Egypt. At first, god of air, wind, and earth, Amun becomes the state god at Thebes and is likened to Ra, the sun god at Heliopolis. Ammon is the local god of Thebes, considered to be the deity of air or fertility.
Equal to the god Amun-Ra, he is the god Osiris. With the passage of time, Osiris becomes much more loved and revered by the Egyptian rulers, putting Amun-Ra in a shadow. Osiris is the god of the afterlife, the land of the dead, but he is also the god of vegetation. Above all, Osiris is the supreme Egyptian god, the god of gods, the one who imposes all the customs and laws of the earth, but also in the after world. He has parents as goddess Nut (Heaven) and god Geb (Earth), and as brothers Isis, Nephtis and Seth.
All these gods appeared in different hypostases: human, animal or as a human body and animal head, they were recognized in the beings and objects of this world. Thus, Amun also appeared in the form of a ram or a goose, Horus as a hawk, Thot as an ibis, Montu as a bull, Hathor as a cow or as a tree, Nut as a celestial vault or Ra as a sun.
The animals that represented the gods also became divine, in a way. That is why they were also venerated, mummified and buried in the animal cemeteries, with all the ceremonial. The worship of sacred animals has increased more and more over time.
Ra is an Egyptian god representing a personification of the sun, being the most powerful of all the gods. He was venerated in Heliopolis (Sun Fortress). The usual representation was of a man with a hawk’s head and a solar disk above his head.
Thot, the Egyptian god of the moon, speech and inventor of writing, is depicted as a man with an ibis or baboon head. It is also considered the “heart of Ra”, thus personifying the divine knowledge and the essence of creative thinking, which transmits to the word the force of truth, the power to create reality. He is the guardian of the dead and their intermediary before the gods.
Horus was worshiped for a long time as the god of freedom of airspace; becoming later the Sun-God, he begins to be considered ruler over the sky and stars; then the personal protector of the pharaoh arrives or even faces the pharaoh himself.
Osiris is the god of the afterlife, the world beyond and the dead. Osiris was a legendary king of Egypt, famous for the vigor and justice with which he ruled the country.
Isis is the goddess of magic and life, marriage, the symbol of marital harmony and woman’s fidelity to her husband. Her name could be translated as “Queen of the throne”, which is a personification of the pharaoh’s throne and royal power.
Seth is known as the son of Geb and Nut, the brother of Isis, Nephthys and Osiris. Seth is an evil god, lord of the desert, represented by a greyhound with a split tail and a long muzzle. At first he was considered a city builder, then the vigorous god of violence, evil, darkness and disorder, and at one point a god of war.
The gods were worshiped in the temples of worship administered by priests who acted on behalf of the king. In the center of the temple is the statue of worship of the god in an altar. The temples were not places of public worship and only on certain holidays the statue of the god was removed from the altar for public worship. The altar of the god was isolated from the outside world and accessible only to temple officials.
Citizens could worship statues in their homes and amulets that offered protection against evil forces. After the New Kingdom, the role of Pharaoh as a spiritual intermediary was increasingly ignored, moving on to the direct worship of the gods. As a result, priests developed an oracle system to communicate the will of the gods directly through humans.
The religious nature of the Egyptian civilization influenced its contributions to the art of antiquity. Many of the great works of ancient Egyptians represent gods, goddesses and pharaohs (also considered deities). The art of Ancient Egypt is generally characterized by the idea of order.
Evidence of the mummification and construction of pyramids outside Egypt bear witness to the influence of the Egyptian beliefs and values system on other civilizations, one of the modes of transmission being the Silk Road. Egyptian art, with its great forms of manifestation (architecture, painting, sculpture, etc.) is located under the sign of religious phenomenon.
The connection of the ancient Egyptians with the protective gods of Egypt is profound and manifests itself both on earth and in the afterlife – central element of ancient Egyptian faith, which is why Egyptian works of art have some common elements.
The statues of the pharaohs or of the great dignitaries do not represent the real body, but rather they project an ideal image of a man in permanent communion with the gods and thus in a state of divine grace. Hence the solemn character of the Egyptian statues, the feeling of greatness that it produces to the viewer.
Although the Egyptian artist prefers to represent human profiles, when he shapes the human face he respects a convention imposed by his religious beliefs.
The retarded man must look either to the west, to the world beyond – to the kingdom of Osiris, or to the east, to the world from here where the sun-god Ra rises.
Over time, in ancient Egypt, tens of thousands of statues of bronze, stone, wood, gold – always painted. The Egyptian artist gave the colors a particular meaning, the colors being actually religious symbols.
The red was a negative color, this being the color of the SETH god, the god of the lifeless desert and that god of death, of evil and also of disorder.
The green, the color of plant life, and therefore the color of joy and youth, was dedicated to the god Osiris, god of resurrection and immortality who ruled the world beyond.
Likewise, the black color had the same meaning – the black being the color of the fertile land of the Nile – river, which, through its overflows, ensured the eternal “resurrection” of Egypt year after year and guaranteed the power and prosperity of the country.
Blue was the color of Amon’s sky and god. Yellow represented gold, a precious material symbol of the immortality of the gods and therefore had a sacred character, being intended only for the representations of gods and pharaohs. White – a symbol of purity and joy was the color of the crown of Lower Egypt.
Paints were made from minerals such as iron (red and ocher yellow), copper ores (blue and green), soot or coal (black), and limestone (white). The paints could be mixed with arabic gum as a binder and pressed, which could be moistened with water when needed.
The Pharaohs used art to record victories in battles, royal decrees and religious scenes. Ordinary citizens had access to pieces of funerary art, such as shabti statues and books of the dead, which they believed would protect them in later life.
The architecture of ancient Egypt includes some of the most famous structures in the world: from the Great Pyramids of Giza to the temples of Thebes. There were organized state-funded construction projects for religious and commemorative purposes, but also to strengthen the power of the pharaoh.
The ancient Egyptians were extraordinary builders, using simple but efficient tools and repair tools, architects being able to build large stone structures with an accuracy and precision that is hard to match even today. The inner houses of ordinary Egyptians and nobles were built of perishable materials, such as squares and wood, which did not survive.
The peasants lived in simple houses, while the elite palaces were more elaborate structures made of bricks. Some survived like the palaces of the New Kingdom, such as those in Malkata and Amarna, which show richly decorated, carved and painted walls and floors with scenes of people, birds, water pools, deities, geometric designs and patterns.
Important structures, such as temples and tombs were destined to last forever, being built of stone instead of bricks. The first large stone building was the mortar complex of Pharaoh Djoser.
The oldest preserved Egyptian temples, such as the Giza ones, consist of simple halls, enclosed by roof tiles supported by columns. In the New Kingdom, the architects added high columns, the open courtyard and the hypostyle halls – large rooms with the ceiling supported by columns, being a standard style until the Greco-Roman period.
The oldest and most popular funeral architecture in the Old Kingdom was Mastaba, a flat rectangular structure built of bricks.
Djoser’s Pyramid is a series of mastaba stacked on top of each other. The pyramids were built in the Old Kingdom and the Middle Kingdom, but the Pharaohs of the New Kingdom abandoned them, in favor of the tombs cut in stone.
Along with pharaohs and hieroglyphs, the pyramids are a true symbol of ancient Egypt. Ancient Egyptians were great architects, considering that today is the largest stone monument in Egypt today, and the only wonder of the ancient world preserved to this day, the Pyramid of Keops.
Studies have shown how to build: as the pyramid rose, around it, the workers made a ramp, which raised the stone blocks on wooden sleds. In this way, they laid block after block, until the pyramid was completed, then the ramp was removed, leaving the pyramid alone, in all its splendor. The top of the pyramid is covered with gold.
Today, in Egypt, only a few pyramids are still complete. The Egyptians had strong astronomical knowledge. It has been discovered that all the pyramids on the Giza plateau are arranged exactly like a mirror on Earth of the constellation Orion.
The Egyptians believed that this is the home of Osiris, the god of the dead and the world beyond. The Egyptians created the standards of a classical pyramid: a massive monument with a square base and four sides joining at one point. The purpose of these pyramids was to bury the pharaohs, to help them cross into the world beyond. These pyramids were arranged in a certain way to reflect the Moon in them.
But before they were buried, the Pharaohs were adorned with precious goods, because they believed that they would resurrect in the world beyond and had to have everything they needed. The Egyptians worked hard to build these pyramids.
The quarry stones were transported with floats on the Nile, then raised to the shore with the help of ropes and levers. From here they were dragged on a ramp by hundreds of workers. Water or oil is poured in front of the blocks to make it easier to slide. A supervisor was knocking on two wooden boards to beat the workers’ effort.
When it was built, the Great Pyramid was 145.75 m high. Over time, it lost another 9 m from the peak. It was covered with polished stone. Each part of it is carefully oriented to one of the local cardinal points, namely north, south, east and west.
On the north side is the entrance to the pyramid. The corridors and galleries lead either to the king’s mortuary room or had other functions. The king’s room is in the heart of the pyramid, which can only be accessed through the Great Gallery and an ascending corridor. The king’s sarcophagus is made of red granite, like the interior walls of the room.
The most impressive is the stone with very fine polished sides above the entrance, long over 3 m, 2.4 m high and 1.3 m thick. All the stones in the interior fit so well that you can’t even slip a piece of cardboard between them. The sarcophagus is oriented according to the cardinal directions and is only 1 cm smaller than the entrance to the room.
It was probably introduced during construction. New theories have been proposed regarding the origin and purpose of the Giza pyramids …Astronomical observations … Places of worship … Geometric structures built by a long-lost civilization … Even the theories related to aliens have been proposed, without clear evidence …
But overwhelming historical and scientific evidence still supports the conclusion that the Great Pyramid, like other small pyramids in the region, was built by the Egyptian civilization on the west bank of the Nile, to serve as the tomb of their kings. Graves where Khufu, Khefren and Menkaure could begin their mystical journey in later life.
Science in ancient Egypt
In technology, medicine and mathematics, ancient Egypt has achieved a relatively high standard of productivity and sophistication. Traditional empiricism, as evidenced by the papyrus found by Edwin Smith in 1930 and dating approximately 1600 BC, is the first credited in Egypt.
Even before the Old Kingdom, the ancient Egyptians developed a glass material similar to the faience. This material was used for making beads, tiles, figurines, etc.
By a certain technique, the Egyptians produced a pigment known as “Egyptian blue“, produced by melting silica and copper, as well as an alkaline, natron (decahydrated sodium carbonate), later ground and used as a pigment.
The ancient Egyptians produced a great variety of glass objects with great skill, but it is not clear whether they developed the process independently. It is unclear whether those items were made of raw glass or simply imported ready-made ingots, which they melted and processed.
The objects could be produced in a variety of colors, including yellow, red, green, blue, purple, white, and the glass could be transparent or opaque.
The knowledge and experience of ancient Egyptians in the medical field was very advanced for that period. They performed surgery, treated fractures and had pharmaceutical knowledge. Evidence from the analysis of the mummies shows a high level of professionalism in working with the human body, since the mummies remained intact and after complicated organ removal.
In addition, the level that went into the process of mummification of important people shows that they had incredible knowledge of anatomy. The medical problems of the ancient Egyptians were derived directly from their environment. Life and work near the Nile brought the dangers of malaria and parasites, which damaged the liver and intestines.
Dangerous wildlife, such as crocodiles and hippos, have also been a common threat. Lifelong work in agriculture and construction has damaged the spine and joints, as well as traumatic injuries from construction and war that have had significant repercussions on the body.
The gravel and the sand in the flour scratched their teeth, leaving them susceptible to abscesses (although caries were rare). The diets of the rich were high in sugar, which promoted periodontal disease. Despite portraits in which the upper-class deceased presented themselves as physically supple and well-behaved, mummies indicate an excess of weight that attests to the effects of a life in which they have consumed excessively.
Life expectancy of an adult was about 35 years for men and 30 years for women, but reaching maturity was difficult, about one third of the population dying in childhood. Egyptian doctors were famous in the ancient Near East for their healing abilities, and some, such as Imhotep, remained famous long after their death.
Herodotus noted that there was a high degree of specialization among Egyptian doctors, with some specializing in treating either the head or the stomach, while others treated either the eyes or the teeth. The doctors’ training took place at the Per Ankh institution or the “House of Life” based in Per-Bastet during the New Kingdom and at Abydos and Sais in the late period.
Medical papyri attest an empirical knowledge of anatomy, in lesions and practical treatments. The wounds were treated with bandage with raw meat, white cloth, nets and swabs soaked with honey to prevent infection. The earliest records of burn treatment describe bandages soaked in milk from the mothers of male babies. The prayers were made to the goddess Isis.
Salts of moldy bread, honey and copper have also been used to prevent infection from burns. Garlic and onion have been used regularly to promote good health and to reduce asthma symptoms. The Egyptian surgeons sewed the wounds, arranged the broken bones and amputated the diseased limbs, but acknowledged that some injuries were so severe that they could do nothing but provide comfort to the patient until death occurred.
The language of ancient Egypt
Ancient Egyptian is an independent branch of Afro-Asian languages. The closest language groups to it are Berbera, Semitica and Beja. Written documentation of the Egyptian language dates from the twelfth century BC, being spoken and written from 3200 BC. until the Middle Ages.
- Archaic Egyptian (before 2600 B.C.E.)
- Old Egyptian (2600–2000 B.C.E.)
- Middle Egyptian (2000–1300 B.C.E.)
- Late Egyptian (1300–700 B.C.E.)
- Demotic Egyptian (7th century B.C.E.–4th century C.E.)
- Coptic (3rd–12th century C.E.)
Phonetics and grammar
Ancient Egyptian contains 25 consonants similar to those of other Afro-Asian languages. These include pharyngeal and categorically consonants, fricative and African consonants. It has three long and three short vowels, which have expanded to nine in the late Egyptian.
The basic words in Egyptian, similar to the Semitic and Berber words, are a triliteral or biliteral root of consonants and semi-consonants. Suffixes are added to form words. Verb conjugation corresponds to the person.
For example, the triconsonantal skeleton S-D-M is the semantic core of the word “hear”; the basic conjugation is “smd” – “hears”. If the subject is a noun, the suffixes are not added to the verb: “sdm hmt”, “hears a woman”. Adjectives are derived from nouns through a process that Egyptologists call “nisbation” because of its resemblance to Arabic.
The order of words is predicated – subject in verbal and adjective phrases, and subject – preached in nominal and adverbial sentences. The subject can be moved at the beginning of sentences if it is long and is followed by a summary pronoun.
Verbs and nouns are denied by “n” particles, but “nn” is used for adverbial and adjectival phrases. Stress eventually falls on the last or penultimate syllable, which can be opened (CV) or closed (CVC).
The hieroglyphic writing dates back to 3000 BC, and is composed of hundreds of symbols. A hieroglyph may represent a word, a sound, or a silent determinant, and the same symbol may serve different purposes, in different contexts.
Hieroglyphs were written on stone monuments and in tombs, which may represent individual works of art. In daily writing, the scribes used a cursory form of writing, called hieratic, which was faster and easier. While official hieroglyphs can be read in rows or columns, in any direction (though usually written from right to left), the hierarchy has always been written from right to left, usually in horizontal rows.
A new form of writing, demotics, has become the predominant writing style. Around the first century AD, the Coptic alphabet began to be used in parallel with the demotic writing. Coptic is a Greek alphabet modified with the addition of some demotic signs. Although the official hieroglyphs were used in a ceremonial role until the 4th century, towards the end of antiquity, only a small group of priests could read and interpret them.
When traditional religious units were abolished, knowledge of hieroglyphic writing was largely lost. Attempts to decipher them met during the Byzantine and Islamic period in Egypt, but only in 1822, after the discovery of the Rosetta Stone and years of research by Thomas Young and Jean-François Champollion, were the hieroglyphs almost completely deciphered.
- c. 26th century B.C.E. – Westcar Papyrus
- c.19th century B.C.E. The Story of Sinuhe
- c. 1800 B.C.E. – Ipuwer papyrus
- c. 1800 B.C.E. – Papyrus Harris I
- c. 11th century B.C.E. – Story of Wenamun
Writing first appeared in association with royalty. This was primarily an occupation of the scribes. The Book House included offices, libraries, laboratories and observatories. Some of the most well-known pieces of ancient Egyptian literature, such as the texts on pyramids and sarcophagi, were written in classical Egyptian, which continued to be the writing language until about 1300 BC.
Later, the Egyptian was spoken from the New Kingdom and was represented in Ramesside administrative documents, through love poems and stories, as well as in demotic and Coptic texts. During this period, the writing tradition evolved in the autobiography of deceased persons through texts written in tombs, such as those of Harkhuf and Weni.
The genre known as Sebayt (“instructions”) was developed to communicate guidance lessons from famous nobles, such as the Ipuwer Papyrus, a lament poem describing natural disasters and social upheavals. The story of Sinuhe, written in the Middle Kingdom, could be a work of classical Egyptian literature.
Also, Westcar’s Papyrus contains a set of stories told to Khufu by his sons about the miracles performed by the priests. Amenemope’s instructions are considered a masterpiece of Oriental literature. Towards the end of the New Kingdom, vernacular was more often used to write popular songs, such as Wenamun’s Tale and Instructions of Everyone, which tells the story of a nobleman who is robbed on the road to buy cedar from Lebanon and struggles to buy himself. returns to Egypt.
Since 700 BC, narrative stories and instructions, such as the Onchsheshonqy Instructions, as well as personal and business documents have been written in demotics. Many stories written in demotics during the Greco-Roman period were taken from earlier historical eras, when Egypt was an independent nation ruled by important pharaohs, such as Ramesses II.